Andrew Glikson, an Earth and paleoclimate scientist from Australian National University, believes that the coronavirus is distracting from a "catastrophe worse than the dinosaur extinction" — a mass extinction event stemming from human-made global warming.
In a Friday piece for The Conversation, Glikson cited his research that allegedly shows that the current growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions eclipses those observed in the preceding days of two previous mass extinctions. He also notes that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide has paved the way for species-ending global warming multiple times throughout the planet.
"The world's gaze may be focused on COVID-19 right now," he wrote. "But the risks to nature from human-made global warming – and the imperative to act – remain clear."
Unlike slow or even moderate changes to the environment, Glikson claims that extreme changes in climate have been historically difficult for many species to adapt to. Notably, he pointed to the asteroid that hit the Earth 66 million years ago, an event that may have led to the extinction of approximately 80 percent of the species on the planet, including dinosaurs.
According to Glikson, this mass extinction stemmed from the widespread fires -- and broken pieces of rock -- that released carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for over 10,000 years.
Glikson claims to have used carbon records obtained from organic matter and fossils to come to his dire warning of the path ahead.
"My research has demonstrated that annual carbon dioxide emissions are now faster than after both the asteroid impact that eradicated the dinosaurs (about 0.18 parts per million CO2 per year), and the thermal maximum 55 million years ago (about 0.11 parts per million CO2 per year)."Although Glikson notes that the atmospheric carbon dioxide isn't yet as high as past mass extinction events, he claims they are increasing at a fast enough rate that it will be difficult for many species of plant and animal to adapt. As reported by CTV News, a recent study in the journal Nature warned that global warming would wreak havoc on biodiversity by fueling "catastrophic" species loss. However, the researchers — spread across Britain, the U.S., and South Africa — claim that such a path could be avoided if greenhouse gas emissions are successfully curbed.
The damage will allegedly occur over time as opposed to all at once, providing time for adaptation.
"It's not a slippery slope, but a series of cliff edges, hitting different areas at different times," said Alex Pigot, senior author of the study.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, some species are already struggling in the Earth's current climate. In a study published in Science in February, researchers found that bumblebees face an ever-increasing risk of extinction -- a risk that appears to be tied with temperature and precipitation-related climate changes.