It’s true that climate change affects everyone living on planet Earth and while this is something we keep hearing, I think a lot of people are oblivious to this truth.
Perhaps some people simply don’t want to hear about it, but I think it has a lot to do with how this information is scattered across the internet. That’s why we decided to gather every climate change and wildlife-related statistics that can help us understand the state of our world.
Numbers can, oftentimes, speak louder than words, and seeing the numbers of certain species dwindle under unnatural circumstances might make us see that we are losing more than we are gaining.
Hopefully, the climate change and wildlife statistics below can help us see the bigger picture and make the right changes and demand changes to be made in order to save the ones we are responsible for, and to save the one planet we are living on!
Top Climate Change and Wildlife Statistics
1. Animal populations experienced an average decline of 69% between 1970 and 2018. (Living Planet Report 2022)
2. Less than 100 individuals of the Bryde’s whale species are left in the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)
3. The world’s first mammal to become extinct because of climate change is the Bramble Cay Melomys (National Geographic)
4. Latin America shows the most significant regional decline in average population abundance at 94%. (Living Planet Report 2022)
5. Climate change by itself will cause the disappearance of nearly 8% of the current species. (University of Connecticut)
6. By 2100, an estimated 50% of the world’s species could go extinct because of climate change. (World Animal Protection)
7. 65% of the insect populations could go extinct over the next century (Nasa – Nature Climate Change)
8. The Cheetahs are on the brink of extinction, with a population decline of about 50% in the last four decades. (National Geographic)
9. The global abundance of 18 of 31 oceanic sharks and rays has declined by 71% over the last 50 years. (Living Planet Report 2022)
What Percentage of Animals Are Affected by Climate Change?
The effect climate change has on our world is undeniable and all it takes for us is to look at the number of animal species that are currently suffering from it and the research that has been done so far that showcases these percentages and these numbers.
So, let’s take a look at some of these numbers!
1. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are more than 41,000 species that are threatened with extinction, that is 28% of all assessed species, and they are listed on the Red List of Threatened Species.
147,517 species have been assessed so far by the IUCN, with only 12,483 species remaining, and out of all these numbers you will find the following groups are threatened with extinction:
- 41% of amphibians
- 27% of mammals
- 13% of birds
- 37% of Sharks and Rays
- 28% of selected crustaceans
- 21% of reptiles
2. The 2022 Living Planet report done by the World Wildlife Fund tells us that animal populations have experienced an average decline of 69% between 1970 and 2018. The freshwater populations specifically have declined by an average of 83% since 1970.
Additionally, the abundance of birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles declined by more than two-thirds between 1970 and 2018.
3. The elevated summer and winter losses have also affected the number of bees and according to beekeepers in the United States, they lost an estimated 39% of their managed honey bee colonies over the entire year from 1 April 2021 to 1 April 2022.
Bumble bees are also threatened by climate change with more than a quarter of Europe’s and a quarter of North American bumble bees facing some degree of extinction. This is devastating news because bees and bumblebees are important pollinators of plants, fruits, and vegetables that are essential to animal and human diets.
5. The research done by Tyndall Centre for Climate Change studied 80,000 species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians and found that 50 percent of species could be lost without climate policy.
6. A study by a global team of experts found that more than 60% of tropical terrestrial endemic species were at risk of extinction due to climate change alone. According to this study endemic species from islands and mountain regions had extremely high extinction risk, 100% and 84% of species, respectively.
The same study also discusses how 54% of marine endemic species face extinction, while the number was at 26% for native species.
7. 97% of all species on Earth are invertebrates, including butterflies, worms, and mollusks. According to the World Animal Foundation one-third of them are close to extinction.
8. The Living Planet Database has found that between 1970 and 2016 all migration categories and populations of freshwater fish in tropical and temperate areas across all regions are faced with widespread decline, on average of 76%.
What Percentage of Animals Are Considered Endangered?
A study in Nature Climate Change found that 47% of land mammals and 23% of birds have already suffered negative impacts from climate change. Pollution, poaching, and the loss of their natural habitat are additional causes that are affecting animals, driving them to extinction.
9. The Siberian sturgeon is an endangered species because its total population in major basins has declined by 70% over the last century. (WWF)
10. The Transcaucasian racerunner is a lizard and it’s a critically endangered animal because of a huge population decline, estimated at more than 80% during the past 10 years. (National Geographic)
11. Javan rhinos have suffered a staggering decline in their numbers, around 75 individuals of this rare rhino species remain. (WWF)
12. The Amur leopard is one of the rarest big cats in the world, and it is critically endangered since 1996, with only around 100 individuals left in the wild. (WWF)
13. The Sunda Island tiger found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is very rare, fewer than 400 today are estimated to be still alive today. (WWF)
14. The Mountain gorilla is listed as endangered species, with just over 1,000 individuals in the wild. (WWF)
15. The Tapanuli orangutan is critically endangered with fewer than 800 individuals in the wild, making them the most endangered great ape species in the world. (WWF)
16. The Yangtze Finless Porpoise is the only living freshwater porpoise found in the world, with around 1,000 individuals left in the wild. (National Library of Medicine)
17. The koala is listed as Endangered in Queensland, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory. The koala population has plummeted by at least 50% because of deforestation, drought, and the recent bushfires. (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
18. Due to pollution, development projects, and hunting the River Dolphin populations have plummeted by 73% since the 1980s. (WWF)
19. In the Southern Plains, the lesser prairie-chicken population has declined 97% due to loss of habitat. There used to be millions of them and now there are only approximately 38,000 birds left. (Defenders of Wildlife)
20. The Bryde’s whale, of which experts estimate less than 100 individuals are left in the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)
21. The North Atlantic right whale is one of the world’s most endangered large whale species, with only about 350 whales remaining, among them fewer than 100 breeding females. (NOAA)
22. A significant percentage of the African gorilla population is already extinct. Thanks to massive conservation efforts, the number is declining, but there are approximately only 1000 gorillas left. (WWF)
23. Endangered Molluscs rose by 135% and some of these species include squid, worms, and snails. (Statista)
24. Despite their significance and massive impact on land and ocean habitats, most insects and smaller species often don’t get reported because of their size, however, the number of endangered insects rose by 209%. (Statista)
25. The savanna elephant population has reduced by 60% in the last 50 years and the number of forest elephants has fallen by 86% in the previous three decades. (BBC)
26. The endangered migratory monarch butterfly has shrunk by between 22% and 72% over the past decade. The western population is at the greatest risk of extinction, having declined by an estimated 99.9%, going from as many as 10 million to 1,914 butterflies between the 1980s and 2021. The larger eastern population also shrunk by 84% from 1996 to 2014. (IUCN)
27. The population of the leatherback turtles of Las Baulas National Park declined by 98% in the span of 30 years. (Earthwatch Institute)
How Many Animals Are Extinct Because of Climate Change?
The 2022 Living Planet Report indicates that “1-2.5% of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and fish have gone extinct; population abundances and genetic diversity have decreased, and species are losing their climatically determined habitats.”
The results of a 2016 study showed “that climate-related local extinctions have already occurred in hundreds of species, including 47% of the 976 species surveyed.”
The study also discussed how tropical species were faced with higher local extinctions compared to temperate species, 55%, and 39% respectively. More animals were lost to extinction compared to plants, 505 and 39% respectively. Similarly, freshwater habitats suffered more compared to terrestrial and marine habitats, 74%, 46%, and 51% respectively.
The world’s first mammal to become extinct because of climate change is the Bramble Cay Melomys (Melomys rubicola). This rodent lived on a single island off Australia and the rising sea levels shrunk their habitat by nearly 97% causing this small animal to go extinct.
As long as the climate change problem isn’t dealt more species will follow and the increasing numbers we are seeing are only going to get bigger.
How Many Animals Will be Extinct by Climate Change in 2050?
The extinction of one species can be devastating for our ecosystem because it can lead to more species going extinct. This phenomenon creates a domino effect that will cause harm to the world around us as we know it, animals, plants, and humans.
If no changes will be implemented the following studies and reports show some grim reports about 2050 and the future overall.
A recent study using data from 538 plant and animal species distributed globally showed that climate change can end up being responsible for the extinction of 57% to 70% of these species.
The UN report states that it’s important to protect the planet’s biodiversity otherwise as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species are going to become extinct in the next 30 years.
The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report predicts around 70% of habitat loss of Posidonia Oceanica by 2050 with a potential for functional extinction by 2100.
The U. S. Geological Survey projects that two-thirds of the world’s polar bear sub-populations will be extinct by 2050.
“More than 400 vertebrate species became extinct in the last 100 years – extinctions that would have taken up to 10,000 years in the normal course of evolution,” A study in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals. “More than 500 land-based vertebrate species are on the brink of extinction in the next two decades.”
That doesn’t mean all those things are set in stone, but a lot has to change if we don’t want these numbers to become a reality in 2050.
How Many Animals Will be Extinct by Climate Change in 2100?
While no one can predict their own future, scientists can predict the future of our planet and what awaits all living organisms by studying the damaging effects of climate change.
World Animal Protection states that by 2100, an estimated 50% of the world’s species could go extinct because of climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that 20% to 30% of assessed plants and animals could be at risk of extinction if average global temperatures reach the projected levels by 2100.
In another study recently published in Nature Climate Change, scientists found that 65% of the insect populations they examined could go extinct over the next century.
According to a 2016 research paper, “these extinctions will presumably become much more prevalent as global warming increases further by roughly 2-fold to 5-fold over the coming decades.”
So, it’s clear that there must be a collective effort by governments, conservation organizations, and people across the globe toward ending or reducing the consequences of climate change.
What Percentage of Animals Will Climate Change Affect in the Ocean?
While there are extensive lists of earthbound animals that are endangered and are affected by climate change to the point of extinction, marine animals are far more vulnerable.
The 2019 research published in the journal Nature showed that ocean-dwelling species are disappearing from their habitats at twice the rate of those on land.
While coral reefs cover less than 0.1% of the ocean floor, they support an estimated 25% of all marine life. Unfortunately, global warming has had a devastating effect on the coral reef system, and as a result, we’ve lost around 50% of warm-water coral reefs.
If the don’t see any changes and we don’t limit global warming to well below 2°C, not only are we going to lose most of the coral reefs but also the species that survive in the biodiverse ecosystems they create.
The 2018 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development states that nearly 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are depleted, overexploited, or fully exploited. Additionally, pollution from plastic, chemicals, and oil spills are responsible for 80% of the demise of oceanic species.
Ocean acidification is another aspect of global climate change and with an increase of about 30%, it’s also affecting marine organisms.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “the ability of some fish, like clownfish, to detect predators is decreased in more acidic waters. Studies have shown that decreased pH levels also affect the ability of larval clownfish offsite link to locate suitable habitat.”
The Living Planet Report 2022 also showed that “the global abundance of 18 of 31 oceanic sharks and rays has declined by 71% over the last 50 years. By 2020, three-quarters (77%, 24 species) were threatened with an elevated risk of extinction.”
The report also revealed that “the oceanic Whitetip Shark has declined by 95% globally over three generation lengths and has consequently moved from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.”
It must be said, however, that while climate change and pollution are responsible for the loss of habitat, and food, research done between 2003 and 2018 showed that “right whale death cases nearly 90% were due to entanglement in fishing gear and vessel collisions.”
What Percentage of Animals Will Climate Change Affect in the Arctic?
There are numerous reports suggesting that the Arctic has been warming nearly four times faster than the planet during the last 43 years. According to the National Wildlife Federation, the amount of Arctic sea ice observed in 2012 was 49% less than in the 1980s and 1990s.
Animals that are ice-dependant like polar bears, walruses, Arctic foxes, and narwhals are going to suffer if the sea ice thickness continues to decline due to climate change.
A report from the Center and Care for the Wild International shows that 17 species are at risk due to the climatic changes in the Arctic.
Data from Arctic Marine Biodiversity reports suggest that seabirds continue to be impacted by climate-driven shifts in their food supplies and by the retreat of sea ice.
The Guardian reports that “warmer temperatures have also led to the emergence of pathogens that have had a negative effect on the health of some animals. In 2012, an outbreak of erysipelas, a bacterial infection that affects the skin, killed about 150 musk oxen on Banks Island in the Northwest Territories”
As already mentioned polar bears are in serious danger of going extinct due to climate change. In fact, the polar bear became the first vertebrate species to be listed in 2008 under the U.S. Endangered Species Act as threatened due to predicted climate change.
The population of the Cook Inlet beluga whales was estimated at 279 individuals in 2018 and catastrophic events in relation to climate change are reported to be one of the biggest threats among others.
It’s more than clear that more species are feeling the effects of global warming and the climate crisis that we’re experiencing with each passing year, and the more they suffer and the more their numbers are declining, the more species are going to experience extinction as a result.
What Animals Are Most Affected by Climate Change?
There are multiple animals across the globe that are currently affected by climate change and as the temperatures keep rising, and their habitat becomes more and more unlivable these animals are faced with the possibility of extinction.
Polar bears: Because of the changes in sea ice, IUCN has listed the polar bear as a vulnerable species, and based on the re-assessment of the polar bear “there is a high probability that the global polar bear population will decline by more than 30% over the next 35 to 40 years.”
Snow Leopard: Habitat loss, poaching, and the climate crisis are responsible for the endangered status of the snow leopard and their populations have possibly declined by as much as 20% in the past two decades.
Giant Panda: With only 1,864 giant pandas left in the wild, climate change is predicted to cause the loss of 35% of the panda’s bamboo habitat and that will cause a further decline in their numbers.
Monarch Butterfly: The monarch butterfly population faces a risk of quasi-extinction of 11–57% in the next 20 years, primarily because of habitat loss.
Asian Elephant: One of the main reasons the population of the Asian Elephant has declined by 50% over the past 75 years is the habitat loss from deforestation and agricultural development if you don’t include poaching.
Cheetah: Climate change, hunting and the destruction of their natural habitat are the primary reasons why the Cheetahs are on the brink of extinction, with a decline of about 50 percent in the last four decades.
Moose: Habitat loss, ticks, and predators have led to a 22% decrease in the Moose population from 2017-2018, and the Panhandle region of Idaho saw the largest 45% reduction in 2019-2020.
Sea Turtles: While there are 7 species of sea turtles most of them are endangered or vulnerable. The leading causes are habitat loss, pollution, climate change that skews sex ratios during egg incubation, as well as bycatch, and illegal trade.
Puffins: In the Røst Archipelago, Norway, the population of puffins has decreased by 80% in recent decades. Because of low food availability and their nests being flooded by the heaviest rains the region has seen in 100 years, the puffin chicks, in the Gulf of Maine, have had a 90% failure to fledge in 2021.
Alaskan Caribou: Climate change is affecting the numbers of the Alaskan Caribou. The 2018 Arctic Report Card noted that the migrating populations of caribou and reindeer have declined 56% over the prior two decades.
Salmon: As the arctic ice melts the amount of water in streams is predicted to change but so is the timing, as a result, the delicate life cycle of salmon will be disrupted. For example, the Salish Sea Chinook salmon populations are down 60% since 1984.
The list of endangered species that are affected by climate change is long, and in truth, more animals are going to suffer from the changes in temperature directly or indirectly and the list is only going to get longer.
What Animals Can Best Withstand Climate Change?
While climate change will affect most if not all animals, some are more resilient to such changes, however, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any devastating effects even on these hardy creatures.
According to Owen Jones from the University of Southern Denmark “animals that live a long time and have few offspring are less vulnerable when extreme weather hits than animals that live for a short time and have many offspring.”
Such animals are the “African elephant, Siberian tiger, chimpanzee, greater horseshoe bat, llama, vicuña, white rhinoceros, grizzly bear, American bison, klipspringer, Schreibers’s bat.”
It’s also worth mentioning that the human effort to protect animals can bring change, even if it’s a small one.
For instance, despite the tiger population decline over the past 100 years, going from 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century to approximately 3,200 in 2010, there’s a 40% increase in wild tiger numbers with 4,500 tigers in the wild.
Whether a species is protected or more resilient, this doesn’t mean that these animals are safe because climate change or hunting for that matter aren’t the only threats. The destruction of their habitat, pollution, and invasive species can all lead these animals to extinction.
What Is The Biodiversity Loss By Region?
According to the Living Planet Report 2022:
- The biodiversity loss in North America stands at 20%
- The biodiversity loss in Latin America and The Caribbean stands at 94%.
- The biodiversity loss in Africa stands at 66%
- The biodiversity loss in Europe and Central Asia stands at 18%
- The biodiversity Loss in Adia Pacific stands at 55%
The World Wildlife Fund has also stated that:
- Up to 90 percent of amphibians, 86 percent of birds and 80 percent of mammals could potentially become locally extinct in the Miombo Woodlands in Southern Africa.
- The Amazon could lose 69 percent of its plant species.
- In southwest Australia, 89 percent of amphibians could become locally extinct.
- 60 percent of all species are at risk of localized extinction in Madagascar.
- The Fynbos in the Western Cape Region of South Africa, which is experiencing a drought that has led to water shortages in Cape Town, could face localized extinctions of a third of its species, many of which are unique to that region.
The research done by the University of East Anglia, the James Cook University, and the WWF showed that:
- Up to 50% of plant and animal species in the world’s most naturally rich areas, such as the Amazon and the Galapagos, could face local extinction by the turn of the century due to climate change if carbon emissions continue to rise unchecked.
- These places could lose 25% of their species according to a landmark
According to the UN Environment Programme:
From 1950-2011, the Mediterranean lost 41% of its top predators, including marine mammals. Current predictions suggest that more than 30 endemic species will become extinct by the end of the century.
What Is the Major Cause of Extinction?
A study by the University of Connecticut states that climate change by itself will cause the disappearance of nearly 8% of the current species.
What we are facing is the sixth extinction and while the prior five extinctions over the last 450 million years were caused mainly by volcanic eruptions, this time humans are the ones responsible.
Five major threats that are causing the extinction of animals have been identified and these are according to the Royal Society:
“Loss and degradation of habitats due to human use of land and sea; overexploitation of wild populations; and the impacts on populations and ecological communities of invasive alien species, pollution, and climate change.”
Here are some stats from the Living Planet Index as showcases by the Guardian.
- Climate change 7%
- Habitat loss 13%
- Habitat degradation/change 31%
- Exploitation 37%
- Other 11%
The loss and degradation of habitats are often caused by man-made changes. As WWF states “where and how food is produced is one of the biggest human-caused threats to species extinction and our ecosystems.”
“Agriculture is also responsible for 80% of global deforestation and accounts for 70% of the planet’s freshwater use, devastating the species that inhabit those places by significantly altering their habitats.”
The overexploitation of species can be either direct when these species are intentionally hunted like lions for instance, or indirect when they are unintentionally killed like whales.
With climate change, we also see the threat of invasive species. They either spread diseases that affect the native species or they become a type of predator that the native species don’t have the means to defend themselves from.
Pollution can have a gradual effect on species but that doesn’t mean there are no examples of pollution causing devastating damage to a species’ habitat, like an oil spill for example.
Finally, climate change is the one cause of extinction that is often overlooked because the impact it has is gradual on most species. But the change in temperatures can lead to irregular season changes and as a result, climate change can disrupt the migration and mating process for many species.
These statistics can seem impersonal and terrifying at the same time, however, the goal here is not to lose hope. Instead, we need to look at the state of this world with open eyes, and with honesty because through knowledge and understanding can we begin to change.
I hope that by looking at these climate change and wildlife statistics you don’t just see how things are right now, but how things could be if we tried all the possible pathways to saving all these animals and preserving their homes.
It’s true that numbers have power, but it’s also important to remember that behind these numbers there are real animals, and we all share the same planet with them, so we need to protect them at all costs!