A study in the journal Nature, showed that in the next 50 years, a quarter of the world’s land animals and plants could become extinct. That’s around a million species.
Habitat loss is the destruction, fragmentation, or degradation of a habitat. Almost every living thing has a habitat in which it lives, and when that habitat is lost, that species becomes endangered. Habitat destruction is just as it sounds, and it includes the filling of wetlands, the mowing of fields, and deforestation. Habitat fragmentation is when a habitat is divided into increasingly smaller pieces by roads or dams, making it harder for many species to find food and mates. This also affects migratory species, making it difficult for them to find places to rest and feed along their migratory path. Habitat degradation is when a habitat is so polluted or overrun by an invasive species that it can no longer support its native wildlife.
Here’s the shocker: human intervention is one of the main reasons for habitat loss. We pollute the air, ground, and water, using natural resources for our own benefit and contributing to global warming. Some effects of global warming are already taking effect today. In some parts of the world, flash floods and storms are becoming more common, while long droughts seem to be as regular as clockwork in others. A notable example of these extreme changes is the Colorado River. During dry seasons, the Colorado River is reduced to a stream by the time it reaches the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California). This means that the plants and animals of the river will lose their habitat.
Whether we like it or not, global warming is occurring, and its effects on habitat loss and degradation will be incredibly difficult to reverse.
We can’t stop global warming, but we can certainly try to slow it down. Simple things like recycling, turning off electronics when they're not in use, and reducing water usage can all help slow down the process of global warming and, in turn, help alleviate pressures on delicate habitats. There is only one Earth and our footprint makes a world of difference—literally.
[Sources: eathtimes.org; nwf.org]