Biodiversity Loss Versus Climate Change: Which is Worse?

Ryan Somma/CC BY-SA 2.0

Which is worse: Climate change or biodiversity loss? It seems like a chicken-and-egg conundrum. With hope waning that we can limit climate change to an average increase of 2 degrees centigrade, global warming threatens many species (including our own) with loss of habitat, disastrous weather events, and evolving illnesses. But factors threatening biodiversity go far beyond climate change.

We are experiencing the sixth mass extinction event, with the planet Earth losing species at 100 to 1000 times the natural extinction rate, according to the University of Copenhagen news article The biodiversity crisis: Worse than climate change. For the first time in history, these extinctions result not from atmospheric, geological, or astrophysical threats but due to simple competition between one species, Homo sapiens, and the rest of our neighbors on this blue ball.

Carsten Rahbek, Director for the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen, says:

The biodiversity crisis – i.e. the rapid loss of species and the rapid degradation of ecosystems – is probably a greater threat than global climate change to the stability and prosperous future of mankind on Earth.
Seeking to extend awareness and action now that 2010, the international year of biodiversity, has drawn to a close, Rahbek has worked to establish the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

IPBES aims mainly to strengthen the scientific understanding and data available to help policy makers act to limit biodiversity loss. The organization should fill the gap that exists because biodiversity has no functional equivalent to the UN Panel on Climate Change. Rahbek, a Dane, also wants to leverage the 6-month Danish presidency of the European Union to focus efforts on organizing international support for protecting biodiversity.

Without a doubt, knowledge and awareness are critical precursors to action. You can improve your own knowledge on biodiversity by taking the Planet Green Biovideristy Hotspot Quiz.

Tags: Biodiversity | Extinction | Global Climate Change

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