Fifty-nine percent of the endangered species recovery plans issued by the U.S. government between 2005 and 2008 mention climate change as one of the major threats facing the species, according to a study published in Conservation Biology.

The study, which examined 1,209 species recovery plans published between 1975 and 2008, was authored by Tony Povilitis, president of Life Net Nature, and Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

The mention of climate change in these species recovery plans is a fairly recent occurrence. Of the 87 recovery plans issued between 2001 and 2004, only 16 mentioned climate change as an extinction threat. That rose to 73 out of 123 plans issued from 2005 to 2008.

Despite federally employed scientists identifying climate change as a factor in possible species extinctions, the government itself hasn't come up with any plan to protect these species by combating climate change. "Scientific teams have moved swiftly to incorporate global warming into these recovery plans, but good science isn't enough," Suckling said in a prepared statement. "We need good policy. Without it, scientific teams are forced to create their own policies on the fly, species by species, every time they write a recovery plan."

The study was actually published in April, but the CBD is just publicizing it now after spending a few months dealing with the repercussions of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Photo: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio Data provided by Robert B. Schmunk