Mar 4, 2005

The case for Kyoto becomes more compelling


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 4 March 2005

New scientific research “makes a compelling case” that climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels is already occurring.

By analysing the sediments of 55 Arctic lakes, a Canadian research team has been able to “look back in time” to see what aquatic communities of algae, water fleas and insect larvae were like over many thousands of years. Lead researcher, Professor John Smol of Canada’s Queen’s University stated:

“Lakes slowly accumulate sediments over time, so they are like a history book.”

The research team found these aquatic communities remained almost stable until the mid-1800s, when changes began to take hold – and the most dramatic shift has occurred in the last 30 years.

According to another member of the research team, biologist Dr Kathleen Ruhland:

“The timing of the changes is certainly consistent with human interference, and one of the major avenues is through climate warming. This is another example of how humans are directly and indirectly affecting global ecology.” (Source: BBC Online, 01/03/05)

The research team also considered the possibility that the observed changes may be the result of other factors – such as pollution or UV radiation.

However, not all Arctic areas are warming up. For example, northern Quebec in Canada has remained remarkably stable. This evidence lead Professor Smol to conclude:

“In lakes in these areas we don’t see much change. … If the changes were due to pollution, for example, you would also see them in these places. This makes a compelling case.” (Source: BBC Online, 01/03/05)

These changes could have serious implications for local and global biodiversity. The organisms the team analysed are the bedrock of the Arctic’s aquatic food chain, so any change in their abundance could have implications for species further up the chain.

This new scientific research emphasises why all industrialised countries must ensure the Kyoto Protocol works.

It’s time for Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and be part of the global response to climate change.