Life on Earth depends on the atmosphere. Past changes in the atmosphere have caused significant shifts and mass extinctions. The current climate, with its variability and extremes, directly affects all ecosystems. Future global atmospheric changes resulting from human activities may exert the greatest influence on biodiversity. Atmospheric pollutants (greenhouse gases, toxic air pollutants, ozone depletion chemicals) are giving rise to climate change, increased ultraviolet light penetration, and stress on human and biodiversity well-being. It is not known how ecosystems and species will adjust or fail to adjust to these stresses, or what the potential effect on genetic diversity will be. Canada's northern ecosystems may be especially vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate.
Conserving Forests and prairie grass lands…Not only supports the conservation of biodiversity but also removes gases from our atmosphere that have been linked with climate change.
Strong linkages between biodiversity issues and atmospheric change were emphasized at the Earth Summit in 1992, when the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change were signed by most United Nations countries. Both conventions arose from a common concern that human activities were endangering life-support systems. The objectives of these conventions are complementary. For example, conserving forests and prairie grasslands or providing permanent cover in agricultural areas not only supports the conservation of biodiversity but also removes gases from our atmosphere that have been linked with climate change.
National and international research and development efforts aimed at addressing atmospheric issues have been underway for more than a decade. A National Air Issues Coordinating Committee, formed to address air quality issues, has established task forces to develop a National Action Plan on Climate Change as well as strategies to eliminate, reduce or control smog, acid precipitation, and hazardous air pollutants. A national emissions and forecasting working group has also been created to update Canada's inventory of substances that are known to affect atmospheric conditions.