If you’re a member of All For Women, more than likely you have seen Kay (Stormy Weather) wandering around the forums wreaking havoc and know a little bit about her already. She also blogs at Moggie Madness. Kay currently works in health care, but her passions lie in wildlife conservation and environmental issues. She has offered to share some of her knowledge some articles on these topics which have become so important to everyone in todays world.
With the federal election looming in less than 24 hours, I thought it would be a good time to talk a little bit about climate change. You have most likely heard a great deal about the issue in the media or perhaps from political representatives in your electorate. There is still a significant bone of contention in the scientific community as to whether climate change really exists or whether the current trend of warming is merely a cyclic change in the long life of our planet. I certainly have my own opinion but I don’t believe it is relevant. What it really comes down to is the kind of future we want for ourselves and future generations.
It’s a common saying among meteorologists that “climate is what you expect and weather is what you get”. The premise of climate change is that those expectations will have to change to accommodate unpredictable weather patterns. That in itself is not going to affect the human race all that greatly. Of all the species on the earth, human beings remain the only species capable of manipulating our climate and environment to suit ourselves. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for the remainder of the species that inhabit the planet.
Many species and vulnerable habitats will suffer if we do nothing to abate global warming. For example, within Australia:
- The mountain pygmy possum, an already highly endangered species, survives winter in the alpine regions of NSW and Victoria by hibernation. Its habitat and primary food source (Bogong moth) will be threatened by less snow fall and could potentially result in extinction of the species.
- The green ringtail possum found in World Heritage Areas of tropical north Queensland cannot control its body temperature with ambient temperatures above 30 degrees. Prolonged and more frequent heatwaves in the north could result in significant losses of this species.
- Australian vegetation evolved on nutrient poor soils and increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads to increased growth in many plants. Great news for the plants but not so great for the animals that feed off the foliage. Increased carbon dioxide reduces the nutrient value of the leaves – meaning species which are primarily “leaf-eaters” will need to eat more to meet nutritional requirements.
- Sea level rises could result in loss of the Australian coastline between 4-88m over the next 100 years as a result of melting polar ice caps. Coastal and estuarine ecosystems would be severely affected if this is the case.
- Changes in rainfall patterns are predicted with increased global warming. In a country that is predominantly semi-arid, this is a major concern – for biodiversity and in terms of water quality and quantity.
If you’re the kind of person who only thinks of how it will affect the human race, then I won’t disappoint you. Loss of biodiversity would make the world a much less interesting place but it could also affect how ecosystems function, resulting in:
- Degradation of the landscape, in terms of aesthetics and production;
- Reduced water quality available to human populations; and,
- Change in agricultural yield of crops and other primary industry activities.
Two hundred years of industrialisation has brought astonishing advances in technology, which we now consider being essential to our standard of living. If we want to maintain that standard of living, we really need to make better use of renewable technologies and ratify the Kyoto Protocol. If we do not ratify Kyoto, carbon trading schemes are largely ineffective as there is no “ceiling” for carbon emissions. There needs to be a cap on carbon emission rates or else there is no reason for polluters to participate in carbon trading – apart from any ethical/moral standpoint they may have on the issue. Reduction in carbon emissions does need to occur at the corporate/polluter level but there are many you can do as an individual – there’s a list of helpful suggestions here. The suggestions are all realistic for the majority of people and every little bit helps to curb our carbon emissions as a nation.