Cli­mate change af­fects nearly all life on Earth

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH -

MI­AMI: Most life on Earth is al­ready be­ing changed by the warm­ing cli­mate, even though the rise in global tem­per­a­ture since pre-in­dus­trial times has been rather slight, re­searchers warned on Thurs­day.

The study in the jour­nal Science found that 82 per­cent of key eco­log­i­cal pro­cesses-in­clud­ing ge­netic di­ver­sity and mi­gra­tion pat­terns-are be­ing al­tered by global warm­ing. These ef­fects ex­tend to land, oceans and freshwater en­vi­ron­ments, even though tem­per­a­tures have risen just about 1.87 de­grees Fahren­heit (1 de­gree Cel­sius) over pre-in­dus­trial times due to fos­sil fuel burning. “We now have ev­i­dence that, with only a about one de­gree C of warm­ing glob­ally, ma­jor im­pacts are al­ready be­ing felt,” said lead study author Brett Sch­ef­fers, mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture Cli­mate Change Spe­cial­ist Group and as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the University of Florida. “These range from in­di­vid­ual genes chang­ing, sig­nif­i­cant shifts in species’ phys­i­ol­ogy and phys­i­cal fea­tures such as body size, and species mov­ing to en­tirely new ar­eas.”

These changes will af­fect hu­mans by caus­ing dis­ease out­breaks, in­con­sis­tent crop yields and cut­ting down on fish­ery pro­duc­tiv­ity, threat­en­ing food se­cu­rity, ex­perts said. The study, which an­a­lyzed 94 eco­log­i­cal pro­cesses as doc­u­mented in peer-re­viewed lit­er­a­ture, also warned that the more ecosys­tems change, the less likely they may be to guard against the harsh­est ef­fects of cli­mate change. Un­healthy forests will no longer be able to se­quester large amounts of car­bon, for in­stance. In­creas­ingly warm oceans will no longer act as a an ef­fec­tive buf­fer against tem­per­a­ture rise, and cli­mate-re­lated floods, sea-level rise and cy­clones will get worse. Since peo­ple de­pend on healthy ecosys­tems for food and clean wa­ter, the more the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment changes, the more peo­ple’s liveli­hoods will be at risk. “We are sim­ply as­ton­ished at the level of change we ob­served, which many of us in the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity were not ex­pect­ing for decades,” said se­nior author James Wat­son from the University of Queens­land and World Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety, mem­ber of the IUCN Cli­mate Change Spe­cial­ist Group. — AFP

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