Why Global Warming is Impacting Animals | EDITORIAL

Global warming or climate change, is becoming a threat facing humanity. Now, you might have 3 outlooks on it.

  1. Global warming is real, and you believe the reports that scientists are creating to outline the impacts of climate change. By knowing this, you try your best to save the world, no matter how small the activity is.
  2. Global warming is not the greatest threat to you. You believe scientists in some areas and disagree on others. There is a possibility that climate change is real but it way too soon to be thinking so far into the future. You trust that others can fix it and you couldn’t care less what gets recycled.
  3. And finally, you outright disagree with the scientists. Climate change is fictitious, and experts are trying to waste money on resources to combat it.
A polar bear in Repulse Bay, Nunavut Territory, Canada.
Paul Souders | Getty Images | CNBC

I will not criticize you on your beliefs on global warming. But, in these couple of posts on global warming, I’ll be stating facts on the impacts this vast threat has on our environment today. My job in this series is to make you think twice before carelessly throwing away your batteries in the garbage. Perhaps you’ll to dispose of them safely instead, to help combat humanity’s greatest threat.

Before I begin, a massive shutout to Sam for her help with the editing process and providing her knowledge in this subject matter!

In this first part of the series, I will focus on the threats on the animal world. The severe consequences that global warming is having in the world’s most diverse ecosystems. With slight increases to temperatures, animals will go extinct in a few centuries. Since 1970, there has been a 60% decline of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibian populations.1 60%! That is huge. That squirrel you saw at the park, it lost 60% of its worldwide family in 48 years. It is hard to comprehend these types of statistics. You cannot picture a world where there are barely any animals around.

Most of the information in this report comes from WWF and their research into this matter. They classified regions in the world that will have the worst extinction as “Priority Places”. There will be only a few regions I will cover in this report as these are the most impacted.

So what makes global warming a threat to the 8.7 million known species living on earth?

It causes habitat destruction. That is the number one reason why animals are suffering.2 With minor changes in temperature, droughts and other natural disasters occur more commonly. Water and vegetation are the two largest contributors to maintaining a strong food chain, and without these resources, an entire region can collapse. The food chain is the hierarchical model that outlines the involvement of every animal in an ecosystem. Starting from the bottom, the primary producers (plants) are important to the primary consumers (insects, herbivores). As you move up the model, you get the secondary consumers (frogs, mice), tertiary consumers (snakes), and finally, at the top of the chain lives the quaternary consumers (birds and larger creatures). As you can see, four levels rely on vegetation. Without it, there will be nothing to continue the cycle.

Image of the food chain
The food chain | cK-12

The animals’ ability to disperse from their habitat is one of the major prevention techniques. The percentage of survival drastically changes based on this key ingredient.3  Dispersal is important and animals will need to adapt to the changing environment. Animals that cannot flee from their home range will have to face the consequences of climate change which, in turn, increases their likelihood of extinction. At a 2°C increase to the average global temperature, extinction rates will rise 20-25% in Priority Places.4  But if the average temperature rises 4.5°C, we are talking about a 40-50% extinction rate.5  Dispersal is a good thing, but it is not guaranteed that a population adapts and finds a better region that allows them to strive.

Since 1970, there has been a 60% decline of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibian populations

But dispersal leads to side effects. Let’s assume that an animal population can disperse. The plants they ate before have to be present in the new area they migrated to. But plants do not have the luxury to travel across the continent. When global warming hits these regions, the initial food that starts of the food chain is gone and animals will not have enough to eat, impacting the entire model. In fact, around 50% of plants in Priority Places will disappear.6  Migrating to other areas sounds better but the long-term effects will damage the rest of the animal world.

Introduction to the Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest | USA Today

Now to focus onto specific regions that are classified as Priority Places. Starting off with the Amazon and Guianas. Located in northern South America, the Amazon rainforest houses about 10% of all known species.7  It is one of the most vulnerable climates of global warming. Even at a 2°C increase in temperature, there is a greater than 30% extinction rate in the region among  plants. birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.8  The largest extinction rates occur at a 4.5°C increase by 2080. There is a 60% chance of localized extinction in all groups, with the amphibians losing about 74% of the species. Even with dispersal, the mammals will still lose about 30% to extinction.9  Global warming will hit this region hard and cause mass extinction to a place we call the most diverse animal region in the world.

Read More: My picture with stories series!

Coastal east Africa is the most diverse region in Africa, but global warming threatens it. Located in Mozambique and Tanzania, a 2°C increase will phase out 25% of its biodiversity.10 Global warming will impact the amphibians the most as they will lose less than 70% of the population due to local extinction.11  The comparison between a 2°C increase and a 4.5°C is alarming for the amphibians. At 2°C, 40% of the population will vanish compared to a whopping 69%.12  Most animal groups will lose over 60% of the population at a 4.5°C increase. The eastern coast of Africa is severely impacted with global warming and even with small changes, the population is slowly going extinct.

Finally, the Miombo Woodlands. This large region is located in Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and northern Namibia and Botswana. A lot of wildlife is located in this area including majestic animals such as the Elephant, Rhino, and Giraffe. Even with the recent increases in temperature, the animal population has slowly been decreasing. Droughts are the leading cause of extinction in this region. The Hwange National Park is already running out of water for its 45,000 Elephants.13 

THe Miombo Woodlands future expectations. Taken from the WWF

All animals have a greater than 80% chance for local extinction, if the planet was to warm 4.5°C by 2080.14  Amphibians will lose 90% of their population. The effects are catastrophic for the animals in Africa. Even with a temperature increase of 2°C, almost 50% of the animal population in this sector will fight for their lives. Both east Africa and the Miombo Woodlands are the most bio-diverse regions in Africa. Global warming is coming at an alarming rate to these regions and the threat of droughts cast a large shadow on the region’s ability to survive the temperature increases.

Earth will see the second largest mass extinction, right after the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago, if nothing is done.

Global warming is a severe threat to the biodiversity on Earth. The 3 regions I talked about are only a handful of places that require more water, food, and energy to sustain itself. Climate change impacts nearly every species on Earth. The more severe we let it happen, the greater the extinction percentages. The factor between 1-2 degrees will impact all forms of life. If we do not prevent ourselves from emitting more waste into the fragile ecosystems, Earth will see the second largest mass extinction, right after the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.


Hi! Thanks for reading the this editorial!

I know it has been a long time since I posted, but I should be able to write 2-3 long essays/editorials in the next couple of weeks.

What are your thoughts on global warming? Comment below!

LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW!

Thanks, Bhavik

Find out what is plaguing the Ontario post-secondary School System in this 4 part series, and how to combat it!


References

  1. World Wildlife Fund
  2. ThoughtCo
  3. Wildlife in a Warming World
  4. Wildlife in a Warming World
  5. Wildlife in a Warming World
  6. Wildlife in a Warming World
  7. Wildlife in a Warming World
  8. Wildlife in a Warming World
  9. Wildlife in a Warming World
  10. Wildlife in a Warming World
  11. Wildlife in a Warming World
  12. Wildlife in a Warming World
  13. Wildlife in a Warming World
  14. Wildlife in a Warming World

Featured Image: amazingpict

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