Scientist from Leeds University in U.K warns of massive plant extinction if the current trend of climate change continues in that direction. Major cause of climate change is global warming because of increased green house effect. Global warming has especially increased in the past century due to increased industrialization. This has led to increased production of waste gases in the atmosphere causing an elevated green house effect.
There are five main extinctions witnessed in the past. According to Leeds university scientists, four of these extinctions were linked to global warming as well as asteroid crushing. The most horrible ever-witnessed extinction, “the end-Permian” took place when the earth’s temperatures were exceedingly high. This resulted to extinctions of many plant as well as animal species.This shows clearly that temperature variation leads to climate change that is responsible for plant extinction. The sad note is that global warming effect is set to increase due to man’s destructive habits however; if people pay attention to risks associated with global warming, the trend will reverse thus saving plants and animals.
Originally, the earth existed in a perfect balance due to self-regulatory ability. This is explained by factors such as food webs in natural ecological niches. This balance is at stake due to man’s interference. Industrialization is a major factor leading to imbalance, which leads to plant extinctions. A major cause of plant extinction is changes in climate. Climate fluctuations destabilize the growth patterns of plats thus affecting their systems. This leads to extinction.
There are various factors behind change of climate. An example includes global warming. Examples of plants facing extinction risks include lilies, orchid, dogwoods, violets as well as roses. Another plant showing signs of extinction includes Alpine plant. Alpine thrives in cool climates. Increasing global temperatures threatens its existence. This explains why the plant is slowly progressing to cool northern parts( IPCC, 2007 ) There are numerous factors contributing to global warming. Example includes increased industrialization, which lead to green house effect.Green house effect is increase of earth’s temperature due to release of certain gases in to the atmosphere. Example of these gases includes carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide as well as methane. These gases are important because they curb loss of heat from the atmosphere thus making the earth habitable however; excess of these gases leads to increase of heat beyond limits resulting to global warming.
The green house effect
Unlike other planets, the earth has an atmosphere comprised of various gases. These gases are very important in making the earth habitable. A typical green house is composed of window panels that allow sunlight and heat in but prevents it from escaping. These houses are very important while growing horticulture plants during winter seasons. The aspect of a green house is the same when it comes to the atmosphere. The atmosphere’s gases allow sun’s heat in but restrict it from escaping. This results to increased heat on the earth’s surface. Man’s activities have led to increased accumulation of gases on the atmosphere. This acts as a blanket which heats up the world resulting to global warming.
Global warming effects
According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, global warming is set to get worse with time. Consequences of global warming touch every aspect of life. Effects of global warming are classified into primary as well as secondary effects. An example of primary effect is changed climate. Example of this includes elevated sea levels, arctic shrinkage as well as glacier retreat. All these have adverse effect on plants’ growth pattern. Secondary effects include extreme weather changes, altered seasons, occurrence of tropical diseases as well as economic slumps.
Weather has a major impact on plant growth. Deterioration of weather conditions leads to plant extinction. Global warming has a direct effect on weather. Global warming leads to occurrence of storms associated with hurricanes. Hurricanes are associated with increased evaporation leading to increased precipitation. This results to deadly storms that destroy plants. According to Kerry Emanuel, increased global warming favors evaporation to increased heat. It also leads to increased melting of snow leading to increased water levels thus the increased evaporation rate.
Hurricane storms are associated with strong winds. Winds develop due to increased atmosphere temperature. This leads to development of air currents as hot air rises above and cold air descends down. This creates strong winds, which are destructive to plant growth and existence. Increased evaporation leads to heavier rains because the earth exists as a closed system. Increased rainfalls lead to soil erosion, which leads to desertification. Very few species of plants thrive in deserts therefore; this leads to plant extinction (Stefan Rahmstorf, Michael Mann, Rasmus Benestad, Gavin Schmidt, and William Connolley. “Hurricanes and Global Warming – Is There a Connection?” Re Stefan Rahmstorf, Michael Mann, Rasmus Benestad, Gavin Schmidt, and William Connolley. “Hurricanes and Global Warming – Is There a Connection?” Real Climate).
Deterioration of local climates
Some parts of Europe have experienced some climatic changes due to global warming. This has led to melting of permafrost due to rise of temperature in the range of 1 °C to 3 °C. The effect of this is distortion of the ecosystem leading to increased bacterial activity in the soil converting these areas to be carbon sources instead of being carbon sinks.
Global warming leads to increase of air currents due to existence of a gradient between warm and cool air. This results to development of strong winds that changes Europe’s climate. Winds increases water loss from plants through evaporation. Winds also affect the rain patterns due to clouds deflection to other regions. The eventual result is development of deserts and extinction of various plant species. This explains the changing ecosystems in Europe as well as other parts of the world.
Glacier retreat and disappearance
Increase of temperature due to global warming has caused glacial retreat due to melting. This has led to occurrence of flash floods due increased water levels in rivers and lakes. ( Houghton, J.T.,Y. Ding, D.J. Griggs, M. Noguer, P.J. van der Linden, X. Dai, K.Maskell, and C.A. Johnson). Floods cause soil erosion contributing to desertification. The eventual consequence is plant extinction due to disturbance of natural ecologic conditions. Glacial retreat because increased ice flow. This leads to increased volume of water in oceans and other water bodies. This puts the world at risk of current typhoons and hurricanes which contribute in plant extinction process.
Effect of global warming on oceans
Oceans serve as CO2 reserves or sinks however; this role is slowly diminishing due to excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Accumulation of this gas within the ocean has led to water acidification. Presence of carbon dioxide in water leads to conversion of co2 to carbonic acid thus the PH lowering tendency. Some plants living in water thrive in high or medium PH levels. Increase of carbonic acid in water affect the normal ecosystem leading to extinction of such plants. Saturation of carbon dioxide in oceans has lead to increase of this gas in the atmosphere hence complexing the global warming issue.
Global warming has contributed to rise of temperatures of ocean waters. This has lowered the tendency of oceans to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Increasing ocean water temperatures has affected growth of various water plants due to altered ecosystem. This results to plant extinction. Increased water temperature within oceans has increased evaporation rate resulting to increased precipitation. This culminates to floods and desertification due to soil erosion. Creation of deserts favors plant extinction due to limited plant growth requirements.
Global warming and water scarcity
Global warming is associated with water scarcity due to a number of factors. Raised water levels in seas and oceans culminate to intrusion of salt in underground water. This affects plants along coastal zones due to increased soils. High concentration of salt leads to formation of hard pad on soils thus diminishing soil’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. This culminates to floods and erosion which results to plant extinctions.
Increased salt concentration within oceanic zones affects the natural environment. Plants growing on such areas face extinction risks since they are poorly adapted to salty conditions.
Increased salt concentration in soil promotes water loss from plant roots through osmosis. Plants adapted to grow in salty soils have salt glands that pump excess salt out. Plants which lack such adaptation face extinction risks due such changes (Del Genio, Tony; et al. (2007). “Will moist convection be stronger in a warmer climate?” Geophysical Research Letters 34: L167030). Water scarcity also arose from increased evaporation in form of plant transpiration. This causes loss of water from plants resulting to death. Effects of increased transpiration affect plants that are poorly adapted to dry environments. This leads to extinctions of such plants. (Del Genio, Tony; et al. (2007). “Will moist convection be stronger in a warmer climate?” Geophysical Research Letters 34: L16703)
Effect of global warming to thermohaline circulation
North Atlantic Drift warms up Britain and Europe as a whole. With continued global warming, North Atlantic Drift will weaken. This is due to shutdown of thermohaline circulation as a result of global warming. Shutting down of thermohaline circulation trigger cooling within North Atlantic region thus the weakening of North Atlantic Drift. Another effect behind thermohaline circulation shutdown includes development of oceanic anoxic event. Plants thriving under warm ecosystems in Europe face the risk of extinction due to weakening North Atlantic Drift. Plant Extinction possibility in Europe is live due to reducing temperatures in that region.
Global warming effect on methane hydrate
Methane hydrate also known as methane clathrate is a type of water ice containing copious amount of methane gas. This ice acts as the storage of excess methane gas within crystal structure. Global warming cause melting of methane hydrates leading to release of methane gas into the atmosphere. Methane gas has more greenhouse effect compared to other gases therefore; its release to the atmosphere favors global warming.
Apart from favoring global warming, methane gas affects atmospheric concentration of oxygen. This alters the normal ecosystem leading to both plant and animal extinction.
The carbon cycle and how global warming affecting the cycle
The earth has a natural way of regulating carbon dioxide content in its atmosphere. This ensures carbon dioxide levels don’t exceed the threshold. Ways in which the cycle controls carbon levels includes exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen between plants and animals, storage of carbon gas within ice as well as glaciers. Distortion of this cycle culminates to accumulation of gases in atmosphere leading to global warming.
Distorted carbon cycle leads to migration of organisms from one ecologic niche to another. Since plants lack locomotive ability, they tend to diminish from a habitat through extinction. According to IPCCC conference recommendation, utilization of other energy sources such as biodesel as well as solar energy will reduce effects of global warming. Using the recommended fuels will also reduce soil acidity associated with carbon dioxide accumulation. This will curb plant extinction malady.
According to IPCC conference report, global warming has a hand behind increased incidences of forest fires. This is particularly in Mediterranean Europe where Forest fires occur due to increased drought associated with decreased rainfall. Occurrence of forest fires leads to extinction of plant species following burning. Forest fires also contribute in release of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This stresses the natural carbon cycle creating a positive feedback loop. Part of this loop is rapid eradication of forest cover in Mediterranean Europe.
Global warming has some positive effects to various species of plants. These include plants that thrive in hot climates. Such plants are well adapted for hot and dry climates. Examples include cactus plant species. The dry climate associated with global warming enhances dispersal of seeds thus preventing plant extinctions. Various adaptations of such plants include reduced number of stomata and leaves to curb water loss through evaporation (Del Genio, Tony; et al. (2007). “Will moist convection be stronger in a warmer climate?” Geophysical Research Letters 34: L16703).Their roots penetrate deeper in to the ground in search of water moisture.
Due to dry climate presented by global warming, poorly adapted plants progress to extinctions leaving behind the well adapted species. The left species dominate specific habitats. (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v377/n6551/abs/377687b0.html.)
Global warming is an issue that deserves special attention due to risks associated with it. Major risks include change of climate patterns which affect plant growth, dominance as well as existence in a region. Climate change occurs due raised temperature which distorts the natural weather pattern as well as ecosystem. Plants and animals living in affected ecosystems face extinction risks due to changed weather and climate.
Climatic changes cause incidents of forest fires, increased water levels in water bodies, hurricanes, typhoons storms, shutdown of thermohaline circulation, glacial retreat as well as desertification. All these factors lead to plant extinction in one way or another.
Man is to blame for this crisis due to practices that distorts the natural earth’s regulating process. Main factor contributing to global warming is industrialization. Majority of industries use petroleum as the source of energy. Petroleum is associated with carbon dioxide as the end product. Carbon dioxide released accumulates in the atmosphere thus exceeding the atmospheres threshold. This results to the green hose effect thus global warming.
Since earth is a closed system, a step must be taken to reverse or reduce the extent in which the malady is progressing. Already such initiatives have kicked off. An example includes the IPCC conference which discussed and gave various solutions to the problem.
The first step is realizing and understanding adverse effects caused by global warming and taking measures to curb the vice. This is through se of other energy forms which have less toxic and carbon dioxide emissions an ideal example is solar as well as biodesel energy. Another effective way of curbing this crisis is formulation of laws that restricts or controls use of energy forms associated with excess toxic carbon fumes. Sensitizing people about effects of global warming through conferences and seminars will also curb the crisis.
- Hundreds of methane ‘plumes’ discovered” (HTML). Hundreds of methane ‘plumes’ discovered. The Independent (2008).
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007). Summary for Policymakers. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 7-22.
- Stefan Rahmstorf, Michael Mann, Rasmus Benestad, Gavin Schmidt, and William Connolley. “Hurricanes and Global Warming – Is There a Connection?” Real Climate.
- Del Genio, Tony; et al. (2007). “Will moist convection be stronger in a warmer climate?” Geophysical Research Letters 34: L16703.
- Peterson, T. C.; V. S. Golubev, P. Ya. Groisman (2002). “Evaporation losing its strength” (abstract). Nature 377: 687–688. Doi: 10.1038/377687b0.