Red squirrels move with the times!

Red squirrels appear to be evolving in response to climate change, scientists report today, the first sign that creatures are undergoing genetic alteration due to rising temperatures.

Canadian scientists studying North American red squirrels – which are related to their British counterparts – say compared with 10 years ago, female squirrels are giving birth about 18 days earlier.

Much of the difference from one generation to the next is due to squirrels’ ability to respond to the rise in their staple food, white spruce cones, as temperatures increase. But a small component is due to natural selection, the basis of evolution.

The research, published by the Royal Society, shows that natural selection is favouring squirrels whose genes tend towards breeding earlier in the season. We show that a small part of these changes can be caused by microevolutionary responses, said Denis Réale, of McGill University in Montreal, who led the study of 325 squirrels near Kluane Lake in the Yukon.

The Guardian, 12 Feb 2003

a whiter shade of …

Hashem Akbari believes that whitening 100 of the world’s largest cities could wipe out the effect of the expected increase in emissions over the next decade.

Dr Akbari, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California, also argues that if built-up areas were made white, less heat would accumulate within them, allowing residents and workers to reduce their use of air-conditioning units, which use a large amount of power.

Dr Akbari has calculated that making 100 of the largest cities white would increase the amount of sunlight reflected by Earth by 0.03 per cent. He believes it would cancel out the warming caused by 44 billion tonnes of carbon emissions.

“We can give the atmosphere time to breathe,” he said. “I just don’t see a downside to this idea. It benefits everybody and you don’t have to have hard negotiations to make it happen.”

The Telegraph, 16 Jan 2009

flowers and stones uncovered!

Hundreds of people posed naked on Switzerland’s shrinking Aletsch glacier today for US photographer Spencer Tunick as part of a Greenpeace campaign to raise awareness of global warming.

Tunick, perched on a ladder and using a megaphone, directed nearly 600 volunteers from all over Europe and photographed them on a rocky outcrop overlooking the glacier, which is the largest in the Alps.

Speaking to Geneva’s Le Temps newspaper in an interview published before the shoot today, Tunick said his photographs were both works of art and political statements.

“I will try to treat the body on two levels. On an abstract level, as if they were flowers or stones. And on a more social level, to represent their vulnerability and humanity with regard to nature and the city and to remind people where we come from.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Aug 2007

the great survivors

If warming resulted in pollen and nectar sources then drones would be tolerated longer. Honey Bees are highly adaptable and flexible survivors. They exist just about from one Pole to another and every where in-between.

If it is warmer or colder in your area they will respond accordingly without fore thought because their species have been through other “Global” warming and cooling periods as this happens regularly according to the record regardless of what the media says.

“They will be here long after we are gone,” said G. W. Hayes, Assistant Chief, Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection.

Global Warming and Bee Behavior, 8 Mar 2007

worse than we thought – oysters affected!

Sydney oyster lovers are in for an unpalatable surprise. A global conference in Monaco next week on the rising acidity of the world’s oceans will hear research that shows a detrimental effect on local oyster species.

A Sydney marine biologist, Laura Parker, will tell the conference that the Sydney rock oyster will be especially vulnerable to the rise in seawater acidity that is expected to take place over the next few decades.

“I thought they would have an impact but not as badly as the results showed,” Ms Parker told the Herald yesterday just before leaving for the world conference, which is supported by UNESCO.

Scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division and the University of Hobart who have led efforts at investigating acidification in the Southern Ocean will also be attending.

Scientists say the problem comes on top of global warming, which is also caused by rising emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Sydney Morning Herald, 4 Oct 2008

canary in the coal mine – gray wolves


Gray wolves could emerge as a “canary in the coal mine” of global warming by suggesting how climate change will affect species around the world, researchers say.

“We’re not so much looking at wolves as a predator but as an indicator,” says environmental scientist Christopher Wilmers of the University of California-Berkeley. Shorter winters without wolves mean about 66% fewer elk deaths every April, which threatens starvation for scavengers.

With wolves preying on elk, however, the drop in carrion is only about 11%, a much less dire situation.

“Because gray wolves are so intensively studied, they may give us very good data on the effects of climate change,” says ecologist Mike Phillips, executive director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund in Bozeman, Mont. “More specialized species, such as snowshoe hares, could show such effects even sooner,” he says, “but they receive less study.”

USA Today, 30 May 2005

worse than we thought – time running out!

Australia may need to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 90% by 2050 as part of a massive global effort to avert the most devastating effects of climate change, the Rudd Government has been warned.

In an alarmingly pessimistic assessment of what is happening to the world, Canberra’s chief adviser on climate change, Ross Garnaut, has declared that time is running out faster than almost anyone predicted.

Releasing his interim report, Professor Garnaut said existing targets for reducing greenhouse emissions may not be enough to save the situation.

The Age (Australia), 22 Feb 2008

one man’s ….

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

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

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

The Telegraph, 8 Sep 2008

killer cornflakes

Climate change could lead to “killer cornflakes” with the cereal carrying the most potent liver toxin ever recorded, an environmental health conference has been told.

The effects of the toxins, known as mycotoxins, have been known since the Middle Ages, when rye bread contaminated with ergot fungus was a staple part of the European diet, environmental health researcher Lisa Bricknell from Central Queensland University, said.

Ms Bricknell said there had been outbreaks of high levels of aflatoxins in Australian crops in recent years and global warming was providing a new threat to food safety, with temperatures expected to rise in inland areas of the eastern states while rainfall was tipped to fall.

Sydney Morning Herald, 13/5/08

ways to save the planet

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

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

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

Ways to save the planet:

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

The Telegraph, 13 Feb 2009

life boat Britain

If the world warms by an average of 4 degrees Celsius in the next 100 years, the worse case scenario suggested in certain climate change models, it is expected many areas in the south of the world will become too dry to support human life.

James Lovelock, who developed the “Gaia” theory which sees the Earth as a self-regulating “superorganism”, said people from these countries will come to countries like Britain as “climate change refugees”.

He said infrastructure will have to be built to support the increase in population including more housing, hospitals and schools. Because we will be one of the life boat nations we should be preparing for a flood of people who will be refugees from climate change even from Europe, he said.

The Telegraph (UK), 26 Feb 2009

look out for falling aspens!

From the hillsides of extinct volcanoes in Arizona to the jagged peaks of Idaho, aspen trees are falling by the tens of thousands, the latest example of how climate change is dramatically altering the American West.

Starting seven years ago, foresters noticed massive aspen die-offs caused by parasitical insects, one of them so rare it is hardly even written about in scientific literature. But with warming temperatures and the effects of a brutal drought still lingering, the parasites are flourishing at the expense of the tree, beloved for its slender branches and heart-shaped leaves that turn a brilliant yellow in autumn.

Noting the number of other changes to Western vegetation due to warmer, drier temperatures, Wayne Shepperd, an aspen specialist at Colorado State University said: “Everything’s happening all at once. We’re living in interesting times here.”

Los Angeles Times, 18 Oct 2009

bankrupt world

The sixth largest insurance company has warned that damage to property due to global warming could bankrupt the world by 2065.

Dr. Andrew Dlugolecki, director of general insurance development at CGNU, a top five European life insurer and the United Kingdom’s largest insurance group, told delegates attending the international climate change summit in The Hague that the rate of damage caused by changing weather will exceed the world’s wealth. Sentienttimes.com dec-jan 2001 – screencopy held by this website

worse than we thought – sea ice melt, glacier retreat!

Every few years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of the world’s leading climate scientists, is tasked with explaining the causes and effects of climate change in a comprehensive report. Yet the science of climate change is evolving more rapidly than the reports can be published.

Since the IPCC’s latest assessment was released a mere 14 months ago, in November 2007, studies suggest that sea-ice melt, glacier retreat, and food insecurity are all more dire than the IPCC predicted.

W.L. Hare, a lead author of the 2007 IPCC report, considers the “master risk” of climate change to be sea-level rise, caused by the melting of land-based ice (such as the Greenland ice cap) and the thermal expansion of sea water.

We will be lucky to keep sea-level rise below one meter rise within this century, and two meters rise can’t be ruled out, said Hare, an environmental scientist with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a contributing author of the new Worldwatch Institute report State of the World 2009: Into A Warming World.

Worldwatch Institute, January 2009

American mosquitos stay up late

Many recent changes in organisms have been chalked up to climate change. A North American mosquito species has evolved to wait longer before going dormant for the winter. Mosquitoes with genes that cause them to go dormant later were probably favored because it allows the insects to gather more resources during our new, extra-long summers.

University of California, Berkely, Understanding Evolution, Coping with climate change, May 2009

warning! Don’t question a scientist!

What’s even more deflating for a climate scientist is when sounding the alarm on climatic catastrophes seems to fall on deaf ears.

“How would that make you feel? You take this information to someone and they say they don’t believe you, as if it’s a question of beliefs,” says Jeffrey Kiehl, senior scientist for climate change research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

“I’m not talking about religion here, I’m talking about facts. It’s equivalent to a doctor doing extremely detailed observations on someone and concluding that someone needed to have an operation, and the person looks at the doctor and says, ‘I don’t believe you.’ ”

“How would a doctor feel in that moment, not think, but feel in that moment?”

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

wait…there is good news!

We all know about the threat to the Great Barrier Reef from extreme climate change, but the Australian Conservation Foundation wants to ram home to Victorians that the effects of a hotter world will hit much closer to home, according to executive director Don Henry, and the report, Saving Australia’s Special Places

  • 1. Wine drinkers will see the regions that produce their favourite tipple, such as Victoria’s Yarra Valley, suffering from less water and more bushfire, weeds, pests and plant diseases. Australia’s grape-growing areas will decline by 44% by the middle of the century, and grape quality will nose-dive.
  • 2. Skiers will face the gradual disappearance of snow. By the end of the century, the winter sports industry, which employs 17,000 people and adds $1.3 billion to the economy, will have disappeared as the snow simply fails to fall.
  • 3. Beaches, near which Australians tend to cluster their housing, and on which we rely heavily for recreation, will suffer erosion and flooding.
  • 4. The report predicts that “$50 billion to 150 billion worth of houses, property, businesses, and public infrastructure are under threat from flooding due to sea level rises”.
  • 5. The Kakadu wetlands are in danger of inundation by salt water, with a 59-centimetre sea level rise to hit about 90% of the national park and up to 88% of species in the bush facing extinction.
  • 6. Increasingly fierce and frequent bushfires will sweep areas that were hitherto immune.
  • 7. The Murray Darling Basin, already suffering an extended drought and over-allocation of water licences, will lose 92% of its agricultural production by the end of the century.
  • 8. Under these nightmare scenarios, according to Mr Henry, the hundreds of thousands of tourism-related jobs, and $37 billion in exports from tourism could collapse, not to mention the damage to agriculture.

The good news, he says, is that the situation can be redeemed with strong global action, and Australia can, and should, lead the way.

The Age (Australia), 2 Nov 2008

worse than we thought – global water cycle!

It is difficult, though not impossible, to say how individual events are influenced by climate change. It is simpler to tell whether the overall numbers are increasing.

Even at the time of the last IPCC report in 2007, the trends for extreme heat, droughts and intense rainfall were already clearly upward. Not only are these trends continuing, but the weather is also becoming even more extreme than was predicted.

For instance, a study this year of ocean-salinity data from between 1950 and 2000 by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found that the global water cycle – the rate at which water evaporates and falls as rain – has increased at double the pace projected by models that aim to simulate the global climate.

New Scientist, 14 Nov 2012

latest tongue twister: – no quick fix for fish

Rising carbon dioxide levels in oceans adversely change the behavior of fish through generations, raising the possibility that marine species may never fully adapt to their changed environment, research has found.

The research was conducted by the ARC center of excellence for coral reef studies, based at James Cook University in Queensland. Professor Philip Munday, a co-author of the study, told Guardian Australia the research suggested fish would not be able to adapt to climate change in the short term.

“How quickly that adaptation will take, we don’t quite know,” he said. “But we do know that projected future CO2 levels will seriously affect the behavior of fish in ways that won’t be good for populations. It will take longer than a few generations for fish to genetically adapt and we don’t know if they can keep pace with the change.”

“If they can’t keep pace, it will have a significant effect on the population sustainability in some species of fish. We worked on reef fish, but there’s nothing to say that whole ranges of other species won’t be affected.”

“This is certainly a warning that there is no quick fix for fish. We need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and we need to do more to understand whether genetic adaptation can kick in over time.”

Heat Is Online, 11 Oct 2014 – The Guardian (U.K.)

worse than we thought – temperature increase!

World will warm faster than predicted in next five years, study warns. The world faces record-breaking temperatures as the sun’s activity increases, leading the planet to heat up significantly faster than scientists had predicted for the next five years, according to a study.

The research, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, was carried out by Judith Lean, of the US Naval Research Laboratory, and David Rind, of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The Guardian, 28 Jul 2009

green or white?

Environmentalists, urban planners and politicians all agree the city’s roofs need to change so that less heat is absorbed and less electricity used for cooling offices and apartments within. But unanimity on the best way of doing this is more elusive, with green roofs and white roofs being spruiked from different corners.

In September, Victorian Environment Minister Gavin Jennings declared himself “a fan” of green roofs – a concept well advanced in American cities such as Chicago and Portland – where beds of vegetation adorn building tops.

Citing overseas research, Jennings said a green roof was capable of reducing local temperatures by about four degrees. The State Government has helped fund a study into adapting green roof technology to local conditions, while the Wonthaggi desalination plant will boast one of the biggest green roofs in Australia.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, meanwhile, declared himself a fan of white roofs this month; another method for tackling the heat island effect by spraying rooftops with a white, rubbery layer that reflects the sun’s rays. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is another fan of the concept.

Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Jan 2010

mind your step!

An invasion of jellyfish plaguing holiday-makers in the Mediterranean has been put down to global warming, with the hot dry weather bringing the creatures closer to the shore.

But this summer’s dry, hot weather experienced throughout Europe increased the salinity of coastal waters as well as its temperature, scientists from the marine conservation NGO Oceana said.

With low-flowing rivers bringing in less freshwater, the natural barrier that keeps jellyfish at bay broke down, they said.

edie.net, 11 Aug 2006

another secret report!

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.

Climate change ‘should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern’, say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.

The Guardian, 22/2/04

the vanishing cow!

Is Global Warming Leading To Cow Infertility? Reproductive efficiency has suffered a dramatic decrease since the mid-1980s despite rapid worldwide progress in genetics and management of high producing dairy herds.

Researchers from the University of Barcelona propose that summer heat stress is likely to be a major factor related to low fertility in high producing dairy herds, especially in countries with warm weather. Scientific Blogging, 5 Sep 2007

worse than we thought – melting polar ice caps!

Climate scientists are saying that global warming, as evidenced by melting polar ice caps, is worse than predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and that global emissions must peak by 2015 if climate chaos, and resulting human social chaos is to be avoided.

Green-labour alliances can inspire the broad-based community campaigns needed to make a just transition to renewable energy and new green jobs.

Geoff Evans is an environmental scientist and social ecologist, researching transitions to sustainability. He is a former Director of the Mineral Policy Institute, now working with Greenpeace on their Climate and Energy campaign.

A Just Transition to a clean, renewable energy economy is urgent – and possible, 1 Nov 2008

reservations about climate models!

Climate scientists have created an index of the year when the average climate of any given region on earth will likely push outside the extreme records experienced in the past 150 years should greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated.

Research leader Camilo Mora, from the University of Hawaii, said while scientists had repeatedly warned about climate change and its likely effects on biodiversity and people, their study showed change was already upon us.

“Within my generation, whatever climate we were used to will be a thing of the past,” said Dr Mora.

Australian climate scientist Sarah Perkins, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, said the study’s results were in line with the latest global projections.But she expressed reservations about the study’s time frames, saying climate models were not designed to provide projections for such precise times and locations such as a year or a city.

The Age, 9 Oct 2013

standing room only!

Antarctica is likely to be the world’s only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked, the Government’s chief scientist, Professor Sir David King, said last week.

He said the Earth was entering the “first hot period” for 60 million years, when there was no ice on the planet and “the rest of the globe could not sustain human life”.

The warning – one of the starkest delivered by a top scientist – comes as ministers decide next week whether to weaken measures to cut the pollution that causes climate change, even though Tony Blair last week described the situation as “very, very critical indeed.”

The Independent, 2 May 2004

gentoo leads chinstraps!

Heather Lynch of Stony Brook University studied breeding patterns of three species of Antarctic penguins: the Adélie, chinstrap, and gentoo.

While the Adélie and chinstrap migrate to the Western Antarctic Peninsula to breed every year, the gentoos are year-round residents. Because the Antarctic is one of the world’s most rapidly warming regions, Lynch hypothesized that these environmental changes would affect penguins’ reproduction.

She was right: Warmer temperatures have resulted in dwindling Adélie and chinstrap populations. The gentoos, however, are able to adapt to increased temperatures better since they live in the Peninsula year-round.

They’re doing it and doing it and doing it well — because they’ve been able to shift their breeding cycle earlier, their populations are actually growing.

Grist, 22 Mar 2012

no link too tenuous!

Well, new scientific research is mounting that could prove to be the tipping point. It just got way too personal.

Yes, early data suggests that global warming makes you fat. If anything could tip the scales, this could be it. Admittedly, the research is early and thin. But here’s how it goes.

Danish researchers were mapping the lifestyles of thousands of Danes in the MONICA studies related to cardiovascular health and obesity.

Lars-Georg Hersoug stumbled on a weird anomaly. Over a 22-year period, both thin and fat people put on weight, and the increase was proportionally the same. CO2 appears to make our blood more acidic, which influences our brain to want to eat more.

Hersoug surmised that excess CO2 in the atmosphere might be affecting hormones in the brain known as orexin neurons. Orexins stimulate eating, wakefulness and energy expenditure.

Huffington Post, 20 Nov 2014

if only they’d known about climate change in 1787!

Who (you might ask) is David Brearley?

Brearley plays a critical, and entirely accidental, role in climate change because of his position as the chair of the Committee on Postponed Parts within the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

The committee opted for a middle ground solution – an electoral college that would vote on behalf of the citizens, but which would be populated based on the number of congressional seats assigned to each State in the Union.

It is this solution, brilliant at the time, that leads us to Brearley’s legacy on climate change. Because over the course of the last 200 plus years, the electoral college, which provides for stronger voting power per person in more rural and less populated states, has elected four U.S. presidents who clearly lost the popular vote (1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016).

Two of those elections have occurred during the period in which we have known about the causes and impacts of carbon dioxide emissions and climate change and in both cases, the impacts of those elections have very likely had profound impacts on our actions to address the challenge.

Washington Post, 19 Dec 2016

thanks to ddh

Flagship calls for planned retreat

The top government scientist leading Australia’s efforts to adapt to climate change has warned that some coastal communities will have to be abandoned in a “planned retreat” because of global warming.

Dr Andrew Ash, who directs the CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship program, said while some vulnerable coastal communities coud be protected by sea walls and levees, “there are going to be areas where that is not physically possible or it’s not cost effective to introduce any engineering solution and planned retreat becomes the only option.”

The Age (Australia), 23 Mar 2009 – screen copy held by this website

worse than we thought – global warming effects!

One of those trying to give the polar bears a break and settle the argument is James McCarthy, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography and an internationally known authority on climate change.

McCarthy was among a handful of top scientists who coordinated a remarkable report by the world scientific community this year that said global warming is real, it’s here, and it’s going to be worse than we thought.

“We already see effects that [indicate] the change in climate has occurred, And the projection of some of those [effects] into the future are not a pretty scene.”

Harvard University Gazette, 22 Mar 2001

fuzzy maths

The thawing of permafrost in one region of the Arctic will cause damage worth $65 trillion, or 80 per cent of the entire global economy last year, new research suggests.

According to a UN report released last year, Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost, large-scale and irreversible thawing is already under way.

Under business-as-usual scenarios, in which nations continue to emit greenhouse gases at present rates, the total damage bill would be the equivalent of about $65 trillion, the paper said. This is about 80 per cent of the entire 2012 global economy.

If the world switched to a low-emissions path, the cost would be delayed somewhat and would end up being about $40 trillion.

Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Jul 2013

the incredible shrinking winter!

Peter Atkinson, professor of geography at the University of Southampton, examined satellite images of vegetation across the northern hemisphere from the past 25 years and found signs winter was being shrunk.

Earlier this month, supermarkets Waitrose and Tesco both announced that English strawberries were ripening early and hitting the shelves a week earlier than last year.

“There is much speculation about whether our seasons are changing and if so, whether this is linked to climate change. Our study is another significant piece of the puzzle, which may ultimately answer this question,” Prof Atkinson said.

Illawarra Mercury 29 Mar 2014 – screencopy held by this website

we’re the problem!

People are doing this. Let’s be clear about it. It’s not some natural phenomenon, like an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. It’s the actions of Homo sapiens.

What we are witnessing is a fundamental clash between the species, and the planet on which he lives, which is going to worsen steadily, and the more closely you observe it – or at least, the more closely I have observed it, over the past 15 years – the more I have thought that there is something fundamentally wrong with Homo sapiens himself.

Man seems to be Earth’s problem child.

Michel Mccarthy resigning as environmental editor of The Independent 29 Mar 2013

worse than we thought – greenhouse gas emissions!

It seems the dire warnings about the oncoming devastation wrought by global warming were not dire enough, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

It has been just over a year since the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a landmark report warning of rising sea levels, expanding deserts, more intense storms and the extinction of up to 30 per cent of plant and animal species.

But recent climate studies suggest that report significantly underestimates the potential severity of global warming over the next 100 years, a senior member of the panel said.

“We now have data showing that from 2000 to 2007, greenhouse gas emissions increased far more rapidly than we expected,” said Chris Field, who was a co-ordinating lead author of the report.

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Feb 2009

not bad, but worse!

There is a lot wrong with our world. But it is not as bad as many people think. It is worse.

Global warming is slowly but relentlessly changing the face of the planet. We are only in the early stages of this process, but already carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 375 parts per million, the highest level for at least half a million years.

Temperatures are projected to rise by up to 5.8 C this century, 10 times the increase of 0.6 C in the last century, and by 40% more than this in some northern land surface areas.

This means temperatures could rise by up to 8.1 C in some parts of the world.

The Guardian, 14 Feb 2003

worse than we thought – warming in the Arctic!

A new study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), released today, says that the effects of warming in the Arctic are “dire… far worse than previous projections.”

Dr Martin Sommerkorn, senior climate change advisor for WWF’s Arctic program (who works on this stuff everyday) says: “What they found was a truly sobering picture.” The report released by WWF today, Arctic Climate Feedbacks: Global Implications, is an “unprecedented peer-reviewed report.”

James Leape, director general of WWF International, says: “We need to listen now to these signals from the Arctic, and take the necessary action in Copenhagen this December to get a deal that quickly and effectively limits greenhouse gas emissions.”

Simply Green, undated article

but who wants a padded cell in their own home?

Dr John Pockett from the Barbara Hardy Institute suggests that you take time to adapt your house to climate change.

For home builders, have a refuge at the centre of the house, that has thicker walls, so heat will take longer to get through. The other major thing (that all home owners can do) is to have a lighter coloured roof, known as a cool roof.

Make it as light coloured as your council area will allow. A cool roof reflects sunlight (including ultraviolet and infrared rays) ensuring the surface will not get as hot during the summer, leading to less heat entering living spaces.

University of South Australia, 13 Jan 2015

scientific analysis

In the mid-1980s, more than 4,000 moose roamed the forests and bogs of northwestern Minnesota. Today, there are probably fewer than 100.

Mike Schrage, a wildlife biologist with the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe, says researchers believe a warming climate might be causing moose to get sick.

“I do think global warming is having an impact on our moose,” said Schrage.

“I think it gets complicated between climate change and a dead moose. Because I don’t think I’m ever going to walk up to a moose carcass and be able to say, oh, it died of climate change. I think there’s a lot that happens in between.”

MPR News, 25 Mar 2008

if they can do it, why can’t we?


So why don’t we see advanced civilizations swarming across the Universe? One problem may be climate change. It is not that advanced civilizations always destroy themselves by over-heating their biospheres (although that is a possibility).

Instead, because stars become brighter as they age, most planets with an initially life-friendly climate will become uninhabitably hot long before intelligent life emerges. Other inhabited planets in the Universe must also have found ways to prevent global warming.

Watery worlds suitable for life will have climates that, like the Earth, are highly sensitive to changing circumstances.

The repeated canceling of star-induced warming by “geobiological” cooling, required to keep such planets habitable, will have needed many coincidences, and the vast majority of such planets will have run out of luck long before sentient beings evolved. However, the Universe is immense, and a few rare worlds will have had the necessary good fortune.

It may just be that Earth is one of those lucky planets—a precious, fragile jewel in space. So, perhaps inevitably, climate change will remain a bane of the continued existence of life on such planets. ars technica, 10 Jun 2014

time to turn over a new…

This month scientists will publish research that links a decline in the nutritional quality of leaves eaten by colobus monkeys in Uganda to changes in climate over the past 30 years.

“We know if we go out and measure leaves and find patches that have a lot of protein to fibre, that’s good territory for monkeys,” said Professor Raubenheimer, from the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney.

“There are a number of experiments on plants showing that an increase in temperature and moisture has an impact on the fibre concentration. Females deprived of a balanced diet are less fertile and give birth to smaller young. The population birth rate is slowed, so you get a decline in population,” he said.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Sep 2014

last year’s model already out of date

The science used by the International Committee on Climate Change as the basis of the framework agreement in Bali in 2007 to hold the global warming increase to two degrees is already out of date.

There is now clear evidence that at less than one degree of warming we are already on the precipice of catastrophic climate change that will affect the whole world – from the lower Murray to the Great Barrier Reef, and the Himalayas to Siberia and the Arctic.

The Age (Australia), 26 Feb 2009 – screen copy held by this website

Comment – Merry Christmas!

Among other things, Christmas represents a new beginning.

This website hopes 2017 will, among other things, begin the reform in the area of climate change with the restoration of genuine science and the decline of politicised science.

Merry Christmas to all and particularly to the regular visitors to this website.

(c) Can Stock Photo / derocz

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normal posts continue below this message

ready, aim …

Atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen would like to save the world and darken your day. He proposes in this month’s journal Climatic Change that to screen ourselves from global warming, humans could use heavy artillery to lob huge explosive shells laden with sulphate particles high into the stratosphere.

A potent mix of pollutants would scatter the incoming sublight and bounce more sunbeams back into space. Bingo, you’d lower the rate of global warming and give the fossil-fuel industries more reason to push hydrocarbons. Sun Herald (Australia) 6 Aug 2006 – screencopy held by this website

just when you thought it was safe …

There have been seven shark attacks in North Carolina since June 11. This is already more than last year, when the state saw four attacks.

Although Frank J. Schwartz, a shark biologist with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, says there’s too much natural variability in weather cycles to blame the recent shark attacks on global warming, George H. Burgess, the director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History. says the link is plausible.

“Clearly global climate change is a reality and it has resulted in warmer temperatures in certain places at certain times,” says Burgess. “As warming is expected to increase, it will likely bring more sharks farther north and entice more people to get into the water, which will lead to more bites.”

National Geographic, 29 Jun 2015

 

 

with friends like these…

Any number of people offer views on the politics of climate change. Few cut to the heart of the issue like Harvard don Daniel Gilbert.

“Scientists lament the fact that global warming is happening so fast. The fact is, it’s not happening fast enough,” he said in a speeech last year.

Gilbert does not believe climate change is slow, nor does he want to see the world slide quickly into environmental catastrophe.

But he has some understanding of why people with the capacity to act, including leaders in Canberra and elsewhere, appear hamstrung when faced with the enormity of the threat of climatic disaster.

A respected psychologist, he says part of the reason most people fail to get worked up about climte change is our sensitivity to change; if something moves dramatically overnight we are alert and possibly alarmed, but if it is a gradual shift averaged across the globe over decades, it is much harder to get angry.

The Age (Australia), 9 Mar 2009 – screen copy held by this website

the hanging gardens of Richmond

Christine Berry and Mike Morris were building a beautiful home in Richmond with a focus of getting as much sunlight into the house as possible. Just one problem.

“The site was blighted by a three-storey block of flats,” says Ms Berry.

How she and her architect husband solved the problem gives a visionary clue as to how the city of Melbourne will cope with climate change, the death of its trees and higher-density living.

They turned the rear wall of their courtyard into an eight-metre garden of native grasses and ferns. Sydney Morning Herald 30 Aug 2009 – image held by website

the appliances are taking over!

Your refrigerator could soon be helping to cool the planet as well as your food. A bar fridge built by the CSIRO has the ability to communicate with other refrigerators.

The applicances do not gossip about what kind of milk you have bought, but exchange data that could help balance energy usage acros the day and, ultimately, reduce the need for power stations, said a CSIRO research scientist, Geoff James.

Dr James said the same energy-levelling strategy could be applied to other home appliances that involve some discretion about when power is and is not used, such as water heaters and air-conditioners, the other big domestic power hogs.

Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 2008 – screen copy held by this website

the idea that launched a thousand ships!

Another way to reflect more sunlight back into space is to increase reflectivity of the world’s marine clouds, which cover a quarter of the ocean’s surface.

John Latham and Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh have proposed wind-powered yachts that would spray seawater droplets into the air to produce more clouds.

Latham says that about a thousand of these vessels would be needed to make the plan effective, and that they should be deployed in the southern oceans, where most reflective marine stratocumulus clouds are.

But more testing is necessary to better understand the ecological and meteorological consequences. Open Knowledge, 10 Jul 2011

the incredible shrinking Christmas tree!

Mark Doggett, of Environment Victoria, says the key to a sustainable Christmas is to substitute “greener” alternatives into our celebrations.

And the best place to start might be with the greenest of all traditional symbols – the tree. The debate is about whether pine or plastic Christmas trees are better for the environment. According to Mr Doggett, the answer is neither.

“But there is no reason you can’t use a potted plant, which you can take outside after Christmas,” he says.

The Sunday age, 9 Dec 2007 – screen copy held by this website

worse than we thought – tropical forests ignited!

Without decisive action, global warming is likely to accelerate at a much faster pace and cause more environmental damage than predicted, says Stanford scientist Chris Field, a leading member of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Field warns that higher temperatures could ignite tropical forests and melt the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gas that could raise temperatures even more — a vicious cycle that could spiral out of control.

Science Daily, 15 Feb 2009

speak for yourself!

The lesson is that if we continue with activities which destroy our environment and undermine the conditions for our own survival, we are the virus. Making the change needed to avoid that fate is perhaps the greatest challenge we have ever faced. (Michael Meacher is environment minister. This article is based on a lecture he will deliver today at Newcastle University)

The Guardian, 14/2/03

a butterfly’s wings flapping

At this week’s launch of a major report scrutinising the impact of corporate sustainability on a company’s earnings IAG chief executive Michael Hawker set out in no uncertain terms how small changes in the weather directly affect the cost of insurance premiums.

Over the past 140 years, the cost and frequency of insurance claims have been steadily rising in line with global temperatures, Mr Hawker said.

A 1 to 2.2 degrees celsius rise in temperatures can have a significant impact on the ferocity of natural disasters. There is a pattern; they are weather related, they are expensive and we pay for that in our [insurance] premiums, he said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Sep 2003

not fast & not furious

Women must stop admiring men who drive sports cars if they want to join the fight against global warming, the Government’s chief scientist has warned.

Professor Sir David King singled out women who find supercar drivers “sexy” adding that they should divert their affections to men who live more environmentally friendly lives.

”I was asked at a lecture by a young woman about what she could do and I told her to stop admiring young men in Ferraris,” he said. Daily Telegraph, 16 Dec 2007

house on stilts

Houses should be built on stilts to adapt to flooding caused by climate change, scientists have said. The Newcastle University study looked at the impact of predicted rises in temperature – particularly in urban areas.

“Houses built on stilts, flood resilient wiring where the sockets and wires are raised above flood level, and water resistant building materials are going to have to be incorporated into our building plans.” said Dr Richard Dawson, one of the report’s authors.
Daily Telegraph, 12 Oct 2009

smoke and ….

Eric Hu, from Melbourne’s Deakin University, said that while red house roofs absorbed heat from the sun, white ones would bounce energy back into space and “it will never come back”.

He also proposed painting roads white, and building giant mirrors in the outback. He said energy reflectors could be built in the desert using aluminium foil, “like you use in the kitchen”.

A climate change expert at the University of NSW, Andy Pitman, said Dr Hu’s ideas were “not stupid” but required more research to ensure there would be no unwanted side-effects. But better than reflecting energy would be to harness it using roof tiles with built-in solar cells.

Dr Pitman suspected white roads and roofs could inflict glare on motorists and said scientists would need to be sure heat reflected from outback mirrors did not interfere with the weather.

Sydney Morning Herald, 31 Mar 2007

worse than we thought – greenhouse gas levels!

Conservation scientist and Australian of the Year Tim Flannery has warned that huge industrial and economic changes need to be implemented quickly to slow the growth of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

Speaking on the ABC’s Lateline program, Professor Flannery has revealed the contents of a crucial Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which will be released in November.

He says the report shows that greenhouse gas levels are at levels far higher than has ever been publicly admitted before.

yourdemocracy.net.au, 15 Nov 2007

no more bats

White ash has been the tree of choice for baseball bat manufacturers for decades, due to having the specific balance of weight and strength that you can’t get without resorting to aluminum bats.

Anyway, thanks to changing climates, ash forests are now facing not just a change in temperature which can affect the quality and flexibility of the wood, making them less ideal for bats, but also the ash borer beetle, a little son-of-a-bitch bug that really likes to eat trees.

The beetles are originally for Asia, but some say changing climate has allowed them to adapt nicely to North America, where in five years they managed to destroy 25 million trees.
Cracked, 17 Jan 2010

monsoons decrease

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We have presented evidence from observations that the equitorial Indian Ocean has warmed by about 0.6 to 0.8K during 1950 to 2002, accompanied by a dramatic weakening of the summertime SST gradient in the NIO.

In the model, the weakening of the meridional NIO_SST gradient leads to a large decrease in Indian rainfall during summer months, ranging form 2 to 3 mm per day. Reduction in the NIO_SST gradient basically weakens the model monsoonal circulation and shifts model rainfall from India to sub-Saharan Africa.

Chul Eddy Chung and V. Ramanthan, American Meteorological Society, Journal of Climate, Vol19 Issue 10 (May 2006)

monsoons increase

Despite weakening of the dynamical monsoon circulation, atmospheric buildup due to increased greenhouse gases and consequent temperature increase results in a larger moisture flux and more precipitation for the Indian monsoon. (Douville et al 2000, IPCC 2001, Ashrit et al 2003, Meehl and Arblaster 2003, May 2004, Ashrit et al 2005) IPCC: Climate Change 2007: Working Group 1: The Physical Science Basis 10.3.5.2 Monsoons
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surprise finding – air conditioning makes people cooler!

Global warming has been under way for at least 25 years, and there is strong evidence that it is largely man-made and is continuing.

In recent years, temperature and mortality data from several countries shows that cold-related deaths in each age group are falling in most countries. Much of that was due to rising climatic temperature and better home heating.

A surprising finding is that the heat-related mortality rate has stabilized or fallen, despite rising temperatures. Air conditioning has been a major factor in the United States.

Heat-related deaths there are lower among people with air conditioning. An extension of air conditioning was accompanied by the virtual disappearance of heat-related death in North Carolina, despite summers becoming hotter.

The Impact of Global Warming on Health and Mortality, W. R. Keatinge, MA, MB, BCHIR, PHD, FRCP; G. C. Donaldson, BA, PHD – Medscape 2004

the logic of climate change

Britain may be in the grip of the coldest winter for 30 years and grappling with up to a foot of snow in some places but the extreme weather is entirely consistent with global warming, claim scientists.

“Even though this is quite a cold winter by recent standards it is still perfectly consistent with predictions for global warming,” said Dr Myles Allen, head of the Climate Dynamics group at Department of Physics, University of Oxford.

“If it wasn’t for global warming this cold snap would happen much more regularly. What is interesting is that we are now surprised by this kind of weather. I doubt we would have been in the 1950s because it was much more common.”

The Telegraph (UK), 3 Feb 2009

worse than we thought – acidity of Great Barrier Reef!

Waters around the Great Barrier Reef are becoming acidic at a higher-than-expected rate.

Professor Malcolm McCulloch of the Australian National University said the findings were worrying. It appears this acidification is now taking place over decades rather than centuries as originally predicted, he said.

Researchers studied a type of reef coral called porites off Cairns and found pH levels were falling faster than previously thought, meaning acidity levels were increasing. This new data on the Great Barrier Reef suggests the effects are even greater than forecast, Professor McCulloch said.

The Age (Australia), 18 Oct 2007

a stitch in time

Failing to fight global warming now will cost trillions of dollars by the end of the century even without counting biodiversity loss or unpredictable events like the Gulf Stream shutting down, a study said today.

But acting now will avoid some of the massive damage and cost relatively little, said the study commissioned by Friends of the Earth from the Global Development and Environment Institute of Tufts University in the United States.

By contrast, spending just 1.6 trillion pounds (NZ$4.5 trillion) a year now to limit temperature rises to two degrees could avoid annual economic damage of around 6.4 trillion pounds, the Tufts report said.

Environmental Economics, 18 Oct 2006

apocalyptic scenario

If the North Atlantic Ocean’s circulation system is shut down — an apocalyptic global-warming scenario — the impact on the world’s food supplies would be disastrous, a study said Thursday.

The shutdown would cause global stocks of plankton, a vital early link in the food chain, to decline by a fifth while plankton stocks in the North Atlantic itself would shrink by more than half, it said.

“A massive decline of plankton stocks could have catastrophic effects on fisheries and human food supply in the affected regions,” warned the research, authored by Andreas Schmittner of Oregon State University.

Agence France-Presse, March 31, 2005

worse than we thought – climate challenge!

A book launched in Melbourne last night, Climate Code Red, argues that the climate change challenge is far worse than officially acknowledged by the Government or modeling undertaken by Government advisor Professor Ross Garnaut.

By economist David Spratt and Philip Sutton, the book warns that glaciologists are convinced the summer Arctic ice will disappear within five years, returning as only a thin layer during winter.

It says the question is not whether this can be stopped, but whether it can be reversed over coming decades to avoid sea level rises much worse than predicted by the comparatively conservative Nobel-prize-winning Intergovernmental Panal on Climate Change – probably between two and five metres.

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

time’s nearly up!

A major new report on global warming slated to be released Friday raises new fears that the earth’s climate is changing faster than anyone thought possible.

Today, 500 of the world’s top scientists are meeting behind closed doors to finish a landmark report on global warming, and the picture they paint is not pretty.

They say significant changes in the climate could start happening within the next 10 years.

“We’re hoping that it will convince people, you know, that climate change is real,” said Kenneth Denman, co-author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

The report predicts an increase in heat waves, intense tropical storms and hurricanes, a sharp rise in sea level and continued melting of the world’s snow and glaciers.

abcnews, 30 Jan 2007