Reply To: Global warming threatens biodiversity


From the Guardian:

Rising global temperatures caused by climate change could trigger a huge extinction of plants and animals, according to a study. Though humans would probably survive such an event, half of the world’s species could be wiped out.

Scientists at the University of York and the University of Leeds examined the relationship between climate and biodiversity over the past 520m years – almost the entire fossil record – and uncovered an association between the two for the first time. When the Earth’s temperatures are in a “greenhouse” climate phase, they found that extinctions rates were relatively high. Conversely, during cooler “icehouse” conditions, biodiversity increased.

The results, published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggest that the predictions of a rapid rise in the Earth’s temperature due to man-made climate change could have a similar effect on biodiversity.

Peter Mayhew, a population ecologist at the University of York and one of the authors of the research paper, said: “Our results provide the first clear evidence that global climate may explain substantial variation in the fossil record in a simple and consistent manner. If our results hold for current warming – the magnitude of which is comparable with the long-term fluctuations in Earth climate – they suggest that extinctions will increase.”

Warming could wipe out half of all species