In the battle to save threatened species from extinction, a new study has found that keeping climate change under 1.5 degrees Celsius could be key. Global warming will hit hardest those animals we depend upon most.
The Red List of threatened species is getting longer every year.
Currently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists 5,583 species as critically endangered, including subspecies of animals and plants.
Another 20,000 species are classified as endangered or vulnerable.
Hunting and poaching are among the top reasons for species endangerment.
Take the pangolin: their meat and scales are sought-after as food and for traditional medicine, respectively.
Some pangolin species are already critically endangered, and their population is still declining.
Species that are adapted to living on savannah simply cannot survive when their savannah turns to desert.
“Every species has a preferred climate. Just as you and I don’t like it too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry,” Rachel Warren of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom, tells DW.
Saving insect species from extinction is particularly important, the researchers write: They are at the bottom of the food chain and are a main food source for many birds, reptiles and mammals.
When insects die, a lot of other species will die with them.
In addition, insects offer services we humans cannot do without, such as pollinating crops and flowers.
The economic value of insect pollination was estimated in a 2005 study at 153 billion euros ($181 billion), accounting for 9.5 percent of global agricultural food production.
“We found that particularly those groups of insects important for pollination are one of the more sensitive ones to global warming.”