Future makers or future takers? A scenario analysis of climate change and the Great Barrier Reef

Bohensky, Erin, Butler, James R.A., Costanza, Robert, Bohnet, Iris, Delisle, Aurélie, Fabricius, Katharina, Gooch, Margaret, Kubiszewski, Ida, Lukacs, George, Pert, Petina, and Wolanski, Eric (2011) Future makers or future takers? A scenario analysis of climate change and the Great Barrier Reef. Global Environmental Change, 21 (3). pp. 876-893.

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Abstract

The extent to which nations and regions can actively shape the future or must passively respond to global forces is a topic of relevance to current discourses on climate change. In Australia, climate change has been identified as the greatest threat to the ecological resilience of the Great Barrier Reef, but is exacerbated by regional and local pressures. We undertook a scenario analysis to explore how two key uncertainties may influence these threats and their impact on the Great Barrier Reef and adjacent catchments in 2100: whether (1) global development and (2) Australian development is defined and pursued primarily in terms of economic growth or broader concepts of human well-being and environmental sustainability, and in turn, how climate change is managed and mitigated. We compared the implications of four scenarios for marine and terrestrial ecosystem services and human well-being. The results suggest that while regional actions can partially offset global inaction on climate change until about mid-century, there are probable threshold levels for marine ecosystems, beyond which the Great Barrier Reef will become a fundamentally different system by 2100 if climate change is not curtailed. Management that can respond to pressures at both global and regional scales will be needed to maintain the full range of ecosystem services. Modest improvements in human well-being appear possible even while ecosystem services decline, but only where regional management is strong. The future of the region depends largely on whether national and regional decision-makers choose to be active future ‘makers’ or passive future 'takers' in responding to global drivers of change. We conclude by discussing potential avenues for using these scenarios further with the Great Barrier Reef region's stakeholders.

Item ID: 20812
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-9495
Keywords: Great Barrier Reef; future scenarios; climate change; scale; ecosystem services; human well-being
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2012 22:24
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
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