Navigation Links
The worst impact of climate change may be how humanity reacts to it
Date:8/6/2010

The way that humanity reacts to climate change may do more damage to many areas of the planet than climate change itself unless we plan properly, an important new study published in Conservation Letters by Conservation International's Will Turner and a group of other leading scientists has concluded.

The paper Climate change: helping nature survive the human response, looks at efforts to both reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and potential action that could be taken by people to adapt to a changed climate and assesses the potential impact that these could have on global ecosystems.

In particular it notes that one fifth of the world's remaining tropical forests lie within 50km of human populations that could be inundated if sea levels rise by 1m. These forests would make attractive sources of fuel-wood, building materials, food and other key resources and would be likely to attract a population forced to migrate by rising sea levels. About half of all Alliance for Zero Extinction sites which contain the last surviving members of certain species are also in these zones.

Dr Turner said: "There are numerous studies looking at the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, but very little time has been taken to consider what our responses to climate change might do to the planet."

The paper notes that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by constructing dams for hydropower generation can cause substantial damage to key freshwater ecosystems as well as to the flora and fauna in the flooded valleys. It also notes that the generally bogus concept that biofuels reduce carbon emissions is still being used as a justification for the felling of large swathes of biodiverse tropical forests.

The report also reviews studies examining the complex series of outcomes in historical examples of climate change and environmental degradation, and humanity's efforts to adapt to changing circumstances. Migration caused in part by climatic instability in Burkina Faso in the late 20th century, for example, led to a 13 per cent decline in forest cover as areas were cleared for agriculture, and a decline in fish supplies in Ghana may have led to a significant increase in bushmeat hunting.

Dr Turner added: "If we don't take a look at the whole picture, but instead choose to look only at small parts of it we stand to make poor decisions about how to respond that could do more damage than climate change itself to the planet's biodiversity and the ecosystem services that help to keep us all alive.

"While the Tsunami in 2004 was not a climate event, many of the responses that it stimulated are comparable with how people will react to extreme weather events and the damage that the response to the Tsunami did to many of Aceh province's important ecosystems as a result of extraction of timber and other building materials, and poor choices of locations for building , should be a lesson to us all."

Although the challenge of sustaining biodiversity in the face of climate change seems daunting, the paper notes that we must and can rise to the challenge.

Turner adds: "Climate change mitigation and adaptation are essential. We have to ensure that these responses do not compromise the biodiversity and ecosystem services upon which societies ultimately depend. We have to reduce emissions, we have to ensure the stability of food supplies jeopardized by climate change, we have to help people survive severe weather events but we must plan these things so that we don't destroy life-sustaining forests, wetlands, and oceans in the process.'

The paper concludes that there are many ways of ensuring that the human response to climate change delivers the best possible outcomes for both society and the environments, and notes that in particular, maintaining and restoring natural habitats are among the cheapest, safest, and easiest solutions at our disposal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and help people adapt to unavoidable changes.

Dr Turner said: "Providing a positive environmental outcome is often the best way to ensure the best outcome for people. If we are sensible, we can help people and nature together cope with climate change, if we are not it will cause suffering for people and serious problems for the environment."


'/>"/>

Contact: Rob McNeil
rmcneil@conservation.org
703-341-2561
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Ancient Hawaiian glaciers reveal clues to global climate impacts
2. Gulf oil spill: NSF funds research on impacts to Florida Everglades
3. Academys mollusk collection plays key role in Gulf oil impact study
4. UofL public health research could impact environmental policy decisions
5. Ecologists to discuss impacts of mountaintop mining at special ESA symposium
6. Nanomaterials poised for big impact in construction
7. Researchers: EPA should recognize environmental impact of protecting foreign oil
8. LSU researchers secure NSF rapid response grants to study impact of oil spill
9. Research helps predict future impact of climate change
10. Exposure to secondhand smoke in the womb has lifelong impact
11. Reseachers predict larger-than-average Gulf dead zone; impact of oil spill unclear
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2017)... ARMONK, N.Y. and ITHACA, N.Y. ... IBM ) and Cornell University, a leader in dairy ... combined with bioinformatics designed to help reduce the chances ... breaches. With the onset of this dairy project, Cornell ... the Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... GENOA, Italy , May 23, 2017  Hunova, the first robotic ... and trunk, has been officially launched in Genoa, Italy ... Europe and the USA . The ... launched on the market by the IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to ... view the Multimedia News Release, please click: ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... DALLAS , May 16, 2017   ... for health organizations, and MD EMR Systems ... certified development partner for GE, have established a ... Patient Portal product and the GE Centricity™ products, ... Centricity EMR. These new integrations ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... implantation and pregnancy rates in frozen and fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) ... and maternal age to IVF success. , After comparing the results from the ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... For ... has won a US2020 STEM Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program travelled ... Volunteer Experience from US2020. , US2020’s mission is to change the trajectory of ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... USDM ... firm for the life sciences and healthcare industries, announces a presentation by Subbu ... , The presentation, “Automating GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” will present a ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... ... At its national board meeting in North Carolina, ARCS® Foundation President ... and Astronomy, has been selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame ... Prize in Fundamental physics for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: