Climate Change by the Numbers: 70% of Species Face Extinction

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by: Danny Clemens
Black Rhino, Clocolan Free State, So. Africa.
Chad Henning/DCL

Although humans can survive in nearly all of the Earth's climates, most animals aren't nearly as adaptable. As temperatures climb and conditions on Earth shift, more than two-thirds of species could face extinction.

Should the average global temperature rise by 3.5 degrees Celsius, between 40 and 70% of all assessed plant and animal species are "likely to be at increased risk of extinction," according to a 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations-sponsored organization.

Earlier this year, peer-reviewed research published in the journal Scientific Advances found that the world's sixth mass species extinction event has already begun. Scientists used vertebrate fossil records to estimate the 'regular' rate of species extinction, determining that species are already disappearing 100 times more quickly than normal:

Species Extinction Rates

In the study, researchers peg several causes for the acceleration of extinction, including habitat destruction, introduction of invasive species, climate change and ocean acidification.

NEXT: 600,000 Deaths Annually


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