Animals are silent witnesses to global warming


Scientists warned that mass extinction of wild animals is likely to happen in the near future due to global warming. In fact, it has already started creating significant changes in climatic conditions that threaten species in different parts of the world.

Polar Bears

Polar bears depend on sea ice because they use it as a platform for resting, and to catch their prey – the seals. Sadly, some studies have revealed that the Arctic sea ice melt at an alarming rate of nine percent each decade, threatening the animals’ habitat and their existence. The increasing temperatures considerably cause the floating platforms to move farther apart and transform the once frozen areas of the ocean to become open water. These conditions make it difficult and dangerous for polar bears to swim long distances between stable ice. 

Unless we, humans, do something to make the pace of global warming slower, polar bears could just disappear in the wild.

 

Sea Turtles

Rising temperatures and the noticeably increasing sea levels pose threats on the lives of the world’s sea turtles.  In fact, six of its kinds are already listed among the Endangered Species, namely: the green turtles, hawksbills, loggerheads, Kemp’s ridleys, Olive ridleys, and the leather backs.

sea turtlesFemale turtles come ashore to lay their eggs at nesting beaches, make their nests under the sand, lay their eggs there, and then return to the ocean.  They have the unique ability to return to the same nesting beaches over and over for years because their memories seem to have been “stamped” with a magnetic map of the place where they hatch.

But with the melting of the polar ice caps and the rising sea levels, those beaches where they used to visit for their nesting ritual are beginning to disappear under water.

Likewise, the rising temperature consequently increases the thermal reading of the sand, which plays a significant role in determining the sex of the turtles’ eggs.  Hotter sand alters the natural sex ratios of hatchlings.  The upper limit for egg incubation is at 34ºC. But when the sand temperature becomes hotter, it results to more female hatchlings.

Moreover, extreme weather conditions associated with climate change lead to continual and severe storms, causing beach erosion, alteration on turtles’ nesting areas, and inundation of their nests.

right whaleNorth Atlantic Right Whales

Characterized as having a massive body and mostly black skin with pale patches on its head and belly, the North Atlantic Right Whale has been recorded as one of the rarest marine mammal species with an estimated population of way less than 500 individuals.

Its name was taken from the clue that it was the “good or right” whale to hunt for its slow movement, its inclination to come close to land, tendency to float after death, and for its abundant source of oil and baleen.

Historically, right whales have lived through both cooling and warming periods but the present global warming befalls at a much faster rate, exposing the cetacean to a high risk of heat stress.  Besides, climate change causes indirect impact on these whales by altering their prey resource, upsetting their calving intervals and the number of calves born each year.

Pollution is another factor that has significantly distressed the reproductive performance of the right whales and other cetaceans.

giant panda

Giant Pandas

Although, they possess the same digestive system of a carnivore, just like the other members of the bear family do, giant pandas rather live on a vegetarian diet, relying on bamboo for their main source of food. Its daily menu is ninety nine percent composed of leaves, shoots, and stems of the twenty different bamboo species. But sometimes, too, they do hunt for pikas, small rodents, and other plants.

Since bamboo has very minimal nutritional value, pandas have to eat around 12 to 38 kilograms of this staple food every day just to meet their energy requirements. This means they spend 14 hours a day eating.

Sadly though, scientists warned that some of the more than 100 varieties of bamboo are under threat of extinction due to the increasing global temperature; thus, indirectly affecting the giant pandas’ survival and existence, since these animals do not feed on all bamboo varieties.

orangutanOrangutans

Man of the Forest – that is what orangutan means!

The orangutans, Asia’s only ape, are at risk of extinction due to the effects of climate change. In fact, their number in the wild has remarkably dropped by fifty percent in the past decade. Their remaining habitats in the rain forests of Indonesia continually suffer from frequent and long droughts, and bush fires. Therefore, trees and plants no longer bear sufficient fruits, on which the orangutans feed on.

Besides, logging and mining industries are clearing the lowland rain forests, taking away their areas to find food and reducing their ability to freely move about in large radius.  Because of this, orangutans are forced to stay in one area and tend to deplete all food sources there.

How you and I may help slow down the rate of global warming

These are but few of the many animals that are silently trying to cope with the increasingly harsh environment.  But you and I can do something to reduce the rate of global warming. Here’s how:

  1. Let us actively practice the reduce, reuse, and recycle habit.
  2. Minimize the use of our heater and air-conditioning systems.
  3. Replace our regular light bulbs with compact flourescent light (CFL) bulbs to save on energy.
  4. Drive less, walk more.
  5. Advocate energy-efficient products.
  6. Consume less hot water.
  7. Switch off light when not in use.
  8. Plant a tree whenever and wherever possible.
  9. Encourage family members, friends, associates, and neighbors to conserve.
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