from ecowatch.org: A prestigious group of scientists from around the world is warning that population growth, widespread destruction of natural ecosystems and climate change may be driving Earth toward an irreversible change in the biosphere, a planet-wide tipping point that would have destructive consequences absent adequate preparation and mitigation. “It really will be a new world, biologically, at that point,” warns Anthony Barnosky, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead author of a review paper appearing in the June 7 issue of the journal Nature. The Nature paper, in which the scientists compare the biological impact of past incidences of global change with processes under way today and assess evidence for what the future holds, appears in an issue devoted to the environment in advance of the June 20-22 United Nations Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The paper by 22 internationally known scientists describes an urgent need for better predictive models that are based on a detailed understanding of how the biosphere reacted in the distant past to rapidly changing conditions, including climate and human population growth. The Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology, or BiGCB, is a massive undertaking involving more than 100 UC Berkeley scientists from an extraordinary range of disciplines that already has received funding: a $2.5 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (Yale) and a $1.5 million grant from the Keck Foundation. The paper by Barnosky and others emerged from the first conference convened under the BiGCB’s auspices. “Better predictive models will lead to better decisions in terms of protecting the natural resources future generations will rely on for quality of life and prosperity.”Barnosky said.