Climate Change Research:Policy Makers Should Act to Prevent Global-Scale Loss of Common Plants and Animals
BY: Dr.Y.Bala Murali
13(2013) Man is the maker of his own destiny, says the adage. It is all in our
hands whether we want our progeny to see the global flora and fauna survive the
vagaries of nature or not.
If we fail to
intensify measures to prevent drastic decline in climate change, we are bound
to lose more than half of common plants and one third of the animal species by
the year 2080, scientists warn.
Research, conducted by the University of East Anglia and published today in the journal Nature
Climate Change looked
at 50,000 globally widespread and common species, threatening the biodiversity.
means that geographic ranges of common plants and animals will shrink globally
and biodiversity will decline almost everywhere.
But acting quickly to mitigate
climate change could reduce losses by 60 per cent and buy an additional 40
years for species to adapt. This is because this mitigation would slow and then
stop global temperatures from rising by more than two degrees Celsius relative
to pre-industrial times (1765). Without this mitigation, global temperatures
could rise by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100.
reptiles and particularly amphibians are expected to be at highest risk.
Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, Amazonia and Australia would lose the most
species of plants and animals. And a major loss of plant species is projected
for North Africa, Central Asia and South-eastern Europe.
was led by Dr Rachel Warren from UEA's school of Environmental Sciences and the
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Collaborators include Dr.Jeremy
VanDerWal at James Cook University in Australia and Dr Jeff Price, also at
UEA's school of Environmental Sciences and the Tyndall Centre. The research was
funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
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.
broader issue of potential range loss in widespread species is a serious
concern as even small declines in these species can significantly disrupt
research predicts that climate change will greatly reduce the diversity of even
very common species found in most parts of the world. This loss of global-scale
biodiversity would significantly impoverish the biosphere and the ecosystem
services it provides.
looked at the effect of rising global temperatures, but other symptoms of
climate change such as extreme weather events, pests, and diseases mean that
our estimates are probably conservative. Animals in particular may decline more
as our predictions will be compounded by a loss of food from plants.
will also be a knock-on effect for humans because these species are important
for things like water and air purification, flood control, nutrient cycling,
good news is that our research provides crucial new evidence of how swift
action to reduce CO2 and
other greenhouse gases can prevent the biodiversity loss by reducing the amount
of global warming to 2 degrees Celsius rather than 4 degrees. This would also
buy time -- up to four decades -- for plants and animals to adapt to the
remaining 2 degrees of climate change."
team quantified the benefits of acting now to mitigate climate change and found
that up to 60 per cent of the projected climatic range loss for biodiversity
can be avoided.
said: "Prompt and stringent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
globally would reduce these biodiversity losses by 60 per cent if global
emissions peak in 2016, or by 40 per cent if emissions peak in 2030, showing
that early action is very beneficial. This will both reduce the amount of
climate change and also slow climate change down, making it easier for species
and humans to adapt."
on the current distributions of the species used in this research came from the
datasets shared online by hundreds of volunteers, scientists and natural
history collections through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
Jeff Price, also from UEA's school of Environmental Studies, said:
"Without free and open access to massive amounts of data such as those
made available online through GBIF, no individual researcher is able to contact
every country, every museum, every scientist holding the data and pull it all
together. So this research would not be possible without GBIF and its global
community of researchers and volunteers who make their data freely