Whether you are a believer in climate change as man-made or just part of a natural cycle, the current climate is different than a few thousand years ago, and a few thousand years before that. And during these periods of warmer and colder temperatures and more and less violent weather, there has always been a “survival of the fittest” approach with plants and animals on the earth.
Those that are able to adapt survive. Those that can’t, don’t.
These days there are an estimated 15 million species of plants and animals on the earth, though only about 2 million of them have been discovered and identified. And there are certainly thousands of millions more that we have found to be extinct over the ages because of the various changes in climate.
In ecology, there is a complex network where plants and animals are dependent on each other for survival. It is a chicken-and-egg conundrum about whether the plants going extinct lead to animals going extinct, or does the animal extinction affect the plants? Of course, it might depend on the animal about which we’re referring.
It is reported, however, the plants are seeing tremendous changes with changing climate. That extinction seems to be more local than international, which fits with that the majority of species are localized and are not adaptable to other environments.
A recent study shows that of about 1,000 species of plants and animals studied, nearly half of them have had “local extinction” – meaning that while that species may be found in other parts of the world, there is a particular part of the world where it is no longer found.
Nearly half are locally extinct. Something to think about.
There is a belief that climate change is accelerating the extinction of plants and animals, and plants are especially susceptible because of their lack of mobility and ability to adapt to changing conditions. And with some research suggesting that the climate change is currently faster than species can actually adapt, even some mobile animals are at risk of extinction.
Plants can get extinct quickly, true, but there are some plants that will be able to survive because of their reliance on animals (insects and others) which can transmit their seeds into other areas and other habitats.
Plant extinction, however, is too great to really mention specifically here, but it is an issue that climate change does impact. There are many species that have come to exist since the last ice age, and others who died off when the earth got warmer.
It is no different with plants as with animals. As desert areas cool down, some plants will not survive. Those colder areas that warm will have those plants die off and maybe more tropical plants will arrive in their place. There are many more species of plants than animals, and that is how the plant world adapts to climate change – more species to populate the earth regardless of weather. Limited mobility makes them less adaptable than animals, but those that can survive by the winds are the ones that will survive climate cycles.