Earth Action Week: Four sobering climate change reports
Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 2:06 PM -
The world's climate is in a constant state of flux.
Today, global temperatures are rising, giving way to longer winters, hotter summers and putting numerous plant, mammal, reptile and insect species at risk.
At the same time, oceans are becoming more acidic, threatening fishing and tourism industries.
What role do humans play in the changing climate?
And can anything be done to curtail the effects?
Here are four sobering climate change reports.
1. NO MORE CUP OF JOE?
A 2012 study published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One suggests that coffee could go extinct before the end of the century.
Arabica plants contribute to more than half the world's commercial coffee production. According to researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the U.K. and the Environment and Coffee Forest Forum in Ethiopia, a changing climate could have a negative impact on the temperature-sensitive plant, eventually rendering its natural habitat extinct.
Researchers have also predicted a "best-case" scenario, which predicts a 38% loss of habitable space.
This year, an outbreak of coffee rust, brought about by extreme weather, has coffee production down by 20% across Central America.
Brian Khan from Climate Central says this puts numerous communities in economic danger.
"People living in Central America need these coffee crops to survive," he told Weather Network reporter Rachel Schoutsen.
"We have to think about the livelihood of these people, they depend on coffee to support their lifestyles."
2. THE RISE OF THE JELLYFISH
Jellyfish have never been in short supply in the world's oceans, but experts say their numbers are growing.
Back in June, researchers were keeping a close eye on the Mediterranean, where a jellyfish population boom was threatening biodiversity and countless tourists.
Off the coast of Spain, stretches of sandbanks were observed containing up to 40 mauve stingers - one of the most poisonous species of jellyfish -- per square metre.
Then, in October, Sweden's biggest nuclear reactor was shut down after an army of the gelatinous creatures clogged the plant's cooling water intake pipes.
Sharyl Crossley, a senior aquarist at the Tennessee Aquarium, says the rise of the jellyfish can be attributed to a number of things.
"For each bloom there is a different combination of factors that can play into the cause," she says.
While jellyfish populations are naturally dense, Crossley says that population blooms appear to be happening more frequently -- and in larger numbers.
"Scientists studying the blooms have linked them to climate change, pollution, overfishing and the loss of predators, dead zones, invasive species, and so on. In general, what they discover is that a jellyfish bloom is an indicator that something is imbalanced in the ecosystem ... although we are paying more attention to jellyfish now than ... ever before ... so we may not exactly know what the 'normal' ... is regarding the frequency and size of jellyfish blooms," she says.
NEXT PAGE: IS CLIMATE CHANGE ACCELERATING?