Climate Change Is Killing Iconic Species

By Emma Koeniger, SPCAI staff

As the cold weather and shorter days starts to encroach upon us we will start to leave our lights on longer and turn our heaters on. The fossil fuels used to generate this energy are responsible for 23 billion tones of CO2 annually. The carbon dioxide is making our planet warmer and our oceans more acidic. But how does this impact wildlife?

The species in the Coral Triangle, located in the western Pacific Ocean, is also feeling the effects of climate change. Not only is it home to 600 different species of coral, 2000 types of reef fish, and six species of marine turtles; it is also utilized as a feeding and breeding ground for large types of marine animals such as sharks and whales. Due to the increasing acidity of the ocean algae, which supply coral with food, are dying off causing the coral to starve and bleach. Without the coral the 2000 different species of reef fish will be without a home, feeding grounds for hundreds of other marine wildlife will be non-existent.

Polar bears rely on swimming to get them to ice flows. These ice platforms are used for hunting, resting and mating. However due to warming in the Arctic these ice platforms are getting smaller and smaller. Due to unstable ice polar bears are forced to stay on shore and rely on stored fat until they are able to go back out onto the ice. Because of this instability, many polar bears are suffering from malnutrition as their time ashore continues to increase.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Wildlife in every corner of the world are severely impacted by carbon pollution. We are capable of helping these animals by making small changes in our everyday lives by cutting down on the amount of electricity we use, eating sustainable and locally sourced food, reducing our meat consumption, and not using our cars for 1 or 2 days out of the week. If we all make these changes polar bears, the complex ecosystems of the coral reefs and so thousands of other impacted species won’t be lost to the world of picture books.