Climate change scavenging biodiversity

CONTINUOUS CHANGES in environmental conditions is known as climate change. These changes may be related to natural processes or to human activities. While biodiversity is characterized as variability among living life forms from all sources including terrestrial, marine, mountainous, desert, tropical and aquatic ecosystems. Biodiversity as a whole is highly prone to changing climate. According to 4th assessment report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007), climate change is expected to change the structure and functioning of many ecosystems, narrowing biodiversity and therefore concealing the biodiversity services required by sustainability of life on earth.

Climate changes are attributed to many factors; one of them is emissions of gases from different sources such as carbon dioxide, ozone, methane and water vapors all of them act as the glass roof of a greenhouse by trapping heat and warming the planet. The more precise term for these gases is Greenhouse Gases (GHG). According to World Meteorological Organization (WMO, 2011), the first decade of this century (2001-2010) was recorded to be the warmest decade over the globe and 2010 was ranked as the warmest year (+0.53°C) followed by 2005 (+0.52°C). During the last two decades, sixteen warmest years of the globe occurred. The global atmosphere including concentration of carbon dioxide, temperature and precipitation became suitable for biota through evolutionary changes and the approval of natural adaptive strategies. But the buffering diversity in global biota is being influenced by irregular Pleistocene (last 1.8 million years).

Rising temperature affects the Polar Regions. Melting of ice packs has reduced the habitats of polar bears, penguins, puffins and other Arctic creatures. This will cause a rise in sea level and ultimately change in the sea temperature and even currents. Such changes would have a strong impact on zooplankton, an essential part of the food chain in the ocean. Whales should be affected in particular as they require mass quantities of planktons for their survival. In addition, increased atmospheric carbon dioxide causes ocean acidification, affecting creatures and plants those are sensitive to pH imbalances.

As biodiversity reduction is underway, there will be far-reaching impacts on human population due to drifts in food chain, emergence of new pests and diseases and extinction of beneficial species. For example, losing diverse insect species will decrease plant pollination. There is also a risk of decreased ability to produce medicine as key plants are lost to extinction. The only key for survival of life on this earth is biodiversity, so human efforts must be in a direction to conserve the natural ecological balance by reducing pollution.

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