In 10 seconds? Rapid increases in temperature over short time periods can be used to predict future mass extinction of sea life, according to recent research. This is a reminder to keep global warming under 1.5 °C – the stated goal of the Paris Climate Accords.

What is the discovery? A recent article has used the “temperature records” stored in the fossils of tiny sea organisms, called Foraminifera to study the relationship between see temperatures and extinction events in the past. The data showed that for all of the so-called Big Five extinctions, there has been a change in temperature of at least 5.2 °C, at a rate greater than 10 °C per million years (Myr). This confirmed that temperature had a large part to play in mass extinctions. The largest of The Big Five, the Permian Extinction, happened ~250 million years ago and saw the loss of 95% of marine species and 70% of land species in 60,000 years due to rapid climate change.

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