29 April 2009

"Stripping the harmonic notes out of a symphony"

Climate is a major determinant of where a species lives and how species interact. Biologists also know that climate change will outpace evolution for a great number of organisms, although perhaps not for bacteria, viruses and some insects. Barnosky describes the result as "like taking a color portrait and rendering it in black and white, or stripping all the harmonic notes out of a symphony". But not all organisms will be affected negatively; some will flourish. We need to figure out if climate change is eroding the species that humans value and replacing them with those that cause harm. And we must identify which species will be most affected, which ones will muddle through and which will rise to prominence. This information will help us to determine what sort of biotic world climate change is creating and what steps we might take to affect that change.
-- from a review by Jessica Hellmann of Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming by Anthony D. Barnosky, included in Nature's Climate Crunch package.

Image: lakes forming on glaciers in the Bhutan-Himalaya region.

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