Extreme weather is often a result of rising global temperatures, creating what is known as climate change. Since coming to scientific attention back in 1824, gradual efforts have been made to investigate. In recent decades, this research has accelerated as we experience its impacts first-hand, leading to the 2015 Paris Agreement to push efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
The focus on emissions is crucial, as fossil fuels are the largest contributor to climate change, producing 75% of greenhouse gas emissions and 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions. These emissions are what’s largely responsible for the rising global temperature, as they trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere.
Since the agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius was adopted at COP21, individual nations have been pushing policies to achieve this. For instance, the UK government has made a commitment to produce net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In this article, we will be exploring both the maritime and land-based consequences of the rising global temperature and what these consequences mean for wildlife and human existence. We will then explore what steps have been taken to try to curb these detrimental impacts, and what steps you can take for a greener future.
An ecosystem is a biological term that refers to a community of living organisms interacting with their physical environment. For example, all the animals and plants in a forest, interact with the non-living elements of the forest (e.g. soil), and the weather conditions.
A global ecosystem therefore refers to all living animals and plants on Earth, and how they interact with the land, water, and weather conditions.
Biodiversity relates to the variety of species on Earth. It is essential to have biodiversity to have a healthy ecosystem, with a range of animals and plants. This is crucial to maintain food chains, air quality, and water quality. A lower biodiversity means that species have become extinct. Having biodiversity is essential to support all life on Earth!
Unlike historical extinction waves, the current cause for lowering biodiversity is human activity, making us responsible for making species extinct across the globe. This is because humans are the main drivers of global warming.
Below we have outlined some of the key consequences of global warming, how it impacts biodiversity in the global ecosystem, and how you can help.
Coral reefs are an essential habitat for over one million species. The reef is essential in providing their food and shelter, making them essential for species’ survival. Global climate change is one of the most significant threats to coral reefs, specifically the rising temperature.
The higher temperature causes thermal stress and coral bleaching. This is a process where the corals undergo a bleaching process and turn white. Although this doesn’t kill them, it has numerous harmful effects:
– Leaves them more vulnerable to disease
– Stunts growth
– Impacts their ability to reproduce
– Can have detrimental impacts on other species that depend on the corals
With reports that 14% of the world’s coral reefs have been lost in under a decade, the fact that severe coral bleaching can be fatal for corals means that reefs and all of the species they support are in jeopardy.
On a wider level, the National History Museum reports that the number of coral reefs has halved since the 1950s, meaning that the habitats of many species are already highly compromised. Coral bleaching is a huge risk to marine biodiversity, given the multitude of species which rely on coral reefs for survival.
Lower biodiversity means less available genes for the medical industry, which could help save human lives. It also presents huge problems for food chains, causing suffering to countries reliant on the oceans to provide food.
According to the United Nations, around one billion people globally benefit from coral reefs, both for their food and livelihoods. Their disappearance would be catastrophic, as millions would lose their main source of food and income.
Melting ice caps results in higher sea levels and is a direct consequence of the rising global temperature. Since 1900, the global average sea level has risen 7-8 inches, a figure that continues to rise.
The disappearance of ice caps will result in an increased risk of extinction for many species, including polar bears, walruses, arctic foxes, snowy owls, and reindeer. In addition, this would disrupt natural food chains. For instance, the extinction of polar bears would result in a higher seal population, which would threaten the fish population. This disruption in the natural predator-prey ratio would then filter down to humans, who would lose local fish as a food resource.
Small islands are particularly endangered and at risk of coastal flooding and salination. This means that salt from the water infiltrates the soil, which can be particularly detrimental to the growth of crops, particularly rice. Research indicates that if all the glaciers were to melt, the global sea level would rise approximately 230ft, flooding every coastal city on the planet.
Additionally, melting ice caps means less freshwater from glaciers, which has multiple uses. This includes drinking water, electricity generation, or watering crops. In the Andes Mountains and High Mountain Asia, natural glacier melt is a source of water and irrigation for several hundred million people. Whilst glaciers naturally melt gradually, the acceleration caused by global warming would severely harm these communities.
Melting ice caps therefore has huge consequences for humans and wildlife and are a crucial element in supporting the global ecosystem. Losing our ice caps reduces biodiversity, which has knock-on impacts on food chains. It also has severe impacts on water supplies and crop growth, which could be fatal for communities in these areas.
The only way to stop, or slow, the rate at which the ice caps are melting is by addressing global warming, reducing our usage of fossil fuels and creation of greenhouse gases that are trapping heat in our atmosphere.
A drought is an extended period where there is not enough rain, which risks problems to the supply of drinking water and damage to crop development.
The main impact of droughts is causing crops to fail, which limits food access. This can lead to famine, malnutrition, disease, and death. The World Health Organisation estimates that a huge 55 million people are affected by droughts each year, and states that droughts are “the most serious” hazard to livestock and crops in almost every area of the globe.
All of this is worrying considering that the Met Office predicts that a wider array of regions will experience more frequent and severe droughts, which will increase as the earth continues to heat up. As the water levels in the Amazon hit a record low this month, 50 towns and cities are now in a declared state of emergency as a direct result of drought.
This disrupts the global ecosystem, leading to adverse effects on aquatic life, plus plants and animals dependent on water. Consequently, droughts pose a threat to the biodiversity of both plants and animals, with subsequent repercussions for the stability of food chains and the survival of various animal species.
Another dangerous impact of droughts is that they increase the intensity of wildfires, resulting in large-scale devastation to wildlife habitats, communities, and more. The headlines have been dominated by stories of record wildfires in recent years. In 2022, there were fires in 26 out of the EU27 countries, the second worst on record.
In August 2023, 115 people died in Hawaii wildfires, making it one of the most fatal wildfire outbreaks of the century. Global warming is held partly responsible for the wildfire outbreak, as dry drought conditions helped fuel the flames. Compared to a century ago, 90% of Hawaii receives less rainfall, and was once a region that experience wildfires infrequently.
Just a month before, the Mediterranean was subject to wildfires which resulted in over 40 deaths. Not only are they becoming more common, but the flames are more intense and increasingly difficult to curb. The impact on wildlife and human life is devastating, destroying habitats and homes.
Fires need fuel, oxygen, and heat to spread. A lot of wildfires begin from human error, such as littering or improper use of fireworks. However, some stem from the heat from the sun or lightning strikes. As heat becomes a bigger element, fires can begin and spread far more easily thanks to an increasingly warmer climate.
Global warming is also a root factor in creating more extreme storms. As oceans become warmer, wind is given more power as it can draw in more water vapour and heat. The result of this is that there are stronger wind currents and heavier rainfall, which heightens the risk of flooding.
This means that storms will cause more damage and produce more rainfall, meaning hurricanes become even more damaging. Research indicates that for every 1 degree Celsius rise in average temperature, the atmosphere can hold 7% more moisture, resulting in heavier rainfall in the same timeframe.
For example, the floods that have hit the north of Libya are in part a result of this. According to the WWA, the heavy rainfall was made up to 50% more intense because of human-caused climate change.
Stopping the planet from heating up further is crucial to preventing the severity of these weather events, which are increasingly harming the global ecosystem with the destruction of nature’s habitats and homes.
As we have explored, greenhouse gases are the biggest contributing factor to global warming and the root cause of these worsening extreme weather and climate consequences. By switching to a renewable energy source, you’ll be reducing the global production of greenhouse gases, and help bring the UK closer to that net-zero carbon emissions goal.
Businesses have a big role to play in global sustainability and combating climate change. Tariff has a range of trusted providers for your utilities. We have a range of solutions and are here to provide support throughout your journey. Whether it’s heating systems or electricity, Tariff is here to find you the solutions that save costs and the global ecosystem.
At Tariff.com, we will help guide you to a greener future for your business and the planet. We are an energy consultancy service that helps you save money and reach your net-zero goals. Our experts will examine your current energy usage and examine where you can save.
With our energy switching service, we’ll help find the best deal for you and your business. Using our effective 5 step strategy, we make the switch to a renewable energy provider smooth and simple.
For a greener business and climate, contact our friendly team at Tariff today to receive a free, no-obligation quote.
At Tariff, we’ve made a firm commitment to helping businesses from all sectors adjust their energy usage habits. We have extensive experience in securing businesses the best possible deal on their gas and electricity, as well as preparing them for the looming 2050 deadline for net-zero emissions.
Whether you’re uncertain of your business’ future in energy, or you’re ready to make the move to a cleaner and brighter future, get in touch with our knowledgeable team today to find out how Tariff can help your business begin its green journey.