Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Study: Shopping malls prevent animals from escaping global warming

The latest global warming scare comes from the University of Washington: 9% of the Western Hemisphere´s mammals are not able to run fast enough in order to flee catastrophic global warming. The scientists behind the study propose the construction of "corridors" past e.g. shopping malls to be used by slow moving creatures:  
As climate change transforms their habitat, some animals are already on the move. But a new analysis from the University of Washington warns that many species won't be able to run fast enough to survive a warming world.
On average, about 9 percent of the Western Hemisphere's mammals migrate too slowly to keep pace with the rapid climate shifts expected over the next century, says the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In some areas, including parts of the Appalachian Mountains and the Amazon basin, nearly 40 percent of mammals may be unable to reach safe haven in time.

The scientists admit their study presents an oversimplified view of the real world. It doesn't account for shifts in the other factors that influence mammals' distribution, such as competition and predation. Nor does it account for species' ability to adapt to changing habitat.
The scientists did try to make the picture more realistic by factoring in some of the barriers mammals will face as they set out for greener pastures - things such as roads, shopping malls and cities. In many cases, the analysis found species that would otherwise win the race with climate change will falter in the face of these modern obstacles.
But the analysis also points to ways people might be able to reduce the impact of climate change - in addition to cutting back emissions, Schloss said. If it's possible to identify choke points that block animal migrations, corridors could be built to ease the creatures on their way.
Read the entire article here
It is not difficult to agree with the scientists´ statement that "their study presents an oversimplified view of the real world" - a quality that their study shares with most other global warming studies. 

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