It is well-known that global warming causes serious damage to life on Earth, but the measures taken remain insufficient. As living conditions in our world continue to deteriorate, some species face the threat of extinction.
Biodiversity Loss and Population Decline of Species
The Living Planet Report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shows that biodiversity loss occurs at different rates in different regions of the world. The most significant decline in species populations is observed in tropical areas. According to the report, between 1970 and 2018, there was an 18% population loss in Europe and Central Asia, 20% in North America, 55% in Asia and the Pacific, 66% in Africa, and 94% in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Mass Deaths and Extinction of Species
Dr. Sedat Kalem, WWF Nature Conservation Director, states that the human-induced climate crisis not only changes the natural structure of the world but also leads to mass deaths and the complete extinction of some species. Kalem indicates that these losses increase with each unit of temperature rise, occurring at a rate of one-tenth of a degree. According to 2022 data, vertebrate species populations declined by 69% in less than 50 years. Kalem says, “In other words, two-thirds of vertebrate populations have disappeared in less time than a human lifespan.”
Species’ Adaptation to Climate Crisis and Habitat Loss
Kalem, who mentions that the dimensions and effects of the climate crisis vary at the local level, says that some species adapt better to the warming climate than others and that some habitats deteriorate faster than others. Kalem states that the sharpest population loss worldwide occurs in freshwater species, with an 83% decline.
Endangered Species and the Effects of Temperature Increase
In 2021, while mass deaths of flamingo chicks were observed at Lake Tuz, the white-headed duck, an endangered species, is no longer seen in Lake Burdur, which has experienced significant water loss due to drought. The temperature in the Mediterranean rises 20% faster than the global average, affecting marine mammals the most.
Sea Turtles and the Threat of Global Warming
Kalem points out that the green sea turtle and the leatherback sea turtle in the Mediterranean are endangered and are affected by climate change in two ways. “First, the temperature of the sand where turtles lay their eggs affects the gender of the hatchlings. Generally, male hatchlings emerge from eggs in the cooler, lower parts of the nest,” he says.
Gender of Hatchlings and Temperature Increase
The increase in temperatures can result in only female hatchlings emerging from eggs or no hatchlings surviving if the temperature surpasses a certain point. Kalem states, “Female turtles can change the depth of the nest to prevent this situation, but it is unknown whether this will be enough to compensate for the damage caused by the warming sand.” Secondly, Kalem mentions that the climate crisis leads to rising sea levels, higher storm surges, and extreme weather events. “These factors can change or damage already declining and vulnerable turtle nesting areas, resulting in the loss of local populations in areas where reproduction cannot be sustained,” he says.
Conclusion: Global Warming and the Future of Species
The effects of global warming and the climate crisis pose serious threats to all living species on Earth. These threats can be reduced through necessary precautions and global collaboration. However, current efforts appear to be insufficient. The extinction of species and the collapse of ecosystems can have far-reaching consequences, not only for the affected species but also for the entire planet.