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Prof. Guy Midgley
Topic: What Does the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Tell Us About Terrestrial Biodiversity?
Working as a research scientist for the South African National Biodiversity Institute since 1983 Prof. Midgley instigated climate change research includingin Chile, Australia, USA, Germany, France, Bo...
Number of questions: 
Posted on 24/10/2014 15:00:47
Does the IPCC report contain any information on what will happen to nature in the UK?
(from United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
UK impacts are discussed under the IPCC Working Group 2 Regional Chapter on Europe, which is the largest regional chapter in terms of simple document file-size, by a considerable margin! As with all countries, UK examples are integrated into an overall regional view, but specific mention is made of vulnerable systems such as grouse moors in section 23.5.4. Cultural Heritage and Landscapes, and there is a useful discussion of ecosystem-related issues in the section 23.6.4. Terrestrial and Freshwater Ecosystems. The chapter on Terrestrial and Inland Water Systems makes only one specific reference to UK-based species level information, in relation to natural adaptation. However, this chapter provides insights into useful principles for inferring risks for different species and landscape types, such as its Figure 4-5 on page 297.
Posted on 24/10/2014 14:57:18
How energy issues may influence or change the interactive relationship of nation and social development?
This is really a question for the specialists involved in Working Group 3 of the IPCC "Mitigation". As a non-expert in that arena I would venture only to say that this is an active area of debate and it is worth exploring the Mitigation Report for further information.
Posted on 24/10/2014 13:48:39
Can you expand on what "ecosystem-based" adaptation implies, with an example from Africa?
(from South Africa)
The adoption of ecosystem-based approaches implies considering how the resilience of natural ecosystems and biodiversity can be harnessed to help people adapt to climate change. A couple of examples are given in the chapter on Africa, such as "using mobile grazing to deal with both spatial and temporal rainfall variability in the Sahel; reducing the negative impacts of drought and floods on agricultural and livestock-based livelihoods through forest goods and services in Mali, Tanzania, and Zambia; and ensuring food security and improved livelihoods for indigenous and local communities in West and Central Africa through the rich diversity of plant and animal genetic resources" (quoted directly from the Africa Chapter, with references removed).
Posted on 24/10/2014 11:31:59
The IPCC WG II report was launched this week - what do you think is the most important finding for biodiversity experts to be aware of?
That's a really tough question, because the report is so loaded with new information - four chapters on different aspects of adaptation, for example! Biodiversity-wise we have three excellent chapters on terrestrial and inland water systems, coastal systems and low-lying areas, and ocean systems. The summary points out that some of the strongest evidence for the impacts of climate change comes from natural ecosystems, and that species range shifts attributable to climate change can be observed in all systems. The gloomy prognosis is that rates of climate change much lower than we are observing now have caused significant species extinctions and ecosystem changes in the past millions of years - this valuable finding reinforces the message from the 4th Assessment Report, and stresses how crucial it is to slow emissions as soon as possible to reduce this risk. But a more upbeat angle is that well-functioning ecosystems can be an effective element of adaptation response to climate change by human society. Climate change adaptation therefore gives us an opportunity to raise the profile of ecosystems and biodiversity, and integrate these with adaptation planning processes in strategies called "ecosystem-based adaptation", which is starting to happen in Central and South America, and some parts of Africa.
Posted on 24/10/2014 08:22:53
What are the likely effects of climate change on the fynbos biome, and when?
(from South Africa)
Great question, thanks for asking it. The Fynbos Biome is an incredibly species-rich corner of the world, situated in the Mediterranean-climate region in south-western South Africa. This Biome is a shrubland that is packed full of plant species with rather small geographic ranges, and is subject to a natural wildfire regime with a return interval of roughly between 5 and 20 years. It is believed that one reason for this very high species richness is the legacy of a relatively stable temperate climate with reliable winter rainfall that has been in place for several million years. Climate models suggest that there is an increasing risk with further global warming that the frontal systems that bring winter rain to this region could be shifted southwards, leading to a reduction in the reliability of this rainfall regime. When this is combined with projected warmer temperatures, simple models of species ranges suggest that the region would face a significantly increasing risk of extinction under such a scenario, by the 2050's and possibly earlier. As always, there are significant uncertainties that could strongly influence such an outcome, and the role of climate change in influencing the fire regime is an important one that needs more work. The region has also long been subject to adverse ecological effects of invasive alien woody plants, and more recently some grasses, and their success and the resulting effects could also interact strongly with climate change.
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