Vanishing Habitats By Simran Kaur Kohli from IIMT, Delhi
Climate change can be defined as alteration in average temperature of earth’s climate. Factors such as the excessive burning of fossil fuels and deforestation have significantly increased the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. The increase in atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases is causing climate change through out the entire planet. It is a threat to the life of all the species that are unable to adapt to the climate change or those who have lost their suitable habitats. Some species are on the verge of extinction and some are already extinct due to their inability to adapt to the changing environment.
The temperature is rising in most parts of the world due to emission of green house gases. The affect of this can be seen most in the colder region as with the rise in temperature sea ice is the first thing to melt. The majestic creatures like the polar bears have become the victim of dilapidating human activities that are destroying the environment. Green house gas emission has become the primary threat to polar bears. Melting Arctic ice has forced the polar bears to adapt to the conditions of living on land. The problem is, they are accustomed to hunting their prey on ice but when they are forced to live on land, it troubles them to hunt for food leading to starvation. Polar bears live on the sea ice and it is also the source of their food, which are the ice seals. With the depletion of sea ice not only polar bears are displaced from their home but also they are deprived of their food as when ice disappears, seals disappear too. Changing climatic conditions has forced the polar bears to change their predatory and food practices making them vulnerable.
The rising sea level caused by climate change has destroyed the habitat of tiger population along the coast of Sundarbans. Sundarbans is the largest block of mangroves forest. The mangrove forest of the Bengal tiger now joins the sea-ice of the polar bear as one of the habitats most immediately threatened to climate change.
Changing climate has disturbed the marine ecosystem altogether. Coral reefs are the large underwater structures, which are the foundation of many marine ecosystems. They are very sensitive to temperature change and with the increase in water temperature the overall health of coral reefs is declining. With the increase in quantity of carbon dioxide in ocean water, the pH level of ocean has decreased and has become more acidic which is dangerous for the coral reefs and other marine species.
Global warming has enormous impact on sea turtles. The major effects on the sea turtle population are threefold: loss of nesting spots on beaches of lower elevation due to rising sea levels; loss of coral reefs, a major food supply for these animals; and, more female sea turtles are being born, due to increase in sand temperature[i]. Larry Crowder of Duke University said, “They survived over 100 million years, through climate change and asteroid impacts, but they could become extinct in the next 10-20 years unless sufficient international cooperation is mounted to reverse this dramatic decline. There are probably fewer than 1500 females nesting throughout the Pacific Rim.”[ii]
Migratory birds have altered their stopover habitats, which affect their breeding and egg laying habits. They have changed their migration routes due to change in temperature. The survival of Asian elephants have been reduced due to climate change as they are sensitive to temperature change and their reliability on large amount of water makes it harder for them to adapt to new climate.
Climate change is causing tremendous harm to animals, which are struggling to adapt to the changing environment. It is clearly evident that humans are responsible for climate change so it is our responsibility to protect the environment. We need to stop undertaking such activities which lead to emission of green house gases and protect and preserve the animals with which we share our planet.
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