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

Tracking Vulnerabilities to the Risks of Infectious Disease Transmission due to Climate Change in Europe

by Amelia Hamiter

Suk et al. (2014) examine vulnerability as a measurement of both the impact of climate change on infections disease transmission in a region and the region’s ability to respond (described here as adaptive capacity). This concept of vulnerability differs from that used in most public health practices, which generally do not take adaptive capacity as a component of vulnerability. Indeed, the authors note that the health sector has produced little research that examines infectious disease transmission due to climate change or the effects of different socioeconomic development pathways in studies of vulnerability. Thus, they take on the task of creating a quantitative indicator to measure regional vulnerabilities that combines all of these factors. Their projections assess which regions are projected to undergo climate changes more significant than their adaptive capacities, and thus are particularly vulnerable. They evaluate that some of these high vulnerabilities are driven by low adaptive capacities, while others have high adaptive capacities yet face enough projected climate change that they are still highly vulnerable. The researchers recommend that the next steps forward are to carry out more disease-specific and more detailed health indicators of vulnerability studies. Continue reading