Animals That Have Gone Extinct due to Global Warming
Climate change is redefining the structure of Earthly habitats, dragging the living organisms within them in its wake. According to the first report by the United Nations on Biodiversity, there is an accelerating depletion of species happening hundreds of times more than in the past.
We have over 9.2 million species of organisms in the planet and about two-thirds of a million that live on land do not have the assurance that their habitat would continue to host them long-term; they constantly face the threat of extinction, and unless their habitat gets repaired, they may vanish in a few decades. The same can be said of the ocean and aquatic habitat.
Another report by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that a good number of organisms are migrating northwards and into deeper waters in search for survival. This migration is because of the unintended shift in the nature of their habitats.
And beyond their habitat, their very defining qualities and characters are also changing; from the birds migrating, nesting, and breeding earlier than they used to aquatic life-forms changing their behaviors as a result of their more acidified habitat.
Darwin’s theory was clear on the conditions for survival of any specie; they must struggle and adapt. Unfortunate not all organisms can go through the rigor of survival, some just are not fit enough. They have to go. Darwin called it “natural selection”. Today the selection is inspired by human actions, by climate change, or do we say “artificial selection”. Plant and animal lives are going extinct quickly, from the Quiver tree to the Polar bear.
n this article, we look at some of the animals that have been struck by the blow of climate change and have gone extinct.
#1. The Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes)
This was one of the first animals to disappear that was blamed on human activities causing global warming. The last time it was seen was in 1989 in the cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica. Their extinction was caused by El Nino; strong El Nino that occurred within the cloud forest of Monteverde. Temperatures reached record high and rainfall was at its lowest. This must have made it difficult for the offspring of the toads to survive hence their extinction.
#2. Polar Bear
This animal was listed as a threatened species in the US under the Endangered Species Act in May 2008. The ice the covers the Arctic is shrinking at 14% each decade—and this is the hunting ground of the polar bears. With the rapid decline in the quantity of ice, there are two options: either the polar bears die of starvation or they search other areas for food and survival, like land.
Some of them have actually found goose eggs fit for food, although scientists at Polar Bear International think it is a bad alternative. There are no evidences that these predators would survive terrestrial life. They are declining in number quickly, and the fact that they consume 12,325 calories of energy daily does nothing to help the situation. They may all die before they adapt to life away from the sea ice.
#3. Adelie Penguin
The Adelie penguins are a penguin specie that inhabit the whole coast of the Antarctic continent—its in fact their only habitat. They feed on krill—small crustaceans that live under ice sheets. Under these ice sheets, the krill take refuge (where they can live as long as 10 years) and feed of algae. The krill population is dwindling as the ice sheets of the Antarctic is melting off, and so the penguins have to travel out of their natural habitats in search of food.
This causes them to lose energy—if they even succeed without dying—that could have been used in breeding and caring for their offspring. As a result they lose some of their young. Over all, the population of Adelie penguins is at the brink of extinction.
#4. North Atlantic Cod
These are edible benthopelagic fishes that inhabit the Atlantic Ocean. There is history about these fishes for always bouncing back even in the face of serious extinction threats—most infamously the excessive fishing activities of humans. In North America, the seacoasts have experienced an extreme plunge in the cod’s population; so much that there is likely no cod in the oceans again.
The explanation is linked more to climate change than overfishing. There has been an inflow of cold water from the Arctic and that had changed the ecosystem the cods used to live in, and unfortunately they could not adapt.
#5. Staghorn Coral (Acropora cervicornis)
This specie of reef-building animals is among the animals facing extinction threat. They are threatened for reasons ranging from coral bleaching, ocean acidification, water warming, unsustainable fishing, diseases and pollution. Their population has declined over the years in high percentages; they used to be spread across the Caribbean and Bahamas, but now they are only found in tiny localities because of global warming.
#6. The Orange-spotted filefish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris)
The coral reefs harbor the widest biodiversity of any ecosystem and directly supports over half a billion people globally. But beyond people it is also the habitat where the filefish live and can survive; it strongly depends on this habitat. But climate change is badly affecting the filefish’s habitat causing coral bleaching and shrinking of the environment.
The filefish is very sensitive to high temperatures; so when the waters get warm, they struggle to survive and mostly die. They went extinct in Japan in 1988 when the oceans got really warm.
We can only hope that future generations have the privilege to see what animals like filefish and polar bears looked like, and unlike us, they would not wish to catch just one glimpse of the dinosaurs even for a second. Global warming is a hostile force that can be contained, but to do so requires the efforts of every unit of humanity. The golden toad and other animals that have gone extinct might be our fault, but it is our responsibility to protect the remaining ones.