The Galapagos Are Under Attack by a Silent Killer


Climate change. Yes, silently attacking all ecosystems globally. The rise of global temperature has lead to the deterioration of the once thriving habitats and even lead to the loss of certain plant and animal species. The growing threat of rising temperatures is predicted to influence the frequency and strength of El Niño events around the Galapagos Islands.

The global impacts of an El Niño year © NCEP

Scientists have predicted many scenarios related to climate change but now that there is more evidence of climate change, we can narrow more vague and open-ended issues. Collectively there are several predictions that the scientific community agrees on regarding the climate change impact on the Galapagos Islands. Higher temperatures in the sea’s surface, rising sea levels will occur, and an increase in rainfall is likely.

Hundreds of exotic plant and animal species inhabit the Galapagos. Climate change will greatly impact some of these species. The land and marine iguanas, the green turtles and giant tortoise are just a few that will see deadly results. Higher temperatures may force some turtle and tortoise species to migrate. The iguanas are cold-blooded and the change in the air and sea would have drastic interference with the ability to regulate body temperature. As humans, we often forget how sensitive life is for other animals around the planet because we are resistant to so many things. The plants and animals on the islands could become extinct if temperatures continue to rise.

El Niño is part of a cycle called ENSO. As only a single phase in this cycle, it still is dangerous to the environments that endure this three to a five-year phenomenon. When experiencing an El Niño event both the oceans and the weather can be influenced. Stronger El Niño events have displayed global weather disruptions (What is El Niño?). During the years of El Niño, certain currents and weather patterns reverse. 

How El Nino works. Photograph: Guardian

The eastern Pacific experiences the development of warmer waters that rise upwards of 8°C. Westerly winds pick up. Indonesia and parts of Australia experience drier conditions causing periods of drought. On the Galapagos for example, these periods of weather changes alter the growth of food. With conditions changing and lasting longer during these events, it should be an obvious concept that ecosystems would be at risk.

It’s Not Global Warming, It’s Climate Change!

Earlier this week a couple of posts were published using the term “global warming” in the title. Global warming is a media created term that is used loosely to make climate change more acceptable as a theory across the planet. So the buzzword pandemic continues. Global warming became increasingly popular in the early 2000s. Continuing to grow in popularity as a highly debated topic, global warming is here to stay- literally and figuratively. 

Whether you call this unnaturally fast rate of the global temperature global warming or climate change one thing remains the same: the outcome will most certainly be devastating. Our next small installment of test posts will be an investigation into the rise of natural disasters and what it means for Earth and humanity. 

Climate Change and Why It Matters


In an earlier post this week I discussed briefly the difference between climate and weather. Weather patterns are becoming increasingly more violent in threatening ways. Natural disasters are on the climb from flooding to earthquakes. It is foolish to not believe in the smallest of possibilities that the world is experiencing natural or unnatural climate change. Some people think climate change and global warming are all a hoax, and truthfully so because we do not take a strong enough stance to educate people about these topics. Scientists are still arguing over these questions, so it is not unusual for civilians do not seem concerned yet.

As the global average temperature rises, it poses threats to some of the most delicate ecosystems on the planet. Our oceans are suffering, our rainforests are disappearing, and our oxygen is continuously being polluted with toxins. Buzzwords that are heard on mainstream media about global warming and climate change are words like carbon footprint, emissions, greenhouse gasses, fossil fuels, and renewable energy. While we are making great strides into renewable energy sources, we are lacking experience and knowledge to clean up what messes we have already made. For many years people have powered homes and buildings either partially or completely using solar energy. Wind power has risen in popularity, but hydropower is where the history is. People have used water to create currents of energy for decades but never completely explored the possibility of converting to hydropower as a permanent and total source of energy just like wind and solar.  

Emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels and industrial agriculture are now becoming visible. We are seeing a rise in deadly storms, hotter and longer dry season accompanied by freezing and more rigid cold seasons. Emissions become trapped within the protective bubble formed around the planet known as the atmosphere and due to the energy of the sun, these gasses are heating and have no place to escape. This rise in temperatures way up in the atmosphere is causing the global average temperature to rise above average recorded temperatures. Permafrost is one of the more significant losses we have experienced. As the sea ice continues to melt with rising temperatures, it is not able to reflect as much of the sun’s energy, or heat back into space. This is problematic because our ice caps protect Earth from about eighty to ninety percent of the sun’s heat by being able to properly reflect most of that energy back into space.

The melting of the ice and rise in temperatures only just scrapes the surface though. Let’s investigate the depths of the blue oceans. We hardly know a fraction of what dwells below the surface due to funding for science programs allocated to other prioritized programs (such as Space). This leaves us vulnerable to the unknown effects of the rising temperatures across the globe on our oceans as a system. We know that to raise the temperature of all the water of the seas is unbelievably difficult to comprehend. Coral reefs are great, or not so great depending on your approach, to observe in this time of scientific doubt. The planet has experienced rises and falls of temperatures for millions of years which is why coral reefs are such an arguably solid fact of global warming proof. The reefs are dying. There is no hibernation period or a possibility of returning to life. This time, once the coral reef has bleached there is no turning back.

Did you know a huge portion of our underwater friends survive on the thriving ecosystem of plants, algae, and fish that a coral reef provides? Losing a reef could mean the displacement of thousands of creatures. This upset could determine which species will fight to survive and which will disappear alongside the coral. Already we have seen the extinction of several frog species once found in the Amazon. Let’s help avoid the destruction of more precious animals and plant species by doing out parts to take control of our own carbon footprints.

Global Warming: Save the sea ice!

We have all heard about the rise in sea levels while the Arctic ice melts away. The global temperature keeps rising which keeps melting the cold caps that populate our poles. Yes, ice melts naturally in the world but we are experiencing the melting of glaciers at an alarming rate. It seems the biggest concern that mainstream media focuses on is the rising level of the coastal waters. While that is a very big problem, there is an even bigger one. 

The albedo effect is a concept in which light reflects off of white surfaces. Take the light of the moon and how the suns reflections are bouncing off its surface to light up our night sky for example. The same thing happens with the ice. Somewhere around the eighty percent range is how much of the suns energy is reflected back into space. This simple act of reflection helps to keep the planet cool and from overheating. 

Can we stop the melting before our ice is gone, our oceans dry up, and we become as barren as Mars?

Global Warming: Climate Change vs Weather


A few words associated with global warming are weather and climate change. Often, they are defined incorrectly and used interchangeably. Though climate change and weather are associated with each other in certain ways, they are two different systems at work on the planet. Weather is the term we are most familiar with, describing the condition of outdoors at the present time and up to several weeks in advance. Climate change is the system that generates the intensity of the hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes and our ever-changing seasons. 

According to NASA, weather and climate can be easily differentiated by a measure in time. Weather is known as the condition of the atmosphere that can be measured over a short period of time, such as our forecasts that predict the rain and clouds. An example of weather can be the seasons we experience. The changes in the atmosphere after several months from fall to winter is one example of how the weather can go from dry and cool to wet and freezing over a short period; more importantly, a measurable period of time.

Climate can be described as the long-term patters of weather in particular areas around Earth. NASA scientists look at averages of precipitation, temperature, humidity and so much more. These averages tell the scientist about the climate and when the averages begin to rise and fall under certain categories, our scientists start to get worried. There was an editorial in Science about the impacts of climate change. The editorial discusses subjects like our breathing oxygen and how it could be among the list of things affected by climate change. Climate change has a larger, more global responsibility while the weather is what we experience on land and sea.

Will raising awareness of the differences between climate and weather help change the world? Hopefully. We have to start somewhere small, and weather is relatable to humans. Maybe if people become aware of the difference between the two, they might start opening their eyes to the larger picture at hand.

Keep reading on as the global warming exploration continues.