Climate Change’s Consequences for Critters… And More


Tessa H. and Kelsie V.

     Forests sprinkled with hastily-cut stumps. Oceans carelessly littered with shards of plastic. Ice caps melting too rapidly, with polar bears and leopard seals watching in despair. Climate change is ravaging through our entire planet and, in its trail, a sad representation of our world. Here are some of the alarming effects of climate change on the animals with whom we share our planet.

     Deforestation is not merely a couple of trees being cut down, it actually affects many species by demolishing habitats key to their survival. The Bornean, Sumatran, and Tapanuli orangutans all play a vital role in their ecosystems, involving the dispelling of seeds. Not only are they threatened by poaching, but logging and deforestation intended to make room for plantations also endanger their existence. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are less than 105,000 Bornean orangutans, 14,000 Sumatran orangutans, and 800 Tapanuli orangutans left in the wild. To add, the Amazon Rainforest, the biggest tropical rainforest on the planet, contains so many of the earth’s species, including the Amazon river dolphin and the black spider monkey. The growing human population and logging industry is contributing to the decline of the natural beauty of the Earth and the habitats of these species.

     The situation in the Arctic is disheartening, as it paints a picture of uncertainty both for the wildlife that lives there and for predicted water levels. Now warming twice as fast as usual, the Arctic is involved in a vicious circle: it affects and is affected by climate change and impacts sea ice, glaciers, and continental shifts worldwide. The average air temperatures have increased by about 5 degrees Celsius over the last 100 years, as stated by the World Wildlife Fund. Though this may not sound like much it directly links to the migration of species. For instance, the snowy owls are facing a frosty future. They have been found in warmer areas during their migration seasons because of the rapidly changing temperatures in the Arctic. Polar bears are affected by the melting ice caps, too; it is predicted that they will starve soon. Their diet is loaded with calorie-stuffed seals, and with the chunks of ice that they used to use to find their food now merely water, they have no easy method to catch their meals. Because of this, they have to swim much farther, almost sixty miles, to travel from one piece of ice to another. This can cause them to become fatigued and drown.

     That same water bottle you used for tennis practice last Sunday is now floating in the midst of the ocean, suffocating a green sea turtle. Plastic pollution is changing the face of the earth. Satellites from space are able to view the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a collection of ocean debris in the Pacific Ocean, as it has grown immensely. Plastics have also broken up over time into microplastics that are toxic to many species. Some animals including whales, seals, sea lions, dolphins, and sea turtles are among the many kinds affected by plastic pollution.

     The consequences and causes of climate change are more than dire, and important species’ numbers are declining at a profuse rate. To learn more about this topic, you can visit “The Causes of Climate Change” by Annelie Tang and Harris Green here on The Talon to learn about how we are accelerating the process of climate change.