Top conservation threats and opportunities
Governments being forced to choose between preventing climate change or averting a financial crisis, carbon solar cells as an alternative source of energy and accelerated loss of rhinos and elephants are among 15 conservation issues scientists say may become significant in 2014.
Other threats and opportunities include emerging snake fungal disease, exploitation of Antarctica by nations such as China and Russia, and using synthetic biology to resurrect extinct species.
The researchers say current stock market valuations of the fossil fuel industry are incompatible with government commitments to prevent global average temperature from rising more than 2Â°C.
Estimates suggest there are still coal, oil and gas reserves, valued at around $4 trillion, embedded in the ground globally. Oil companies invest around $650 million a year exploring these reserves.
But their value could drop dramatically if they aren't burned because emissions regulations come into force, potentially leading to a financial crisis.
'If investors and regulators do not address these trade-offs, governments may be forced to choose between preventing further climate change, risking a financial crisis, or preventing a financial crisis, risking further climate change,' write the authors of the study, published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution.
White Rhino image via Shutterstock.
Read more at Planet Earth Online.