The world’s contemplation may be focused on COVID-19 right now. But the risks to nature from human-made global warming – and the imperative to act – remain clear. Many species can acclimatize to slow, or even adequate, environmental changes. But Earth’s history shows that extreme shifts in the climate can cause many species to become extinct.
Research suggests that the current growth rate of carbon dioxide emanations is faster than those which triggered two previous mass extinctions, including the event that wiped out the dinosaurs. Before industrial era began at the end of the 18th century, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere sat at around 300 parts per million. This means that for every one million molecules of gas in the atmosphere, 300 were carbon dioxide. In February this year, atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 414.1 parts per million. Total greenhouse gas level – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide combined – reached almost 500 parts per million of carbon dioxide-equivalent.
Current atmospheric foci of carbon dioxide are not yet at the levels seen 55 million and 65 million years ago. But the gigantic influx of carbon dioxide means the climate is changing faster than many plant and animal species can adapt. A shift in climate zones is causing the tropics to expand and migrate toward the poles, at a rate of about 56 to 111 kilometers per decade. The tracks of tropical and extra-tropical cyclones are likewise shifting toward the poles.
Earth’s next mass extinction is avoidable – if carbon dioxide emissions are restricted and we develop and array technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, however, it is clear that earth is moving towards mass extinction and uber level destruction if we do not do something very soon.