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ecosystems (Achterberg 2014), most visibly as coral bleaching (see Chapter 7) when symbiotic algae are expelled from the reefs, reducing or ending their productivity (Fabry et al. 2008).


Estimates suggest that approximately 20 per cent of fossil-fuel CO2


emissions are absorbed by land ecosystems (Arneth et al. 2017). Increased concentrations of CO2


eventually benefit some C3 crops1 , a category that includes


wheat and beans, through carbon fertilization (McGrath and Lobell 2013). Warmer temperatures could bring yield gains in high-latitude regions, if soil and precipitation characteristics are suitable (IPCC 2014). Seventy per cent of global agriculture is rain-fed, and shifting rainfall patterns may benefit certain regions, but higher temperatures generally cause water stress that limits yields (Lobell, Schlenker and Costa-Roberts 2011; Challinor et al. 2014). Despite potential local yield increase, at a global level, yields are expected to suffer due to elevated risks from droughts and heat stress (Schlenker and Roberts 2009; Lobell and Gourdji 2012; Jiménez-Cisneros et al. 2014; Porter et al. 2014). Additionally, climate change, together with direct effects of rising atmospheric CO2


concentration, has also been


demonstrated to benefit invasive plant species (Ziska and Dukes eds. 2014).


Climate change also affects forest productivity, including increased stress from droughts, wildfires, insects, pathogens and windstorms (Williams et al. 2013; IPCC 2014). However, the influence of carbon fertilization on forest productivity is not well understood given the complexity of contributing factors (Norby et al. 2016). In combination with other human pressures, such as habitat destruction, climate change affects biodiversity at genetic, species and ecosystem levels. Seasonal changes can disrupt the timing of gestation, birth, hibernation, resource availability and optimal productivity. Species that are able are shifting their ranges, patterns and interactions on land, in fresh water and in oceans (IPCC 2014). There are possible shifts in infectious disease distributions in flora, fauna and humans (Lafferty 2009).


4


The shifts in weather patterns and extreme events, such as heat waves and droughts, and environmental disruptions, including crop failures, result in greater risks to human health and survival, especially among the poor and most vulnerable groups (Smith et al. 2014b). Climate change is also affecting the toxicity, environmental fate and behaviour of chemical toxicants by modifying physical, chemical and biological drivers of partitioning between the atmosphere, water, soil/sediment and biota, wet/dry deposition, and reaction rates with a potential of adverse impacts on biodiversity and human health (Noyes et al. 2009). Recent studies have examined the link between climate change and poverty in developing countries. In general, rural households in developing countries depend on crops, forest extraction and other income sources for their livelihoods, which tend to be extremely sensitive to climate change (Wunder, Noack and Angelsen 2018). The poor are more exposed to extreme climate conditions and experience greater rainfall fluctuations, while the poorest in dry regions experience the greatest forest loss (Angelsen and Dokken 2018). Poor people are often disproportionately exposed to droughts and floods, particularly in urban areas, and in many countries in Africa (Winsemius et al. 2018). Poorer households


1 The plants that utilize C3 photosynthesis (85% of all plants) have disadvantage in hot, dry conditions. C3 crops include wheat, rice, soybeans, and many others.


in the atmosphere may


The climate continues to change and the impacts on the natural and human system are increasingly recognized. Social responses such as population migration and displacement exacerbate health risks and threats to geopolitical stability (Adger et al. 2014); these risks increase with continuing warming beyond 1.5°C as detailed in chapters 3 and 5 of the IPCC 1.5°C report (IPCC 2018). Limiting the observed warming trend to 1.5°C requires transformational changes in policies, technologies and societal goals.


4.3.2 Polar regions and mountains


Covering approximately 20 per cent of the Earth’s surface and containing the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, the polar regions play a significant role in the global climate system. Land and sea ice not only regulate the energy balance of the climate system due to their high albedo, or reflectivity, but also store a record of climate information. In addition to their role as engines of global climate processes, the Arctic and Antarctic act as bellwethers of climate change because warming is amplified at their high latitudes (Taylor et al. 2013). Warming is also amplified at high altitudes, so mountain regions can be included in this discussion as a ‘third pole’ (Pepin et al. 2015).


Amplified warming affects all components of the polar climate system. Arctic Sea ice is shrinking in area and volume (Figure 4.6). Permafrost is thawing resulting in a release of greenhouse gases, including CO2


, and snow cover extent is


decreasing. Ice sheets and mountain glaciers continue to lose mass, contributing significantly to sea level rise that threatens coastal regions at every latitude (Vaughan et al. 2013). These transformations have consequences for polar and high- altitude ecosystems and for the people who live there. Shifting environmental and socioeconomic conditions in the Arctic in particular are delivering consequences to environments and populations further south through teleconnections within the climate system (Francis, Vavrus and Cohen 2017) and through close geopolitical connections. In fact, polar regions are gaining politico-strategic importance. The Arctic has already been subjected to resource extraction and exploitation, from hydrocarbons to diamonds (Dodds 2010; Ruel 2011), and the Antarctic is becoming an area of strategic interest for countries looking at potential resource extraction in the future. At the same time, the Arctic and particularly the Antarctic, which has a treaty devoting the continent to peace and scientific cooperation, are regions of peaceful international coordination and enhanced environmental cooperation, exhibiting governance systems that can be exemplars for environmental protection in other regions.


The ecosystem services of the polar regions that relate to global climate regulation are further enhanced by the formation of super-dense Antarctic bottom water, and to a lesser extent of North Atlantic deep water, which are significant contributors to the thermohaline circulation. The cooler ocean waters of higher latitudes, especially the Southern Ocean, also represent important carbon sinks and areas of high marine productivity.


86 Setting the Stage


tend to be located in hotter locations within hot countries, and poorer individuals are more likely to work in occupations with greater exposure to increased temperatures across and within countries (Park et al. 2018). It is expected that by the end of the century global labour productivity may be reduced by 40 per cent (Dunne, Stouffer and John 2013).


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