A Changing Environment- What Can We Expect?

Samantha Zeitz

Climate change has always been a threat to our ecosystems but with rising greenhouse gas levels some species are having a hard time keeping up with the changes.

In the past, the biggest contributor of anthropogenic ecosystem change was the growth of urban development and agricultural expansion. Anthropogenic ecosystems are ecosystems that have been impacted by human life, resulting in a change of certain global patterns. In recent years, a bigger problem has come to light and that’s climate change. Because of the rapid increase of greenhouse gas emissions, many species are having trouble keeping up with the change that comes with it, including changes in temperature, water cycles, and other conditions that affect life on Earth.

In 2015, the Paris Agreement was introduced as a pledge to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. A new study published in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, shows simulations that demonstrate how the success or failure of the Paris Agreement could impact Earth’s land ecosystems.

According to this research, if we fail to meet the Paris Agreement commitment, climate change will take over as the biggest contributor towards major changes to the planet’s ecological landscape. The current largest contributor, land use change, has already severely impacted important ecological systems leaving some species at risk of extinction. Based on the research, scientists are worried climate change could cause even more damage to the Earth’s biosphere.

Previous studies have looked at the individual impact and possible future impact from climate change and land use change. This new study is different because it takes a closer look at the impact ecosystems will face and how the factors could influence terrestrial biomes. According to their model, if we don’t reduce carbon emissions and comply with the Paris Agreement, climate change and land use change will cause massive changes to 73 per cent of the global landscape by the end of the century. Climate change alone would be responsible for approximately three-quarters of the damages.