Anthropogenic climate change poses a substantial threat to biodiversity. The IPCC estimates that 20-30% of species will face an increased risk of extinction if the average global temperature rises more than 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius. Additional scientific studies indicate that 15-37% of species may become extinct by 2050 due to global warming, based on current emissions trajectories. Domestic and international strategies to manage this threat have traditionally focused on conservation and mitigation. In the last few years, however, policy makers have recognized that near-term climate impacts are inevitable and thus adaptation strategies are required to protect both humans and ecosystems.
Endemic species on low-lying islands are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts, such as rising sea levels, storm surges and shifting bio-climactic envelopes. These endemic populations occupy relatively fragile eco-systems, which have already been substantially degraded by human activities and are now disappearing at a rapid pace. Species that cannot migrate to more suitable locations face imminent extinction, both from direct loss of habitat and indirect climate impacts (such as the rising incidence of avian disease and parasites as temperatures increase).
Environmental Law | Law
Jessica A. Wentz,
Assisted Migration: A Viable Conservation Strategy to Preserve the Biodiversity of Threatened Island Nations?,
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School, May 2011
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/sabin_climate_change/165