By the end of the century, a mass extinction could begin on Earth, which will destroy more than a quarter of the world’s biodiversity. Scientists in Europe and Australia made the prediction based on the results of computer simulations, Forbes reports .
The study authors pointed out that, in fact, the sixth mass extinction has already begun. Over the past hundred years, on average, two species of vertebrates have gone extinct each year.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List includes more than 42,000 species at risk of complete extinction.
Using a supercomputer, scientists from the European Commission and Australia’s Flinders University have created a virtual planet with 15,000 food webs. They then analyzed how this world will change in the next hundred years.
In the model, the scientists factored in the “joint extinction” factor – a situation in which the extinction of one species inevitably leads to the extinction of another.
“Imagine a predator that loses its prey due to climate change. The loss of a prey species is a primary extinction because it was directly affected by the cataclysm. But the predator, since it has nothing left to eat, will also die out,” explain the authors of the scientific work.
In addition, climate and land use changes have been taken into account. The model allowed scientists to test several possible scenarios.
The results showed that, in the best case, the Earth will lose 6% of its biodiversity by 2050, and 13% by 2100. In the worst case, these figures were respectively 10% and 27%.
The results showed “far greater losses than previously thought”. The model’s creators noted that the next decades will be decisive for the conservation of global biodiversity.