Climate Change Shrinks Animals

December 6, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
1. shrink (v.) [shringk]  –to become smaller, or cause something to become smaller
    Example: My pair of jeans suddenly shrank after I washed it.

2. terrestrial (adj.) [tuh-res-tree-uhl] –living or growing on land rather than sea or air
    Example: Terrestrial animals starved after the ice age period.

3. invertebrates (n.) [in-vur-tuh-brits, -breyts] –an animal that does not have a backbone, e.g. an insect or worm
     Example: Ants are invertebrates.

4. ecosystem (n.) [ek-oh-sis-tuhm, ee-koh-] –a group of interdependent organisms together with the environment that they inhabit and depend on
     Example: Pollution affects the balance of the ecosystem.

5. sufficiency (n.) [suh-fish-uhn-see] –an amount of something that is enough for somebody or something
     Example: Food sufficiency is the main concern in poor countries.

Read the text below.

Many plants and animals are shrinking because of climate change. Experts fear this may negatively affect food resources in the future.

Scientists from the National University of Singapore found from fossil records and studies on climate change over the last 100 years that increasing temperature and unstable rainfall are affecting the size of many aquatic and terrestrial species in the ecosystem.

According to David Bickford, co-author of the study, cold-blooded animals relying on the environment for heat—such as fish, amphibians and reptiles—have decreased in size as temperature rose to 1.5 degrees Celsius within a 22-year period.

Moreover, the study revealed that invertebrates shrank by up to 75% due to warming periods. Marine species like corals, scallops, oysters and phytoplankton also became smaller due to high acid content in water resulting from an increased temperature in the atmosphere.  Fossil records also showed that even more complex animals like rodents have decreased in size.

Scientists predict this phenomenon to seriously affect food sufficiency in many countries since almost one billion people rely on fish as their main protein source. In addition, variable rain can also make crop farming difficult.

Bickford suggested that more experiments should be done to keep the ecological balance and further protect different organisms in different places.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 
Discussion A

·         Are you convinced by the evidence proving climate change? Why or why not?
·         If climate change were true, what can you do to help stop it?

Discussion B

·         What food has the highest consumption rate in your country (e.g., kind of meat or vegetable)?
·         What other food sources do you have in your country, besides fish and meat?

December 6, 2011