Intact ecosystems provide best defence against climate change

Martin, T. and Watson, J. | Nature Climate Change | 2016 | Peer Reviewed | Communication |


Climate change is affecting people and nature across every continent and ocean. Changes in rainfall, snow and ice melt are impacting water resources in terms of quality and quantity. Drought, crop failure and poor yield, and human heat-related stress and mortality are increasing in frequency. Sea-level rise is displacing coastal and island communities through storm surges and saltwater incursion, and deglaciation and range shifts of species on land and sea are leading to loss of ecosystems and creation of new and different ecological communities. In response, many local communities around the world are rapidly adjusting their livelihood practices to cope with climate change, sometimes with catastrophic implications for nature. Humans and nature form a coupled system and understanding the feedback between the way we as humans adapt to climate change under different policy agendas and its impact on nature is crucial to successful adaptation. Environmental outcomes and climate outcomes are inextricably linked. It is time to set a policy agenda that actively rewards those countries, industries and entrepreneurs who develop ecosystem-sensitive adaptation strategies.