Global warming threatens bird extinction

Posted: 10 April 2007

Global warming threatens many bird species with extinction due to climatic changes and the loss of the habitats they depend on for survival according to the new report on Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.

The analysis by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also found that an important way to mitigate the impacts of global warming is to protect existing forest and grassland and wetland habitats, which store carbon and provide essential habitat for imperiled wildlife.

"Two of Earth's most serious environmental problems, global warming and the loss of species, have a common solution: stopping the loss of Earth's forests and other natural carbon fixing habitats," said George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy. "Fully 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions result from deforestation."

The IPCC report found that between 20 to 30 percent of all species are threatened by an increased risk of extinction if average temperatures increase more than 1.5-2.5°C. For example, the US administers some of the most diverse seabird colonies in the world in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and Remote Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Many of the sites will disappear with sea level rise.

The by-product of a global programme to reduce greenhouse emissions through forest conservation would be the protection of large numbers of Earth's threatened species as well as the preservation of ecosystem services such as watersheds, and potentially, the generation of significant new revenue from carbon sequestration to help alleviate poverty in developing nations.

Avoided deforestation by providing payments to countries or projects that protect existing forest, can be financed by carbon taxes, a global trust fund, or by carbon credits purchased by polluters to offset emissions, says Fenwick.

"Wildlife will be negatively affected by some of the proposed solutions to the global warming challenge," he added. "Biofuel production from corn and wind turbines require careful thought and planning to ensure that endangered birds and other species are not put at additional risk."

American Bird Conservancy, April 9. 2007

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Scientists warn on reality of warmer world