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The Disproportionate Effects of Climate Change: Changes in Mortality, Fertility, and Sex Ratios at the Population Level

The consequences of climate change are already affecting the planet, ecosystems, and organisms. The climate is changing at an unprecedented rate and global warming is predicted to intensify in the coming years. Global warming is primarily driven by human activities that are releasing greenhouse gases in record amounts. In 2022, the growth rate of CO2 reached 2.49 ppm per year. Furthermore, current models predict the average global temperature will rise an additional 4°C during the 21st century, making rising temperatures a serious concern. Much attention is given to global warming and global temperature metrics; however, temperature changes in specific regions are especially concerning for at-risk local ecosystems and species. This study focuses on population-level concerns, such as higher mortality rates, lower fertility rates, and skewed sex ratios. For conservation biologists, these data serve as a critical red flag for areas that are being hit hard by rising temperatures. This study investigates how temperature changes are affecting model species to better understand how to implement conservation strategies and technological solutions where they are most needed. In the short term, conservation efforts focused on at-risk populations may help mitigate damaging population changes, but in the long term, humans must slow global warming by limiting further greenhouse gas emissions and work to lower current levels. In order to save at-risk species, the underlying problem of accelerated climate change must be addressed by world leaders, industries, and individuals.

Jean Ganek '23