Climate change: biodiversity and people on the front line

Reports are now available from a recent conference organised by WWF-UK, Natural England and Bird Life/RSPB on the impact of climate change on biodiversity, and that on humanity.

The message – expressed as a plea to negotiators at Durban – is not a surprise, but stark:

  • If we are to have any chance of keeping temperature rises below 2 degrees Celsius, emissions must peak this decade.
  • We now have incontrovertible evidence that climate change is already affecting the natural world
  • The processes of evolution are far too slow for ecosystems to adapt to changes of the rate expected without major damage
  • Vulnerable human societies are under severe threat from both the direct effects of climate change and the indirect effects on the biosphere

This poses a major challenge to those who promote adaptation over mitigation: adaptation, hard enough in itself, must also be ready to provide alternatives and supplements to damaged ecosystems. Is this even theoretically possible, let alone practical in terms of resource uses and economics?

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