About 20 percent of the Amazon basin rainforest has been wiped out since 1970, mostly for the production of lumber, soy, palm oil, biofuels and beef.
Scientists said, The Amazon rainforest is nearing a threshold which, once crossed, the 2.1 million square miles could shift to a savannah-type ecosystem with a mix of trees and grass within half-a-century.
It could collapse in less than 50 years once a crucial tipping point is reached.
Credit Image: bbc.com
Another major ecosystem, Caribbean coral reefs, 7,700 square miles could become bleached and sparsely populated in just 15 years.
Both large ecosystems showed irreversible change results from global warming and environmental damage - deforestation in the case of the Amazon, and pollution and acidification for corals.
Credit Image: businessinsider.com
Dr Simon Willcock, a professor at Bangor University's School of Natural Science, said:
“Our paper reveals that humanity needs to prepare for changes far sooner than expected.”
“These rapid changes to the world’s largest ecosystems would impact the benefits which they provide us with, from food and materials, to the oxygen and water we need for life.”
Credit Image: npr.org
Dr Simon warns recent forest fires in Australia and the Amazon, which destroyed nearly 20 million hectares- both made more likely and more intense by climate change - suggest that many ecosystems are teetering on the edge of this precipice.
Professor John Dearing, of Southampton University, said:
“The messages here are stark. We need to prepare for changes in our planet’s ecosystems that are faster than we previously envisaged.”
The UN's climate science advisory panel, the IPCC, has said that 1.5 degrees Celsius of atmospheric warming above preindustrial levels would doom 90 percent of the world's shallow-water corals. A 2-degree Celsius rise would spell their near-complete demise.
2015-2019 were the five warmest years on record and 2010-2019 was the hottest decade ever recorded.
The temperature tipping point for the Amazon is less clear, but scientists estimate that clearing 35 percent of its surface would trigger its eventual demise.
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