Global Environmental Changes
Many scientists suggest that the Earth will face irreversible negative changes if the current tendency remains. By the current tendency, they mean global warming and human-induced climate change overall. Ozone layer depletion, the rise of temperature, acid rains, sea level change, and frequent natural disasters occurred as a result of burning fossil fuels, greenhouse gases emissions, deforestation and other human actions. These climate changes may have long- and short-term effects on the biosphere, such as extinction or shortage of many species of both flora and fauna, alteration of biodiversity and a shift of natural habitat.
Global warming that appeared because of human activity may have detrimental long-term effects on the biosphere such as complete destruction of natural habitat for many organisms and extinction of a significant number of different species, including endangered ones. Due to the growth of average temperature, glaciers melt and make the sea level rise. NASA scientists claim that since 1880, the sea level has increased by 20 cm, and unless the situation changes, it will become from 1 to 4 feet higher by 2100 (NASA, n.d.). If the amount of seawater grows, significant territories, such as Indian mangrove forests, will be flooded (UNESCA, n.d.). They cannot regenerate in short term; therefore, the rise of sea level will affect the biosphere for a long time. Bengal tiger, Indian python, estuarine crocodile, and other animals will disappear (UNESCO, n.d.). In addition, the melting of land ice changes the salinity of seawater. Some organisms can survive only in certain salinity; therefore, if it decreases because of fresh water from glaciers, they will die.
Another long-term effect of climate change is the shortage of biodiversity. According to Camille Parmesan, the rise of temperature forces animals to relocate to colder places to live in conditions that are normal for them (as cited in Williams, 2013). However, many species cannot shift their natural ranges because they are dependent on certain conditions – sea, mountains, ice, etc. Apparently, these organisms will become extinct if climate continues to change and, therefore, biodiversity will alter for a long time or forever since people will not be able to enlarge the number of animals or plants that do not exist any longer.
Human-induced climate change effects are frequently regarded as long-term ones; however, the biosphere suffers from the short-term consequences of global warming as well. Temperature instability and high evaporation cause storms, hurricanes, acid rains, and other natural disasters (The National Academy of Sciences, 2009). Even though these weather conditions do not directly lead to flora and fauna species extinction, they often affect natural habitat of these animals and plants. Some organisms can survive only in certain territories and, if conditions in these areas alter due to storms and hurricanes, these organisms will become extinct. For example, Indian mangrove forests have their particular ecosystem (UNESCO, n.d.). They are not only a great source of oxygen production, which is essential for existence of all living organisms, but also serve as a home for many animals and plants that cannot survive in other conditions. If storms or acid rains destroy even a part of mangrove forests, many species will be under the threat of extinction. Some animals can change their natural range for some time and then return when the conditions change, but that is hardly possible for the majority of species. Moreover, according to NASA (n.d.), the frequency and strength of hurricanes will grow if global warming does not stop; therefore, the threat is significant. If hurricanes do not occur often, the territories will manage to renew their ecosystems since the number of plants and animals will grow. However, it is possible that the biosphere will not be able to regenerate so rapidly. Thus, even short-term effects of climate change can alter the biosphere greatly.
To conclude, anthropogenic climate change will have several effects on the biosphere. They can be reversible and non-reversible. Long-term effects are extinction of many types of organisms and the consequent alteration in biodiversity. Short-term change is the shortage in the number of endangered species. The shift of natural habitat can be both a long- and short-term change.
The National Academy of Sciences. (2009). Ecological impacts of climate change. Retrieved from http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/pd/climate/teachingclimate/ecological_impacts_of_climate_change.pdf
NASA. (n.d.). The consequences of climate change. Retrieved from https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
UNESCO. (n.d.). Climate change effects in biosphere reserves. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/ecological-sciences/climate-change/climate-change-effects-in-biosphere-reserves/
Williams, S. (2013). Report from AXA chair launch workshop on biosphere and climate impacts. Retrieved from https://workspace.imperial.ac.uk/climatechange/Public/pdfs/Report%20from%20AXA%20Chair%20launch%20workshop%20on%20Biosphere%20and%20Climate%20impacts.pdf