Extinction is coming for a massive portion of Earth’s population, says a new study. The study isn’t talking about people, but human life would most certainly be impacted if the study held up over the years. It argues that one in six of Earth’s species could become extinct if the planet continues on its current course. The study warns that steps have to be taken to reduce the overall emissions that humans are putting into the atmosphere. If they do not, over 16% of the Earth’s species could feel the result in form of impending extinction.
One of the major factors that would be caused by climate change and tied to the extinction of one-sixth of Earth’s species would be the improbable nature of these species finding suitable habitats. That has been one of the biggest challenges amongst animals of all sorts, which was recently highlighted by a pack of wolves in Northern Michigan, which originally started with nearly 50 wolves in 1958 when the researchers began studying them, and this year has reached a point of human intervention as just 3 wolves remain.
Another problem that is associated with this rise in global temperature, and would be associated with killing off entire species is the fact that not everything reproduces at the same speed. To highlight this potential problem, researchers pointed out that some plants and animals disperse their seeds over long periods of time. If the species is killed off before the next generation can come into bloom, or birth, then Earth will have effectively ended that species of plant or animal.
Right now, potential extinction rates are relatively conservative. Estimations are that around 2.8% of the species are Earth is actually at risk for extinction in this very moment. However, with the climate being as rocky and evolving, at the rate that it currently is, it’s hard to imagine that the figure wouldn’t significantly change. That worst case scenario that scientists are warning people about is a world where the global temperature will have risen 4.3 degrees Celsius above what the pre-industrial revolution temperatures were.
Mark Urban, of the University of Connecticut and a member of the research team pointed out that, “We have the choice,” when it comes to the “future Earth.” Ultimately, it will be us deciding what animals and plants exist, as well as determining what our role will be in actually changing the climate for the better. It comes down to making better decisions about our environment, and putting politics aside on a global scale long enough to actually fix things. Until then though, extinction will continue to loom large over species all over Earth.