A new study has released some chilling forecasts on the level of devastation that climate change could cause for plants if left unchecked. The report was conducted by researchers from the University of Arizona.
The university researchers analyzed about 538 animal and plant species across the world, with 44 percent already facing extinctions in at least one area of the world.
The Tropics Will Be Hit the Hardest
The researchers concluded that areas hit hardest by the extinction of species were those who had faster and larger changes in the hottest yearly temperatures.
The CBS news report revealed concerning statistics about how bad climate change has evolved, and how it could play out if the status quo remains. As the report explained, January 2020 was the warmest in recorded history, and all estimates point to 2020 being one of the five warmest years on record.
Statistics from the National Centers for Environmental Information (a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) also showed that the past decade was the warmest on record, and this new one could set that bar even higher.
One of the researchers pointed out to the news source that they have been able to provide simple estimations of how quickly populations can move to escape the effects of changing climates.
After computations, they discovered that about half of the species would experience local extinctions if temperatures increased by 0.5°C. When that number was bumped up to 2.9°C, local extinction levels reached a staggering 95 percent.
The researchers also expect that the animals native to the tropics are the ones most likely to face the highest local extinction rates. According to their estimates, these animals are two to four times more likely to become extinct than the animals in temperate areas.
As for ways forward, John J. Weins, one of the researchers, explained,
“In a way, it’s a ‘choose your adventure. If we stick to the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, we may lose fewer than two out of every ten plant and animal species on Earth by 2070. But if humans cause larger temperature increases, we could lose more than a third or even half of all animal and plant species, based on our results.”
Ineffective Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement was signed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2016 as a means of combating greenhouse gas emissions across the world. Leaders from 195 countries across the world came together on an accord that explained the commitments of each country to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts.
The agreement needed 55 countries to sign on before going into effect, despite being pushed by world leaders like Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau at the time. The milestone was eventually reached on October 5, 2016, and 30 days later, it went into force.
However, things haven’t gone smoothly since then. Several countries have also ailed to live up to the agreement’s precepts, and under the Trump administration, the United States formally withdrew from the deal in 2017.
Trump, a noted climate change denier, followed up on a campaign promise by pulling the United States out of the agreement, and other countries have also not been incentivized to live up to their quota since the agreement isn’t legally binding and doesn’t have any damaging consequences.