By Savannah Miller, GWC guest blogger
I never imagined that I would meet Jane Goodall, and I certainly had not imagined meeting her under dire circumstances. I was lingering in a hallway of the Le Bourget, the Paris headquarters of the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) in 2015. There she was. The woman, world leader, scientist, and educator I had idolized for years stood humbly in the hallway, alone. COP 21 had a certain electricity to it; it emitted an energy that made one feel empowered, galvanized. So I walked over and introduced myself. She smiled and did the same.
Goodall was at Le Bourget that afternoon on a mission with implications extending far beyond her world-renowned chimpanzee research. She was taking a stand on the devastations that climate change wreaks on global biodiversity.
“Within the tapestry of life,” she stated, “you pull a thread, and our world begins to disintegrate.”
The tapestry we enjoy and depend upon is now pulled in all directions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading international body for the assessment of climate change, is in consensus that human activities have caused—and will continue to cause—a loss in biodiversity. The organization also notes that climate change is expected to affect all aspects of biodiversity. The United States’ National Climate Assessment agrees, stating that increased climate disturbances are already forcing massive species migrations, altering reproductive cycles and causing intense stress to local habitats. The Bramble Cay Mosaic-tailed Rat recently became the first mammal species to go extinct, according to National Geographic.
It is clear: the consequences of climate change for biodiversity are already in full throttle.
Within this series, I join GWC associate director of communications Lindsay Renick Mayer in examining the inextricable link between climate change and wildlife extinction through the stories of those most at risk. I will explore the Neotropics, where a fungal disease has devastated populations of amphibians, some of which have been forced by climate change into environments where they’re more susceptible to disease. I will talk to the experts about the interplay between climate change and pollinators. I will then head home to better understand how several U.S. states are at risk of losing their official bird species as they shift their range in response to climate change. The consequences of these losses are paramount and jeopardize not only the security of the species’ surrounding ecosystems, but also to us—our economies, our health and even our own identity.
So join us over the coming weeks and months as we examine the changing climate’s effect on the fabric of life: biodiversity.