Climate change is already affecting life on Earth, despite a global temperature increase of just 1°C, according to a new study published in the journal Science on Friday.
Nearly every ecosystem on the planet is being altered, and plants and animals are being so affected that scientists may soon be forced to intervene to create “human-assisted evolution,” the study, titled The Broad Footprint of Climate Change from Genes to Biomes to People, found.
The researchers say 82 percent of “core ecological processes” on land and sea have been affected by climate change in a way that had not been expected “for decades.”
Co-author and professor John Pandolfi of the University of Queensland said, “Temperature extremes are causing evolutionary adaption in many species, changing them genetically and physically. These responses include changes in tolerances to high temperatures, shifts in sex-ratios, reduced body size, and migration of species.”
“Understanding the extent to which these goods and services have been impacted allows humans to plan and adapt to changing ecosystem conditions,” he said.
Dr. James Watson, associate professor of planning and environmental management at UQ’s School of Geography, added, “We are simply astonished at the level of change we observed which many of us in the scientific community did not expect to see for decades.”
The changes have manifested in some species shifting to higher or lower ground as the planet heats up, while others are becoming smaller, “as a higher surface-area-to-body-mass ratio makes it easier to stay cool,” the Independent reported. The outlet wrote: