Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Worst impact of climate change may be how humanity reacts to it

Date:
August 6, 2010
Source:
Wiley - Blackwell
Summary:
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 by a group of leading scientists has concluded.

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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley - Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Will R. Turner, Bethany A. Bradley, Lyndon D. Estes, David G. Hole, Michael Oppenheimer, David S. Wilcove. Climate change: helping nature survive the human response. Conservation Letters, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2010.00128.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley - Blackwell. "Worst impact of climate change may be how humanity reacts to it." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100806080220.htm>.
Wiley - Blackwell. (2010, August 6). Worst impact of climate change may be how humanity reacts to it. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100806080220.htm
Wiley - Blackwell. "Worst impact of climate change may be how humanity reacts to it." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100806080220.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins