Climate Change Driving Rapid Biodiversity Loss

The effects of biodiversity loss caused by climate change will be felt much more quickly and intensely than previously thought. As EcoWatch reported, a new study published in Nature showed that in a high-emissions scenario of more than 4° Celsius of warming by 2100, at least 15% of ecosystems would suffer an event in which more than 20% of their key species hit their temperature limits in the same decade. 

However, this scenario is not a given, we have the ability to change course.

Why This Matters: Healthy biodiversity is important to sustain human life and is also key to fighting the impacts of climate change. But particularly relevant to this current moment is that a loss in biodiversity has been linked to the spread of pandemics. The CDC estimates that “3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.” As people continue to destroy nature the risk of human to animal interaction increases as does the risk that infectious disease passes from animals to humans. It also underscores the need for the global community to protect 30% of nature by 2030, a goal more important than ever. 

The Outlook: As the study authors explained in the Conversation, we’re already seeing some of the projected losses to biodiversity. 

Abrupt biodiversity loss due to marine heatwaves that bleach coral reefs is already under way in tropical oceans. 

  • The risk of climate change causing sudden collapses of ocean ecosystems is projected to escalate further in the 2030s and 2040s. 

Under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario, the risk of abrupt biodiversity loss is projected to spread onto land, affecting tropical forests and more temperate ecosystems by the 2050s.

 

But there is hope. If greenhouse emissions begin to be curbed at the Paris Agreement standards and more measures are taken to protect local ecology, then this frightening future can be avoided. 

As Dr. Alex Pigot of University College of London’s Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, explained.

“Keeping global warming below 2°C effectively ‘flattens the curve’ of how this risk to biodiversity will accumulate over the century, providing more time for species and ecosystems to adapt to the changing climate – whether that’s by finding new habitats, changing their behavior, or with the help of human-led conservation efforts.”

 

Up Next

Bats Struggling to Cope With Extreme Heat

Bats Struggling to Cope With Extreme Heat

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer As the world warms, it’s not just people who are feeling the heat. Bats are also susceptible to extreme heat, and overheated bat boxes can be “a death trap,” the Guardian reports. In the wild, bats move between rock and tree crevices in search of a perfectly moderated temperature. […]

Continue Reading 454 words
Freshwater Fish in Peril, New WWF Report States

Freshwater Fish in Peril, New WWF Report States

by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A new report entitled The World’s Forgotten Fishes from the World Wildlife Fund has found that there has been a “catastrophic” decline in freshwater fish, with nearly a third of all freshwater fish species coming perilously close to extinction.  The statistics paint a sobering picture: 26% of all critically […]

Continue Reading 471 words
Scientists Clone First Endangered Species: A Black-Footed Ferret

Scientists Clone First Endangered Species: A Black-Footed Ferret

by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Move over Dolly, there’s a new clone in town and her name is Elizabeth Ann the Black-Footed ferret. You read that right; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced on Thursday that it had successfully cloned the first U.S. endangered species. Elizabeth Ann was born on December 10, […]

Continue Reading 491 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.