A new study states that one in six Earth’s species may become extinct if immediate steps are not taken to curb climate change.
The study, which was conducted by the researchers from the University of Connecticut, and published in the Science journal, states that climate change could threaten a whopping one in six species on Earth with extinction if humans don’t start taking measures to cut down on the greenhouse gas emissions.
Mark C. Urban, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, and the lead author of the study, said, “In our study, species were predicted to become extinct if their range fell below a minimum threshold.”
For their study, the researchers analyzed 131 biodiversity studies to see how the Earth’s warming temperature would affect extinction risks worldwide. After analyzing the results of all the studies, which included a variety of different species, geographic locations and modeling techniques, the researchers concluded that the climate change-induced extinction risks are not only growing with every degree the planet warms, but that the rates are actually speeding up.
The researchers calculated the extinction risks, or the percent of species on Earth facing extinction, for different warming scenarios. Their calculations found that global extinction risk will rise from its present value of 2.8% to 5.2% of species on Earth if global temperatures increase by those 2 degrees. At 3 degrees, the extinction risk rises to 8.5%.
The researchers added that different types of species had no significant differences in extinction risk. On the other hand, the risk did change according to region. They found that North America and Europe have the lowest risks, while South America, Australia and New Zealand have the highest. They also found that regions with small land masses mean species don’t have as much room to spread out and find better habitat if their homes become unsuitable.
“What this really suggests is we need to start building these next generation models that are going to incorporate important biological processes and try to understand how those processes might affect certain species,” added Urban.