Global warming is a condition caused by excess gases in the air, which are as a result of burning fossil fuels. This according to Archer (2007), creates a thick layer of gases in the atmosphere that causes more heat to be trapped in the earth’s surface. Climate change is the change in the average weather patterns of a place. Climate change is caused by global warming. This effect of climate change on forests has increasingly become a matter of concern which needs to be addressed. This is because of the overall fact that forests make up a healthy environment. For example, they purify air, protect soils, and prevent inhabitants from strong winds that would destroy structures.
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Carbon cycle involves the exchange of carbon in the atmosphere. Like water and nitrogen cycles, the carbon cycle consists a sequence of events that are key to sustain life on earth. Through the carbon cycle, carbon is recycled and reused throughout the atmosphere. Carbon molecules are essential for life on earth since it is the key component of biological compounds. It is also a key component of many minerals. CO2 is also the cause of the greenhouse effect. In the past two decades human activities have extremely distorted the global carbon cycle, most significantly in the atmosphere (Beerling & Woodward, 2001).
While carbon dioxide levels have changed over the past thousand years, human emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere surpass natural fluctuations. The change of atmospheric CO2 has altered weather patterns and influenced the oceanic chemistry. Though global temperatures change without alteration in atmospheric CO2 levels, CO2 levels cannot vary much without upsetting global temperatures. Current Co2 levels in the atmosphere go beyond measurements in the last 420,000 years. The levels are going higher than ever recorded, making it significant for understanding how the carbon cycle works and the effect global climate (Beerling & Woodward, 2001).
Cellular respiration and photosynthesis both involve the exchange of gases, carbon dioxide and oxygen. At the same time, energy is transformed in one way or another. In the process of photosynthesis, plants take in the sun's energy and create food (mainly glucose). The process requires CO2 and water: 6CO2 + 6H2O + Energy → C6H12O6 + 6O2. As opposed to photosynthesis, in cellular respiration, oxygen and glucose are reactants while carbon dioxide and waters are products: C6H12O6 + 6O2 --> 6CO2 + 6H2O + energy. In both processes, there is movement of electrons through "electron transport chains".
Climate change affects the growth and productivity of forests in that it increases the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which in turn increases the temperatures and changes the rate of precipitation. Increase in carbon dioxide is beneficial in that, it is an essential element for photosynthesis where plants use sunlight for growth. In the availability of water and mineral salts, an increase in CO2 level hastens the growth. However, in the absence of these two, water and mineral salts, an increase in carbon dioxide level may not be effective. An increase in carbon dioxide levels may also increase the amount of forest cover available in that it turns grassland into Woodland and Woodland into forests.
Due to this change in climate, society activities are affected in many ways. For example, when drought seasons come along, the productivity of plants decreases hence reduced food production (Moran, 1999). Considering its effect also to forests, the animal habitat and many species may become extinct due to destruction of their habitat.
Due to many trees dying off due to adverse climatic changes, the level of fodder reduces which affects animals depending on this, for example, cows and goats. Changes in climate also reduces peoples sources of energy in that when some trees become extinct, wood, which is used as a source of fuel reduces in quantity hence affecting people. When also the amount of tree cover reduces, the ground is more prone to soil erosion. It may also lead to loss of soil fertility, which affects productivity.
On the other hand, this effect on forests also has some positive effects: for example increased carbon dioxide due to global warming leads to an increase in plant cover which means there’s a corresponding increase in food productivity. An increase in plant cover is also useful in that it attracts a lot of rain which is important for plant growth. Considering how changes in climate reduce plant cover, we find that more deserts are created which is vital because they serve as a tourist attraction site.
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