plagues

Climatic changes could lead to more outbreaks of bubonic plague among human populations, a study suggests.

Researchers found that the bacterium that caused the deadly disease became more widespread following warmer springs and wetter summers. The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Writing in the paper, co-author Nils Stenseth from the University of Oslo said: “The desert regions of Central Asia are known to contain natural foci of plague where the great gerbil (Rhombomys opimus) is the primary host.”

BBC News, 22 Aug 2006

see also – just plain scary

predictions

Following this example, a number of climate advocates have begun considering the benefits of greater centralisation in decision-making to mitigate the devastating scenarios offered by climate scientists.

For example, in an interview about her new book The Collapse of Western Civilization, Naomi Oreskes argued: “If anyone will weather this storm it seems likely that it will be the Chinese.”

In the book, Oreskes and co-author Erik Conway imagine a future world in which the predictions of the International Panel on Climate Change have come to pass.

With respect to China, the authors predict: China’s ability to weather disastrous climate change vindicated the necessity of centralised government … inspiring similar structures in other, reformulated nations.

ABC (Australia) The Drum, 5 Sep 2015, opinion by Peter Burdon

see also – in their own words

disappearing beach

Bondi beach will shrink to a thin ribbon of sand and extreme storm surges would reach the top of its concrete sea wall, research commissioned by the local council shows.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released on Friday, found the sea level would rise and could be expected to be up to 80 centimetres higher by the end of the century.

In the case of an 80-centimetre rise in sea levels, high tides would regularly flood parts of many Sydney suburbs that are close to water, including sections of Annandale, Mosman, Marrickville, Brighton-le-Sands, Sylvania Waters, Five Dock and Narrabeen.

Rob Brander, a senior lecturer at the University of NSW specialising in coastal geomorphology, said Sydney’s coastal regions faced significant impacts from rising sea levels.

“If a beach shifts landward, it hasn’t got many places to go,” Dr Brander said. “Beaches will get narrower and low-lying coastal properties will face damage.”Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Sep 2013

see also – just plain scary

team’s target

A team of scientists from Australia and New Zealand is warning that unless global warming can be capped at a rise of 2 degrees or less, the Antarctic Ice Shelves will collapse. They say that could add another 40cm to sea level rises by the end of the century, instead of the 5cm that has been previously forecast.

If we don’t hit that two degree target, then actually we’ve committed to several metres of sea level rise over the next few centuries, and thousands of years after that said Dr Chris Fogwill from the University of New South Wales’ Climate Change Research Centre.

ABC News (Australia), 15 Oct 2015

see also – just plain scary

polar bears get the elbow

Polar bears are likely to lose out to grizzly bears in fierce competition for food as climate change drives the two species closer together into shared habitat, biologists concluded in a study.

The research was based on 3-D computer modeling that compared the skull and jaw strength of the two bruins and found polar bears ill-suited to the tougher chewing demands posed by the largely vegetarian diet of their grizzly cousins.

This is one additional piece of evidence that things look pretty bleak for the polar bear, if current trends continue, said Graham Slater, the lead author of the research. Polar bears already are losing habitat as rising Arctic temperatures diminish the sea ice they depend on to hunt for seals.

As the ice continues to shrink, polar bears will be forced to seek additional food sources. To people who say polar bears can just change their diet, we are saying … they will have to, but it probably will not be sufficient for them, especially if they are co-existing with grizzly bears, said Blair Van Valkenburgh, senior author of the paper.

Heat Is Online, 24 Nov 2010 – Reuters

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

see also – action plan

truffles under threat!

The black truffle, one of the most exclusive and expensive delicacies on the planet, is under threat from climate change.

A mysterious species of underground fungi with reported aphrodisiac and therapeutic properties, the aromatic truffles are also highly fragile and cannot withstand more than three weeks without water.

But prolonged drought in many of their prime growing regions in Europe and predictions about global warming suggest the future is about as black as the truffles themselves, to the despair of the growers.

“The bad harvest years, which used to be the exception, are becoming the norm,” Jean-Charles Savignac, President of the Federation Francaise des Trufficulteurs (FFT), told Reuters.

Reuters, 16 May 2008

the flight of the bumble bee

Global warming is shrinking the terrain where bumblebees live in North America and Europe, with these vital pollinators departing the southernmost and hottest parts of their ranges while failing to move north into cooler climes, scientists say.

Their study, published on Thursday, used records from 1901 to 2010 to track 67 bumblebee species, finding that the insects have surrendered about 185 miles (300 km) from the southern end of the regions they called home on both continents.

This is the ‘climate vise,’ said University of Ottawa biologist Jeremy Kerr, with the bumblebees “stuck at the northern edges of ranges while the southern edges are crushed inward and those populations are lost.”

Bumblebees are declining incredibly fast and the fingerprints of human-caused climate change are all over these changes, Kerr added. “Even more incredibly to us, these effects are often nearly identical across continents, occurring at the same pace in both Europe and North America.” Kerr said dramatic action should be considered: a proposal called “assisted migration” involving a large-scale relocation of bee populations into new areas where they might thrive.

More generally, losing pollinators is a sign that we are playing dangerously with life-support systems we can’t do without, Kerr added. “That is an experiment we should never have started.” Heat Is Online, 10 Jul 2015 – Reuters

grim outlook

Climate change is the latest threat to the world’s growing HIV epidemic, say Australian experts who warn of the “grim” outlook in the fight against the infectious disease.

Prominent HIV scientist Professor David Cooper, director of the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, agreed environmental change would have a negative impact on HIV sufferers.

Climate change will lead to food scarcity and poorer nutrition, putting people with perilous immune systems at more risk of dying of HIV, as well as contracting and transmitting new and unusual infections, Prof Cooper said.

The Age (Australia), 29/4/2008

see also – just plain scary

watch where you’re standing!

A former member of the Clinton administration, and current Senior Fellow at the virtual Clinton think tank the Center for American Progress, claimed Monday that global warming might have played a factor in the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis last week.

Writing at Climate Progress, the global warming blog of CAP, Joseph Romm – who served as Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy in 1997 and as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary from 1995 though 1998 – stated in a piece entitled “Did Climate Change Contribute To The Minneapolis Bridge Collapse?”

“Certainly climate change will have the biggest infrastructure impact on our coastal cities, water and sewage systems, levees, and electric grid. But given that a remarkable 70,000 other bridges in the country are also structurally deficient, we should seek to learn whether such troubled bridges can take the ever-growing stresses generated by global warming.”

“We need to be as prepared as possible for a changed climate – as the Center for American Progress has previously argued. Indeed, if the adapters have their way in blocking serious efforts aimed at prevention, we’ll need to be prepared for the very worst.”

mrc Newsbusters, 7 Aug 2007

invasion of the crocodile-eating snakes!

Scientists recently found bones from a 60-million year old giant snake in Colombia—a snake that weighed a ton, and was as long as a school bus.

Paleontologist Jonathan Bloch of the Florida Museum of Natural History was on the team. He says the find also tells us about climate, because cold-blooded animals depend on ambient heat for their metabolism.

Bloch says it must have been ten degrees hotter in Colombia back then—contrary to a leading theory that tropical climates don’t change as much as others. So today’s warming trend may have an even wider impact than we thought.

Bloch’s team made some other inferences as well. For example, the snake would have been larger than anything else at the time, so it could have easily eaten whatever it liked, including primitive crocodiles!

They also suggest that the extinction of the dinosaurs may have set the stage for this giant snake to become king of the land for millions of years.

Science Net Links, 4 May 2009

see also – invasion!

moths move up

Global warming is forcing tropical species uphill to escape the rising temperatures at a rate of more than a metre a year, a new study from the mountains of Borneo suggests.

More than four decades after a group of undergraduate students visited the south-east Asian island in 1965, a team of British scientists returned to the same sites on Mount Kinabalu to repeat their survey of moths.

The group of six, including a member of the original trip, found that on average the insects had raised the altitude of their range by 67m.

The Guardian, 29 Jan 2009

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

see also – action plan

cloud ships

Special ships that create clouds by spraying seawater into the air could be the most cost effective way of tackling climate change, new research has found.

The technique, known as marine cloud whitening, would create clouds above the Pacific Ocean that would have a cooling effect by reflecting sunlight away from Earth.

A wind-powered fleet of nearly 2,000 ships would criss-cross the sea, sucking up sea water and spraying it upwards through tall funnels.

‘When you spray saltwater into the air, you create nuclei that cloud condenses around, creating bigger and whiter clouds, thus bouncing more sunlight back into space,’ said David Young from the think-tank that commissioned the study.

The paper by Professor Eric Bickel and Lee Lane looked into the costs of potential climate engineering projects. It was commissioned by the Copenhagen Consensus Centre that advises governments how to spend aid money. Daily Mail, 8 Aug 2009

see also – action plan

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

see also – action plan

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

see also – action plan

bats falling like flies

Overheated flying foxes, panting and frantically fanning themselves with their wings, fell from the trees in New South Wales, Australia, six years ago.

Up to 3,500 black and grey-headed flying foxes died on the ground beneath their roosts, victims, researchers believe, of heat waves that pushed temperatures to 108 degrees F (42º C). In this era of looming climate change, such scorching temperatures are occurring more often.

Tragically so: since 1994, more than 30,000 flying foxes have died in New South Wales, apparently because of at least 19 episodes of extreme heat.

Climate Change and Bats, Volume 26, Issue 2, Summer 2008

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

see also – action plan

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

see also – action plan

walking on thin ice

While the steady disappearance of sea ice in the Arctic has been one of the hallmark effects of global warming, research shows it is not only covering less of the planet, but it’s also getting significantly thinner.

That makes it more susceptible to melting, potentially altering local ecosystems, shipping routes and ocean and atmospheric patterns. In estimating ice thickness, satellites must try to gauge thickness differences of just a few feet from hundreds of miles above the planet’s surface.

“It’s a tricky business,” University of Washington researcher, Ron Lindsay said.

The Guardian, 5 March 2015

bring back Sunday!

The power of public opinion and citizen action will have a strong impact on the climate conference taking place in Copenhagen.

One thing we can easily do to achieve this goal: we can declare Sunday to be a fossil fuel-free day or a low-carbon day or at least an energy-saving day. We can start this week, this month or in 2010. We can start individually and collectively.

The long journey to cut carbon dioxide emissions can start in the here and now….in the context of excessive carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, which are bringing catastrophic upheavals, we can and should restore Sunday to a day for Gaia, a day for the Earth.

The Guardian, 17 Sep 2009

poisoned chalice

“Global energy, food and water security are also poised on a knife edge…Australian leaders glibly talk about adapting to a 4-degree world with little idea of what it means – which is a world of 1 billion people rather than the present 7 billion…The damage caused by this culture threatens the very foundations of democratic society…Adversarial politics and corporate myopia are incapable of addressing life-threatening climate change.”

“The community must go around these barriers and demand leaders take urgent action before the poisoned chalice we pass to our grandchildren becomes even more toxic.” Ian Dunlop chaired the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading 1998-2000.

Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Sep 2012

see also – just plain scary

worse than we thought – toll on plants and animals!

Human-enhanced climate change is taking its toll on the world’s plants, animals and physical environment much more quickly than previously thought, scientists have warned.

An international research team has found that many accounts of plants flowering early, birds changing their migration habits, and glaciers and mountain snow melting were most likely the result of rising greenhouses gases.

Climate change from greenhouse gases is not only affecting the temperature, David Karoly, a professor from the University of Melbourne’s school of earth sciences and a member of the research team, said yesterday.

“It is already affecting ecosystems, and other systems, like glaciers. It is happening earlier than previous studies would have indicated. When you look at the different signals across the globe, you can see that message very clearly.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 May 2008

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

water supply

Sydney’s water supply could be at risk from a growing threat of more intense and frequent bushfires brought on by extended drought and climate change, experts say.

Hotter and drier conditions related to a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could lead to exceptionally intense bushfires, the head of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute, John Merson, said last week.

They might threaten the ability of eucalypt forests in the mountains to recover, he told a climate change conference in Sydney. That could lead to erosion, silting of rivers and dams, and less water trickling through to aquifers in the catchment for Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.

If we got into another bad bushfire year this year the ability of the forests to recover would be seriously compromised, Dr Merson said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Sep 2005

see also – just plain scary

fish emboldened

Acidic ocean water blunts the sense of smell in fish, making them bolder – perhaps recklessly so, according to a new study offering a glimpse of the oceans of the future. The findings suggest that, if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, fish could suffer debilitating behavioral effects.

If reef fish behavior does not adapt to rising CO2 levels over coming generations, there could be serious consequences for the structure and function of future reef communities, the authors wrote in the study published in Nature Climate Change.

This is the first time people have been able to test what would happen in 100 years, said Danielle Dixson, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech University and co-author of the study, which was led by Australian researchers.

The differences are striking, said Karl Castillo, an assistant professor of marine sciences at the University of North Carolina who was not involved with the research. This is a strong study, Castillo said. “There’s no doubt there is something happening here due to acidification.” Heat Is Online, 14 Apr 2014 – The Daily Climate

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

see also – action plan

the case of the disappearing acorns

Rod Simmons, a field botantist based in Arlington, Virginia, and Arlington naturalists began calling around.

A naturalist in Maryland found no acorns on an Audubon nature walk there. Ditto for Fairfax, Falls Church, Charles County, even as far away as Pennsylvania. There are no acorns falling from the majestic oaks in Arlington National Cemetery.

“Once I started paying attention, I couldn’t find any acorns anywhere. Not from white oaks, red oaks or black oaks, and this was supposed to be their big year,” said Greg Zell, a naturalist at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington.

“We’re talking zero. Not a single acorn. It’s really bizarre.”

Is it climate change or could it be the extreme opposite of a natural boom-and-bust cycle?

treehugger, 8 Dec 2008

country vs city

More rural Australians will suffer mosquito-borne diseases and food poisoning as climate change causes temperatures to rise, an academic warns.

Professor Kevin Parton, from Charles Sturt University in Orange, NSW, said rural Australians will be harder hit by climate change than their metropolitan counterparts, as health services are more difficult to access in the country.

As vectors that support and carry diseases, such as air, water and organic movement, shift in response to climate change, so too will health problems, he said.

We could see both a worsening of existing diseases as well as the spread of diseases usually associated with warmer regions, such as Ross River and Barmah Forest viral infections, move to more temperate climates.

The Age (Australia), 15 Jan 2008

see also – just plain scary

invasion – Asian carp

They’re called Asian carp, and they emigrated to the lower reaches of the Mississippi River in the 1970s. Now they’re knocking on the door of the Great Lakes, threatening to destroy one of the most valuable aquatic regions in the U.S., unless the often fractious Great Lakes states manage to pull together and keep them out.

The situation is so serious that the White House convened an “Asian carp summit” on Monday to work out a defense plan.

Asian carp — a collection of related fish, including bighead carp and silver carp — are what’s known as an invasive species, an animal or plant that moves into a new environment, often badly disrupting it.

Invasive species are becoming more common because of international trade, which turns the planet into a giant pinball machine, transplanting wildlife from one corner of the world to another, and because of climate change, which prompts species to migrate to more hospitable environments, often at the expense of those that already live there.

If the preventive efforts don’t work, you might want to put on a helmet the next time you go waterskiing on Lake Michigan.

Time, 2/9/10

see also – invasion!

state of fear

Dr Pachauri supported the views of scientists who believe stabilising atmospheric carbon dioxide at 450 parts per million – a level that Professor Garnaut says is beyond reach in the short-term – was not enough. If you talk to the president of Maldives and indeed the People of the Maldive islands, they are living in a state of fear, he said yesterday. If you look at parts of Africa, by 2020 there will be 75 million to 250 million people living under water stress on account of climate change.

The Age (Australia), 24 Oct 2008

see also – just plain scary

coral reefs utterly destroyed

Unless we change the way we live, the Earth’s coral reefs will be utterly destroyed within our children’s lifetimes, says marine scientist JEN Veron.
Ponder these facts: The atmospheric levels of CO2 we are already committed to reach, no matter what mitigation is now implemented, have no equal over the entire longevity of the Great Barrier Reef, perhaps 25 million years. And most significantly, the rate of CO2 increase we are now experiencing has no precedent in all known geological history.

The Guardian, 7 Dec 2010 – screen copy held by this website

see also – just plain scary

thanks to mervyn

rewriting history

The Black Death struck Europe in 1347, killing 30-50% of the European population in six violent years. These outbreaks were traditionally thought to be caused by rodent reservoirs of infected rats lurking in Europe’s cities, or potentially by rodent reservoirs in the wilderness.

But our research, published in the journal PNAS, suggests otherwise. We found that Europe’s plague outbreaks were indeed associated with climate fluctuations – but in Asia.

Using tree-ring based climate records from Europe and Asia, we showed that plague reintroductions into European harbours were associated with periods of wet conditions, followed by a drought, across large parts of Central Asia.

The Conversation, 24 February 2015

see also – just plain scary

the latest loser – the lesser butterfly orchid

Climate change is likely to produce losers as well as winners in Britain’s native flora – flowers of the mountains and cooler places are expected to decline – but the survey did not pick up as much negative evidence.

More increases that may be consistent with a warming climate have been found in plants that specialise in growing on waste places, such as square-stalked willowherb and prickly lettuce.

However, there is one candidate for global warming victim, and this is once again an orchid: the lesser butterfly orchid. This is a species of northern Europe, which tends to grow on the edges of heaths and moorlands.

The Independent, 24 Apr 2006

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

see also – action plan

human development derailed!

Climate change may be the single factor that makes the future very different, impeding the continuing progress in human development that history would lead us to expect.

While international agreements have been difficult to achieve and policy responses have been generally slow, the broad consensus is clear: climate change is happening, and it can derail human development. – United Nations Human Development report The Guardian, 5 Nov 2010

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

see also – action plan

heat turned up!

The number of elderly Melburnians dying due to extreme heat is expected to rise dramatically as climate change takes hold this century, research suggests.

Nicole Joffe from consultants Net Balance found the number of days with an average temperature above 30 degrees would double by mid-century – from two to at least four a year – even if governments acted to cut greenhouse emissions. Failure to tackle climate change would trigger a steeper rise.

Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Mar 2007

see also – just plain scary

the private struggles of a climate scientist

For activists like Mike Tidwell — founder of the nonprofit Chesapeake Climate Action Network and author of The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Race to Save America’s Coastal Cities — — part of being on the front lines means being outspoken and passionate about the cause.

But while activism may be a more forgiving platform to express emotional stresses than within the scientific community, the personal toll of the work goes largely undiscussed.

“You don’t just start talking about unbelievably fast sea-level rise at a cocktail party at a friend’s house,” Tidwell says. “So having to deny the emotional need to talk about what’s on your mind all the time … those are some of the burdens that climate aware scientists and activists have to endure.”

“People talk about climate change, openly talk about activism, and people even talk about how scary it is, and about how screwed we are and unbelievable it is that sea level is rising, and world governments still aren’t doing sXXX. But nobody talks about how it makes them feel personally.”

Heat Is Online – originally Grist.org, Oct. 28, 2014 By Madeleine Thomas

no-one spared, not even retrospectively!

A study of woolly mammoths has added to evidence they were wiped out by climate change, scientists say.

British and Swedish researchers sequenced DNA from 88 samples of bone, tooth and tusk, looking for a signature in the genetic code handed down on the maternal line. They used this telltale sign to build a family tree of mammoths spanning 200,000 years.

A warm period 120,000 years ago caused populations to decline and become fragmented. Wrangel Island, in the Siberian Arctic, and the island of St Paul, off Alaska, are believed to have been the mammoths’ last refuge. Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Sep 2013 – screencopy held by this website

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

see also – action plan

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

cokcroaches on the march!

Climate change is being blamed for a changing of the guard among Sydney’s cockroach population.

Researchers say the most common sub-species in city households was the german cockroach, until it disappeared about seven years ago. Martyn Robinson from the Australian Museum says the Australian house cockroach, methana marginalus, which likes warmer climates, has begun moving in.

It’s most likely to be the…warmer climate, he said. They certainly have appeared for many many years just on little spot occurrences where somebody will find this funny little cockroach that’s probably come in on their suitcase from a trip up to Queensland.

ABC News, 14 Mar 2007

missing link found!

A Stanford scientist has spelled out for the first time the direct links between increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increases in human mortality, using a state-of-the-art computer model of the atmosphere that incorporates scores of physical and chemical environmental processes.

The new findings, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, come to light just after the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent ruling against states setting specific emission standards for this greenhouse gas based in part on the lack of data showing the link between carbon dioxide emissions and their health effects.

While it has long been known that carbon dioxide emissions contribute to climate change, the new study details how for each increase of one degree Celsius caused by carbon dioxide, the resulting air pollution would lead annually to about a thousand additional deaths and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma in the United States, according to the paper by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford.

Worldwide, upward of 20,000 air-pollution-related deaths per year per degree Celsius may be due to this greenhouse gas.

Eureka Alert, 3/1/08

Dear Earth, are you listening?

Dr. Sarah Perkins, a climate scientist and extreme events specialist with the University of New South Wales, shared both her concern and hope about our Earth.

“For sometime now I’ve been terribly worried. I wish I didn’t have to acknowledge it, but everything I have feared is happening. I used to think I was paranoid, but it’s true. She’s slipping away from us. She’s been showing signs of acute illness for quite a while, but no one has really done anything.

Her increased erratic behavior is something I’ve especially noticed. Certain behaviors that were only rare occurrences are starting to occur more often, and with heightened anger. I’ve tried to highlight these changes time and time again, as well as their speed of increase, but no one has paid attention.

It almost seems everyone has been ignoring me completely, and I’m not sure why. Is it easier to pretend there’s no illness, hoping it will go away? Or because they’ve never had to live without her, so the thought of death is impossible? Perhaps they cannot see they’ve done this to her. We all have. To me this is all false logic. How can you ignore the severe sickness of someone you are so intricately connected to and dependent upon.

How can you let your selfishness and greed take control, and not protect and nurture those who need it most? How can anyone not feel an overwhelming sense of care and responsibility when those so dear to us are so desperately ill? How can you push all this to the back of your mind? This is something I will never understand. Perhaps I’m the odd one out, the anomaly of the human race. The one who cares enough, who has the compassion, to want to help make her better.

The thing is we can make her better!! If we work together, we can cure this terrible illness and restore her to her old self before we exploited her. But we must act quickly, we must act together. Time is ticking, and we need to act now.”

Heat Is Online – originally Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org. Jan. 25, 2015

water shortages

Global warming could bring water shortages to one in six people around the world, scientists have warned. Because higher temperatures would bring less snow and more rain, the ice would soon run out, bringing water shortages. They warn that even developed countries like America could be affected by droughts within 20 years. BBC News, 17 Nov 2005

world trapped in paradigmatic lock!

The UFO phenomenon has become part of the news for many decades. Meanwhile, our planet entered a crucial phase of its history like nobody has known before, when mankind obtained technical means allowing to seriously deteriorate its environment, and beyond, to destroy any life on Earth. Among most visible signs, global warming is obvious.

While our technology sees a spectacular progress, our fundamental knowledge tramples more and more. In our opinion, this is the consequence of immutable dogmatic prejudices, a refusal of any really innovative fundamental scientific idea, in particular any change in our comprehension of the universe which could make interstellar travel possible, therefore incursions of visitors coming from stellar systems located at several tens light-years from ours, or even more.

The systematic brake to engage a true research, focusing on a rational and scientific investigation of the UFO file, is also for us a cloistering of the thought, a paradigmatic lock.

UFO Science, 23 Jun 2007

you’re not paranoid – everyone IS ignoring you

“For sometime now I’ve been terribly worried. I wish I didn’t have to acknowledge it, but everything I have feared is happening. I used to think I was paranoid, but it’s true. She’s slipping away from us.

She’s been showing signs of acute illness for quite a while, but no one has really done anything. Her increased erratic behaviour is something I’ve especially noticed. Certain behaviours that were only rare occurrences are starting to occur more often, and with heightened anger.

I’ve tried to highlight these changes time and time again, as well as their speed of increase, but no one has paid attention. It almost seems everyone has been ignoring me completely, and I’m not sure why.

Is it easier to pretend there’s no illness, hoping it will go away? Or because they’ve never had to live without her, so the thought of death is impossible? perhaps they cannot see they’ve done this to her. We all have.” – Dr Sarah Perkins Climate Scientist, Extreme Events Specialist University of New South Wales.

Is This How You Feel? Website – How scientists feel

doctors to blame!

They’re meant to be the protectors of our health. But it seems that doctors are contributing to making the planet sick.

Unnecessary travel to medical conferences around the world is contributing to global warming, according to an editorial in a top medical journal. Writing in this week’s British Medical Journal, Ian Roberts, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and journal’s editor, Fioa Godlee, say that the threat to human health from climate change is substantial.

Most of the health burden of climate change is borne by children in developing countries.

“It is ironic that doctors, for whom protecting health is a primary responsibility, contribute to global warming through unnecessary attendances at international conferences,” they write; saying that evidence that attending conferences lectures improved practice was “scant”. The Age, 17 Feb 2007 – screen copy held by this website

white bearded monkeys on the move!

The white-bearded De Brazza’s monkeys were found in the Great Rift Valley, a place they had never been spotted before, Richard Leakey, a prominent white Kenyan credited with ending the slaughter of the nation’s elephants, told Reuters in Nairobi.

“That is telling us a lot about the climate change scenarios we are looking at now,” he said. “It puts climate change as the most critical consideration as we plan for the future.”

Leakey, whose palaeontologist father, Louis, caused a radical rethink of human evolution with key fossil finds in east Africa, said African governments lacked funds to do their own climate change studies, and so had to rely on researchers who he said were typically more focused on temperate regions.

Planet Ark, 1 Nov 2007

enlist the deceased!

Instead of the dead pushing up daisies, a Victorian scientist wants them to help in the fight against climate change by fertilising their favourite tree. The University of Melbourne’s Professor Roger Short has called for an end to cremations, declaring the environmental cost of burning a body and a wooden coffin is “enormous”.

The greener option, he said, was to place bodies in a cardboard coffin or a hessian sack, and then bury them upright next to a tree so the remains would help its growth.

“We have earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” he said. “Why not earth to earth, and stop at that?”

The Age (Australia), 19 Apr 2007

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

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

reserve shed

Scientists are beginning to shed their usual reserve in the face of ever-more alarming evidence.

If either the Greenland or the West Antarctic ice sheet were to melt, hundreds of millions of coastal residents would be displaced—effects a thousand times the scale of the New Orleans evacuations.

In the Shanghai metropolitan area alone, 40 million people could lose their homes. Large sections of Florida’s peninsula would simply disappear.

countercurrents.org, 25 Jul 2007 – screen copy held by this website

smaller mountains needed

Goats are shrinking as a result of climate change, researchers have claimed. They say Alpine goats now weigh about 25 per cent less than animals of the same age in the 1980s.

Researchers say it is a stark indication of how quickly climate change can affect animals. They appear to be shrinking in size as they react to changes in climate, according to new research from Durham University.

The researchers studied the impacts of changes in temperature on the body size of Alpine Chamois, a species of mountain goat, over the past 30 years. To their surprise, they discovered that young Chamois now weigh about 25 per cent less than animals of the same age in the 1980s.

Lead author Dr Tom Mason, in the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, at Durham University, said: “Body size declines attributed to climate change are widespread in the animal kingdom, with many fish, bird and mammal species getting smaller.” Heat Is Online, 21 Oct 2014 – The Daily Mail (U.K.)

scared witless!

The next United Nations climate report will “scare the wits out of everyone” and should provide the impetus needed for the world to finally sign an agreement to tackle global warming, the former head of the UN negotiations said.

Yvo de Boer, the UN climate chief during the 2009 Copenhagen climate change talks, said his conversations with scientists working on the next report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested the findings would be shocking.

“That report is going to scare the wits out of everyone,” Mr de Boer said in the only scheduled interview of his visit to Australia. “I’m confident those scientific findings will create new political momentum.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Nov 2012

invasion – box jellyfish

Deadly box jellyfish and other tropical marine species could invade the Hunter’s coastal waters over the next 20 years due to climate change, a CSIRO marine ecologist has predicted. Marine life changes are also likely to have a major impact on commercial fishing and tourism.

Dr Alistair Hobday said CSIRO data showed water temperatures off the Australian east coast had already increased by two degrees over the past 20 years. A similar increase was likely to occur by 2030. As a result, a number of marine species including box jellyfish typically found in warmer Queensland would migrate south.

Warmer water fish species likely to move south include bigeye tuna, bronze whale sharks, striped marlin and sand flathead, Dr Hobday said. Newcastle Herald, 27 Aug 2007 – screencopy held by this website

worse than we thought – temperature!

If Earth’s past cycles of warming and cooling are any indication, temperatures by the end of the century will be even hotter than current climate models predict, according to a report by University of California, Berkeley, researchers.

Thus, while current models predict temperature increases of 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, the natural processes injecting more CO2 into the atmosphere will lead to temperature increases of 1.6 to 6 degrees Celsius (2.9 to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit), with the higher temperatures more likely, the researchers said.

University of California, Berkeley, brightsurf.com, 25 May 2006 – screencopy held by this website

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

travelling trees

In a paper appearing this month in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, the study authors documented the northward march of 40 major tree species over 30 eastern states based on the distribution of seedlings versus mature trees.

The finding confirms a link between global warming and forest migration, said lead study author Chris Woodall, of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“This is no longer conjecture,” he said. National Geographic News, 9 Feb 2009

drive cars less

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We burn fossil fuels such as gasoline, oil, coal, and natural gas to run our vehicle engines and to heat and light our homes. Burning fossil fuels increases the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

CO2 is a major contributor to climate change, or “global warming.” Here are some easy actions you can take to reduce your use of fossil fuels and to help slow climate change. When you can make the choice, choose for climate.

Drive Less: More than half of our CO2 comes from vehicles, so use public transit, carpool, vanpool, bike, walk, or telework from home if possible. You save 1 pound of carbon dioxide for each mile of driving you eliminate.

Dept of Ecology, State of Washington, 10 Jan 2007

don’t drive cars less

Walking does more than driving to cause global warming, a leading environmentalist has calculated. Food production is now so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance.

The climate could benefit if people avoided exercise, ate less and became couch potatoes. The sums were done by Chris Goodall, campaigning author of How to Live a Low-Carbon Life, based on the greenhouse gases created by intensive beef production.

“Driving a typical UK car for 3 miles [4.8km] adds about 0.9 kg [2lb] of CO2 to the atmosphere,” he said, a calculation based on the Government’s official fuel emission figures. “If you walked instead, it would use about 180 calories. You’d need about 100g of beef to replace those calories, resulting in 3.6kg of emissions, or four times as much as driving.”

Climate Change Challenge, 3 Aug 2007

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worse than we thought – animal extinctions 2

Life on Earth is facing an extinction crisis that could be far worse than previously thought, according to two leading ecologists who have studied the rate at which animal populations are being lost.

The scientists have found that the geographical ranges of 173 species of mammals have declined, collectively, by more than 50 per cent over several decades, indicating a severe constriction of the animals’ breeding territories.

Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University in California and Gerardo Ceballos of Mexico University believe that the loss of viable breeding populations is a critical factor that has often been overlooked. The loss of species diversity has correctly attracted much attention from the general public and decision makers.

“It is now the job of the community of environmental scientists to give equal prominence to the issue of the loss of population diversity,” Professor Ehrlich said. “We are talking about nothing less than the preservation of human life-support systems. We neglect the issue at our peril.”

Mysterium, 3 May 2002

oceans choked

According to a simulation of planetary warming trends, failure to drastically cut greenhouse gas pollution within the next half century could choke Earth’s oceans for the next 100,000 years.

What mankind does for the next several decades will play a large role in climate on Earth over the next tens of thousands of years, said geochemist Gary Shaffer of the University of Copenhagen. Wired, 26 Jan 2009

The golden winged warbler and the blue winged warbler are an item!

“As we’ve developed genomic methodologies, we’re finding that organisms are exchanging genes with other species,” Michael Arnold, a professor of genetics at the University of Georgia, said. “Genetic exchange due to organisms coming together from climate change is the rule rather than the exception.”

But the rate at which species interbreed is accelerating because of climate change, researchers say. As habitats and animal ranges change and bleed into one another, species that never before would have encountered one another are now mating.

Warmer temperatures have allowed grizzly bears and polar bears to venture to habitats they don’t usually occupy and mate to form a hybrid: the pizzly or grolar bear. Similar trends have been observed between golden-winged warblers and blue-winged warblers.

Heat Is Online, 1 Jun 2015 – Scientific American, June 1, 2015 from ClimateWire, June 1, 2015

worse than we thought – global food production 2

Climate change is set to do far worse damage to global food production than even the gloomiest of previous forecasts, according to studies presented at the Royal Society in London, UK, on Tuesday.

“We need to seriously re-examine our predictions of future global food production,” said Steve Long, a crop scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US. Output is “likely to be far lower than previously estimated”.

New Scientist, 26 Apr 2005