Environmentalists are not wrong in seeing a direct link between climate change and biodiversity. Though throughout the Earth’s history the climate has never remained the same and has always changed with ecosystems and species coming and going, it’s the pace of climate change, which is rapid, proving to be dangerous phenomenon affecting ecosystems and species ability to adapt with the resultant increase in biodiversity loss.
Unless some urgent actions are taken, the climate change will sure become progressively more significant threat to biodiversity in the coming decades. Loss of Arctic sea ice threatens biodiversity across an entire biome and beyond. The related pressure of ocean acidification, resulting from higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, is also already being observed.
Ecosystems and humans are already showing negative impacts under current levels of climate change which, according to environmentalists and experts, is modest compared to future projected changes that may happen if we fail to take corrective measures immediately. If the situation is allowed to continue like this in future too, we may have to see more warming temperatures, more frequent extreme weather events and changing patterns of rainfall and drought. All these extremes are calamitous having significant impacts on biodiversity.
In the last 100 years average global temperature has increased by 0.74°C due to which rainfall patterns have changed and the frequency of extreme events increased. We have been seeing changes in the start and length of the seasons, glacial retreat, decrease in Arctic sea ice extent and a rise in sea level – all having an impact on life on the earth, including human race. We have been seeing expanding desert ecosystems and changing tree lines in mountain systems, etc. and all these things can be linked to climate change. But all these happenings are just a tip of an iceberg because climate change has just started showing its impact and in the coming days we may have to be ready to see even more ruthless reactions.
As future projected changes in climate are much larger, its impact on the ecosystems too will be much greater. One study suggests that approximately 10% of species assessed so far will be at an increasingly high risk of extinction for every 1°C rise in global mean temperature, within the range of future scenarios modelled in impacts assessments. Aquatic freshwater habitats and wetlands, mangroves, coral reefs, arctic and alpine ecosystems, and cloud forests are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Changes to ecosystems as a result of climate change are likely to have significant and often negative social, cultural and economic consequences.
Existence of vast assortment of plant and animal life is a prerequisite for a healthy ecosystem. If one or more species is removed from this environment, no longer serving its niche, it can harm the ecosystem. Biodiversity also provides several benefits to people such as hurricane storm surge protection, carbon sequestration, water filtration, fossil fuel generation, oxygen production and recreational opportunities. Without a myriad of unique ecosystems and their respective diverse plant and animal life, our quality of life may become threatened. So, the time has come for the world to unite once again in its endeavour to fight against climate change to save the human race from extinction.