12 Views of a Warming World
12 Views of a Warming World
By Raillan Brooks / climate.audubon.org

Climate change is here, but from day to day, it may be hard to tell.

The changes are incrementally small—small enough to easily explain away. One extremely hot summer could be just a fluke. An outrageous rain that floods streets is striking, but likely isolated. We live in a time when some countries are actively covering their glaciers to prevent melt, while others drill into oil reserves with reckless abandon. 

But taken in sum, these flukes add up to something more. Sometimes you have to see it to believe it.

Shown here are twelve ecosystems already affected by climate change. Global warming is already disrupting food chains. It’s spurring extreme weather events. Our continuous assualt on the natural environment has some ugly ramifications that we can't ignore.  It’s jeopardizing the resources that birds, other wildlife, and we humans need to survive.

These arresting images show some of the most striking effects of climate change already underway.

Believe it. 

Famished: San Diego, California

This bloom of krill, pink, fast, and alive, is already a rare sight in the North Pacific. But with warmer seas, they’ll become even rarer, here and elsewhere. The tiny crustaceans live in a narrow temperature band just 6 degrees wide. As the waters heat up and krill die off, other dominos in the marine food chain will start to topple; all manner of seabird, fish, and leviathan feast on the three-inch creature. In California, the local—and endangered—Scripps’s Murrelet depends on krill as a diet mainstay. As swarms like these disappear, there is no telling how the murrelet will adapt. Photo Credit: Richard Herrmann/Oceans/Galatée Films

Flooded: Dorchester County, Maryland

Maryland Flood Spread
The Chesapeake Bay, whose surf is spilling onto the roads of coastal Maryland here, has risen one foot over the 20th century. With water coming further inland, any squall is now more dangerous for coastal habitat and the wildlife living within it. The local American Bittern nests in the dense reeds of the area’s wetlands, but are now frequently battered by the waves. As storm surges around the world grow worse, it and other birds will soon find themselves without refuge. Photo Credit: Greg Kahn/Grain

Covered: Rhone Glacier, Switzerland

Covered Glaciers Spread
The Rhone Glacier has steadily shrunk for over 150 years. At this point, the situation is so dire scientists have resorted to covering the glaciers with heat-protective blankets during the summer months. Projects like this one at the Rhone Glacier in the Swiss Alps prevent the glacier from retreating further while also stopping glacial melt from entering the local watershed. The blankets are now common practice in many icy regions of the world. Photo Credit: Olivier Maire/EPA/Corbis

Punctured: Antarctic Ice Sheet

Glacial Hole Spread
It’s not just atmospheric greenhouse gasses that heat up the earth—the bright white of the polar ice caps should also reflect solar rays back into space. But these snow-covered caps are increasingly interrupted by pits like these, whose black mud bottoms of rocky sediment called cryoconite drastically reduces polar surface reflectivity. As the ice is increasingly punctured by cryoconite, more and more heat is captured, melting increasing amounts of ice in a feedback loop that might spell the end of pack ice—one of our most important defenses to runaway climate change. Photo Credit: Nick Cobbing

Fracked: Bakken Shale, North Dakota

Fracking Spread
The oil rush of the Bakken formation—the massive oil and gas-rich shale underneath Montana and North Dakota—is a new kind of environmental hazard: hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The encroaching degradation shown here is just the surface wound. Fracking pumps chemicals and sand into the earth and explosively shatters the rock formation, releasing fuel that often finds its way into adjacent watersheds. Evidence is mounting that fracking can even induce earthquakes. The critically endangered Baird’s Sparrow is a denizen of this once pristine landscape. As oilrigs devour its habitat, its chances for survival grow slimmer and slimmer. Photo Credit: Tristan Spinski/Grain

Disbanded: Central Highlands of Iceland

Iceland Runoff Spread
Iceland has seen average temperatures increase by about 1.2 degrees Celsius since 1975, a rate four times that of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. These opalescent streaks are actually rivulets of glacial meltwater, making their way from ice caps to the sea. The milky appearance comes from all the dissolved sediments, known as rock flour, once locked away in the ice. The tiny rivers’ beauty conceals a dark reality: The country’s more than 300 glaciers are losing 11 billion tons of ice a year. Photo Credit: Solent News/Splash News/Corbis

Overstocked: Arizona

Cattle Farm Spread
Industrial farming now accounts for 80 percent of water usage in the United States alone. On top of water waste, livestock cultivation releases up to 94 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere globally, not to mention the millions of metric tons of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. The cattle seen in this field lot, stretching as far as the eye can see, both consume and produce CO2. As the global population grows, further agricultural intensification is inevitable. Photo Credit: Peter McBride

Drained: Baja California, Mexico

Drained River Spread
The Colorado River delta once sprawled over 2 million acres in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. These days severe drought, compounded by local agriculture’s profligate irrigation techniques, has slowed the river to a trickle by the time it hits the border. Follow the waterway to its basin on the Gulf of California, shown here, and much of the year all you’ll find is a desiccated riverbed. Since 2004 the 244,000-square-mile Colorado River watershed has lost 65 cubic kilometers of fresh water, mostly groundwater, or about three times the river’s yearly output into the gulf. Despite water-sharing pacts aimed at quenching the parched earth, the wetlands needed by birds like the Ridgway’s Rail could soon be a memory. Photo Credit: Peter McBride

Blighted: Central British Columbia

The forests of central British Columbia, where the Varied Thrush and Red-naped Sapsucker breed, are under attack. Warmer winters and unrelenting drought in western North America have led to a rampant mountain pine beetle outbreak, with no end in sight. The insects, which have infested more than 46 million acres in the United States alone, kill trees, creating vast quantities of kindling that feed wildfires, like the one whose scorched remains are seen here. Despite mitigation efforts, 7 million acres of infested pine trees still bear the blight’s telltale red foliage, and the province expects to lose 57 percent of its pine stands by 2021. Photo Credit: Nina Berman/NOOR

Torched: Rancho Santa Margarita, California

The U.S. wildfire season lasts a full two months longer than it did 40 years ago, and the heat is only going to intensify; brush fires charred 9 million acres in 2012 alone. Fire tornadoes—also called fire devils—like this one in Orange County, California, commonly form at the leading edge of blazes, shooting out burning debris. Their core temperatures can reach 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and their wind speeds can hit 100 miles per hour. Wildfire can bring new life—birds such as the Black-backed Woodpecker thrive in recently burned areas—but for the California Gnatcatcher, a threatened species limited to Southern California and Baja California, it means only trouble. Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images

Melted: Chukchi Sea, Arctic

Melted Ice Spread
Black-legged Kittiwakes, seen here gathered on a melting ice sheet in the Chukchi Sea, breed in the Arctic. These seabirds, whose North American populations are decreasing, have better breeding success when sea ice cover is greater and the cold waters beneath produce more forage fish. As the region warms, kittiwakes are in store for more assaults, including new shipping lanes and increased oil and gas development—an estimated 350 billion barrels of oil sit beneath the Arctic seafloor. The threat of oil spills puts kittiwakes and other wildlife on even thinner ice. Photo Credit: Florian Schulz/Visions Of The Wild

Starved: Novaya Zemlya Island, Russia

Starved Bird Cliff Spread
The Arctic is warming at an unprecedented rate, and summer sea ice may disappear entirely within a few decades. This rapid retreat is stranding polar bears far away from seals, their main quarry. The bears, like this adolescent male scavenging Thick-billed Murre eggs on the cliffs of Russia’s Novaya Zemlya Island, have had to turn to new prey. It’s a seismic shift in the food chain, one polar bears may not be able to withstand: It takes 88 Snow Goose eggs (another newly susceptible species) to deliver the nutrition in one meal of seal. As for the murres, their hard-to-reach breeding sites have largely kept predators at bay. Until now. Photo Credit: Jenny E. Ross
3.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 12,323 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Donald Trump Is the Mirror and Hillary Clinton Is the Mask
Chris Agnos · 4,263 views today · Disclaimer: I do not support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president. I think the scope of the political debate is far too narrow for the kinds of actions that need to...
Mark Corske's Engines of Domination (2014)
60 min · 3,062 views today · Political power -- armed central authority, with states and war -- is it part of human nature? Is it necessary for human communities? Or is it a tool that ruling elites use to...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,844 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 2,635 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Gil Scott-Heron Deconstructs Colonialism and Black History in His Own Unique Style
3 min · 1,663 views today · His-Story: I was wondering about our yesterdays, and starting searching through the rubble and to say the very least, somebody went to a hell of a lot of trouble to make sure...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 1,579 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,343 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Donald and Hobbes Is Genius
Various · 1,073 views today · Some clever folk have been replacing precocious 6-year-old Calvin, from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, with Donald Trump and the results are, well, take a look...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 1,030 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
10 Quotes From an Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
Wisdom Pills · 950 views today · Luther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 816 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Anarchists - What We Stand For
unknown · 550 views today · Anarchism : The word “anarchy” comes from Greek and means “no rulers”. As a political philosophy, anarchism is based on the idea that organization does not require rulers—that...
Planet Earth II Could Be Best Nature Doc Ever Made
3 min · 533 views today · 10 years ago Planet Earth changed our view of the world. Now we take you closer than ever before. This is life in all its wonder. This is Planet Earth II. A decade ago, the...
For Those Who Don't Want to Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils
Peter White · 489 views today · Ranked-choice voting is catching on, and Maine might become the first state to help citizens vote for candidates they actually want.
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 484 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 371 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism
Chris Hedges · 272 views today · College-educated elites, on behalf of corporations, carried out the savage neoliberal assault on the working poor. Now they are being made to pay. Their duplicity—embodied in...
Are You Lost in the World Like Me?
3 min · 268 views today · Animated film by Steve Cutts for 'Are You Lost In The World Like Me?', taken from These Systems Are Failing- the debut album from Moby & The Void Pacific Choir. 
Eckhart Tolle: Your Facebook Ego, That's Not Who You Are
2 min · 255 views today · “Identification with thoughts and the emotions that go with those thoughts creates a false mind-made sense of self, conditioned by the past: the "little me" and its story. This...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
12 Views of a Warming World