Climate change could lead to sudden extinctions

If greenhouse gas emissions remain on current trajectories, researchers found, tropical ocean collapses could begin in the next decade. ©Rogers, Caroline S., USGS

A recent study published in Nature suggests that climate change could cause sudden die-offs of species, starting in the next decade. “For a long time things can seem OK and then suddenly they’re not,” Alex L. Pigot, a scientist at University College London and one of the study’s authors, told the New York Times. “Then, it’s too late to do anything about it because you’ve already fallen over this cliff edge.” Looking at over 30,000 species, researchers determined the hottest temperature each was known to withstand and compared that with predicted temperatures. The found sudden collapses occurring across all taxa around the world. If greenhouse gas emissions remain on current trajectories, the study found, tropical ocean collapses could begin in the next decade. Tropical forest collapses could occur by the 2040s. Reductions in global warming could save thousands of species, they found.

Read more in the New York Times and read the study here.