missed it by that much!

“The central fact is that, after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the Earth seems to be cooling down.

Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.” – Newsweek: April 28, 1975

That’s an excerpt from a story I wrote about climate science that appeared almost 40 years ago. Titled “The Cooling World,” it was remarkably popular; in fact it might be the only decades-old magazine story about science ever carried onto the set of a late-night TV talk show.

Now, as the author of that story, after decades of scientific advances, let me say this: while the hypotheses described in that original story seemed right at the time, climate scientists now know that they were seriously incomplete.

Our climate is warming — not cooling, as the original story suggested.

Peter Gwynne in Inside Science, 21 May 2014

no fragrance in short rice

An experiment by Indian agriculture scientists points to the enormous effect global warming could have on the fragrant basmati rice. Basmati, Sanskrit for the fragrant one, may lose not just its aroma, the famous long grains may get shorter, say scientists.

H Pathak, principal investigator of Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s Climate Change Challenge Programme, told TOI the Tarawari basmati grown in research fields in Delhi did not grow long enough and wasn’t as fragrant as it should have been when cooked.
Times of India, 30/1/11

plain leaves

Every fall, Marilyn Krom tries to make a trip to Vermont to see its famously beautiful fall foliage. This year, she noticed something different about the autumn leaves. “They’re duller, not as sparkly, if you know what I mean,” Krom, 62, a registered nurse from Eastford, Conn., said during a recent visit. “They’re less vivid.” Other “leaf peepers” are noticing, too, and some believe climate change could be the reason.
Fox News, 22 Oct 2007

Is nothing safe?

Venice’s gondoliers are being forced by ever-higher tides to “amputate” the tail end of their boats in order to squeeze under the city’s bridges. The boatmen blame the more frequent high tides bedevilling the city on global warming and one of the rainiest seasons in years.
The Telegraph (UK) 17 May 2004, Stormy days on canals of Venice as boatmen cut off gondolas’ tails

hardy gardens needed

People’s gardens are already changing. The days of the English lawn in Australia have gone forever. We need Australian gardens that can survive new extremes.

There will be a reduction in the number of exotic plants. People’s gardens are starting to look different and in 20 years time they will be radically different. People are going to have to return to growing some of their own food in their own gardens.

Peter Cundall, Presenter of Gardening Australia and conservationist, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Jun 2007 – screen copy held by this website

holy orders

Australia’s environmentally conscious Catholic nuns, brothers and priests want to buy hybrid cars and install solar panels on convents, schools, hospitals and aged care homes to reduce their carbon footprint.

The national body, Catholic Religious Australia, representing 8500 members, plans to negotiate a bulk purchase of hybrid vehicles to replace the religious order’s current car fleets.

The diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes bought a hybrid car two years ago. Bishop Chris Toohey, chairman of Catholic Earthcare, said the car was economical and reliable, but not ideal for long distances.

The hybrid car was very much a personal choice, he said. “When you are passing a road train it gets a bit hairy, and we have to take it all the way to Dubbo to get it serviced.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Jul 2007 – screencopy held by this website

ban progress!

The boom in flatscreen television could be fuelling global warming more than official estimates, scientists have warned.

Experts in California estimate that production of a powerful greenhouse gas used in their production has hit 4,000 tonnes a year – enough to match the annual carbon dioxide emissions of Austria.

Professor Michael Prather from the University of California at Irvine, who came up with the estimate, said that if the entire annual production of NF3 was released into the atmosphere it would have the equivalent effect on the Earth’s climate as 67 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. The Telegraph, 2 Jul 2008

on the hacking treadmill

New research indicates that hacking the atmosphere — pumping microscopic particles into the stratosphere or clouds to block sunlight and offset global warming caused by greenhouse gases — is imminently possible. The problem is we could never, ever stop doing it.

Climate scientists Damon Matthews of Concordia University and Ken Caldeira of Stanford ran the numbers on atmospheric geo-engineering through a climate simulation and found that while cranking out carbon dioxide at business-as-usual rates we can geo-engineer our way back toward pre-industrial temperatures in short order, reaching 1900 levels in about five years.

Not only that, it would be fairly cheap and easy to do. The problem is what happens if we stop short or screw it up. Bring the geo-engineering process to a halt, and those sun-warmed carbon sinks spit the carbon dioxide right back into the atmosphere.

The rebound warming, to temperatures that would have been reached without the geo-engineering, would be 10 to 20 times the pace of today’s global warming. The rapid warming, up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, would wreak havoc on the planet and threaten civilization.

To prevent disaster, the geo-engineering process would have to continue as long as carbon-dioxide levels were elevated.

A quarter of the carbon dioxide that comes out of your car’s tailpipe is still in the atmosphere a thousand years later, Caldeira said. We’ve never had systems work for a thousand years without failure, he added.

Heat Is Online – originally ABCNews.com, July 25, 2007

see also – action plan

exile the cows!

The good news is that our bilbies are finally breeding. The bad news, is that there are only a few hundred of them left on this continent, as opposed to 29 million cows.

To save the bilbies, bettongs, woylies, potoroos, leristas, phascogales and other diminutive creatures that abounded this continent before the arrival of the cow, we might give up our addiction to milk and beef.

Here’s my modest proposal: let’s send this country’s cattle back to where they came from. Land clearing is a key threat to biodiversity, says the Bureau of Statistics. It destroys and degrades the habitat on which native species rely.

Clearing also allows weeds and invasive animals to spread, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and can lead to soil degradation, such as erosion and salinity, which in turn can effect water quality.

Why are we clearing all this forest? To create pasture for cows, mainly. And in return, the cows are killing us. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation has determined that cattle are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Sun Herald (Australia), 16 Nov 2008 – screen copy held by this website

see also – action plan

shrinking menu

Oysters, lobsters, mussels, sea urchins and abalone could be wiped off the menu by global warming, an Australian scientist warned yesterday.

Jane Williamson, a Macquarie University marine ecologist, made the prediction after discovering that climate change is likely to take a dramatic toll on the ability of sperm from many marine creatures to swim to and fertilise eggs shed in the water.

Even if sperm can find and fertilise the eggs, the probability of their surviving long enough to grow into larvae is likely to plunge.

Scientists have warned that the oceans can no longer cope with the uptake of carbon dioxide, and rising acidity “is an urgent scientific and policy challenge”.

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Aug 2008

can I bend your ear?

Young coral reef fish with misshapen ear bones are more likely to get lost and die, and exposure to warmer waters makes the problem worse, according to a study of fish living around Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Monica Gagliano at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, Queensland, and colleagues found that at hatching, just over half of Ambon damselfish had asymmetrical otoliths, or ear bones.

Gagliano says that as-yet-unpublished work shows that exposing adult reef fish to higher water temperatures and increasingly acid water – both of which are associated with global warming – increases the percentage of offspring born with asymmetrical otoliths.

Increased acidification reduces the availability of calcium to be absorbed by fish to make bones.

“And general stress, such as having to regulate their internal pH when it is changing in the water, also seems to affect the development of otoliths in the baby fish,” says Gagliano.

New Scientist, 6 Mar 2008

research back to front

Talk agriculture, greenhouse gases and carbon price, and Richard Eckard immediately destroys one myth about methane emissions from cattle.

“The methane … comes out the front, not the back. We love the acronyms about what comes out the back, but probably less than 2%-5% comes from there. It’s really a burp and breathe out tax,” says Dr Eckard, a lead researcher on greenhouse and climate change in Victorian agriculture.

“Our work is focussing on dietary supplements – feeding the cattle to produce more milk profitably and reduce methane at the same time,” he said.

The research has concentrated on naturally occurring plants that have higher oils.

“A range of oils will work – mineral, vegetable oils, it doesn’t seem to matter what they are – they all have an effect on methane,” Dr Eckard said.

He said their experiments, and a review of similar studies around the world, had shown that with every 1% of oil in the diet, there was a 6% reduction in methane.

The Age (Australia), 18 Aug 2008 – screen copy held by this website

trout drought!

Global warming is the single greatest threat to the survival of trout in America’s interior west.

If nothing is done to reduce human-produced greenhouse gas emissions — the primary culprit behind global warming — trout habitat throughout the Rocky Mountain region could be reduced by 50 percent or more by the end of the century, bringing fewer opportunities for anglers to enjoy sportfishing and resulting in serious economic consequences for those who depend on the fishing, recreation and tourism industry for their livelihoods.

This July 2008 issue paper by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Montana Trout Unlimited makes clear that we must act now at the national, regional and local levels to reduce our emissions of global warming pollution and adopt other policies that appropriately value healthy rivers, lakes and streams.

The paper also includes recommendations for anglers on how to reduce their impact on trout while fishing.

Natural Resources Defense Council, 18 Jul 2008

in search of squirrels

For people who feel an acute unease about the future of the planet, a small but growing number of psychotherapists now offer a treatment designed to reduce worries as well as carbon footprints: ecopsychology.

But ecopsychology can help patients come to terms with their feelings about the natural world, said Thomas Doherty, who teaches an introductory course to ecopsychology at the Graduate School of Education and Counseling at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.

Dr. Doherty advises clients with global warming anxiety to recognize their concern about climate change and accept the limits of what they can control. He recommends “fasts” from shopping, the news and sending e-mail, while cultivating calmer pursuits like meditation or gardening.

Since she took Dr. Doherty’s ecopsychology class last fall, Angeline Tiamson, a graduate student earning a master’s degree in counseling at Lewis & Clark, has embarked on a new way of thinking.

When she is on campus, she drifts to the low, wide trunk of an old black walnut tree, a spot she found during a nature exercise for class.

She sits there for several minutes: no iPod, no cellphone, no laptop. She rubs her hand over the bark, and sniffs the empty shells left behind by squirrels.

“You can’t have a good relationship with anything if you are afraid or feel guilty,” Ms. Tiamson said. “You have to love it first.” New York Times, 16 Feb 2008

tourism shake-up

An international team of economists predict that by the end of the century the expected rise in temperature will make many current tourist hot spots a bit too toasty while making some currently chilly places warm enough to entice fair-weather travelers.

“Climate change would shift patterns of tourism towards higher altitudes and latitudes, tourism may double in colder countries and fall by 20 percent in warmer countries….For some countries international tourism may treble whereas for others it may be cut in half,” write researchers Andrea Bigano of the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in Milan, Italy, Jacqueline M. Hamilton of Hamburg University and Richard S.J. Tol of the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin.

The biggest winners: Canada, which they predict will experience a 220 percent increase in international arrivals by 2100, Russia (174 percent) and Mongolia (122 percent). The biggest losers: Mauritania, where international arrivals will drop by 60 percent, Mali (-59 percent) and Bahrain (-58 percent).

“Currently popular destinations that are high up there include Macau (-48 percent), Aruba (-42 percent) and Jamaica (-39 percent),” Tol said in an e-mail.

Pew Research Centre, 17 Aug 2006

a small fish in a big pond

Fish have lost half their average body mass and smaller species are making up a larger proportion of European fish stocks as a result of global warming, a study has found.

It’s huge, said study author Martin Daufresne of the Cemagref Public Agricultural and Environmental Research Institute in Lyon, France.

Size is a fundamental characteristic that is linked to a number of biological functions, such as fecundity — the capacity to reproduce.

While commercial and recreational fishing did impact some of the fisheries studied, it “cannot be considered as the unique trigger” for the changes in size, the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found.

Although not negating the role of other factors, our study provides strong evidence that temperature actually plays a major role in driving changes in the size structure of populations and communities, the study concluded. Heat Is Online, – originally Discover.com 20 Jul 2009

not to be sneezed at

As the world warms, some regions may become more humid and other regions drier. With these changes it is highly likely that we are going to see an increase in pollens, fungal spores and dust in the air, triggering an increase in the number and severity of asthma attacks.

This may also mean an increase in the number of asthma sufferers. Patients with persistent asthma need to talk to their doctor about managing their condition effectively and not just its symptoms.

While the effects of climate change may be unpredictable and potentially frightening for most asthmatics, they should take their regular preventer therapy and be ready with their asthma action plans when things go wrong.

Newcastle Herald (Australia), 12 May 2007 – screen copy held by this website

you know what to do!

New Scientist has a little piece on the subject: “Would it be possible to reduce the impact of the greenhouse effect by painting roofs of buildings white to reflect sunlight in the same way the polar icecaps do?”

To answer that question, the the Earth Institute at Columbia University (New York) has undertaken the Global Rural Urban Mapping Project (GRUMP).

Its results show that roughly 3 per cent of the Earth’s land surface is covered with buildings. The Earth has an albedo of 0.29, meaning that it reflects 29 per cent of the sunlight that falls upon it. With an albedo of 0.1, towns absorb more sunlight than the global average.

Painting all roofs white could nudge the Earth’s albedo from 0.29 towards 0.30.

According to a very simple “zero-dimensional” model of the Earth, this would lead to a drop in global temperature of up to 1 °C, almost exactly cancelling out the global warming that has taken place since the start of the industrial revolution.

A zero-dimensional model, however, excludes the atmosphere and, crucially, the role of clouds. But! It would be interesting to see if more sophisticated models predict a similar magnitude of cooling.

So next time you replace the tiles on your roof or buy a new house, you know what to do (if you can’t/won’t get solar panels, white tiles or a green roof, at least try to get a light color).

Tree Hugger, 16 Dec 2005

see also – action plan

just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water – it is!

Rising ocean temperatures caused by global warming could make sharks significantly smaller and less aggressive, according to new research  carried out by Australian marine biologists.

“Warmer waters and ocean acidification will have major detrimental effects on sharks’ ability to meet their energy demands, with the effects likely to cascade through entire ecosystems,” said the study’s lead author, associate professor Ivan Nagelkerken.

“In warmer water sharks are hungrier, but with increased CO2 they won’t be able to find their food. With reduced ability to hunt, sharks will no longer be able to exert the same control over the marine food webs, which is essential for maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems.”

The Independent, 12 Nov 2015

it’s a bear eat bear world!

A new article in the journal Arctic suggests that polar bear cannibalism — typically the predation of small bears or cubs by much larger adult males — is either much more commonplace than previously thought, or has lately become more common.

The scientists are asking: are polar bears more often resorting to cannibalism because of increased hunger and desperation, or are we simply more frequently observing a behavior that has always existed?

They say it’s an important question to answer, because it will reveal whether or not the Svalbard polar bear population has started to feel the heat from climate change.

LiveScience, 15 Dec 2011

cases climb

As reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease climb in the United States — there have been three major outbreaks in the news this summer — researchers say the increase could be partly a result of climate change.

More than three times as many cases of legionellosis, of which Legionnaires’ disease is one form, were reported in 2009 than 2000 — 3,522 up from 1,110, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. David N. Fisman, a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, said in an email that he doubted the increase was the result solely of improved testing. The rise is linear and across all regions of the United States, he said.

“Given that we know climate change is going to make for hotter, stormier summers (and already is doing so) it doesn’t seem like a huge leap to suggest that the ongoing rise in legionellosis in the US could be at least partly due to climate change,” he wrote.

NBC New York, 30 Jul 2015

see also – just plain scary

saved by nuclear power

It would be a “noble act” if Australia embraced nuclear power, which could be generated more safely than coal-fired electricity, one of Australia’s leading scientists and climate experts claims.

Tim Flannery, director of the South Australian Museum and author of two books on climate change, said Australia, the worst greenhouse gas poluter per capita in the world, had few immediate options for clean-energy generation.

“Climate change is so catastrophic and imminent that only nuclear power can save us,” he said.

The Age, 5 Aug 2006 – screencopy held by website

see also – action plan

blame us for the moose and the wolves!

Global warming is impacting more than the water levels in the Great Lakes.

It could be the beginning of the end for the moose and wolves of Isle Royale. And if it is, a Michigan Technological University scientist places the blame squarely on the human race.

“Humans have made summers increasingly hot, which likely exacerbates moose ticks,” says John Vucetich, a population biologist in Michigan Tech’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

“Both the heat and the ticks are detrimental to moose. If wolves go extinct for a lack of moose, humans will be to blame.” Science Daily, 22 Aug 2007

holiday horror stories

A report commissoned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (UK) says heat waves, droughts, rising sea levels, flash floods, forest fires and disease “could turn profitable tourist destinations into holiday horror stories”.

The senior research scientist at the unit, Dr David Viner, said: “Areas like the Mediterranean could become unbearable during the traditional summer holiday season. As temperatures begin to soar, many tourists will stay away.”

Dr Ute Collier, WWF head of climate change, said: “The tourism industry could be faced with huge costs as global warming begins to influence decisions about when and where people are going to go on holiday.”

WWF’s recommendations include introducing an aviation fuel tax throughout the European Union, and preferably worldwide.

It also argues for a shift from fossil fuel use to renewable energy sources, and for improved energy efficiency in new buildings, including tourist resorts.

BBC News, 29 Aug 1999

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

eco-discount

A Berlin brothel is claiming the title of Germany’s first “green” sex establishment after offering clients eco-discounts if they can prove they arrived by bicycle or public transport.

The concept has been dreamed up by the Maison d’Envie (House of Desire) brothel in the city’s fashionable Prenzlauer Berg district where Germany’s Green party won 46 per cent of the vote in last month’s general election.

Regina Goetz, the former prostitute who runs the establishment, explained yesterday: “The environment is on everyone’s lips around here and it’s pretty hard to find a parking space, so we came up with the idea of an eco-discount of €5 (£4.60) for anyone who leaves the car at home.”

The Independent, 16 Oct 2009

Arthur or Martha?

Temperature, that is to say, the weather, can affect the determination of sex in insect offspring, says new research out of the University of Montreal in Canada.

According to a study led by Joffrey Moiroux and Jacques Brodeur of the school’s Department of Biological Sciences, and published in the May issue of the journal Animal Behaviour, an insect will either have a male or female offspring depending on how hot or cold the climate happens to be.

“We know that climate affects the reproductive behavior of insects. But we never clearly demonstrated the effects of climate change on sex allocation in parasitoids,” Moiroux said in a news release.

Heat Is Online, 23 May 2014 – The Latin Post

bicycle spectacle

Wearing nothing but their causes, 30 naked cyclists hit Newcastle streets yesterday in a very visual protest.

Some found them appalling, others appealing, but whatever the personal impressions of the naturists activists, it was their messages splashed across their brightly painted bodies that gained the most attention.

Newcastle’s staging of the World Naked Bike Ride, dubbed Nudecastle 2008, was a huge success organiser Marte Kinder said. The group protested for environmental accountability, climate change action and anti-war causes.

Clothing was optional with some riders preferring to keep sensitive areas covered, while for others body paint did the trick, organiser Mr Kinder said.

Newcastle Herald (Australia), 10 Mar 2008 – screen copy held by this website

thinner shellfish shells

The number of shelled creatures in the ocean is truly dizzying. And we need them — they are keystone species for everything from building coral reefs to anchoring the ocean food chain to making a killer linguine and clam sauce.

But as carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere, ocean water becomes more acidic. And shellfish have trouble growing their shells.

Scientists have worried for years about ocean acidification affecting shelled creatures in the future, but according to a new study, it’s already happening, and has been for over a hundred years.

Led by Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University in New York, a team of researchers grew Northern quahog clams and Atlantic bay scallops under varying CO2 concentrations. What was surprising was how sensitive the animals were to increasing CO2.

In the researchers’ experiment, that was already enough to stunt shellfishes’ growth and make their shells thinner.

Heat Is Online, 1 Oct 2010 – Discovery.com

red squirrels jump the gun

University of Alberta researchers recently concluded a 10-year study showing that red squirrels in the Yukon are reproducing earlier in the year in response to global warming and thus being genetically affected by it.

The researchers, who studied the mating habits and DNA of more than 5,000 female red squirrels, found that litters were being born an average of three weeks earlier than they historically had been.

We’ve been the first to show that this is a genetic change … and not just behavioral change, professor Stan Boutin, who led the team that conducted the study, told a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter. Heat Is Online – originally Discover.com, July 23 2003

global catastrophe!

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies.

The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents. An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is ‘plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately’, they conclude.

As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.

The Guardian, 22 Feb 2004

putting the squeeze on Salamanders

Wild salamanders that live in the Appalachian Mountains are shrinking because they must burn more energy as the local climate gets hotter and drier, according to a new study.

Researchers found that the salamanders they collected between 1980 and 2012 were 8 percent smaller than those collected in earlier decades, starting in 1957.

The findings confirm predictions that some species will shrink in response to climate change. The climate where the salamanders live has gotten warmer and drier, researchers said.

We compared the size of the museum specimens to the current animals and we were surprised to see that, in fact, many species has become smaller over just a 50- to 60-year period, said study author Karen Lips, a biologist at the University of Maryland.

Heat Is Online, 11 Apr 2014 – Livescience.com

stay-at-home brants

Scientists have documented that increasing numbers of black brant are skipping that far southern migration and staying in Alaska instead.

Fewer than 3,000 wintered in Alaska before 1977. In recent years, however, more than 40,000 have remained north, with as many as 50,000 staying there last year, during the most ice-free winter that the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge had seen in more than a decade.

The temperatures now in winter are much warmer, said David Ward, a researcher at U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center, who conducted the research along with scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“In years past you’d often have ice that would build up in these lagoons, and the eelgrass would be unavailable for the winter period. But now that’s changing.”

Heat Is Online, 30 Oct 2014 – Environmental Health News

cool shades

A proposal to reverse climate change by placing mirrors in the sky to reflect sunlight away from Earth won’t give us back the same climate we had before we started emitting so much carbon dioxide, says a new study.

Researchers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom applied state-of-the-art global climate models to predict the effect of using reflective sunshades to send a fraction of the sunlight that enters Earth’s atmosphere back into space before it can heat things up.

Although we managed to cancel out warming on a global average, what you end up with is some areas that warm up and some that cool down, said Dan Lunt, who led the study, published in Geophysical Research Letters. Heat Is Online – originally Discovery.com, July 8, 2008

drawing the line

In Sydney’s Elanora Heights, Dick Clarke, 50, a building designer, lives with his wife, Bronwyn, and two of his three sons (Peter, 20, and Tim, 17) in an environmentally friendly house.

Clarke’s upstairs home office, perched among gently swaying melaleucas, is a kind of nest for the sustainable man. “A sustainabe lifestyle guides so much of what I do,” says Clarke. “But it’s a journey with no end point.

You have to come to grips with where you want to draw the line. we have water tanks, solar power, but we don’t grow any food, which is a priority if you want to live sustainably. But I can’t do a vege patch, I work 18 hours a day.”

Clarke seems to have an involuntary reflex that switches off lights and computers a he moves through his house.

“Things seem to magically turn on as the kids walk past,” he says, shaking his head.

“They call me an eco-nazi. Sometimes I lose it and hide the amp lead, take lights away from them. But sometimes you have to turn a blind eye to a 20-minute shower.”

The Sun Herald (Sydney), 29 Jul 2007 – screen copy held by this website

take a train today!

Greenpeace propelled airline travel into the headlines as a climate change issue when it offered airline passengers free train tickets if they would give up their seats in Britain in June.

The lobby group argued that the main problem with flying was the growth in short-haul flights. It predicted that by 2050 emissions from aviation could wipe out emissions savings made by every other industry combined. Sydney Morning Herald, 17 Oct 2007

not all bad news!

Belgian scientists have identified a hitherto unsuspected benefit of global warming – more time for all of us. They say increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere will slow the Earth’s rotation.

One of the team, Dr Olivier de Viron, told BBC News Online: “When you increase the amount of CO2, you perturb the atmosphere’s dynamics, the winds and so on. We know that globally the wind blowing from West to East will increase, so the Earth’s rotation will decrease. “The days will be longer – and the nights won’t be shorter to compensate.”

“It means 24 hours won’t be 24 hours any more. It will be something a little bit more.”

BBC News, 12 Feb 2002

delving into deep frames

Communicating the climate message to inform, but also engage and influence behaviour has proven intensely difficult. Over a decade of research on this issue has highlighted the need for communication to engage with people’s “deep frames” – beliefs formed over a lifetime, which are mostly subconscious.

My research paper, recently published in WIRES Climate Change draws upon cognitive science, evolutionary psychology and philosophy, among other fields, to explore the emerging idea that global warming exceeds modern humans’ cognitive and sensory abilities. To overcome this impasse, climate communication needs to engage people at a philosophical, sensory and feeling level.

People need to be able to feel and touch the new climate reality; to explore unfamiliar emotional terrain and be helped to conceive their existence differently. How is this to be done? The world must turn to its artists: storytellers, film-makers; musicians; painters and multi-media wizards, to name a few.

Under the global Future Earth initiative, a team of around 60,000 scientists and social scientists has been assembled to understand and report on the physical, tangible dimensions of the problem.

I argue we need 60,000 arts and humanities experts to focus upon the intangibles – the communication, engagement and meaning-making aspects of the problem.

Elizabeth Boulton, PhD Candidate, cross-disciplinary approaches to climate and environmental risk, Australian National University, Conversation, 8 Jun 2016

window closing

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose wording was agreed in Brussels only yesterday after all-night disputes between scientists and governments and last-minute objections from the US, China and Saudi Arabia over wording and graphics, bluntly says: “Unmitigated climate change would, in the long term, be likely to exceed the capacity of natural, managed and human systems to adapt.”

In a sobering assessment, the report finds this warming would mean “approximately 20 per cent to 30 per cent of plant and animal species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction”.

It also warns of malnutrition, water shortages, disease and injury from predicted increases in heatwaves, droughts, storms and other severe weather events. Professor Terry Hughes, of James Cook University, who contributed to the report, said time was running out for coral reefs.

“We have a narrow window of opportunity – no more than 20 years to achieve decisive cuts in greenhouse gases – to protect coral reefs from massive degradation,” he said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Apr 2007