Have you noticed the weather being a little bit warmer or cooler than usual lately? Or how about bigger rain/snow storms. Our earth’s climate is
changing, its been changing for over 4.6 billion years. However this period of change is being sped up by the way we live.
An array of extreme summer weather events in recent years including the 2003 European Heat Wave, the 2010 Pakistan flood,the Russian heatwave of 2011
A drought in Texas and the unprecedented, ongoing drought in California, has led to a ongoing discussion in the scientific community in regards to the relationship between human induced climate change and the spate of recent weather extremes. Scientific research showed that the Northern Hemisphere summer storm activity have weakened since 1979 and hypothesized that this may lead to more persistent, and therefore more extreme,summer weather.
Less summer cyclone activity also leads to a decrease in cloud cover, giving rise to increased maximum temperatures. This weakening in storm activity is seen in future climate model projections as well, linked to rapid warming in the Arctic, but the observed decline is quicker than predicted.
The East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) brings vital water for farming practices to most of eastern China. In recent years the southern provinces of
China have experienced an increased frequency of extreme flooding during the monsoon season. In contrast Northern provinces of China have
experienced an increase in extreme summer droughts. Understanding changes in past and future monsoon rainfall trends can have important
indications for water management and urban planning. A number of studies have also noted changes in total summer rain that coincide with the
increasing trend in worldwide temperatures, and some studies suggest links with local emissions of man-made aerosols. Many studies also show
altered patterns of summer rainfall in eastern China, with higher numbers of heavy rainfall days and decreases in numbers of light rainfall days
The history of life on Earth is closely linked with environmental change on many spatial and temporal scales. An important component of this
association is the capacity for species to alter their distributions in response to tectonic, oceanographic, or climatic events. Observed and projected
climatic changes for the 21st-century, most notably global warming, are comparable in magnitude to the largest global changes in the past 65 million
years. The combined rate and magnitude of climate change is already resulting in a global-scale biological response. Marine, freshwater, and
terrestrial organisms are changing distributions to stay within their preferred environmental conditions, and species are likely changing distributions
more rapidly than they have in the past.
Shifts in species distributions across latitude, elevation, and with depth in the ocean have been extensively reported. Meta-analyses show terrestrial
taxa, on average, moving pole-ward by 17 km per decade, and marine taxa by 72 km per decade. Just as land species on mountainsides are moving
up slope to escape warming lowlands, some fish species are driven deeper as the sea surface warms. When species range alterations occur in
foundation or habitat-forming species, they can have pervasive effects that propagate through entire communities. In some cases, impacts are so
extreme that species redistribution changes ecosystem productivity and carbon storage. For example, climate-driven range expansion of mangroves
worldwide, at the expense of salt marsh habitat, is changing local rates of carbon sequestration. The loss of kelp-forest ecosystems in Australia and
their replacement by seaweed turfs has been connected to increases in herbivory by the influx of tropical fishes, as well as being strongly influenced
by increases in water temperature beyond the kelp’s physiological tolerance limits. A variety of disruptions from the redistribution of species include
effects on terrestrial productivity, impacts on marine community assembly, and threats to the health of freshwater systems from widespread
Sea level has risen, the amount of snow and ice has declined globally and the Arctic is a global ‘hot-spot’ that is warming faster than any other region
in the world. One of the most visible and dramatic impacts of climate change in the Arctic has been the reduction in sea ice, which has declined
markedly in recent decades in terms of overall extent, thickness, proportion of multiyear ice and seasonal duration. Although the physical models that
predict sea ice extent still contain much variability, continued sea ice declines are expected and a seasonally ice-free Arctic is predicted to occur well
before the end of this century. A summer-time ice-free Arctic Ocean will have implications for ocean circulation and our global climate system, and it
will also show changes throughout Arctic food webs. Arctic terrestrial ecosystems are also being impacted severely by climate change, with major
alterations in earth-surface phenomena being declines in glacier ice and snow, melting of permafrost, increases in vegetation productivity and
climate-feed backs induced by shrub encroachment, which are all expected to have changes in trophic interactions. The increased warming predicted
for the coming years in the Arctic will result in average mid-winter temperatures approaching 0 °C, which will likely have far reaching problems for
terrestrial ecosystems in the region. Climate change is fast and unidirectional all over the Arctic, but still shows considerable amounts of spatial
Climate Change and Man
The well-being of human societies is linked to the capacity of natural and changed ecosystems to produce a wide range of “goods and services.”
Human well-being, survival, and geographical distribution have always relied upon the ability to respond to environmental change. The beginning of
early humans was likely molded by a capacity to switch prey and diets as changing climatic conditions made new resources available. However, recent
technological alterations in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries have weakened the direct connection between human migration and survival. The
redistributions of species are expected to change the availability and distribution of goods and services for human well-being in many ways, and the
relative immobility of many human societies, largely imposed by jurisdictional boundaries, has limited capacity to respond to environmental change
by migrating. Redistributions of species are likely to drive large changes in the supply of food and other products.
Conversely, it is estimated that an average of 34% of European forest lands, currently covered with valuable timber trees, like the Norway spruce, will
be suitable only for Mediterranean oak forest vegetation by 2100, resulting in lower economic returns for forest owners and the timber sector. The
indirect effects of climate change on food webs are also expected to compound the direct effects on crops. For example, the distribution and amount
of vertebrate species that control crop pests are estimated to decrease in European states, where farming makes important contributions to the GDP.
Shifts in the spatial distribution of farming will be required to counter the impact of these combined direct and indirect effects of changing climate.
Human health is also likely to be affected by changes in the distribution and virulence of animal-borne diseases, which already account for 70% of
emerging infections. Movement of mosquitoes in response to global warming is a threat to health in many countries through predicted increases in
the number of known, and potentially new, diseases. The most abundant mosquito-borne disease, malaria, has long been a risk for almost half of the
world’s population, with more than 200 million cases recorded in 2014. Malaria is expected to reach new locations with the poleward and elevational
migration of Anopheles mosquito vectors. Climate-related transmission of malaria can result in epidemics due to lack of immunity among local
residents, and will challenge health systems at national and international levels, diverting public and private sector resources from other uses.
Evidence continues to build up for the existence of anthropogenic climate change (ACC) and its likely negative effects for humans and other species
around the world. However, there is a lack of research on whether and how the public engages morally with ACC. Such engagement certainly cannot
be taken for granted, with behavioural and other changes still desperately needed to curb carbon emissions. Climate change has been associated as
“a perfect moral storm,” involving the convergence of multiple factors that make it difficult for humans to react in an ethical way, at least until
mitigating action may be too late. An important difficulty is that high carbon behaviours are highly valued and deeply embedded in many people’s
lives. This can create disparity between moral values and behaviour for those who are concerned about ACC, yet feel unable or unwilling to alter their
behaviours accordingly, yielding negative emotions including guilt.
Studies of people’s reasoning about ACC have demonstrated that people do disengage from ACC in some of the ways. For instance, in focus groups
and online comments, people have shown the view that their own actions would not make any difference to ACC, and that their nation’s contribution
is relatively small. Denial remains prominent in public and media discourse in a number of settings, including the UK.
Only 54 – 65% of Americans believe in climate change. This skepticism has encouraged researchers and policymakers to study these beliefs because of
the assumption that the Americans who believe in anthropogenic climate change should be most likely to engage in pro-environmental behaviors.
Indeed, a large body of research has focused on increasing climate change beliefs in hopes of increasing pro-environmental behavior.
To Be Continued
There are many aspects to deal with in regards to climate change and I have only dealt with a few here. My next blog post will deal with what
governments around the world are doing or not doing about Climate change. Along with this I will be looking at different ways climate change will
affect us and the environment we live in.
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