Climate change is a human-created phenomenon, driven by the increased levels of greenhouse gases we have emitted in recent decades. Fossil fuel combustion, energy production, and animal agriculture have been some of the leading causes of this surge. It has been estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that greenhouse gas emissions rose by 35 percent between 1990 and 2010, with the combined emissions of U.S.A, Europe, and Asia accounting for 82 percent of the world’s total emissions level in 2011. This, in turn, has driven worldwide temperatures upward. Global temperatures have increased by an average of 0.6 degrees Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit) since 1950.
The effects of climate change are becoming more and more obvious every day. Ocean acidification, for example, is putting many marine species at risk of extinction. Currently, our world’s oceans are helping us to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change by absorbing 30 percent of our total greenhouse gas emissions. However, this is causing the waters’ Ph level to drop, meaning that they may soon be unable to sustain the myriad forms of life that currently inhabit them. Coral reefs – which occupy only 0.1 percent of the oceans’ total area, yet sustain about 25 percent of all marine species – are dying because of oceanic warming and acidification. Considering the fact that the seas supply us land-dwellers with around 70 percent of the oxygen, we breathe, the death of oceanic ecosystems ought to be a matter of serious concern to us all.
In the Arctic, ancient ice sheets and glaciers have begun to disappear. Human-generated greenhouse gas emissions have even managed to cancel the next Ice Age, scheduled to take place in 50,000 years’ time! Polar bears have been driven to start eating dolphins for the first time – due to the fact that their usual food sources have been greatly reduced, and the amount of land available to them is also dwindling. A growing number of bears have been witnessed tragically starving to death because of this situation … and they are just one of many species threatened by the relentless advance of climate change.
This striking image sheds light on yet another disturbing toll that climate change is taking on our planet’s wildlife.
The image shows a group of some 35,000 walruses who were forced to crowd onto a beach in Alaska after a catastrophic loss of the Arctic sea ice on which they would normally rest rendered their usual migratory pattern impossible. In 2014, these walruses were seen gathering on a shore near Point Lay, Alaska, causing great concern to marine mammal scientists. Margaret Williams, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic Program, described it as “another remarkable sign of the dramatic environmental conditions changing as the result of sea ice loss.”
The fact that these animals have had to so drastically alter their standard migration route – thereby disrupting their natural hunting, resting, and child rearing behaviors – could seriously hinder their continued survival. Luckily, there are many ways you can help slow the rate of climate change by taking action in your daily life. To learn about some of the most urgent climate-change-related issues facing our planet’s wildlife, and how you can do your part to help solve them, see the articles below.
- 5 Reasons to Combat Climate Change – For the Animals
- Scientists Say Climate Change Has Reached the ‘Point of No Return’ – 5 Things You Can Do Today
- What You Need to Know About Ocean Acidification and How it Affects You
- Island Nations Drowning Due to Climate Change – How You Can Help With One Simple Choice
- How Saving Our Rainforests Could Determine the Fate of the Polar Bear Species
- There’s a Choice We Make Every Day That’s Causing Polar Bears to Eat Dolphins
One of the single most powerful steps you can take to lower your personal greenhouse gas footprint is to cut meat and dairy out of your diet. The animal agriculture industry has been responsible for a great deal of the environmental destruction that has been wreaked on our planet. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have conservatively estimated that it contributes 14.5 percent of the worlds’ total greenhouse gas footprint, while other organizations, such as The Worldwatch Institute, have found that the true figure could be close to 51 percent. This industry also occupies some 45 percent of the Earth’s total land area (a fact which has driven many native wildlife species out of their homes) and uses vast amounts of freshwater resources … while an estimated four billion people suffer from water scarcity for at least one month during the year.
As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, it is One Green Planet’s view that our food choices have the power to heal our broken food system and pave the way for a truly sustainable future. By choosing to eat more plant-based foods, you can help stop climate change in its tracks and ensure that our planet’s threatened wildlife species have a fighting chance of survival.
Click on the graphic below for more information.
Image Source: Business Insider