Why an Early Spring Has a Global, Life-Changing Impact on Our Earth

This article originally appeared on Yoganonymous.com.

Image via Vogue Archives

Image via Vogue Archives

Early spring seasons are having an affect on crop harvests, the livelihood of migrating animals, and pollination cycles.  

US Geological Survey ecologist, Jake Weltzin said in an interview with NPR that "plant and animal activity is about two weeks earlier than it has been over the last thirty years." What seems like a small, happy change is actually changing the whole seasonal timing of the flora and fauna system. 

While bees and other local animals are able to move with the change in seasons, other animals may not have that ability. Weltzin explains that the “migratory birds that come up from South America don’t necessarily know that it’s a warm, early spring in North America. And so they may be arriving at the wrong time of year and end up becoming mismatched with the prey they need to eat to feed their young.”

The changes that happen with one species will always affect a group of plants and animals because they are all linked in the larger food chain. If certain birds begin to die off, it will have an affect on the insect levels, and overall plant growth. Migrating animals may miss their pollination cycles, and may not be able to pollinate at all if the early spring turns into a "false spring," which is what happens when the cold weather returns. 

A false spring has more problems than one may initially realize. Weltzin recalls that apple harvests in the upper Midwest were extremely low in 2012 due to false spring conditions. Apple trees were blossoming during early spring, but as cold weather returned, the apple blossoms died off, and the fruit was never able to grow. Which means that early springs, and false springs have subliminal affects on the economy. 

The biological world is responding to the changes occurring in global weather. So, should we be making seasonal changes to match the changes in the weather as well? Weltzin says, “That’s the million dollar question. Do we start agricultural production earlier, do we change how we set up for fire years, how do we change different kinds of crops to adjust for drought? How are we thinking about human allergies and responses to disease?”

If an earlier spring season is where the world is headed, humans, plants, and animals will all have to find a way to adjust. 

Diya SenGupta