65% of All Antarctic Wildlife Could Disappear by 2100—Here's How You Can Help
A new study finds wildlife in Antarctica will experience a rapid decline in the coming decades. Here's what you need to know.
The impacts of climate change are becoming harder and harder to ignore, as instances of extreme weather, along with starkly declining wildlife populations and general biodiversity, are delivering the existential issue directly to our doors.
Should you need more proof, a new study published in the journal PLOS Biology predicts that wildlife in Antarctica—a realm that has long seen the direct effects of the climate crisis, as it houses 90% of the world's glacial ice, that ice disappearing at an average of 150 billion tons annually—is slated to decline by 65% in the next 80 years under current conditions.
Why Is Antarctic Wildlife Declining?
The study notes that, though Antarctica is spared certain human-made environmental issues like deforestation, the region has experienced rapid warming over the past decades.
Heat waves and an influx of human activity—tourism has increased exponentially since the 1990s—have combined to threaten Antarctica's biodiversity. Along with harming (or eradicating) the habitats of existing species, these factors make it easier for non-native taxa to invade the area, providing further problems within ecosystems.
Emperor penguins were identified as the most vulnerable of the bunch, followed by seabirds and roundworms. According to research, the best-case scenario will see a 37% decline by 2100 should our current level of climate efforts continue. The worst case? 97%.
What Can You Do to Help?
Determining what conservation efforts will best benefit certain species is a complicated (and expensive) feat. Factors like managing disease, managing existing and new infrastructure, minimizing human impact, and influencing policy will all be essential to mitigating the threat that a warming world poses to Antarctica's wildlife.
This is yet another instance of the truly global nature of global warming. While regional work and shifts within Antarctica itself can provide a certain amount of alleviation, working to prevent further warming is the ultimate means of protecting the environment. Take small steps within your daily life to reduce your impact, stay informed, and donate when and where you can.
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