Polar bears and penguins seem to be the poster animals for anti-global warming campaigns. How could they not be? Our hearts bleed when we hear about the charismatic Arctic cuties starving and floating off on sea ice chunks. But new studies show that polar species are not the only populations that could be decimated in the near future by recent global warming. 

Research released on Tuesday shows that plant and animal species in Brazil may also die out as a result of warming. The country’s Pantanal wetlands and Amazon rainforest will be especially vulnerable to the droughts, disease, and extreme weather conditions that warming will bring. Because the Amazon is home to millions of creatures from red-eyed tree frogs to jaguars, results could be catastrophic.

From a Reuters article:

"Brazil is believed to be home to roughly a fifth of all plant and animal species and the government has invested US $142 million (300 million reais) since 2003 to preserve the vest swathes of land in areas like the Amazon, Environmental Secretary Joao Capobianco said.
But rising global temperatures could undermine conservation efforts."

One research project predicted that the Amazon could rise as much as eight degrees Celsius in this century. Some of the other findings include fish species dying out, the Patanal wetlands drying up and turning into grasslands, and malaria and dengue outbreaks. 

To add insult to injury, Brazil emits less carbon than most large countries because of its huge (but might we add, rapidly dwindling) rainforest cover. Meanwhile, the U.S. is the leading producer of CO2 in the atmosphere, with China and Russia close behind. Poor Brazil, it’s just like the poles—stuck taking the heat from everybody else’s pollution. 

Story by Sarah Parsons. This article originally appeared in Plenty in March 2007. This story was added to MNN.com in July 2009.

Copyright Environ Press 2007.