Just days after the Mauna Loa observatory recorded the first exceedance of 400 ppm carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere, a report in the journal Nature Climate Change describes what we can expect if climate change continues unmitigated.
Living spaces cut in half
Dr. Rachel Warren, of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, led a study that assessed 50,000 common species around the globe. The study’s models showed more than half (57%±6%) of flora and one third (34%±7%) of fauna “are likely to lose ≥50% of their present climatic range by the 2080s.”
What does this mean? Basically, the study assumes that as things warm up, plants and animals will move to a more suitable climate. It estimates an envelop of parameters for just how quickly each species can relocate itself. So the halving of a species range is not based on simply eliminating parts of their current range that heat up too much.
The models bring to light a a number of factors in such a global climate-driven migration. For example, more mobile species, like birds, will travel to new climes more quickly. But a group will disperse in many directions to find a more suitable home, leading to a high rate of deaths in the groups that select their new territory incorrectly.
The model does not account for direct impacts to species due to higher CO2 levels, for example earlier stomatal closing, which could affect how a species thrives or fails.
The effect of biodiversity loss due to climate change on humans remains a big question mark. We are also codependent on many of these species for cleaning our air and water, for nurturing the foods we consume, and other beneficial.
Source: Christine Lepisto | Tree Hugger
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