Due to the effects of climate change, animals, microbes and plants are on the move. Recently a federal study has been conducted and found that spring is arriving as many as 20 days early in some parts of the United States.
Here is an interesting way to illustrate the change in climate. The first thing that responded was shrubs. Before the industrial revolution, alder and flowering willows indigenous to the Alaskan Arctic grew to only 3 feet. But as temperatures warmed with increased fossil fuel emissions, seasons that allowed for more growing lengthened. In turn, these shrubs multiplied and thrived to what they look like today to just over six feet tall.
The bigger shrubs attracted moose that were rarely seen in the Brooks Range before the 20th century. You can now see them hang around the Arctic river corridors where the vegetation has grown tall enough to appear through the many inches of snow. Moose are not the only animal that has moved over to the area since hares can also be easily spotted.
Hunters who live in this part of northern Alaska are having a harder time catching seal, which has been in their diets and a staple meal in their culture. But because they are harder to catch due to melting sea ice caps, these hunters are catching more mouse and hare.
This example is just one of thousands of ways human-caused climate change has transformed the lives of plants and animals. This in turn has an impact on the lives of humans and can be devastating at times. So in other words, as the climate warms up, species are moving to where, when and how they thrive. This is changing the way humans eat and is causing new disease risks, shacking up industries and changing how whole cultures use land and sea.
The instances for Malaria are increasing since mosquitoes are going to higher elevations due to warmer weather on mountain slopes. In addition, a tropical infection is being found in northern Texas as sandflies that carry the disease head north. It doesn’t stop there since agriculture is being affected as pests expand their range. For example, cabbage, kale and cauliflower fields are being devastated by diamondback moths grown by poor urban farmers.
In other food industries like coffee and wine, there is an increased threat of funguses and pests in new areas. Scientists are even blaming climate change to the spread of a weed called Johnson grass, which is very invasive and reduces the amount of legumes, corn and soybeans can grow.