Warm Winter Puts Wildlife and Nature at Risk

One of our assignments for class is to choose a media clip or article about climate change and discuss it with our class. Since I shared mine this previous week, it’s all I have been thinking about. The article I found was in the “Toronto Star” newspaper, called “The Greater Toronto Area’s Warm Winter Puts Wildlife, Nature at Risk”.

This article brought many things to my attention, and then with our discussions in the classroom and my afterthoughts, I’ve had a lot of things on my mind pertaining to this article, as well as climate change in general.

In short, the article starts out discussing how this year’s winter is very strange compared to previous years.  Personally, I had a green Christmas this year. In the 19 Christmases that I’ve celebrated, I believe we only had one other green Christmas.  Although snow came two days later, it was minimal and was gone a few days later due to a warm spell that also came with rain as precipitation instead of snow. The article says that it wasn’t just my area that this happened to, it was most of the greater-Toronto  area.  Now let me ask you a question… when you think about global warming and wildlife that is affected by it, what is the first animal that comes to your mind? I’m guessing you’re probably thinking a polar bear or some big furry animal that lives in the North. Yes, those animals are being affected by the climate change, but what about fish and insects? The article continues to say that since the rivers and streams aren’t freezing, it’s changing the metabolism for the fish and making it harder for them to live. The article directly says that “extremes like these stress out animals, invertebrates and plants used to one long winter freeze with a gradual rainy melt into spring”. This extensive article continues to talk about the vast variety of plants and animals that are affected by the climate changes.

What has been on my mind is ‘what happens if one of these animals, or if a certain plant, dies off because of the climate change’? Even if it’s just one part of the food chain, it can have a dramatic effect. If an animal at the bottom of the food chain becomes extinct or starts to die off and are hard to find, whatever animal preys on that, is then considered the bottom of the food chain and everything shifts. What if one of the species that dies off is the main source of food for whatever preys on it? What will that animal then eat? And what about the birds? Personally, I don’t think I ever saw a flock of Canadian Geese flying south this year. I saw them flying North and other directions.. but not south. Their whole routine is changing because of the climate.  It seems crazy to think that by just one animal, or one plant dying off, everything can change…but it’s true and it’s happening.

What blew my mind about the Toronto Star article was that it said it would only take four warm winters for things to dramatically change. Only four! And I personally think this is already a dramatic change! So what will happen if this continues for another three years after this! I can’t even imagine!

These thoughts have been on my mind since I found the article last week and I really felt like sharing it with everyone. This is something that really scares me about climate change: the fact that the littlest things can have massive impacts.

~Morgan

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