Study predicts worldwide range losses without urgent action to limit emissions

May 12, 2013

Almost two thirds of common plants and half the animals could see a dramatic decline this century due to climate change – according to research from the University of East Anglia.

Research published today in the journal Nature Climate Change looked at 50,000 globally widespread and common species and found that two thirds of the plants and half of the animals will lose more than half of their climatic range by 2080 if nothing is done to reduce the amount of global warming and slow it down.

This means that geographic ranges of common plants and animals will shrink globally and biodiversity will decline almost everywhere.

Plants, 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.

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.

The study 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).

Dr Warren 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.

"This broader issue of potential range loss in widespread species is a serious concern as even small declines in these species can significantly disrupt ecosystems.

"Our 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.

"We 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.

"There 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, and eco-tourism.

"The 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."

The research 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.

Dr Warren 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."

Explore further: Climate change already affecting UK wildlife

More information: 'Quantifying the benefit of early climate change mitigation in avoiding biodiversity loss' is published online by the journal Nature Climate Change on Sunday May 12, 2013. dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1887

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User comments : 26

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VENDItardE
1.5 / 5 (25) May 12, 2013
idiots.
ValeriaT
1.5 / 5 (16) May 12, 2013
The world economy is adopted to particular conditions, every change from equilibrium would lead into additional expenses. Regarding the food, we are still dependent on biosphere. If the elevated carbon dioxide levels dissolve the shells of plankton, the worldwide fisheries could be be seriously threatened. The concentration of toxins like the mercury in oceans may work in similar way. But there are many other reasons, why we should switch from fossil fuels, for example the increasing risk of geopolitical instability at the case of elevated oil prices. We can see for example, how the Japan and China are preparing to war just because of raising prices of oil. The replacement of fossil fuels with cold fusion and another technologies is therefore the task of primary political importance, not just economical or ecological one.
The Alchemist
2.1 / 5 (18) May 12, 2013
So, by all means let's act quickly:
Fossil fuel is so 20th century.
Moebius
3.9 / 5 (18) May 12, 2013
Human nature will prevent us from doing anything until we are sure why it's happening. Human nature means epidemic stupidity and when we are sure why it's happening (us) it will be too late to fix.
geokstr
1.3 / 5 (25) May 12, 2013
Human nature will prevent us from doing anything until we are sure why it's happening. Human nature means epidemic stupidity and when we are sure why it's happening (us) it will be too late to fix.


And if we don't really know why it's happening, then we may pour trillions of dollars and whole economies down another government rathole fixing the wrong thing, which again we will probably only discover when it's too late to fix it, and for all we know, our wrongheaded attempts may make things worse. Climate scientists already admit climate and weather are both chaotic, with so many possible feedbacks and potential inputs and interrelated causes and effects, many of which may not even be known yet, that their programs can't model for all of them.

The law of unintended consequences can be a bitch. And she is rarely a friendly one.
VendicarE
4 / 5 (13) May 12, 2013
Your name says it all Tard boy.

"idiots." - VendiTard
VendicarE
4.4 / 5 (14) May 12, 2013
"Climate scientists already admit climate and weather are both chaotic" - geokstr

They are using the term in the precise scientific sense.

In science, chaotic systems have a state which orbits a set of attractors. if the state is stable then the orbit generally remains fixed around one attractor.

When the system is perturbed by external influences the orbit changes in a manner in which causes it to become close enough to another attractor to be captured by it, or shared by it and some other attractor or attractors.

This, at a minimum, leaves the system in a dramatically different state, or worse, leave it shifting randomly between one of several semi-stable states.

Should such a climate shift take place, large scale agriculture may very well become impossible, either due to vastly higher temperatures, or excessive climate variability.
VendicarE
4.3 / 5 (16) May 12, 2013

"The law of unintended consequences can be a bitch." - geokstr

Then you should take all steps necessary to reduce the continued rise in atmospheric CO2, since the consequences of a state shift in the climate state attractor will most probably be a near extinction level event.
djr
4.7 / 5 (13) May 12, 2013
"idiots"

Another complex and sophisticated response to a science article - our understanding of the topic is much advanced by your insightful commentary.
jnjnjnjn
1 / 5 (16) May 13, 2013

"The law of unintended consequences can be a bitch." - geokstr

Then you should take all steps necessary to reduce the continued rise in atmospheric CO2, since the consequences of a state shift in the climate state attractor will most probably be a near extinction level event.


You assume climate is reversible, have you any proof of that?

J.
deepsand
2.7 / 5 (21) May 13, 2013

"The law of unintended consequences can be a bitch." - geokstr

Then you should take all steps necessary to reduce the continued rise in atmospheric CO2, since the consequences of a state shift in the climate state attractor will most probably be a near extinction level event.


You assume climate is reversible, have you any proof of that?

Have you a way to reverse extinction?
antigoracle
1.2 / 5 (19) May 15, 2013
according to research from the University of East Anglia.

Yes we should waste trillions of dollars on the "research" of those responsible for CLIMATEGATE.
Surely they did not ask, how did all of these plants and animals, including the polar bears, survive the MWP. Oh, I almost forgot, according to these guys the MWP never existed.
http://www.google...;dur=504
deepsand
2.6 / 5 (20) May 15, 2013
according to research from the University of East Anglia.

Yes we should waste trillions of dollars on the "research" of those responsible for CLIMATEGATE.
Surely they did not ask, how did all of these plants and animals, including the polar bears, survive the MWP. Oh, I almost forgot, according to these guys the MWP never existed.
http://www.google...;dur=504

Another steaming heap of TROLL CRAP.
antigoracle
1.2 / 5 (19) May 15, 2013
according to research from the University of East Anglia.

Yes we should waste trillions of dollars on the "research" of those responsible for CLIMATEGATE.
Surely they did not ask, how did all of these plants and animals, including the polar bears, survive the MWP. Oh, I almost forgot, according to these guys the MWP never existed.
http://www.google...;dur=504

Another steaming heap of TROLL CRAP.

TURD STOOL
deepsand
2.6 / 5 (20) May 16, 2013
according to research from the University of East Anglia.

Yes we should waste trillions of dollars on the "research" of those responsible for CLIMATEGATE.
Surely they did not ask, how did all of these plants and animals, including the polar bears, survive the MWP. Oh, I almost forgot, according to these guys the MWP never existed.
http://www.google...;dur=504

Another steaming heap of TROLL CRAP.

TURD STOOL

While redundant, it at least demonstrates that you possess self-awareness.
antigoracle
1.2 / 5 (19) May 16, 2013

Yes we should waste trillions of dollars on the "research" of those responsible for CLIMATEGATE.
Surely they did not ask, how did all of these plants and animals, including the polar bears, survive the MWP. Oh, I almost forgot, according to these guys the MWP never existed.
http://www.google...;dur=504

Another steaming heap of TROLL CRAP.

TURD STOOL

While redundant, it at least demonstrates that you possess self-awareness.

Confirms you are an AGW moron out of lies to defend your other lies.
deepsand
2.6 / 5 (20) May 16, 2013
Confirms you are an AGW moron out of lies to defend your other lies

Did you learn nothing of grammar or logic at TROLL school?

You should ask for a refund of your tuition.
antigoracle
1.2 / 5 (19) May 17, 2013
Confirms you are an AGW moron out of lies to defend your other lies

Did you learn nothing of grammar or logic at TROLL school?

You should ask for a refund of your tuition.

You must still be paying, because despite your expensive education, you are still stupid.
deepsand
2.6 / 5 (20) May 17, 2013
AO is still floundering about looking for something of substance to utter.

Confirms you are an AGW moron out of lies to defend your other lies

Did you learn nothing of grammar or logic at TROLL school?

You should ask for a refund of your tuition.

You must still be paying, because despite your expensive education, you are still stupid.

Prosecution: Objection; assumes facts not in evidence.

Court: Objection sustained.
antigoracle
1.2 / 5 (18) May 18, 2013

Prosecution: Objection; assumes facts not in evidence.
Court: Objection sustained.

Defense: Your honor, these are just repugnant droppings left by those AGW Alarmist Turds?
Court: Yes my learned one, they are called Turd Stools. They come in clusters and are highly prized by the AGW turds.
deepsand
2.5 / 5 (19) May 18, 2013
Wherein AO continues to demonstrate his inability to engage in rational discourse, preferring instead to employ puerile ad hominem attacks.
antigoracle
1.2 / 5 (18) May 18, 2013
Wherein AO continues to demonstrate his inability to engage in rational discourse, preferring instead to employ puerile ad hominem attacks.

Wherein deepsandTurd confirms he's an ignorant AGW Alarmist Turd.
deepsand
2.4 / 5 (19) May 18, 2013
Wherein AO continues to demonstrate his inability to engage in rational discourse, preferring instead to employ puerile ad hominem attacks.

Wherein deepsandTurd confirms he's an ignorant AGW Alarmist Turd.

TROLL CRAP.
Neinsense99
2.7 / 5 (14) May 25, 2013
according to research from the University of East Anglia.

Yes we should waste trillions of dollars on the "research" of those responsible for CLIMATEGATE.

We should not, because the people responsible for the largely imaginary and intentionally contrived 'scandal' are, like you, posting in venues like this.
Neinsense99
2.9 / 5 (15) May 25, 2013
Wherein AO continues to demonstrate his inability to engage in rational discourse, preferring instead to employ puerile ad hominem attacks.

Wherein deepsandTurd confirms he's an ignorant AGW Alarmist Turd.


Don't stress your vocabulary muscles so much, you might injure something.

Wherein AO continues to demonstrate his inability to engage in rational discourse, preferring instead to employ puerile ad hominem attacks.


He's risen to puerile now? Feeling generous today, are you?
Neinsense99
3 / 5 (14) Jun 09, 2013
idiots.

Thanks, but your constituency has already been made abundantly clear.

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