Fire And Ice

Fire And Ice

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.

Weather

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.

Year after year more floods are taking their toll on human and animals lives.

 

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

reported.

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.

 

Animal Behaviour

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

cyanobacteria blooms.

 

For some animals, moving to a different area is not an option.

 

Sea Rise

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

diversity.

 

Soon, small islands will be completely covered over by sea water.

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.

 

Not only is the environment suffering from climate change but humans as well.

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.

 

A man wearing a mask makes his way at a business district during a heavily polluted day in Beijing, China

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.

References

Descamps, S., Aars, J., Fuglei, E.V.A., Kovacs, K.I.T.M., Lydersen, C., Pavlova, O., Pedersen, A., Ravolainen V & Strøm, H. 2017. Climate change impacts on wildlife in a High Arctic archipelago – Svalbard , Norway. Global Change Biology (23): 490–502.

Hall, M.P., Lewis, N.A. & Ellsworth, P.C. 2018. Believing in climate change, but not behaving sustainably : Evidence from a one-year longitudinal study. Journal of Environmental Psychology, (56): 55–62.

Mann, M.E., Rahmstorf, S., Kornhuber, K., Steinman, B.A. & Miller, S.K., Coumou, D. 2017. Influence of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Planetary Wave Resonance and Extreme Weather Events. Nature Publishing Group Scientific Reports, (7):45242.

Burke, C & Stott, P. 2017. Impact of Anthropogenic Climate Change on the East Asian Summer Monsoon. Journal of Climate: 5205–5220.

Pecl, G. T., Araujo, M. B., Bell, J., Blanchard, J., Bonebrake, T. C.2017). Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human well-being. Science. Research Online. (355), 1-9.

Woods, R., Coen, S. & Fernández, A. 2018. Moral (dis)engagement with anthropogenic climate change in online comments on newspaper articles. Journal of Community Applied Social Psychology, (28): 244–257.

Photo Credits

NPR

Youtube

Fortune.com

Antonyms photographer


Leave a Reply