The Effect of Global Warming on Ecosystems

TheEffect of Global Warming on Ecosystems


Global warming refers to the general increase in temperature as aresult of building up of greenhouse gases. The greenhouse gasesinclude carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and methane that have increased toa large extent over the recent years as a result of increasedindustries and burning of fossil fuels (Doney et al. 2012).According to research studies, the level of global warming in the20th Century is the highest as compared to other centuriesin the past 400-600 years. Consequently, global warming has had thehighest impact on the ecosystem in the 20th Century thanin any other. The effect of global warming cannot be underestimated.Many scholars associate the increased loss and extinction of specieswith global warming. An ecosystem is a natural unit with both bioticand antibiotic factors whose interactions lead to a self-sustainablesystem. Global warming has a major impact on both biotic andantibiotic factors in the ecosystem it impacts on plant life, animallife, and regional climate.

Main Cause

Greenhouse gases are the main cause of global warming. It is thegreenhouse gases’ ability to entrap heat that facilitates globalwarming. These gases (which are over 40 with carbon dioxide as themain gas) maintain a lot of heat with them. The building up of heatleads to increased temperatures with increased water vapor. As thetemperatures increase, water vapor increases as well, and itcontinues to trap more heat that leads to increased temperatures in acyclic manner.


Global warming has a major impact on the ecosystem because mostbiotic and antibiotic factors survive within a very narrow range ofclimatic conditions. Any deviation from this range is, therefore,considerably harsh to them. Global warming impacts on the ecosystemsin three main aspects polar and mountainous regions, plant life andwildlife. The vulnerability of the polar and mountainous regions ishigher than that of other regions because of the huge amounts of snowand ice that reflect the sunlight that hits them. Over the recentyears, as a result of global warming, the ice that covers the Articoceans has been reduced to very low levels. In the same way, glacierson the coast of the Greenland and West Antarctica are melting at anincreasing rate (Martens 2014). Global warming also leads to freezingof soil in these regions. In Canada, Siberia and Alaska, the impactsof Permafrost (permanently frozen soil) have already beenexperienced. This includes sinkholes, damaged roads and “drunkenforests.” This being the case, the summer sea ice could decrease tovery low levels by 2020 thereby threatening the lives of polar bearsand other Arctic species.

Global warming also has a major impact on plant life. The mostphysical impact is the burning of forests. In Canada, Russia andAlaska, large forest fires that are associated with global warmingare experienced. Over the last decade, almost all forest fires havebeen associated with excessive summer heat and drought. Besides, theincreased temperatures leads to the movement of plants towards thenorth where there are more suitable climatic conditions for theirsurvival. The latitude of the northern regions has as well beenaffected by global warming by causing the growing season to be twoweeks longer. The increased precipitation, as a result of globalwarming (that causes further global warming), leads to the witheringof majority of plant species. For instance, New England’s climaticconditions will not be in a position to support maple trees by theend of this century due to increased temperatures. According to theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forest fires relatedto global warming shall not end any soon. In fact, the prediction isthat the situation will be aggravated by further increase intemperatures.

Global warming destabilizes the settlement of majority of animalspecies especially in areas that have been adversely affected. Whilesome animals were not known to keep on migrating, it has beenobserved that they are now shifting towards higher elevations andhigher latitudes due to the high temperatures in their currentsettlements. The findings of a landmark survey that was conducted in2013 provided that a third of all the animals that were involved inthe survey were adversely affected by climate change. For instance,as a result of the increased warming, 50% of Pika (rodents found inNorth America) have disappeared within five years (Chapin et al.2012). The disappearance is either as a result of death ormigration. It is important to note that the animals that migrate areplaced at high risk of death because they move to less hospitablehabitats. To make the matters worse, these animals are also placed athigh risk of extinction. According to the IPCC, 20-30% of all plantand animal species are at a critically high risk of extinction(Martens 2014).


It has been ascertained that global warming is real and that itcauses considerable climate change. What can be done to ease thisproblem? One of the main undertakings that human beings can embraceto reduce climate change is planting trees. The most commongreenhouse gas is Carbon dioxide. Trees use this gas hence reducingthe gas’ global warming harm. Human beings can also ensure thatthey avoid fuel burning activities such as driving. Instead, they canwalk or use bicycles they are considered healthier than driving.Besides, the Kyoto protocol intends to implement global treaties thatare geared towards easing the global warming as well as the climatechange problem.


To wrap thing up, global warming has real impacts on the ecosystemsand causes considerable reorganization in the systems as it seeks toretain self-sustainability. Global warming is not beneficial to theecosystem in any way. Instead, it causes a lot of harm. It is,however, worth noting that human beings are the authors of thisproblem. Their production and manufacturing activities lead to theemission of greenhouse gases that eventually cause global warming(Doney et al. 2012). To ease the negative impacts of globalwarming on the ecosystem, human beings should reconsider theiractivities and seek improvisations that do not lead to the emissionof greenhouse gases.


Chapin, F.S., Jefferies, R.L., Reynolds, J.F., Shaver, G.R., Svoboda,J. and Chu, E.W. eds., 2012. Arctic ecosystems in a changingclimate: an ecophysiological perspective. Academic Press.

Doney, S.C., Ruckelshaus, M., Duffy, J.E., Barry, J.P., Chan, F.,English, C.A., Galindo, H.M., Grebmeier, J.M., Hollowed, A.B.,Knowlton, N. and Polovina, J., 2012. Climate change impacts on marineecosystems. Marine Science, 4.

Martens, P., 2014. Health and climate change: modeling the impactsof global warming and ozone depletion. Routledge.