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    Focus on those who can survive

    Efforts must reflect the need to conserve adaptable creatures, and not species that can’t survive the changes anyway. Discussion on climate changes’ impact on biodiversity revealed controversial recommendations.

    Studies on climate change have been around for years, many emphasizing the link between climate change and biological diversity. At the Beyond Kyoto climate conference in Århus, Denmark, a group of scientists elaborated on this link and highlighted the negative effects of global warming on the diversity of species.

    How scientists determine the link between climate change and biodiversity

    Dr. Andreas Fischlin, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and one of the lead authors for a section of the International Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report, spoke on the subject.

    He explained that scientists look at the trends and patterns that connect a species with the climate they live in and connect this information with migratory patterns to determine which areas a species can survive in. With this, they predict how climate change will affect each species.

    Already, Fischlin warned, temperature warming has greatly affected biodiversity.

    “If the temperature changes by so much as 1.5-2.5 degrees Celsius over the present, twenty to thirty percent of higher plants and animals are at a high risk of extinction”.

    Each model on climate change is different

    “We have to avoid the unmanageable parts of the ecosystem and manage the unavoidable,” Dr. Wolfgang Cramer said. A co-chair at the Postdam Institute for Climate Impact and a Professor of Global Ecology at the Institute of Geoecology at the University of Postdam, Germany, Cramer spoke on the reliability of climate models.

    He explained that no ecosystems react in the same ways to climate change.

    “It’s important to remember climate variability,” Cramer said. “Every future model on environmental change is different.”

    Despite the constant advancements in scientific understanding of climate change, he says that it’s impossible to create a “high precision adaptation plan,” to help conserve species.

    The problem with conservation efforts

    “About half of all conservation efforts are set up and managed in a way that will fail to deal with climate change,” Fischlin said. He believes that it’s impossible to avoid the reality of global warming now, and so efforts must reflect the need to conserve adaptable creatures, not species that can’t survive the changes.

    He also warns that very few of today’s ecosystems can adapt to global warming now due to a mix of natural climate change and human interventions, which have speeded up the process. He claims that the resilience of many ecosystems are exceeded by these factors.

    “They need to think of robust solutions,” Fischlen said.

    According to predictions of future climate change, Fischlin believes that species will be affected in the following way:

    • 3 percent will benefit
    • 9 percent will not be affected
    • 15 percent will adapt
    • 73 percent will become extinct or unable to survive without intervention

    By Theresa Seiger

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