Threat to world's largest carbon stores

The climate is changing at an unprecedented rate for decades and the modern lifestyle adds more speed to it. The effects of the changing climate are widely seen with its impacts on all forms of ecosystems – terrestrial, aquatic as well as marine.  Climate-related risks and disasters are increasing at an alarming rate. The impact of human-induced climate change on humans are critical throughout the world as the glaciers are receding, the ice sheets and icebergs are on verge of extinction due to global climate change. The effect of melting of polar ice on biological diversity is alarming as the melting of ice due to global climate change affects algal production that results in the cascading effect in the arctic ecosystems. The cascading effect leads to habitat loss and the species like minke whales, polar bears, seals, walruses, and orcas live are on verge of extinction. Climate change leads to an increase in the sea level, droughts, storms, floods, a decrease in productivity, coral bleaching, and many other detrimental and irreversible effects.  The wetlands are the most productive ecosystems of the world. These wetlands are considered fundamental for human wellbeing and the needed environmental sustainability. The worldwide wetlands are very rich in biodiversity as around 40% of the whole world’s species live and propagate in these wetlands. The unconditional ecosystem services provided by wetlands are considered higher as the services provided are very hard to comprehend.  The basic and necessary services provided by the productive wetlands include maintaining the water quality, source, and sink of greenhouse gases, soil sediment retention, livelihood, home to millions of migratory birds, and finally acts as the largest reservoir of carbon. These wetlands are one of the most threatened ecosystems on earth.  Anthropogenic climate change is one of the main drivers of wetland extinctions and decline.  The increasing climate change along with industrialization, urbanization, resource exploitation, and environmental pollution threatens the wetlands across the world. Climate change affected severely the services like water recharge and discharge, flood control, wildlife habitats, and nutrient storage functions and services.  Climate change affects all the services of wetlands rendered to mankind.

The destruction of wetlands has accelerated rapidly.  The world wetlands are unique ecosystems that may potentially generate large negative climate feedbacks over centuries to millennia and positive feedbacks over years to several centuries. The worldwide wetlands have a great potential to preserve the carbon sequestration capacity due to water-logged conditions that reduce or inhibit microbial respiration and promote methane production. The wetlands and climate change are interlinked and their impacts are proportional to each other. The use of wetlands for carbon capture can eventually lead to conservation and also restoration of wetlands. Climate change may have its irreparable effect on wetlands through alterations n hydrological regimes like the nature and variability of the hydroperiod and the number and severity of extreme events. There are other variables related to climate that may play vital roles in determining the local and regional impacts, including increased temperature and changing evapotranspiration rates, biogeochemistry, disturbed patterns of suspended sediment loadings, reduction in productivity due to decrease in dissolved oxygen, and hypoxia-like conditions that are directly dependent on temperature. The human-induced climate change altered the natural base flows, increased heat strokes, and disease vulnerability. Climate change affects the natural laws of the hydrology of wetland ecosystems which directly impacts the biodiversity living there.  Global climate change has already lead to the extinction of almost 60% of wetlands globally since industrialization.  The severe stresses due to climate change may lead to social-wildlife tensions and migrations due to water scarcity and water crisis.  Climate change leads to an increase in the mean sea level and alteration in basic hydrology if there is a change in the basic laws of wetlands they will surely have detrimental effects on humans as well as the aquatic life.  Climate change directly impacts the groundwater recharge potential of wetlands and once it is altered it will lead to irreparable as well as irreversible loss to mankind.  Climate change will lead to alteration to the basic structure of wetlands which in turn will lead to loss of habitat to millions of migratory birds who visit these wetlands for breeding as well as feeding purposes.  The life of migratory birds is on verge of extinction due to climate-induced change in wetlands. The wetlands are facing a lot of anthropogenic threats and mainly climate change. These wetlands help to cool and humidify the air but due to climate change, the natural rate of these processes also got impacted. The worldwide wetlands are drying up and climate change has led to the acidification, cracking, and compaction of wetland soils and the millions of people and wildlife dependent on them facing food scarcity.  Climate change led to wetland fires which in turn release a lot of carbon stored in these wetlands and add to the warming of mother earth. The wetlands a natural solution to climate change provided we protect, preserve and conserve the wetlands effectively and religiously. The wetlands are dying and we are the murderers, if we will not protect these wetlands the global climate change will be led to disasters that may be irreparable and irreversible and the loss will be very hard to comprehend. Let’s save wetlands that will help to combat climate change otherwise human existence will be lost in the wild.

The author is the founder of Northern Conservancy for Sustainable Future.