Global warming already dire for hundreds of species

From the micro to the macro, from plankton in the oceans to polar bears in the far north and seals in the far south, global warming has begun changing life on Earth, international scientists will report next Friday.

”Changes in climate are now affecting physical and biological systems on every continent,” says a draft obtained by the Associated Press of a report on warming’s impacts, to be issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the authoritative U.N. network of 2,000 scientists and more than 100 governments.

”Hundreds of species have already changed their ranges, and ecosystems are being disrupted,” said University of Michigan ecologist Rosina Bierbaum, former head of the U.S. IPCC delegation. ”It is clear that a number of species are going to be lost.”

And in Australia, the rainbow world of the Great Barrier Reef may fade away.

Scientists say rising sea temperatures worldwide are causing more coral bleaching — the draining of color when the fragile animals that form reefs become stressed and spew out the algae that give coral its color and energy to build massive reef structures.

Oceans also are absorbing more carbon dioxide, increasing their acidity and eroding coral’s ability to build reef skeletons.

Because just a 2-degree-Fahrenheit shift can trigger a major bleaching event, the behavior of corals is an early sign that global warming is already changing our world, experts say.

Forecasts vary, but many experts say ocean temperature rises projected for the next 50 years could strip this 1,250-mile-long natural wonder of most of its color.

The changes will affect countless millions of fish and other marine organisms that depend on the reef

Source: Chicago Sun-Times