Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Extinction Toll May Be Far Worse Than Thought

Yet again, researchers have confirmed that climate change threatens the natural world with a soaring extinction toll.  The danger may be much higher than anyone imagined.

Extinction is for ever – and it may be galloping far faster than we realize. (Image Credit: Olha Zaika on Unsplash) Click to Enlarge.
Two scientists want the world to think again about the extinction toll, the rate at which species could vanish as the planet warms.  They warn that the worst fears so far may have been based on underestimates.  Tomorrow’s rates of extinction could be 10 times worse.

That is because the loss of one or two key species could turn into a cascade that could spell the end for whole ecosystems.  “Primary extinctions driven by environmental change could be just the tip of an enormous extinction iceberg,” they warn.

In their study, long before the complete loss of one species, other species locked into the same ecosystem started to perish.  There is no need to worry about the rare but real hazard of an asteroid impact, or a burst of gamma rays from a nearby exploding star.  The message from the simulators is that global average warming of between 5° and 6°C above the level for most of history since the end of the last Ice Age would be enough to wipe out most life on the hypothetical Earths.

“This makes it difficult to be optimistic about the future of species diversity in the ongoing trajectory of global change, let alone in the case of additional external, extraplanetary catastrophes.”

Read more at Extinction Toll May Be Far Worse Than Thought

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