Study: Climate Change to cause“Abrupt Biodiversity Loss” by 2030

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to a new study, the ocean and land ecosystem collapses have already started, and will become significant by 2030

Climate change could cause abrupt biodiversity losses this century

Christopher Trisos, University of Cape Town, Alex Pigot, UCL

April 9, 2020 1.37pm SAST

The impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems are already evident. Poleward shifts in the geographic distributions of species, catastrophic forest fires and mass bleaching of coral reefs all bear the fingerprints of climate change.

But what will the world’s biodiversity look like in the future?

Risk of abrupt biodiversity loss early this century

Abrupt biodiversity loss due to marine heatwaves that bleach coral reefs is already under way in tropical oceans. The risk of climate change causing sudden collapses of ocean ecosystems is projected to escalate further in the 2030s and 2040s. Under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario the risk of abrupt biodiversity loss is projected to spread onto land, affecting tropical forests and more temperate ecosystems by the 2050s.

These dire projections use historical temperature models to find the upper limit that each species can survive under, as far as we know. Once temperatures rise to levels a species has never experienced, scientists have very limited evidence of their ability to survive.

It’s possible some species, such as those with very short generation times, may be able to adapt. For species with longer generation times – such as most birds and mammals – it may be only a few generations before unprecedented temperatures occur. When this happens the species’ ability to evolve out of this problem may be limited.

Read more:

The abstract of the study;

The projected timing of abrupt ecological disruption from climate change

Christopher H. TrisosCory Merow & Alex L. Pigot

As anthropogenic climate change continues the risks to biodiversity will increase over time, with future projections indicating that a potentially catastrophic loss of global biodiversity is on the horizon. However, our understanding of when and how abruptly this climate-driven disruption of biodiversity will occur is limited because biodiversity forecasts typically focus on individual snapshots of the future. Here we use annual projections (from 1850 to 2100) of temperature and precipitation across the ranges of more than 30,000 marine and terrestrial species to estimate the timing of their exposure to potentially dangerous climate conditions. We project that future disruption of ecological assemblages as a result of climate change will be abrupt, because within any given ecological assemblage the exposure of most species to climate conditions beyond their realized niche limits occurs almost simultaneously. Under a high-emissions scenario (representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5), such abrupt exposure events begin before 2030 in tropical oceans and spread to tropical forests and higher latitudes by 2050. If global warming is kept below 2 °C, less than 2% of assemblages globally are projected to undergo abrupt exposure events of more than 20% of their constituent species; however, the risk accelerates with the magnitude of warming, threatening 15% of assemblages at 4 °C, with similar levels of risk in protected and unprotected areas. These results highlight the impending risk of sudden and severe biodiversity losses from climate change and provide a framework for predicting both when and where these events may occur.

Read more (paywalled):

I’m not paying 209 Euros to look at a RCP 8.5 study, but from what I can see, what the researchers did is really funny.

The researchers appear to have taken lots of wild predictions of individual species extinction or the demise of narrow ecological niches, and grouped them into one big wild prediction.

They completely disregarded the point of why scientists making wild predictions keep their focus narrow.

Nobody notices if a prediction of the demise of an obscure orchid fails to manifest. Narrow predictions incur minimal reputational risk.

But the abrupt disappearance of an entire ecosystem is another matter entirely.

By grouping all the individual wild predictions together, the study authors have stripped away the cover which comes from keeping predictions narrow, and magnified the reputational risk for everyone they cited.

Everyone worried about their reputation now has to pay 209 Euros to look at the full study to see how their work has been used.

If nothing bad happens after 2030, there is no risk for the authors of this study, all the risk is on the researchers they cited.

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Martin Howard Keith Brumby
April 10, 2020 11:08 pm

Yet another Coronacopia of ‘might’ and ‘could’ and ‘scientists think’.

And we should hyperventilate about obviously bogus shroud waving threats from a bunch of rent seeking GangGreen activists whilst hundreds of thousands of our brethren are gasping for breath, thanks to the Chinese Politburo’s Kung Flu?

Somehow, that might be a difficult notion to sell.

Bryan A
Reply to  Martin Howard Keith Brumby
April 11, 2020 8:18 am

Now I could see the Rainforest Ecosystem disappearing by 2050 with little difficulty.
Provided Mitigation Strategies are Most Stringent and Fossil Fuels are forcibly “Left in the Ground”. This would cause a vast expansion of the current ethanol market to replace fossil fuels and thereby a massive increase in arable land area to grow the vast quantity of crops necessary for the replacement. THIS is what would bring about the destruction of the Rainforest Ecosystem and not an abundance of CO2.

Reply to  Bryan A
April 11, 2020 1:06 pm

Rainforests taking over Antarctica, complete with 10-foot high feathery dinosaurs.

Hey, it’s happened before!

Asteroids and hemmorhoids, oh my! 🙂

Bill Powers
Reply to  Martin Howard Keith Brumby
April 11, 2020 1:34 pm

Martin ‘Scientists think” has become an oxymoron in terms of Climate Science in the 21st Century.

in reality scientists fabricate for grant money has become the “New Climate Normal”

Sadly, by extension, they hurt the reputation of honest scientists everywhere in all other fields.

J Mac
April 10, 2020 11:21 pm

Egads! “Climate Change May Cause Loss of Dryer Lint By 2030”
The entire global carbon budget might be at risk, Folks!

Reply to  J Mac
April 11, 2020 1:48 am

Which reminds me, people don’t use ‘Egads!’ nearly enough nowadays. They just go all potty-mouth.

It’s getting harder and harder to tell sailors apart from fifth-graders, and that’s just the girls.

Thanks for the Egads!, J Mac.

william Johnston
Reply to  H.R.
April 11, 2020 6:09 am

Major spew!!!!!!

Mike McMillan
Reply to  william Johnston
April 12, 2020 7:46 am

Major Hoople, not spew.

comment image

Bryan A
Reply to  H.R.
April 11, 2020 8:21 am

My nomination for POTT

Reply to  H.R.
April 11, 2020 9:36 am


Reply to  H.R.
April 11, 2020 12:08 pm

Most of us seafarers can tell sailors apart from girls.
Oddly enough!


Reply to  auto
April 11, 2020 7:13 pm

Yeah. You sailors don’t swear nearly as much as 5th-grade girls, Auto.

Easy-peasy to pick your lot out in a crowded bar.

Did I forget to mention 5th graders are starting to drink earlier? Sorry about the oversight.

Reply to  H.R.
April 11, 2020 2:48 pm

I agree , even Catholic school girls have filthy mouths as a normal !

Reply to  J Mac
April 11, 2020 9:41 am

Sadly, with the lockdown, we’re pretty much reduced to e-gads.

Bryan A
Reply to  BallBounces
April 11, 2020 4:05 pm

And possibly E-Grads as Teens finish High School over the internet

J Mac
Reply to  J Mac
April 11, 2020 4:10 pm

GadZooks! I had no premonition that ‘Egads’ would elicit such hilarity!

Reply to  J Mac
April 11, 2020 7:17 pm

Now, now, settle down, J Mac.

Yer killin’ us ‘ere with that fancy talk.

April 10, 2020 11:33 pm

Star Trek were well ahead of the envelope .
Problem is the climate scientists who see the envelope but think they made it .

April 10, 2020 11:42 pm

Climate change could cause abrupt biodiversity losses this century but only in the minds and imaginations of the Global Warmistas. In the real world, things will go on much as usual.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
April 11, 2020 12:08 am

The last lost of thousands of birds I heard from Greece, as, coming back from Africa to Europe, they were trapped by icy storms coming down from Russia.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
April 11, 2020 6:55 pm

As well, let us also count the rare and endangered bird species being slaughtered daily by the mincing mills littering our landscapes.

Joel O’Bryan
April 10, 2020 11:47 pm

Meta climate risks = meta scams.

The old saying, “In for a penny, in for a pound,” Comes to mind here.

Meaning: Once involved, one must not stop at half-measures. This term originally meant that if one owes a penny one might as well owe a pound.
The RCP 8.5 scenario was the Honey-Pot Trap to lure in as many unsuspecting researchers across many disciplines to get them to ride the climate train. It looked realistic to naive, called business as usual. They jumped in. Like planning on taking just that little hit on a crack pipe, they are now on a one way trip to professional reputation Hell.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
April 11, 2020 1:03 am

Just like Paul R. Ehrlich?
Or did you just make a wild, reality bucking prediction of your own?

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
April 11, 2020 9:39 am

When caught red-handed, “brazen it out”. What have you got to lose?

Flight Level
April 10, 2020 11:51 pm

Could, risks are, possibly. Hey, what kind of science is this supposed to be ?

Let’s see… Risks are that for every action there could possibly be a reaction.

OK, roger that. Next ?

Richard, the cynical one
April 10, 2020 11:53 pm

Well, how are we to make room for all those new species waiting in the wings if we don’t usher some of the current ones off stage, particularly some that are barely hanging on by a claw. I mean, if they don’t have the adaptability needed, they should get lost! What good are they doing just hanging around? Let’s shake things up and have some new blood here.

April 11, 2020 12:07 am

Thank you for this. I will add it to my collection of wacky climate impact studies

As for “marine heatwaves that bleach coral reefs is already under way in tropical oceans” …

the data do not show that marine heat waves have a bias for the tropics. If anything, they have a bias for the polar regions. Pls see

Reply to  Chaamjamal
April 11, 2020 3:30 am
April 11, 2020 12:13 am

One of the links to the death of thousands of birds in Greece:

April 11, 2020 12:25 am

Didnt he get the email? It is 1.5C now, not 2C. LOL!

Old England
Reply to  Matt_S
April 11, 2020 2:38 am

Yes and 1.5C doesn’t take us out of the Little Ice Age temps still existing in 1850.
LIA was 2C+ COLDER than ‘average’ (whatever ‘average’ might be)

Nowhere near the wonderful warmth of the Medieval Warm Period when temperatures were 1-2C Warmer than currently. Don’t recall any ‘mass extinctions’ in medieval literature.

Last 3,000 years – 3 Warm periods, Minoan, Roman and Medieval each 1,000 years apart and each 1C Colder than the previous. Are we in the 4th? and if so it looks likely to be 1C Colder than the Medieval one. A historic temperature decline rate of 1C per 1,000 years – and these climate idiots think we can alter that with CO2 !

April 11, 2020 12:31 am

An unprecedented tipping point (again) I guess. They have made the mistake of making it a bit too close in these days of the Internet and claims not dissapearing or being forgotten. More fodder for the failed climate predictions file.

I have no doubt that biodiversity impacts exists, but laying them at the feet of climate change is something else again. Lack of biodiversity was something we notice when living in Europe, it all looked very pretty but was bland from a flora and fauna perspective. It made us appreciate home in Australia.

Reply to  yarpos
April 11, 2020 9:20 am

I would like to see a comprehensive literature search and rigorous meta analysis done on all of the CAGW predictions made with regard to climate, ecology, etc. that have a time component — i.e. such and such will happen by such and such a date if we don’t do such and such. Then plot a horizontal histogram parallel to a time axis where the left end of a rectangle is when that prediction was published and its extent is for whatever length of time the prediction makes.

And then publish that study in a “reputable” journal, (good luck in trying that)!

Coeur de Lion
April 11, 2020 12:34 am

This biodiversity loss is a result of a mild and beneficial temperature rise dwarfed by diurnal, regional and seasonal variation . I remember Sweyn Forkbeard rabbeting on about biodiversity in his day but his barons weren’t interested. And caused by a minuscule increase in atmospheric CO2. Now if they were talking about sinful pollution, then I’d listen

April 11, 2020 12:52 am

Suppose there is a 50% risk that species A will disappear and the same for species B. All other things being equal there is a 25% chance that both will disappear. The chances that all the creatures in an ecosystem will disappear all at once is approximately zilch.

The problem for the doom sayers is:

Once a niche is left vacant, other organisms can fill that position. link

It’s harder to collapse an ecosystem than you might think. You can just about drop an atomic bomb and the ecosystem will bounce back better than ever, and rather quickly at that. Chernobyl

Some might complain that the ecosystem has changed. Well, you can only step in the same river once.

Reply to  commieBob
April 11, 2020 1:17 am

The fault for almost all contemporary extinctions can be laid at humanity’s door. But a big fat zero of these were due to emissions of CO2.

If there were no humans, just a ginormous machine belching out the equivalent of our CO2 emissions, the biosphere would be getting along just fine, in fact… benefitting from the fertilization effect in marginal (dry) habitats.

April 11, 2020 1:39 am

This has a familiar sound: ah, yes, Limits to growth, remember? Also did not happen.
From the same ecopessimistic apocalypse doomsayers tipping point handbook as Carson, and the “end of polar bears soon” ecologists.

“tipping point ahead” is the name of the dutch group of scientists preaching doom for children.

Izaak Walton
April 11, 2020 1:53 am

You state “I’m not paying 209 Euros to look at a RCP 8.5 study, but from what I can see, what the researchers did is really funny.”. What I fine really funny is that you can’t tell the difference between accessing a single
article (costing $8.99) and subscribing to Nature for a year costing 209 euros but you still think you can
accurately criticise an article without reading it.

Martin Howard Keith Brumby
Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 11, 2020 2:25 am

I find it really funny that an allegedly scientific study which blatantly tries to influence political policy, should not be fully and freely available for inspection by the poor sods who will take the full brunt and cost of the policies they favour.

Phil Rae
Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 11, 2020 3:07 am


It’s still not worth it at $8.99! Any other gems to throw into the discussion?

Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 11, 2020 6:17 am

Doesn’t worth even one of what currency ever.

Robert W. Turner
Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 11, 2020 8:09 am

Are you saying you think the publication is sound and an exemplar contribution to the sciences?

Anyone that thinks that the global environment has not vastly improved since the 1970s and that we are currently headed for biodiversity collapse must be as sharp as a marble – no in depth critique needed.

April 11, 2020 1:55 am

Prescient! It looks like the New York Metro-area ecosystem might collapse by June or July.

I think the rats and cockroaches will come out of it OK. Politicians always do.

Old England
April 11, 2020 2:42 am

The most prolific, varied and fastest growing coral reefs are found in the hottest areas such as the Red Sea.
Conveniently ignored by coral alarmists.

HD Hoese
April 11, 2020 2:51 am

“ Once temperatures rise to levels a species has never experienced, scientists have very limited evidence of their ability to survive.” Not true, we know a lot about upper temperature tolerance of many, mostly inshore species. From the abstract–“We project that future disruption of ecological assemblages as a result of climate change will be abrupt, because within any given ecological assemblage the exposure of most species to climate conditions beyond their realized niche limits occurs almost simultaneously. Not true of most as noted in their contradiction–“….however, the risk accelerates with the magnitude of warming, threatening 15% of assemblages at 4 °C.”

In 2010 cold ran bull sharks out of Shark River estuary (latitude below Miami) where they normally stay all year. Lots of critters were not eaten until they began to return 116 days later.
P. Matich and M. R. Heithaus. 2012. Effects of an extreme temperature event on the behavior and age structure of an estuarine top predator, Carcharhinus leucas. Marine Ecology Progress Series 447:165-178 (2012) – DOI: Open Access.

Based on their references (except for 1948 statistics paper all in this century) they did not know about these papers among many others. “All datasets used here are publicly available.” Ought to be strange, given the pessimistic attitude around a lot of science nowadays.
Storey, M. 1937. The relation between normal range and mortality of fishes due to cold at Sanibel Island, Florida. Ecology. 18(1):11-24.
Miller, E. M. 1940. Mortality of fishes due to cold on the southeast Florida coast, 1940. Ecology. 21(3):420-421. [Key West]

April 11, 2020 3:28 am

Them damn-fool geologists have named an era the “Cryogenian” period.
Some 650 million years ago.
Our planet was so cold and so covered in ice that it’s been called “Snowball Earth”.
What would be the extinction rate on that event?

Reply to  Bob Hoye
April 11, 2020 9:45 am

And few know (or grasp) that Earth is currently in a geologic ice age, the Quaternary Ice Age. So any slight warming should be appreciated.

April 11, 2020 3:58 am

Interesting business model for Nature: writers do not get paid, reviewers do not get paid. Nobody buys a paper copy anymore.

Mumbles McGuirck
April 11, 2020 4:53 am

Notice on how they always concentrate on species extinction and never consider species creation. Species go extinct all the time and new species are created all the time. it’s called evolution . when there are stressors in the environment , such as a warming atmosphere, certain species will be at a disadvantage and they will go extinct , but other species who have just been created will be better adapted to a warmer atmosphere.

Alasdair Fairbairn
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
April 11, 2020 7:00 am

Mumbles McGuirick:
Yes we are seeing here the extinction of Homo Scientifica and the emergence of Homo Groupthinka. It is amazing what the Climate Change Meme can do.

April 11, 2020 6:04 am

And the problem is that we operate on a day-to-day basis using reputation more than anything else. Who is telling the truth? Who can I trust?

I can’t be an expert in everything, so I have to determine which experts to trust. When climate scientists make outlandish predictions like this and so many of them do it, it erodes not only their personal reputations, but the legitimacy of the whole field. At this point, climate science and the news media, they have burned so much of their reputation away that I automatically assume that the opposite of what they are claiming is the truth.

The really sad part? They don’t even realize this is happening and keep doing the same thing over and over. Zero self-reflection on their part.

April 11, 2020 6:15 am

Whenever you see the word “could”, you should always — ALWAYS — read it as “will not”. It is a weasel word that lets these shysters imply something will happen but gives them a way out when, never if, it does not happen.

Examples: “Climate change could cause abrupt biodiversity losses this century.” You should read it as “Climate change could will not abrupt biodiversity losses this century.”
“COVID-19 could kill 120,000 people.” You should read it as “COVID-19 will not kill 120,000.”
“This politician could take away your health insurance.” You should read it as “This politician will not take away your health insurance.”

David Blenkinsop
Reply to  Wade
April 12, 2020 6:06 am

The worst part of it is, you can’t always count on the weasel worders to always be wrong either!

Seriously though, I agree that the use of ‘could’ can be a weasel word situation, and/or a warning sign of unreliable projections.

Peter Morris
April 11, 2020 6:29 am

Back to only ten years this time, huh?

I guess all the failed short term predictions aren’t catalogued somewhere for these guys to reference.

Reply to  Peter Morris
April 11, 2020 9:49 am

Yeah, what happened to “by the end of this century”? More deadline deflation.

April 11, 2020 6:35 am

It’s dead, but not as we know it!

Reply to  Willem69
April 11, 2020 10:14 am

“But Jim, those are our people down there. We can’t just leave ’em!”

“Bones, I … don’t … have a choice! Do you think I want to leave them?”

Curious George
April 11, 2020 7:42 am

An abrupt loss of education on Fridays. Greta, these scientists love you.

Once this nonsense passes for science, everything is possible.

Gunga Din
April 11, 2020 10:21 am

Where I live every fall we lose a bunch of “biodiversity” as it flies south to warmer weather.
A similar thing happens in the spring to the south as some of its “biodiversity” flies north.

April 11, 2020 10:23 am

Well … Climate Change HAS killed all the honeybees. I read that in some taxpayer-financed “study”. Who killed the honeybees? YOU killed the honeybees! You drove an automobile. You heated your home. I’ve yet to read the retraction.

Chris Hanley
April 11, 2020 2:50 pm

RCP2.6 or RCP8.5, according to IPCC Report AR5 the projected temperatures are more or less the same until ~2050 (~+1C above ’86 – 2005 av.) and fan out only thereafter.
comment image?w=500
That is if one chooses to believe all the hocus-pocus behind the so-called ‘representative concentration pathways’.

Tim Gorman
April 12, 2020 1:41 pm

“it may be only a few generations before unprecedented temperatures occur.”

It would seem to be obvious that the study authors are using *average* annual temperatures from the climate models and trying to say that changes in the average are due to increases in maximum temperatures.

In fact they can’t tell that from an average value. The average tells you nothing about what is happening at the edges of the temperature envelope. They are making an unfounded assumption with no proof. And you know what they say about the word “assume”.

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