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Hot, Wet Climate Favored Tropical Forest Diversity

By Vicki Mozo


What can we expect from global temperature and climate shifts that are going on in the near future? Are we spelling out d-o-o-m? Is it really going to be apocalyptic in the following years? We've seen films depicting the future and they're quite scary. But, should we really get scared? Or, are we simply overreacting to the issue?


Abrupt temperature rise, favorable to biodiversity?

Recently, a team of researchers from Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute headed by the scientist, Carlos Jaramillo, reported that climate change and global warming effects may not be entirely unfavorable (to the tropical forests, that is).

Temperature rise is not a new occurrence. It happened nearly 60 million years ago. The temperature rose between three and five degrees higher. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were nearly thrice as they are today. These shifts implicate that the climate then was basically hot and wet.

According to Jaramillo and colleagues, the significant shift in temperature and carbon dioxide levels could have resulted in a relatively hot and wet climate that persisted in a rather short term. Interestingly, the rainforest species were not completely harmed by it; rather, they responded well.


The evidence

The team compared pollen in rock cores and outcrops from Colombia and Venezuela before, during, and after that occurrence. They found that the condition did not devastate the tropical forests but stimulate rapid forest diversity instead.1 New species had emerged during that time. They concluded that the rate of new species formation was faster than the rate of older species extinction.


So, does it mean we're bound to relax?

I would not recommend that we should feel lax about it. There is a real evidence that the Earth's temperature is getting warmer. Based on scientific reports, we can expect a temperature rise of about three degree Celsius towards the end of this century.

We all know that we live in a world that is functioning well when all factors remain stable or are in equilibrium. When a particular factor is already overwhelming it is enough to evoke a cautionary measure from each one of us since the change could lead to an unfavorable effect.

The effects are hard to predict and the views are many. Scientific predictions and mathematical models may be far from what's bound to happen in the real scenario. But, who should we listen? For me, I would heed to a call for a conservative effort. I would rather listen to the cries of the anticipating generation whose lives dwell in the hands of today's.




1 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (2010, November 11). Tropical Forest Diversity Increased during Ancient Global Warming Event. Retrieved December 8, 2010, from www.stri.si.edu/english/about_stri/media/press_releases/PDFs/STRI-PR10_Tropical_ForestDiv.pdf

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