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We Are the Asteroid
Peter Sinclair, Yale Climate Connections
Culled from interviews with seven scientists and writer Elizabeth Kolbert,
these brief statements address the expected and serious loss of species and
biodiversity under climate change. While other mass extinctions have been
caused by such natural factors as volcanism and an asteroid hit, we humans are
causing this one, and it is the fastest such event ever.
(6 minutes, August 2015)
The Biological and Ecological Effects of Climate Change *
Alan Knapp, Department of Biology,
Colorado State University
A lucid overview of some key effects of climate change on plants and animals,
with a wealth of vivid, concrete examples. Contents include what we know from
paleoclimate records (slide 12), how climate change interacts with other
elements of global change (14 and following), changing hardiness zone maps
(21), long-term monitoring and observations (40 ff), changes in the timing of
natural interactions (46 ff), thresholds (61), experiments (76 ff), rainfall
changes and American grasslands (85 ff), and "7 things that keep [the speaker]
awake at night."
(65 minutes, October 2008)
Before They're Gone: A Family's Year-Long Quest to Explore America's Most Endangered National Parks
Michael Lanza. Beacon Press, 2012, 224 pp
With their two small children for company, Lanza and his wife embark on a
year's worth of visits to national parks (all in the West except the
Everglades) that are most likely to feel the impact of climate change.
Eloquent, down-to-earth, and very well researched, this book might be most
compelling for readers who have loved their time in one or more of these
parks, or those who hope that today's and tomorrow's children will have that
The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth
Tim Flannery. Grove Press, 2005, 321 pp plus notes and index.
Australian zoologist, paleontologist, and writer Flannery provides a
well-researched, expansive, lively overview of "the history of climate change,
how it will unfold over the next century, and what we can do about
particular attention to the effects on living creatures, including people.
Paying more attention to the southern hemisphere than American books typically
provide, and taking advantage of his own scientific training as he works
through information from other specializations, this leading public scientist
puts his story-telling skills to good use in this important and engaging book.
||articles & essays
For more annotated links on aspects of the effect of global warming on the
natural world, see the pages on
Forests and Fires;
Oceans, Coasts and Sea Level; and
Climate Change Impacting 'Most' Species on Earth, Even Down to Their Genomes
Jeremy Hance, The Guardian, April 2017
Addressing three recent studies about how widely climate change is already
affecting life on earth (including through local and global extinctions of
both species and ecosystems), this very good piece will bring you up to speed
on this topic. Here is Hance's first sentence: "Climate change is rapidly
becoming a crisis that defies hyperbole." And near the end: "Does all this
imply nothing can be done? Of course not." Between are plenty of specific,
Climate-driven Species on the Move Are Changing (Almost) Everything
Gretta Petl, Adriana Vergés, Ekaterina Popova, Jan McDonald,
The Conversation, April 2017
This very readable entry on the excellent blog "The Conversation" ("Academic
rigor, journalistic flair") describes the contents and implications of an
article published in the (firewalled) journal Science (one of the three
studies included in the previous entry). Focusing on how so many species are
moving and how those movements change ecosystems, including those that support
human life, it is informative, sobering, and rich with links to scientific
The Forests of the World Are in Serious Trouble, Scientists Report
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post, August 2015
A good summary of the August 21 issue of the journal Science that focuses on
this topic, with descriptions of threats‒including those linked to
climate change‒to four kinds of forests, tropical, temperate, boreal,
One in six of world's species faces extinction due to climate change
Adam Vaughan, The Guardian, April 2015
Here is one good story about an important and eye-popping study published in
Science (and thus requiring a subscription to read). Coordinating results from
131 earlier studies, these researchers conclude that if we don't lower our
emissions, up to one in six species will be extinct or on its way to
extinction by 2100‒and that is only considering temperature rises, not
associated stresses like increased wildfire. If we do lower emissions
significantly, we will see substantially fewer extinctions. Other excellent
and complementary accounts are at
Climate Central and
Winged Warnings: What Birds Are Telling Us about Our Planet's Health
Environmental Health News, 2014
This six-week series of articles by a number of writers, produced in
conjunction with National Geographic, looks at a range of threats to the
world's birds, including climate change.
Living Planet Report 2014
World Wildlife Fund
In just the last forty years, according to this report, Earth has lost over
half its mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish‒not half the
species, but half the number of individuals. And, after habitat loss and
hunting and fishing for food, climate change is (already) the third leading
culprit. How can this be? What can we do about it? This is a good place to
start learning and thinking.
Birds and Climate Change: Special Issue
Audubon Magazine, September-October 2014
If you care about birds, you need to look at this issue, which is all online.
Start with the article by Michelle Nijhuis, which outlines the results of
Audubon's 7-year project looking into the "expected effects of climate change
on North American bird populations. Then look at the other pieces, some of
which elaborate on specific issues while others suggest things we can do.
Should You Fear the Pizzly Bear?
Moises Velasquez-Manoff, New York Times Magazine, August 2014
A fascinating article about new discoveries and consequently new thinking
about how and to what effects species mix under pressure from environmental
changes, including climate change. Examples include mixes between coyotes,
wolves, and dogs; grizzly and polar bears; lynx and bobcat; varieties of
dolphins, whales, bats, finches; and more.
Endangered Species: Will It Be Extinction or 'Translocation' as Impacts of Climate Change Increase?
Niina Heikkinen, ClimateWire, August 2014
This is a good overview of current thinking about moving species at risk of
extinction to places where they might have a better chance of surviving.
Includes links to a couple of primary sources.
Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice
National Wildlife Federation, 2014
Clearly written and abundantly illustrated with gorgeous photos, this (book
length PDF) guide to conservation practice in the light of a changing climate
is the result of a high-level collaboration among experts from many agencies
both governmental (federal and state) and nongovernmental. For a succinct
introduction to the guide, see
this piece (by
ClimateWire) from Scientific American. Intended for land managers, but of
interest to many others who care about conservation.
Northern Mystery: Why Are Birds of the Arctic in Decline?
Ed Struzik, Environment 360, January 2014
Thick-billed murres, gyrfalcons, peregrine falcons, will and rock ptarmigans,
long-tailed jaegers, Ross's and ivory gulls, and other birds are in decline,
for a variety of reasons, some of them connected to climate change. Along the
west coast of Hudson Bay, for instance, heavy rains have drowned peregrine
chicks and caused them to die of hypothermia.
Species on the Move Present a Conservation Challenge
Lauren Morello, Climate Central, January 2013
A short, clear introduction to some complications in protecting migrating
birds, given that they have more than one key habitat and so face a variety of
Wildlife in a Warming World
National Wildlife Federation, January 2013
This readable, visually appealing report provides a comprehensive overview of
climate change in the U.S. and its effects on plants, fish, and wild animals,
with many specific examples of species and regional ecosystems.
National Park Service, Climate Change Response Program
A handsome, informative, easy-to-use site covering current and likely climate
changes over the entire park system and the Park Service's responses and
goals-with good links to information about specific parks, regions, and
Global Change Ecology, Impacts and Mitigation|
Professors Joe von Fischer and Julia Klein, Colorado State University
This junior-level course, taught by faculty in biology and natural resources,
works to build connections between the natural earth system and the human
components including economic, political and technological aspects.
The National Scene: Impacts, Mitigation, Adaptation *
Dennis Ojima, Natural Resource Ecology Lab,
Colorado State University
"What We Can Do about Climate Change": a thorough discussion of the
intersection of climate change, resource management, and
policy‒including the ineffectiveness of policy efforts so far (slide 17
ff), likely effects of climate change and other stresses on natural ecosystems
(25 ff), and (especially) various possible coping mechanisms and adaptation
strategies (40 ff).
(48 minutes, February 2009)
Ecosystem Responses to Climate Change: Why Are They So Difficult to Predict? *
Matthew Wallenstein, Natural Resource Ecology Lab,
Colorado State University
A succinct introduction to the role of ecosystem science and ecosystem
ecologists in understanding climate change, focused on some major ways
ecosystems and climate affect each other, including the carbon cycle and
several complex feedbacks.
(20 minutes, February 2009)