An international team of researchers, including Professor Richard Corlett from the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG), Chinese Academy of Sciences, has looked at the impacts of the global changes in climate that have occurred in the last few decades as a result of human activities. The new study, published in the prestigious international journal Science, shows that the 1°C global warming that has occurred so far has already had major impacts on a wide range of basic biological processes, from genes to ecosystems. Impacts are clear on land, in freshwaters, and in the oceans: no ecosystem on Earth is unaffected. There is also widespread evidence for impacts that affect people, including increased pest and disease outbreaks, unpredictable changes in fisheries, and decreasing agricultural yields in many areas.
The evidence for major impacts from only 1°C warming is important because the global climate agreement signed in Paris last December committed the nations of the world to keeping the increase in the global average temperature below 2°C, with a target of 1.5°C. This new study shows that the impacts of 2°C warming on both natural ecosystems and people are likely to be very severe, making the 1.5°C target crucial. A continuing commitment by China and other major industrial nations to achieving this highly ambitious target will be essential for its success.
Scheffers, B.R., De Meester, L., Bridge, T.C.L., Hoffmann, A.A., Pandolfi, J.M., Corlett, R.T., Butchart, S.H.M., Pearce-Kelly, P., Kovacs, K.M., Dudgeon, D., Pacifici, M., Rondinini, C., Foden, W.B., Martin, T.G., Mora, C., Bickford, D., and Watson, J.E.M. 2016. The broad footprint of climate change from genes to biomes to people.Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf7671
Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Menglun, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China
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