Sunday, November 30, 2014

Animal Extinctions from Climate Rival End of Dinosaurs

Grizzly Bear. (Credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Animals are dying off in the wild at a pace as great as the extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago because of human activity and climate change.

Current extinction rates are at least 12 times faster than normal because people kill them for food, money or destroy their habitat, said Anthony Barnosky, a biology professor at the University of California-Berkeley.

“If that rate continues unchanged, the Earth’s sixth mass extinction is a certainty,” Barnosky said in a phone interview.  “Within about 200 to 300 years, three out of every four species we’re familiar with would be gone.”

The findings, due to air in a documentary on the Smithsonian Channel on Nov. 30, add to pressure on envoys from some 190 countries gathering next week at a United Nations conference in Peru to discuss limits on the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
‘Extinction Crisis’

“We would have an extinction crisis without climate change simply through how we use land and water and population growth,” Carroll said.  “But now you add to that this global force of climate change and that changes relationships between species and ecosystems in unpredictable ways.”
Grizzly bears and polar bears sometimes mate, and that produces offspring with neither camouflage for the snow nor the ability to hunt in the woods.

Badly Adapted

“The hybrids aren’t really adapted for either environment,” Hadly said. “Climate change will cause more of those unpleasant surprises.”

Read more at Animal Extinctions from Climate Rival End of Dinosaurs

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