Report: Warming threatens one-third of planet’s plant, animal life

A new report released by the World Wildlife Fund warns that as much as 33 percent of the Earth’s unique plant and animal habitats could disappear within the next 100 years, unless major action to rein in global warming commences. Particularly hard-hit will be northern areas of Canada, Russia and Scandinavia, where as much as 70 percent of natural habitats could be dramatically altered or wiped out. In the U.S., 11 states are likely to see more than one-third of their territory impacted; in Georgia, where booming development is already straining water supplies and encroaching upon wild areas, one-quarter of the state’s habitats are in danger. The report, Global Warming and Terrestrial Biodiversity Decline, bases its predictions on “moderate” predictions that the amount of carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas blamed for trapping solar radiation in the atmosphere and warming the earth, produced in large part by the burning of fossil fuels — will double by the end of the century.

“As global warming accelerates, plants and animals will come under increasing pressure to migrate to find suitable habitat ...” says Jay Malcolm of the University of Toronto, one of the report’s authors. In some places, plants would need to move 10 times as fast as they did during the last ice age merely to survive.”

Similar warnings have met with resistance in many quarters. Industrialized nations say proposals to limit greenhouse emissions unfairly target their manufacturing bases, while some developing nations insist upon unfettered industrialization to “catch up” with the rest of the world.

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