Climate Change Could Trigger Catastrophic Species Loss

In a new study published in Global Change Biology (Wiens & Zelinka, 2024), researchers at the University of Arizona examined a comprehensive suite of factors to estimate climate-caused extinction in coming decades. 

The conclusions are grim. The authors estimate a 21–37 percent preliminary extinction rate for known species of land vertebrates, marine animals, insects, insect-associated animals (e.g., mites and nematodes), plants, and fungi by 2070 under the worst case scenario—where global emissions continue to rise through the turn of the century. At the upper end of this range, this corresponds to the potential extinction of more than 676,000 of the 1.81 million known species, including over 32,000 known land vertebrate species (44%) and over 163,000 known marine animal species (87%).

Such staggering losses would dramatically diminish global biodiversity, disrupt ecological function, and ultimately harm our own well-being.

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