Anyone who follows the tragedy of climate change in (relative) slow motion knows that, as in the real-time tragedy of Covid-19, there is a perverse tendency that the rope breaks on the weaker side first. In the event of a disaster, those who have already had little are at greater risk of being left with nothing.
This bitter principle is illustrated with terrifying clarity in a study that has just been published by two Brazilian scientists together with colleagues from various institutions abroad. The team showed how the increase in the earth’s average temperature this century will have a much more negative impact on endemic animal and plant species. In other words, those that exist in only one place on earth with limited geographic distribution and that are often already exposed to other serious threats – a description that naturally applies to much of Brazil’s biodiversity.
The work of Mariana Vale and Stella Manes from the UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) is published in the journal Biological Conservation. The couple and colleagues analyzed more than 80,000 projections of climate change risk for biodiversity, taking into account 273 areas of the planet that are particularly rich in various living beings and endemic species, which, strictly speaking, makes them irreplaceable.
The rise in the Earth’s average temperature, mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels that fuel our civilization, is upsetting the balance that has created these regions of high biodiversity – not just because they are warmer than are normal, but also because the cycle of rain and drought, river volume, soil moisture and countless other factors are also changed. Result: The habitat available for each species tends to shrink and the vast majority will not be able to go around the world in search of a more suitable neighborhood.
Hence, bad news would be expected, but their consistency in the data collected through work is impressive business. Virtually all native terrestrial species will have a negative impact if the planet warms up to 3 degrees Celsius (relative to pre-industrial revolution temperature) by the end of this century – unfortunately, this is the path we are following. And the negative sign does not depend on the place in the world or the ecosystem.
Endemic species are three times more likely to become extinct than non-endemic species – lion tamarins in Brazil, for example, would lose more than 70% of their habitat under these conditions, and a third of South American species would be in the same pool, at high risk of disappearing the researchers calculate.
And what is the main Brazilian contribution to the scenario to keep deteriorating? Anyone who said “Deforestation in the Amazon” was right. The same thing that has been filmed in recent years and the reduction of which has been the subject of emotional (and financial) blackmail by a certain Ricardo Salles, a boy who makes some mistakes as a cosplayer for the environment minister and takes a picture with a jaguar boy in his lap.
Salles and Bolsonaro have tried to sell the US government the idea that they want to fix deforestation – it is enough for rich countries to open the safe. It’s more or less like trying to sell a Beetle 66, detonated body, and blown engine like it’s a zero car. If Joe Biden really wants the US to tackle climate change again, he won’t swallow this mess.
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