Summary of Future Risks for the Biosphere

Impacts of global change on the biosphere are generally the sum of numerous local to regional changes, and confounded by other drivers of global change. From reviewing the entire current literature about this topic, the following picture emerges:

• Even if some ecosystems may temporarily benefit from increasing atmospheric CO2 and/or the associated climatic warming, few of these advantages will remain during the latter half of the twenty-first century.

• The known time lags in the response of ecosystems generally imply greater risk of devastating impacts later during the twenty-first century.

• Many impacts on the biosphere are strictly irreversible on a timescale ofdecades to millennia, such as the loss of species and soil organic matter pools.

• Ecosystems are impacted by climate change that are already currently under substantial pressure from land use, pollution, and other nonclimatic drivers.

• Several options for the mitigation of climate change have direct additional consequences for the biosphere, particularly the development of biofuels.

• The biosphere continues to provide essential services for a growing global population - these services can only be sustained if the risks due to climate change are reduced to a much lower level.

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