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Is the Earth in an Ecological Crisis?

There is no doubt our planet is changing. Climate climbs and drops are occurring and frequent storms are getting more violent. But does this mean we are in an ecological crisis? Many scientists would agree that we are and have categorized these changes into three significant groups.

Global warming has been a major topic for many years and is also referred to as the Abiotic Factors. With the planet warming up, polar regions are experiencing less snowfall and the increased temperatures are forcing ice to melt. This not only increases the level of the sea, but endangers species like the polar bear. This massive animal depends on the ice to hunt for seal. As the ice melts, the polar bear is not able to eat, which leads to decreased weight, which in turn affects the way it reproduces. While many species can adapt over time, some fish species, like the coldwater trout, are leaving to find more suitable conditions. This will affect the mammals that depend on these fish to feed on, including humans.

Every year between 17,000 and 100,000 species are lost forever. This is referred to as, Biodiversity Extinction. This can be due to habitat loss, poaching or unfavorable living conditions. The extinction of a species is not only sad, but it will affect other areas of the planet. For example the shark population has declined. Since the shark feeds on rays, the ray has become more populous. In turn the rays feed on shellfish, which is decimating their numbers. Since shellfish help filter the seawater, it is now becoming less favourable for the seagrass beds and so on and so on…

On the other side of the coin is the overpopulation of a species. Predatory animals will naturally select the weak and old animals to take down, ensuring the remaining animals are strong and fit; however with the absence of these carnivorous predators, the population of their prey will increase. This over-population will put determinantal demands on the ecosystem that is there to support them. For example a large population of grazing animals can easily overtake the food supply, this can lead to starvation and deady competitions over what little food is left, as well as low reproduction rates. Adventually the once over-populated species will take a turn for the worst and dramatically drop off in numbers.

We can no longer deny that the planet may be in a severe ecological crisis. We may not live in the regions being mostly affected, but it doesn't mean we can't do our part to help ensure a healthy planet for generations to come.