Natural resources are generally defined as food, water, energy, and minerals.
Their future availability is critically important. All individuals and nations require them to sustain current standards of living, as well as to increase economic activity.
Current and future resource availability is therefore a political, economic, social and environmental issue that can impact all stakeholder groups, often with disproportionate and indirect consequences, often leading to conflicts.
Talking about conflicts, Ethiopia has built Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam on the Nile. This has sparked tensions with Egypt which shares this cardinally important transboundary resource.
Needless to say that the complex institutions and rules governing the ownership and allocation of land and natural resources—will be stressed, destabilized, and forced to evolve in response to climate change impacts.
Climate change and population explosion, have combined to put stress on virtually all of the planet’s natural resources, making these resources increasingly scarce, and more expensive, to source.
Some scientists in fact believe mankind is being pressured towards a period of mass extinction (of course not by the earth being struck by an asteroid or comet).
Furthermore, mankind is struggling to maintain environmental ecosystems that are threatened by invasive species, urban sprawl and the inevitable increase in the demand for resources.
Plus, shifting of weather patterns, and large variations in climate, combine to put stress on crops and animals.
Although many argue that hurricanes and major flooding have always been around, they seem to happen more often now, and with greater intensity, due to climate change. This results in major damage to land resources and economies around the world.
In addition, droughts and wildfires are lasting longer and are more intense, which again can cause major crop loss, particularly in developing countries, and have a debilitating impact on even the strongest economies.
One of the greatest current examples is in California where wild fires are producing a parade of chilling statistics. More than 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) have burned in California, the most in recorded history!
Please click on the link below to see a fascinating article prepared by Weforum for the World Economic Forum:
Climate change has important implications for the management of natural resources and the environmental outcomes of management actions, and yet the impacts of climate change are often treated as an afterthought in natural resource planning and environmental review documents.
This appears to be due to a lack of guidance on how to meaningfully evaluate the effects of climate change and adjust management practices in light of those effects.
The SABIN CENTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE LAW at Columbia University has endeavored to produce the following guidance for agencies and practitioners on effectively integrating information about climate change impacts and adaptation measures into planning documents.
It presents a variety of recommendations aimed at satisfying legal requirements and promoting better informed decision-making:
• Managers should focus on climate change-related impacts that have the greatest implications for management decisions.
• The climate change impact analysis should be used to evaluate the efficacy and environmental outcomes of different management approaches.
• Managers should account for the impacts of climate change when determining sustainable yields, resource uses, and resource allocations.
• Managers should account for the impacts of climate change in Endangered Species Act listing decisions, critical habitat designations, and recovery and habitat conservation plans.
• Uncertainty is not a basis for inaction: adaptation measures can be implemented in the near-term to improve the resilience and adaptive capacity of landscapes and ecosystems.
• Greater specificity is needed to guide the implementation of monitoring and adaptive management programs.
The foregoing warrants immense further research. Therefore, students who are oriented towards research are hereby encouraged to take these up, and design research projects around them.