More than 1 in 10 species could be lost by the end of the century, study warns | police15

Earth could lose more than a tenth of its plant and animal species by the end of the century on current trends, according to new research coming as nearly 3,000 scientists call on governments to take action to stop the destruction of nature in the last days of negotiations. a police15.

The climate crisis will drive an accelerating cascade of extinctions in the coming decades, as predators lose their prey, parasites lose their hosts and rising temperatures tear apart Earth’s web of life, according to the researchers, who warn about the risk of coextinctions in a paper published Friday in Science Advances.

From leaf frogs to basking sharks, the extinction risk of plants and animals is typically monitored in the IUCN red listwhere scientists have published their analysis of the threats to more than 150,388 species, finding that more than 42,000 could become extinct, often due to human behavior.

However, new research has used a supercomputer to model a synthetic Earth complete with virtual species to understand the effect global warming and land use change could have on the web of life. Researchers say that 6% of plants and animals will disappear by 2050 in a Middle-of-the-road emissions scenario, towards which the world seems to be heading, rising to 13% by the end of the century. In the worst case of global warming, they estimate that 27% of plants and animals could disappear by 2100.

“We have populated a virtual world from scratch and mapped the resulting fate of thousands of species around the world to determine the probability of real-world tipping points,” said Dr. Giovanni Strona, a co-author and University scientist. from Helsinki.

“This study is unique because it also takes into account the secondary effect on biodiversity, estimating the effect of species going extinct on local food webs beyond direct effects. The results demonstrate that interconnections within food webs exacerbate biodiversity loss,” said study co-author Professor Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University in Australia.

Polar bears feeding at a garbage dump in Russia's remote Novaya Zemlya archipelago in 2018.
Polar bears feeding at a garbage dump in Russia’s remote Novaya Zemlya archipelago in 2018. Photograph: Alexander Grir/AFP/Getty Images

“Think of a predatory species losing its prey to climate change. The loss of the prey species is a ‘primary extinction’ because it succumbed directly to a disturbance. But with nothing to eat, its predator will also go extinct (a coextinction). Or imagine a parasite that loses its host due to deforestation, or a flowering plant that loses its pollinators because it’s too hot. Each species depends on others in some way,” he said.

Using hundreds of virtual Earths populated by more than 33,000 species, the scientists observed how relationships between virtual plants and animals changed due to different drivers of biodiversity loss. Virtual species were able to recolonize new regions of the planet and adapt to changing model conditions, say the researchers, who found that climate change would be the main driver of extinctions.

The research emerges as talks in the largest conference on biodiversity in a decade reach the critical point in Montreal. More than 100 environment ministers from around the world are discussing this decade’s goals to protect the Earth’s biodiversity. In the city’s first major snowstorm of winter, evening debates are expected this weekend as ministers seek to resolve the divisions between the global north and south on funding new conservation target projects to protect 30% of the Earth and restore an area the size of China.

in an open letterMore than 2,700 scientists have called on governments to address overconsumption of Earth’s resources in the final text and start reversing biodiversity loss by 2030.

The five ways we are killing nature and why it has to stop – explainer video

“Parties to Cop15 must commit to halt and start reversing biodiversity loss by 2030, to put us on the path to recovery where ecosystems can provide the functions people need. There is a moral obligation to do so. Furthermore, it makes scientific sense and can be achieved if we act now and decisively. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations, we cannot wait any longer”, says the letter, signed by leading researchers.

People pose in front of letters that spell out Cop15.
The biodiversity summit in Montreal is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to set global targets to address the biodiversity crisis. Photograph: Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images

Says action on biodiversity loss in the Cop15 agreement, known as the global biodiversity framework, must involve agricultural transformation, and warns that a delay in meaningful action on nature destruction will exacerbate human poverty and inequality .

“We will not succeed without putting as much effort into goals and targets related to the fundamental drivers of ecosystem destruction and biodiversity loss, including making our supply chains resilient and sustainable,” the letter says.

“This requires paying attention to the disproportionately harmful consumption of rich nations and to the rights and priorities of disadvantaged groups. Critically, this means that wealthy nations and stakeholders urgently and rapidly need to reduce the impacts of their consumption, rather than imposing all the costs of nature’s restoration on less wealthy nations where biodiversity remains predominant,” the letter says. .

Negotiations are scheduled to conclude on Monday, December 19, although they are likely to be extended.

find more age of extinction coverage hereand follow biodiversity reporters Phoebe-Weston Y patrick greenfield on Twitter for the latest news and features

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