From the drunken forests of Alaska, to the vanishing glaciers of Glacier National Park, to the bleaching of coral reefs in the Florida Keys, climate change is impacting our world.
The drunken forests are caused by softening of the permafrost which leads to tilting of the trees. Rising temperatures are threatening the glaciers and warming waters re causing a shift in the composition of oceans that has bleached out color in the reefs.
“There’s more carbon in the water,” explains Mike Gunter Jr. “Some corals are more resilient than others. You’ll see parts of a reef that look really good,” but in others, change is noticeable.
Gunter, a professor at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. has written a new book, “Tales of an Ecotourist: What Travel to Wild Places Can Teach Us About Climate Change.”
El Nino, a cyclical pattern of Pacific storms caused by warm water, has become stronger in recent years, researchers say. That has affected Ecuador’s famed Galapagos Islands known for bird, reptile and sea life.
The lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan, is shrinking, Gunter reports. In the past 40 years, the salt-laden sea has diminished by a third and dropped 80 feet. Much of the change is due to increased use of water from the Jordan River for irrigation.
The flooding which has long plagued the canal city of Venice, Italy, has intensified in recent years. Some areas are regularly inundated at peak high tides. The city is developing plans to build flood walls and other barriers to keep the sea at bay.
The types of species found at Acadia National Park, Maine, is shifting. The area’s lobster population is predicted to migrate north in search of cooler waters, as will the whales that pass by offshore.
In Antarctica, gentoo penguins thrive because they build pebble nests on shorelines newly exposed by melting ice. On the other hand, adelle penguins are having trouble because they fish from floating sea ice, which is less plentiful.
The south-central Kansas town of Greensburg is an environmental survivor, Gunter says. It was nearly destroyed by a 2007 tornado but has been rebuilt as one of the most eco-conscious places in the world. It was the first U.S. city to fully adopt LED street lights, and it gets 100% of its power from renewable energy. It “has rebuilt itself stronger than before,” Gunter notes.