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Study Published in Nature: Global Warming Threatens Mass Extinctions

There have been tons of global-warming related scientific studies in the last few years. Anyone who tries to tell you that the jury is still out about global warming existing is deluded. For Earth's sake, get read of the energy-companies in the White House. Don't forget that the military is a primary consumer of petroleum resources, too.
OSLO (Reuters) - Global warming could wipe out a quarter of all species of plants and animals on earth by 2050 in one of the biggest mass extinctions since the dinosaurs, according to an international study.

The United Nations said the report, highlighting threats to creatures ranging from Australian butterflies to Spanish eagles, showed a need for the world to back the Kyoto protocol, meant to brake rising temperatures linked to human pollution.

"A quarter of all species of plants and land animals, or more than a million in all, could be driven to extinction," said Chris Thomas, professor of Conservation Biology at England's University of Leeds.

Thomas, lead author of the study published in the science journal Nature, told Reuters that emissions from cars and factories could push temperatures up to levels not seen for one million to 30 million years by the end of the century, threatening many habitats.

The survey, the largest of its kind to date, studied global warming links to 1,103 species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs and insects in South Africa, Brazil, Europe, Australia, Mexico and Costa Rica and extrapolated findings as far as 2050. It did not examine the oceans.

"Climate change is the biggest new extinction threat," said Lee Hannah, a co-author, at Conservation International in Washington DC. Many species would simply be unable to adapt or migrate to new habitats.

Thomas said the feared extinctions could be one of the worst since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago. "This could be on a par with some of the geologically significant extinctions," he said.

Species under threat include many types of tree in the Amazon, the Spanish Imperial eagle and Boyd's forest dragon lizard in Australia. Birds like the Scottish crossbill could probably survive if only they knew to fly to Iceland.

U.N. studies project that global temperatures will rise by 1.4-5.8 degrees Celsius (3-12 F) by 2100, mainly because of human emissions of gases like carbon dioxide. Rising temperatures may spur more extreme weather like floods, heatwaves and tornadoes.

Thomas noted that some scientists argue that species have adapted to rapid climate change before -- as in a warming after the last Ice Age. But he said that humans had now taken over much of the planet, adding to pressures this time round.

Klaus Toepfer, the head of the U.N. Environment Program, said the report showed that extinctions could hit billions of people, mainly in the Third World who rely on nature for food, shelter and medicines.

"This alarming report underlines again to the world the importance of bringing into force the Kyoto Protocol," he said.

Kyoto, which would rein in emissions of carbon dioxide, needs countries representing emissions of 55 percent of carbon dioxide to enter into force.

It has so far mustered 44 percent and cannot reach 55 without Russia's 17 percent, after the United States pulled out its 36 percent share in 2001, arguing it was too expensive and wrongly excluded poor nations. Moscow says it is undecided.

Thomas said the study estimated that 15-37 percent of all species could be pushed to extinction as a result of climate change to 2050 with a central assumption of about 24 percent. He urged a shift to new, cleaner energy technologies.
Nature 07.Jan.2004 11:35

Douglas Lain

This made me laugh out loud:

"Klaus Toepfer, the head of the U.N. Environment Program, said the report showed that extinctions could hit billions of people, mainly in the Third World who rely on nature for food, shelter and medicines. "

Uhh...we all rely on nature for food, shelter and medicines. And if the temperature increases as much as the scientists are suggesting we're going to be so fucked as a species. We'll just be one more of the million species dead.

re: David's comment 07.Jan.2004 11:42


That's a very good point. The gigantic inertia of industrial nation's pollution stems from the idea that they are insulated from its effects. It would be fantastic if most people had developed ethically to the point that they have compassion for others even though it won't directly benefit themselves. However, I don't think most people get the clue until it's in their own backyard. Still, if people won't care about others they don't know, what about their children and so on? Alas, modern folk hold almost nothing over self-interest.

What is "self-interest"? 07.Jan.2004 12:17


Wouldn't self-interest include concern for one's own children? Sounds like we're in some kind of media- induced feeding frenzy to me.

re. self-interest 07.Jan.2004 12:41


I think it should. I mean, children are a growth of their parents, albeit a separate one. Indeed, we still tend to value our families more than other people. Ultimately, we are all of the same lineage (including other species). Yet, I have observed so many things that evince people of choosing their own pleasure rather than the welfare of those in their care. I would only that more parents truly chose what was best for their children rather than what they wanted for themselves. I think true self-interest obscured by the relentless pandering of commercial interests to the most base, meanest of desires while subverting the importance of choosing what is right over what is desirable.

Boycott General Motors 07.Jan.2004 14:47



Act Now
Boycott all General Motors products until their corporate agenda starts to align with the pursuit of fuel economy.

In the United States, transportation accounts for 28% of energy consumption and is the source for 31% of carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, making transportation more clean and efficient is critical if we are to cut our dependence on foreign oil and curb global warming pollution.
What can be accomplished by increasing fuel economy is staggering. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, raising the fuel economy standard by 5% annually until 2012 and by 3% per year thereafter could save 67 billion barrels of oil over the next 40 years. This is 10-20 times greater than the potential oil supply from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
General Motors is conspicuously lacks this wisdom or just doesn't care. GM's 2003 Hummer H2, a massive SUV that resembles the U.S. Military's Humvee, got only 10.7 mpg in a Consumer Guide road test inwhich most of the driving was highway. To protect their fuel-INefficient vehicle from Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE), GM made the Hummer H2 so heavy that it would fall outside U.S. regulations on fuel economy. Not only does this vehicle inefficiently use our oil supply, but also excess materials have been used to reinforce the Hummer H2 against damage from boulders, tree trunks and extreme twisting pressures. All this, despite the reality that the primary buyer will be the suburban male and the Hummer H2 will likely never encounter such obstacles or pressures.
Please write to GM President and Chief Executive Officer, G. Richard Wagoner, Jr., and tell him that you disapprove of this shamefully inefficient vehicle and that you will boycott all GM products until their corporate agenda starts to align with the pursuit of fuel economy.
Follow these steps to send a letter:

1. Enter your email address. This is required.
2. Review the letter and edit if you wish. Using some of your own words will help the message standout.
3. Add your name and address to close the letter. Emails without this information may be disregarded by recipients.
*Your email address:
Sample Letter:

Dear Mr. Wagoner:

For the time being, I am boycotting GM products.

Cars and light trucks consume 40 percent of the oil used in the U.S. every day, and in an effort to cut our dependence on foreign oil and curb global warming pollution, auto makers like GM should be designing and manufacturing cleaner more efficient vehicles. Your Hummers are the antithesis of what qualifies as a responsible vehicle for our times.

Although GM engineers claim the Hummer will get 12-14 mpg, independent tests have found it gets an average 10.7 mpg -- and that's when driven primarily on highways. Ten miles per gallon is less than half the fuel economy that experts are recommending for light trucks and SUVs up to 10,000 pounds. The extra materials that go into the Hummer to make it withstand boulders, twisting, and stumps is a colossal waste of resources. You and I both know that this vehicle will rarely if ever require such protection as it is driven though suburbia USA.

To produce a behemoth vehicle that is untouchable by CAFE standards is not only shameful, but disrespectful to all that inhabit this earth. GM is not doing its part to do less harm to a planet we all share. Instead, for effect and potential profit, GM has created a vehicle that directly harms our environment and this nation's progress towards oil independence. Send the letter>>> http://www.greenmatters.com/gm/subscribers/activism/hummerh2.php3

source article (abstract) 07.Jan.2004 17:10