Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Global warming threatens more than just poles and tropics

A report expected next month is expected to detail how climate shifts are already disrupting the habitats of many species.

(Page 2 of 2)

In the same article, Professor Jackson predicted "climates that certainly are completely outside the range of modern human experience," if greenhouse-gas emissions are unabated in the future. He said:

Skip to next paragraph
"If [the climate of] Memphis moves to Chicago, we have a Memphis there to say what Chicago will look like. For an area where we don't have a modern analogue, there's really nothing to look at to say, this is what the environment will look like."

The climate shifts may be even more hazardous to wildlife than are first apparent, notes Britain's Guardian. Even if a compatible climate for a disrupted species exists elsewhere, it won't do a disrupted species any good unless that species can migrate quickly to the new compatible climate. A study in 2004, the newspaper says, forecasted that 15 to 37 percent of all species could become extinct by 2050, assuming global climates warm even moderately – a loss of more than 1 million species altogether.

Williams told Reuters news service that some species may become trapped in a hostile climate:

"What we've shown is these climates disappear, not just regionally, but they're disappearing from the global set of climates, and the species that live in these climates really have nowhere to go as the system changes."

While not referring directly to the new climate- modeling study, a March 27 article in The New York Times examined the effects of consistently warmer temperatures in the "sky islands," the high-altitude regions of southern Arizona. During the past decade there, winter snows are melting earlier, forest fires have become more frequent and severe, and the trees are being eaten by beetles that used to be confined to lower, warmer altitudes. Said one resident:

"Nature is confused. We used to have four seasons. Now we have two. I love this place dearly, and this is very hard for me to watch."

The American West has warmed more than anyplace in the US outside of Alaska, one climate researcher told The New York Times. Added another, Thomas Swetnam, director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona in Tucson:

"The Chamber of Commerce doesn't like people like me saying things like this, but large parts of the arid Southwest are not going to be very nice places to live."