Sarene Marshall, climate change program director at The Nature Conservancy, appeared on the Washington Post’s Live Chat series today to talk about the UN climate change conference in Cancún, Mexico. She received many great questions, including this one.
How can countries prepare for climate change now and how can Cancún help speed those preparations?
The UN process has already recognized the role of ecosystems in helping prevent and buffer the impacts of climate change. But funding is really needed to help countries implement these strategies, especially in the developing world. In Cancún, it is important that countries maintain and expand on the financial commitments they made in Copenhagen to this cause.
Carbon emissions and other heat-trapping gases are causing many changes in our climate system. These include temperature and precipitation changes that our society has been built around, whether rain that supplies our crops with water or glaciers that provide water to cities. Climate change is also causing more frequent and severe storms, as well as sea-level rise that will affect people everywhere from Florida to Long Island to Bangladesh. The impacts of these changes are most pronounced in the most vulnerable places on earth.
Natural systems provide important benefits to people in the face of climate change. Coastal systems like mangroves and reefs can buffer storm surge and sea-level rise, while forest protection can help ensure the reliability of water supplies. And these strategies are often very cost-effective, compared to engineered solutions such as sea walls or levees. As countries begin to cope with inevitable impacts of climate change, it is critical that they recognize the important benefits of protecting ecosystems to help people adapt.
To read the full Live Chat at the Washington Post, click here.
Some of the other questions included: why meet in Cancún, what are some of the potential forest-related outcomes, how urgent is the climate-change problem, how can we get the U.S. more involved in building an international agreement, how are carbon costs determined, why are some people still debating the issue, how much is weather related to climate change, and what is the role of traditional or indigenous people in Cancún.
(Image: Mongrove knees, by Ami Vitale)
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