Why Won’t U.S. Conservationists Talk About Climate Change?

And what’s the point of trying to save endangered species if they have no safe place left to survive?

U.S. wildlife conservation is a funny thing. Much of it is funded by hunters. A lot of it is still decidedly human and industry-centric. And according to a recent report by New Scientist, many of the nation’s top conservation plans are purposely ignoring the effects of climate change in their efforts to save animals at risk of extinction.

The study, conducted by researchers at Washington DC-based nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife, combed through hundreds of official government plans to save 459 species currently listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The researchers found that 458 —all but one species— are considered to be at risk due to climate change, the sole exception being the Hawaiian goose (which instead are dying by the hundreds due to emaciation, disease, poisoning, and of course, the common house cat). However, just 64% of the U.S. government’s conservation agencies deign to take into account that risk at all, and only 18% have any sort of climate-related plans to mitigate them.

In their defense, U.S. conservation agencies have long argued that they lack the resources to deal with the crisis. What’s more, recent policy changes by the Trump administration have made it even harder to talk about climate change in official reports on the environment — sometimes even incentivizing those that don't.

So, what can we expect from the U.S. conservation machine in the future? It’s hard to tell. But scientists say without considering the issue in any real way, plans to save species like polar bears, Florida panthers, bull trout, and more are officially doomed to fail.

Read more on New Scientist.