Rising global temperatures are a result of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere: attributed from burning fossil fuels, farming and destruction of forests & biodiversities capable of carbon sequestration. Increasing amounts of carbon dioxide (and other gases as a result of human activities) in the atmosphere causes the greenhouse effect. This is where gases in the atmosphere traps heat and increases the Earth’s temperature, at a significantly higher rate than natural.
Predictions of global warming – one of the most serious impacts relating to the climate emergency – were officially discovered more than 100 years ago.
The severity of rising temperatures
In 1856, Eunice Newton Foote tested for the first time, the heat-trapping abilities of different gases. She concluded that wet air and CO2 were powerful heat-trapping gases – “An atmosphere of that gas would give to our earth a high temperature”.
Moving forward to 1896, Swedish physicist Svante Arrhenius developed the first model of climate change. He predicted that climate change would happen, expecting it to take 3,000 years for CO2 levels in the atmosphere to rise by 50%. Instead we increased by 30% in only one century.
Climate change will affect all ecosystems and biodiversities. In relation to forest ecosystems, changes will relate to mean temperature, rainfall, frequency / severity of weather events. The impact of these can be characterised into forest composition, species distribution, forest structure as well as flowering phenology. As some of the most diverse ecosystems and biodiverse habitats on earth, these landscapes are under unprecedented threat from deforestation and degradation in addition to accelerating climate change.
The Met Office annual global temperature forecast for 2021 suggests that 2021 will once again enter the series of the Earth’s hottest years. Forecasts of between 0.91c and 1.15c above the average pre-industrial period (1850 – 1900).
The role of forests
Forests are our greatest tool for tackling the climate crisis, whilst simultaneously being one of the greatest casualties. If we safeguard the life cycles of trees, we go some way to safeguarding the planet. Global pressures for commodities places greater demand on land and natural habitats. Implementing legal reform and the measures to enforce this, towards sustainable and responsible forest management frameworks goes someway to helping us achieve this goal.
The EU FLEGT Action Plan
The EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan helps combat illegal logging and deforestation. Consequently this form of sustainable forest management is an essential part to emission reduction needed for mitigating the worst impacts of climate change and thus rising global temperatures.