Limiting warming to 1.5 degree C would save majority of global species from climate change

May 17, 2018, University of East Anglia
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Limiting global warming to 1.5oC would save the vast majority of the world's plant and animal species from climate change—according to new research led by the University of East Anglia.

A new report published today in Science reveals that limiting to the ultimate goal of the Paris Agreement would avoid half the risks associated with warming of 2oC for plants and animals, and two thirds of the risks for .

Species across the globe would benefit—but particularly those in Southern Africa, the Amazon, Europe and Australia.

Reducing the risk to insects is particularly important, the team say, because they are so vital for 'ecosystem services' such as pollinating crops and flowers, and being part of the food chain for other birds and animals.

Previous research focused on quantifying the benefits of limiting warming to 2oC above pre-industrial times—the upper limit for temperature as set out in the Paris Agreement—and did not look at insects.

This is the first study to explore how limiting warming to 1.5oC would benefit species globally.

Researchers at UEA and James Cook University in Australia studied some 115,000 species including 31,000 insects, 8,000 birds, 1,700 mammals, 1,800 reptiles, 1,000 amphibians and 71,000 plants in this, the largest scale study of its kind.

Lead researcher Prof Rachel Warren, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA, said: "We wanted to see how different projected climate futures caused areas to become climatically unsuitable for the species living there.

"We measured the risks to biodiversity by counting the number of species projected to lose more than half their geographic range due to climate change.

"We found that achieving the ultimate goal of the Paris Agreement, to limit warming to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels, would reap enormous benefits for biodiversity—much more so than limiting warming to 2oC.

"Insects are particularly sensitive to climate change. At 2oC warming, 18 per cent of the 31,000 insects we studied are projected to lose more than half their range.

"This is reduced to 6 per cent at 1.5oC. But even at 1.5oC, some species lose larger proportions of their range.

"The current trajectory, if countries meet their international pledges to reduce CO2, is around 3oC. In this case, almost 50 per cent of insects would lose half their range.

"This is really important because insects are vital to ecosystems and for humans. They pollinate crops and flowers, they provide food for higher-level organisms, they break down detritus, they maintain a balance in ecosystems by eating the leaves of plants, and they help recycle nutrients in the soil.

"We found that the three major groups of insects responsible for pollination are particularly sensitive to warming.

"If temperatures rise by 3oC, ecosystem services provided by insects would be greatly reduced. Other research has already shown that insects are already in decline for other reasons, and this research shows that climate change would really compound the problem."

The study includes the ability of species to relocate to more suitable locations as the world warms. Birds, mammals and butterflies have the greatest ability to disperse. The dispersal means that a small number of species can gain in range by 2100.

Prof Warren added: "If warming is limited to 1.5oC by 2100 then more species can keep up or even gain in range, whereas if warming reached 2oC by 2100 many species cannot keep up and far more species lose large parts of their range."

Co-author Dr. Jeff Price, also from UEA, added: "Examples of animals to really benefit from limiting warming to 1.5 include the critically endangered Black Rhinoceros, which is already highly threatened by poaching and habitat loss.

"There are also which have been important in evolutionary theory and studied since the time of Charles Darwin, which would benefit from limiting warming to 1.5oC. These include Darwin's Finches of the Galapagos, such as the Large Ground Finch."

Explore further: Climate change risk for half of plant and animal species in biodiversity hotspots

More information: R. Warren el al., "The projected effect on insects, vertebrates, and plants of limiting global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C," Science (2018). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aar3646

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Shootist
2 / 5 (6) May 17, 2018
Check out the Eocene Climate Optimum (now called the Eocene Thermal Maximum). ;)

Also, check out OIS 11. You can tell who actually knows about climate change vs. those who merely accepts whatever doomsday scenarios people are peddling today by whether they are familiar with that interglacial.

https://oi.uchica...ear-east
Da Schneib
3 / 5 (4) May 17, 2018
Why even do this study? It's obvious there are too many idiots to limit warming to 1.5C. We don't even seem to be able to do 2.0C. Let's spend the effort where the return is.
leetennant
3.7 / 5 (6) May 17, 2018
Limiting global warming to 1.5oC would save the vast majority of the world's plant and animal species from climate change


WE KNOW. That's why we wanted you to commit to this - 10 years ago. It's not possible now. Stop talking about it like it is. We'll overshoot 1.5 by 2050 and everyone will still be pointing out how terrible it is - at least those of us that haven't had to move due to flooding. Basically, it's 400ppm all over again.

Why even do this study? It's obvious there are too many idiots to limit warming to 1.5C. We don't even seem to be able to do 2.0C. Let's spend the effort where the return is.


This.
aksdad
2.1 / 5 (7) May 18, 2018
More nonsense disguised as science. There is not a single piece of evidence that warming of 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius above temperatures in 1850 will cause any of the panoply of apocalypses prophesied by the global warming cult of doom. Thanks to the occasional large El Niño, we've already ventured into 1.5° C territory (and cooled down an impressive 0.5° C in just 2 years) and, strangely, there was no cataclysmic loss of species, no rapid acceleration in sea level rise (which has been ongoing for 20,000 years), no mass human starvation from crop failures, no widespread warfare due to diminishing resources.

It's a big fat nothing burger and we're all becoming more inured to the psychotic rants of the alarmists as reality refuses to cooperate with their doomsaying.
BobSage
2.3 / 5 (3) May 19, 2018
Interesting. Wasn't 1.5 degrees supposed to wipe out huge swathes of species? Now they are going to be okay again? Or wasn't that actually settled science?

dlethe
2.3 / 5 (3) May 20, 2018
What is the point .. the global warming proponents can't even agree what the average global temperature is, let alone what it was in any point in time.
leetennant
4 / 5 (4) May 20, 2018
Interesting. Wasn't 1.5 degrees supposed to wipe out huge swathes of species? Now they are going to be okay again? Or wasn't that actually settled science?



1.5 is a compromise because we've already passed 1 degree. 1.5 will be pretty awful but it's better than 2
mbee1
2.3 / 5 (3) May 21, 2018
If the arctic was ice free in summer for about 2000 years from 6500-4500 per NASA research it had to be warmer than today so all this talk about end of times is simply BS from people who need money for that vacation to France.
leetennant
5 / 5 (2) May 23, 2018
If the arctic was ice free in summer for about 2000 years from 6500-4500 per NASA research it had to be warmer than today so all this talk about end of times is simply BS from people who need money for that vacation to France.


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