Earth Approaching Climate Tipping Point
Earth may be nearing an ecological tipping point that threatens biodiversity, food production and water supplies as humans consume resources at an unsustainable pace, according to an article published in the journal Nature. About 43 percent of the Earth’s surface has been built upon or is being used for agriculture to support the planet’s 7 billion inhabitants, says Anthony Barnosky, a professor of integrated biology at the University of California, Berkeley. As that figure approaches 50 percent, there may be irreversible and significant environmental changes.
Small-scale ecosystems have shown that once 50 percent of an area is altered, biodiversity is often lost and animal and plant species are at risk of extinction. There’s “an urgent need” to reduce population growth and per-capita resource use, grow more food on less land and replace fossil fuels with renewable-energy sources, according to the report.