Global warming is an increase in the Earth's average temperature. Humans have contributed to global warming through the burning of fossil fuels, clearing land and other activities. Global warming has many damaging effects, such as changing weather patterns and the spread of disease. Humans aren't the only ones to feel the effects of global warming. It can have a devastating effect on plants and animals. Many animals already are endangered, and global warming may cause them to become extinct. Although all animals are affected by global, some are feeling the effects more than others.
The melting of ice sheets is not good news for polar bears. They need ice for survival. As the ice melts, it leaves fewer places for polar bears to hunt and raise their young. Less food to hunt and interruptions in reproduction may indicate dire circumstances for polar bears.
Melting sea ice also presents problems for penguins. Rising temperatures affect the food chain. Penguins feed on tiny organisms such as krill shrimp. These tiny organisms survive on algae, but the melting ice and rising temperatures are creating a decrease in algae. It all reverberates back to a loss of food source for penguins. Global warming also affects the breeding habits of penguins, which will lead to an eventual decrease in population.
Trout and other cold-water fish are suffering from a loss of habitat due to global warming. These fish need glacial temperatures to survive. The rising temperatures may mean doom for trout and other cold-water fish.
Global warming also creates risks for caribou. Changing seasons alter the birth cycles of many species, including caribou. The cycle of the birth season for caribou normally takes place at the time of peak food availability, but global warming causes the timing to be off. Without this natural synchronisation of cycles, less food is available during the birth season; therefore fewer offspring are being born.
The orang-utan is already an endangered species. Changes due to global warming may endanger them further. Insects flourish and increase in rising temperatures. Viruses and bacteria also thrive and spread in warmer weather, making orang-utans and other animals more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections as well as diseases carried by insects.
Animals such as the arctic fox with its thick fur and padded feet are experiencing a loss of habitat due to global warming. These animals are adapted for frigid temperatures, and global warming is pushing them further north in their search for a suitable habitat. Rising temperatures are slowly rendering the current habitat unsuitable to maintain the arctic fox and other animals that are native to such a cold climate.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, 15 to 37 per cent of plant and animal species could be extinct by the year 2050. Global warming is affecting the hibernation cycles of bears and other animals such as groundhogs. In some areas, bears have stopped hibernating. In other cases, the hibernation periods are becoming shorter to coincide with the warmer climate. Global warming changes the timing of seasonal behaviour in animals such as breeding and migration. Birds and butterflies are migrating much earlier. Many species are experiencing a decline in food sources and loss of habitat. Animals are being forced to relocate in search of food and suitable habitats. There is no doubt that global warming is having an impact on all of Earth's species.