Unless every human decides to “be the change” in their day-to-day lives and adopt sustainable habits, the world we share will be a drastically different place in just 50 years. Not only will environmental disasters be more common and the air quality akin to toxic, but approximately 1,700 species may also go extinct due to human activity.
The finding was published by Yale University ecologists earlier this month in Nature Climate Change. The researchers explain that as humans continue to use more and more land, other species are left with little ground to subsist on. As a result, steep population declines may occur in over 1,700 species of amphibians, birds, and mammals.
The ecologists made this prediction by combining two types of information: the present geographic distributions of about 19,400 species worldwide, and predicted changes to land cover under four different trajectories scientists agreed on as likely. “Our findings link these plausible futures with their implications for biodiversity,” said study co-author Walter Jetz. “Our analyses allow us to track how political and economic decisions — through their associated changes to the global land cover — are expected to cause habitat range declines in species worldwide.”
The “middle-of-the-road” scenario reveals only moderate changes. Over the next 50 years, the affected species will lose roughly 30-50% of their present habitat ranges. Those at the highest risk include 886 species of amphibians, 436 species of birds, and 376 species of mammals. Previous studies have predicted more than 400 mammalian carnivores and ungulate species will decline by as much as one-third by 2050.
“Losses in species populations can irreversibly hamper the functioning of ecosystems and human quality of life,” said Jetz. “While biodiversity erosion in far-away parts of the planet may not seem to affect us directly, its consequences for human livelihood can reverberate globally. It is also often the far-away demand that drives these losses – think tropical hardwoods, palm oil, or soybeans – thus making us all co-responsible.”
Species affected include the Lombok cross frog (Indonesia), the Nile lechwe (South Sudan), the curve-billed reedhaunter (Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay), and the pale-browed treehunter (Brazil). To view these projections and all other analyzed species, visit the Map of Life website. “The integration of our analyses with the Map of Life can support anyone keen to assess how species may suffer under specific future land-use scenarios and help prevent or mitigate these effects,” explained Ryan P. Powers, co-author of the study.
What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!
IMAGE CREDIT: Angela Waye