Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Do heatwaves pose a threat to local fauna and flora?



Yes, irrepairable damage in fact. And it's already done near where I live, in the eastern part of the Netherlands


Yes, they can be devistating to agriculture as well. Animals are just as susceptible to heat stroke and dehydration.

Plants are of course similarly susceptible to extreme temperatures. There are tactics farmers can apply such as coating their crops but there are limits.


One thing that should worry you in particular is that there is a temperature range photosynthesis happens in, and that temperature range ends at about 40C.

This isn't necessarily an immediate problem for plants, because plants store extra calories generated from photosynthesis for future use, and when the temperature is too hot they can switch from photosynthesis to respiration, consuming their stored sugars for energy. During this time, plants become net producers of CO2 instead of net consumers, taking in oxygen, burning their sugars (in the same slow chemical burn we use) and releasing the CO2 at the end.

This is an immediate concern for us, because those stored calories are what we wanted to eat. Plants may survive higher temperatures, but they produce fewer stored calories in the form of delicious fruits, vegetables and grains for us to eat. Climate change is complicated for agriculture, but extra days above (or close to) 40C is just bad, bad, bad.


This is highly dependent on the crop, and when in the plant's growth cycle the heat comes.

For example, crops like wheat benefit from a hot dry period when they get close to harvest time. Same for some vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

The challenge isn't so much that high heat (to an extent) and agriculture is incompatible, it's that unexpected high-heat, or high heat at unexpected times can be damaging.

Don't think that I'm downplaying the risk of climate change to agriculture, there are plenty of very serious negative effects that climate change will have on agriculture, but warmer temperatures on their own, at least at this range, aren't directly a huge issue if they're expected.


Sure. For example, local river fish start dying at 28C. The Rhine is now at 26C.


Warm seas kill coral reefs, and ecosystems depend on these coral reefs for sustenance and protection (hard for a colorful fish to camouflage itself in a bleached reef). It's also allowing Jelly Fish colonies to multiply out of control, which are pretty much devoid of nutritional value.





Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: