Impacts of biodiversity loss rival those of climate change and pollution

May 4, 2012 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Daily Email Recap

Thanks to John Feeney for alerting me to this important article. If you find this interesting, a second article on the same topic can be accessed here:

Impacts of biodiversity loss rival those of climate change and pollution

Current estimates suggest we are now, or soon will be, in the grip of earth’s sixth mass extinction of species. This is of course a tragedy in many ways-but will it really affect us in any substantial way? With the thundering hooves of all the other apocalyptic horsemen bearing down on us-global warming heating, hypoxic dead zones, overfishing, ocean acidification-can we afford to worry about declining biodiversity? Is this really that big a deal?

Yes. In fact we can’t afford not to worry about biodiversity.

That is the message from our new analysis, published online today in Nature. For the first time we’ve been able to compare-directly, quantitatively, and rigorously-the impacts of losing wild species to the effects of all the other human-caused environmental changes on the productivity and functioning of ecosystems and their ability to continue providing for us.

The time is ripe because two decades of research have now shown pretty conclusively that more biologically diverse ecosystems are generally more productive, as John previously highlighted here. And that means that ongoing extinctions of species caused by habitat loss, overharvesting, and a slew of other environmental changes might well stuff up nature’s ability to provide things we need and want. Like food, clean water, and a stable climate. But so far it’s been unclear how such biodiversity losses stack up against other big environmental changes.

Now we can answer that question with some confidence.

To read the full article, click here:

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