The “Doomsday Clock”, a symbolic clock that measures the likelihood of global catastrophe, is currently set at 11:57 pm where midnight means BOOM… no more livable Earth. This clock’s “time” is determined by a team of atomic scientists including 17 Nobel Laureates, and last week they moved the minute hand one tick closer. The team warns that the planet, plagued by climate change and nuclear proliferation, face extraordinary and undeniable threats to its continued existence.
Climate change can be directly threatening to a healthy ecosystem. But, climate change can also act as a sort of catalyst making a once stable ecosystem vulnerable to new threats like invasive species and land use change. Global climate change has been shown to affect various terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems including polar and temperate region lakes. A recent study has now revealed that tropical high-mountain lakes are likewise not immune to climate change. The study on three remote lakes in Ecuador led by Queen’s University researchers found major changes in the algal communities consistent with warming waters indicating changes in the physical structure of the water column. The research team anticipates that these changes will likely affect the food web and reverberate throughout the ecosystem. There seems to be no escaping global warming. John Smol of the Queen’s University research team said it best: “We now have data showing that lakes from the Arctic to the Andes, and everywhere in between, are rapidly changing due to our impacts on climate.”
In addition to creating more vulnerable ecosystems, climate change has more direct (and sinister) impacts on the globe. According to climate change predictions, every 1% rise in global temperature will lead to a 10% increase in thunderstorm activity (one of the more problematic weather occurrences for animal [including human] life on Earth). A study by Colin Price of Tel Aviv University predicts that we could see a 25 percent increase on lightning by the end of the century. Price and his colleagues have drafted a global thunderstorm map to better determine how the number and intensity of storms will change as the globe gets warmer.
We are becoming more vulnerable and the threats are becoming greater. It is time to see the truth. It is time to make some changes. It is time to start thinking differently. It is time to restore what we can and preserve the rest. It is time! The Clock is ticking…
P.S. Make sure to check out more recent posts from the Strecker Aquatic Ecology Lab here!