The biodiversity crisis

The concept of the Anthropocene holds that human beings have made changes of such enormity to the planet that they will be chemically identifiable into the distant future. That includes our changes to the atmosphere and disruption to the climate, as well as the radionuclides generated from nuclear tests, accidents, and power stations.

The human impact will also be identifiable through the vast and uncountable number of species we have driven to extinction, probably chiefly through habitat destruction but also from causes as diverse as industrial fishing and the introduction of endocrine disruptors as pollutants.

How exactly this relates to the crisis of climate change is complex and disputed. Certainly, the impact of our GHG pollution on the climate is one of the drivers of extinction, for instance for species which have shifted northward or uphill in response to rising temperatures and which eventually run out of space, or species that have had their life cycles disrupted away from those they have symbiotic relationships with, like when insects act as pollinators for plants.

Some scholars are highlighting how some climate change solutions could exacerbate the biodiversity crisis. For instance, the pursuit of biofuels as alternatives to fossil fuels may drive further habitat loss as land is converted to energy crops. Others have emphasized simultaneous opportunities to both protect biodiversity and climate stability, notably by setting aside territory for nature that will also continue to retain or draw down potential atmospheric carbon.


8 thoughts on “The biodiversity crisis”

  1. ‘Quick fixes’ to the climate crisis risk harming nature

    Climate change and nature loss are interlinked and must be tackled together.

    That’s the finding of a key report by 50 leading scientists searching for combined solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises.

    “Quick fixes” for climate change risk harming nature, say the experts.

    Potential “climate and biodiversity fails” include misguided tree planting and large-scale bioenergy crops.

    The report is the first collaboration between two groups of influential scientists advising international governments on tackling climate change and extinction.

    Prof Camille Parmesan of Plymouth University, a co-author of the report, said smarter tree planting strategies are needed.

    For example, plantations of a single species of non-native tree “are a disaster”, she said, as these forests will be vulnerable to extreme weather or outbreaks of plant pests.

  2. Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services

    IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body comprising over 130 member Governments. Established by Governments in 2012, IPBES provides policymakers with objective scientific assessments about the state of knowledge regarding the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystems and the contributions they make to people, as well as options and actions to protect and sustainably use these vital natural assets. The IPBES Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services represents the landmark product of the first work programme of IPBES (2014-2018).

    The Global Assessment was initiated following a decision from the IPBES Plenary at its fourth session (IPBES 4, Kuala Lumpur, 2016), and considered by the IPBES Plenary at its seventh session (IPBES 7, Paris, 2019). It is composed of a summary for policymakers, which was approved at IPBES 7, and six chapters, which were accepted at IPBES 7.

  3. Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth

    Until recently, large apex consumers were ubiquitous across the globe and had been for millions of years. The loss of these animals may be humankind’s most pervasive influence on nature. Although such losses are widely viewed as an ethical and aesthetic problem, recent research reveals extensive cascading effects of their disappearance in marine, terrestrial, and freshwater ecosystems worldwide. This empirical work supports long-standing theory about the role of top-down forcing in ecosystems but also highlights the unanticipated impacts of trophic cascades on processes as diverse as the dynamics of disease, wildfire, carbon sequestration, invasive species, and biogeochemical cycles. These findings emphasize the urgent need for interdisciplinary research to forecast the effects of trophic downgrading on process, function, and resilience in global ecosystems.

  4. If certain goals that are in the Paris Climate Accord aren’t met, the existence of polar bears in the Hudson Bay may come to an end.

    This is according to a new report entitled “Ice-free period too long for Southern and Western Hudson Bay polar bear population if global warming exceeds 1.6 to 2.6C.” The report was written by researchers from multiple institutions in North America and overseas, including the University of Manitoba.

    The report found if global temperatures pass the 2C warming limit, polar bears in Hudson Bay could go extinct as early as the 2030s.

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