President Barack Obama's attack on climate change in his State of the Union address could be good news for animals - as long as we heed the call to action.
"No challenge - no challenge - poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change," the president said in his address Tuesday night. "2014 was the planet's warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn't make a trend, but this does - 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century."
There's no question that climate change and record global temperatures have transformed the lives of animals. They've adopted different diets, different migratory patterns and even different perceptions of time. When warm days fall earlier in the year, for example, Australia's mountain pygmy possums wake sooner from hibernation but go hungry because their food source - moths - haven't yet arrived.
"The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate," the president said. He described a realistic snapshot of a warmer globe:
If we do not act forcefully, we'll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe.
Though Obama made clear the perils of climate change, he was light on details about what the future of the U.S. response to global warming might look like. November's agreement between the U.S. and China to cut carbon emissions, however, is a positive, if optimistic, sign.
The president wasn't the only Obama to take aim at climate change during his speech. Michelle Obama, who noted the diplomatic role of pandas in March, sat next to Nicole Hernandez Hammer, a climate activist who studies the way rising sea levels change coastal communities.
Also on Tuesday, the Humane Society of the United States, in its "State of the Animal Union," applauded the Obama administration's stance on wildlife trafficking and animal cruelty but noted room for improvement regarding the government's care of wild horses and wolves.