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Increasingly however more and more deforestation is being driven by commercial operators linked to global markets. Much of the beef, soya and palm oil produced in tropical countries is exported and ends up on our supermarket shelves, in our restaurants or to produce biodiesel.

One third of the tropical forests have been lost in the past 50 years and at current rate of usage, we could lose almost all of the rainforest in the next 50 years. This could have very severe consequences for our global climate as well as biodiversity. The trees in these forests are very susceptible to any significant increase in temperature; die back of the tree cover will start to occur if the average temperature rise exceeds 2°C.

The other threat to the rainforest is through global warming and changing rainfall patterns which could limit the growth of its biomass.

Coral reefs
Sometimes climate change in combination with other factors can also induce change in ecosystems. For example, three quarters of the world’s coral reefs are at risk from over fishing, pollution as well as climate change. By 2050 virtually all of the world’s coral reefs from the waters of the Indian Ocean to Australia will be in danger. Some 275 million people live within 30 kilometres of reefs which provide an important habitat for fish.

The most visible impact is the decay of coral reefs found in tropical areas of the world which fringe many of the shores in the shallow continental margins. These reefs are affected by both the increase in surface temperature and the rising acidity of the sea water which is of great concern as these coral reefs provide a home to 500,000 species, more than any other marine ecosystem.

KITH # Activity Age range
1.3  Impacts of changing climate   
 Science, citizenship, geography
 9 – 14 
1.4  Consequences of global warming  
 Science, citizenship, art
 9 – 14 
1.9   Glacier melting  
 9 – 14 

Other activities

What local changes have you noticed in the climate? Also ask your parents or grandparents what changes they have observed?
What impact could global warming have on your local environment and way of life?
Do you think that such changes will continue to occur and if so why?
What local actions can you suggest to limit the impact of a changing climate? Design a poster to illustrate your suggestions.



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