Monday, March 28, 2011

When times are tight, focus on adaptation

From CSIRO, some wise guidance for research and communication about climate change: In a commentary article in the journal Nature Climate Change, US, Spanish and Australian researchers submit that biologists should, instead, aim to achieve a balance between understanding climate change impacts and planning for the consequences. “There is little point in focussing on fully identifying the climate impacts while losing species,” says co-author Dr Elvira Poloczanska, an environment scientist with CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship.

According to Dr Poloczanska, and co-author Dr Anthony Richardson from CSIRO and the University of Queensland, climate scientists have, for two decades or more, linked global warming impacts to the rise in greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. “Biologists have already shown globally that the flowering and breeding times and distributions of plants and animals are changing,” Dr Poloczanska said. “This is consistent with universal atmospheric warming and elevated greenhouse gas emissions likely arising from human activity.

“But, if you scale this down to the local level with individual species the application is questionable. This does not mean change isn’t happening but climate models do not work on such fine scales and biological responses are often too complex to be modelled effectively, especially where they need to account for extreme events and underlying climate variability.”

Rather than submitting to inexhaustible demands for more proof, it would be more advisable to focus on developing crucial adaptation and conservation measures. Dr Richardson said that to improve estimates of future biological impacts researchers need to focus on how other human stressors such as habitat destruction, fishing and pollution increase the impacts of climate change.

“Fortunately from a conservation standpoint, these other stressors are more easily managed on local scales than climate itself, and are crucial factors in constructing adaptation programs to cope with human-induced climate change,” Dr Richardson said….

Henri Rousseau's "At the Edge of the Woods"

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