Global warming threatens natural wonders

An environmental group said some of the world's greatest natural treasures are threatened with destruction because of global warming.

Global warming threatens natural wonders

An environmental group said some of the world's greatestnatural treasures are threatened with destruction because of global warming —from the Great Barrier Reef to the Amazon rainforests and the unique ecosystem of the Mexican desert.

On the sidelines of a climate change conference in Brussels, the World Wildlife Fund for Natureissued a list of 10 regions suffering serious damage from global warming, andwhere it has projects to limit further damage or help people adapt to newconditions.

"What we are talking about are the faces of the impacts of climatechange," said Lara Hansen, WWF's chief scientist on climate issues.

The group said coral reefs around the world, including the Great BarrierReef in Australia and theMesoAmerican Reef off Belize,begin to lose their color and die with a rise in ocean waters of just 1.8degrees Fahrenheit. They are also threatened by the increasing ferocity oftropical storms, another effect of global warming.

Environmentalists project the temperature of the Amazon River could rise by 3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit within 50 years,turning between up to 60 percent of the rain forest into a dry savanna.

In the Bering Sea, warmer winters areleading to the earlier breakup of spring ice and driving salmon stocks closerto the North Pole, disrupting the Arctic ecosystem. Melting ice is alsodiluting sea water and affecting nutrients for small organisms on which fishfeed.

In the Valdivian rain forest in Chile and Argentina, the Alerce tree — whichcan live for 3,000 years — is threatened by forest fires and decliningrainfall. Melting glaciers mean groundwater in the region will also become morescarce.

The Chihuahua Desert straddling the U.S.-Mexicanborder is suffering from drought and intensive farming and overgrazing. NorthAmerica's largest desert, the Chihuahuahas 3,500 unique plant species, including an array of cactus and yucca, thatcould be at risk.

Many of the regions at risk were singled out in a report by theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an authoritative body of 2,500scientists. The report, which is undergoing governmental review at the five-dayconference in Brussels,projects specific consequences for each degree of rising global temperatures,which the IPCC agrees is largely caused by human activity.

Some damage at the 10 areas listed by WWF is irreversible, such as shrinkingglaciers, Hansen said. Certain types of coral reefs, however, can recover.

The WWF listing also said:

_Six of seven species of Caribbean turtlesare endangered as rising sea levels swamp nesting beaches and feeding grounds.

_Some Himalayan glaciers are receding by 33 to 49 feet per year, causingfloods now and threatening summer drought in the future.

_Glaciers in the Tibetan plateau that feed China's Yangtze river are alsoshrinking, adding to water flows now but threatening shortages of water, foodand electricity to 450 million people as they reach a critical point.

_The Bay of Bengal is rising and increasingly violent rainstorms in Indiacould inundate coastal islands, destroy mangrove forests and affect India'sSunderbans, home to the largest wild population of Bengal tigers and to 1million people.

_Scientists predict East African coastal forests and the offshore ecosystemwill also be vulnerable to more frequent and intense storms that will damageagriculture, shoreline mangroves and coral reefs.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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