Global warming has posed concerns regarding conservation of biodiversity. The predicted change in climate has raised concern among conservationists, as it has put many species into danger of reduced population or extinction. Changes in climate has raised questions regarding the endangering of certain species like the polar bear or Pikas. With the change in climate, many species would find their present habitat to be unsuitable for their survival. Thus, global warming poses serious concern for conservationists and biodiversity. This changing situation is caused due to human caused emissions and trapping of heat (Preston, Rotenberry and Redak 2501). The change in climate and its effect on the distribution of species may have long-standing effects on future. This paper attempts to understand the causes and effect of global warming on climate and biodiversity. This paper will review secondary sources to identify the effects global warming already had on biodiversity.
Causes of Global Warming
Traditionally it was believed that the cause of global warming is carbon emission, however, in recent time it has gained little support (Plass 58). The other theories, which has gained eminence to explain global warming, are increased solar radiation received by earth, increase in the amount of volcanic dust in the atmosphere, and changes in the elevation of the continent (Plass 58). Though the scientists have validated no satisfactory or confirmatory reason, it can be said that no one reason can be responsible for the present global warming. The most convincing of the arguments posed as the cause for global warming, is increased carbon dioxide emission. It is argued that if the atmosphere only comprised of oxygen, nitrogen, and argon, the earth’s climate would have been much colder, but due to the presence of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and ozone absorb the infrared and thus increases the heat in the atmosphere. Thus, Plass concludes, “The infrared absorption properties of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and ozone determine our climate to a large extent.” (58)
Why the carbon dioxide theory is more convincing a reason for global warming and not the other reasons? Plass has answered this question:
“Changes in the average elevation of the continents clearly cannot be used to explain any variations in the climate over a period of ä few centuries. However, the volcanic dust theory predicts appreciably lower temperatures for a few years following volcanic activity that throws large quantities of dust into the atmosphere … the carbon dioxide theory is the only one that predicts a continually rising average temperature for the remainder of this century because of the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a result of industrial activity.” (Plass 67)
Global warming is a process of man-caused emission, which has led to widespread change in the climate. The world is becoming hotter with every passing day. Research ahs shows that the world is becoming a hotter place and few of the indicators for the increasing heat are decreasing snow levels (Casola, Cuo and Livneh), change in climate in equatorial Indo-Pacific belt (Ihara, Kushnir and Cane), and rising of the sea level and carbon dioxide emission (Plass). Casola et al. has shown that due to rise of global warming and increase in the heat in the climate there has been a decrease in mountain snowpack. The approach taken is to estimate the impact of the global climate change to temperature sensitivity during the spring and multiply it to punitive past and future temperature to estimate the temperature rise in the northern hemisphere (Casola, Cuo and Livneh 2759). The study shows that the temperature rise in the northern Hemisphere the temperature has risen, and the water level has increased so far by 8 to 16 percent. It is expected to further increase to 11 to 21 percent by 2050 (Casola, Cuo and Livneh 2770). This article provides an importance insight into the increasing water levels and the reducing snowpack that is expected to increase the world climate.
Ihara et al. have studied the change in climate in the Indo-Pacific belt. The study is based on the model submitted by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report. The study shows that the central pacific belt shows highest degree of cooling or least warming whereas the rest of the part around the equator has experienced substantial climate change (Ihara, Kushnir and Cane 2692).
Thus, there has been a considerable change in the climate of the world and that is due to the global warming effect (Casola, Cuo and Livneh; Ihara, Kushnir and Cane; Plass). Climate change ahs brought about changes in the water level and increased heating or cooling in certain areas of the globe. This has brought forward significant change in the biodiversity. This effect of the change in climate due to global warming ahs been discussed in the next section.
Effect on Biodiversity
Global warming has posed an immense threat on the existence of the species. It has changed the population density of many species leading them towards extinction. Preston, Rotenberry and Redak in their study have shown how global warming induced climate change has experienced habitat shift for endangered species. The study shows that the change in the habitat and the sensitivity of the species to adapt to changing temperature and precipitation (Preston, Rotenberry and Redak 2510). The study showed that some species are very sensitive to changes in temperature or rainfall, and therefore become susceptible to climate change. For instance, California Gnatcatchers and Quino Checkerspots are sensitive to change in precipitation by 150%, however, less sensitive to decrease in precipitation (Preston, Rotenberry and Redak 2510). Further the study also shows that the distribution of the species change with changes in climate (Preston, Rotenberry and Redak 2512). Further, the study also states that with very high degree of rain, the postdiapause larval development is disrupted, while with scant rainfall, causes lack of food resources for the larvae. Such extreme conditions, it is believed, can lead to extinction of the species (Preston, Rotenberry and Redak 2512).
Another study conducted by Li, Hilbert and Parker with rapid climate change, amd its effect on natural habitat (256). It is a case study of the adaptation process of grey-headed robin (Heteromyias albispecularis) to the changing world climate. The study showed that change in temperature is the primary reason that causes loss of habitat. The second reason for the endangerment of the species is change in precipitation level. Thus, with climate change, habitat become sparse, and therefore affects the survival possibility of the species, thus, reducing their chance of living considerably.
Global warming ahs endangered biodiversity to a great extent. It has affect the species population as well as their distribution. The near extinction of many species raises concern regarding how global warming can be stopped. For this, it is important to understand the reasons responsible for causing global warming. Research primarily indicates that global warming is the consequence of increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which increases the temperature. This increase in temperature has led to climate change all over the globe. Species and habitats are in a constant process of adapting to the changing climate, but at times, the changes are so quick and extreme that some species fail to adapt and fear extinction. Thus, conserving of the habitat and maintaining the ecological balance are the key concern of policy makers today.
Casola, Joseph H., et al. “Assessing the Impacts of Global Warming on Snowpack in the Washington Cascades.” Journal of Climate 22 (2009): 2758-2772.
Ihara, Chie, et al. “Climate Change over the Equatorial Indo-Pacific in Global Warming.” Journal of Climate 22 (2009): 2678-2693.
Li, Jin, et al. “How do species respond to climate change along an elevation gradient? A case study of the grey-headed robin (Heteromyias albispecularis).” Global Change Biology 15 (2009): 255–267.
Plass, Gilbert N. “Carbon Dioxide and the Climate.” American Scientist 98(1) (2010): 58-67.
Preston, Kristinel, et al. “Habitat shifts of endangered species under altered climate conditions: importance of biotic interactions.” Global Change Biology 14 (2008): 2501–2515.