Forget polar bears or penguins. The charismatic megafauna suffering most from climate change may well be the wolverine—a vicious predator known for its uncanny strength and tenacity. Making it the perfect inspiration for the X-Men superhero.
The actual wolverine's super powers extend mostly to a tolerance for Arctic chill and supersized feet to permit quicker movement on snow. Those big feet might be hurting the largest member of the weasel family as snowpack declines across much of North America.
Wildlife biologists report in the journal Population Ecology that fur trappers have caught fewer and fewer wolverines over the last decades of the 20th century. That coincides with snowpack declining across Canada everywhere except the Yukon.
Unfortunately for the wolverine, which is already endangered, action to combat the climate change behind this has been slow. The government of the Great White North has most recently repudiated its previous commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol in favor of a slight rise as part of signing up to the Copenhagen Accord. While 55 countries did commit to action via that accord, their commitments fall well shy of what's needed to slow or even reverse global warming.
That probably means less snow for the wolverine, which may mean less food and fewer chances to disperse to new homes. As a result, the mighty wolverine appears to be among the first confirmed victims of a changing climate.