by ELLE DUMONT '20
It is no secret that Earth is slowly heating up; ice and snow are melting rapidly and sea levels are quickly rising. NASA’s website presents statistics surrounding climate change. Ice sheets have decreased by 413 gigatonnes per year and the sea level has risen 3.3 millimeters per year. Along with the consequences of more heat waves and stronger and more intense hurricanes, animal populations are endangered.
Mr. Simcoe’s APES class at Saint Ursula delves into the ideas of climate change and its effects on animals, while also studying solutions to the problem. Mr. Simcoe says that this crisis is affecting all parts of our world, but the most rapid and alarming changes are occurring in the Arctic: “Polar bears and walruses are two noteworthy species that are in immediate danger due to there being less and less sea ice, which is a crucial part of their habitat."
Polar bears have less ice and land to hunt on and are therefore forced to swim for miles on end in order to find food. The polar bear population has dropped from the exhausting swim, killing many. Similarly, the ringed seal relies on sea ice and snow dens for breeding. Early warming causes premature separation of the cub from a mother and hunting becomes harder.
Another species that is vulnerable due to the dramatic change in weather is the koala. These furry animals live in woodlands in Australia. Their thick fur and skin pose as an issue in the rising temperatures. Koalas will struggle to adapt to the heat with their heavy coats. On top of this, the increase of greenhouse gasses, Co2, produces less protein in the eucalyptus leaves that the animal feeds. Not only do they struggle to adapt, but their food also becomes sparse. Koalas’ habitats are increasingly being destroyed by drought, bush fires and development.
The monarch butterfly is another example of a species that is endangered. Monarchs are listed as a “threatened phenomenon.” Climate related threats to these insects include: drought, storms, and changes in precipitation. Temperature is the trigger for these butterflies to migrate and reproduce. The alteration in temperature and precipitation throws off the migration and reproduction patterns and therefore threaten the population.
What can we do to help save the existence of these animals? Mr. Simcoe teaches that “locally, you can support species in your own yards by planting pollinator gardens, trees, and basically trying to bring nature back into our human impacted world.” Helping these animals can be as simple as taking shorter showers or carpooling. Emission from cars increase carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases trap the sun's heat here on Earth and warms our planet. Take this into consideration the next time you turn down a ride from a friend. Other things you can do is to grow your own food, recycle, and don’t waste food. These simple little alternatives will help the planet.
Mr. Simcoe manages the composting at Saint Ursula. He stresses the importance of this is because it produces new soil, which helps to alleviate the major environmental problem of global soil loss and degradation. When we throw organic waste into landfills, this produces methane. “Composting rather than allowing this material to add to our climate change problem, takes this waste and turns it into a valuable resource. Humans HAVE to do this in order to continue to survive and thrive!” Mr. Simcoe states.
One thing people forget about is their voice. Spark conversation for climate conservation. Tell others about what you know and share the dangers and threats global warming poses. And while you are at it, plant a tree!