The delicate ecosystems of Earth will probably have a huge hole torn in them because of global warming. As temperatures rise beyond tolerance levels, many species will go extinct. Ecosystems such as forests and coral reefs will not only start crumbling, but some may collapse abruptly as well. And it might all happen in this decade according to a recent Nature study.
The study was conducted by researchers at London’s College University. Biodiversity researcher Alex Pigot was one of the lead authors. The study revealed that not a single location on Earth can remain unaffected.
The Ecosystem Collapse Will Be Abrupt For Many
He specified the United States’ West Coast, Appalachian, and southern states ranging between Florida and Texas as ones facing a particularly large risk. 20 to 40% of the species are likely to face conditions that have been unprecedented in the area.
These regions have numerous species living in tiny geographic areas where the climatic conditions have a small range. As their habitats get heated to an intolerable point, many of these creatures will run out of places to live in. Some will inevitably go extinct. This will affect several other species as well, like a domino chain. For instance, if bumblebees get heated to extinction, plant reproduction will be severely affected. If reptiles and insects find it too hot, then mammals and birds will have more difficulty finding food.
Pigot said that the team hopes that the predictions are mistaken. But, unfortunately, they are seeing more and more of the signs taking place around them in the ecosystems. He added that the UCL study suggests that multiple species are facing the loss simultaneously and not one by one.
Read: Biodiversity: Perils Which Haunt Our Ecosystem
The current global warming rate is predicted to cause exposure events abruptly in oceans in the tropics much earlier than 2030. Higher altitudes and forests in the tropics will show such events by 2050. The risks take place much slower if the global temperatures are limited to 3.6 F. In other words, if the climate agreement of Paris in 2015 is met.
Pigot said that even a few more decades will give them invaluable time in enlarging protected areas. More experimental methods such as assisted evolution and assisted migrations can also be tried out then.
However, even if the emission of greenhouse gases is curbed immediately, global temperatures will still hit 7 F by 2100. This is because cloud process changes or huge increases in the Arctic methane content can magnify the present global warming rate.
The Latest Finding Gives Hope Too
McGill University’s research biologist Jennifer Sunday explains that the latest study reveals a detailed time frame of when species may face heat never experienced for 5 years consecutively earlier. Surprisingly, various climates’ animals will hit these thresholds at about a similar time. As a result, there can be widespread collapse or disruption in the ecosystem.
The study said that tropical regions’ ecosystems, which are close to the Equator, will be hit the hardest. Along with them, the polar latitude will also have one of the toughest times. This is because the temperature of polar areas is increasing almost two times quicker than the rest of the world. The newest revelation is that dangerous climate exposure is possibly happening abruptly.
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He said that it will be too late when things get very bad. But the study’s findings show that there is still time for us to act and delay the risk. It might even be averted entirely for several thousand species. If global warming can be held under 2C (3.6F) then the curve of accumulating climate risks with regards to biodiversity can be effectively flattened.