Irreversible extinctions

UK Edition | 30 June 2022

The Conversation


Decades of dire warnings have failed to arrest rising greenhouse gas

emissions. Without drastic action this decade, humanity may end up

heating the Earth by more than 2°C - the upper limit which world

leaders agreed not to cross. Yet some are optimistic: if Earth

overshoots the Paris agreement target, it could still lower the global

temperature over several decades with what are called negative

emissions technologies.


For the first time, scientists at UCL and the University of Cape Town

have examined what temporarily exceeding 2°C of warming would mean for

life on Earth: "waves of irreversible extinctions and lasting damage to

tens of thousands of species". Their new study also found that some of

these supposed climate solutions would make things worse, like

bioenergy crops which would deprive embattled wildlife of habitat. The

team urged leaders to take the hard limit of 2°C seriously and do

everything possible to slash emissions now.


Catastrophic warming is still not inevitable. If you have trouble

fixating on the worst-case scenarios in your life, Patricia Riddell, a

neuroscientist at the University of Reading, offers four ways to think

differently. Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, recently set

a date for a new Scottish independence referendum. Political scientist

Murray Leith explains what's changed since the first one. And we hear

from a lion expert who argues trophy hunting does little to benefit

their conservation.



Jack Marley


Environment + Energy Editor