Study: Warm­ing could threaten half of species in 33 key ar­eas

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Lifestyle -

GLOBAL warm­ing could place 25 to 50 per­cent of species in the Ama­zon, Mada­gas­car and other bio­di­verse ar­eas at risk of lo­cal­ized ex­tinc­tion within decades, ac­cord­ing to the con­ser­va­tion group WWF.

The lower pro­jec­tion is based on a mer­cury rise of two de­grees Cel­sius (3.6 de­grees Fahren­heit) over pre-In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion lev­els - the warm­ing ceil­ing the world’s na­tions agreed on in 2015. The high­est is for out-of-con­trol warm­ing of 4.5 C.

“Global bio­di­ver­sity will suf­fer ter­ri­bly over the next cen­tury un­less we do ev­ery­thing we can,” said the WWF, which com­mis­sioned the anal­y­sis that was pub­lished in the sci­ence jour­nal Cli­matic Change. “We must keep av­er­age global tem­per­a­tures down to the ab­so­lute min­i­mum.”

The re­port, which was re­leased on Wed­nes­day, fo­cused on 33 so-called “Pri­or­ity Places” which host some of the world’s rich­est and most un­usual ter­res­trial species, in­clud­ing iconic, en­dan­gered, or en­demic plants and an­i­mals.

They in­clude south­ern Chile, the east­ern Hi­malayas, South Africa’s unique Fyn­bos ecore­gion, Bor­neo, Su­ma­tra, the Namib­ian desert, West Africa, south­west Aus­tralia, coastal east Africa, and south­ern Africa’s Miombo Wood­lands, home to African wild dogs.

The team looked at the im­pact of cli­mate change on nearly 80,000 ter­res­trial plant, mam­mal, bird, am­phib­ian, and rep­tile species.

At warm­ing of 4.5 C, based on a “busi­nes­sas-usual” sce­nario of no emis­sions cuts, the Ama­zon could risk the lo­cal ex­tinc­tion of 69 per­cent of its plant species.

The Miombo Wood­lands risks los­ing 90 per­cent of its am­phib­ians, 86 per­cent of birds and 80 per­cent of mam­mals, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Un­der the 2015 Paris Agree­ment, coun­tries made vol­un­tary pledges to curb plan­et­warm­ing green­house gas emis­sions from burn­ing coal, oil and nat­u­ral gas.

But even if those pledges are met, sci­en­tists pre­dict warm­ing over 3 de­grees Cel­sius, a recipe for dis­as­trous cli­mate change-trig­gered sea level rises, su­per­storms, floods, and droughts.

Warm­ing of 3.2 de­grees Cel­sius would place about 37 per­cent of species in Pri­or­ity Places at risk of lo­cal ex­tinc­tion, said a WWF state­ment.

“Even with the emis­sions cuts pledged un­der the Paris Agree­ment, tem­per­a­tures that were ex­treme in the past are set to be the new nor­mal in all Pri­or­ity Places,” it added - in some as early as 2030.

Lim­it­ing warm­ing to 2 de­grees Cel­sius would en­able many species to con­tinue in­hab­it­ing the ar­eas they cur­rently oc­cupy, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

And if an­i­mals can move freely - not con­strained by roads, fences, or hu­man set­tle­ments - the pro­por­tion of species at ex­tinc­tion risk at warm­ing of 2 de­grees Cel­sius drops from 25 to 20 per­cent.

The re­port comes ahead of a ma­jor meet­ing of the IPBES in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal panel in Medellin, Colom­bia, where sci­en­tists and gov­ern­ments will re­lease five as­sess­ments of the state of bio­di­ver­sity.

Ex­tinc­tion is not sim­ply about the dis­ap­pear­ance of species, said the WWF, “but about pro­found changes to ecosys­tems that pro­vide vi­tal ser­vices to hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple.”

Job and rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing tourism would suf­fer greatly if species dis­ap­pear, and as-yetundis­cov­ered medicines from plants for­ever lost.

“Put sim­ply, we have to stop burn­ing fos­sil fu­els,” said the WWF.

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