Biodiversity suffers as climate warms | 5/17/2018 | Staff
KimmyPoo (Posted by) Level 3
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A simplified ecological landscape—with significant biodiversity loss—might be the outcome if a global temperature increase cannot be restricted to 1.5 degrees C above historical pre-industrial levels.

This is the warning from Professor Guy Midgley, a world-leading expert on global change and its impact on biodiversity, in an insight article published in Science this week.

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"Warming by more than two degrees will take the world into a temperature state that it hasn't seen for several millions of years," he says from his office in the Department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. This is in reaction to a report from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, also published in this issue of Science, in which Professor Rachel Warren and others show that if the global temperature increase cannot be limited to 1.5 degrees C, but is allowed to rise with 2 degrees C, it roughly doubles the risks associated with warming for plants, animals and insects.

With current pledges by nations towards limiting climate change, scientists predict a corresponding warming of about 3.2 degrees C. This could see 47 percent of insect species, 26 percent of vertebrate and 16 percent of plant species standing to lose at least half of their geographic ranges.

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Professor Midgley says higher levels of warming would lead to systemic ecological simplification, a process where many "climate losers" are replaced by far fewer "climate winners." Such a simplified ecological landscape could have impacts on ecosystem services such as water quality, soil conservation, flood prevention, all of which are important for human well-being. Fewer insects also mean fewer pollinators and hence concomitant implications for many plant species, and related food production.

But even if governments and industry manage to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C, recent research shows that...
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