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9/23/2013 10:24:00 PM

GLOBAL WARMING

It's a controversial topic that's not going away, but what


does climate change mean for our wildlife and what can
we do about it?
Climate change is defined as the changes in weather patterns
over periods of time from decades to thousands of years. It's
this timescale that's important and makes long-term climatic
change different from annual weather variation.
Global warming
There are a number of natural processes that cause changes in
the Earth's climate including movements in the Earth's
crust, variations in solar activity, changes in the Earth's
orbit , shifts in volcanic activity and ocean circulation.
Climate change will have significant impacts on species
that are intolerant of change in temperature and rainfall,
are out-competed by more adaptable species, or cannot
find suitable habitats within their shifting climate space.

Lost life: England's lost and threatened species - Natural


England
The human impact on our climate has been under scrutiny for
many years. Scientists studying past climates have used
various techniques to estimate temperatures from the past
including the analysis of gases trapped in ice cores from
Antarctica. Currently, scientists support the theory that
global warming is caused by the accumulation of green house
gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Green house gases absorb and emit solar radiation acting like
a thermal blanket around the earth. Their natural presence in
the atmosphere increases the earths' surface temperature by
approximately 33C, making it warm enough to support life.
Scientists from the MET office estimate that unless carbon
dioxide emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels are
dramatically curbed the earth's surface will be up to 4C
hotter by the year 2100.
MET office scientists have highlighted five ways the UK
climate has already changed:

Central England temperatures have increased by 1C since the


1970s
Total summer rainfall has decreased in most parts of the UK
Sea surface temperature around the UK has risen by about
0.7C, over the past 30 years
The UK has experienced nine of the 10 warmest years on
record since 1990
Sea levels around the UK have risen 10cm since 1900
What it means for our wildlife
This much climatic change has a profound effect on our
wildlife. Natural England's Lost Life report focuses on
England's lost and threatened species and points to climate
change as a major factor.
England has lost 492 species since 1800
24% of butterflies, 22% of amphibians, 15% of dolphins and
whales, 14% of stoneworts, 12% of terrestrial mammals and
12% of stoneflies have been lost from England.
Some species that have been lost from England, such as the
great auk and Ivell's sea anemone, are now globally extinct.

Off-shore wind farm - North Sea


What you can do
Is it all doom and gloom or can we reverse the damage that
has been done? Unfortunately there is no simple answer.
Whilst we can't resurrect the species that have already been
lost, we can work to reduce the future impact we have on
habitats by reducing our green house gas emissions by
reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.
Here are some quick ideas that could help you to reduce your
energy use:
Change to energy saving light bulbs
Choose energy saving appliances
Use the car less where possible. Look into Cycle To Work
schemes or local car shares

Buy locally grown produce to reduce the freight miles of your


groceries. They will probably taste better too!
Cut down on flights abroad and spend your holidays in the
UK. Check out our guide to holidays at home for ideas
Offset your emissions by planting a tree or even a wood
As well as reducing the amount of energy used we can also
think about where our energy comes from. Renewable
energy sources have become much more affordable in recent
years. There are also options to buy renewably sourced energy
from the national grid or to try your hand at self-sufficiency

9/23/2013 10:24:00 PM

Scientists around the globe are looking at all the


evidence around climate change and using
supercomputer models to come up with
predictions for our future environment and
weather.
However, the next stage of that work, which is
just as important, is looking at the knock-on
effects of potential changes. For example, are we
likely to see an increase in precipitation and sea
levels? Does this mean there will be an increase
in flooding and what can we do to protect
ourselves from that?
How will our health be affected by climate
change, how will agricultural practices change
and how will wildlife cope? And what will the
effects on coral be?
And while it may be controversial some would
argue that climate change could bring with it
positives as well as negatives.

9/23/2013 10:24:00 PM