Climate Change 2001:
Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
Other reports in this collection

19.3.5. Conclusions

There are many unique and threatened systems distributed over various regions of the world. Although they are restricted to relatively narrow geographical ranges, they can affect other entities beyond their range. The existence or functioning of some of these systems is threatened by a small temperature change; the existence or functioning of many others will be threatened by a medium to large temperature change. These effects include impacts such as loss of many species and ecosystems, disappearance of tropical glaciers, damage to coral reefs, inundation of some low-lying islands, loss of coastal wetlands, and potential harm to aboriginal societies and their cultures.

Many of these systems already are stressed by development, including pollution, habitat destruction, encroachment for expansion of human habitation, and overextraction of natural resources. The combination of climate change and societal development puts these systems at greater risk. In some cases, climate change hastens the destruction of these systems; in other cases it may result in the destruction of systems that could survive societal stresses alone (e.g., small island states and some mangrove ecosystems such as the Sundarbans).

Removing societal stresses and managing resources in a sustainable manner may help some unique and threatened systems cope better with climate change.

Other reports in this collection