disappearing pumpkins

This Thanksgiving, climate change may hit a little closer to home.

Libby’s Pumpkin, which supplies more than 85 percent of the world’s canned pumpkin, says an unusually rainy spring and summer will slash annual pumpkin yields by half this year.

This past June, Illinois got more than 9 inches of rain, more than 5 inches above average, according to Jim Angel, Illinois’s state climatologist.

Between May and July – critical growing months for processing pumpkins like those used in Libby’s cans – almost 2 feet of rain fell in Illinois, more than 10 inches above average.

Christian Science Monitor, 8 Oct 2015

fir trees make hay

Suspended 20 stories in the air, Ken Bible looks down on the crown of a 500-year-old Douglas fir and ponders a mystery.

The vantage point allows the University of Washington forest ecologist to study the upper reaches of this old-growth forest, where a reproductive orgy is under way.

“We’ve never seen anything like this here,” he says, reaching over the edge of the open-air gondola to grasp a limb laden with cones. He counts at least 30.

“Normally, a branch like this would have about three,” he says. “Why so many this year? We really don’t know.”

The work is part of a bigger effort to figure out what climate change, both natural and man-made, will mean for the Northwest’s iconic forests.

Seattle Times, 27 Nov 2007

nail everything down!

floatingThe news: If you’re still having trouble believing climate change is a real thing, here is another item on the list of things affected by global warming: gravity.

According to the latest report by the European Space Agency, detailed satellite imaging has shown that “the loss of ice from West Antarctica between 2009 and 2012 caused a dip in the gravity field over the region.”
World.Mic, 30 Sep 2014

certain … not so certain

question_marksBecause in just 100 months’ time, if we are lucky, and based on a quite conservative estimate, we could reach a tipping point for the beginnings of runaway climate change.

That said, among people working on global warming, there are countless models, scenarios, and different iterations of all those models and scenarios, said Andrew Simms, policy director and head of the climate change programme at the New Economics Foundation.
The Guardian, 1 Aug 2008

all bases covered!

The UK’s weather will become both too wet and too dry – and also too cold and too hot – as climate change increases the frequency of extreme events, the Met Office has warned in a new report.

Its scientists concluded that on average the UK will see wetter, milder winters and hotter, drier summers in the long term due to global warming.

But the natural year-to-year variability of weather will also mean occasional very cold winters, like that of 2010-11, and very wet summers, like that of 2012.
The Guardian, 26 Mar 2014

forever in …

Almost everyone owns a pair of blue jeans.

But water shortages and drought are having an impact on cotton production, causing price fluctuations and even a shortage in denim.

According to a recent New York Times report, a pair of jeans uses 919 gallons of water during its life cycle, enough to fill 15 spa-size bathtubs.

“That includes the water that goes into irrigating the cotton crop, stitching the jeans together and washing them scores of times at home,” reports the Times.

Worried that water shortages could threaten the very existence of the jeans industry, Levi Strauss developed a nonprofit to teach farmers how to harvest rainwater for irrigation, introduced a brand that uses zero water during the stone-washing process, and is urging people to wash their jeans less.

For more earth-friendly jeans, choose organic brands—organic farming methods protect the soil, and healthy soil holds more water reserves to help in times of drought. Better yet, shop for used jeans.

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013

the end is high!

The Forcey family, of Sandringham, are keen bushwalkers, skiers and cyclists.

But lately they have made sacrifices for a new outdoor ritual — walking along Melbourne beaches waving an 11-metre pole that bears a dire warning.

They call it the global warming pole.

And it symbolises the concerns of Tim and Coni Forcey and their 16-year-old twins, Renee and Eric, about the planet’s future.

The pole’s red markers illustrate how far sea levels could rise if ice in Greenland and Antarctica continues to melt at the rate forecast by climate. The point of it is to catch people’s attention.

“For the most part, they are really interested and want to talk about global warming,” Mr Forcey said.

The Age, 28 Oct 2006

butterflies down for the count!

butterflyMore than three-quarters of Britain’s 59 butterfly species have declined over the last 40 years, with particularly dramatic declines for once common farmland species such as the Essex Skipper and small heath, according to the most authoritative annual survey of population trends.

“This is the final warning bell,” said Chris Packham, Butterfly Conservation vice-president, calling for urgent research to identify the causes for the disappearance of butterflies from ordinary farmland. “If butterflies are going down like this, what’s happening to our grasshoppers, our beetles, our solitary bees? If butterflies are in trouble, rest assured everything else is.”

Climate change and pesticides may be playing a more damaging role in their declines than previously thought.
The Guardian, 15 Dec 2015

thanks to John Blethen

a continuing role for a former IPCC official?

A collection of Australia’s best known faces from stage, screen and stadium have joined together to save some of the country’s greatest natural landmarks.

TV character Kim Craig, one half of television duo Kath & Kim, is championing the cause of the local backyard – at risk from rising temperatures, reduced rainfall and increased water restrictions.

“It makes me gropable to think that because of global warming, this back garden could soon be a dust bowl!” she said.
The Age, 2 Nov 2008

sea planes needed!

seaplaneCalifornia will face billions of dollars in spending to cope with the consequences of rising sea levels if low-lying communities along the coast are ultimately submerged, as scientists predict, Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday..

“If that happens, the Los Angeles airport’s going to be underwater,” Brown told reporters at a presentation of his revised state budget proposal in Los Angeles. “So is the San Francisco airport.” LA Times, 13 May 2014

crocodiles more choosy than previously thought!

Australia’s saltwater crocodiles appear to be in hot water, with a University of Queensland study linking climate warming to shorter dives, putting the crocs’ survival at risk.

Professor Craig Franklin of the UQ School of Biological Sciences said saltwater crocodiles exposed to long-term elevated water temperature spent less time submerged once water temperature exceeded 31.5 degrees Celsius.

Professor Franklin said further research on other crocodile performance traits that could influence the ability to survive future climate change was needed before scientists could fully understand the effects of elevated water temperatures.University of Queensland News, 16 Dec 2015

thanks to ddh

window closing

Sir Nicholas, a former World Bank chief economist, seeks to overturn conventional thinking by arguing that fighting climate change will save, not cost, money.

Whitehall sources told The Independent that the report was hard-headed.

“It didn’t deal in sandals and brown rice. It stuck to the economics.”

Insurance analysts said in evidence to Sir Nicholas that they feared insurance claims caused by storms, droughts and other natural disasters could exceed the world’s GDP.

Sir Nicholas believes a window of 10 to 15 years exists to save the global economy from severe damage – but after that it will be too late, Mr Swan said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Oct 2006

stirring the pot

Coffee is an early-morning staple. But it’s also threatened by all of the emissions we’re creating.

Coffee-selling giant Starbucks is doing its part to use less energy and water, including its announcement that all new retail stores will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

Cutting emissions and protecting resources will help protect the coffee plantations the company depends on, those threatened by the uncharacteristic extreme heat, drought, and increase pest populations brought on by climate change.

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013

fashion statement

Climate change, the term given to trends in statistical weather patterns, is often closely linked to anthropogenic global warming, and it’s likely a large reason that U.S. climates are getting warmer each year.

But those hotter temperatures are also eroding the seasonality of your wardrobe; in other words, we’re wearing more of the same clothes, year-round. Your favorite pair of J.Crew cropped pants?

As a result of 2011’s no-show winter, you could wear them in September and February.

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

But I thought the heat went…

“The apparent paradox relationship between rising temperatures in the atmosphere and declining sea surface temperatures can be explained easily,”said Dr Helen McGregor of the MARUM Research Centre Ocean Margins at the University of Bremen in Germany.

“Both the increasing wind and rotation of the Earth cause coastal surface waters to be transported to the open ocean. These water masses are then replaced by considerably cooler water being upwelled from deeper oceanic levels.The stronger the greenhouse effect the stronger the cold water pump works – and the cooler the coastal waters off Morocco.”
The Telegraph (UK), 5 Feb 2007

change you can believe in!

Siestas will become an increasingly common part of British life as summers get hotter and drier due to climate change, a leading authority on the health hazards of heat has predicted.

Prof Bill Keatinge, from University College London, yesterday predicted that Continental-style after-lunch naps would become increasingly common in Britain. “An increase of only 8C in body temperature will kill,” he said. “One simple countermeasure is to avoid exertion. You see this in southern Europe where people take siestas.”
The Telegraph (UK), 13 Aug 2005

scientific explanation

“Well, the wacky weather could get even wackier. What we’re seeing is that the jet stream and the polar vortex are becoming unstable. Instability of historic proportions. Now think of the polar vortex as a bucket, a swirling bucket of cold air. However, the walls are weakening.”

“Cold air is spilling out, spilling out over the walls of the bucket. And the question is, why? Why is this polar vortex weakening? We think it’s because of the gradual heating up of the North Pole. The North Pole is melting.”
New York City College physics professor Michio Kaku, interview on CBS, This Morning, 13 Feb 2014

watch your step

The strange holes in the earth found in the northern tundra on Russian territory in July could mean the beginning of irreversible changes in the climate of our planet.

According to Russian scientists, the most likely reason for the formation of such holes is the emission of natural gas, which may be caused by global warming.

According to geologist Konstantin Ranks, the emission of natural gas that scholars consider the most likely explanation for the formation of the holes may be a consequence of global warming.

Russia Beyond the Headlines, 25 Jul 2014

turtles speed up!

Caretta carettas usually come on land around July every year, but this year began to arrive in June.

Head of the Alanya Agricultural Directorate Umut Olgun said that the turtles have started arriving earlier on the shores of Alanya this year.

Remarking that caretta carettas typically arrive on Alanya shores to lay their eggs between July and September every year, Olgun pointed out that their early arrival this year could have been caused by global climate change.

Today’s Zaman, 11 Jun 2007

a prediction in bad taste

Tasteless carrots, bad pizza dough and poor quality steak are some of the impacts we can expect from Australia’s changing climate, according to a new scientific study released.

‘Appetite for Change’, a report prepared by leading climate scientists David Karoly and Richard Eckard at the University of Melbourne, reveals the impact that shifting rainfall patterns, extreme weather, warming oceans, and climate related diseases will have on the production, quality and cost of Australia’s food in the future.
The Daily Examiner, 6 Apr 2015

make love not war!

animalsClimate change is pushing Arctic mammals to mate with cousin species, in a trend that could be pushing the polar bear and other animals towards extinction, biologists said. Rapidly melting Arctic sea ice imperils species through interbreeding as well as through habitat loss, they said in a commentary in the British science journal Nature.

As more isolated populations and species come into contact, they will mate, hybrids will form, and rare species are likely to go extinct. The Times of Malta, 16 Dec 2010

I knew it all along!

dinosaursAn international team, including members from Imperial College London and the Zoological Society of London, has constructed a complete evolutionary tree tracing the history of all 4,500 mammals on Earth that puts the major diversification 10-15 million years after asteroid strike, casting into doubt the role the dinosaur die-off played in the success of our present day mammals.

Around 55 million years ago, the mid-latitude mean annual temperatures went up by up to 5 deg C over about 20,000 years. “It was a much bigger increase in temperature than we’ve had so far, but within the range that we might get within the next century (never mind 20,000 years),” said Prof Andy Purvis from Imperial College London.

It looks like a later bout of ‘global warming’ may have kick-started today’s diversity – not the death of the dinosaurs.
The Telegraph (UK), 29 Mar 2007

a bent globe

square_earthBill McGuire, of the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre at University College London, and the author of a review in the journal of research in the area, said warming temperatures melted ice from ice sheets and glaciers and increased the amount of water in the oceans.

And the greater weight of the water in the oceans where sea level has risen as ice melts can “bend” the Earth’s crust.
The Telegraph (UK), 19 Apr 2010

here today …

Climate change blamed for missing lake. Center glaciologist Andres Rivera said that during the last two months, the changing climate played a significant role in the destruction of a five-acre glacial lake in Chile’s Magallanes region, the BBC reported Wednesday.

Rivera, who visited the lake’s former location Monday, said rising temperatures likely caused area glaciers to melt, and they in turn added pressure to a natural dam next to the lake.

This confirms that glaciers in the region are retreating and getting thinner, he told the BBC. “This would not be happening if the temperature had not increased.”

Phys org 5 Jul 2007

getting physical

Climate change will probably trigger more human conflict, according to an article in the journal Science.

An examination of 60 separate studies, including one stretching back to 10,000 B.C., found that individuals, groups and nations are “substantially” more likely to become involved in physical conflict in hot weather and heavy rain.

Climate change is expected to drive up temperatures in many regions, which will “systematically increase the risk of many types of conflict” ranging from barroom brawls and rape to civil wars and international disputes, according to the article.

“The strongest evidence is that high temperatures really matter,” said Solomon Hsiang, one of the study’s authors. “A few degrees warmer is always worse.”

Bloomberg Business, 2 Aug 2013

see also – just plain scary

climate change raises the heat

A new report blames global warming for rising rates of infidelity, especially bad news for couples in Miami, where rising tides and raging hurricanes remind us all how much extracurricular sex we could be having on a daily basis.

Victoria Milan, a dating website for people looking to cheat on their significant other, surveyed 5,000 of its members, both men and women.

A shocking 72 percent of them responded that yes, their own Al Gore-esque stress about unpredictable weather is the cause of their extramarital dalliances.

Guess the fact of their existing committed relationships was just an inconvenient truth.

Miami New Times, 28 May 2014

wolves to the rescue

Balanced at the apex of an arch, the keystone locks all the other stones in place. Remove it and the arch collapses.

Keystone predators, such as wolves, are structurally similar, holding ecosystems together from the top down in food web relationships called trophic cascades.

Keystone predators control elk numbers and behavior. On the lookout for wolves, wary elk eat more sparingly. This releases shrubs and saplings from browsing pressure, improves habitat for other species, and increases biodiversity.

These cascading effects, termed the ecology of fear, are based on powerful evolutionary relationships that were in place until we eliminated large predators in the early part of the twentieth century.

While wolves won’t slow climate change, they certainly can help create ecosystems better able to withstand it. However, trophic cascades have yet to make it into the lexicon of climate change solutions.

Could this be because combating climate change with wolves is too implausible or costly?

Island Press 10 Sep 2010

not until … fly

“Global warming has certainly been observed very robustly, and we understand the processes by which humans are causing it quite well,” explains Noah Diffenbaugh, a Woods Institute for the Environment fellow and assistant professor of earth science at Stanford University.

Part of Diffenbaugh’s research includes studying how climate change affects pest patterns.

Corn—one of the main commodity crops used to feed pigs bound for the supermarket—is threatened by not only climate-related drought and flooding, but also by the corn earworm, and damage from the pest is projected to worsen in the coming decades, thanks to warmer winters.

In fact, we’re already seeing the scenario unfold: Bacon prices surged over the summer, thanks to climate-related troubles in cornfields.

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013

it’s a bird eat bird world

Jim Hayward, a seabird biologist based on Protection Island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, is making his evening rounds through the largest gull nesting colony in the Puget Sound region.

He’s been monitoring this site since 1987, so he’s used to the shrieking, the divebombing, the frequent splatterings of gull poop, and the pecking at his head, hands and feet.

What he’s not accustomed to is the cannibalism. Over the last decade, the gulls have shown a growing taste for their neighbors’ eggs and chicks. The trend appears linked to climate change.

“It doesn’t seem like a lot, but a one-tenth of a degree change in seawater temperature correlates to a 10 percent increase in (the odds of) cannibalism,” said Hayward, a professor at Andrews University in Michigan.

KitsapSun, 23 Jul 2016

life is like a box of ……

Brace yourselves, chocolate lovers: The anticipated one-degree rise in world temperature by 2030 will devastate Western Africa’s small cocoa farms, according to Colombian researchers.

If the world temperature increases two degrees by 2050, it will be virtually impossible to grow cocoa plants at the elevations where current farms are located.

If there’s ever a reason to switch to energy-efficient lightbulbs and drive less, this is it!

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013

I’m sane, it’s everyone else who’s crazy

To test the relationship between ambient temperature and personality, we conducted two large-scale studies in two geographically large yet culturally distinct countries: China and the United States.

Using data from 59 Chinese cities (N = 5,587), multilevel analyses and machine learning analyses revealed that compared with individuals who grew up in regions with less clement temperatures, individuals who grew up in regions with more clement temperatures (that is, closer to 22 °C) scored higher on personality factors related to socialization and stability (agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability) and personal growth and plasticity (extraversion and openness to experience)……

As climate change continues across the world, we may also observe concomitant changes in human personality.

Wenqi Wei, Jackson G. Lu, […]Lei Wang Nature Human Behaviour 1, 890–895 (2017) doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0240-0, 27/11/17

thanks to David Hanig

cooling off period

A new study by three economists has found hotter temperatures lead to less sex. Stop climate change; get laid more.

Although it’s not quite as simple as that, as the economists explain in their paper “Maybe next month? Temperature shocks, climate change and dynamic adjustments in birth rates” published this week by the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research in the US.

Indeed, for any given month, additional days above 27 degrees were found to cause a large decline in birth rates about eight to 10 months later. While there was a rebound in subsequent months, this did not make up entirely for the decline.

The lack of a full rebound suggests that increased temperatures due to climate change may reduce population growth rates in the coming century.

Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Nov 2015

one man’s meat is ….

The IPCC findings come hot on the heels of another study, “The importance of reduced meat and dairy consumption for meeting stringent climate change targets”, published in the April edition of Climate Change.

The study’s lead author argues that targeting the fossil fuel industry alone is insufficient because “the agricultural emissions … may be too high. Thus we have to take action in both sectors.”

In 2010 a UN report, “Priority, Products, and Materials” concluded that, “A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

ABC News (Australia), 28 Apr 2014

bumpy ride!

Nope, not even air travel is safe from our wavering weather.

Running atmospheric computer models, British researchers found a connection between climate change and turbulence, and they predict that the average strength of turbulence will increase by 10 to 40% by 2050. The amount of airspace containing significant turbulence will most likely double, too.

“The main takeaway message for flyers is to expect less-comfortable flights in the coming decades, with the seatbelt sign switched on perhaps twice as often,” explains study coauthor and atmospheric scientist Paul Williams, PhD, a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Reading.

Bumpier rides could translate into more bumps and bruises. The Federal Aviation Administration lists airplane turbulence as the number one cause of in-flight injuries. Between injuries and airplane damage, turbulence currently costs the airlines of the world tens of millions of dollars.

“Aviation is partly responsible for changing the climate, but our findings show for the first time how climate change could affect aviation,” Williams and his team notes.

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013

wet blankets

Gavin Houghton and his wife were prepared to put their money where their convictions are when renovating their Edwardian home in North Carlton.

The couple employed an architect who specialises in sustainable design, knowing the resulting plan’s passive solar energy, water savings and environmentally conscious elements would increase their building costs by 20 per cent.

The innovative design involved demolishing the back of their home to put large water tanks under a concrete slab. The slab would also provide thermal mass that, in conjunction with a “thermal chimney”, would create passive heating and cooling for their home.

The couple planned to create a second level and install two banks of solar panels on the roof. As well as creating space for their young family, their aim was to “future-proof” the property by turning a two-star energy-rated house into a six-star.

“I think it’s our duty as a society to build something which is going to last 50 or 60 years in a sustainable manner and I think what we have done seems a little bit odd now but these will be mandatory requirements in five or six years’ time,” Mr Houghton says.

Unfortunately for the Houghtons, their neighbours did not share that view. Soon after the planning application was advertised in August 2008, a campaign to object to the development began, with neighbours doorknocking to collect signatures for a petition.

In all, 36 residents objected. Concerns included the visual impact of the solar panels and thermal chimney on the area’s heritage and fears about the impact of the underground water tanks on adjoining properties.

The Age, 20 Feb 2010

feathers ruffled

Winter 2014 – the effects of global warming are being seen first-hand as participants of continent-wide backyard bird watchers find birds in North American areas they typically aren’t seen this time of year.

Changes in migration patterns also mean that different species of birds, which have previously never interacted, are suddenly shuffled together into the same space.

Society for Science points out that the repercussions of this mixture are unstudied, stating, “Scientists don’t yet know what those communities will look like, or how the birds will interact with each other.”

Bird-X notes that while some birds may live peacefully with each other, it’s very likely that the need for limited territory will cause problems that never before existed.

Bird-X 16 Dec 2014

there’s an awful lot of coffee in …..

Most people agree that chocolate tastes great, but is there a way to make it taste even better?

Perhaps, according to scientists who looked at different conditions that can put a strain on cocoa trees. Reporting in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they say that although the agricultural method used to grow cocoa trees doesn’t matter that much, the specific weather conditions do.

The research team detected only minor differences in the chemical composition among the beans harvested from the farms during the same weather conditions…..

The larger contribution to chemical composition was the weather. Overall, the antioxidant content increased and fat content of the beans decreased during the dry season as temperatures rose and soil moisture dropped.

The researchers say these differences could contribute to variability in cocoa bean flavor.

Eureka News Alert, 6 Dec 2017

thanks to David Hanig

tighten your belt!

As the world meets in Cancun, Mexico for the latest round of United Nations talks on climate change, the influential academics called for much tougher measures to cut carbon emissions.

In one paper Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years.

Prof Anderson admitted it “would not be easy” to persuade people to reduce their consumption of goods.

He said politicians should consider a rationing system similar to the one introduced during the last “time of crisis” in the 1930s and 40s.

The Telegraph, 29 Nov 2010

jumping the gun

There is currently no organized discipline for the study of the psychological risks of climate change, yet it is already taking a toll on many people who tackle this issue.

Surprisingly susceptible are those who might seem to be immune. Those who do acknowledge the problem face a different set of issues, particularly those who work on the problem.

Lisa Van Susteren coined the term “pre-traumatic stress disorder” to describe the grief, anger, and anxiety clinging to the scientists and advocates whose job it is to gaze into a future that can look increasingly bleak.

The longtime counselor is profoundly empathetic, and her interest in pre-traumatic stress is intensely personal. Said Van Susteren, “Pre-traumatic stress disorder? It’s what I see. It’s what I live. It’s what I see others living.”

Think Progress, 16 Sep 2015

beer tastes worse

………………………………….

climate change is starting to degrade the quality of beer. Or so say a team at the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute lead by the climatologist Martin Mozny.

The team has just published a study in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology which concludes that “even with the modest warming so far experienced, [hop] yields [in the Czech Republic] have stagnated and quality declined”.

But it is the decline in quality of the Saaz hops, which produce the famous Czech pilsners, that is perhaps most worrying for beer lovers.

The “Alpha” acid content – “a major determinant of quality”, according to the team, as it’s the compound that produces a pilsner’s defining bitter taste – is likely to fall a further 13–32% if the predicted warming occurs.

The Guardian, 15 Sep 2009

beer tastes better

From rising sea levels to stifling heat waves, the effects of global warming are shaping up to be a worldwide buzz kill. But brewers in Greenland seem to be going with the flow, having found a new use for one of their homeland’s fastest growing—but least celebrated—natural resources: melted Arctic ice.

On July 31 a team of canny entrepreneurs unveiled Greenland Beer, an ale brewed with water melted from Greenland’s ice cap, at a public tasting in Copenhagen, Denmark. And if reaction from tipplers at the tasting was any indication, the brewers may be on to something.

Electrician Flemming Larsen described the ale to the Associated Press as “smooth, soft, but not bitter … different from most other beer.” Maybe that is because it’s ice-cap water, he said.

National Geographic, 3 Aug 2006
………………………………….

see also – having it both ways

Hell on Earth

Presently our use of fossil fuels is leading to a temperature rise of at least 4C (from a pre-industrial global mean that has been relatively stable for around 10, 000 years, the Holocene).

This unprecedented rapid warming so threatens species and ecosystems, agriculture and industry, Third World countries and rich Western post-nation state economies that only one person in ten is predicted to survive.

Seven to ten billion people are at risk of premature death in this hell on Earth we are creating with the unintended side effects of our present use of an extremely beneficial source of energy.

CounterCurrents.org, 6 Feb 2012

(don’t) spend a penny

But the rise of bitcoin is also happening at a specific moment in history: Humanity is decades behind schedule on counteracting climate change, and every action in this era should be evaluated on its net impact on the climate. Increasingly, bitcoin is failing the test….

But what they might not have accounted for is how much of an energy suck the computer network behind bitcoin could one day become. Simply put, bitcoin is slowing the effort to achieve a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. What’s more, this is just the beginning. Given its rapidly growing climate footprint, bitcoin is a malignant development, and it’s getting worse…..

In just a few months from now, at bitcoin’s current growth rate, the electricity demanded by the cryptocurrency network will start to outstrip what’s available, requiring new energy-generating plants. And with the climate conscious racing to replace fossil fuel-base plants with renewable energy sources, new stress on the grid means more facilities using dirty technologies.

Grist, 5 Dec 2017

thanks to David Hanig

All is lost!

From depression to substance abuse to suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, growing bodies of research in the relatively new field of psychology of global warming suggest that climate change will take a pretty heavy toll on the human psyche as storms become more destructive and droughts more prolonged.

For your everyday environmentalist, the emotional stress suffered by a rapidly changing Earth can result in some pretty substantial anxieties.

Two years ago, Camille Parmesan, a professor at Plymouth University and the University of Texas at Austin, became so “professionally depressed” that she questioned abandoning her research in climate change entirely.

“I don’t know of a single scientist that’s not having an emotional reaction to what is being lost,” Parmesan is quoted saying in the National Wildlife Federation’s 2012 report.

Grist, 28 Oct 2014

countdown!

(CNSNews.com) – The world has “500 days to avoid climate chaos,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said alongside Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department on Tuesday.

“We have 500 days to avoid climate chaos,” Fabius said. “And I know that President Obama and John Kerry himself are committed on this subject and I’m sure that with them, with a lot of other friends, we shall be able to reach success in this very important matter.”

Fabius was referring to the next big United Nations climate conference, scheduled to open in Paris, France in November 2015, or in 565 days’ time.

CNSNews, 13 Mqy 2014

evolutionary news

German birds are changing migration patterns. Canadian red squirrels are reproducing earlier in the year. Mosquitoes in Newfoundland remain active longer into August.

Traditionally, scientists have viewed such changes simply as behavior modifications in the face of a changing environment—in this case, global warming.

“Over the past 40 years, animal species have been extending their range toward the poles, and populations have been migrating, developing, or reproducing earlier,” said William Bradshaw, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

But scientists say these shifts provide mounting evidence that for some animals, global warming is sparking genetic changes that are altering the ecosystems we live in.

National Geographic News, 8 Jun 2006

waiting with bated breath

Now a new study, published Tuesday and coinciding with the UN climate talks in Paris, adds to the grim tableau: the risk that warming at the far end of the scale could rob our planet of oxygen.

We have identified another possible consequence of … global warming that can potentially be more dangerous than all others, say a pair of scientists from Britain’s University of Leicester.

Their study, based in the peer-reviewed journal the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, is based on a computer model of phytoplankton, the microscopic sea plants which produce about two-thirds of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

“The message from this study is that there may be another disaster approaching us as a consequence of global warming, and it may be much worse than all other consequences identified previously,” co-author Sergei Petrovskii told AFP.

“There may be very little warning signs before the disaster actually happens… but once the critical threshold is passed (as estimated at 6 C), then the catastrophe will develop fast,” he explained by email.

Phys Org, 1 Dec 2015

we should have stayed in the trees!

The world’s first farmers and their slash-and-burn agriculture may have set off global warming.

A new analysis of ice-core climate data, archaeological evidence and ancient pollen samples is being used to suggest farming some 7,000 years ago helped put the brakes on a natural cooling process of the global climate, possibly contributing to the warmer climate seen today.

The study was the work of an international team led by William Ruddiman, a University of Virginia climate scientist, who first grabbed attention a dozen years ago with a controversial theory that humans altered the climate by burning massive areas of forests to clear the way for crops and livestock grazing.

“Early farming helped keep the planet warm,” Ruddiman said in a statement, regarding the study that appeared in a recent edition of the journal Reviews of Geophysics, published by the American Geophysical Union.

FoxNews, 20 Jan 2016

snowjob

Snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain’s culture, as warmer winters – which scientists are attributing to global climate change – produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries …

Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community …

According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.

“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.

The Independent, 2000

no clean bill of ….

Now, the nation’s leading medical practitioners — with the White House behind them — are stepping forward with a diagnosis that all of us should heed, because the symptoms are becoming undeniable and the risks tremendous: Climate change is a health threat.

The nation’s public health leaders, doctors, and nurses are seeing more and more evidence — both in their patients and in epidemiological data — showing the direct and indirect links. We’re seeing more respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular disease, and heat-related deaths.

Generations ago, doctors used to advise tuberculosis patients to spend time in drier or warmer climates to improve their health. In our time, it’s the climate we live in that needs the attention.

The evidence, increasingly, is showing up in our patients and in our examination rooms.

Grist, 4 May 2015

a hard days night?

Climate change is coming for you in the night. That’s the conclusion of scientists who study how heat disturbs sleep—and how projected warming is expected to make bad sleep even worse.

Led by Nick Obradovich of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, a team of researchers are the first to document the relationship between rising temperatures and poor sleep.

Their new study links that most individual of experiences—falling asleep—with a truly planetary phenomenon—global warming. Besides, the vagaries of climate modeling are secondary to the findings of the paper, Obradovich points out.

“Unusually warm temperatures produce reports of worsened sleep outcomes, even in a wealthy, mostly temperate country like the U.S.,” he said. “The warmer the future world becomes, the more we anticipate sleep to be affected.”

Bloomberg, 27 May 2017

thanks to David Hanig

deserts on the move!

Over the past 25 years the tropics have expanded by as much as 300 miles (500 kilometers) north and south—evidence of climate change in action, a new study says.

This not only means that rain-drenched regions near the Equator are growing, experts say, but also that global warming may be pushing deserts poleward in places such as the U.S. Southwest, Mexico, Australia, South Africa, South America, and the Mediterranean.

“The rate of increase is pretty big,” said study lead author Dian Seidel of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Air Resources Laboratory in Silver Spring, Maryland. “It’s several degrees of latitude over the course of 25 years.”

National Geographic, 3 Dec 2007

cutting South America loose

As noted by Michael Marshall in New Scientist, we could relink the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans: Destroying the Isthmus of Panama, the slender strip of land that joins North and South America, would reunite the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Underground nuclear explosions would do the trick. With the land gone, the ocean current that once flowed around the equator would restart and, allegedly, stabilise the climate.

Marshall also says we could flood the planet’s vast depressions, such as the Qattara depression in north-west Egypt and California’s Death Valley.

This could serve multiple purposes, including the creation of new bodies of water, the generation of hydroelectricity, and as a means to offset rising sea levels from global warming.

But on that last point, and as Marshall points out: “[It] is not worth doing for this reason alone: even if we flooded all of the world’s major depressions, it would barely make a difference.”

io9.gizmodo, 4 Aug 2015

see also – action plan

under the weather

Weather control is a prospect that remains well beyond our technological reach, but that could change in the relatively near future.

According to nanotechnology expert J. Storrs Hall, the author of Nanofuture: What’s Next for Nanotechnology, we could start to build a weather machine later this century.

His proposed system would consist of a massive but thin global cloud of small transparent balloons stationed in the stratosphere.

It would basically work as a kind of programmable and reversible greenhouse gas. When the mirrors on the hydrogen balloons face away from Earth, they would reflect sunlight back into space.

io9.gizmodo, 4 Aug 2015

bad for your health

Climate change is already having an extraordinary impact on human health worldwide — affecting the spread of infectious diseases, exposing millions to air pollution and heat waves and dramatically reducing labor productivity, according to  a report released Monday.

The human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal and potentially irreversible, the report by the British medical journal The Lancet says, and the situation is so serious that significant gains by modern medicine and technology are being undercut.

The delayed response to climate change over the past 25 years has jeopardized human life and livelihoods, the report says.

“Preventing illnesses and injuries is more humane, more effective and more economical than treating people once they’ve become sick,” said Howard Frumkin of the University of Washington School of Public Health, one of the study authors.

“That’s plain common sense,” he added. “What this report makes clear is that fighting climate change is disease prevention.”

USA Today, 30 Oct 2017

thanks to David Hanig

couldn’t be worse

The latest report on climate change by the economics professor Ross Garnaut is the most disheartening government report I’ve read.

Garnaut quotes an authoritative American study of the consequences if nothing is done to fight climate change and average temperatures rise by 5 or 6 degrees by the end of this century. Such a change would be “catastrophic”, posing “almost inconceivable challenges as human society struggled to adapt”.

“The collapse and chaos associated with extreme climate change futures would destabilise virtually every aspect of modern life,” the study concluded.

Among the destruction would be the extinction of more than half the world’s species. The Great Barrier Reef and other coral formations would almost certainly be killed and much Australian farmland rendered useless.

Worse, the Greenland ice sheet and parts of Antarctica would be highly likely to melt, greatly raising the sea level and inundating coastal areas in Australia and many other countries.

These changes would be irreversible.

Sydney Morning Herald, 10 sept 2008

sustainable fashion

When models take to the catwalk in Chatswood this evening, there won’t be any celebrities hiding behind oversized sunglasses in the front row.

Neither will there be any designer labels on display.

However, the clothes will definitely be cutting edge. Fair Trade labels, recycled clothes, organic and alternative fabrics and op shop finds will be on display as Willoughby Council puts on an eco-ethical fashion show as part of World Environment Day.

The council’s public relations co-ordinator, Rebecca Hill, says: “We want to let people know that sustainable fashion is available and to encourage them to think about the environment and ethical choices when they choose their clothes.”

The council is very proactive in its environmental work and World Environment Day is a great opportunity to get the public involved.

Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Jun 2008

three headed, six legged frog!

Kids at a nursery were shocked when they stumbled across a three-headed, six legged croaking frog! Staff at the Green Umbrella nursery thought it was just three frogs close together.

Spokeswoman Laura Peper said: “The children couldn’t believe it.”

Expert Mike Dilger said: “Frogs are primitive, so the occasional extra toe is not unusual, but this is something different”

He thinks the frog could have been caused by pollution or climate change.

BBC Newsround, 5 Mar 2004

trick but no treat

How scary are your jack-o’-lanterns? Scarier than you think, according to the Energy Department, which claims the holiday squash is responsible for unleashing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Most of the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins produced in the U.S. end up in the trash, says the Energy Department’s website, becoming part of the “more than 254 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the United States every year.”

Municipal solid waste decomposes into methane, “a harmful greenhouse gas that plays a part in climate change, with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide,” Energy says. Washington Times, 25 Oct 2015

thanks to David

calling the Avengers!

Federal wildlife officials plan to withdraw proposed protections for the snow-loving wolverine Tuesday, in a course reversal that highlights lingering uncertainties over what a warming climate means for some temperature-sensitive species.

Wolverines, or “mountain devils”, need deep snows to den. But while there is broad consensus that climate change will make the world warmer, drilling down to determine what that means for individual species remains difficult.

US Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe said predictions about climate change’s localized impacts remain “ambiguous”.

Rejecting the conclusions of the agency’s own scientists, Ashe said that made it impossible to determine whether less snow cover would put wolverines in danger of extinction in coming decades.

“Climate change is a reality,” Ashe said. “What we don’t know with reliability is what does climate change mean for denning habitat that wolverines prefer.”

He added, “It’s possible wolverines are adapting and continuing to adapt.””

The Guardian, 13 Aug 2014

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.

If warming continues unchecked, that could translate into a 50 percent increase in lightning by the end of the century—three strikes then for every two strikes now. (On average, there are currently about 25 million strikes per year.)

Mother Jones, 13 Nov 2014

within margin of error?

California is experiencing its worst drought since record-keeping began in the mid 19th century, and scientists say this may be just the beginning.

B. Lynn Ingram, a paleoclimatologist at the University of California at Berkeley, thinks that California needs to brace itself for a megadrought—one that could last for 200 years or more.

“During the medieval period, there was over a century of drought in the Southwest and California. The past repeats itself,” says Ingram.

National Geographic, 13 Feb 2014

thanks to David Mulberry

We meant well.

Quereda et al. (2016) begin their work by stating that although “it may be accepted that urban heating is of local importance, there is no evidence that it alters the global temperature trend,” citing the IPCC (2001).

However, they backtrack significantly in this regard throughout their analysis of the subject by stating that “on comparing the temperature of urban areas and rural areas, various researchers have concluded that the urban effect could account for between 40% and 80% of the observed thermal trend in the last few decades,” citing the studies of Ren et al. (2007), Yan et al. (2010), and McKitrick and Michaels (2007), who concluded that half of the warming trend observed between 1980 and 2002 could have arisen from changes in land use.

In studying the subject in even more detail over the 1950-2013 period, it was further found that this phenomenon could “account for between 70 and 80% of the recorded warming trend in Western Mediterranean cities.”

And in light of this discovery, Quereda et al. pose the important question: “are urban areas contributing to the observed warming trend on which climate change is based?” to which they respond by stating that “the answer to be drawn from our analysis is fully affirmative.”

And so they conclude by stating that “in these Western Mediterranean cities, the Urban Heat Island could account for up to 80% of the recorded warming.”

Quereda, J., Monton, E., Quereda, V. and Molla, B. 2016. Significant Climate Warming (1950-2013) in the Spanish Mediterranean: Natural Trend or Urban Heat Island (UHI). Tethys 13: 11-20.

thanks to David Mulberry

more volcanoes

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and landslides are some of the additional catastrophes that climate change and its rising sea levels and melting glaciers could bring, a geologist says.

Areas of rebounding crust could change the stresses acting on earthquake faults and volcanoes in the crust.

“In places like Iceland, for example, where you have the Eyjafjallajökull ice sheet, which wouldn’t survive [global warming], and you’ve got lots of volcanoes under that, the unloading effect can trigger eruptions,” Bill McGuire of the University College London’s Hazard Research Center said.

LiveScience, 30 Aug 2007

go forth but don’t multiply

What is the Earth’s optimum population? In view of global warming, many would argue that it’s lot less than it is currently.

Two weeks ago, British-based green think tank the Optimum Population Trust called for Britons to have fewer children. This, says an OPT report, is the best way for the planet to combat climate change.

If couples had two children instead of three, says the OPT, they could cut their family’s lifetime carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.

“The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off light bulbs,” says John Guillebaud, co-chairman of the OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College, London.

“The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child.”

The Sunday Age, 27 May 2007 – screen copy held by this website

see also – action plan