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Climate Change

Climate change is the variation, in either the mean state of the climate or in its variability, persisting for an extended period typically decades or longer. It encompasses temperature increases (”global warming”), sea-level rises, changes in precipitation patterns, and increased frequencies of extreme weather events. Recent findings by the scientific community suggest that warming is causing shifts in species spatial distributions that average 6.1 km per decade towards the poles as predicted by the climate change models, and that spring is, on average, arriving 2.3 days earlier per decade in temperate latitudes. In particular, the boreal and tundra ecosystems have been significantly impacted by warming.

Although past changes in the global climate resulted in major shifts in species ranges and marked reorganization of biological communities during the last 1.8 million years, these changes occurred in a landscape that was not as fragmented as it is today and with little or no pressures from human activities. Current climate change coupled with other human pressures is stressing biodiversity far beyond the levels imposed by the global climatic change that occurred in the recent evolutionary past. As a result, the human component needs to be incorporated when dealing with the impacts of climate change on biodiversity—that is, activities aimed at mitigating and adapting to climate change in which biodiversity considerations are essential. — Convention on Biological Diversity


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