While global biodiversity in the While the world’s population has declined between 2 and 11 percent in the 20th century due to land use changes alone, climate change could lead to an increase in the world’s population by the middle of the century. 21st century will become the main cause of biodiversity loss. This is the result of the largest model study of its kind, which has now been published in the journal Science. The study was conducted by more than 50 researchers from over 40 institutions, under the leadership of the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and with the participation of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

The study is the first model comparison of projections of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The international research team used a series of land use and climate change reconstructions from 1900 to 2015 as well as three future scenarios from 2015 to 2050. For the latter, the researchers evaluated three frequently used scenarios – from sustainable development to a scenario with high emissions. According to the results, climate change will put additional pressure on biodiversity and ecosystem services. In all scenarios, the combined effects of land use change and climate change lead to a loss of biodiversity in all regions of the world.

Previous measures are not enough

“Current policy measures are not sufficient to achieve the international biodiversity targets,” says Alexander Popp, PIK researcher, professor for sustainable land use and climate protection at the University of Kassel and co-author of the study. “Much greater efforts are needed to stem the man-made loss of biodiversity, one of the world’s biggest problems.”

Picture above: By the middle of the century, climate change could become the main reason for the loss of biodiversity. Photo: Unsplash/Eric Ward

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