Combining the Effects of Climate Change and Agriculture on Mammal Populations

by Coco Coyle

In concert with the effects of climate change, some agricultural practices are having an unanticipated combined effect on ecosystems and biodiversity. Brodie (2016) showed that agricultural expansion coupled with climate change will have a more intense effect on the mammals in the extremely biodiverse region of Southeast Asia than either cause alone. Rising temperatures allow farmers to expand the growing region for cold-sensitive crops like the non-native oil-palm trees. While rising temperatures themselves do not disrupt the region’s mammalian species, the destruction of native forests in place of new agricultural areas would reduce mammal ranges by 47-67% by 2070. This is 3-4 times the reduction predicted considering direct effects from conversion of natural forest to plantations alone. In this study Brodie calls for a greater investigation of the combined effects of climate change and agriculture on biodiversity. Continue reading

Using Projected Climate Change Impact on Coral Reefs to Explore a New Framework for Equity

by Wendy Noreña

The effect of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on ecosystem services is a subject of major concern in climate policy and conservation. Coral reefs are considered an especially vulnerable ecosystem as they are projected to be highly affected by ocean warming and acidification, both of which are generally thought to be likely consequences of climate change. While much research has already been conducted to determine the damage coral reefs will suffer as a result of climate change, surveys of how individual countries will be affected by coral reef devastation have not yet been implemented. Wolff et al. model both in this study, showcasing projected climate stress on reefs from 1875 to 2050 alongside measures of vulnerability and equity for individual countries and regions based on GHG emissions per capita and expected reef devastation. The study finds an alarming decoupling between total GHG emissions and reef impact, indicating that, in general, countries that emit the most GHG will often experience less reef impact while the opposite is true for countries that emit very little GHG. Continue reading

Reaching Out to Today’s Youth

by Brina Jablonski

A major issue in the twenty-first century is the lack of youth involvement in climate change discussion. The members of today’s youth are the future leaders of tomorrow. If they have no interest or understanding of the severe climate problems at hand then they will never take the initiative to make a change. Senebel et al. (2014) explain how people tend to honor set goals, pay close attention to what their peers are doing, and are strongly persuaded by people they like. Thus they concluded that social media is the most effective form of persuasion and communication with the public. With the use of digital media, information will be able to reach many, diverse populations as well as shift social norms, and reduce climate change. The article analyzed the results of a test designed to understand how social media can help encourage today’s current youth to play an active role in preventing further climate change through energy reduction. Continue reading

Poetry and the Environment

by Emily Segal

Because our emotions can be equally as important as rationality in decision-making, obstacles to living sustainably can relate to our feelings and attitudes as well as scientific and political issues. Ecocritics believe that approaching climate change from an interdisciplinary perspective, using literature to explore how humans relate to nature, can be helpful. Poets, for example, are experts at exploring the relationship between our internal and external worlds. This can be used to address one of the problems in understanding climate change—it is such a grand concept that it can be difficult to relate to on an individual level. As Garrard (2014) and climate scientist Mike Hulme suggest, it might be time for us to stop thinking about sustainable living and development as a ‘fight against climate change’ and rather deal with the idea of climate change from a more constructive and creative perspective. Poems are a good way to understand climate change because they have flexible structures and multiple levels of meaning, which can be useful in explaining the complex relationship between humans and the environment. Continue reading