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Climate Change and Biodiversity

Why is this important?

Biodiversity is both highly vulnerable to climate change and a key means for humanity to address this global challenge. The climate is changing because concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rapidly increasing. This is leading to rising temperatures, glacial melt, changes in precipitation patterns and increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Impacts of these changes include rising sea levels, flooding and drought, the potential spread of vector-borne diseases and habitat change. Some areas may benefit from climate change while others, including least developed countries and small island developing states, may suffer greatly.

Climate change is already forcing organisms to change their habitats or life cycles, or develop new traits. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment said climate change would become the main direct driver of biodiversity loss by the end of the century. This will affect vital ecosystem services for all humans, such as air and water purification, pollination, food production, decomposition, and global nutrient and carbon cycles.

Biodiversity can, however, also help reduce the effects of climate change. The diversity of crops and their wild relatives can help farmers to adapt to climate change by switching to drought or flood resistant varieties. The conservation of habitats such as forests can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

If we act now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and identify ecosystems-based adaptation priorities, we can reduce the risk of species extinctions and limit damage to ecosystems. We can preserve intact habitats, especially those sensitive to climate change; improve our understanding of the climate change-biodiversity relationship; and view biodiversity as a solution to climate change.

Source: Convention on Biological Diversity

Related Video(s):

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