Driven to Extinction: The Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity (American Museum of Natural History)

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9781402772238: Driven to Extinction: The Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity (American Museum of Natural History)
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Could more than a million species disappear in the 21st century?
Written by a leading scientist in the field, Driven to Extinction draws upon fascinating case studies from around the world, providing balanced and well-reasoned insight into the potential impacts of climate change on the diversity of life. Richard Pearson focuses on the science of the issue, revealing what has happened––as well as what is likely to happen––to some of the world's weirdest and most wonderful species as global temperatures continue to rise.

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From the Inside Flap:

The science is clear: like it or not, climate change is real and ongoing. Yet the likely impact of that change on the diversity of plant and animal life has been all but lost in the opposing voices of catastrophists and deniers. Now Richard Pearson dispenses with partisan quarrelling and instead takes a level-headed look at what may lie in store. Focusing on biodiversity conservation--a specific, yet far-reaching part of the issue--Pearson breaks new ground, moving beyond the old debates.
 
In Driven to Extinction, Pearson, a scientist at the American Museum of Natural History, meticulously assembles the evidence of how species of plants and animals have reacted to temperature changes in the past . . . and how they are likely to respond in the future, drawing upon a wide range of illuminating case studies from around the world. Paying careful attention to the methodologies employed, he points out flaws as well as successes. With Pearson's expert guidance, we visit some of the weirdest and most wonderful species on the planet, like the chameleons and geckos of Madagascar, the corals of the Indian Ocean, and the Arctic polar bears--an animal that has become something of a poster child for conservationists but still has valuable lessons to teach us about adaptability and survival.
 
Key to Pearson's approach is that he shows how interconnected different species of plants and animals are, how subtle yet essential those connections can be, and how severing one link in the complex chain of mutual cooperation and dependency can lead to the widespread breakdown of a once-thriving community and, ultimately, to extinction. At the same time, Pearson explores how climate change can offer some species new opportunities even as it narrows the prospects for others. The result is an unbiased overview of what scientists know--and don't know--about the impacts of climate change. Only armed with this knowledge can we be fully prepared to make the decisions--and take the actions--best suited to meet the challenges that face us.

From the Back Cover:

Climate change is real, and so is the threat it poses to the diversity of plants and animals that inhabit Earth. Yet debate on this topic has been polarized by catastrophists who fret that we are heading toward total disaster and skeptics who insist that there is nothing to worry about. In Driven to Extinction, Richard Pearson, a scientist at the American Museum of Natural History, explains the science behind the debates in an unbiased and level-headed manner.
 
Pearson shows that the threat posed to biodiversity by climate change increases the risk of extinction, especially when combined with other threats, such as habitat destruction and the influx of non-native species. But he is no alarmist. On the contrary, he warns against predictions of doom, highlighting the often unexpected ways in which nature can adapt to environmental change. Even so, Pearson does not gloss over the seriousness of the issue. Focusing on case studies from around the world, he describes not only what we know, but how we know it--the data, methods, and reasoning behind particular conclusions. In doing so, he deepens our understanding of what science does and does not know, and contributes a unique perspective to the debate that really matters: not who is to blame, but what is to be done.

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