strikes twice?

By now we’re familiar with some of the scarier potential impacts of climate change: Floods, fires, stronger hurricanes, violent conflicts.

Well, here’s a new one to add to your nightmares.

Lightning strikes in the continental United States will increase roughly 12 percent for every degree Celsius of global warming, a study published today in Science finds.

Mother Jones, 13 Nov 2014

do you want grasshoppers with that?

We cannot continue the way we are producing and consuming meat.

Obviously, this should not go as far as governments telling people what to eat. However, keeping meat consumption to levels recommended by health authorities would lower emissions and reduce heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. And of course there are alternative sources of protein.

For example, raising insects as an animal protein source. Insects have a very good conversion rate from feed to meat. They make up part of the diet of two billion people and are commonly eaten in many parts of the world.

Eating insects is good for the environment and balanced diets.

Kofi Annan, in The Guardian, 3 May 2015

a glass ceiling?

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 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.

Despite the obvious obstacles – including an estimated $350 trillion (244 trillion pound) price tag for the project – Dr Angel is confident of getting the project off the ground.

The Telegraph, 26 Feb 2009

see also – action plan

mixed results for weeds

Weeds from warm climates are poised to claim new turf as temperatures increase. But other invasives may lose ground.

Princeton researchers Bethany Bradley, Michael Oppenheimer and David Wilcove used computer models of global climate change to predict the future ranges of weeds that are widespread in the West.

Just as native species are expected to shift in range and relative competitiveness with climate change, they wrote in a study published in the journal Global Change Biology, “the same should be expected of invasive species.”

Using each weed’s preferred habitat characteristics and a scenario in which fossil fuel emissions are not reduced, Bradley and her colleagues created an invasion risk map for each weed. Their results were mixed.

The bad news for California: yellow star thistle will keep its current range and probably spread farther here and in Nevada.

Tamarisk, an exotic tree that sucks wildland creeks dry, will neither gain nor lose in a warmer West. The largest effects the Princeton group predicted were for cheatgrass and leafy spurge, which will shift their ranges north, and spotted knapweed, which will move to higher elevations.

SFGate, 16 Aug 2009

a safe earthquake

Efforts to stem global warming by pumping emissions of carbon dioxide deep into the Earth’s crust could trigger widespread earthquakes, a Stanford geophysicist warned.

Although those quakes would not be particularly destructive, they would be widely felt and disruptive – and it would also cost billions of dollars to create thousands of disposal sites for the greenhouse gas, said Mark Zoback, one of the country’s leading seismic experts.

Injecting carbon dioxide into thousands of sites in mid-America, he said, would increase the pressure along those faults and inevitably push many into abrupt failure. The result would be quakes with magnitudes of up to 4, he said.

Another serious problem with the sequestration proposals is that many injection wells would be drilled deep into rock and sand formations that are not impermeable, raising the possibility that much if not all of the carbon dioxide could escape into the atmosphere and start the greenhouse problem once again, Zoback said.

Heat Is Online – originally The San Francisco Chronicle 14 Dec 2010

see also – action plan

baby walruses all at sea

Melting Arctic ice may be putting walrus pups in peril, researchers say. A team of scientists working in the Arctic Ocean in 2004 says it encountered nine Pacific walrus pups struggling alone in the water far from shore.

“I’m not a walrus expert, but we thought it was unusual,” said Lee Cooper, a marine ecologist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, who led the team.”

“The baby walruses would swim up to the boat. It was heartbreaking,” he said.

Melting Arctic sea ice is the most likely explanation for the stranded pups, Cooper said. His team was in the region to study the intrusion of warm Bering Sea water into the Arctic Ocean. National Geographic, 27 Mar 2006

ban livestock!

According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport.

It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

Says Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch and senior author of the report: “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”

FAONewsroom, 29 Nov 2006

see also – action plan

climate change hits a sour note

But closer to home, you don’t have to look far for concrete examples of climate change, says Eugenia Choi, a UBC assistant professor of music.

Take her 300-year old, handcrafted Stradivarius violin. It’s not that they don’t make them like they used to, it’s that they can’t.

“For musicians, our instruments connect us to a natural world very much threatened by climate change,” Choi says. “People wonder why a fine violin can cost more than a house.”

“Largely, it’s because global warming has changed how trees grow. You can no longer create new violins of the same quality. There just aren’t the same types of wood or density.”

University of British Columbia, 5 Mar 2009

bees dying like flies!

More than 100 previous studies have shown that elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide decrease the nutritional value of plants, such as wheat and rice.

But the goldenrod study, published last month, was the first to examine the effects of rising CO2 on the diet of bees, and its conclusions were unsettling: The adverse impact of rising CO2 concentrations on the protein levels in pollen may be playing a role in the global die-off of bee populations by undermining bee nutrition and reproductive success.

“Pollen is becoming junk food for bees,” says Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Research Service in Maryland and lead author of the study.

The study itself concluded that the decline of plant proteins in the face of soaring carbon dioxide concentrations provides an “urgent and compelling case” for CO2 sensitivity in pollen and other plant components. Heat Is Online, 15 May 2016 Environment 360.Yale.edu

early birds beat the rush

As global warming brings an earlier start to spring, the early bird might not just get the worm.

It might also get its genes passed on to the next generation. Because plants bloom earlier in the year, animals that wait until their usual time to migrate might miss out on all the food.

Those who can reset their internal clocks and set out earlier stand a better chance at having offspring that survive and thus pass on their genetic information, thereby ultimately changing the genetic profile of their entire population.

Livescience, 16 Aug 2011

among the low-lifes

Dead and low-life zones in the world’s oceans are expected to expand as global warming continues to raise aquatic temperatures, according to a new report by researchers from the University of Kiel, Germany, and published in the journal Science.

Frank A. Whitney of the Canadian Institute of Ocean Sciences also warned that the biological consequences of oceanic oxygen loss will be severe.

“Many species will lose their deep habitat, meaning competition will become stronger in the remaining favorable habitat, and increased vulnerability to predation will likely occur,” he said.

Natural News, 3/10/08

fish left in the dark

Climate Change Could Harm Lake Fish: Light Determines Growth Of Fish In Lakes.

“In the brownest lakes sunlight can’t penetrate more than about two meters. In clear mountain lakes, the light can reach down to depths of 15-20 meters and lead to high production of algae on lake bottoms,” says Jan Karlsson, associate professor at Climate Impacts Research Center (CIRC).

The problem is that the algae that live on the lake bottom need sunlight for their photosynthesis. The algae provide food for various bottom-dwelling animals, which in turn are eaten by fish.

Limited light penetration thus has negative consequences for all living beings in a lake. Light is what determines the growth of fish in lakes. Climate change is expected to lead to browner lakes with less light penetration, which will lead to reduced growth of fish. Science Daily, 18 Aug 2009

a bargain at $40 billion

Australia could move to 100 per cent renewable energy within a decade if it spent heavily on cutting-edge solar thermal and wind technology, according to an analysis released as part of a community bid to redirect the flailing climate policy debate.

The shift would require the annual investment of up to $40 billion – roughly 3.5 per cent of national GDP – with the largest chunk going towards solar thermal power plants that used molten-salt heat storage to allow power generation to continue without sunlight.

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Feb 2010

Public transportation takes us there!

There are many different measures that we all can take to reduce global warming, however the most popular method that we can do this is to take public transportation.

In recent studies, conclusive evidence indicates that transportation by way of personal vehicles accounts for well over one fourth of all of the emissions of carbon dioxide in the country today. However, public transportation has resulted in many different types of savings.

These savings include just over one billion gallons of fuel, as well as one and a half million tons of the dangerous emissions of carbon dioxide on a yearly basis.

Green Life,1 May 2009

see also – action plan

VisitBritain gets a boost

Climate change could “dramatically” change the face of British tourism in the next 20 years, with European tourists flocking to the UK to escape unbearably hot continental summers, experts say.

Research shows that European tourists may choose to holiday in Britain as resorts nearer to home become too hot. Weather changes may provide revival opportunities for northern seaside towns such as Blackpool and put new strains on roads and development in southern coastal resorts, a study in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism said.

Academic David Viner, a researcher at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in Norwich, produced the report after analysing the work of experts around the globe.

“The likelihood [is] that Mediterranean summers may be too hot for tourists after 2020, as a result of too much heat and water shortages,” the study said.

There were “opportunities for the revival of northern European resorts, including Blackpool, in the next 20 years, as climate change and rising transport costs offer new holiday opportunities,” it said.

The Guardian, 29 Jul 2006

less call for call girls

Global warming and increasing temperatures will cause decreasing birthrates and lower paychecks for prostitutes. Researchers have released a study that suggests that higher temperatures make for lower sex drives.

The study, conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that birth rates have had a tremendous decline nine months after a particularly hot day, going down as much as 0.7% as cooler days.

From this they drew two conclusions: either heat reduces fertility or less desire to have sex.

The team also found that days with temperatures exceeding 80 degrees result in a significant decline in birth rate 8-10 months later, though they rebound after a few months.

Clapway, 6 Nov 2015

choosy cattle

Most climate models paint a bleak picture of the Great Plains a century from now as a hot region besieged by heavy rainstorms and flooding.

And new studies suggest that climate change may bring farmers another headache: more invasive plants. And they can’t count on cattle to gobble them up. Depending on the plant, most cattle either don’t want to eat it or could get sick if they do.

“You kinda have to teach them about a new plant,” says Ellen Nelson, a rancher in north-central Colorado who has a weed problem. “I’ve gotten some of them to eat some, but in general, that’s a hard one.” npr.org, 25 Mar 2014

destruction by thirds

Global warming presents the gravest threat to life on Earth in all of human history.

The planet is warming to a degree beyond what many species can handle, altering or eliminating habitat, reducing food sources, causing drought and other species-harming severe weather events, and even directly killing species that simply can’t stand the heat.

In fact, scientists predict that if we keep going along our current greenhouse gas emissions trajectory, climate change will cause more than a third of the Earth’s animal and plant species to face extinction by 2050 — and up to 70 percent by the end of the century.

Center for Biological Diversity, 20 Dec 2008

see also – just plain scary

nuclear on the march

Nuclear power is back on the march. Reviled and rejected for 25 years as man’s most dangerous and unsustainable fuel source, its friends are now billing nuclear power as the only practical way of countering climate change, oil shocks and landscape destruction in the west.

So, is it possible that public opinion is wrong, and that nuclear should be the fuel of choice of the future? Absolutely, says Tony Blair, who last month told MPs that America was pressing Britain to re-examine the case for building a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Nuclear must stay on the agenda “if you are serious about the issue of climate change”.

Definitely, says the independent scientist James Lovelock, who has repeated his lifelong support for nuclear energy and recently argued that civilisation is in “imminent danger” from global warming and must use nuclear power – “the one safe, available, energy source” – to avoid catastrophe.

Perhaps, say some of Britain’s leading environmental thinkers, who are calling for a debate about whether nuclear needs to be reassessed, and whether it should even be compared to other forms of renewable energy.

The Guardian, 12/8/04

tsunami to hit Britain!

It was not just the warming of the sea that was the problem, added Professor Mark Maslin of UCL.

As the ice around Greenland and Antarctica melted, sediments would pour off land masses and cliffs would crumble, triggering underwater landslides that would break open more hydrate reserves on the sea-bed. Again there would be a jump in global warming.

“These are key issues that we will have to investigate over the next few years,” he said.

There is also a danger of earthquakes, triggered by disintegrating glaciers, causing tsunamis off Chile, New Zealand and Newfoundland in Canada, Nasa scientist Tony Song will tell the conference.

The last on this list could even send a tsunami across the Atlantic, one that might reach British shores.

The Guardian, 6 Sep 2009

see also – just plain scary

early bird

Allen Hurlbert and Zhongfei Liang used more than 48 million observations from amateur birdwatchers to conclude that every 1.8-degree rise in temperature makes birds reach their migration milestones 0.8 days earlier on average (though much more for some species in some locations).

That’s less than 11 hours per degree, so who gives a titmouse’s mouse tit? Well, birds do, or would if they had brains big enough to contain a large-scale self-preservation instinct.

Says Hurlbert: Timing of bird migration is something critical for the overall health of bird species. They have to time it right so they can balance arriving on breeding grounds after there’s no longer a risk of severe winter conditions.

If they get it wrong, they may die or may not produce as many young. A change in migration could begin to contribute to population decline, putting many species at risk for extinction.

CounterCurrents.org, 4 Mar 2012

Why a duck?

The gradual warming of the Upper Midwest could cut the duck population in half as early as 2050, according to a new study published in the journal BioScience.

The study looked at how climate change could affect the Upper Midwest, where North America’s best duck breeding grounds are, over the next 50 to 100 years.

The study’s predictions left Duluth conservationist Dave Zentner dumbfounded. Zentner coordinated a rally for ducks, wetlands and clean water in April that drew an estimated 4,000 people to the state Capitol.

He said wetland losses should concern hunters and anyone else who cares about trumpeter swans, gulls, terns, bitterns, night herons and other wildlife that depend on wetlands. I would hope that duck hunters would take this seriously and realize that this is not far-fetched theory, he said.

“This is a real threat and the country needs to develop policies for it.”

USA Today, 29 Nov 2005

ban outdoor heaters!

A call for a ban on outdoor heaters has been backed by the European Parliament. MEPs voted to endorse a report that says a timetable should be set to phase out patio heaters, as well as standby modes on televisions.

Report author Fiona Hall – a British MEP – says significant steps have to be taken to cut CO2 emissions, and a ban should at least be considered.

Many people are already aware that patio heaters produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide, she said. It’s important that we at least look into taking them off the market.

BBCNews, 31 Jan 2008

build in wood!

Wood and Green Building. Promotion of wood products can act as a greener alternative to more fossel-fuel intensive materials. Substituting a cubic metre of wood for other construction materials (concrete, blocks or bricks) results in the significant average of 075 to 1 tonne of CO2 savings.

International Institute for Environment and Development, Using Wood products to mitigate climate change, 2004, Canadian Wood Council download, 23 Aug 2007

take your pick

But there are some who literally worry themselves sick over the environment, and those people have what is known as eco-anxiety.

These people obsess over the environmental impact of everything they do, to the extent that they lay awake at night worrying about that jar they accidentally threw away instead of recycling, or what sorts of environmental catastrophes their unborn grandchildren will be dealing with.

As you can imagine, there are some people who believe eco-anxiety is ridiculous. It would be easy to write it off as the “disease du jour,” nothing more than an excuse people could use to seek attention.

While that’s certainly possible, I’m inclined to take it a bit more seriously — after all, anxiety is a common and serious affliction, and there’s plenty out there to overwhelm any of us.

The Greenists, 4 May 2009

save the camels!

The world’s association of camel scientists fought back angrily over Australian plans to kill wild dromedaries on the grounds that their flatulence adds to global warming.

The idea is “false and stupid… a scientific aberration”, the International Society of Camelid Research and Development (ISOCARD) said yesterday, adding the animals were being made culprits for a man-made problem.

We believe that the good-hearted people and innovating nation of Australia can come up with better and smarter solutions than eradicating camels in inhumane ways, it said.

The kill-a-camel suggestion is floated in a paper distributed by Australia’s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, as part of consultations for reducing the country’s carbon footprint.

The scheme is the brainchild of an Adelaide-based commercial company, Northwest Carbon, a land and animal management consultancy, which proposes whacking feral camels in exchange for carbon credits. The Herald Sun, 5 Jul 2011

people in …

As the country faces acute power shortage and the global warming debate hots up, energy conservationists caution against growing number of buildings with glass facades dotting the landscapes of cities as being responsible for energy consumption much in excess that a normal structure would do.

If you see the structures that have come up recently, they are all mostly made with glass. Right from top to below, you can see huge shinning glass.

Though these buildings look very contemporary and stylish, they are the biggest culprit when it comes to energy consumption, says Harsh Narang, director, Modern India Architects.

Glass building are a very European concept because they don’t get much of sunlight. Hence, their main aim is to get maximum sunlight. But, in our country where temperatures at times go as high as 50 degrees Celcius, these glasses take in more of sunlight.

Hence, the offices use more air-conditioners directly resulting in higher consumption of electricity and also in the form of carbon-dioxide emission and also CFCs that air-conditioners generate causing damage to the ozone layer, he adds.

According to a study conducted by Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, London, a complete glass building consumes four times more electricity than a normal building.

Rediff India Abroad, 12 Jun 2007