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How Climate Change Is Leaving Some Species with ‘Nowhere Left to Go’

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Edith’s Checkerspot. Credit: Rick & Nora Bowers/Alamy Stock Photo For millennia, many animals and plants have coped with occasional climate changes by moving into new areas. But humans’ relatively recent burning of fossil fuels is pushing global temperatures upward at an exceptionally rapid rate, placing many species on what a new book by science journalist Benjamin von Brackel notes has been called an “escalator to extinction”—and raising the question of whether migration can save them this time. It is estimated that land-dwelling animals are now moving toward the poles at a rate of an average of about 17 kilometers (more than 10 miles) per decade and that the front line of ocean dwellers is now doing so at a rate of 72 kilometers (45 miles) per decade. Some plant and animal species—such as the Edith’s checkerspot butterfly and the Scots pine—are shifting to higher, cooler elevations in the mountains as well. What happens when they all run out of places to flee the heat?

His book Nowhere Left to Go: How Climate Change Is Driving Species to the Ends of the Earth (The Experiment Publishing) came out on July 5. In it, von Brackel examines this question and others that […]

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