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The projected effect on insects, vertebrates, and plants of limiting global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C

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Science  18 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6390, pp. 791-795
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar3646

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One and a half degrees on biodiversity

Insects are the most diverse group of animals on Earth and are ubiquitous in terrestrial food webs. We have little information about their fate in a changing climate; data are scant for insects compared with other groups of organisms. Warren et al. performed a global-scale analysis of the effects of climate change on insect distribution (see the Perspective by Midgley). For vertebrates and plants, the number of species losing more than half their geographic range by 2100 is halved when warming is limited to 1.5°C, compared with projected losses at 2°C. But for insects, the number is reduced by two-thirds.

Science, this issue p. 791; see also p. 714

Abstract

In the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the United Nations is pursuing efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C, whereas earlier aspirations focused on a 2°C limit. With current pledges, corresponding to ~3.2°C warming, climatically determined geographic range losses of >50% are projected in ~49% of insects, 44% of plants, and 26% of vertebrates. At 2°C, this falls to 18% of insects, 16% of plants, and 8% of vertebrates and at 1.5°C, to 6% of insects, 8% of plants, and 4% of vertebrates. When warming is limited to 1.5°C as compared with 2°C, numbers of species projected to lose >50% of their range are reduced by ~66% in insects and by ~50% in plants and vertebrates.

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