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

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