Climate Change

Climate Change



Climate Change

Studies indicate that human interference with the natural environment has contributed to climate change because of incidences such as pollution. Human interference within the climate system and climate change is events that pose risk to natural and human systems around the world. In essence, climate change encompasses a variety of complex interactions and shifts in the possibility of diverse environmental impacts (Oxfam International, 2007). The focus on risk as noted in studies and discussions by scholars and critics alike, affirms the importance of decision-making concerning climate change.

Climate includes shifts in the state of climate conditions, which can be identified by changes within the variability of specific properties, which may persist for a specific period. Climate change may be associated with internal natural processes or external factors such as volcanic eruptions, modulations of the solar cycles and continuous anthropogenic adjustments in composition of the atmosphere. In recent decades, the changes in climatic conditions have brought about impacts on human and natural systems around the world (Oxfam International, 2007). The evidence of impacts of climatic changes is relatively strong and comprehensive in natural systems.

Some effects of climate change on human systems are evident in the form of minor and major changes, which are distinguishable from other factors. In a number of areas around the world, changes in precipitation and rapid melting of ice and snow is altering the hydrological systems and in turn affecting water resources concerning quality and quantity. Glaciers in traditionally cold climates continue to shrink around the world because of climate changes, which affects water resources and runoff (Oxfam International, 2007). Additionally, climate change is also causing thawing and permafrost warming in high elevation and altitude regions. Furthermore, it is critical to note that global warming has contributed to migration of a significant number of freshwater, terrestrial, and marine species due to disruptions in seasonal activities, abundances, migration patterns, and interactions between species (Oxfam International, 2007).

Historically, communities and people have adjusted and coped with climatic changes, variability, and extremes with different levels of success. Adaptive human responses to prevalent and anticipated climate change effects can play a critical role in addressing broad risk reduction and achievement of development objectives across communities (Oxfam International, 2007). Adaptation is increasingly becoming embedded in various planning processes, with higher implementation of responses. Technologically engineered options are regularly implemented adaptive strategies to respond to climate change, which are usually integrated into existing programs such as water management and disaster risk management.

There is a growth in the recognition of the importance of institutional, social and ecosystem based strategies and measures. Furthermore, the recognition also manifests itself concerning the level of constraints that impede adaptation. Adaptation options utilized to date emphasize the incremental adjustments as well as the co-benefits, with a growing emphasis and focus on learning and flexibility (Myers, 2005). A majority of assessments on adaptation have focused primarily on the effects, vulnerabilities, and adaptation planning, with a small figure assessing processes associated with implementation or effects associated with various adaptation actions.

Adaptation experience is growing across regions in both private and public sectors as well as in communities. Governments across various levels are embarking on development of adaptation plans, regulations and policies oriented towards integration of climate change strategies and considerations in overarching development plans. For instance, in Africa, a majority of national governments are implementing governance systems targeting adaptation such as in disaster risk management. Disaster risk management, changes in technologies and infrastructural development, ecosystems, public health measures, and livelihoods are contributing towards reduction of vulnerabilities despite efforts being isolated.

Adaptation policies and planning is critical given that climate change is growing because of incidences of global pollution. There is a need to ensure that adaptation planning is undertaken with specific consideration of differences across environments and regions around the world to ensure that the process remains effective and efficient. In regions such as Europe, adaptation policies are being embedded in all levels of government, with adaptation planning being included in water and coastal areas management as well as in land planning, environmental protection, and disaster and risk management (Oxfam International, 2007).

Across regions such as Asia, adaptation panning is being facilitated in areas such as mainstreaming climate adaptation actions within national and sub-national development planning, integrated water and resources management, early warning systems, coastal reforestation and agroforestry (Myers, 2005). In addition, adaptation planning can also be utilized in anticipation for sea level rise and reduction in water availability for regions such as Australasia. Planning in anticipation of increase in sea levels has changed over the past three decades, which is illustrative of the diversity in approaches to cater to increase in water levels in oceans and seas around the world.

Regions such as North America are utilizing incremental adaptation assessments and adaptation planning at county, state, and national levels. Proactive adaptation is also taking place with the aim of protecting long-term interests and investments in public infrastructure, amenities, and energy (Myers, 2005). Across south and Central America, ecosystem based adaptation that includes protection of ecosystems, conservation agreements, community management of natural areas is taking place at an unprecedented levels. In addition, the use of climate forecasting, integration of water resources management practices and standards and use of resilient crop varieties is also being used in the agricultural sector.

Across islands, which are marked by diverse human and physical attributes, community-based adaptation has gradually been providing extensive benefits to communities if incorporated with other development activities (Myers, 2005). Concerning oceanic activities, international cooperation remains critical to activities such as marine spatial planning with the aim of facilitation of adaptation to the unprecedented and rapid changes in climate conditions witnessed around the world.

In essence, climatic variations and extremities have been critical in a variety of decision-making contexts. Climate induced and related risks are emerging because of climatic changes and developments, which were not expected. Responding to climate induced and related risks requires the need for apt decision-making concerning changing communities, given the growth of uncertainty over the timing and severity of climate change effects and with regard to limitations on the effectiveness of adaptation and planning initiatives (Nicholls, 2004). Iterative risk management can be utilized as an effective framework in decision-making with regards to overly complex scenarios and situations that are characterized by high potential of persistence uncertainties, consequences, long-term timeframes, propensity for learning as well as numbers non-climatic and climatic factors adjusting over time.

Assessing potential impacts and scenarios such as low probability outcomes and comparison with consequences is critical towards understanding the tradeoffs and benefits of alternative risk management activities or actions. Complexities associated with adaptation actions vary in terms of context and scales, which requires that learning and monitoring remain central components in effective adaptation (Myers, 2005). Thus, learning and monitoring practices should be utilized by both private and public sectors to understand possible scenarios and outcomes associated with climate change.

Adaptation and mitigation options in the short term have influenced the risks of climate changes over the 21st century period. Assessing risks associated with climate change is reliant on a number of strategies for collection of evidence. Expert opinions and judgments are necessary for integration of evidence in the evaluations of risks associated with changes to climatic conditions. Collection of evidence for decision-making concerning climate change will rely on the use of empirical observations, process based views, experimental results, statistical methods, descriptive models and simulations. Future risks associated with climate changes vary extensively over plausible alternative development options. In addition, the importance of development and climate change varies across regions, time, and sectors (public and private sectors).

Scenarios and modeling remain critical tools for characterization of possible climate changes, risk and socioeconomic pathways and possible risk implications. Climatic modeling projects that provide information about evaluation of risks are critical towards enabling effective and efficient decision-making in public and private sectors around the world. The collection, assessment and subsequent sharing of information with regard to adaptation modeling is critical towards ensuring that countries and communities remain adept in countering risks and addressing inherent and anticipated challenges posed by climate change over the short and long-term periods (Myers, 2005). Uncertainties over future vulnerabilities, responses, and incidences of experience of natural and human systems can be addressed through availability of information over all scenarios, high, medium, and low probability scenarios, attributable to prevalent and expected climate changes in the future.



Myers N. (2005). Environmental Refugees: An Emergent Security Issue. Presentation at the 13th OSCE Economic Forum, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Prague 23 – 27 May 2005.

Nicholls R J. (2004). Coastal flooding and wetland loss in the 21st century: changes under the SRES climate and socio-economic scenarios. Global Environmental Change. 14: pp 69 – 86

Oxfam International. (2007). Adapting to Climate Change: What’s Needed in Poor Countries, and Who Should Pay. Oxfam Briefing Paper 104.









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