Where are the environmental issues heading in the new climate of change?

An overview relevant to conservation efforts everywhere.                      Karen Brookes.

This is a question I’ve been asking myself lately. Many millions of dollars are being spent in efforts to repair damage to previously safe environments likely to be further threatened, to protect creatures that quite possibly will expire in excessive temperatures to come.

I’m not suggesting that New Zealand use that as a reason to drop present projects but I wonder if a scientific overview on likely outcomes could see our efforts take an expanded action to combat coming possibilities as well as fight for present time survival of threatened species and environments. Are there some worthwhile steps that can be taken to get ahead of the game as it is now? Are we already doing this?

Since I wrote the above, I’ve gone to google entering nature climate change. Re NZ I found a Niwa report explaining what climate change is and talking of how the methane from a single cow could power one motor vehicle four kilometres each day. Not exactly what I was looking for.

Also, a webpage of The Nature Education Knowledge Library from which I roughly took the following notes:  Climate change can be seen as a challenge to ethical action. It will have inter-generational effects and need inter-generational ethics to protect nature. Those who contribute heavily to change are those who are seriously tempted to pass responsibility to those who don’t.

Quote: “Climate change threatens non-human animals and nature in potentially devastating ways. For example, we may have an immediate obligation to protect coral reefs to preserve biodiversity, fragile and unique eco-systems and the sentient beings living in such reefs. However, over the long term, climate change will also bring new species into existence and change eco-systems around the world. It is unclear how we should understand our responsibilities in the light of such changes” (e.g. Palmer, 2011.)

Now that’s getting warmer if you will pardon the pun.

Next I found and quoted from New Room: (Wildlife Conservation Society) WCS release: The climate is changing. A  new report says that so should wildlife conservation strategies with a 4Ws model of What, When, Where and Why demonstrating how U.S. field scientist and conservationists are responding to climate impacts such as more extreme weather events, species migrations and habitat erosion.

WCS, America’s Climate Adaptation Director, Dr Molly Cross said ”The most important way that climate informed conservation is different from business as usual is the process by which the latest climate science is considered when setting goals and choosing actions. After taking into account the best available science and how climate change impacts, from increased droughts, wild fires and floods, along with habitat change and loss of species, could affect conservation goals, practitioners may decide their conservation approaches need to shift in targeted ways to reach desired conservation outcomes.

1 What: adjusting actions to achieve conservation objectives is often the first line of defence

 against climate change.

Solution:   Ducks Unlimited of Illinios are altering restoration of habitat by planting mixes to foster species that will thrive under future conditions.

2 Where: invest in climate change adaptation preferentially. Some parts of landscape are    chosen strategically over others.

Solution: help adaptation of native birds to the expansion of avian malaria caused by warming. Maura Kea Watershed is restoring forest habitat at higher elevation above the new mosquito line to connect key species in higher elevation refugia in Hawaii.

3 When: quick actions or shifts in timing may be necessary to keep up with and stay ahead of changes in climate.

Solution: bloom times are changing for many plants in Arizona as a result in precipitation and temperature change with negative consequences for pollination. Sky Island Alliance is now adapting restoration efforts to include species that grow and flower at different times of year.

4 Why: revise goals to be more forward looking and accommodating of change and uncertainty. Sierra Nevada meadows restoration. American Rivers previously prioritised wild life habitat. After considering climate impacts, like reduced snow packs, would affect conservation objectives they now have shifted priority to hydrological function instead.

The report recommends that users begin by consulting the latest science on observed climate trends and projection of potential future climate impact changes and consider how these changes may affect ability to achieve current goals This does not need to be an overwhelming process.

In this era of uncertainty it is more important than ever to look critically at the durability of our conservation approaches and assumptions” added Cross.

For more information on projects go to   http://wcsclimateadaptationfund.org

Now this is type of information I was after. I would like to know of NZ organisations who have adopted such a forward outlook and how and where they are putting it into practice.