Climate change seems to be in the forefront of everyones minds lately. The topic is almost as hot as this year’s record-breaking summer! All jokes aside, climate change isn’t a topic that will be going away any time soon.
While we are undoubtedly taking steps in the right direction in terms of fighting climate change, 2016 has seen more notable effects than any year before.
What Is Climate Change
Regardless of it you “believe” (for lack of a better word) in climate change, you should know the facts.
Climate change refers to the overall rise in average surface temperatures on Earth. It is a common scientific consensus that climate change is primarily caused by human’s use of fossil fuels.
The use of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the air, which traps heat in the atmosphere. This trapped heat has an impact on various ecosystems, severe weather events, droughts, and rising sea level.
Is Climate Change Real?
It is widely accepted by the scientific community that climate change is real. Sources such as The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and The National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration all concur that climate change is indeed in our midst, and it is most certainly caused by humans.
The effects of climate change are slowly starting to catch up with us. 2016 has experienced record-breaking temperatures, extreme flooding, and even mammalian extinction.
Species At Risk From Climate Change
While many species have been marked as endangered and critically endangered, 2016 marks the year of the first mammalian extinction due to climate change.
Bramble Cay Melomys
A report from the Australian government environmental group concludes that the Bramble Cay Melomys, a small rodent found in islands around the Great Barrier Reef, has not been detected since 2009.
After a strenuous search for the tiny rodents on an island that during high tide only measured 6.2 acres (down from 9.8 acres in 1998), researchers officially declared them extinct as of 2016.
The official reason for the extinction is dramatic habitat loss due to human-induced climate change. This marks the first time a mammal has become a victim of climate change.
The American Pika
While not extinct, the American Pika is quickly losing its habitat. Pikas are native to mountainous peaks in the Western United States, and are slowly running out of options. Currently, around 2/3 of the population has already disappeared from their known habitats in Oregon and Nevada.
Pikas are adapted to cold environments, and do not fare well in warmer weather. Their thick coats act as insulation, which is great for cooler temperatures, but can cause issues in hotter environments.
Pikas can die when exposed to temperatures as mild as 78 degrees. Unlike many other creatures who can continually move North, alpine animals such as the Pika will run out of places to go with continued climbing global temperatures.
Arctic Sea Ice Levels Are At Their Lowest
According to Nasa.gov, 2016 marks the second year in a row that Arctic sea ice reaches a record wintertime maximum low.
“Every year, the cap of frozen seawater floating on top of the Arctic Ocean and its neighboring seas melts during the spring and summer and grows back in the fall and winter months, reaching its maximum yearly extent between February and April. On March 24, Arctic sea ice extent peaked at 5.607 million square miles (14.52 million square kilometers), a new record low winter maximum extent in the satellite record that started in 1979. It is slightly smaller than the previous record low maximum extent of 5.612 million square miles (14.54 million square kilometers) that occurred last year. The 13 smallest maximum extents on the satellite record have happened in the last 13 years.”
What Would Happen If They All Melted
This excellent video from asapSCIENCE will give you a great idea of what would happen if all the sea ice and land ice melted.