WASHINGTON: One in six species on Earth could be threatened with extinction from climate change unless steps are taken to reduce global warming emissions, new research has warned. According to an analysis of more than 100 smaller studies, up to one-sixth of the species could disappear if climate change remains on its current course. Industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other planet-warming greenhouse gases have boosted the global average temperature by about 0.8 degree Celsius since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
Mark Urban, an ecologist at the University of Connecticut analyzed the results of studies that had assessed extinction risks for more than one species, 'science magazine' reported.
Urban said the effects of climate change are not always immediate and the risks of extinction he has estimated are the long-term results of species not being able to find suitable habitat.
Maybe the habitat will merely shrink to a size that can not support the species, or maybe it will disappear entirely, he said.
For example, some plants and animals disperse so slowly over the generations that rapid warming might kill them or their offspring before they can spread to a suitable new habitat.
Currently, about 2.8 per cent of the species on Earth are at risk of extinction due to climate change that has already occurred, Urban said.
In case the global average temperature rises and then holds at 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial average, then 5.2 per cent species might eventually die out.
However, if the global temperatures eventually top out at 4.3 degree Celsius above preindustrial levels, as some studies suggest, climate change may ultimately claim one species out of every six, Urban added.
The finding was published in the journal Science.