8 Things We Love That Climate Change Will Force Us to Kiss Good-Bye
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If we don't work quickly to curb the effects of climate change we may lose the bird-eating fanged frog. Most of us may not miss that one, but there is an enormous list of species and places we may never see again unless we reverse this crazy climate change ride we've put the earth on. The Natural Resources Defense Council reported that, "The first comprehensive assessment of the extinction risk from global warming found that more than 1 million species could be obliterated by 2050 if the current trajectory continues."
The numbers are virtually impossible to comprehend, especially when you consider that not just individual species, but entire habitats, cities, and cultures may be lost. How to put it all in perspective? Below are eight major features of our planet and our lives whose potential disappearance may inspire action.
1. World's Best Wines
So far the polar bear has become the poster child for climate change, but we may have more luck galvanizing people into action if they know the future of some of world's best wine is at stake. A report from Greenpeace showed that the climatically sensitive process of wine production in France is being disrupted by changing temperatures. "The average annual temperature has significantly increased, leading to major shifts in the wine production calendar," the group reports. "The harvesting season is occurring much earlier than normal and higher temperatures are proving detrimental to the vines. Wines end up having higher sugar levels and alcohol content while retaining less acids -- which means they are unbalanced with an overripe flavor and heavier texture."
Great wines are the result of a combination of climate and terroir, and both are at risk. Apparently this news is spurring food and wine groups in France to demand action in Copenhagen. Greenpeace reported that a coalition of renowned chefs and sommeliers have said that if French wines are to survive, they need "an ambitious deal by developed nations to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020."
And it's not just French wine. The National Academy of Sciences predicted that climate change could mean the end for California's tasty vinos, too. Hey, if the threat of millions of climate refugees and mass extinction doesn't get people going, maybe alcohol will.
2. 50,000 Rainforest Species a Year
Scientists estimate that we lose 50,000 species a year to deforestation in the world's rainforests. And to make matters worse, the already horrendous environmental effects of deforestation are being amplified by climate change. This is playing out most notably in the Amazon.
"The fear is that there will be a kind of a feedback where trees are cut down, and it gets warmer and drier" in the forest and harder for the trees and other vegetation to grow back, Bob Henson, author of The Rough Guide to Climate Change, told CNN.
Without the Amazon, we lose what scientists call the "lungs" of our planet -- the area where 20 percent of the world's oxygen is produced. Not to mention the thousands of fruits, plants, herbs, medicines and other edibles that come from the region.
Now scientists are saying that one third of the Amazon's trees could be wiped out by modest temperatures rises. "The research, by some of Britain's leading experts on climate change, shows that even severe cuts in deforestation and carbon emissions will fail to save the emblematic South American jungle, the destruction of which has become a powerful symbol of human impact on the planet," the Guardian reported. "Up to 85% of the forest could be lost if spiraling greenhouse gas emissions are not brought under control, the experts said. But even under the most optimistic climate change scenarios, the destruction of large parts of the forest is 'irreversible.'"