Monday, May 13, 2013

One-third of animal species will be hit by climate change, scientists warn

The Guardian (UK): One-third of common land animals could see dramatic losses this century because of climate change, scientists predict. More than half of plants could be hit the same way as habitats become unsuitable for numerous species. The collapse of ecosystems would have major economic impacts on agriculture, air quality, clean water access, and tourism.

Global temperatures are set to rise 4C above preindustrial levels by 2100 if nothing is done to stem greenhouse gas emissions. This could have a hugely destructive effect on thousands of common as well as rare and endangered species around the world, according to the researchers.

An estimated 57% of plants and 34% of animals were likely to lose half or more of their habitat range. But the damage would be greatly reduced if emissions were scaled down in time, the study shows. Losses are reduced by 60% if global warming is cut to 2% above preindustrial levels, with emissions peaking in 2016 and then being reduced by 5% a year. If emissions peak in 2030, losses are reduced by 40%.

Lead scientist Dr Rachel Warren, from the University of East Anglia's school of environmental science, said: "While there has been much research on the effect of climate change on rare and endangered species, little has been known about how an increase in global temperature will affect more common species....

A tree frog in Portland, Oregon, shot by, who has generously released the image into the public domain

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