What is 37% of 10,000?
The cover story in this month’s issue of the science journal Nature addresses climate change and biodiversity loss. According to the authors, human-induced global warming could be the death of over a million species by the year 2050. Ouch! Here is a technical synopsis of the study:
Climate change over the past ~30 years has produced numerous shifts in the distributions and abundances of species and has been implicated in one species-level extinction. Using projections of species’ distributions for future climate scenarios, we assess extinction risks for sample regions that cover some 20% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface. Exploring three approaches in which the estimated probability of extinction shows a power-law relationship with geographical range size, we predict, on the basis of mid-range climate-warming scenarios for 2050, that 15â€“37% of species in our sample of regions and taxa will be ‘committed to extinction’. When the average of the three methods and two dispersal scenarios is taken, minimal climate-warming scenarios produce lower projections of species committed to extinction (~18%) than mid-range (~24%) and maximum-change (~35%) scenarios. These estimates show the importance of rapid implementation of technologies to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and strategies for carbon sequestration.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, is more sensitive to the many virtues of biodiversity than the birding community. My question is what we, not as individuals but as a community, are prepared to do about this catastrophe.