Warm Air Gives Us Cold Hands
Relatively minor increases in global temperatures are already dramatically affecting plants and animals, according to an article appearing in the current issue of Nature. The Earth has warmed by just 0.6 degrees in the past century (mostly in the last 30 years), but scientists from Europe, the U.S., and Australia have found serious consequences — from massive coral deaths to expanded malarial regions. Biologist Eric Post said the team was surprised by “not only the magnitude of response to the slight increase in temperatures … but also by the incredibly wide diversity of species” affected. In the most comprehensive report to date, the team reviewed almost 100 recent studies and found that nearly ever major habitat zone from the tropics to the polar regions was undergoing systemic changes due to warmer temperatures. Climate change models predict that if greenhouse gas emissions continue apace, average global temperatures will rise anywhere from 1.4 to 5.4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.