Scientists’ warning to humanity: microorganisms and climate change

In the Anthropocene, in which we now live, climate change is impacting most life on Earth. Microorganisms support the existence of all higher trophic life forms. To understand how humans and other life forms on Earth (including those we are yet to discover) can withstand anthropogenic climate change, it is vital to incorporate knowledge of the microbial ‘unseen majority’. We must learn not just how microorganisms affect climate change (including production and consumption of greenhouse gases) but also how they will be affected by climate change and other human activities. This Consensus Statement documents the central role and global importance of microorganisms in climate change biology. It also puts humanity on notice that the impact of climate change will depend heavily on responses of microorganisms, which are essential for achieving an environmentally sustainable future.

Cavicchioli R., Ripple W. J., Timmis K. N., Azam F., Bakken L. R., Baylis M., Behrenfeld M. J., Boetius A., Boyd P. W., Classen A. T., Crowther T. W., Danovaro R., Foreman C. M., Huisman J., Hutchins D. A., Jansson J. K., Karl D. M., Koskella B., Welch D. B. M., Martiny J. B. H., Moran M. A., Orphan V. J., Reay D. S., Remais J. V., Rich V. I., Singh B. K., Stein L. Y., Stewart F. J., Sullivan M. B., van Oppen M. J. H., Weaver S. C., Webb E. A. & Webster N. S., 2019. Scientists’ warning to humanity: microorganisms and climate change. Nature Reviews Microbiology 17: 569–586. Article.

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