2015 had unprecedented record weather spikes of the sort that the world had never seen before. As a result, plants and animals alike are struggling to survive. It’s quite easy to forget about the outside world and what a real impact global warming is having on the environment. Most of us only notice a temperature change here and there, but something devastating is happening right before our eyes – unfortunately most of us can’t even see it. Sea levels are rising, plants are dying, the ice caps are melting, and animals’ lives are in danger like never before.
Animals Which Hibernate
Animals which hibernate do so for several reasons. The first, and largest, reason is to increase their chances of survival based on the amount of food that will be available to them. The early melting of snow forces many animal species out of their hibernation prematurely, which means that animals have to try to scavenge for food longer during the year. In addition, numerous animals are only able to eat a very strict diet. Some edible plants only bloom during certain times and temperature ranges in the year. So, if an animal’s main source of food is not available yet or stops blooming months before the animal is able to hibernate once again, they may be facing life or death.
The second piece of information to note about hibernating animals is the fact that while some creatures feed on plants, others are carnivorous or omnivorous. This means that they have to rely on other animals making it through the extreme hot and cold that comes along with global warming. If the prey are unable to find enough food to survive and feed their young, then it comes down to more or less of a “butterfly effect” that could potentially affect the entire food chain and ecosystem in that area.
Climate Specific Species
Other critters around the world may see their homes completely destroyed due to global warming. For example, the Antarctic zones are home to over 60% of the world’s seals. However, Antarctic ice caps are melting faster than ever. Scientists have been gauging the amount of destruction year over year and research shows that from 2000 through 2009 little change could be seen in the caps. Fast forward to today and the area is melting faster than ever. Scientists estimate that the caps are shedding about 60 cubic kilometers of ice into the ocean each year or about 70,000 Empire State Buildings of ice annually. The ice caps have lost over a fifth of their thickness since the 1990s – less than 30 years later. At that rate it isn’t outlandish to think that the caps could be completely gone in the next century, especially when factoring in the exponential rate at which the caps are melting currently. This means that a majority of the seal population will either become extinct or be forced to migrate to unfamiliar territory.
What’s more, many species of animals have been forced into migration when this type of behavior is not instinctual for them. Being forced out of their natural habit is not only dangerous for the animal itself, but disrupts the entire circle of predator versus prey in that region. Moving beyond their area of comfortability pushes animals into frightening situations with new predators in an unfamiliar territory. Animal parents may lose their ability to find proper nutrition, a safe habitat for themselves and their young, and defend their families from strange beasts and poachers.
For these reasons alone it is extremely important to be a conscious consumer. Even small changes to your mode of transportation, the types of foods included in your diet, or reducing the amount of waste in your home has a massive impact on the environment at large. Understanding the type of footprint your lifestyle is leaving on the world is the first step towards making the world a more habitable place for centuries to come.
[About the author: Trisha is a freelance writer from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan and promotes an all around healthy lifestyle. You can check out her block thatdangvegan.com and find her on Twitter @thatdangvegan.]