Earth is the only planet in our Solar System that is known to be capable of supporting life, and the damage that has been done to its ecosystems has become increasingly alarming. As temperatures have steadily risen due to climate change, many of the planet’s animals have experienced severe consequences. From the polar bear to the penguin, global warming affects a wide range of species and threatens the survival of some species altogether.
When discussing the effects of global warming on animals, birds are perhaps the group most drastically impacted by increasing temperatures. Polar climates are the warmest, but are still cold enough to sustain the food web and require geese, ducks and other migratory birds, to travel large distances to breed. With rising temperatures occurring during the migratory season, birds, particularly those adapted to arctic or subarctic climates, are unable to complete their routes, causing a decrease in their population.
The rapidly melting ice caps are also having an adverse affect on ice-dependent species, such as the polar bear. Because of their need for quality sea-ice habitats for traveling and hunting, fewer and fewer polar bears are being born due to the decrease in available resources. In some cases, due to the harsh effects of global warming, polar bear cubs have been abandoned by their mothers, significantly reducing their chances of survival.
Furthermore, marine life is also at risk. Warmer oceans are eliminating vital food sources, resulting in the death of fish, turtles and other sea creatures. As the waters become increasingly acidic, the availability of oxygen is decreasing, resulting in suffocation and the death of a wide variety of oceanic creatures. Another problem affecting marine life is coral bleaching. This is caused by a sudden rise in water temperatures, resulting in a vast amount of coral species dying off due to thermal stress. The majority of these coral species are simply unable to adapt to the changing conditions and eventually perish. Unfortunately, since coral reefs are some of the most species-rich ecosystems on Earth, their loss is a greatly troubling one.
In addition to the more obvious effects of global warming, even animals that are not directly impacted can experience unexpected side-effects. For example, bees and other insect pollinators are essential to food production, but have been drastically affected by the warming temperatures. According to National Geographic, many insect species have adapted to changing global temperatures by shifting their mating and foraging rhythms, completely upsetting the natural ecological order. Furthermore, some scientists have even suggested that rising temperatures alter the reproductive cycles of some species, making them unable to breed and reproduce.
The effects of global warming on the animal kingdom have become increasingly prevalent and concerning. As a result of rising global temperatures, species are suffering due to the disruption of their habitats and the loss of essential resources. It is important to understand that, as as a human race, we are impacted by the health of our planet and its creatures and that, in order to ensure the health of both, immediate action needs to be taken to combat the issue of global warming.