Example Of Literature Review On Climate Change And Conservation
Climate change is a phenomenon that takes place cyclically every few hundred thousand years. However, what sets apart the climate change of this century is that the climactic change has largely been an outcome of human activities, which have given rise to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The increased temperature of earth has made observable impacts already, including melting of mountain glaciers, heavy downpours, extreme flooding and droughts, depletion and degradation of natural resources, and an increase in natural calamities. All these effects put together pose a threat to the survival of biodiversity. For the sustenance of biodiversity, various efforts have been taken to reduce the effects of global warming and increase the conservation efforts. Some of these include human undertaking of helping animal species to adapt to climate change, and soil and water conservation.
Climate change refers to the long-term change in average weather patterns. Caused by several factors including volcanic eruptions, biotic processes, plate tectonics, variation in solar radiation, and human activities, climate change is popularly referred as 'global warming', because the global climate during the last decade of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century has become warmest than ever, with an increase in the whole global instrumental temperature record (NASA, 2015). The global warming has already made significant observable effects on the environment. The number of natural calamities has also increased in recent years. Katrina in Southern United States, tsunami in Japan and Indian Ocean, and Icelandic volcanic eruption are the few examples of natural catastrophes caused by global warming (TNC, 2015). Climate change is also bringing a lot to changes to the environment due to which the natural resources are facing a huge risk of depletion and degradation. The depletion and degradation of the natural resources are posing a threat to the survival of the biodiversity. Already a good many animals are facing the danger of extinction. Polar bears, for example, are expected to disappear from the earth in less than 100 years due to the melting of ice in Arctic region (Dell'Amore, 2014). If something is not done sooner, climate change may not only pose threat to the lives of animals, but also may pose increased risk to human survival. This paper would discuss in greater detail the significance of climate change, its relation with conservation and the efforts being undertaken to reduce the effects of climate change and increase conservation efforts.
Significance of Climate Change
Climate change is an obvious cycle of nature that repeats itself periodically every few hundred thousand of years. However, unlike the past when climactic change was more of a natural phenomenon, this time around, human activities played a big role in triggering climate change. Due to human activities, the amount of greenhouse gases, including CO2, Methane, CO, Ozone, and water vapor has increased significantly in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. The average surface temperature of the earth has increased by 0.74±0.18 °C between the time frame of 1906 and 2005 (Speer, 2012). The world seems to be getting warmer and warmer every passing year. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) marks the years 1998, 2003 and 2010 to be the three hottest years in the world history (TNC, 2015). All these point out to the fact that the average temperature of the earth has changed dramatically by becoming warmer than ever before in recent years than it was a century ago.
The climate change has caused some noticeable effects on the earth’s surface. It has resulted in the shrinking of glaciers, loss of ice on the sea, rise of sea level, more acute heat waves, and heavy downpours. Extreme heat waves, heavy rainfall, flooding, melting of glaciers and rise of sea level put together will make a combined effect on the infrastructure, agriculture, the economy, health, the quality of air and water, forestry, transportation, and biodiversity (CI, 2010). Unless some concrete action are taken now to prevent the damages resulting from the climate change, life on the earth may become extinct.
The global climate change has brought to the fore the importance of natural conservation. Conservation refers to the practice of exploiting, improving and protecting human and natural resources wisely so that both social and economic benefits can be achieved on a long term basis (Hannah, 2011). Due to increased temperature and variation weather patterns, the natural resources are facing a huge risk of depletion and degradation. Since during the 20th century, the amount of rainfall and its intensities have increased in the world, these heavy rainfalls, along with solar radiation, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and the overall rise in temperature are accelerating the process of soil erosion (Segura et al, 2014). Global climate change is also leading to water scarcity. Already, due to the high growth rate of world population, the global water consumption has increased manifold, and it is expected to further increase in the coming decades (Speer, 2012). But the supply of fresh water resources is not sufficient. Only 1% of the fresh water available on the earth's surface is usable for drinking, agriculture and other human needs (EPA, 2012). The existing fresh water resources are threatened by the overuse and wastage of water, pollution and global warming. Global warming is expected to intensify the problem of water scarcity by 20% in this century by melting mountain glaciers, contributing to extreme severities of flood and droughts, and rising the sea level (NASA, 2015). For instance, Lake Chad, located in Central Africa, has dried up by 90% due to severe drought, and therefore, the future of approximately 20 million people in Chad, Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon relying on Lake Chad Basin for water is at stake (UNEP, 2002).
The Disappearance of Lake Chad
The soil degradation and water scarcity are bringing changes in the vegetation patterns due to which animal species are forced to migrate to cooler places for survival (Nearing et al., 2004). It is expected that by 2050 one fourth of the Earth's species, unable to survive amidst the global climate change, will become extinct. Already, a number of animal species, unable to survive amidst the climate change, have either gone extinct or are facing near extinction. The death of the last specimen of Golden Toad in Central America in 1999 was the first documented species to have become extinct due to climate change (Dell'Amore, 2014). Increased temperatures in the sea are causing coral reefs to bleach, because the heat is killing the colorful algae necessary for the health and survival of coral. The filefish that lives in coral reef habitats and sensitive to warm water is facing the risk of extinction due to climate change. Already, this orange-spotted fish has become extinct in Japan in 1988 due to increased temperatures in ocean (Dell'Amore, 2014). Polar bears, which depend on sea ice for survival, are also facing the risk of extinction due to the melting of glaciers.
Because of all the reasons discussed above, it has become necessary to conserve the natural resources like water and soil, which are the main building blocks of biodiversity, so that the potential damage caused by climate change to biodiversity and human life can be prevented.
Efforts Undertaken to Reduce the Effects of Climate Change and Increase Conservation Efforts
There are several efforts undertaken to reduce global warming. For example, carbon trading schemes, low emission vehicles, green pollution norms and shifting towards a greener fuel are some of the efforts underway. However, huge increase in population, increase in agricultural land, and mass usage of ground water for potable and agricultural use are making the climate change an almost irreversible process (Brooke, 2008). If we look back in history, we will find that every few hundred thousand years, a mass change in global temperature happens with or without other intervention (human intervention in present scenario). In such cases, the only way to conserve or continue to exist is to adapt. Humans probably are better suited for adaption to new temperature regime if the climate change is not extreme (Noss, 2014). However, same cannot be said for other animals and plant species.
In the past, most species conserved themselves through a climate change by changes in distribution through dispersal. However, due to huge fragmentation in animal and plant species, it is becoming difficult for those species to change according to climate by dispersal (Noss, 2014). We should stop habitat fragmentation immediately so that there is a higher chance that the existing species will adapt themselves with the climate changes.
Another way to make sure that animal and plant species survive major climate changes is through connectivity. If land connectivity is created, then many land animals can move from present place to a more favorable place where they can survive easily (Hannah, 2011).
We also need to understand that endangered species have limited mobility. They will not be able to survive the climate change using dispersal or movement to a more favorable area. However, some of the microhabitat species can be preserved in specially created climatic refugia like crevices in rocks, sheltered ravines, talus slopes above ice caves and topographically complex soil areas (Noss, 2014). In this condition, many microhabitats can continue to live even in adverse climatic conditions. They can expand to other areas when the climate again comes back to normal levels. For example, Northwest Rocky mountain landscapes are one of the climatic refugia that can be used for conservation of these species (Noss, 2014).
For soil conservation, efforts have been taken to increase carbon levels in the soil. Increased level of soil carbons help crop production and mitigate the effect of greenhouse gas emissions. Maintenance of surface cover would protect the soil from the erosion caused by heavy rainfall. Farmers, scientists, ranchers, and conservation practitioners must exchange information and educate each other for improved application and adoption of conservation measures (Hannah, 2011).
Water can be conserved by encouraging people to use water responsibly. People should be educated about the harmful effects of water pollution and how water scarcity poses a challenge to human life. Industries should be encouraged to reuse water safely for agricultural irrigation, various industrial uses, landscape irrigation, and fire protection (Brooke, 2008).
Climate change is an obvious cycle of nature. Every few hundred thousand years, earth goes through a massive climate change. However, this time around the climate change is accelerated by human factors like greenhouse gas emission, agriculture and excessive ground water usage. This climatic change threatens almost all the species on earth. Many species go extinct after the climatic change. Many survive through adaptation. This time human beings can help conserve more species by taking positive action. To conserve more plant and animal species, we can take actions like stop doing fragmentation, create a continuous corridor, maintain intact gradients and create climatic refugia to give the existing species a better chance of survival in case of a climatic change.
Segura, C., Sun, G., McNulty, S., & Zhang, Y. (2014). Potential impacts of climate change on soil erosion vulnerability across the conterminous United States. Journal Of Soil And Water Conservation, 69(2), 171-181. doi:10.2489/jswc.69.2.171
Brooke, C. (2008). Conservation and Adaptation to Climate Change. Conservation Biology, 22(6), 1471-1476. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.01031.x
Hannah, L. (2011). Climate Change, Connectivity, and Conservation Success. Conservation Biology, 25(6), 1139-1142. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2011.01788.x
Nearing, M.A., Pruski, F.F. and O'Neal, M.R. (2004). Expected climate change impacts on soil erosion rates: A review. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 59 (1), 43-50. <http://animalagclimatechange.org/wp-content/uploads/Expected_climate_change_impacts_on_soil_erosion1.pdf>
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (2002). Lake Chad. Retrieved on 27th March, 2015 from <http://www.grida.no/climate/vitalafrica/english/14.htm>
United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA). (2012). How to Conserve Water and Use It Effectively. Retrieved on 27th March, 2015 from <http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/chap3.cfm>
Speer, M. (2012). 5 Reasons Why Water Conservation is Important for Your Family. iFame Media. Retrieved on 27th March, 2015 from <http://www.isustainableearth.com/water-conservation/5-reasons-why-water-conservation-is-important-for-your-family>
Dell'Amore, C. (2014). 7 Species Hit Hard by Climate Change—Including One That's Already Extinct. National Geographic. Retrieved on 27th March, 2015 from <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140331-global-warming-climate-change-ipcc-animals-science-environment/>
The Nature Conservancy (TNC). (2015). Climate Change Impacts. Retrieved on 27th March, 2015 from <http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/global-warming-climate-change/threats-impacts/wildlife-at-risk.xml>
Conservation International (CI). (2010). Climate Solution Policy. Retrieved on 27th March, 2015 from <http://www.conservation.org/publications/Documents/CI_Climate_Solutions_Policy.pdf>
NASA (2015). The current and future consequences of global change. Retrieved on 27th March, 2015 from <http://climate.nasa.gov/effects/>
Noss, R. (2014). Climate change and conservation. Conservation Northwest. Retrieved on 27th March, 2015 from <http://www.conservationnw.org/what-we-do/wildlife-habitat/climate-change>
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