Boden et al disclosed that every year, just under two trillion pounds of CO2 is released in the environment. If each pound of that figure could be converted into a single Jamaican dollar, it could finance the country’s economy for over two years. This staggering amount of greenhouse gas is a direct benefactor to climate change. According to the IPCC, climate change can be defined as a shift in both the average temperature across the world and in the weather conditions of a particular area or region. It is a necessity in the acceleration of the acidification of the ocean, destruction of vast areas of forestry, and the melting of ice at the polar caps. Subsequently displacing the organisms that inhabit these environments and disrupting the ecological communities that reside within. The constant increase in all factors prevalent to climate change will leave the Earth uninhabitable if the procedures put forward to reduce the factors are not upheld.
The biodiversity existing within the ocean is one area that is at risk of being significantly reduced, or even wiped out as a result of the changing climate. US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “Because of Climate Change, the chemistry of the ocean is changing. And if it continues a significant chunk of marine life may die out because it can no longer survive”. The threat climate change poses to the ocean manifests itself as the acidification of the ocean and the increase of the its temperature due to an increase in the temperature across the planet. Research conducted by Lenton, et al has shown that over 30% of all greenhouse gases that are released worldwide is absorbed by the ocean. When carbon dioxide is mixed with ocean water, the reaction produces a compound known as carbonic acid. This causes a shift in the pH balance of the ocean from slightly basic towards neutral, known as ocean acidification. The resulting effects are the calcification and dissolution of the food producing organisms such as corals and plankton. Which in turn adversely affect the organisms further down the food chain. The warmer oceans have also proven to be a major obstacle for marine life as they have evolved to thrive at a specific environmental temperature, which is now rapidly changing because of climate change.
Equally as important, the consequences of climate change are transforming the environment and weather conditions under which forests thrive. According to a study conducted by Rustad, et al., climate change has slowly increased the frequency and magnitude of certain weather events such as; floods, droughts, and storms. This, in turn, has affected the various plants and animals which are sensitive to changes in the environment. An increase in naturally occurring disasters such as fires and floods have led to the loss of vast areas of forestry, turning once lush forests into barren wastelands. Other changes such as the amount of precipitation have altered the environment to one in which the plants of a particular region are not adapted to survive in. This loss of habitat has affected the abundance and distribution of forest-dwelling animals who are reliant on the forest for food and shelter, as studies have shown that the population of certain animal species is directly related to the availability of resources. If the consequences resulting from climate change are not curtailed, it could lead to the irreversible loss of unique plant and animal species, permanently disrupting the ecological communities within forests.
In like manner, climate change has also reconstructed the physical and ecological structure of the polar regions. With not even the animals of the remote tundras being spared from its detriments. According to a study conducted by Constable, et al. has found that there have been changes in the marine ecosystems directly in response to the rising ocean temperatures, and the reduction in the amount of ice present at the polar regions. Life on the polar caps is heavily dependent on the presence of sea ice. As such, the rapid melting of the ice sheets attributed to the rising temperatures caused by climate change has caused a widespread response in the ecosystems of these regions. There has been a shift in the type and distribution of marine animals that dominate the polar caps, with a decrease in certain species that are heavily dependent on ice. The rising sea temperature has not only changed the availability of the ice sheets which they use for shelter and reproduction, but changes in the food producing community have resulted in a reduction in the food being produced. Which directly impacts the ability of the animals to thrive in the frigid environments of the Arctic.
In concluding, climate change has proven to be a major threat to the Earth as we know it. Affecting both the biosphere and composition of the planet’s natural environments. Experts have predicted that if CO² emissions are not reduced soon, the chain reaction set in motion by the death of the food producing organisms and the loss of habitats could wipe out a significant amount of the Earth’s biodiversity. And that even emissions were sufficiently reduced, it would take thousands of years to reverse the damage that has already been done.
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