Caro, Tim; Zeke Rowe; Joel Berger; Philippa Wholey and Andrew Dobson

The current perception that climate change is the principal threat to biodiversity is at best premature. Although highly relevant, it detracts focus and effort from the primary threats: habitat destruction and overexploitation. We collated causes of vertebrate extinctions since 1900, threat information for amphibia, birds, and mammals from the IUCN Red List, and scrutinized others' attempts to compare climate change with commensurate anthropogenic threats. In each analysis, none of the arguments founded on climate change's wide-ranging effects are as urgent for biodiversity as those for habitat loss and overexploitation. Present conservation efforts must refocus on these issues. Conserving ecosystems by focusing on these major threats not only protects biodiversity but is the only available, economically viable, global strategy to reverse climate change.