You probably have heard of global warming, also known as climate change. In fact, these two terms have been all over the news for the past few years, and their effects are felt by humans across the globe. However, did anyone consider the effects of global warming on animals? Animal species vary, and each one of them is feeling the effect of climate change. Global warming is a result of many things – natural phenomena and human exploitation. Examples of natural phenomena causing climate change or global warming are drought, wildfire, cyclones, and floods. Excessive use of greenhouse gases can also contribute to global warming.
A noticeable destruction of the coastal ecosystems
Global warming has a drastic effect on the coastal ecosystems. The seas are rising, which has displaced thousands of people along the coast, which has a negative impact on the wetland ecosystems. Wetland ecosystems play a vital role in protecting coastlines from flooding and are beneficial for storing carbon, which plays a major role in mitigating climate change. Climate change has a destructive effect on coastal wetlands, which threatens animal species, especially marine life.
Habitat loss in the polar regions
Antarctica, the coldest continent in the world, is losing three times as much ice today as it was many years ago. The pace of melting ice has something to do with climate change. It leads to fragmented habitats for animal species that primarily depend on ice for survival. It includes polar bears, caribou, and penguins.
The significant change in climate
The earth cries for help. It gets warmer and warmer, making it a less conducive place to live in for some animal species. If this wasn’t addressed at the soonest possible time, there would be a drastic effect not only on humans, but also on animals and every living creature on earth. There are many signs that climate change is getting out of hand, such as rising ocean temperatures, rising mean temperatures, a significant rise in sea level, increased acidity of the ocean, melting of ice in the Antarctic and arctic regions, and the reduction of alpine glaciers.
A significant thing to note, though, is that climate change is primarily caused by humans. A significant rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide, methane, and greenhouse gases in general causes excessive warming of the earth. The sad part is that climate change is the primary driver of extinction. Hence, there is a growing need to educate everyone about the effects of climate change on every living being on earth.
This article aims to give you insights into the effects of global warming on animals. We will tackle how global warming affects various animal groups and what we can do about it. The primary scenarios that could result from global warming, and later on affect animals in many ways include the following:
Effect on animals’ biodiversity
Animals’ biodiversity can be greatly affected by global warming. Perfect examples of this are migratory and non-migratory animals. As global warming continues to rise, the species’ populations will go into extinction in the near future. It is a well-known fact that the earth is becoming increasingly warmer over time, which has a significant impact on the ecosystem, particularly migratory and non-migratory species such as birds, fishes, whales, and bats, to name a few.
Loss of habitat
The earth’s rising temperature negatively affects animals’ access to food and water, along with vegetation and many more. There is an imbalance in the ecosystem, making it uninhabitable for some animal species. Hence, these animals will have no choice but to migrate outside their usual habitat in search of a more conducive place to live in. While some animals make it to their new destination, the majority die off during migration.
Another obvious effect of global warming is the rising incidence of natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts. This natural phenomenon leads to catastrophic loss of life in both people and every living creature.
As climate change continues to take its effect, conflict between humans and wildlife intensifies, primarily because of extreme climate conditions and loss of habitat. This phenomenon results in wildlife and people sharing crowded spaces; hence, conflict arises. People and wildlife would compete against each other in search of food, water, and other resources. Most of the time, it is animals that are most affected.
Shifting life cycles
Global warming affects the animal’s natural habitat, thereby causing a significant shift in the animals’ various natural cyclical events. A perfect example is migratory birds. As global warming intensifies, migratory birds delay their migration as well as their reproductive routine. They wait for favorable circumstances before reproducing or migrating, which has a drastic effect on their life cycles.
The threat of extinction
The shifting life cycle, human-wildlife conflict, and loss of habitat can lead to animal extinction. Some animal species that are in the verge of extinction include whales, West African Black Rhinoceros, Great Auk, Baiji White Dolphin, Stellers Sea Cow, Dodo, Woolly Mammoth, Tasmanian Tiger, Pyrenean Ibex, Passenger Pigeon, and Sabre-toothed Cat.
Climate change and what can we do about it?
Although climate change is getting out of hand and continues to worsen with time, it does not necessarily mean that we can’t do anything about it. In fact, there are many things we can do to preserve the earth and especially the living creatures that are on the verge of extinction. So, what can we do to combat climate change?
- Carbon dioxide emission reduction – Don’t you know that animals and their habitats play an important role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the air? Plants and trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere, which plays a vital role in stopping climate change and maintaining a healthy ecosystem. A healthy ecosystem leads to an even more beautiful earth, such as reducing the occurrence and impact of natural disasters, providing a buffer against flooding, filtering of the water system, improving the richness of soil, and supporting biodiversity.
- Help nature to recuperate – Another way of combating climate change is by helping nature. How is it possible? Well, there are many ways to help Mother Nature, but some of the most effective ones are the following:
- Provide carbon sinks – It helps a lot in combating climate change, especially in places like wetlands, forests, and tundra. Actively take part in restoring and conserving coastal species such as corals and mangroves. Such things do not only provide a livelihood for humans, but also protect humans and animals from the drastic effects of natural events like tsunamis and storm surges.
- Reduce the use of energy and cut on bills – You might not notice it, but don’t you know that even a small act can have a huge impact on lessening the effect of global warming? By simply using less energy, you are reducing your carbon footprint, which will benefit not only Mother Nature, but your pocket too, for you will be able to save money on energy bills. These simple activities can help reduce energy consumption:
- Turn down the temperature of your heating system.
- Make sure you turn off your appliances when you are not using them.
- Use LED or low energy lights.
- Purchase a water-efficient shower head as a means of conserving water.
- Ensure your home is energy efficient, such as by making sure your home has proper insulation.
- Protect green spaces such as trees help in absorbing carbon dioxide, which is helpful in lowering air pollution. Greens also play a vital role in temperature regulation by means of cooling urban areas. We all know that urban areas are highly populated and overcrowded. They also help in reducing floods by absorbing rainwater. Animals can benefit from greens too, as they can be used as a habitat for species like birds, insects, and amphibians.
- Facilitate planting of trees. Millions of trees are needed to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the air, thus, making the earth less warm and a more conducive place to live in for all living creatures.
- Create simple green spaces – You don’t need to spend a lot of money to create your own green spaces at home. You can start by adding potted plants to your balcony or window sill. If you have outdoor space, it would help a lot if you were to plant carabao or Bermuda grass. Do not replace it with concrete pavement.
Climate change aka global warming is an issue that has been going on for many years now. It has become one of the biggest problems of humans. However, as time passes by, global warming starts to deteriorate causing drastic effects to every living creature, especially animals. Climate change is a threat to humans, animals, and flora and fauna. In other words, it affects all forms of beings and aspects of the earth. It only goes to show that climate change is a global phenomenon and if we want to make the earth a conducive place to live for every bit of breathing creature, we have to act now. Each and every one of us should be a part of change, after all, we only have one planet, and nobody will take care of it but we – the stewards of the earth.