Climate change refers to long-term alteration in global weather patterns, especially increases in temperature and storm activity, regarded as potential consequences of the “greenhouse” effect. Climate change involves changes in weather trends as well as changes in the variability and strength of meteorological events.
In other words, climate change is a severe situation in which places that have been accustomed to a certain weather pattern witness extreme changes in weather patterns. Perhaps the most common example is the Antarctica where large amounts of ice (glaciers) are melting rapidly because of the unusual amount of exposure to the sun causing temperature increase. Although the consequences of climate change may not seem like an immediate problem, the long-term consequences could occur within our lifetime. Fortunately, if we act quickly and effectively, addressing ways to use our resources and educating communities to learn how to cope with these climate changes, we will still have time to avoid the most severe impacts of global climate change.
The Division of International Conservation (DIC) Action Plan for Climate Change was created to train and educate local communities by exploiting social strengths and resources to create durable conservation processes and build ecological and social systems that are resistant or resilient to climate change. Wildlife Without Borders addresses climate change consequences in five strategic regions:
- Latin America/Caribbean: Hurricanes and other extreme weather events have already brought major climate vulnerability to countries in this region. Since the 1980s, natural disasters have killed over 20,000 people and left even more homeless. As if that is not enough, these areas are predicted to have resource shortages within years: Bolivia for example is losing its source of drinking water because of its rapidly melting glaciers. Large-scale deforestation has led to more forest fires and landslides. Amphibians, bears, and forests are most affected by climate changes in this region. Systems in Latin America find it difficult to adapt socially and economically to these changes and are suffering for it.
- Mexico is home to many species on earth; 10% of all species to be exact. There are about 2,765 known species of amphibians, birds, reptiles, and mammals living in this country and 12% of all of them are threatened. Mexico is also home to a large variety of plants and vegetation. As climate change sets in, species tend to abandon their ecosystems and relocate to places when they cannot adapt which may cause major changes in evolution for years to come. Forest fires are also a major issue in Mexico making matters worse.
- Russia has one-eighth of Earth’s total land area and is considered to be a global conservation priority. Russia has vast lands of wildlife, some of which have not even been discovered. Climate change is causing migration of other species to these areas and the melting of permafrost, which could lead to large amounts of methane exposure to humans and animals. Much attention to climate change management is needed in this area.
- China is facing large scale dust storms, causing deserts to expand and reducing visibility around China/Mongolia, which sometimes reach the US and Canada. These storms mean more than vast deserts: It also means widespread destruction of crops and vegetation and destruction of natural habitats. Expanding deserts has become a trend in the world in the last decade and China is no stranger to this pattern.
- Africa has the lowest contribution to climate change, mainly because of their low greenhouse gas emission. However, because of the high levels of poverty, Africa will be under severe pressure from climate change, especially in areas like eastern Africa, Southern Africa, and the Sahel. Animals make up a large percentage of income in Africa and the high levels of poaching and deforestation don’t make matters any better. Without proper climate change adaptation measures, Africa’s rich wildlife will be affected badly.
- India/Southeast Asia: This area includes Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and India. Because of warming waters, there are increased tropical storms which destroy natural habitats. Tropical forests are mostly being destroyed by deforestation; climate change merely worsens the existing environmental problems. To add to this this area is home to many endangered tigers and rhinos, which are being killed for illegal trade.
Because climate change is an issue affecting the world, USFWS is Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange Project committed to assisting projects that address this phenomenon. In 2010, the Wildlife Without Borders supported the Island PressEcoAdapt (CAKE), an initiative aimed at building a shared knowledge base for managing natural systems in the face of rapid climate change. This idea is intended to create solutions for climate change adaptation by offering the most valuable and up-to-date climate change experts and resources.