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Current Affairs

Unchecked global warming can collapse ecosystem

Date: 09 April 2020 Tags: Climate Change

Issue

Global warming is about to destroy Earth’s delicate web of life. As some key species go extinct, entire ecosystems like coral reefs and forests will crumble, and some will collapse abruptly, starting as soon as this decade, a new study.

 

Background

Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants and greenhouse gases collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounced off the earth’s surface.

 

Details

  • Many scientists see recent climate-related mass die-offs, including the coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and widespread seabird and marine mammal mortality in the Northeastern Pacific linked to a marine heat wave, as warning signs of impending biodiversity collapse.

  • Many species live in small geographic areas under a narrow range of climatic conditions. As global warming heats their habitat to the point that it is intolerable, many species have no place to go. Some will go extinct, with a domino effect that affects scores of other species.

  • At the current rate of warming, abrupt exposure events in tropical oceans will begin before 2030 and spread to tropical forests and higher latitudes by 2050.

  • The risks decrease and arrive more slowly if global warming is capped at less than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as per the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

  • Even an immediate curb on greenhouse gas emissions doesn't preclude warming of up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century because the current amount of warming could be magnified by big increases of heat-trapping methane in the Arctic or by changes to cloud processes.

  • In the study, the team assessed temperatures ranges for more than 30,000 land and sea species, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and other marine animals and plants, to estimate when they will start experiencing unprecedented temperature conditions.

  • Results show very clearly that it is not too late to act to delay the risk or even avert it entirely for many thousands of species. By holding warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), we can effectively flatten the curve of how climate risks to biodiversity accumulate over time.