In a world full of distractions that keep our attention away from pressing issues (Facebook, Instagram, reality television, and the overall day-to-day attitude of surviving), oftentimes we don’t pay attention to the negative effects our lives have on the climate until some kind of natural disaster is shown on the news.
We’ve seen the reports of devastating floods, severe droughts in unexpected areas, and extreme shifts in climate in many areas where such changes are unexpected.
The news shows people displaced from their homes, becoming “victims” of wild animals now roaming in residential neighborhoods, and feeling the uncomfortable effects of unanticipated weather. With all of the clear signs of changes occurring on our planet, it’s time that we all pay attention and make a change for the better.
The Realities of Global Warming
According to an overview report with the Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov), the average global temperature has risen more than 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the century, and “the average temperature in the Arctic rose by almost twice as much”. It may not seem like a huge increase, but our planet’s ecosystem operates on a very delicate balance. Even a slight change in temperature can result in drastic climate changes worldwide.
As of 2014, there have been reported incidents of melting glaciers in the Arctic, Antarctic, and mountains of South America, as well as increases in ocean temperatures and varying precipitation patterns worldwide. This means that places that normally get a certain amount of rain may be getting much less, while areas that do not normally get much rainfall may see a striking increase.
On top of the heat waves, floods and droughts that plagued the planet continuously in 2012, there are other pressing issues that cannot be ignored. Different areas of the world have been hit with unexpected colder climates, which not only affects wildlife, but also our daily lives.
The Effects of Climate Shift of Wildlife (And Us)
Wildlife also is dependent on the delicate balance in their ecosystem. Any change can shift them into areas where they are able to hunt, have water, and raise their offspring in an optimal temperature.
The melting of the ice caps affects the populations of animals like penguins, polar bears, and other fish in that area that need cold water to survive. Why? The lack of available land for the animals results in a decrease in population. It also takes away the hunting grounds for wolves, polar bears, and other animals that normally thrive in that area.
Have you ever wondered about those news reports that talk about bears, wolves, or mountain lions reported in residential areas? A change in climate can result in lower food availability, causing these animals to have to go further outside of their normal hunting grounds. They have to travel farther to search for food for their young, and find themselves foraging for food in areas where people live. This is not their fault; like us, they are simply trying to survive and find food for their young.
Everything is a chain effect. Flooding can result in land erosion and lower the quality of the water, killing off fish and other animals. The animals that eat those fish now find their food supply greatly decreased. They now have to migrate to new areas in hopes of finding a reliable food source to raise their young.
What Can We Do?
The first step is being aware and actually caring about what goes on with our planet. Take a few moments out of your day to educate yourself on the effects of global warming, and what it means for us presently and further down the line.
We share this planet with many species, but our actions have contributed the most to the breakdown of the delicate ecosystem. Learn about what your “carbon footprint” is and how you can reduce it.
Don’t be afraid to speak up. The people who make the laws, run the factories that pollute our planet, and invent machinery that promote more pollution are, in fact, dependent on us and our money. Let them know that you want them to become more eco-friendly, or else you will support and spend your money with companies that are.
Over the course of a few decades, we have done a lot of damage. However, in your lifetime with a few minor changes, it can be repaired if we all work together at being better Earth citizens.