The way we react to climate change may be making it worse
The headline in The Ecologist, ‘Human response to climate change is making matters worse’, is a bit of a f*&#(^@ downer.
Upon reading the actual article, it doesn’t get that much better.
A recent study has researched the impacts of human response to climate change on biodiversity. The study, recently published in the journal Conservation Letters, attempts to assess the impact of responses such as the biofuel industry, which has contributed to the destruction of rainforests and peat bogs in South East Asia. Hydropower projects like China’s massive Three Gorges Dam have also left their marks on biological habitats.
From the abstract to the published study, entitled Climate change: helping nature survive the human response:
Human history and recent studies suggest that our actions to cope with climate change (adaptation) or lessen its rate and magnitude (mitigation) could have impacts that match—and even exceed—the direct effects of climate change on ecosystems. If we are to successfully conserve biodiversity and maintain ecosystem services in a warming world, considerable effort is needed to predict and reduce the indirect risks created by climate change.
In historical terms, humanity’s response to climactic events has put new stresses on natural resources. This is understandable: if a population center or exploited resource is destroyed by a natural disaster such as a drought or flood, people move elsewhere into previously unexploited territories.
Reconstruction following the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 damaged ecosystems in Indonesia through un-corodinated [sic] sand and gravel extraction, increased logging, and siting of new housing in biodiverse habitats. And drought-fuelled migrations in Burkina Faso in the late 20th century led to huge areas of forest and savanna being converted to cropland and a 50 per cent loss of natural vegetation in some areas.
So far, most actions to adapt to or mitigate the effects of climate change are grossly inadequate or involve maintaining current paradigms of growth and consumption, which simply move stresses from one sphere to another. The result is a continuing toll on both humanity and biodiversity.