30 June 2005

Global warming kills our wildlife - humans are the cause

Global warming is the greatest threat to wildlife, according to Sir David King, chief scientific adviser to the British government.

Writing in Birds, the magazine published by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, King listed four serious man-made dangers to wild animals, putting climatic change at the top.

The other threats to biodiversity were habitat destruction, invasion by non-native species and human over-exploitation, he said.

"The pattern of climate change that has been seen over the past one hundred years or so cannot be accounted for, unless human activities are included in the calculations," he said.

He pointed to pending rises in sea levels, the melting of snow, ice and glaciers, severe flooding and hotter summers.

King noted that British birds were breeding earlier, which he interpreted to mean that insects also appeared earlier.

Looking to Antarctica, Kings said the Adele penguin was in rapid decline, pointing to the decline in sea ice.

"The warming could take place so quickly that many species will not be able to adapt quickly enough to leave successor species, or, trapped in local environments, these species will be unable to migrate to more hospitable areas of the planet," he said.

King, who has made global warming a regular theme in recent months, called for a concerted international effort to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

"Effective action requires international agreement to curb future emissions radically, a process that would eventually need to engage the entire population," he said.

Boundaries moving
Independently a team at East Anglia University in eastern England said fish species were being driven from the North Sea as a result of warmer waters.

The study surveyed data relating to more than 90 species of fish living at the bottom of the North Sea and focused on commercially important species, concluding that Atlantic cod, sole and whiting could disappear within 50 years.

The team led by Alison Perry found that the distribution of 15 out of 36 species shifted in relation to warming, with distances ranging from 50 to 400km.

For half of 20 species with a southern or northern range limit in the North Sea, the boundaries moved significantly, with most movements being in a northerly direction.

Six species were moving territory boundaries by 2km a year.

"This study shows that climate change is having detectable impacts on marine fish distributions, and observed rates of boundary movement with warming indicate that future distribution shifts could be pronounced," Perry said, predicting that "these findings may have important impacts on fisheries".

From 1962 to 2001, the North Sea warmed on average by 0.6 of a degree Celsius. Predictions are that the rate of temperature increase will at least treble by 2080.

Source: www.news24.com


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