New research finds climate change could result in extinction of one in six species on Earth

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      A study published in the May 1 edition of Science warns plants and animals are going extinct at a rate faster than was previously understood.

      The paper by University of Connecticut ecologist Mark Urban synthesizes a wide body of peer-reviewed research on the topic. It concluded that climate change could result in the loss of as many as one in six of all species on Earth.

      “Extinction risks will accelerate with future global temperatures,” it states. “We urgently need to adopt strategies that limit further climate change if we are to avoid an acceleration of global extinctions.”

      The findings might sound alarmist but, as the New York Times notes in its coverage of the study, are actually more likely on the conservative side. “Other experts said the real toll may turn out to be even worse,” it’s reported there.

      Urban’s research reinforces similar findings presented in many academic papers published over the course of the last decade.

      On April 15, the Georgia Straight published an Earth Day cover story that examined how humans threaten plants and animals in the Pacific Northwest. That article explains that the present rate of extinction is so rapid, scientists are assessing whether it marks the onset of a new geological era.

      “How seven billion humans are collectively warming the planet is an invisible but devastating example of what scientists increasingly agree is the beginning of the Anthropocene: a proposed epoch defined by Homo sapiens overtaking nature as the dominant force on Earth,” it’s written there.

      According to a 2011 government report, the B.C. Conservation Data Centre lists 390 animals and 1,207 plants as at risk.

      The article goes on to note many scientists now compare the damage people are inflicting on the planet to the impact of a large asteroid. They do this not anecdotally but in in quantifiable terms.

      “Since the earliest land animals crawled from the oceans almost 500 million years ago, there have been at least 20 periods characterized by a major contraction of the number of species on Earth,” it continues. “Of those, only five are categorized as ‘mass extinctions’, a term applied conservatively to describe events or geologically brief continuums of events so devastating they eliminated the majority of life on Earth. The most recent and best known of the five occurred roughly 65 million years ago, when an asteroid struck the Earth to end the Cretaceous period and the age of the dinosaurs. Now the scientific community is debating whether we have entered—or when we did enter, in the opinions of many—the sixth great extinction and the onset of the Anthropocene.”

      Read that article in its entirety: “Humans versus nature: the Sixth Extinction hits B.C.”.




      Apr 30, 2015 at 7:45pm

      Ok now we have named it; Anthropocene. So we can acknowledge it, and do what? Get out of our cars, shut down the Tar sands and plant trees. Anthropos / Humans are Not more important than other species and it is immoral that we are destroying other species on this planet in our greed.

      Key word "could"

      May 1, 2015 at 12:34am

      You wrote an entire article about research which explicatly says "could," not "absolutely."

      Second, you haven't even mentioned a time frame of this 1/6 species extinction

      Third, when you wipe out species you open up environments or niches for population growth and increased rates of evolution due to less competition for food sources. That's why every time there has been a meteor impact or Paleozoic extinction it is followed by periods of rapid species growth and evolution

      I have a hard time believing the article you posted has even come close to properly assessing all the dynamics involved in the evolution of life. It's amazing the results you hear from scientists when they're main goal , and their funding , Is based on climate change.

      Critically think please. Then go write an article


      May 1, 2015 at 3:35am

      As someone who lives and works most of the year on a secluded island in the Antilles that runs mostly on a private solar array, uses rainwater, and catches/grows the majority of our food supply, I feel I am doing much more to fix this than you guys. ;p

      Art Esian

      May 1, 2015 at 5:41am

      There has been no alarming global warming for 18.5 years. It may in fact have rolled over into cooling based upon a profound drop in solar magnetic shielding. I was in graduate school when computers were invented. We made models of everything. If they were not predictive or could not hind-cast we threw them out and the hypothesis with them. If we failed a second time, the student was thrown out. This is a model based upon numerous models that do not work. Who is going to be the first to toss out the students and the professors? Garbage in garbage out!


      May 1, 2015 at 6:24am

      Facts or no facts, this story is a broken record that will get no traction from policy makers and big corporations unless it's expressed in a way that'll effectively make them break down and cry for their mommies. Heck, the best and brightest that compose our own government, seemingly, hasn't even heard of climate change.

      Artoo says...

      May 1, 2015 at 10:35am

      "Heck, the best and brightest that compose our own government, seemingly, hasn't even heard of climate change."

      How wrong you are Artoo, and more's the pity. Have you not noticed that we are paying Carbon Tax ? Maybe you dont realize we have a Climate Secretariat in the BC Government? OH and we just MUST vote YES in the Transit Referendum cuz the elected Mayors' council is convinced it will help with global warming. Look at those high rise condos in Vancouver (so called 'sustainable development' dont you know and elsewhere. Bike lanes anyone?

      Oh yes, it might be stealth, but our governments have indeed heard of climate change and are willing to reap whatever political benefit they can from kowtowing to the propaganda served up by the UN, American Planning Association, Greenpeace,Suzuki Foundation, WWF, Sierra Club, etc. etc.

      And it's quite dangerous to your freedom and liberty in my humble opinion.
      Now if you want to get published nowadays, at least in Science mag, you dont put out a paper saying we have no real idea of what the 'normal' extincition rate over all species is because we really dont know it. Also you would never be published for writing a piece that models the extinction rate expected when this interglacial ends and earth goes back into ice age conditions.

      So the statement that extinctions are happening is not unexpected nor is it extremely alarming on a geologic timescale. On a political time scale however, it is alarmingly conveniant.


      May 1, 2015 at 1:16pm

      The synopsis you gave on extinction events is poor at best.

      Do a little more research before quoting and trying to bring in some geological knowledge.

      Extinction events occurred over tens of thousands to millions of years and were followed by species evolutionary explosions and enhanced periods of evolution.

      Knowing this, you're argument comparing an anthropogenic extinction event is really quite invalid and should be deleted from your article

      Nigel Perkins

      May 1, 2015 at 3:54pm

      Shame on you lazy news editors;
      This garbage is criminal level exaggeration and fear mongering!

      Martin Dunphy

      May 1, 2015 at 4:46pm


      This story is merely reporting on a published study that is itself a compendium of peer-reviewed research. Did you read it? Or the study? Or the NYT article? Or any of the studies reviewed for the original research?
      If you have specific examples of errors, please present them.