Climate change has been one of the greatest challenges of our time. We already are facing climate change issues such as rising seas, wildfires, water shortages, heatwaves, and the shrinking of ice caps in north and south poles. These changes not only have a significant impact on our ecosystems but also on the wildlife; affecting their method of living and fulfilling their right to live.
If we do not follow on doing what’s essential to safeguard our environment now, the problems that we are facing in today’s world would only grow more in years to come.
As animals rely on their environment for living, they don’t have the luxury as we do for food, water and other resources that our planet provides. Tragically, as climate change alters the condition of the planet; it’s the wildlife animals that are adversely affected.
How animals get affected by climate change?
Climate change poses disruption on animals’ natural habitats, thus resulting in loss of animal life and even extinction of certain species. Scientists say, due to climate change; shrinking of ice caps causes heat waves, forest fires and droughts. We all might have come across a famous picture of polar bear standing on a chunk of shrinking ice, stranded; this shows devastating affect of climate change on animals. Though this image might be misleading as polar bears are incredible swimmers and climate change will affect them by restricting their access to prey. Scientists agree that even small changes in temperature is enough to threaten hundreds of already struggling animals. Almost half of the animals and plant species in the world’s most naturally rich areas, such as Amazon and Galapagos, could face extinction by the end of this century due to climate change.
The main reason for global warming on wildlife is due to habitat disruption, the ecosystem where animals have spent millions of years adapting has rapidly transformed in response to climate change; reducing their ability to fulfill the species’ needs. Habitat disruptions often occur due to changes in temperature and availability of water, which affect the native vegetation and the animals that feed on it. The affected wildlife animals can at times move into new spaces and try to thrive at new places. But as human population grows simultaneously, it means many land areas might be suitable for “refuge wildlife” might get fragmented and already cluttered with residential and industrial development. Obstacles like cities and roads can prevent wildlife animals from moving into alternative habitats.
Animals affected by climate change:
From the day they’re hatched, a sea turtle’s life is a battle for endurance. For every 1,000 sea turtle eggs laid, only one turtle reaches adulthood due to natural predators and other obstacles. Even those that make it to their adulthood face numerous threats from humans, for example, they’re hunted in some regions for their meat, eggs, and shells. Harmful marine debris like oil spills pollutes their waters and beaches. And now, climate change is exposing sea turtles to even greater threats. Rising sea levels and stronger storms will erode and destroy their beach habitats.
Warming oceans will change ocean currents, potentially exposing sea turtles to new predators. Without a doubt, the temperature of the beach sand has increased significantly due to climate change; this influences the gender of their offspring during incubation which leads to a shortage of male turtles according to several studies on different locations.
African elephants’ sensitivity to climate change comes from the fact that they use environmental cues to guide their migration pattern, since they need to migrate in search of water sources and habitat. Due to increasing temperature and uncertainty of rainfall puts African elephants’ vulnerable in finding places to consume water, African elephants consume liters of water per day, as droughts have become more common with climate change. Over 200 elephants were dead in Zimbabwe in the year 2019.
Around one out of every three bites of food is made possible by bees and other pollinators, in the United States alone; honeybees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops each year. But the world’s honeybees are in steep decline, with 10 million hives disappearing just in the past three years. Since the 1970s, the population of bees has declined by a third in Europe and North America. Without bees, some crops could fail. Resulting in a reduction of food for humans and other species.
“The scale of this decline is really worrying,” said Peter Soroye, a doctoral student in biology at the University of Ottawa and lead author of the study. “This group of organisms is such a critical pollinator in wild landscapes and agricultural regions.”
The rare Atlantic puffins took a hit this year, as the number of chicks to survive a tough summer plummeted. Over the last decade, a series of “marine heatwaves” and intense storms upended their living conditions. The birds face a complex of challenges, their nests were flooded by some of the heaviest rains in a hundred years, exposing chicks to cold and predators. The fish that puffin relies are moving away from their habitat due to warming areas. This makes puffins starve and be in a weak position.
Ways to protect animals affected by climate change
Livestock production represents around 18% of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, an average meal travels 1200-1500 kilometers before reaching your table. Eating meat greatly contributes to climate change as meat products generate up to 70% of food-associated greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock requires immense amounts of feed crop, land and water, which further leads to deforestation, and ruminant livestock like cattle emit methane, another greenhouse gas that is about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Eating less meat, especially red meat, will decrease our reliance on animal-based products that drastically harm the environment.
Buy sustainable wood furniture, As more and more trees are cut down, hellbenders face an uncertain future. One of the greatest threats to forests is environmentally harmful and unsustainable logging practices — including illegal logging, which is an epidemic in some parts of the world. The furniture industry loves wood, adds the highest value to this resource and has a special responsibility to protect forests and to avoid wood products from illegal or irresponsible sources. Logging does not have to lead to deforestation or forest degradation; responsible forest management can preserve water quality, soil health, biological diversity and overall ecosystem functions. When you buy from companies that source their wood responsibly, specifically in ways that positively impact forests, you hold companies accountable for the way that they source wood and ensure that you are not contributing to global deforestation. The wood furniture scorecard ranks leading North American retailers on their wood sourcing policies and practices and can help you determine which companies you should buy from in order to protect the world’s forests, as well as hellbender salamanders.
Other means to contribute for the animals that are affected by climate change
- Opt vehicles that run on batteries
- Use bicycles to cover short distances
- Choose public transport instead of personal vehicle
- Implement solar based products that eliminates the use of electricity
Become a local advocate
An effective way to combat climate change — and in-turn help the snowshoe hare — is to urge elected officials to take action on climate change solutions. If we are serious about saving thousands of at-risk species we must invest in collaborative, on-the-ground solutions that match the magnitude of the wildlife crisis, meaning legislation needs to be passed to protect these species and combat climate change. Reach out to your governor and members of Congress to start a conversation about global warming. Demand bipartisan support in Congress to address climate change through a price on carbon, fight for climate solutions such as tax incentives for clean energy and vote for leaders that will support immediate climate action.
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