Healthy ecosystems promote the longevity of every living organism within an environment, whether they are plants, animals, or people. Unhealthy ecosystems destroy the progress of every organism within the environment and result in the loss and extinction of plants and animals. People are also adversely affected in terms of health and property lost.
Today, many of the world’s ecosystems are in serious trouble. This problem is forcing a number of organizations and movements within many countries to stand up and confront this problem. The focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency programs are at a maximum. The idea of wind energy, recycling, and renewable energy vehicles, which operate on ethanol and electricity are being promoted on a large scale around the world.
There are several causes for endangered ecosystems, including human negligence, but the most urgent of these causes is that of global warming. Global warming has been responsible for the increase of damaging weather patterns, which includes hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe storms as well as droughts. The most deadly disaster in recent years was Katrina which resulted in the devastation of New Orleans.
Over a thousand people in New Orleans lost their lives and tens of thousands were dislocated. Also, Global warming has been a factor in the extreme heat and intense electrical lightning storms that ignite forest fires. Global warming is responsible for the melting of polar ice caps, which was once floating islands, but now are disappearing at an enormous rate. This result is causing massive flooding and coastal erosion in many regions.
This paper will attempt to focus on the ecosystems of the forest and polar ice caps. These are the two endangered ecosystems that are affecting the United States and other regions. Plants, animals and humans are in danger.
Wild Fires in California
For many years the California wildfires have destroyed thousands of habitats. Plants and animals have been destroyed and people, who once lived in nearby towns and cities, have been dislocated. The California forest has been taking a tremendous assault and deforestation is a major concern. In recent years, millions of acres and acres of land have been consumed faster than the natural process of nature can replace it.
Fierce firestorms are sweeping across the California forest landscape, destroying millions of trees. These trees, which once stood tall and majestic and provided oxygen and filtered out harmful pollutions, are being burned to the ground at an enormous rate. Many animals perish as well. This includes infant animals that cannot escape the path of the fire. Other animals are driven out of their natural habitats and cannot survive in foreign territory. Still, other animals’ survival depended on certain foods which are no longer available.
The Devastating Effect of Deforestation
Therefore it is evident that deforestation results in the destruction of our trees as well as other organisms. In 2006 alone, there were 96,385 fires and 9,873,429 acres affected by this tragedy. There fires cost the federal government $1.5 billion to fight (Johnson). In 2007, there were another 1,409 fires with 12,192 acres destroyed. The same year in the state of Florida, there were 2,519 fires and 41,722 acres destroyed (Johnson). Because of the swift rate of deforestation animals and humans are competing for territory and food. This will create more danger in the years to come.
The Human Factor
When the human factor is calculated into the consuming nature of forest fires, the lost is staggering. Homes in the path of the fire have destroyed the hopes dreams of families go up in smoke. Whole fortunes and life savings are erased in a matter of hours and days. The recent fire in Paradise California “scorched more than 31 square miles and threatened 4, 6000 structures (CNN.com). Nine thousand people were ordered to leave, causing property loss and dislocation of families. Not only are animals driven out of their natural habitat people are also driven out of their homes and property in which they have invested their whole lives.
The Failure of Prevention Strategies
Firefighting strategies and operations are proving to be ineffective in the long run. The methods in which firefighters use to stop fires sometimes do more harm than good, especially if winds are erratic. A sudden change of wind could result in tragic consequences. There have been many reports of fire- fighters who have lost their lives in the swift change of the winds which send the fires in unexpected directions. Furthermore, forest fires are burning at such a rate today that all human attempts at restoration are seemingly failing. Even the natural process of forest restoration is in a losing the battle.
The methods that firefighters are using such as backfires are discouraging. This is because the smoke and silt from forest fires are no good for human health. Carbon dioxide in steadily being released into the air because there are no trees to absorb the carbon dioxide and to filter out other pollutants. People with respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema bronchitis, and those with chronic heart disease are in the most danger when it comes to forest fires (ALA).
Polar Ice Caps: Melting Climate
Not only are the forest ecosystems in danger the polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate. According to Overland and Wang, two researchers on global warming, the enormous melting of the ice caps will be a great problem. (It) …”will have a profound effect on the animals that use sea ice all the time, including walrus and polar bears and ringed seals. The whole ecosystem will change. There will be winners and losers. Crabs, clams, walrus and bears will not do well. Salmon, Pollock and other fisheries that live higher up in the water column will extend their range”(struck). There has also been an unexpected loss in species on which the fish feed and an unexpected increase in predator species (struck).
Not only is the melting of the polar ice caps affecting animals this unfortunate event is also affecting humans. “Polar bears, whales, walrus, and seals are changing their feeding and migration patterns, making it harder for native people to hunt them. And along Arctic coastlines, entire villages will be uprooted because they’re in danger of being swamped. The native people of the Arctic view global warming as a threat to their cultural identity and their very survival”(NRDC).
Furthermore, great floods are also occurring in many regions, destroying the lives of plants, animals, and people. The floods that resulted from Hurricane Katrina and the anomie in Indonesia were caused by warped weather patterns resulting from global warming. many plants, animals, and people drowned. Most of the farms and crops which provided food and money are ruined because of corrupted soil.
Therefore no livestock can be raised. Also, besides the floods, rising sea levels and erosion of coastlands are another damaging effects of melting glaciers. ” Closer to home, scientists are concerned about the effects of rising sea levels on Cape Cod and the Islands, in Boston and along the entire England coast”(O’Brien).
Studies have shown that glaciers, which usually take thousands of years to melt, are happening at the rate of 8.7 miles a year (O’Brien). Considering this data, one could suggest that in a decade or two, entire regions that were once land will become oceans. And as the water becomes warmer, more carbon dioxide is released into the air. Human health will be a constant urgency
A Matter of Serious Urgency
If there is not a major turnaround of ecosystem destruction, the entire earth will be out of course. Therefore, this is an environmental factor that must be taking seriously by all people, as fast and urgently as possible. The methods deployed to prevent deeper global warming must be accelerated, despite the financial cost. Billions of dollars are spent each year on space trips and wars that could be spent to stop global warming. The greatest minds of every nation will have to come together without condition to tackle the problem. The fight against global warming, which will affect every nation, should be a world war.
O’Brien, Greg. The Rising Tide Of Global Warming Impacts Cape Cod, August 2005. Codfish Press. Retrieved July 28, 2008, from http://www.capecodtoday.com.
“California Wildfires Threaten thousands of Structures.” Associated Press. June 13, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2008, from http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/