17 June 2013
GOOD-BYE TO THE BIRDS
Michael Marshall summarized a suite of studies thus ~ "Between a quarter and a half of all birds, along with around a third of amphibians and a quarter of corals, are highly vulnerable to climate change. These findings have emerged from the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impact of global warming on life. Its results have led some researchers to warn of the need for unprecedented conservation efforts if we don't cut our emissions.
.... "[The scientists from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature] considered how quickly species could relocate, and whether there were barriers like mountain ranges in their way. They also examined how rapidly species could evolve. For instance, species that reproduce quickly have a better chance of evolving new adaptations than those that do not. Species with low genetic diversity are also slow to evolve.
.... "What's more, many of these species are not currently classed as threatened. [The lead researcher] says that 17 to 41 percent of birds are highly vulnerable to climate change despite being considered safe by the Red List.
.... "Certain areas are hot spots of threatened species. For instance, the Amazon rainforest contains huge numbers of birds and amphibians that are highly vulnerable to climate change. Most Arctic birds are also highly vulnerable, as are corals in the Caribbean and the Coral Triangle in southeast Asia."
The warning signs have been in place for decades. There is virtually no place on Earth that is safe from harm at the hands of humans, whether the effects are direct (hunting and loss of habitat) or indirect (ocean acidification, the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps). Economic and political leaders (especially in the United States) are stupifyingly slow to act ~ many are in denial that a problem exists.
The threshold for preventing a climate trainwreck has already passed. Species extinctions are already taking place daily, and entire ecosystems are lost weekly. The best we can hope for is to minimize the damage. But that will require intense and immediate pressure from individuals and organized groups. Decision-makers respond to the fear of loss of votes, and to the fear of loss of profit. We must speak to them in language they understand. Now.