How is Wildlife Affected?

Ice Habitat Melting

Muir Glacier in Alaska is drastically melting (explained further in a previous page) due to climate change, but this isn't the only glacier experiencing this. Earthsky.org indicates that there are 19 bird species and 17 mammalian species travel to these glaciers and snow patches. Most of the time, it is to catch food that is in the glaciers.

There is wildlife, like polar bears, who depend on this kind of ice to live. If this ice melts, then the polar bears are losing their habitat. According to National Geographic, polar bears are starving due to this. These bears need sea ice to hunt for seals, which is 95% of their diet. They are suffering due to us. It is yet another impact and effect of the climate crisis.

Ocean Acidification

We know by now that humans are releasing carbon dioxide into the air. Not all of it stays in the air, though. Some of it lands on the ground, but some of it goes into the ocean. What happens then? According to NOAA, one quarter of the carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuels ends up in the ocean. It's not just plastic in there. The ocean has taken up about 525 billion tons of carbon since the Industrial Era. We can thank the oceans for taking in extra carbon and slowing down global warming, but even that has a price.

When carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, the water then gets more acidic. You might be asking, "The oceans are huge. How can us miniscule humans affect the vast oceans like that?" In the past 200 years, the ocean has become 30% more acidic.

You may find yourself asking: what's wrong with a little acidity? It affects ecosystems. The shells of some sea creatures are already dissolving. Invasive species that are more tolerant of the environmental conditions could appear as well.

Some cultures rely only on fish to survive. What happens when the acid kills the majority of them? There will be too little to eat, and the humans will be starved. Ocean acidification will also bleach coral that the ocean ecosystem depends on.

The whole ecosystem could collapse due to this.

Forest Habitat

The EPA indicates that the forest occupies about one third of the United States' land area alone. Forests have been shown to provide benefits to society like give extra oxygen, clean the atmosphere, and most importantly, regulate carbon emissions. The forest depends on a good climate to thrive, and a worsening climate can also worsen the state of the forests. The growth season is one of the many factors affected by this. Warming temperatures increase the length of this season, but they also shift the geographic ranges of trees and other forest species. This can be a problem for species that only live in exclusive areas.

Increasing temperatures also are shown to expand the ranges of certain invasive insects shown to damage forests, like the pine beetle. Pine beetles have shown to damage more than 3.7 million acres of forest in Canada and southern Alaska. When trees die, they release all their stored carbon into the atmosphere. Imagine then, how much emissions would be released by 3.7 million acres of dead trees. The carbon then goes back into the atmosphere, and temperatures warm. More beetles come, more trees die, and more emissions are released. It is yet another feedback loop caused by the climate crisis.