Climate Change Will Replace Our World With Another

An interesting article from Wired discusses what impact climate change will have on our global ecosystems. While the planet is warming and sea levels are rising, mot all regions, species, and ecological areas are being impacted the same; across all biological kingdoms, there will be winners and losers — including among humans, of whom those in coastal, agricultural, and poor communities will be hit the hardest (though everyone will ultimately be affected in some negative way; it is only the severity that will vary).

Climate change will be the end of the world as we know it. But it also will be the beginning of another.

Mass extinctions will open ecological niches, and environmental changes will create new ones. New creatures will evolve to fill them, guided by unforeseen selection pressures. What this new world will look like, exactly, is impossible to predict, and humans aren’t guaranteed to survive in it. (And that’s if civilization somehow manages to survive the climate disasters coming its way in the meantime, from superstorms to sea level rise to agriculture-destroying droughts).

Among the changes will be “simpler” rainforests lacking the capacity to host complex ecosystems (and thus thousands of different wildlife); acidic oceans dominated by crustaceans, jellyfish, and smaller fish species; and — to take a much longer view — the rapid evolution of surviving species (including humans) into something more adapted to warmer temperatures.

The article concludes with a bittersweet message: it might be too late for the current planet we know, but there is still a chance we can mitigate the impact of the transition and ensure  that this new Earth, whatever it will look like, is a bit better. The science and resources are there, but the public and political will remains sorely lacking. If it is still difficult to muster up action, is there any chance we will learn our lesson once the worst changes are visible?

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