Climate change to hit plants, animals

2013-05-13 08:06
Climate change is likely to have a significant impact on plant and animal species, a study has found. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Climate change is likely to have a significant impact on plant and animal species, a study has found. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - More than half of common species of plants and a third of animal species are likely to see their living space halved by 2080 on current trends of carbon emissions, a climate study said on Sunday.

Output of man-made greenhouse gases is putting Earth on track for 4°C of warming by 2100 compared with the pre-industrial 18th century, it said.

The unprecedented speed of warming will be a shock for many species, as it will badly affect the climatic range in which they can live, it warned.

Investigators from Britain's University of East Anglia looked at 48 786 species and measured how their range would be affected according to models of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Fifty-five percent of plants and 35% of animals could see their living space halved by 2080 at current emission growth for CO2, they found. The figures take into account the species' ability to migrate into habitat that may open up as a result of warming.


The species most at risk are amphibians, as well as plants and reptiles, and regions that would lose most are Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, Amazonia and Australia, the paper said.

Lead researcher Rachel Warren said the estimates "are probably conservative" as they were based only on the impact of rising global temperatures.

Other symptoms of climate change - storms, droughts, floods and pests, for instance - would amplify the problem.

"Animals in particular may decline more as our predictions will be compounded by a loss of food from plants," Warren said in a press release.

"There will also be a knock-on effect for humans because these species are important for things like water and air purification, flood control, nutrient cycling and eco-tourism."

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, said there was a ray of light.

If carbon emissions peak in 2016 - and decline by 3% to 4% annually thereafter - this would limit 2100 warming to 2°C, avoiding around 60% of the projected impact from business-as-usual emissions.


But if the peak is delayed until 2021, emissions would have fall yearly by 6% to achieve 2°C warming, which would need a costlier effort to rein in energy use.

Alternatively, if emissions peak by 2030 and then are reduced at 5% annually to limit warming to around 2.8°C, the loss of climatic range would be reduced by 40% compared with business-as usual.

UN members have adopted the 2°C target in world climate talks, which aim to conclude a new treaty on carbon emissions by 2015 and have it ratified by 2020.

But the negotiations have been making poor progress, and the yearly rise in emissions, driven especially by the burning of coal in big developing countries, has led many scientists to conclude that warming of 3°C or 4°C is probable by century's end.

The new study says that loss of climate range would be bound to boost the risk of species extinction.

The Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that 20% - 30% of species would be at increasingly high risk of extinction if warming exceeds 2°C or 3°C above pre-industrial levels.
Read more on:    climate change

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Men.24 Model of the Week: Wendy from Cape Town

Find out more about our featured model, Wendy from Cape Town


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content these holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.