Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Review article
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/17/2006
Publication Date: 9/13/2006
Citation: Morgan, J.A. 2006. Climate change and managed ecosystems: (Book review). Journal of Environmental Quality 35:1966. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: In July, 2004, an important international climate change conference convened in Edmonton, Canada, “The Science of Changing Climates – Impacts on Agriculture, Forestry and Wetlands”. Leading experts in climate change, mostly from the natural and agricultural sciences, exchanged the latest findings on climate change and implications for management. This book is a compilation of selected papers presented at the meeting, plus some overviews of the topic. The book is divided into five sections. Part I, Climate Change and Ecosystems, examines the nature of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and their impacts on primarily Canadian agriculture, forestry and wetland ecosystems. Part II, Managed Ecosystems – State of Knowledge, represents the core of the book, 12 chapters comprised of both case studies and synthesis works which present the latest findings and notions of how various ago-ecosystems and wetlands participate in climate change. Topics include carbon dynamics and sequestration; trace gas exchanges of soils, plants and animals; plant community dynamics; biodiversity; land use patterns; and bioenergy. Management recommendations are given throughout for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions as well as for adapting to climate change. Critical knowledge gaps concerning the involvement of managed ecosystems in climate change are featured in Part III, Knowledge Gaps and Challenges, plus recommendations for addressing those uncertainties. A single chapter in Part IV, Economic and Policy Issues, examines the economics and associated issues of carbon sequestration options, and illustrates how carbon uptake credits can work within the Kyoto Protocol. I found this chapter particularly interesting given its practical assessment of the costs, politics and logistics of carbon sequestration in relation to the more direct approach of reducing trace gas emissions. Two final chapters in Part V, Summary and Recommendations, provide a balanced and thoughtful overview of the conferences presentations and discussions, plus future research needs. While the topic of climate change is certainly a global one, the presentations are often centered on North American, and most often, Canadian ecosystems. As such, it provides some insights into how a region or country considers its role in the problem of climate change. On the other hand, the concepts and principles discussed throughout represent the latest thinking in climate change biology, and should be useful to all who have an interest in what the conference organizers consider “one of the most serious environmental problems facing the world”. I recommend this book to scientists, professors, educators and students of natural and agriculture sciences, especially people engaged in climate change and carbon research. Those involved in managing and applying global change science, e.g., grant program directors, natural resource and program mangers, and policy makers should find the synthesis chapters plus sections discussing mitigation and its economics particularly useful.