Tertiary Effects Of Climate Change
Changes such as increasing temperatures, flooding and decreasing ice cover will have an impact on people (and in fact already are). Human societies and economies have begun to adapt to all of these changes and this changing human behaviour may itself impact on cetaceans and other wildlife. A simple example might be the situation of a fishing community which suffers a climate change-driven decline in the fish stock it has traditionally fished on. One reaction by the community might be to target cetaceans for food instead.
Another example relates to reduced ice cover in the Arctic which will create new and accessible sea areas. This is predicted to lead to increased shipping, oil and gas exploration, and fishing there, which will result in additional noise and chemical pollution in marine ecosystems, amongst other effects.
It is likely that these human-mediated, or as they are sometimes called tertiary effects, of climate change on some cetacean populations may be even more important than the more direct effects and this is a matter which should now be considered in any conservation plans. Effects of climate change on human societies are unlikely to be uniform around the world, as particular areas will experience more severe impacts on physical and biological systems, and some societies have a lower economic or cultural capacity to adapt. Therefore, human-mediated impacts of climate on cetaceans are also likely to be concentrated in certain regions.