a1 Green College Centre, Green College, At the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford OX2 6HG
As animals we have been a remarkably successful species; but also as animals we are vulnerable to environmental, in particular climate change. Such change is accelerating as a result of human activity, and global warming may already be taking place. Although we can foresee the trends, we cannot yet be specific about the results. Change usually proceeds by steps rather than gradients. But warming would probably include new risks to human health and contribute to an increase in human displacement. Of course climate change is only one among other complex problems facing human society, but it is closely related to them all, including population increase, environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity. We cannot prevent global warming but we can anticipate and mitigate some of its worst effects. Peoples and governments still need persuading of the need for action and of the magnitude of the issue at stake.