Adapting to climate change will lead to new environmental problems – ScienceDaily


Adapting to climate change could have profound effects on the environment, according to a new study from the University of East Anglia.

Search in Nature Climate Change reveals that adaptation actions have the potential to generate additional pressures and threats to local and global ecosystems.

Principal researcher Dr Carlo Fezzi, from the UEA School of Environmental Sciences, said: “Climate change is a little more complicated than we previously thought. We need to consider not only the direct impact of climate change, but also how people will react to such a change – the impact of adaptation.

“This is a whole new dimension of the debate on adaptation to climate change. “

The research team examined the interaction between agricultural land use and the water quality of rivers, both of which will be strongly affected by climate change.

They studied land use and river quality from over half a million records spanning the whole of the UK and dating back to the early 1970s. They used computer models to predict not only how climate change would lead to agricultural changes, but also how these agricultural changes would impact water quality.

“We have found that a moderately warmer climate, between 1oC and 3oC, will be primarily beneficial for agriculture in Britain. Particularly in the highlands and eastern midlands, warmer temperatures will increase. crop yields and will allow more livestock. But some localized losses can be expected – particularly in the east of England, where lower rainfall can increase the risk of drought.

“However, this intensification of agricultural practices in response to climate change will also create new environmental pressures. For example, changes in the agricultural sector will have a ripple effect on water quality, as they will lead to an increase in the amounts of nitrates and phosphates in streams and rivers.

“This will have a particular impact on the highlands and middlelands of the East where temperature increases will allow significant increases in agricultural production. This will significantly increase the efforts needed to achieve the water quality standards required by the EU.

“But the problem is not just water quality. Adaptation can impact water availability, wildlife, biodiversity, carbon policies and the amount of recreation space.

“And of course, agriculture is not the only industry that may need to adapt to a warmer climate. Demand and production of energy, fisheries, forestry and health services are also expected. adapt, and each would have its own effects.

“This doesn’t mean that adaptation is bad and that we have to develop policies to discourage it. That would be very short-sighted.

“But we have to make sure that we adapt in an environmentally sustainable way. Climate change is a long-term process and science allows us to anticipate its impact on the environment and society. This should encourage the development of forward-looking policies. .

“Instead of waiting for ecosystems to be in danger and then trying to save them, we can anticipate a potential problem and do something before it becomes a real threat.

“Prevention is better than cure.”

“The Environmental Impact of Climate Change Adaptation on Land Use and Water Quality” by Dr Carlo Fezzi, Dr Amii Harwood, Professor Andrew Lovett and Professor Ian Bateman is published in the March edition of Nature Climate Change.

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Materials provided by University of East Anglia. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.


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