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Study: Climate Change May Kill Off 1 in 13 Species

Shanghai Daily
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May 31, 2015
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Is this starved polar bear which died as ‘skin and bones’ the 'categorical proof' that climate change is wiping out the species? (Global Warming Images)

Global warming will eventually push 1 out of every 13 species on Earth into extinction, a new study projects.

It won’t quite be as bad in North America, where only 1 in 20 species will be killed off because of climate change, or Europe where the extinction rate is nearly as small. But in South America the forecasted heat-caused extinction rate soars to 23 percent, the worst for any continent, according to a new study published in the journal Science.

University of Connecticut ecologist Mark Urban compiled and analyzed 131 peer-reviewed studies on species that used various types of computer simulations and found a general average extinction rate for the globe: 7.9 percent.

That’s an average for all species, taking into consideration various assumptions about future emission trends of man-made greenhouse gases. The extinction rate calculation doesn’t mean all of those species will be gone; some will just be on an irreversible decline, dwindling toward oblivion, he said.

“It’s a sobering result,” Urban said.

His figures are probably underestimating the real rate of species loss a little, said scientists not affiliated with the research. That’s because Urban only looks at temperature, not other factors like fire or interaction with other animals, and more studies have been done in North America and Europe, where rates are lower, said outside biologists Stuart Pimm of Duke University and Terry Root of Stanford University.

Read the rest at Shanghai Daily

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