Climate change and its effects
Listen to the Session:
When it comes to thinking as a nation about the effect of the climate change on animals and other organisms, Americans need a better understanding of not only what is going on today, but also the effects of 25 years from now.
As explained in an energy and climate change session at the Society of Environmental Journalist conference Saturday morning in Miami, there are “winners” and “losers,” but it difficult to say which species wins and which loses.
A recent study has projected that many ecosystems will need to be relocated about a quarter-mile every year for that species to survive. Another study projects that one in 10 species may go extinct due to climate change by the year 2100 due to the current emissions trajectory.
Jake Weltzin, executive director of the USA National Phenology Network for the U.S. Geological Survey, explained that the public should get involved and, by engaging, help determine who the winners and losers of the change will be. He also explained that the climate change affects what leaves come out in the spring, where animals nest and how their behaviors in reproduction can be altered.
Organisms are also affected by this change in climate and Weltzin said, in an example, when weeds come up earlier than normal, they produce their seeds earlier, therefore their patterns change. The emergence of flowers changes as well and also the patterns of migratory birds are altered.
Another example, given by Paul Tritaik, manager at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, was that the sea turtles in the Florida area who nest on the beaches become affected by climate change as seas level rises. With an increase of erosion, the eggs that they lay can be washed out and that can lead to 100 percent loss.
The temperature in the water and on beaches also affect nesting success of sea turtles, Tritaik stated. As the temperature rises, the male-to-female ratio is skewed due to the fact that the hotter it gets, the less male sea turtles come out to mate. That alone can potentially cause extinction among the species.
Tritaik made a point of saying that, as people, we should pay close attention to the change in the environment because it can impact long-term changes in the ocean current that could potentially change the Gulf Stream.
Sea turtles swim out to the Gulf Stream and ride it into the Atlantic Ocean until they become teenagers and then return to their natural habitat. If the current changes, that can hinder the sea turtles from ever returning.
Kassie Siegel, Climate Law Institute director and senior council member of the Center for Biological Diversity, posed a question.
“Are environmentalists contributing to the problem by being too passionate about the subject?”
“We know what we need to do about the climate” she explained. “We have laws, let’s use them”.