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The EFFECTS of CLIMATE CHANGE on BIODIVERSITYGianenzo SpagnuoloThe effects of global climate change have become ever more impactful on the weather, bringing with it extreme natural events. We have seen massive floods and extreme heatwaves like never before seen in recorded history. There is one aspect of climate change that we desperately need to discuss. The way climate change affects biodiversity is shocking scientists and raising major concerns for ecosystems and how they function. Our collaboration on climate-related problems has brought about many initiatives for a better future for all life. Large populations of numerous organisms are at extreme risk of global climate change. With altered annual rainfall patterns and changes in seasonal cooling and warming, some species cannot adapt quickly enough. The slow evolutionary changes that organisms go through to adapt to climate change naturally, are currently limiting species' ability to survive the rapidly changing climate. With the changing climate, some species are at greater risk than others; this vulnerability has been scientifically studied. One way a species or population could adapt to climate change is to move to an area with more favourable conditions. However, for plants, this task of redistribution is far more complex than for a bird. Due to this inability to move out of unfavourable conditions, vegetation biodiversity is at significant risk. One such species already studied in South Africa is the Quiver Tree. Over many years, researchers have studied changes in population distribution and environmental factors such as annual rainfall and temperature. The findings have been shocking. Populations are steadily declining in areas with lower annual rainfall and higher annual temperatures. Despite this population reduction, there is a glimmer of hope. People have expanded, and individuals have been discovered in more favourable habitats. Climate change could be the final nail in the coffin for endangered species in sensitive ecosystems that are already fragile from decades of human influence. Riparian overfishing and the reduced health of waterways could spell the end for endangered aquatic life. This loss of marine life causes a knock-on effect on birds, mammals and insects, ultimately affecting all of us.
Despite the possible doom and gloom around climate change and biodiversity loss, there is always a glimmer of hope. Many new organisations and initiatives have been started to help combat the climate crisis. Teams of expert tree planters work tirelessly with the aid of drones to plant thousands of tree seedlings a day. This initiative will bring back native trees and build the biodiversity of the old farming and fire-stricken forests over time. While the pollution of our oceans does not directly affect global climate change, the masses of pollution from plastic and other items threaten ocean life. To this end, a massive project from 'The Ocean Cleanup' sees the most extensive cleanup in history, thanks to two ships pulling a net that collects the rubbish until it is deposited onboard for storage and aims to remove 90% of all waste floating in the oceans.