Climate Change

Understanding Climate Change:

  • Climate change refers to significant shifts in global and regional weather conditions over a long period of time
  • Influenced by natural factors such as volcanic eruptions, ocean currents and the Earth’s orbital changes
  • Also greatly influenced by human activities, primarily those resulting in the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
  • Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), trap heat from the sun and prevent it from escaping back into space

Climate Change and Its Impacts on Biodiversity:

  • Species are affected by climate change as it changes habitats and modifies ecosystem conditions
  • Environmental changes may force species to adapt, migrate, or face extinction, depending on the level of changes and the species’ ability to respond
  • Changes in climate can also disrupt ecological interactions like pollination, predation, and competition

Ecosystems and Climate Change:

  • Ecosystems are not merely affected by climate change, they also play a crucial role in mitigating climate change
  • For instance, forests act as carbon sinks, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it as biomass
  • Ocean ecosystems too support the sequestration of carbon in the form of dissolved inorganic carbon

Climate Change and Human Health:

  • Climate change impacts human health largely through extreme weather events, shifts in disease vectors, and compromised food and water security
  • Rising temperatures can exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and heighten the spread of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue

Climate Change Mitigation:

  • Strategies for mitigation include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing the capacity of carbon sinks, and using renewable energy sources
  • A paradigm shift towards sustainable agricultural practices can also help reduce the impact of farming on climate change
  • Climate change mitigation requires global cooperation and policy changes at the international, national and local levels

Understanding Evolution in the Context of Climate Change:

  • Darwin’s theory of evolution states that species evolve through the process of natural selection, where those best adapted to their environments are more likely to survive and reproduce
  • Climate change can be a powerful driver of evolution as it alters the environmental conditions which species must adapt to
  • The pace of climate change may impact the rate of evolution. Rapid changes could result in mass extinctions, as not all species can adapt or migrate quickly enough