New Analysis Predicts Planet Warming Will Lead to Massive Loss of Biodiversity

2289197116_21f5f9283a Under a scenario that is nothing short of fairy tale-optimistic and unrealistic, a pair of authors from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has predicted a minimum warming of 2.4° C (4.3° F) above pre-industrial levels.

And even an increase that is seemingly that small, falls within the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) threshold range of temperature increase that would see a massive loss of biodiversity, deglaciation and a variety of other negative environmental effects.

“This paper demonstrates the major challenges society will have to face in dealing with a problem that now seems unavoidable,” said the paper’s lead author, Scripps Atmospheric and Climate Sciences Professor V. Ramanathan. “We hope that governments will not be forced to consider trade-offs between air pollution abatement and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

I referred to the scenario as ‘fairy tale-optimistic and unrealistic’ for good reason. Ramanathan and co-author Yan Feng assumed for their study that greenhouse gas emissions would remain constant at levels found in 2005 for the next century. Now needless to say, we’ve already moved on from 2005, and according to experts, we would have to cut down drastically on our emissions over the next decade for this to be within reach as a feasible goal. Of course, given that both India and China are expected to substantially increase their own emissions due to the constant push of western consumerism forcing those countries into working for us, the likelihood of returning to 2005 levels is … dim.

“Given that a potentially large warming is already in our rear-view mirror, scientists and engineers must mount a massive effort and develop solutions for adapting to climate change and for mitigating it,” Ramanathan said. “Drastic reduction of short-lived warming agents is one way to buy the planet time for developing cost-effective ways for reducing CO2 concentrations.”

Their paper, published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also includes potential solutions to the problems they have predicted, as well as arguing that if we are to cope with the almost inevitable impending circumstances, it will require “transformational research for guiding the path of future energy consumption.”

credit: minds-eye at Flickr under a Creative Commons license

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1 thought on “New Analysis Predicts Planet Warming Will Lead to Massive Loss of Biodiversity”

  1. As sensitive and specialized as many creatures are, I think it’s a more precarious position than people even realize.

    People worry about polar bears and penguins losing their ice, but that’s a handful of species, ultimately, if we’re just look at total diversity.

    Specialized habitats, like hilltops and alpine biomes, are almost like a high-altitude archipelago, often with specialized or even indigent species that live nowhere else in the world.

    It gets too hot to thrive, or too hot for the plants, or the lower-altitude animals are driven up the hills by the heat and out-compete the super-specialized, often low-metabolism species.

    Looking at the future of biodiversity and global warming, these regions are what worries me most.

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