Human induced climate change is already having a significant impact on species and ecosystems around the world.
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 5th Assessment Report (2015) notes that ‘a large fraction of terrestrial, freshwater and marine species faces increased extinction risk due to climate change during and beyond the 21st century.’
Climate change – Impact on Irish Biodiversity
In Ireland, climate change is predicted to lead to warmer and drier summers, milder and wetter winters and an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events. Such climatic changes will disrupt Irish wildlife and our natural environment.
Warmer weather may lead to changes in the life cycles of insects, birds, plants and mammals. Changes in weather patterns could lead to behavioural change in pests and pollinators and disturb the delicate balance that exists in the wild. In the Irish marine environment, some species may suffer including kelp, barnacles and starfish, while others such as cuttlefish and purple sea urchin may thrive more in the changed climate. Climate change may also bring changes in the distribution and abundance of invasive species. To reduce the impacts of climate change, protection of our bogs is imperative as loss of peatlands, will lead to release of stored carbon.
Evidence of changing life cycles has already been seen in the international migratory patterns of birds and some insects. The Little Egret, commonly found in Mediterranean Europe, is now a regular visitor in Irish coastal ecosystems.