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Global warming has been a blossoming topic throughout our nation for some time now. It has developed into a major issue due to the various ways it affects the many species that inhabit our planet. Each day more wildlife is added to the already long list of endangered species as a result of unstable living conditions from global warming.
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A lot of people speak about global warming but not many actually understand what it means. For Earth to sustain life it relies on the “greenhouse effect”. The Earth’s atmosphere contains natural “greenhouse gases” that capture warmth and keep the planet able to support life. When industry began to take off excessive greenhouse gases were being emitted due to the burning of fossils fuels from cars, factories, planes, etc. The surplus of these gases can remain in the atmosphere for many years and build up a thick layer of heat around the earth. “The result is that the globe has heated up by about one degree Fahrenheit over the past century—and it has heated up more intensely over the past two decades”. (Environmental Defense Fund)
For some people this may not be much of a bother but to wildlife throughout the earth, it’s a matter of life or death. The basics an animal needs to survive are simply food, freshwater, shelter and the right temperatures. Global warming has an effect on each of these necessities of life. Change in climate affects food sources for species that migrate, such as a bird that’s food (flowering plant, insects, and seeds) have either not hatched or bloomed or have too early. “Milder winters cause seasonal food caches to spoil, so wildlife species like the Gray Jay depending on food stores to survive the winter are left without sustenance. ” (National Wildlife Federation) Climate change also causes ice to melt in arctic areas resulting in loss of hunting grounds for polar bears. The warmer water temperatures harm many species that need cold water to survive such as trout, salmon, etc. “Rising ocean temperatures have already caused massive coral bleaching, leading to the collapse of these ecosystems which sustain huge numbers of fish.”(National Wildlife Federation) Flooding leads to more erosion, which results in the reduction of the quality of water therefore harming aquatic life and other wildlife who consume the water.
On the other hand droughts can also be a result of global warming. Rising temperatures result in more evaporation, which causes faster creation of clouds and rain fall which means some areas will greater concentrations of rain which of course leads to flooding and some will receive less which brings us drought. This led to the depravation of animals from water and kill plants that are needed by wildlife for shelter and sources of food. They can also dry up wet lands used by migrating species for breeding such as geese, ducks, etc.
Arctic areas are the most commonly thought of affected areas from global warming. Such as when most people picture animals affected by global warming they automatically think of the polar bear. Although the polar bear and other arctic wildlife are highly affected, there are many other species affected all throughout the planet. The Beluga Whale just like many other species are on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) list of the most affected animals of Global Warming. Others include Ringed Seals who have been influenced by the melting of ice resulting in them having to relocate to other areas to raise their offspring or the Arctic Fox who now face hunting competition from Red Foxes. Some have been affected by acidification such as the Staghorn Coral whose skeletons dissolve due to the change, and Clownfish whose sense of smell is affected which hinders their ability to protect themselves from predators. On the WCS (Wilderness Conservation Society) list, Koala bears feed off the Eucalyptus tree which’s leaves nutritional value is declining because of the escalating levels of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. Flamingos are suffering from the decreasing size of their habitats in tropical and semi tropical areas. And the Hawksbill Turtle whose reproduction is being affected by the rising temperatures of the beach sand in which it lays its eggs. Warmer temperatures cause dramatic imbalances in the sex ratios of turtle hatchlings. (All About Wildlife)
While many people assume they cannot make much of a difference, there are many ways you can help the continuation of global warming each day. Simply changing a light bulb in your home can make a huge difference. If every household in the United States replaced one regular light bulb with an energy-saving model, we could reduce global warming pollution by more than 90 billion pounds over the life of the bulbs; the same as taking 6.3 million cars off the road. Replacing your incandescent bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescents, doesn’t only good for the environment, it can also save money on eclectic bills and light bulbs.(Union of Concerned Scientists) Another way to help prevent the expansion of global warming is merely unplugging a rarely used freezer or refrigerator. Just this quick and easy action can reduce the average family’s carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 10 percent. An additional quick and easy way to help the environment is planting a tree. “In addition to storing carbon, trees planted in and around urban areas and residences can provide much-needed shade in the summer, reducing energy bills and fossil fuel use.”(Union of Concerned Scientists)
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In conclusion, while were driving down the road burning more fossil fuels, global warming is expanding day by day increasing the “blanket of heat” surrounding Earth’s atmosphere. It brings various negative effects on all types wildlife and their environments all over the planet. While we cannot manage to completely reverse what damage has already been done, if we all made a few simple changes in our own everyday lives to prevent the extension of global warming we could save species from all over the world from extinction.
- “Basics of Global warming| Environmental Defense Fund.” Home | Environmental Defense Fund. Web. 22 Sept. 2011. < http://www.edf.org/climate/basics-global-warming?gclid=CKzo9tDlsasCFUkCQAodpTMQgg >.
- “Effects on Wildlife and Habitat – National Wildlife Federation.” Home – National Wildlife Federation. Web. 22 Sept. 2011. < http://www.nwf.org/Global-Warming/Effects-on-Wildlife-and-Habitat.aspx >.
- “Global warmingand SOUTH CAROLINA.” National Wildlife Federation. 30 Jan. 2009. Web. 22 Sept. 2011. < http://www.nwf.org/~/media/PDFs/Global%20Warming/Global%20Warming%20State%20Fact%20Sheets/SouthCarolina.ashx >.
- Warming, Global. “Species Most Endangered By Global Warming.” Top 10 Endangered Species & Wild Animal Facts — All About Wildlife. 17 Dec. 2009. Web. 22 Sept. 2011. < http://www.allaboutwildlife.com/endangered-species/species-most-endangered-by-global-warming/4256 >.
- “Ten Personal Solutions to Global Warming.” Union of Concerned Scientists. 17 May 2006. Web. 22 Sept. 2011. < http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/what_you_can_do/ten-personal-solutions-to.html >.
Honestly, I chose this topic because of all the commercials I see on television of the endangered polar bears. I believed that global warming was just an issue in arctic areas such as Alaska. Little did I know even here in South Carolina our wildlife suffers from global warming on a daily basis. I also assumed global warming was caused from just factories, cars, etc. I had no clue even I could change a little aspect in my life and make a difference, such as with the light bulb. I personally believe if everyone was aware that they could make such an impact, as a nation, we could all make a difference in the continuation of global warming.
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