Researchers have recently warned that climate change could lead to an extinction level domino effect, which could destroy all living creatures on Earth.
The theory known as ‘co-extinctions’ suggests that organisms die out since they depend on other doomed organisms to survive.
Scientists warn that while total annihilation is a worst-case scenario, the domino effect could drastically increase the risk of climate change.
Worryingly, the scientists found how 5-6 degrees of average warming globally is enough to wipe out most life on the planet.
Researchers from Italy and Australia sued as many as 2,000 computer simulations linking animal and plant species on Earth.
Using targeted modeling, they subjected the simulated Earths to catastrophic environmental changes that ultimately lead to the extinction of all life on Earth.
Lead author Dr. Giovanni Strona of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre based in Ispra in northern Italy explained: “Even the most resilient species will inevitably fall victim to the synergies among extinction drivers as extreme stresses drive ecosystems to collapse.”
Among other things, scientists simulated runaway global warming, scenarios of nuclear winters after the detonation of several nuclear bombs, and other things like comet or asteroid impacts.
What they found is worrying.
“What we were trying to test is whether the variable tolerances to extreme global heating or cooling by different species are enough to explain overall extinction rates.”
“But because all species are connected in the web of life, our paper demonstrates that even the most tolerant species ultimately succumb to extinction when the less-tolerant species on which they depend disappear.”
“Failing to take into account these co-extinctions, therefore,e underestimates the rate and magnitude of the loss of entire species from events like climate change by up to 10 times,” explained the study’s co-author Professor Bradshaw of Flinders University in South Australia.
Scientists say that these simulated scenarios warn mankind should not underestimate the impact of co-extinctions.
“Not taking into account this domino effect gives an unrealistic and exceedingly optimistic perspective on the impact of future climate change,” warns Professor Bradshaw.
‘By comparing scenarios of extinctions based only on species’ environmental tolerances with others accounting also for co-extinctions, we show that neglecting to consider the cascading effect of biodiversity loss leads to a large overestimation of the robustness of planetary life to global change,’ scientists wrote in the study published in Nature.
“Another really important discovery was that in the case of global warming, in particular, the combination of intolerance to heat combined with co-extinctions mean that 5-6 degrees of average warming globally is enough to wipe out most life on the planet.”