Imagine a volcanic eruption as vast as Mount St. Helens happening every 48 hours, or about 180 massive explosions each year. That, scientists say, is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions humans are releasing worldwide — more than 25 billion tons of carbon-dioxide (CO2) yearly. This has increased the atmosphere’s concentration of heat-trapping gases to a level not exceeded during the past 400,000 years, and likely not during the past 20 million years.
The implications of climate change, according to the most recent assessment report by the world’s top climate scientists working on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), could be an increase in the world’s surface temperature by as much as 5.8 degrees C (10.5º F) by 2100.
Commonly referred to as global warming, scientists have documented a wide range of climate impacts expected to occur (or already happening) as a consequence of such rapid increases in so short of time span. These climate changes range from greater frequency and intensity of droughts, wildfires, floods, storms (including snowstorms), and tornados, to crop, livestock and timber losses. Spread of infectious pests and pathogens and heat waves could cause greater human illness and premature mortality. These looming problems pose formidable health and economic challenges to humanity.
Climate change is not an isolated issue. It is intimately connected to other major global environmental problems, such as the alarming rate of species and biodiversity loss that could become the sixth largest extinction spasm in planetary history.
The impacts of climate change are projected to accelerate plant and animal population losses and the extinction of a wide range of species and ecosystems.
One of the greatest challenges Conservation International (CI) faces today is how to confront the impact of climate change on biodiversity. The Earth’s climate is changing in unprecedented ways.
Scientists and policy-makers agree that we need to quickly prepare new and effective conservation strategies to respond to these changes if we want to ensure that biodiversity is conserved in the long-term.