Okay, so you’ve probably heard the news that as climate change intensifies, some of the things we have learned to love and enjoy will simply cease to exist. If you’re eating a stack of pancakes with maple syrup and drinking coffee right now … be warned they’re threatened by climate change. But since the end of syrup and coffee is still a little ways off in the future, chances are you aren’t too alarmed or disturbed by their inevitable disappearance. What you should be just a tad bit more concerned about are the current things we are losing due to climate change. Really, they’re not things at all, they’re animals. Specifically, this precious, adorable, amazing, so-cute-we-just-can’t-handle-it animal.
This darling little bundle of fur is an American pika, and thanks to an average temperature increase of 2.2 degrees, they are threatened with extinction.
Trust us tiny friend, we are just as appalled as you are! In California, the pika population is struggling to adapt to the rapidly changing climate. While a temperature increase of two degrees might be welcomed by warm-weather loving humans, these small creatures have evolved to thrive in specific temperature conditions. Unlike other burrowing animals, the pika does not hibernate, but forages for food throughout the warmer months and survives on what they have gathered during the cold winters. Pika’s have high metabolisms and thick fur coats, which allows them to thrive in colder climes, not so much when it’s really hot.
Now, because temperatures are warmer, the pika is being forced to stay burrowed in their cool underground tunnels during prime foraging months. This means they aren’t able to collect enough winter supplies and, as a result, they’re dying off.
Due to the rapidly changing climate, pikas have disappeared from 15 percent of their native California range, but it is predicted that by 2070, they will be missing from 40 to 90 percent of the area!
In order for the pika to survive through the next half a century, they would have to migrate to cooler regions of California. Hear that guys? Time to start packing up your dens!
The loss of the pika will also have a devastating impact on the ecosystem of the Sierra Nevada region. This small species acts as a food source for owls and stoats, and their foraging activities help to diversify and spread vegetation. So it’s really not far off to say that without the pika, California will never be the same.
What You Can Do
The pika is just one of thousands of other animal species who are threatened by climate change. The rapid rate at which humans are expelling greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is accelerating the warming of the planet and many species simply cannot adapt quickly enough to survive. Scientists have determined that we are currently in the midst of the world’s sixth mass extinction of species, a phenomenon driven by human activities. There is still hope that we can shield many of the world’s species from becoming extinct, but it requires us all to act NOW. By reducing your personal carbon footprint, you can help to slow the rapid warming of the planet and allow the animals of the world to adapt, or relocate before it is too late. By leaving meat off your plate, you can cut your carbon footprint in half! So please, for the sake of the precious pika, consider changing your consumption habits … who knows you could end up saving the world. Image source: Rick Cameron/Flickr