The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, a panel of international experts assessing the current scientific knowledge on climate, has asserted that warming of the earth's climate system is ‘unequivocal', Fr. Ignacimuthu, Director, Entomology Research Institute, Loyola College, Chennai, said here recently.

Inaugurating an international congress on “Global Warming on Biodiversity of Insects: Management and Conservation”, organised by the Department of Zoology, School of Life Sciences of Bharathiar University, he said the panel's conclusions were based on mounting evidence of shifts in the climate and consequent effects on ecological processes and biodiversity.

“The effects of climate change and habitat destruction and their interaction are likely to be the greatest challenge to animal and plant conservation in the 21st century,” he said.

Climate change was having a significant impact on hundreds of plant and animal species around the world. Birds were laying eggs earlier than usual, plants were flowering earlier and mammals were breaking hibernation patterns sooner.

“The increase of infectious diseases due to climate change was also a matter of concern. Mosquito-borne diseases form a major component of communicable diseases in India and in other Asian countries. This is thought to be so due to rising temperature and an expansion of area habitable for mosquitoes. Rising temperatures could also extend the transmission season for Dengue and Chikungunya,” Fr. Ignacimuthu said.

C. Swaminathan, Vice-Chancellor of Bharathiar University, said climate change was one of the most important global environmental challenges with implication for food production, water supply, health and energy.

“Developing countries have to carefully evaluate the need for the role of global and national institutions in promoting both mitigation and adaptation programmes.

The Western Ghats is one of the hot spots of biodiversity and it needs urgent attention for conservation. To salvage the issue of extinction, we need to prioritise and target conservation strategies of host plants, feeding behaviour of butterflies, etc.,” he said.

K. Sasikala, Head, Department of Zoology, said while actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change were ongoing at various levels, scientists and policy makers were still looking for concrete data and evidence to understand the concept and its impacts.

Herb Nyberg, President of New Mountain Innovation, the United States, S. Ramarethinam, Director, Research and Development Division, T-Stanes and Company Limited, Coimbatore, Jiang Shiou Hwang, Director of Institute of Marine Biology, National Taiwan Ocean University, Taiwan, and K. Murugan, organising secretary, spoke.

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