Climate Change: Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Erin Potter, Columnist

‘Climate change is impacting many plant species. Trees, flowers and many crops (as mentioned in a previous column) are among those affected The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims that climate change is affecting species in that they are responding to warming trends by moving poleward and even shifting in elevational range. With warmer water temperatures, seasonal changes and changes in precipitation, the plants species on Earth are being affected and will continue to be affected. These effects include impacts on species’ productivity, diversity and distribution.

Some species aren’t able to adapt to a change in their distribution fast enough. Like birds, plant populations are moving northward with the rising temperatures. Long-living plant species like oak trees are not able to respond very quickly. Arctic and alpine species have no room for movement. Coastal species won’t be able to move because of human development and rising sea levels. Plant species could disappear as a result of the recent climate change trends. Climate change is impacting flowers, causing them to bloom before bees have the chance to pollinate them.

Conditions are becoming more suitable for invasive species and less suitable for native species. This invasion happens because of humans introducing the invasive species, but it is happening more rapidly with climate change. Kudzu is one species that has recently been found in surrounding areas. Kudzu is a vine that takes over objects, that is originally from Japan and was brought to the southeast United States, spreading all the way up to New York. This is happening with many species, as the environment of northern states is becoming more like the south’s environment.

Plants absorb carbon, so it would make sense that they offset the increase in carbon emissions, but this is not always the case. Many plant communities are being destroyed for industry, adding to the carbon emissions. David W. Wolfe of Cornell University states, “Many plant species respond positively to rising CO2, but not all plants are equally desirable.” Poison ivy will actually benefit from the current trend of increasing CO2.

I, for one, am not too happy about an increase in plants such as poison ivy and I’d like to see flowers still able to bloom in the spring. These impacts might not be as visible now, but the current climate change trend will make these impacts more apparent.

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