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Climate change is a concept that explains changing natural conditions. This includes concentrations of the various components of air such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen. In simpler terms, we can describe climate change as changes in the long-term environmental conditions.
“Biodiversity is the degree of how diverse living organisms are, from all ecosystems like terrestrial, aquatic and their adaptability to these ecosystems where they belong” (Spicer)
Environmental conditions have an important role in the definition of the functions and distribution of plants, together with other factors. Long-term changes in these environmental conditions usually affect the nature and conditions of vegetation in a number of ways explained below. “There are some species that may benefit from climate change but majorly, it is quite evident that most of them may not benefit because of the problem of adaptability.”
Changes in the levels of carbon dioxide
When the level of carbon dioxide concentrations changes within the atmosphere, this largely affects the photosynthesis process in plants. For example, when the concentration of carbon dioxide increases, the results of his will be that plants will use the available water more efficiently. Levels of photosynthetic capacity also increase (Alonso). These two effects together will facilitate a better growth rate for the plants. In this case, we can see that climate change plays a role in enhancing a better bio system. The response by plants to increased carbon dioxide levels will vary depending on the environment. Increases in the level of carbon dioxide can also lead to increased carbon-Nitrogen ratios in the leaves of plants and other components of the leaves of plants like the herbivore nutrition.
Another component of climate is the levels of temperature. A rise in the levels of temperature will accelerate a number of physiological processes in plants like plant photosynthesis to the extreme points (Lévêque and Mounolou 47). “Many at times, extreme temperatures tend to be dangerous especially when these physiological processes exceed their limits for that particular plant.”
Another component of climate is the water levels, which are an outcome of the intensity of rainfall in a given region at any particular time. Some plant and animal species cannot survive under certain levels of water. By this, we refer to ocean species, both plants and animals.
Climate change is also likely to cause changes in the distribution of certain species. Changes in climatic components as temperature and precipitation above the point at which plant species can bear will cause changes in their distribution (Dorothy Hinshaw Patent and Muñoz 80). Extreme climatic changes make some plant species not to migrate towards a climate that suits their characteristics. Environmental conditions that are necessary for the survival of some plant species will totally disappear, making the survival of such species almost impossible.
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Climate change also brings about changes in the community composition of a given habitat (Wilson and Peter 123). This is so because changes in how suitable a habitat is for a given species does not only affect or alter the region which that particular species can survive physiologically; It also affects how that species can favorably compete with other plant species in that area.
Environmental components like temperature often have a significant influence on such phonological occurrences like flowering in plants. When these components change, we expect that the life cycles of some plant species will change (Maclaurin and Sterelny 45). Such modifications in the life cycles of plant species often change the competition between plants. For example, many plants in Britain have changed in terms of their flowering times. Annual plants experience their flowering slightly earlier than the perennial plants. Similarly, Insect pollinated plants flower earlier than wind-pollinated plants. Such variations usually come along with consequences.
As much as climate change may directly impact on the biodiversity of plant species, there are some instances where the effect is indirect. A good example is a plant species that has experienced distribution change because of climate change (Maczulak). Such a species is likely to interfere with the system of specie. This will bring about a new relationship in the competition. For example, a pathogen or parasite may alter its relations with another plant e.g. a pathogenic fungus. This will make the pathogen a common plant in areas with increased rainfall levels.
One cannot neglect the effect climate change has on human beings. As much as the warming of the planet is a slow and gradual process, it is the impact of the unexpected weather occurrences that usually raise serious concern. One major victim of climate change is the agricultural sector. Increasing levels of temperatures, droughts, and floods have become a leading cause of food insecurity in many countries, especially in Africa (Shiva). Malnutrition cases are mostly common in countries that depend highly on rainfall to facilitate farming activities. Extreme climatic conditions such as drought and flood have also caused several deaths of people in many areas. Droughts and flood also bring about diseases such as cholera, which in turn takes so many innocent lives of people, mostly children. Heat waves are usually caused by high temperatures. They can directly raise the level of morbidity and mortality. This is quite prevalent among the aged population that suffers from cardiovascular or respiratory problems (Takuya Abe). Similarly, extreme temperatures are also likely to raise the ground level ozone. This will make the pollen season start slightly earlier than normal, bringing about cases of asthma.
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In conclusion, it is evident that as much as climate change may have some positive impacts, the harms and hazards that come about because of climate change are many. Planners, therefore, need to come up with strategies of containing some of these outcomes of climate change on both biodiversity and human beings.