How exactly does climate change "stress" trees, animals, etc?How exactly does climate change "stress" trees, animals, etc?

Expert Answers
lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a more general sense, climate change stresses plants and animals because they have evolved and adapted themselves to a certain climate. When the climate changes, the plants and animals are no longer in the best state possible for the new climate. This is the driving force of evolution--as the environment changes, organisms that are better adapted to the new environment leave more offspring, perpetuating the genes that are more beneficial in the new environment. Usually, this is a gradual process. Sometimes, as with the hypothesized sudden environmental change that killed the dinosaurs, it can be rapid in a geologic sense. The problem now is that one organism--humans--is causing a series of rapid climate changes.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most significant climate changes is the melting of the polar ice caps which affects the seals, penquins, and polar bears as well as the aquatic life in the ocean itself as temperatures rise.  Because of the disappearance of the icebergs, polar bears are forced to travel farther in search of food.  Seals and penquins have fewer fish to feed on, and, therefore, they must move.  (Plankton is gone now with rising temperatures which is a staple of their diets.)  These seals  have always been a major food source for the polar bears; thus, the polar bear is losing a great food source and is adversely affected.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scary stuff isn't it! The facts, as other editors have highlighted, paint a pretty depressing picture for certain types of flora and fauna, especially those that are already endangered. I think other editors have highlighted one of the chief criticisms of the anti-global warming lobby who state that the world has always had to evolve. The major difference is the speed at which it has had to evolve. Nature just can't keep up with these massive changes which means that extinction is going to be a very common word in the next few years and more and more animals and types of flora become extinct.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It forces them to adapt, or "evolve" at a rate which is difficult if not impossible for them to do.  While enduring conditions that are hostile to their species, there has to be a widespread die-off of the population of a plant or animal before the evolution can take place.  Unfortunately, climate change is happening faster than most species can adapt.

alohaspirit eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Especially with global warming causing our natural climate changes to speed up, it can diplace certain animals because they cannot adapt to the new climate.  Also when the climate changes rapidly it takes a toll on the environment because it does not give nature enough time to adapt and control its surroundings.

giorgiana1976 | Student

As the accuracy requires numbers, percentages and all those related to mathematical answers, I thought to put a post , beginning from a word embedded in your post: exactly:
    Here is how climate change affects flora and fauna, in the exact data:
-Almost 10% of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish in the world are endangered, according to an Australian report. Report belongs to Australia's Biological Resources Study project  , which seeks to document about all species of animals and plants known on Earth.The study shows that 10% of the 1.9 million species are threatened with extinction. Of these, 9.2% are important vertebrate species. 20% of mamfiere are in danger and 12% of birds, 5% of reptiles, fish and 4% of 29% of amphibians.

According to experts from Diversitas, an international group studying biodiversity, animals and planets which live in rivers and lakes are the most affected by the climate change.The rate of extinction of water species is four to six times higher than that of terrestrial species.
Marine species are endangered by strong or acid rain and channels that allow fish and plants to reach new regions.

According to studies, by 2025 no river in China will no longer flows into the sea only when there will be floods, which affect fisheries. A new study shows that 50 million years ago the Arctic was full of palm trees, this is a theory that could help a better understanding of climate change now. According to the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience and cited by Reuters, "the Arctic was a vegetation similar to what is now Florida. Palm dies very quickly if frost comes, but it can retain their leaves in winter, and the new experiments show that it can survive a long time in areas where there is no light. This discovery shows that current climate change we could reserve a surprise.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Slow climate changes have been taking place on the planet earth for millions of years. For example about 1500 years back the climate of North America was much cooler than today or even a thousand years back. At that time much of the land that is Canada today was covered with glaciers.

Changes in climate affect both the plant and animal life. Plant and animals in different parts of the world have evolved to adapt to the environment and the climate within which they grow or live. The changes that occur in the climate are generally too fast for the plant and animal life to keep pace with them.

Climate changes of up to certain degree may just cause disturbances and and hardships in the normal life, growth, and productivity of plants and animals. This may be evident in phenomenon like changes in time of mating of animals and bearing of fruits in plants. Such changes may also cause them to become weaker and vulnerable to diseases.

With sustained and severe change in climate the very existence of certain animals and plants in an area may be threatened. AS in nature, frequently plants and animals depend on their health and survival on other plant and animals, the extinction of one type of plant and animals can lead to adverse chain reaction for other species.

epollock | Student

Climate change unnaturally changes hibernation periods, mating periods, and changes the landscape of habitat.  If the weather is getting warmer, Northern parts of the globe will have less of a cold period and will force animals to move.  I can also see it changing the timing of the seasons if leaves are either dropping sooner or later than normal. 

jkj1362 | Student

Animals and plants had adapted to their environment. Species become stronger and more ept to live in certain condition by natural selection. This adaptation is a long-term phenomenon; it happens through many generations.

Climate changes is happening very quickly. It doesn't give enough time for species to adapt into new environment. Maybe human being is smart enough to use their technologies to quickly adapt to new environment, but for animals and plants, it is very hard to change their ways of life. Humidity, food and water sources, sanitation, and other life sources changes radically when climate changes.