ways to save the planet

As further evidence emerges of the threat of climate change, scientists around the world are developing tools to try to stop the temperatures rising.

A new series on Discovery Channel from this Sunday looks at some of the methods being proposed by scientists around the world.

Iain Riddick, series producer, said the scientists may have outlandish ideas but they are all respected in their field.

Ways to save the planet:

  1. Wrapping Greenland. Dr Jason Box, a glaciologist from Ohio State University, proposes wrapping Greenland in a blanket. By covering the valleys that form darker areas, therefore attracting the sun’s heat, he hopes to significantly slow the melting of the glacier.
  2. Hungry ocean. Dr Brian von Herzen of the The Climate Foundation and marine biologists at the University of Hawaii and Oregon State University believe that the ocean could absorb much more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by creating plankton blooms. This is done by mixing the nutrient rich water in the colder depths of the ocean with the warmer surface water by placing huge wave-powered pumps on the swells of the North Pacific.
  3. Space sun shield. Professor Roger Angel, who helped create the world’s largest telescope, believes the power of the sun could be reduced by placing a giant sun shield in space. The 100,000 square mile sunshade would be made up of trillions of lenses that reduce the sun’s power by two per cent.
  4. Raining forests. Consultant environmental engineer Mark Hodges believes forests could be generated by dropping “tree bombs” from a plane. The seedlings are dropped in a wax canister full of fertiliser that explodes when it hits the ground and grows into a tree. The method has already been used to regenerate mangrove forest in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
  5. Infinite Winds. Fred Ferguson, a Canadian engineer specialising in airships, has designed a wind turbine that will use the constant winds that exist at 1,000 feet to produce renewable energy.
  6. Brighter World. Stephen Salter, an Edinburgh University engineer, believes that clouds can be created to protect the world from the power of the sun. He proposes forming clouds above the ocean by sending salt into the atmosphere.
  7. Orbital power plant. Former Nasa physicist John Mankins believes the world could have a never-ending source of power and reduce carbon emissions by sending thousands of satellites into space to gather the sun’s power and then beam them down to earth as a microwave.
  8. Fixing carbon. David Keith, 2006 Canadian Geographic Environmental Scientist of the Year, believes he can create a machine that sucks in ambient air and sprays it with sodium hydroxide and then expels it as clean air. The carbon from the air will be captured and stored underground.

The Telegraph, 13 Feb 2009

one man’s ….

People should eat less meat to help combat the effects of climate change, the world’s leading expert on global warming has claimed.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said people should aim for one meat-free day a week, before scaling down their consumption even further.

Dr Pachauri, whose panel won a Nobel Peace Prize last year, said: “Give up meat for one day a week initially, and decrease it from there. In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity.”

The Telegraph, 8 Sep 2008

fading foliage

Fading Fall Foliage Blamed on Global Warming.

Forested hillsides usually riotous with reds, oranges and yellows have shown their colors only grudgingly in recent years, with many trees going straight from the dull green of late summer to the rust-brown of late fall with barely a stop at a brighter hue.

It’s nothing like it used to be, said University of Vermont plant biologist Tom Vogelmann, a Vermont native.

He says autumn has become too warm to elicit New England’s richest colors. The leaves fall off without ever becoming orange or yellow or red.

They just go from green to brown, said Barry Rock, a forestry professor at the University of New Hampshire. He says 2004 was “mediocre, 2005 was terrible, 2006 was pretty bad although it was spotty. This year, we’re seeing that same spottiness.”

Fox News, 22 Oct 2007

stronger strawberries

With higher temperatures expected in northern latitudes in coming decades, the U.K. has begun a program to develop strawberries that will survive in higher temperatures with less water.

Since chocolate also may be threatened, could sexy chocolate-covered strawberries, a Valentine’s Day staple, be endangered?

According to The Telegraph, Dr. David Simpson, a scientist with England’s East Malling Research, said last year, “Consumer demand for fresh strawberries in the UK has been growing year on year since the early 1990s.

The British growers have done a great job of increasing their productivity to satisfy this demand between April and October.

The future will be challenging due to the impacts of climate change and the withdrawal of many pesticides but the breeding programme at EMR is using the latest scientific approaches to develop a range of varieties that will meet the needs of our growers for the future.”

Huffington Post, 2015

coals to Newcastle

Scientists will this week warn that Italy may be forced to import the basic ingredients for pasta, its national food, because climate change will make it impossible to grow durum wheat.

In a report to be released by Britain’s Met Office today, scientists predict that Italy’s durum yields will start to decline from 2020 and the crop will almost disappear from the country later this century.

The report will say: “Projected climate changes in this region, in particular rising temperature and decreasing rainfall, may seriously compromise wheat yields.”

The warning is the latest example of the impact climate change could have on lifestyles and diets across Europe.

It has emerged from the five-year Ensembles project, an EU-sponsored study straddling 66 research centres in 20 countries across Europe.

The Australian, 16 November 2009

watch your waste!

“Apartment dwellers are not only the worst recyclers; they also fail to realise that the authorities sometimes go through their rubbish. We have found incriminating stuff before, pictures of people cross-dressing and the like,” the City of Sydney’s waste education co-ordinator, Michael Neville, said yesterday, picking through a bin of compacted waste at Sydney’s biggest apartment block, World Tower.

“You’d be surprised what you can fit down the rubbish chute,” said the building’s cleaning contract manager, John Kouhis. “We have found rice cookers in there.”

World Tower management and the City of Sydney have joined the Department of Environment and Climate Change and the Ethnic Communities Council to develop a pilot program aimed at improving the recycling habits of apartment dwellers.

Sydney Morning Herald, 12 May 2007

ban dogs!

A group of architects from New Zealand have calculated that a pet dog has an environmental footprint twice that of an SUV.

The calculations are based on how much land is required to grow enough food to feed a dog throughout its lifetime. ‘Time to Eat the Dog’ is the title of a new book by two architects from New Zealand.

Robert and Brenda Vale have calculated that a medium-sized dog has twice the environmental impact of a large four-wheel drive vehicle, when all factors are considered. Digital Journal, 22 Oct 2009

if blind lead the blind, both fall in the …

As temperatures rise due to global warming the UK will have to be prepared for ‘monsoon style’ storms by building open drainage ditches beside urban roads, pourous pavements and storing water in reservoirs under car parks.

Lord Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, said Britain is experiencing a “new kind of rain” in the summer that is putting cities at increasing risk, especially London.

The Telegraph (UK), 14/10/09 “Monsoon style floods to hit Britain

Have you hypermiled lately?

Real men hypermile.

That’s the “attempt to maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one’s car and one’s driving techniques,” according to the Oxford American Dictionary, which named “hypermiling” the 2008 word of the year.

Hypermiling techniques include keeping tires perfectly inflated, killing engines at stoplights, turning off the air-conditioning and driving at a steady speed, with as little rapid acceleration or deceleration as possible.

Originally coined in 2004 by a driver named Wayne Gerdes, who has earned several gas-mileage records, hypermiling really caught on in 2008 as gas prices passed $4 a gallon in much of the country. Time, 3 Nov 2008

conspiracy

A report by the Public Religion Research Institute and the American Academy of Religion found that race is a consistent predictor both of people’s concern toward climate change and inclination to act on it.

According to the report, more than 7 in 10 Hispanic Americans and nearly 6 in 10 black Americans are very or somewhat concerned about the impact of climate change.

By contrast, less than half of white Americans share this sentiment.

Policy.Mic, 2 Dec 2014

outnumbered

Climate change could affect the ratio of human males to human females that are born in some countries, a new study from Japan suggests.

The researchers found that male fetuses may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

This suggests that climate warming or climate extremes could negatively affect male fetuses, study researcher Dr. Misao Fukuda, of M&K Health Institute in Ako, Japan, told Live Science in an email.

LiveScience, 30 Sep 2014

tipping point passed

“Today I testified to Congress about global warming, 20 years after my June 23, 1988 testimony, which alerted the public that global warming was underway. There are striking similarities between then and now, but one big difference. The difference is that now we have used up all slack in the schedule for actions needed to defuse the global warming time bomb.

The next president and Congress must define a course next year in which the United States exerts leadership commensurate with our responsibility for the present dangerous situation.

Otherwise it will become impractical to constrain atmospheric carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas produced in burning fossil fuels, to a level that prevents the climate system from passing tipping points that lead to disastrous climate changes that spiral dynamically out of humanity’s control.”

Dr James Hansen, Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near on Global Warming, Huffington Post, 07/01/2008 , Updated May 25, 2011

stable shoreline slips away

“More ominous tipping points loom. West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are vulnerable to even small additional warming. These two-mile-thick behemoths respond slowly at first, but if disintegration gets well under way, it will become unstoppable. Debate among scientists is only about how much sea level would rise by a given date.

In my opinion, if emissions follow a business-as-usual scenario, sea level rise of at least two meters is likely within a century. Hundreds of millions of people would become refugees, and no stable shoreline would be reestablished in any time frame that humanity can conceive.”
Dr James Hansen, Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near on Global Warming, Huffington Post, 07/01/2008 , Updated May 25, 2011

more tipping points

An average global temperature rise of 7.2F (4C), considered a dangerous tipping point, could happen by 2060, causing droughts around the world, sea level rises and the collapse of important ecosystems.

The Arctic could see an increase in temperatures of 28.8F (16C), while parts of sub Saharan Africa and North America would be devastated by an increase in temperature of up to 18F (10C).

Britain’s temperature would rise by the average 7.2F (4C) which would mean Mediterranean summers and an extended growing season for new crops like olives, vines and apricots.

However deaths from heat waves will increase, droughts and floods would become more common, diseases like malaria may spread to Britain and climate change refugees from across the world are likely to head to the country.

Dr Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, said the new study showed how important it was to try and reduce emissions.

The Telegraph (UK), 27 Sep 2009

one of the four horsemen gets a run!

4_horsemenUp to 300,000 Australians on average may annually be exposed to the dengue virus by 2020, and between 600,000 and 1.4 million by 2050, according to climate change predictions finalised yesterday by global scientists. CSIRO climate change scientist Kevin Hennessy, a lead author on the report’s Australian chapter, was in Brussels for behind-closed-doors talks to finalise the summary.

This should help governments, industries and the community to begin planning responses to climate change, Mr Hennessy said. “But there are likely to be considerable cost and institutional constraints (on finding solutions) … Water security and coastal communities are the most vulnerable sectors.”
The Age(Australia), 7 Apr 2007

no more water

Half of humanity could face water shortges by 2050 if the world lets the financial crisis distract it from fighting global warming, a key UN climate change summit of more than 185 countries has been told.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chairman Rajendra Pachauri told an opening meeting that many people had still not woken up to the risks of climate change if the world failed to act.

He cited projections that the number of people living in river valleys and facing water stress could quadruple from more than 1 billion in 1995 to more than 43 billion by 2050, that a third of species could face extinction, that the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets could melt, triggering massive sea-level rises.

Dr Pauchari said “everybody was distracted” by the financial crisis, but that it should not stop firm action “once the dust settles, give it a month or two”.

The Age (Australia), 3 Dec 2008 – screen copy held by this website

see also – just plain scary

vulnerable koalas

Koalas, already listed as vulnerable, are likely to die in greater numbers as they adapt to climate change, which will bring more intense bushfires, rising temperatures, increased drought and a drop in the nutrition levels of their food, a senior NSW Government scientist warns.

Dan Lunney told a conference of the NSW Nature Conservation Council that rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere would push up toxins and lower nutrients in eucalyptus leaves.

“We’d all burst into tears if they disappeared from the scene,” Dr Lunney told the Herald.

But he and his colleagues have begun a research project that may help the vulnerable animals adapt to climate change.

Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Nov 2008 – screen copy held by this website

the roof is falling!

The tile roofs atop Sydney houses are too flimsy and unable to withstand the onslaught of a summer storm season, new research has found.

And, if climate change proponents are correct, the problem could get worse, with hailstorms of greater intensity and regularity wreaking untold property damage.

Professor Alan Jeary, a structural design specialist from the University of Western Sydney’s school of engineering, issued a warning at the start of this year’s summer storm season that hail damage had been largely ignored by regulators, builders and manufacturers.

Insurance Council of Australia chief executive Karl Sullivan said the once-in-a-generation review was an opportunity to change the mindset that building standards was only about protecting lives.

Mr Sullivan said making properties more durable and resilient also was required in the face of challenges raised by climate change.

He said tougher buildings would lead to a small increase in construction costs, which would be offset by lower routine maintenance and lower repair bills after naturally occurring hazard events.

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Dec 2008

giant sunshade

Professor Roger Angel thinks he can diffract the power of the sun by placing trillions of lenses in space and creating a 100,000-square-mile sunshade.

Each lens will have a diffraction pattern etched onto it which will cause the sun’s rays to change direction. He intends to use electromagnetic propulsion to get the lenses into space. If work was started immediately Prof Angel thinks the sunshield could be operation by 2040.

He said: “Things that take a few decades are not that futuristic.”

The Telegraph, 17 Feb 2009

can’t see the wood for…..

If global warming really is the mother of all enveronmental probalems, then perhaps the time has come to bring to an end the clearing and logging of natural forests. This will make a significant and cost-effective contribution to solving the global warming problem.

We must not forget that the laws of science apply universally and do not recognise political boundaries. Whether a natural forest is in Tasmania, Victoria or Papua, it performs the same kind of role in the global carbon cycle and in helping to regulate atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.

Brendan Mackey, professor of environmental science at the Australian National University, in The Age, 7 Aug 2007 – screen copy held by this website

will you lead by example?

If it’s so hard to change the climate to suit humans, why not alter humans to suit the changing climate, philosophers from Oxford and New York universities are asking. They suggest humans could be modified to be smaller, to dislike eating meat, have fewer children and be more willing to co-operate with social goals.

Behavioural changes might not be enough, even if they are widely adopted, and international agreements for market solutions such as emissions trading are proving difficult to achieve, say Matthew Liao, of New York University, and Anders Sandberg and Rebecca Roache, of Oxford University.

They suggest hormone treatments could be used to suppress child growth, or embryos selected for smaller size. They say people who lack the motivation or willpower to give up eating meat could be helped by “meat patches” on their skin, which deliver hormones to stimulate the immune system against common bovine proteins.

“Henceforth eating ‘eco-unfriendly’ food would induce unpleasant experiences,” the authors say. Better-educated women have fewer children, so human engineering to enhance cognition could lead to fertility reduction as “a positive side effect from the point of view of tackling climate change”, the paper also argues.

Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Apr 2012

in support of small shops

Neighbourhood shops and farmers’ market will gain currency in the coming days, as reduction in vegetable transport will help save fuel and thereby help reduce global warming, said G, Nammalvar, organic farming scientist on Thursday.

Transportation of food items formed a considerable part in the entire transport industry, he added and suggested that shops like the Greens Shop would be best answer to reduce transportation.

Dr. Nammalvar suggested that ideal situation would be one where the distance between the points of production and sale was not more than 30 km. And, the presence of farmers’ and community markets would ensure absence of middlemen.

The Hindu, 26 Apr 2008

fragile coast

More than 700,000 Australian homes are vulnerable to rising sea levels, with up to $150 billion worth of homes, property and infrastructure at risk of seawater inundation, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts sea levels could rise between 0.18 metres and 0.59 metres over the next 100 years. But even a small rise will dramatically change Australia’s coastline, the department warns.

“It is estimated that erodible coasts will recede one metre for every one centimetre rise in sea level. Storm surges will exacerbate coastal erosion.” But even a small rise will dramatically change Australia’s coastline, the department warns. “It is estimated that erodible coasts will recede one metre for every one centimetre rise in sea level. Storm surges will exacerbate coastal erosion.”

Other experts believe sea levels could jump even more dramatically, rising several metres over the next century, inundating thousands of homes and threatening infrastructure.

The concern is that a threshold may soon be passed beyond which we’ll be committed to losing most or all of the Greenland ice sheet, said Professor Steffen of the Australian National University.

“This would lead to 6 metres of sea level rise (with enormous implications for Australia), although the time frame required to lose this amount of ice is highly uncertain, ranging from a century to a millennium or more.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 17 Oct 2008

see also – just plain scary

moving target

In Sydney to address the Metropolis conference, Dr Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said many scientists believed that even a 450 ppm target was not strong enough.

“There are a section of scientists and some analysts that are actually now saying that 450 is a bit too high and what we should be targeting is 350.”

Pointing to the dangerous predicament of low lying island nations such as Kiribati and the Maldives, Dr Pachauri said: “If you talk to the president of [the] Maldives, indeed the people of the Maldive Islands, they’re living in a state of fear.

Dr Pachauri warned the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere was already contributing to sea-level rise.

If the world’s big ice sheets kept melting, “you are talking about well over a metre of sea-level rise and that, to my mind, is going to be disastrous for hundreds of millions of people”.

Sydney Morning Herald, 24 Oct 2008

see also – just plain scary

frisky coral

Australian scientists have discovered some rare corals with promiscuous habits that could be helping them to breed their way out of extinction.

Faced with a shortage of mates of their own kind, these rare corals have cast a wider net and started cross-breeding with other coral species, producing hybrids.

It pushes the boundaries of our traditional understanding of species, said a researcher, Zoe Richards. “They are being a little promiscuous.”

By cross-breeding with other species, rare corals can increase their ability to adapt to the pressures of climate change and other human threats.

This is a mechanism enabling rare species to continue to reproduce and to continue to evolve as a species rather than die out, said Ms Richards, a marine scientist at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

With such tricks up their sleeves, it is even possible that the rare corals of today could become the common corals of the future.

Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Oct 2008

a new environmental warrior!

Stand aside Al Gore, there’s a new environmental warrior on the scene and his name is Jason Kimberley. He’s the photographer, author and Antarctic explorer who has a chilling message about the future of this planet and he’s delivering it via the movement he’s created, Cool Melbourne.

“I want to make sure all Melburnians know how poorly we’re treating our environment and how we need to improve,” an ardent Kimberley told Diary.

So what has Kimberley done to reduce the number of black balloons he sends up and away? He’s switched to a hybrid car, double-glazed his windows, installed solar heating and a water tank, bought friendly appliances, adn started a vegie patch. The Cool Melbourne websote says kiddies can do their bit by eating “nude food” – swapping plastic wrap and foil for reusable containers. Even adults can go nude (in a culinary sense).

The Age (Australia), 13 May 2008 – screen copy held by this website

Climate conference emits hot air!

Amid talk of offsetting the hefty carbon footprint of the United Nations climate conference in Bali, organisers missed a large elephant in the room.

The air-conditioning system installed to keep more than 10,000 delegates cool used highly damaging refrigerant gases – as lethal to the atmosphere as 48,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, and nearly the equivalent of the emissions of all aircraft used to fly delegates to Indonesia.

In addition, the refrigerant is a potent greenhouse gas, with each kilogram at least as damaging as 1.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Investigators at the Balinese resort complex at Nusa Dua counted 700 cylinders of the gas, each of them weighing 13.5 kilograms, and the system was visibly leaking.

Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Dec 2007

time is up for sheep and cattle!

In his report on climate change released at the beginning of the month, Professor Garnaut said that the price of beef and land would soar to a point where only wealthy households could afford beef.

Citing research, he said kangaroo meat “Could again become important” and that if a way to reduce methane emissions from livestock wasn’t found, 7 million cattle and 36 million sheep could be replaced by 175 million farmed kangaroos.

Kangaroos produce no methane, and the other environmental benefit is that kangaroos have soft feet, which means less damage to the land and less soil erosion compared to sheep and cattle.

Newcastle Herald (Australia), 15 Oct 2008 – screen copy held by this website

true believers rocked!

“It’s time to get over big government. I know most Australians did so aeons ago but a few hold-outs, such as myself, kept the faith.

The Government’s wimpish response to the crisis of climate change has rocked the faith of the true believers. We can’t wait any longer for government to provide leadership, the price signals and incentives push us towards a simpler life.

If the planet is to be saved it will have to start at the bottom, with people deciding to change the way they live. People power, we can only hope will embolden the Government to do the right thing.

It would seem that whatever personal action we take to reduce our carbon footprint – buy a hybrid car, install solar heating, give up meat – will be negated by a Chinese family now rich enough to buy its first car and first fridge, who will replace the carbon dioxide we have virtuously reduced.”

Adele Horin, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Jul 2008 – screen copy held by this website

living within means

Continuing global economic growth “is not possible” if nations are to tackle climate change, a report by an environmental think-tank has warned.

The New Economics Foundation (Nef) said “unprecedented and probably impossible” carbon reductions would be needed to hold temperature rises below 2C (3.6F).

Scientists say exceeding this limit could lead to dangerous global warming.

We urgently need to change our economy to live within its environmental budget, said Nef’s policy director Andrew Simms

Heat Is Online – orig BBCNews, 25 Jan 2010

citizen science

One of the clearest measures of global warming is right outside your window: earlier blooming and budding plants in the spring.

Project BudBurst scientists are getting reports that common lilac, red maples, Virginia bluebells and other popular ornamental plants on their “10 Most Wanted” list are waking up earlier in the spring than ever — a sign that the climate is heating up.

We’re seeing that the data show that spring is advancing, said Sandra Henderson of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which oversees Project BudBurst.

All the instructions for participating, including a geolocator so participants can report their whereabouts, are available at the project website.

An application that allows citizen scientists to report their findings on their cell phones may soon be available, Henderson said. UCLA is working on a mobile phone application to do it, Henderson said.

The application will allow users to quickly send in photos documenting what a plant in a particular location is doing on a given day.

Project BudBurst and other citizen science campaigns is actually empowering, said Henderson. “We want people to be outside in a meaningful way.”

Heat Is Online, 22 Apr 2010 – Discovery.com

out of fashion

Designers and fashion experts fear the increasingly unpredictable weather could see the back of the industry’s traditional, seasonal collections.

They have been the framework for the fashion calendar for so long but could now become meaningless because of the topsy-turvy weather.

The impact on the industry, which currently revolves around a major seasonal change twice a year, could be enormous.

British designer Katherine Hamnett said: “The entire clothing industry is upside-down right now and has been for some time. We have bikinis being sold in January, and fur coats being sold in August. It’s bonkers.

Daily Mail, 9 Oct 2007

but it’s meat and drink to me!

Eating less lamb and drinking fewer pints will help save the planet, according to a Government advisor.

Diners are being encouraged to eat more pork and chicken instead, as they produce fewer carbon emissions. The study also found that alcoholic drinks contribute significantly to emissions with the growing and procesing of hops and malt into beer and whisky prodcing 1.5 percent of Britain’s greenhouse gases.

“Changing our lifesyles, including our diets, is going to be one of the crucial elements in cutrting carbon emissions,” said David Kennedy, chief executive officer of the Committee on Climate Change.

Mr Kennedy, who says he has stopped eating kebabs because they contain lamb, added:”We are not saying that everyone should become vegetarian or give up drinking but moving towards less carbon intensive foods will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve health.”

The Telegraph, 24 May 2009

kiss the carbon years goodbye!

Get excited about an energy revolution, Visualize our Earth from space, Know that it’s fragile,

..Don’t drive, unless you have to, Walk more *Cycle more* Skate more…Avoid drive-thrus…Avoid fast food*Eat Less Meat, Share what you have*Buy Less Stuff, Reuse Before you Recycle, Dig up the concrete….Put your hot water heater on a timer…

Support climate friendly politicians…Put on a sweater….Buy tree-free or post-consumer paper….Use a clothsline instead of a dryer, Dream of a solar-hydrogen economy

….Kiss the carbon years goodbye, Our world will be whole, And Healed Tomorrow, If We Pay Attention Today.

Syracuse Cultural Workers postcard, How to end global warming, 2007

fisher-free

A group of scientists have called for the Coral Sea to be declared the world’s largest marine protected area, but the fishing industry says the idea is ludicrous.

Marine researchers said the Coral Sea, which covers one million square kilometres bordering the Great Barrier Reef, should become a non-fishing area to protect its immense environmental and heritage values from the escalating threats of overfishing and climate change.

Professor Terry Hughes, of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, said there was overwhelming evidence the world’s marine ecosystems have been seriously degraded by overfishing, pollution and global warming.

“These trends call for urgent, practical solutions” said Professor Hughes.

The Age (Australia), 10 Sep 2008

sink or …

The idea was conceived by advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, who were commissioned by banking giant HSBC to promote its £50million project tackling climate change.

The Ogilvy team came up with an innovative way to show the adverse impact of global climate change.They glued an aerial view of a city to the base of a swimming pool. When the pool was filled with water, it gave a shocking effect akin to a city submerged in water.

The visual of a sunken city shocked swimmers and onlookers, driving home the impact of global warming, and how it could destroy our world someday.

The Telegraph, 26 Nov 2008

turtles skewed

Some of Australia’s most vulnerable native animals could die out as climate change takes its toll on their already fragile existence.

The warning is contained in a report that catalogues the risks facing 11 species from the impact of rising temperatures and rainfall decline.

The report, produced by environmental group WWF and a research team from Macquarie University, says global warming could skew the sex ratios for marine turtles in favour of females, as sex is determined by the incubation temperature of eggs.

Tammie Matson from the WWF, said while Australian species had adapted to climate change in the past, many were now suffering from habitat loss and introduced predators.

“Climate change is just another factor in the mix that could spell extinction for a number of species,” Dr Matson said. “It will exacerbate existing threats. It will tip some species over the edge.”

The Age (Australia), 25 Mat 2008 – screen copy held by this website

chameleon parrots

Scientists are investigating a link between colour and climate in a study of why the Australian parrots vary from red to orange to yellow.

Birds that live in lower-rainfall parts of south-east Australia, such as along the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers, have a plumage of pale yellow.

But in higher-rainfall areas such as Gippsland and along the Great Divide, these rosellas remain truer to their name and are rich red.

With climate change it could be possible to see more yellow forms of the crimson rosella in Victoria, Deakin University’s Andy Bennett said.

With increasing aridity, Professor Bennett said, the boundary between the yellow and red varieties could move, resulting in a larger area populated by yellow rosellas.

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Oct 2008

ban fireworks

With droughts and wildfires hitting many parts of the U.S., municipalities from Colorado to Tennessee canceled July 4th public fireworks displays or banned personal fireworks this year, citing the fire hazards they posed.

In June, a study published in the journal Ecosphere found that almost all of North America will see more wildfires by 2100, reported Reuters.

The study’s lead author, Max Moritz, said, “In the long run, we found what most fear – increasing fire activity across large areas of the planet.”

Huffington Post, 11 Aug 2012 – What Climate Change Just Might Ruin

mound-building Mallee fowl takes a hit!

For nearly 20 years, Joe Benshemensh has been monitoring the mound-building Mallee fowl, trying to discern what’s killing them off, and whether they have a future.

“If climate change is a reality then the prognosis is dire. On the other hand, they have a geographic range that gives us some hope they won’t be eliminated, just take a severe hit. Our big challenge is to modify the monitoring program, to actively preserve them.”

The Sunday Age (Australia), 1 Jun 2008 – screen copy held by this website

…but can new wine be put in new bottles?

World wine producers face rising challenges from global warming and soaring fuel costs but any price increases will be bearable, the head of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine said yesterday.

More efficient producers, who find how to produce better wine even with rising costs, will be the winners, Frederico Castellucci said shortly after being re-elected director-general at the organistion’s congress, where 44 countries were represented.

Solutions being researched including lighter bottles and other packaging such as boxes, increased competition and cost-saving efforts could speed the trend to bigger plots, he said.

The Sun Herald (Australia), 22 Jun 2008 – screen copy held by this website

flat as a …

pancakes

It may be a bit harder to drown your pancakes in maple syrup in the future, studies suggest.

According to a 2010 Cornell University study, “maple syrup production in the Northeast is expected to slightly decline by 2100, and the window for tapping trees will move earlier by about a month.”

Additionally, most maple syrup production south of Pennsylvania “will likely be lost by 2100 due to lack of freezing.”

Huffington Post, 11 Aug 2012 What Climate Change Just Might Ruin

in search of the secetive chestnut rail

Stephen Garnett, a professor of tropical knowledge at Charles Darwin University believes global warming will herald stronger and more frequent cyclones and, as habitats change, life forms will fight for space or even existence.

Consider the chestnut rail, a secretive bird whose ginger body and green beak make it prettier than it sounds – a raucous “wack waka, wah-wah”, alternated with grunts – and once common on Marchinbar Island, about 640 kilometres north-east of Darwin.

Since Cyclone Monica swept through, in April last year, the chestnut rail has been nowhere to be seen on the island.

Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Nov 2007

women affected

A California congresswoman warns global warming will be so detrimental to poor women, it will drive them to prostitution.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., has re-introduced legislation that forces the government to address all “policies and programs in the United States that are globally related to climate change” through the lens of gender.

Her resolution, “Recognizing the disparate impact of climate change on women and the efforts of women globally to address climate change,” asserts that long term and catastrophic weather changes will result in drought and destructive weather events such as flooding, which could lead to food shortages, joblessness and disease, along with economic and political crisis on a regional scale.

Since “women will disproportionately face harmful impacts from climate change, particularly in poor and developing nations where women regularly assume increased responsibility for growing the family’s food and collecting water, fuel, and other resources,” the measure reads, they will be the most desperate and vulnerable, forced into situations,“such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage.”

Fox News Politics, 27 Mar 2015

Arctic Sea ice – 2012

2012 could be a record year for the extent of Arctic sea ice at its yearly summer minimum.

Walt Meier, a research scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, said that with recent satellite observations, “It definitely portends a low-ice year, whether it means it will go below 2007 (the record minimum in September), it is too early to tell,” reported LiveScience.

As sea ice declines in the Arctic, countries are anticipating a competition for control of shipping lanes and mineral extraction in the region.

In Antarctica, research from the United States’ Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula has found that “87 percent of the peninsula’s land-bound glaciers are in retreat,” reported OurAmazingPlanet.

Decreasing sea ice levels were also addressed in a recent spoof of Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic this summer.

Huffington Post, 11 Aug 2012 – What Climate Change Just Might Ruin

see also – Arctic sea ice

off the air

A 2011 report from the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found that climate change could affect certain infrastructure, like wireless internet.

The Guardian reports, “higher temperatures can reduce the range of wireless communications, rainstorms can impact the reliability of the signal, and drier summers and wetter winters may cause greater subsidence, damaging masts and underground cables,” according to secretary of state for the environment.

The Guardian notes, “The government acknowledges that the impact of climate change on telecommunications is not well understood, but the report raises a series of potential risks.”

Huffington Post, 11 Aug 2012 – What Climate Change Just Might Ruin

more tipping points than a see saw

see_sawEarth may be approaching its points of no return. As Arctic sea ice hits a record low, focus is turning to climate ”tipping points” – a threshold that, once crossed, cannot be reversed and will create fundamental changes to other areas.

“It’s a trigger that leads to more warming at a regional level, but also leads to flow-on effects through other systems,” said Will Steffen, the chief adviser on global warming science to Australia’s Climate Commission. There are about 14 known “tipping elements”, according to a paper published by the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Age (Australia), 23 Sep 2012

We’re all doomed!

In a world of celebrity filled with sportsmen and actors, Tim Flannery is a rare breed indeed; a celebrity scientist, explorer and writer dubbed the “Indiana Jones of science”.

“We were sliding into a crisis, without anyone knowing. It’s a dire situation which could lead to the collapse of our global civilisation. If we don’t get on top of the problem this decade, we won’t.”

Although he says his book has been well-received by the Australian public, he is disappointed at the lack of political action. “There’s a moral paralysis in both parties,” Flannery says, in typically outspoken fashion. “In the absence of legislative change, we’re doomed.”
The Sydney Morning Herald 24 May 2006 (Tim Flannery was Australia’s first (and last) Climate Commissioner)

Dark Age looms!

knight_on_horseImagine a future in which humanity’s accumulated wisdom about Earth — our vast experience with weather trends, fish spawning and migration patterns, plant pollination and much more — turns increasingly obsolete.

As each decade passes, knowledge of Earth’s past becomes progressively less effective as a guide to the future. Civilization enters a dark age in its practical understanding of our planet.

To comprehend how this could occur, picture yourself in our grandchildren’s time, a century hence. Significant global warming has occurred, as scientists predicted.

Nature’s longstanding, repeatable patterns — relied on for millenniums by humanity to plan everything from infrastructure to agriculture — are no longer so reliable. Cycles that have been largely unwavering during modern human history are disrupted by substantial changes in temperature and precipitation.William B Gail, in New York Times, 19 Apr 2016

thanks to ddh

all bad news

As floods once again hit parts of the UK, experts warn the incidence of gales and floods could increase over the next 50 years, when they predict temperatures will rise by up to two degrees centigrade. Experts even warn that malaria could return to large parts of the UK.

They say the climate change could cause an extra 5,000 deaths from skin cancer every year – and 2,000 from heatwaves. The report published on Friday, by the Expert Group on Climate Change on Health, predicts more intense summer heatwaves, and an increased risk of winter floods and severe gales.

BBC News, 9 Feb 2001

survivor strawberries

With higher temperatures expected in northern latitudes in coming decades, the U.K. has begun a program to develop strawberries that will survive in higher temperatures with less water.

Since chocolate also may be threatened, could sexy chocolate-covered strawberries, a Valentine’s Day staple, be endangered?

According to The Telegraph, Dr. David Simpson, a scientist with England’s East Malling Research, said last year, “Consumer demand for fresh strawberries in the UK has been growing year on year since the early 1990s.

The British growers have done a great job of increasing their productivity to satisfy this demand between April and October.

The future will be challenging due to the impacts of climate change and the withdrawal of many pesticides but the breeding programme at EMR is using the latest scientific approaches to develop a range of varieties that will meet the needs of our growers for the future.”

Huffington Post 11 Aug 2012 What Climate Change Just Might Ruin

weeds

Climate change is likely to increase the number of weeds on Australian farms and undermine traditional methods of killing them, scientists have warned.

Dr Peter Hayman, from the South Australian Research and Development Institute, said rising levels of carbon dioxide and higher temperatures would increase weed problems.

“Farmers face an array of changes cascading from the global climate shift that will require a whole range of adaptive management measures on the ground”. Haymen said.

Sun Herald (Australia) 17 Sep 2006 – screencopy held by website

keep off the grass!

In Australia, where 11 million cattle range in Queensland alone, this call for livestock reform has been a whisper on the edges of the greenhouse debate. I became interested after reading a letter by animal rights activist Geoff Russell to climate-change campaigner Tim Flannery.

In his letter, Russell quotes climate scientist James Hansen, who says meat reduction is the second-most important thing one can do to combat climate change (the most important is to elect a government committed to action). Russell then quotes the CSIRO, who “have tested Australian cattle on grass and grain – those on grass produce about three times more methane”.

Could this be true? Could a fat corn-fed cow be better for the environment than one allowed to range over grass?

Sydney Morning Herald, 17 Feb 2009

a socially isolated cow

cow

CSIRO research shows methane is more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide in causing global warming.

Each year, cattle generate about 100 million tonnes of the gas, which is generated by micro-organisms in the cow’s stomach. NSW Agriculture’s research at Tocal Agricultural College showed one cow produced about 100 grams of methane a day, or about 10 to 15 per cent of the energy they digested, and that most was expelled from the cow’s mouth rather than its rear.

“Genetic variations enable some animals to better convert feed to body weight,” Dr Autin said. “More efficient feeding produces less methane.”

Newscastle Herald, 7 Jan 2006 – screen copy held by this website

Ban plants!

The surprising discovery that plants may be responsible for up to 30 per cent of the world’s methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, is no reason to stop planting forests, a scientist has warned.

A team led by Frank Keppler, of Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Germany, found that living plants emit 10 to 1000 times more of the gas than decaying matter. And plants increase their methane emissions when warmed by the sun, it was found.

Plants have long been seen as weapons against global warming because they absorb another greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.

It’s a surprise, said David Etheridge of the CSIRO’s Marine and Atmospheric Research division. “You think you know everything.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Jan 2006

straight from the ……

small_horse

After they first appeared in the fossil record, horses got smaller as a result of a warming planet, says a study just published in Science.

“Horses started out small, about the size of a small dog like a miniature schnauzer,” said co-author Jonathan Bloch, associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.

“What’s surprising is that after they first appeared, they then became even smaller and then dramatically increased in size, and that exactly corresponds to the global warming event, followed by cooling.”

“It had been known that mammals were small during that time and that it was warm, but we hadn’t understood that temperature specifically was driving the evolution of body size.”

Grist, 23 Feb 2012

wine growing pushed uphill

Some of the country’s best wine comes from the high-quality grapes grown in California, but warming projections for the area could cut wine production in half within 30 years, according to Diffenbaugh’s research, as well as another study published in the Proceedings of the National Academics of Sciences.

“The temperatures won’t be suitable,” he says, adding that farmers will have to adapt to try and overcome excessive heat conditions. In fact, prime wine production could wind up in Oregon, New Jersey, or even mountainous regions of China in the coming years.

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013

hay fever

Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from hay fever, while 16 million adults endure asthma.

Although genetics play an important role in these conditions, recent research is finding that higher temperatures and more carbon dioxide are making allergy seasons worse, stimulating plants to produce more pollen and increasing fungi growth.

There have been significant increases in allergies and asthma in recent decades, which obviously cannot be explained by any change in genetics, said Christine Rogers, a research associate in Environmental Science and Engineering at Harvard University.

Live Science, 22 Nov 2005

moths miss the beat

………………………………….

For the winter moth (Operophtera brumata), timing is everything.

If it hatches too early, there are no oak leaves to eat. Too late, and the leaves are tough and indigestible. Now this delicate rhythm has become a casualty of climate change, a new study finds.

Similar effects on finely tuned ecological relationships — such as that between bees and flowers — will be a major consequence of global warming, believes Marcel Visser, of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, co-author of the study.

“If people look for these effects, I think they’ll find them everywhere,” he says.

nature, 7 Feb 2001

moths don’t miss the beat

Winter moths are able to adjust to the changing temperatures of our changing climate.

The temperature determines the day winter moths hatch out and that temperature sensitivity is hereditary.

Through selection only the most adjusted eggs remain, meaning those that nowadays hatch at the same time as the oak buds burst – as young oak leaves are their food source.

Such research should be undertaken for more species to improve the predictions of climate-change consequences.

Science Daily, 21 Jun 2007

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see also – having it both ways

opening the vent

The Pacific Ocean may open a “heat vent” above it that releases enough energy into space to reduce projected climate warming caused by the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

High clouds over the western tropical Pacific Ocean seem to decrease when sea surface temperatures are higher, said Arthur Hou of the American space agency, Nasa.

The mechanism allows the heat to escape, keeping the oceans cool.

The newly discovered vent, if confirmed, could significantly reduce estimates of future global warming now being put forward by computer models of the Earth’s climate.

BBC News, 5 Mar 2001

save the planet with fake trees!

Professor Klaus Lackner (Geophysics, Columbia University Earth Institute): Just like the leaves of a tree have air blowing over them, and they manage to extract some of the CO2 as it floats over the leaf’s surface, this device has surfaces over which the wind blows, and it gives up a fraction of its CO2 as it goes through. So the idea of this device is to capture carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Yes, it doesn’t look like a tree, because it’s just has functionally this one part in common. It doesn’t, like a normal tree, try to convert this with sunshine into starches. So the leaves of this tree do not have to be exposed to the sunshine, so they are stacked much more tightly. And, consequently, this synthetic tree is capable of collecting much more CO2 out of the wind than an ordinary tree would.

npr.org, 3 Dec 2007

play misty for me

Enter “marine cloud brightening,” a geoengineering scheme that would increase cloud reflectivity over the ocean by spraying them with an ultrafine saltwater mist from ships.

The clouds, containing more particles, would cast enough sunlight back into space to at least partially offset the warming effects of all that CO2 from burning fossil fuels.

Stephen Salter, an emeritus professor of engineering design at the University of Edinburgh is the lead and was for many years the only engineer working on a proposal to accomplish marine cloud brightening by populating the world’s oceans with up to 1,500 ships of a somewhat exotic design—sometimes known as “albedo yachts”.

Each vessel would be remote-controlled, wind-powered, and capable of generating (via turbines dragged through the water) the electricity required to create a mist of seawater and loft it 1,000 meters into the atmosphere.

Scientific American, 21 Oct 2009

giant gun to solve global warming!

Scientists claim they can fight global warming by firing trillions of mirrors into space to deflect the sun’s rays forming a 100,000 square mile “sun shade”.

According to astronomer Dr Roger Angel, at the University of Arizona, the trillions of mirrors would have to be fired one million miles above the earth using a huge cannon with a barrel of 0.6 miles across. The gun would pack 100 times the power of conventional weapons and need an exclusion zone of several miles before being fired.

Dr Angel has already secured NASA funding for a pilot project and British inventor Tod Todeschini, 38, was commissioned to build a scaled-down version of the gun. He constructed the four-metre long cannon in his workshop in Sandlake, Oxfordshire, for a TV documentary investigating the sun shield theory.

He said: “The gun was horrendously dangerous. This was the first gun I’d ever built.”

The Telegraph, 26 Feb 2009

sneezes

Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from hay fever, while 16 million adults endure asthma.

Although genetics play an important role in these conditions, recent research is finding that higher temperatures and more carbon dioxide are making allergy seasons worse, stimulating plants to produce more pollen and increasing fungi growth.

There have been significant increases in allergies and asthma in recent decades, which obviously cannot be explained by any change in genetics, said Christine Rogers, a research associate in Environmental Science and Engineering at Harvard University.

Live Science, 22 Nov 2005

we must act now

Australia’s world heritage properties, including the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, are at risk from climate change, according to new research from the Australian National University.

There is currently a lack of data available about the potential impacts of climate change upon built heritage but higher sea and land surface temperatures, more severe storm events, ocean acidification and rising sea levels could damage heritage properties, the research predicts.

Commissioned by the government, the report is being used by environment minister Peter Garrett, to push for an agreement on emissions cuts before an international conference in December.

“The disintegration of our World Heritage areas would be an irreparable loss,” he said in a statement. “We must act now.”

Architecture and Design, 5 Aug 2009

wolves not at the door any more

Now it appears that the white wolves at the White Wolf Sanctuary near Tidewater are also responding to the incremental climate shift scientists say is being caused by man-made carbon dioxide pollution of the atmosphere.

The female wolves at the sanctuary usually go into estrus “right about Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th,” sanctuary manager and owner Lois Tulleners said this week. “But they’re ahead of schedule this year.”

Tulleners has six arctic wolves in her sanctuary in the Coast Range, up the Alsea River from Waldport.

One of the female wolves, 4-year old Ventana, “started into heat this Sunday,” said Tulleners. “Kyenne, the old female, is 8 years old. She and Journey, a 2-year old, look like they’ll be into it any day now.

You can tell by the way the males are acting – sniffing at them more and more. That started going on really heavily this Sunday, too.”

The males respond to the hormonal and chemical changes that occur in the females, she said. “It happens every year, of course, and this year, they’re about three weeks early,” Tulleners said.

Twin Timber Wolf Information Network

last-ditch effort to halt global warming!

The US government wants the world’s scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming, the Guardian has learned.

It says research into techniques such as giant mirrors in space or reflective dust pumped into the atmosphere would be “important insurance” against rising emissions, and has lobbied for such a strategy to be recommended by a major UN report on climate change, the first part of which will be published on Friday.

Scientists have previously estimated that reflecting less than 1% of sunlight back into space could compensate for the warming generated by all greenhouse gases emitted since the industrial revolution.

Possible techniques include putting a giant screen into orbit, thousands of tiny, shiny balloons, or microscopic sulphate droplets pumped into the high atmosphere to mimic the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption.

The Guardian, 27 Jan 2007

Saturn’s rings to solve global warming!

A wild idea to combat global warming suggests creating an artificial ring of small particles or spacecrafts around Earth to shade the tropics and moderate climate extremes.

There would be side effects, proponents admit. An effective sunlight-scattering particle ring would illuminate our night sky as much as the full Moon, for example.

But the idea, detailed today in the online version of the journal Acta Astronautica, illustrates that climate change can be battled with new technologies, according to one scientist not involved in the new work.

To keep the particles in place, gravitationally significant shepherding spacecraft might be employed. They would herd the particles much like small moons keep Saturn’s rings in place. LiveScience, 27 Jun 2005

all in a good cause

Sports fields, car parks and parklands will be important assets; houses will have walls that open, and some people might need to lose their water views to prepare for bigger, more frequent floods due to global warming, according to experts contacted by the Herald.

There is consensus in the scientific literature that “the flooding that happens on small urban type of catchments, which is a result of short rainfall bursts, is going up, because convection is intensifying”, Professor Ashish Sharma, an Australian Research Council future fellow in the school of civil and environmental engineering at the University of NSW, said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Mar 2012

the scheme that launched a thousand (and a half) ships

It should be possible to counteract the global warming associated with a doubling of carbon dioxide levels by enhancing the reflectivity of low-lying clouds above the oceans, according to researchers in the US and UK.

John Latham of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, US, and colleagues say that this can be done using a worldwide fleet of autonomous ships spraying salt water into the air.

Latham and colleagues calculate that, depending on exactly what fraction of low-level maritime clouds are targeted (with some regions, notably the sea off the west coasts of Africa and North and South America, more susceptible to this technique than others), around 1500 ships would be needed altogether to counteract a carbon doubling, at a cost of some £1m to £2m each.

This would involve an initial fleet expanding by some 50 ships a year if the scheme is to keep in step with the current rate of increase in atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels.

PhysicsWorld, 4 Sep 2008

oysters

Thinking about a romantic seafood dinner for two? Often touted as an aphrodisiac food, oysters may not be on the menu for much longer.

According to a recent Grist article, the acidification of the ocean is threatening the Pacific Northwest’s famed oyster industry.

Since the Industrial Revolution, ocean acidity has increased 30%, and projections are saying it could be 150% more acidic by the end of the century.

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013

cookies

Some must-have ingredients for cookies and other baked goods are already feeling the climate change pinch.

Peanut butter prices are spiking after the southern US saw one of the worst harvests in decades, thanks to out-of-the-ordinary extreme heat over the summer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the peanut harvest is down nearly 15% compared to last year.

Likewise, extreme temperatures in Texas have hampered pecan production, while a recent study published in the journal Science found that yields of wheat are down about 5% since the 1980s.

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013