"Species can be listed as “threatened” and receive protection based on climate change projections that stretch until the end of the century, a federal appeals court has ruled, in a decision that could have major implications for the fate of animals as their environment rapidly changes.
A three-judge panel at the US ninth circuit court unanimously rejected an appeal by a coalition of oil companies, the state of Alaska and indigenous Alaskans to prevent a subspecies of the Pacific bearded seal from getting federal protection.
The federal government’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) decided that the Alaska-based populations of bearded seals would “almost certainly” be at risk of being wiped out due to disappearing Arctic sea ice by 2095.
Alaska, along with the oil companies, argued that listing the species as threatened wasn’t warranted because the climate predictions were speculative. The appeals court disagreed, potentially opening the way for other species to be protected due to long-range climate forecasts."