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Global warming threatens more than just poles and tropics

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It's possible that some species could benefit from climate change, Dr. Williams said in a story by The Associated Press. "But we can't make a prediction, because it's outside our current experience and outside the experience of these species."

Williams played down possible beneficial effects of the change, when interviewed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. From "an ecological perspective, with disappearing climates, there is no real way to put a positive spin on it," he said.

The researchers concluded that if greenhouse-gas emissions keep rising at current rates as much as 39 percent of Earth's land surface could evolve new climates, especially in the tropics, as warmer temperatures spread toward the poles, reported an article in Scientific American online. Earlier studies, the article says, estimate that species such as butterflies are migrating toward the poles at a rate of about 4 miles per decade as temperatures rise.

In the same article, Professor Jackson predicted "climates that certainly are completely outside the range of modern human experience," if greenhouse-gas emissions are unabated in the future. He said:

"If [the climate of] Memphis moves to Chicago, we have a Memphis there to say what Chicago will look like. For an area where we don't have a modern analogue, there's really nothing to look at to say, this is what the environment will look like."
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