Climate Change + Habitat Loss = Mass Extinction (And perhaps the collapse of human civilization)
A study (and 2) in the recent edition of the science journal “Nature” predicts that by 2050 global warming will result in more than a third of the world's wildlife going extinct, and a slightly lower percentage of plants. The mid-range projection is that 24 percent of all species will become extinct, and under maximum expected climate change, 35 percent of all land species are expected to be lost. The researchers made these estimates by modeling future populations of 1,103 types of native plants, birds, butterflies, frogs and other animals in biological hotspots accounting for about 20 percent of the Earth's surface.
Synergy between climate change and increasing habitat loss (already known to be the largest single threat to species and emergent ecosystem processes) is likely to devastate the ability of species to move and thus survive changing conditions. Human modified habitat is too fragmented to allow for migration of species to suitable habitat, and the Planet is warming orders of magnitude faster than ever before. Massive loss of species will affect entire ecosystems, in many cases leading to loss of whole species assemblages and even ecological collapse as once fertile lands become wastelands.
Earth is on the leading edge of a mass extinction event. Synergistic effects of human over-use of the biosphere threaten the very existence of ecosystems necessary for all life and thus human civilizations. Hope remains – but time is of the essence. Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced dramatically, necessitating a rapid shift to cleaner energy sources and simpler ways of living. Conservation strategies must focus more upon establishing spatially extensive (large and connected) conservation areas composed of strictly protected natural habitats, massive restoration and remediation areas, and widespread community-based sustainable management.
Humanity will be called upon to adapt, including fostering a sense of “enoughness” in the World's super-consumers, while equitably and justly sharing the fruits of the Earth. These are the challenges of our time. Below are a sampling of articles to be found on the matter at http://www.climateark.org/news/ . I expect the fight for Planetary survival to be won, as global citizenry mobilizes to reduce their environmental impact, while demanding that their leaders lead. Fight the good fight.