Climate change shock as ecology professor says impact has been GOOD for wildlife
Human impact on our planet has not been as bad as though according to the book.
The University of York academic says nature is fighting back against human industrialisation of the globe and that, in the short-term, climate change has benefited some species.
His book challenges us to “look positively at the impact of humans on the natural world”.
The professor argues many animals and plants actually benefit from our presence, raising biological diversity in most parts of the world and increasing the rate at which new species are formed, perhaps to the highest level in Earth’s history.
A statement from the university about the book said: “He argues that the fauna and flora of Britain are much richer today than 10,000 years ago as a result of farming, towns, gardening, climate change and the deliberate introduction of exotic species.
“In Britain, the effects can be seen with the humble sparrow. Sparrows are not native to our country but spread from central Asia with people.
“In Italy they hybridised with Spanish sparrows to produce a new true-breeding species.
“Once in decline, they are now protected and encouraged in Britain.”
Express.co.uk asked the academic how climate change could benefit wildlife.
“When the climate warms, there are more of these heat-loving species available to spread northwards than there are cold-loving species (e.g. those restricted to Scottish mountains) available to die out.
“The same is true in many other parts of the world – most species live in the hot tropics and can spread when it warms – but it is a very complicated story because rainfall will also vary.
“So, the conclusion holds for some of the world but not all of it.”
However, he made it clear, in the long-term the effects of global warming could be catastrophic, and he still supports the lowering of greenhouse gas emissions.
He said: “This does not let us off the hook. Lots of species that are unable to spread will become extinct when the climate warms.
“We should minimise greenhouse gas emissions to avoid this.”
Even the rainforests are coping with mad made impacts such as deforestation.
“However, even in the Atlantic forest region of Brazil, as many bird species like cattle egrets and burrowing owls have arrived and established populations in the new farmland as have died out from deforestation.
“Forest is still needed to save forest species, but there are new opportunities for species that exploit human-modified land.”
The book takes readers on a round-the-world journey to meet the enterprising creatures that are thriving in the Anthropocene, from York’s ochre-coloured comma butterfly to hybrid bison in North America, scarlet-beaked pukekos in New Zealand, and Asian palms forming thickets in the European Alps.
Professor Thomas, from the University’s Department of Biology, said: “Life on Earth is a process, not a faded masterpiece that needs to be restored to a past state that no longer exists.
“Like others, I am concerned about the extinction of the world’s species, but it is equally valid for us to appreciate the increases in diversity that have already taken place in the human epoch.
“This enables us to champion a more optimistic, forward-looking approach to conservation whereby we appreciate biological gains as much as we regret the losses.”
Express.co.uk asked the professor about cases that are widely considered to have had a negative impact.