Global Warming Effects on Wildlife
Global warming effects not only impact humans, they also affect other living things. In fact, a 2003 study in the journal Nature showed that 80% of a sampling of 1500 wildlife species are already showing signs of stress brought on by climate change. Other studies show that hundreds or thousands of species could be sent into extinction thanks to global warming.
One of the most iconic images of this global warming crisis is the polar bear rummaging through a land filled not with ice or snow, but rubbish and fires. But the polar bear is not alone. This global crisis leaves a mark that is further and wider than just one species of wildlife.
There are numerous global warming effects on wildlife. Some of these include life cycles, habitats, water sources and food sources.
One of the main global warming effects on wildlife is the destruction of animals’ habitats.
The polar bear is one good example. These creatures are losing the snow-filled lands where they have lived and thrived for thousands of years. With global warming, the snow-filled land in the north and south poles are melting away, reducing the spread of the bear’s natural habitat. With rivers and streams from melting ice drying up, the polar bears also lose their hunting grounds and some die of starvation.
Changes in climate can also lead to the destruction of places where animals raise their young. For example, it is estimated that 90% of U.S. wetlands could dry up as a result of global warming, thereby eliminating breeding habitats for animals such as ducks and geese.
For other species, the conditions in their habitats are directly linked to their life and death. Global warming is leading to warmer waters in rivers and streams, creating havoc for species like trout and salmon which require cooler waters in order to survive.
Increasing ocean water temperatures are causing coral reef bleaching in some areas, leading to the collapse of ecosystems which depend on the corals to survive. The higher carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere that is linked to global warming has also resulted in increased incidents of ocean acidification. Such events similarly destroy the oceanic habitats and kills the sea life in the region.
You may argue that animals could learn to be adaptable and move to new areas when they lose their habitats. But this does not often happen, and as habitats are destroyed, more and more species will become extinct.
Global warming effects on wildlife also include the direct impact on the natural cycles of animals as well. It is believed that many birds are now altering migratory routines in adaptation to the warmer global climate. Other hibernating animals such as bears are beginning to wake from their winter slumbers earlier now, possibly due to shorter winters and warmer spring conditions.
Global warming is also linked to intensified impact of events like El Nino which bring spells of droughts to usually wetter regions, and floods to areas that are normally dry. Such climatic changes can be very destructive. The dry spells stress plant life and inevitably the wildlife that depend on the plants for food. At the same time, the floods also destroy animal habitats and their food sources. It is not difficult to imagine how global warming effects will eventually bring about the extinction of many species of wildlife.
Hardly any wildlife species will go unaffected by global warming, however some will feel the effects if global warming more than others. The effects of global warming on wildlife are already being seen in species such as reindeer, toads, penguins, gray wolves, salmon and turtles. Many scientists believe that if people don’t get a handle on global warming soon, many more species will be joining the endangered species list.
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