Climate change won’t just kill Polar Bears

Polar bears could be extinct within 50 years because of human-induced climate change | Image: National Geographic

I’m as bad as anyone else at just thinking about polar bears and penguins when it comes to climate change. It’s just part of human nature that we’re always going to take far more interest in cute creatures, rather than things like… sea urchins.

Why should be worry about these squishy, colorful lumps? OK, as with all species, we should try to preserve them for the sake of biodiversity. But the thing about sea urchins is that so many other animals depend on them for food that if the sea urchins die off, a whole host of other marine organisms will also perish.

A new study has revealed that loads of marine life is suffering because of climate change, and not just because it’s getting warmer. Some of the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is being absorbed into the oceans, turning the water more acidic. This acid reduces the amount of calcium carbonate available – without this vital mineral, organisms can’t create tough shells.

Sea urchin | Image: WikipediaSea urchins were the particular focus of the new study, which helped scientists much better understand the effects of global warming on marine life.

The acidic waters had quite a few knock-on effects on the urchins: because their shells were thinner, they were more susceptible to the increasing temperatures. As they had to devote more energy to developing thicker shells, other growth was hindered, and they started developing abnormal shapes and movement.

All in all, the message is that climate change will have an incredibly large number of impacts – it’s not just about the odd polar bear in the Arctic or a glacier in the Himalayas. At the end of the day, less sea urchins means less cod, which means less food for us. And there are many more stories like that of the sea urchin that are still waiting to be discovered.

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4 Responses

  1. You have great photos in your blog, always crisp and clear and interesting. I’ve been concerned about marine life since I saw David Attenborough’s show, “The Blue Planet”.

    The acidic water explanation likely explains the reason for coral reefs slowing dying world wide in a show I saw recently. Seems to make sense.

  2. Thanks for the compliments – it’s always encouraging to know people enjoy reading my blog! 🙂

    I am a great fan of David Attenborough – he is without doubt one of the best naturalists ever to have lived in my opinion. I’m sure he must have inspired millions of people around the world to have more respect for our planet – I’m glad you’re one of them.

    As for coral reefs, you’re right about the acidic water damaging them, because they have less calcium carbonate to build their frameworks with. They are also extremely susceptible to slight temperature increases, because the algae that live on corals to produce food only like a very specific temperature range.

  3. i love the pictures on your blog.there so real.this is a awsome blog to.i love it! i always loved pollar bears

  4. Please remember the world has climate changes without mans help, do you remember the Thames freezing over 100 years ago and so on. Don’t think that by having to pay the bankers even more green taxes they will put that into helping the world. These people are the ones that need to be chaned, they are responcible for causing these problems due to their factories. Please have a brain and think

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