The emerging issues in this article to be discussed will be global warming and climatic change in resource conservation. Global warming and climatic not only have effect in resource conservation, these issues also cause problems for many ecosystems and species.
Global Warming and Climatic Change in Resource Conservation
Global warming is the rise in global temperatures due to an increase of heat-trapping carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Climate change, on the other hand, in a general term refers to changes in many climatic factors around the world.
These changes can be caused by dynamic process on Earth, external forces including variations in sunlight intensity, and more recently by human activities.
These changes are happening at different rates and in different ways whereby the natural environment and natural resource have been altered in their natural state. For example, the Sahel region of central Africa has become drier.
The potential dangers of global warming on natural resources are being increasingly studied by a wide global consortium of scientists.
These scientists are increasingly concerned about the potential long-term effects of global warming on our natural environment for resource conservation and on the planet.
Of particular concern is how climate change and global warming caused by anthropogenic, or human-made releases of greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide, can act interactively, and have adverse effects upon the planet, its natural environment and humans’ existence.
Efforts have been increasingly focused on the mitigation of greenhouse gases that are causing climatic changes, on developing adaptative strategies to global warming, to assist humans, animal and plant species, ecosystems, regions and nations in adjusting to the effects of global warming.
Climate change is one of the most critical global challenges of our time in resource conservation. Recent events have emphatically demonstrated our growing vulnerability to climate change.
Climate change impacts range from affecting agriculture to further endangering food security, sea-level rise and the accelerated erosion of coastal zones, increasing intensity of natural and biological resources.
According to the UNFCC, the climate does not respond immediately to external changes, but after 150 years of industrialization, global warming has momentum, and it will continue to affect the earth’s natural systems for hundreds of years even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and atmospheric levels stop rising.
Changes in climate over the last few decades of the 20th century have already affected biodiversity.
The observed changes in the climate system (e.g., increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, increased land and ocean temperatures, changes in precipitation and sea level rise), particularly the warmer regional temperatures, have affected the timing of reproduction of animals and plants and/or migration of animals, the length of the growing season, species distributions and population sizes, and the frequency of pest and disease outbreaks.
There is a growing body of evidence showing that increases in atmospheric concentrations of ‘greenhouse’ gases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in additional warming of the earth’s surface.
This is likely to lead to climatic changes, including increased temperatures, sea level rises and altered rainfall regimes. The extent, pattern and timing of such changes remain uncertain.
However, sea level rises would have a direct effect on coastal and estuarine ecosystems and freshwater lagoons near the coast, many of which are important breeding grounds for birds.
In alpine ecosystems relatively small temperature changes may result in extensive loss of habitat and consequently extinction of some alpine species.
The ability of species and ecosystems to adapt to climate changes is affected by the rate of change and possible increases in the frequency of extreme climatic events.
Pollution and the fragmentation of many natural habitats place further stresses on biological diversity and ecosystem function.
Integrated conservation and sympathetic management of large areas of the environment, within a bioregional context, have the greatest potential to mitigate the possible effects of climate change on biological diversity.
Organizations such as Wildlife Trust, World Wide Fund for Nature, and Birdlife International are actively monitoring and research the effects of climate change on biodiversity and advance policies in areas such as landscape scale conservation to promote adaptation to climate change.
Some examples of recent collaboration to address climate change and global warming in resource conservation include;
The United Nations Framework Convention Treaty and convention on Climate Change – to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
The Kyoto Protocol – which is the protocol to the international Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty, again with the objective of reducing greenhouse gases in an effort to prevent anthropogenic climate change.
The Western Climate Initiative – to identify, evaluate, and implement collective and cooperative ways to reduce greenhouse gases in the region, focusing on a market-based cap-and-trade system.
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