By Sanya Khetani-Shah, Thu, 19/11/2015 - 08:51
Human-induced climate change is happening. It is happening so fast that many species will struggle to adapt and survive in the near future, unless we act now.
Already, we can see the impact that rising temperatures are having on nature and people and the benefits that nature provides to people. Birds, being the best-studied group of organisms, are powerful sentinels for the natural world: They tell us how biodiversity is responding to changing climate. All this has been documented in a new joint report The Messengers by BirdLife International and the National Audubon Society, which comes out before the climate change summit in Paris (read the foreword by the heads of both organisations here).
The report – a synthesis of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies – explains with real-world examples how climate change has and will continue to affect birds and people. The outlook is bleak: from forced migration due to loss of habitat to greater threat from diseases, more competition for food and more frequent extreme weather events. (Read BirdLife International's official position on climate change here.)
Most scarily, people will experience similar threats, and their responses – such as clearing forests to create new farming and living areas, or creating storm-surge barriers against rising sea levels – could have a substantially negative impact on nature, including loss of habitats and species extinctions.