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WIREs Clim Change
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Climate change and ecosystem services

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Studies of the impacts of climate change cover three broad areas: direct effects on humans, their enterprises, and assets; effects on natural systems; and effects on humans via natural systems. ‘Ecosystem services’ fall into the latter category. Future climates continue to allow ecosystem services to be delivered and consumed, in some cases at a level greater than in the past, and in others degraded relative to their historic supply. Across a wide range of ecosystem services, the losses exceed the gains for magnitudes and rates of climate change projected under low‐mitigation scenarios. On balance, global mean temperature (GMT) rises greater than 2°C above preindustrial have a spatially patchy but net negative effect on many ecosystem services. The negative impacts occur in many places and affect most people. This apparent asymmetry of impact is hypothesized to have three causes: the rapidity of climate change relative to adaptive processes in social and ecological systems; the exposure of societies to climates not experienced during the period over which complex, agriculturally dependent human societies developed; and the approach toward limits in the Earth system. Covariates of climate change—especially rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and ongoing land transformation—are an inextricable part of the projected loss of services in the coming century and the projected shortfall between supply and demand is strongly demand‐driven. The geographical distributions of ecosystem service supply and demand are unequal, and becoming more so. WIREs Clim Change 2016, 7:537–550. doi: 10.1002/wcc.404 This article is categorized under: Climate, Ecology, and Conservation > Observed Ecological Changes
A visual summary of the relationship between supply and demand for the ecosystem services surveyed in this review, both at the present time (open circles) and around mid‐century (filled circles, with the range of local outcomes depicted with a bar). The qualitative assessment is by the author, informed by reading the studies reviewed.
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