Impact of Climate Change On Mammals

In the February 2017 edition of Scientific American, an article entitled "Climate ChangeHas Already Harmed Almost Half of All Mammals” was penned by Scott Waldman. Thefollowing pages will attempt to summarize, critique the strengths and weaknesses, and discusshow the evidence presented in the article further the pursuit of scientific knowledge. It will alsopresent an overall view of whether the article provides a scientific viewpoint or is detracted by aconveyance of personal opinions or conjecture.The article begins by citing a few different studies that seem to prove a broader pointwhich is that the effects of climate change on endangered species especially mammals and birdshas been vastly underestimated. James Watson, a researcher at Queensland University inAustralia, details one of the problems with the current mindset on Climate Change “It's ascientific problem in that we are not thinking about climate change as a present-day problem,we're always forecasting into the future, when you look at the evidence, there is a massiveamount of impact right now.” The article also suggests that while original estimates by theInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has now revised its original estimatesof endangered species affected from Climate Change from about 7% to nearly half based on asurvey of studies.

While earlier studies have shown that animals with highly specialized diets aremost effected, these new surveys hint towards a more widespread impact. Specific species indanger include many slow breeding animals such as elephants and chimpanzees or are muchmore effected by the increase in storms and temperature shifts. “It is likely that many of thesespecies have a high probability of being very negatively impacted by expected future changes inthe climate," said Michela Pacifici of the Global Mammal Assessment program at SapienzaUniversity of Rome. More worrisome than the observable dangers are the effects on plants and animals less subjected to research. “We have seriously underestimated the effects of climatechange on the most well-known groups, which means those other groups, reptiles, amphibians,fish, plants, the story is going to be much, much worse in terms of what we think the threat isfrom climate change already," Watson says. The article does note that these results are mainlyfocused on North American and Europe so it may not hold completely true in South America,Asia, or Africa though it should follow a general pattern.

The final sentence in the article calls forpolicymakers and other researchers to realize that climate change is not an issue that needs to besimply planned for because it is an issue that is already showing significant effects.The author of the article does a great job of being rather objective and using direct quotesfrom scientific professionals to prove his point rather than forcing a specific opinion except inthe final sentence where I believe it is more acceptable as he is providing his own synopsis andresolution to the facts stated throughout the article. The flaws with the study that are cited in thearticle are also pointed out directly by the author which shows more willingness to show anobjective scope rather than hiding those to avoid criticism, this is evident when the author pointsout that the scope is limited to mainly North America and Europe. Another success is the use ofstatistics used as a powerful driver of the point trying to be made. Stating that the InternationalUnion for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) originally predicted a relatively small amount (47%) of endangered species effected currently by climate conditions and now has revised toreflect new scientific findings that suggest up to half may already be effected is a very powerfuldevice.

I think there is also some appeal to human nature through science in the highlighting ofmammals like elephants and chimpanzees being at increased risk that may cause a more visceralreaction than say rats or mice without sacrificing any scientific integrity. Overall, I think theposition itself of climate change being a very current and real issue that is being overlooked also is a uniting cause in the scientific and academic community that may need to be marketed tothose who are slow to "buy in” or simply reject it in a way that differs from pure science andreason. Perhaps, in that dynamic is this article most successful in being able to presentinformation that is both scientifically accurate and yet still emotionally effective.The information presented in the article does much to further the pursuit of scientificknowledge in that it both provides a revision of scientific truth, but also points out where thissurvey of studies is weaker and what research can be taken in the future in order to moreinfallible.

The revision of the previously thought impact is one of the first figures presented anddisplays a very important factor in science which is that as more knowledge is obtained, what weunderstand to be true does also. The research information is not shy to point out where it is weakin the dynamic of majority being based in North America and Europe and states that furtherresearch will need to be done in other regions of the world in order to be confirmed as a globalphenomenon (though the author does seemingly predict that the general trend will continue).While this author does go as far as to wrap his opinion loosely into the article, he provideseverything needed from evidence to revision to future points of elaboration which makes thispiece of research an extremely viable asset to scientific knowledge and furtherance.In summary, this is a strong research based article published in Scientific American thatlends evidence that our current perception of climate change as a future danger rather than acurrent one is increasing inaccurate given recent findings.

The author presents a very effectivecase that is scientific in nature but allows the use of devices that allow for the needed appealbeyond the hardcore science community to those who may reject less marketable ways ofpresentation. The author also provides a framework for many facets of the scientific processincluding pure evidence, revision, and where weaknesses lie in the study as well as how research in the topic can be furthered and reinforced. These tenants make this research article botheffective to the purpose of science and the subsequent view that the author seems to be trying toconvey.