Tragedy of the day: 1 in 10 animals unable to outrun climate change

From the University of Washington, via Eurekalert, sympathy for snails, turtles, sloths, slow moving howler monkeys, shrews and moles and other slow moving critters that will apparently bake in place due to the 0.7C temperature rise of the past century. They just can’t move fast enough it seems. No mention of adaptation either. Why oh why did nature equip them so poorly? /sarc

Gotta love this reasoning:

Only climate change was considered and not other factors that cause animals to disperse, such as competition from other species.

The natural world doesn’t work that way. You can’t just turn off all the other variables and make projections using only one (unless of course you are doing climate science).

Nearly one-tenth of hemisphere’s mammals unlikely to outrun climate change

A safe haven could be out of reach for 9 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s mammals, and as much as 40 percent in certain regions, because the animals just won’t move swiftly enough to outpace climate change. For the past decade scientists have outlined new areas suitable for mammals likely to be displaced as climate change first makes their current habitat inhospitable, then unlivable. For the first time a new study considers whether mammals will actually be able to move to those new areas before they are overrun by climate change. Carrie Schloss, University of Washington research analyst in environmental and forest sciences, is lead author of the paper out online the week of May 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We underestimate the vulnerability of mammals to climate change when we look at projections of areas with suitable climate but we don’t also include the ability of mammals to move, or disperse, to the new areas,” Schloss said.

Indeed, more than half of the species scientists have in the past projected could expand their ranges in the face of climate change will, instead, see their ranges contract because the animals won’t be able to expand into new areas fast enough, said co-author Josh Lawler, UW associate professor of environmental and forest sciences.

In particular, many of the hemisphere’s species of primates – including tamarins, spider monkeys, marmosets and howler monkeys, some of which are already considered threatened or endangered – will be hard-pressed to outpace climate change, as are the group of species that includes shrews and moles. Winners of the climate change race are likely to come from carnivores like coyotes and wolves, the group that includes deer and caribou, and one that includes armadillos and anteaters.

The analysis looked at 493 mammals in the Western Hemisphere ranging from a moose that weighs 1,800 pounds to a shrew that weighs less than a dime. Only climate change was considered and not other factors that cause animals to disperse, such as competition from other species.

To determine how quickly species must move to new ranges to outpace climate change, UW researchers used previous work by Lawler that reveals areas with climates needed by each species, along with how fast climate change might occur based on 10 global climate models and a mid-high greenhouse gas emission scenario developed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The UW researchers coupled how swiftly a species is able to disperse across the landscape with how often its members make such a move. In this case, the scientists assumed animals dispersed once a generation.

It’s understandable, for example, that a mouse might not get too far because of its size. But if there are many generations born each a year, then that mouse is on the move regularly compared to a mammal that stays several years with its parents in one place before being old enough to reproduce and strike out for new territory.

Western Hemisphere primates, for example, take several years before they are sexually mature. That contributes to their low-dispersal rate and is one reason they look especially vulnerable to climate change, Schloss said. Another reason is that the territory with suitable climate is expected to shrink and so to reach the new areas animals in the tropics must generally go farther than in mountainous regions, where animals can more quickly move to a different elevation and a climate that suits them.

Those factors mean that nearly all the hemisphere’s primates will experience severe reductions in their ranges, Schloss said, on average about 75 percent. At the same time species with high dispersal rates that face slower-paced climate change are expected to expand their ranges.

“Our figures are a fairly conservative – even optimistic – view of what could happen because our approach assumes that animals always go in the direction needed to avoid climate change and at the maximum rate possible for them,” Lawler said.

The researchers were also conservative, he said, in taking into account human-made obstacles such as cities and crop lands that animals encounter. For the overall analysis they used a previously developed formula of “average human influence” that highlights regions where animals are likely to encounter intense human development. It doesn’t take into account transit time if animals must go completely around human-dominated landscapes.

“I think it’s important to point out that in the past when climates have changed – between glacial and interglacial periods when species ranges contracted and expanded – the landscape wasn’t covered with agricultural fields, four-lane highways and parking lots, so species could move much more freely across the landscape,” Lawler said.

“Conservation planners could help some species keep pace with climate change by focusing on connectivity – on linking together areas that could serve as pathways to new territories, particularly where animals will encounter human-land development,” Schloss said. “For species unable to keep pace, reducing non-climate-related stressors could help make populations more resilient, but ultimately reducing emissions, and therefore reducing the pace of climate change, may be the only certain method to make sure species are able to keep pace with climate change.”


The third co-author of the paper is Tristan Nuñez, now at University of California, Berkeley. Both Schloss and Nuñez worked with Lawler while earning their master’s degrees. Lawler did this work with support from the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences using, in part, models he previously developed with funding from the Nature Conservancy and the Cedar Tree Foundation.

For more information: Schloss, cell 440-666-6389, Lawler, 206-685-4367, (Note: Lawler is away from the office the week of May 14 but will check for messages once or twice a day)


It is just too bad those poor animals can’t get out of the way. It reminds me of this:


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Once again I’m reminded of South Park


A fleet of solar powered arks will do the trick.
Next problem?

Hell they’ve got all kinda warning, tell them to get started now. Maybe do a wagonless train headed for the north. Army ants, rhino Beatles guarding the flanks and kicking speedy mammal butt. Just tell ’em, communicate and all will be well.

“…. how fast climate change might occur based on 10 global climate models and a mid-high greenhouse gas emission scenario developed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”
This direct quote pegs my BS meter.
End of discussion.

Ally E.

Time for climate arks. Hansen at the rudder and Schmidt whipping the shackled deniers at the oar.


Don’t laugh. Your taxes are paying for this.


Are they using current ranges to determine what a species “climate tolerance” is?
If so, that’s an inherenly flawed model. Range is not determined by climate tolerance, but rather it is a complex interplay of climate, forage, competition with other animals.
So it is quite likely that an animals climate tolerance is much greater than merely looking at it’s current range would indicate.
Another point, is that most animals range over a huge area. Even though mice won’t be able to move fast, they currently range from tropics to the arctic. They won’t need to move fast, where ever they need to move to, they are already there.


it’s the pikas…..
They are migrating up the mountains, scaring the goats and bears…..and making them jump


Worst case scenarios are for 1 to 2C in increase over the next 100 to 200 years. Just how fast do these animals need to move in the first place?

P. Solar

“…9 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s mammals”
If they could learn the correct use of capitals , I’d be more impressed. Hemisphere is a common noun, not a proper noun and thus only gets a capital at the beginning of a sentence. Similarly western is an adjective and does not get capitalised.
Seems their understanding of basic science is not better than their knowledge of basic grammar.
Reply: It’s always amusing when grammar Nazis get it exactly wrong. ~ ctm making a guest appearance.

Disko Troop

We must read more Globull Warming propaganda on this site than we could get anywhere else. We have had the farting dinosaurs crying over spilt milk; the poor wee mice running frantically Northwards as the heat(0.7 deg)wave chases them; kangaroo scientist culling; people running from one side of Sydney to the other to save themselves; the ice disappearing..again; Yet we are not convinced. I wonder what is wrong with us?


It’s all BS. Show me the evidence.


Could we please display the pricetag, with cost to taxpayers for each of these vital, high priority studies?
I might want to see if I can move to a better deal.

Gary Pate

What color is the sky in their world???


This is the case where all 493 lowly mammals are much smarter than the University of Washington researchers. There is no real “climate change” underway and these mammals know it well, or they would walk the meters, this generation.
The fatal assumption: “In this case, the scientists assumed animals dispersed once a generation.” Poof!


Fish threatened by global warming to be moved north
Sunday 23 January 2011
Fish from the Lake District will be moved to cooler waters in Scotland under radical plans – which will be unveiled this week – aimed at coping with climate change.
The first seven of more than 100 reports by government agencies and utility companies will set out how Britain needs to change to cope with hotter summers and wetter winters. They will highlight the risks – and potential costs – of more landslides, buckled railway lines, crumbling water pipes and rising sea levels threatening lighthouses around the coast. Officials say the studies are needed because levels of carbon emissions mean climate change over the next four decades is unavoidable.
The dangers to wildlife have triggered the most extreme solutions: the Environment Agency is poised to catch and transfer thousands of vendace and schelly, both freshwater white fish, from the lakes of Cumbria to Scottish lochs.
Scientists warn higher temperatures and lower rainfall in summer will lead to lower river flows and rising water temperatures. As a result, oxygen levels will fall. “It may be necessary to rescue fish or oxygenate the water to help them survive,” the Environment Agency’s report will warn. “We may also need to reintroduce species to re-colonise stretches where fish have died.”


I predict that only 1 in ten climate scientists will be able to outrun the reality of the decrease in climate research funding.


more from that previous post…..LOL
“”Other climate change adaptation reports will be released this week by National Grid, covering gas and electricity, the Environment Agency, the Trinity Lighthouse Authority, the Highways Agency, Network Rail and Natural England. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says the reports are the first step in preparing a nationwide plan in two years’ time. An economic analysis will put a price tag on the cost of adaptation in summer 2012.”””

I remember a story similar to this, but it involved Bugs and Taz.


Ostar, I would like to make a slight change to your line: ‘I predict that only 1 in ten climate scientists will be able to outrun extradition…’

Paul Bahlin

So, I want to know how you derive a dispersal rate for a population that is not yet under any influence that would cause them to disperse. If I’m a sedentary monkey surrounded by bananas and figs this says nothing about how fast I can move to find new ones when I need to.
Do they have monkey dispersion models? If you have monkey models then don’t you need banana models to input parameters to the monkey model? Then wouldn’t you have to feed your banana model with your rain model? And then of course, your rain model would have to be fed with your climate model which is fed by your biometric, Co2 sequestration, Ice extent, cloud formation, and extreme weather forecasting models.
Oh wait! Me thinks I’ve modeled a circle. Yikes!


Yes, it is terrible. Just think about all the buggers that drowns every time it rains.
We need a memorial day.

F. Ross

Where were all these “endangered” animals living some 10k years ago when the earth started coming out of the most recent ice age?
Where were they living during the medieval warm period? the little ice age? etc?
Watta loada hogswill.

Lost in the shift to the Holocene….Mammoths, Mastadons, Saber-toothed Tigers, Dire Wolves, Giant Bison, Ground Sloths, the 400 lb NA Armadillos, and more. Also included were the NA European origin “Clovis Man”, who’s arrow tips were discovered by the later Amerinds. All of these extinctions are buried with a fine layer of nano-diamonds, most likey from a direct solar burst. Where’s the “Eurekalaert” for the Sun’s repeated misbehavior ?

Gail Combs

Dinosaur farts and now this. They are really scraping the barrel.
For what it is worth it is now mating season for tortoises and I see several of them crossing the road a day. Most seem to make it across OK. So far all those I have spotted have been alive. Of course most rural people know it is mating season and try not to hit them.
The southern spotted turtle can move as much as 33 meters per day – see:
I really think most critters can out run CAGW it is the ice/snow storms and very cold weather that kills. For example.
In the 1997-1998 Tibet lost over three million animals some areas lost as much as 70% of their herds.
It happened again in 2010 – 360,000 horses, 475,000 cattle, 11,700 camels, 5.2 million sheep and 6.1 million goats were killed According to the annual livestock census report of Mongolia’s National Statistical Office.
South America got hit too in 2010
…Some sources claim that nearly 200 people have been killed by a deadly cold snap that has affected Bolivia since the end of July. It’s winter in South America, and Bolivia is not the only country hit with what UPI describes as “bitter winter weather. Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil are also experiencing the cold snap, which has killed millions of fish and an untold number of livestock…
Despite the actual winter kills numbering in the millions in this decade alone we get “could” “might” “maybe” for a degree or so of warming.


Where is Noah when you need him? Well, I guess he’d have to use a wind surfin’ kinda boat.


based on the rate of ‘climate change’ for the last 15 years, my mates pet apple snail will easily out run any temperature rise on the horizon

Gail Combs

Gary Pate says:
May 14, 2012 at 2:44 pm
What color is the sky in their world???
Red with green dollars floating their way instead of clouds.


Ah well – us humans will be ok – we can outrun climate change in our SUV’s…………..can’t we?


“It’s understandable, for example, that a mouse might not get too far because of its size. But if there are many generations born each a year, then that mouse is on the move regularly compared to a mammal that stays several years with its parents in one place before being old enough to reproduce and strike out for new territory.”
This sounds like they assume that migration rates stay the same under all conditions.
How would these people survive without their academia job? Would they be able to navigate their way to the employment office? Obviously, after being fired, they would not notice and not change their behaviour and continue migrating daily from their home to the old institute every day only to not get in. Nothing would tell them that they should now go to a different place. They would starve.

Moron: snails and turtles are not mammals. And the article DID mention adaptation. I’m astounded by the lack of concern for the world we will be leaving to our children and grand children. It ‘s okay as long as WE don’t have to deal with the problem….let the future generations deal with our mess.


I seem to recall that the usual claims are for much more species experiencing outright extinction, not just loss of range. It’s interesting, because this study arguably represents an enormous retreat. They try to make all sorts of arguments to protect earlier “studies” claiming more losses by all sorts of qualitative arguments that their numbers should be higher, and let people just imagine that these factors must matter a great deal. Hah. Chances are they took so many “conservative” approaches because it would be embarrassing to include those factors and have the rates of species loss/range loss still come out low.

Gail Combs

Latitude says:
May 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm
Fish threatened by global warming to be moved north
Sunday 23 January 2011
And I wonder what the price tag for THAT idiocy is. Note the fish get better care that the elderly in the UK.
2010: In 2006/07, there were 633 hypothermia admissions among the over-60s, rising to 1,396 in 2010/11.
The cold weather health watch system, launched this winter, is aimed at slashing the total of 25,700 more people who died last winter… Around 3.5million older people live in fuel poverty…
ERRRrrr wasn’t the UK held up to Americans as a shining example of how well socialists take care of the sick and elderly… elderly people are being left to starve on NHS wards. It was discovered that in 2008/2009 almost 180,000 patients left hospital malnourished and in serious condition.Even more shockingly, in 2007 – 239 patients actually died whilst in hospital as a result of malnutrition.

Joachim Seifert

It happened to the Trilobites some time ago….
…..evolution of the species …..?


Here in the mid latitudes of the Western most Western world it seems that nature is taking back from Man. We’ve given up on frontiersmanship. The wild beasts are moving into the cities. If anyone is getting overrun it’s Man. These are all signs of an impending Age of Migrations. I guess in a way that is a form of extreme climate induced dislocation but not the type the Gaia worshiping crowd try to portray.


Let me get this right. According to recent nature program on the BBC the moose can survive in +20 degrees and -40 degrees. But a couple of degrees on average will wipe it out? Also on the BBC they had a program that said catastrophic climate change created the Sahara desert out of savannah (with occasionally lakes the bigger than Belgium) about 8,000 years ago. It wiped out the local animal population. The people were forced to cluster around the Nile, which generated the first civilization. According to the BBC we owe a lot to this climate change. One more thing the desertification of this vast area was accompanied by a 2 Celsius DROP in temperature. But this is the BBC, so they could be making it up.

Green Sand

Go east young mammal, go east!

Latitude says: May 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm
Fish threatened by global warming to be moved north
—- —- —-
Similar concerns for the fish in British Columbia, Canada, with stories about how high temperatures were reducing fish numbers and schemes were proposed to cool streams, and a federal commission was set up to study the problem. Then this happened in late 2010:
34 Million Fraser River Sockeye Return Highest Since 1913:
With this years record snow packs, the latest fear mongering is:
“With a near-record snowpack still to melt in the Interior, Lapointe said there’s concern that returning sockeye will struggle to get upstream against a strong freshet in the Fraser and its tributaries.”
More on the missing fish Inquiry:

Ostar, I would like to make a slight change to your line: ‘I predict that only one in ten climate scientists will be able to outrun the lynch mob…’

Gail Combs says:
May 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm
…… I’m astounded by the lack of concern for the world we will be leaving to our children and grand children…..
And you do not think we are very concerned about future generations being herded into “Company Towns” controlled by mega corporations where you either are a wage slave or starve?
Thanks to Agenda 21/Smart Growth you will have no other option. Farming or small business ownership will no longer be an option for the “masses” At least one liberal radical has seen the trap under all the rhetoric. see Rosa Koire’s Democrats against Agenda 21:

Gary Hladik

It doesn’t really matter whether the endangerd animals can migrate 1 mile per year or 100. By 2100 the only habitable place on the planet will be the South Pole, and there won’t be room for anything there except James Hansen and his ego.

Tom in Worcester

Ostar, I would like to make a slight change to your line: ‘I predict that only 1 in ten climate scientists will be able to outrun extradition…’
Perhaps we can send them to the Maldives and they can be extradited back to their countries of origin once the ocean overwhelms the islands, they can return.
…. and if the islands never sink below the waves …… it’s a win – win scenerio.


As the scientists dutifully paint the floor with Model colored paint, at some point their bony little rumps will push up against a hard corner called “reality”…


And yet, mammals were able to survive the comet that killed the dino’s. Remarkable.
Global warming… The gift that keeps on giving.

Another Gareth

Is a howler monkey a species of climate scientist?
Animals weather the weather, not climate.


The sad and dangerous part here is not the idiot who did the “study”; the sad and dangerous part is all of the idiotic advisers and reviewers who thought the “study” was good science, who didn’t tell the original idiot to go back to elementary school and start life again.

Gail Combs

Joachim Seifert says:
May 14, 2012 at 3:26 pm
It happened to the Trilobites some time ago….
They did not do too badly…the trilobite lineage persisted for some 300 million years before finally becoming extinct at the end of the Permian Period. And you can not blame their extinction on mankind unless we develop time machines in the future.
However you are correct they are an excellent example of a very successful and huge class of arthropods.

son of mulder

But look on the bright side, here in the UK we’ll be getting Mediterranean style weather thanks to CO2.
/sarc off

We just returned from three weeks in mountainous Costa Rica, where we observed large numbers of howler monkeys in the interior and on both the Caribbean and Pacific shores. They seemed highly mobile and ranged down the mountains to the rivers and sea shores, and then up into the cooler highlands. The poor doomed things seemed quite happy in their bliss-like ignorance of the impending apocalypse.