Climate change is real and we've already started to feel some of the effects. While we know what increased global temperatures can do to cities, sea levels, and animal populations, but while those are the most commonly talked about topics, they're far from the extent of it.
There are some changes that are relatively unknown to most people, but will still have big implications. Here are five of those unexpected consequences of climate change:
1. Smaller Animals
As food resources dwindle, members of a species who have smaller bodies — meaning they require less food — will be better adapted than their larger counterparts. Over time, evolution will cause populations to be smaller.
While this may seem inconsequential, smaller bodies mean less food for the animals that eat them, which really interrupts the food chain. There could also be other consequences of this size shift that scientists have not yet considered, as we haven't seen it happen yet.
2. Altered Ant Migration
It's well-understood that climbing temperatures will impact the migration of many larger animals, not as many people consider how it will affect the paths of ants. These insects will likely also experience changes in their migration patterns.
This one might not be all bad, however. This will also slow down the likes of Pheidole megacephala, better known as the "big-headed ant." These ants are invasive and travel to new areas, outcompeting native species for resources.
3. Decreased Desert Soil Bacteria
Far from being barren and desolate, the surface of the desert is teeming with thousands of species of bacteria. This biocrust is essential to the health of the desert plants by cycling both carbon dioxide and nitrogen in the soil.
Though scientists don't have a full understanding of what would happen if we lost these microorganisms, the sheer immensity of it is a clue that we don't want to find out.
4. Increased Volcanic Activity
While some have suggested that volcanic activity is actually the culprit behind climate change, the evidence puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of humans. However, volcanic activity is expected to rise as climate change progresses, as the melting glaciers will shift the stress of its weight from land to the ocean, facilitating more eruptions.
As the eruptions continue, sulfate aerosols will form in the upper atmosphere, which can actually lead to temporary cooling, but it's hardly something that will get us out of the predicament in which we find ourselves. Additionally, the ash and other material that gets spewed out will negatively affect the planet as well.
5. Grumpier Humans
Studies have shown that when the temperature increases, so does the likelihood that tempers will flare. Thus, "keeping one's cool" is a bit more literal than we may have initially believed. As a result, people are likely to become angrier in general. Because humans are highly collaborative, social creatures, it could have larger implications.
Additionally, a warmer climate is not great for human productivity. Just as animals will find it too hot to find food, build nests, or do other things that are beneficial for their survival, humans will also find it bothersome to head outside and do the things that need to be done.
Want to try and prevent these events from happening? Call your local politicians and tell them to support legislation that will bring about real change.
(Cover image: iStockphoto)