What is global warming? Global warming is the long-term warming of the planet’s overall temperature. Global warming is caused by many factors such as burning fossil fuel, deforestation, the used of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and many more. These all lead to the greenhouse effect which prevents the heat from leaving the atmosphere when it reflected from the surface. The excess heat in the atmosphere has caused the average global temperature to rise (National Geographic Society, 2019). Global warming brings an impact to the living creatures like plants, animals, and humans on Earth.
The main thing I would like to discuss in this assignment is “Can Global Warming Make Some Animal Species Disappear?”
It is said that animal extinction is strongly related to global warming. According to Roger Andrews (2014), is the global average warming increases exceed 1.5℃ to 2.5℃, around 20% to 30% animals which have investigated so far will face an increase in the risk of extinction. So, I strongly agree with the statement that global warming can make some animal species disappear.
This assignment contains the explanation which supports global warming can make some animal species disappear. For example, water pollution, lack of food, loss of habitat, diseases, low rate of reproduction, survival, and growth. This assignment also contains some real case examples which happened in the Earth’s history. All the contents with references are listed down.
Water is the main element in every living beings’ diet, we cannot live without water. As a living being, animals need water to survive and some even build their shelter under water.
Global warming will cause a sharp rise in water temperatures. When the temperature of water increases, water pollution problems will increase and thus causes the habitat of marine organisms to be destroyed. According to the Watershed Academy Web (n.d.), harmful algal blooms will grow rapidly in the water sources like lake waters, beaches.
The harmful algal blooms are also called cyanobacteria or blue-green algae. These cyanobacteria may deplete the dissolved oxygen in the water. Due to the chemical response to warmer temperatures, the concentration of some pollutants such as ammonia, magnesium, and pentachlorophenol will increase. Global warming causes the water to be in the open air instead of ice-covering, this condition makes the concentration of nutrients in the water decreases (Nasim Hosseini et al. 2017). Thus create an unbalanced marine ecosystem.
As we discuss in the last paragraph, cyanobacteria is a harmful algal bloom that can lead to animal illness. The cyanobacteria can produce toxins which can kill the fish and birds. In the Oostvaardersplassen, an important bird sanctuary in the Netherlands, massive death of birds especially ducks and geese are observed to happen together with the dense surface blooms of cyanobacteria (Jöhnk et al, 2008). When the animals drink the polluted water or eat the aquatics in the polluted water, they will get sick and thus affect other living creatures too. As a result, we can conclude that water pollution can damage the entire food chain.
Polar ice caps are a platform for polar bears to hunt for food (Oystein Wiig et al., 2008). When the temperature increase, the polar ice caps melts, then lesser land for polar bears to for food. Due to less platform for polar bears to hunt for seals, they cannot accumulate enough fats to use as energy to survive over periods that seals are unavailable, leading them to death. Another example is the penguin. Penguins who live on krill suffer from the Antarctic sea ice retreat. They need to migrate far to hunt for food when they spend too much time and energy to search for food causing them less successful at breeding and raising their young. As temperature rises, the zooplankton starts to grow faster than the phytoplankton which helps to absorb the carbon dioxide in the water and able to eat all the phytoplankton (David Biello, 2009). Then, the food chain is affected as the amount of producers drop.
Drought is one of the common natural disasters which brings a lot of impact to living creatures. Global warming is said that it can increase the intensity and frequency of drought which brings serious impact on crop growth and reproduction. This is because the soil will dry up when drought occurs. Then, the crops are not able to absorb the nutrients, minerals, and water in the soil thus causing the crops to wilt and die. When the temperature exceeds the optimum temperature of the crops, yields will tail off (László Babinszky et al. 2011).
Furthermore, according to Fiona McMillan (n.d.), the rising in the concentration of carbon dioxide lowers the nutritional value of crops which means that they don’t have enough nutrients such as essential minerals and proteins to supply to the animals. The heat production of the animal is at the minimum in a thermoneutral environment, and thus the dietary energy can be used for growth and production efficiently. The unfavorable temperatures either too cold or too hot environments may lead to an increased heat production by the animal. Then the energy loss is higher, and in consequence, less energy remains for production at the same level of energy intake.
Global warming causes the animals to lose their habitat. Habitat is the natural surroundings in which an animal or plant usually lives. Habitat of animals might be on the ground, under the ground or water.
Global warming may cause the forests to put on fire when the temperature rises to extremely high. This causes habitat loss for animals that live on the ground. Animals may not able to find a shelter for them to stay. When they don’t have a fixed place to stay, they can be easily detected by their predators. They might be killed when natural disasters happen as they are unable to protect themselves and care for their next generation without their habitat. According to the Open Access Government (2019), the melting of polar ice caps causes the sea level to rise rapidly. Climate experts state that if Greenland and Antarctica are completely melted, the sea levels will rise 220 feet or more. When the sea levels rise, the probability for the flood to occur increases (Amanda MacMillan, 2016). This also contributes to habitat loss of animals.
The most dramatic effect that we can notice for global warming is the melting of ice caps. The population of polar bears is affected by the melting of Arctic sea ice which is caused by global warming. When the more the Arctic sea ice melts, the lesser the land for polar bears to stay. This also means that polar bears need more energy to swim through the sea to reach the remaining ice. The individual survival rates will be reduced as they are forced to move to mainland areas. This could affect the species in the long term. The rise in sea level also causes the shallow coastal area which is used by dolphins and whales to rear their calves to be damaged. Coral reefs provide habitats and shelter for many marine organisms (Jean-Pierre Gattuso et al., 2014). Global warming can cause coral reefs to grow slower and die. As a result, marine organisms will face the problem of losing their habitat and refuge to stay away from their predators.
This extreme weather event will also cause problems on animals health and welfare. All animals have their own thermal comfort zone, they will keep their temperatures within the range during the day. When temperature increases more than the upper critical temperature of the range which is varied by species type, the animals begin to suffer from heat stress (FAO, 1986). This is because when the temperature exceeds the upper critical temperature, the ability of heat loss reduces. High temperatures may cause heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, heat cramps, and ultimately organ dysfunction. When the body temperature rises 3 to 4 °C above normal, these heat-induced complications will occur (Nicola Lacetera 2019). Global warming may increase the contagious of parasites and diseases that will affect the animals. The warmer winters allow the parasites and pathogens to survive during the period more easily.
As sea levels increase, more salt water is introduced to the fresh water which drinks by animals. Water salination affects animals metabolism, fertility, and digestion as it adds chemicals contaminants and heavy metals into the water. Global warming may give rise to disease spreading, outbreaks of severe disease, or even introduce new diseases, which may affect animals that are not usually exposed to these types of diseases (Thornton et al., 2009). Some marine disease outbreaks have been linked with global warming. An oyster parasite spread further north along the Atlantic coast due to the high water temperatures and high salinities. Winter warming in the Arctic also contributes to salmon diseases in the Bering Sea and a resulting reduction in the Yukon Chinook Salmon. Finally, disease outbreaks in coral, eelgrass, and abalone have caused by warmer temperatures (USGCRP, 2014).
As global warming causes the temperature to increase, it may shorten the time for pathogens to grow and develop. This leads to an increased in population size as the total number of generations per year increases (Harvell CD et al., 2002). There are some pathogen which is sensitive to the temperatures, if they successfully overwinter or survive from the extreme weather events, they may lead to infections in the next seasons.
According to Dani Ferraro, RJD intern (2015), the adipose store of the female polar bears will decrease thus causing the rate of reproduction to be reduced. The loss of adipose results in the production of smaller cubs that has a lower survival rate and the female polar bears have no enough fats to invest their cubs. When the temperature increases, it causes an increase in sea level and a decrease in lake waters (Lauren DeLorenzo et al., 2017). The rise of sea level destroys the coastal habitat which is the reproductive area of the sea turtle. Global warming causes the temperature of nests to increase, as a result, the percentage of males in the nest falls significantly. The sex ratio of male drops for approximately 11.42% with an increase of 1°C increase in the air temperature. Moreover, it also brings an impact on the survival and health of hatchling. Normally, the successful incubation of sea turtle eggs occurs within a specific thermal range of 25°C– 35°C (Ackerman RA, 1997). The reduced embryonic development and altered hatchling physiology are observed at extreme temperatures. Moisture content is also said to be a factor that influences the survival of hatchling, the embryos with reduced development are being observed when conditions are too moist or too dry.
The reproduction efficiency of animal sexes may be affected by heat stress. For example, in cow and pig, heat stress affects the quality and growth of oocyte. The concentration and quality of sperms are lowered due to heat stress in bull, pig, and poultry (Karaca et al., 2002, Kunavongkrita et al., 2005, Mathevon et al., 1998). It is proved as the concentration of semen and the number of spermatozoa ejaculated by a bull is lower in summer than in winter (Methavon et al., 1998). Moreover, it also affects the pregnancy rate, the disability of embryo development, fetal growth and development (Singh et al., 2011). Besides, fetal growth is negatively affected because of the decrease in uterine blood supply and the limited maternal nutrients provided by the placenta (Collier et al., 1982).
Due to global warming, the scientists found that the rate of extinction of local populations of marine animals is doubled the rate of extinction of land-based species (Bob Bewyn, Insideclimate News, 2019). That’s because there are only fewer places in the ocean can hide from extreme heat. Sea creatures especially those that live in shallower water such as fish, lobster, and crab have already reached their thermal limits. There are already species that disappear from places they’ve been stayed for generations and longer, For example, damselfish and cardinalfish which are living on coral reefs. They already live near their thermal limits and started to disappear from some areas, which contributes to the overall decline of coral reef health. The fish species is not able to revolve fast enough to maintain their populations and they will be stuck in the warming water without refuge.
According to the Coral Reefs Alliance (n.d.), when the sea levels increase, the corals will grow slower as they are situated in the deeper region and receive lesser sunlight. The increase in sea surface temperature (SST) has caused the coral reefs to move closer to their thermal limits. Coral reefs act as an important role in the ocean as they are the places where the carbon cycle takes place. It also serves as protection against big ocean waves and places for the reproduction of many large living beings. Fish that are caught by humans either reproduce at these reefs or eat the food produced by these reefs. However, global warming causes the fish species consumed by the reefs to disappear. So, global warming contributes to the destruction of the order in the reefs means the destruction of the chain. Corals are very sensitive to temperature changes. Corals will expel the algal cells which provide them food that usually lives within their tissue in only a short period of maximum monthly temperatures. This process is known as bleaching. If the algal cells didn’t return to the corals’ tissues, they will die. For example, after the particularly strong El Nino in 1997-1998, 16 percent of coral colonies surveyed in 1997 had disappeared (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2007).
First, the orange-spotted filefish which is also known as Oxymonacanthus longirostris. This filefish is dependent on the coral reefs as coral reefs serve as their habitat. It is claimed to be highly sensitive to the warm water. The orange-spotted filefish went extinct in Japan in 1988 when the temperature of the ocean rises (Christine Dell’ Amore, National Geographic, 2014).
There was a massive destructive mass extinction event that happened in the Earth’s ancient history which was caused by global warming. About 250 million years ago, the Permian period was ended with the largest recorded mass extinction in the Earth’s history (Mike Gaworecki, 2019). Before the dinosaurs turned up, a series of volcanic eruptions are believed to trigger the global climate changes such as a huge increased in temperature because of greenhouse gases emission by the volcanic activity. It eventually leads to the Permian extinction, 96% of all the marine species perished in the event known as “Great Dying”. According to The Guardian (n.d.), the marine animals suffocated due to lack of oxygen which is required for survival in the warming waters. During the great dying event, the Earth’s temperature increased by around 10℃ which caused 80% of oxygen in the sea to be depleted, even parts of the seafloor become oxygen-free.
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