If temperatures continue to rise to the ranges predicted by the IPCC reports, habitat change will be occurring at a much faster pace than species can adapt to it. This means that they will have only a few options:
- Get lucky and somehow deal with it.
- Move to a nearby, more reasonable habitat (e.g. higher altitude)
- Go extinct
A new study out of Germany says that as many as 80% of genetic variation could disappear as a result of the anticipated temperature changes. All the white branches that you see in the tree of life above are species who have no viable adaptive mechanism or no nearby habitat … and could therefore disappear.
It’s more than polar bears, folks. This is on us.