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Major climate change as a threat to the flora and fauna

A new study published by WWF International addresses the threat of rapid climate change and its impacts on the flora and fauna. For many species, the natural mechanisms of adaptation are no longer capable of coping with the sheer speed of change.
Taking the increasing frequency of extreme weather situations into account, the authors of the study conclude that the consequences of global warming are much greater than generally assumed hitherto. Their examples range from plants coming into flower earlier to the growing numbers of forest fires resulting from more and longer periods of dry weather. In order to avoid disastrous consequences, the WWF and the EU consider it essential to limit the increase in global mean temperature to a maximum of 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels. A particular cause for concern in this context is the fact that the mean temperature in the Alps has already risen by 1.6°C.
The thousands of years old plant remains recently released from the glacial ice in the Andes of Peru are an indicator of the current extent of climate change. Carbon dating using the C14 method has showed the vegetable material to be at least 50,000 years old. From the good state of preservation of the plants, Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University concludes that the rate of ice melt in the last 50,000 years has never been as high as it is today.
Sources and download: www.wwf.ch/wwfdata/media/de (en); Leemans, R., van Vliet, A. (2004) Extreme Weather: Does Nature Keep Up?; www.vistaverde.de/news/Wissenschaft (de) 16.12.2004