That humans have a profound impact on the natural environment is a foregone conclusion. The alteration of the natural environment began with the formation of the first social groups and the rise of agriculture. Today, two critical questions are whether species are becoming extinct at rates that exceed normal and the degree to which human activity is the predominant cause.
A recent Marshall Institute study, Climate Change and Ecosystems, looking at the claim that human-induced climate change will lead to significant increases in the rate of species extinction found that very little is actually known about the rate of species extinction. Without knowing how many species there are, what the rate of natural extinction is, or how many species are becoming extinct as a result of other human activities, discussion about the potential impact of climate change on species extinction is very difficult. Nevertheless, frequently claims are advanced that climate change will accelerate the rate of species extinction.
The Marshall Institute is pleased to partner with the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change to further evaluate the question. The Specter of Species Extinction offers a comprehensive examination of the scientific basis underlying claims of human-induced climate change and species extinction.