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

nail everything down!

While rising sea levels and changing global temperatures are already known to be a consequence of alleged manmade climate change, the GOCE satellite – which was not intended to study the effects of a warming climate – has found that gravity is weakening where ice is melting the fastest.

The results show that the thinning ice sheet from November 2009 to June 2012 caused local variations in gravity, measured by the satellite.

Daily Mail, 30 Sep 2014

food shortage

Millions may face protein deficiency as a result of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions.

If CO2 levels continue to rise as projected, the populations of 18 countries may lose more than 5% of their dietary protein by 2050 due to a decline in the nutritional value of rice, wheat, and other staple crops, according to new findings from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Researchers estimate that roughly an additional 150 million people may be placed at risk of protein deficiency because of elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Eureka Alert, 2 Aug 2017

thanks to David Hanig

Europe feels the heat

By the end of the century, two out of three people living in Europe will be affected by heat waves, coastal floods and other weather-related disasters, largely due to global warming and climate change, according to a study published Friday in the journal Lancet Planetary Health.

That’s 350 million people in 31 countries subjected to an increased risk of death and health hazards. Overall, weather-related disasters are expected to cause 152,000 deaths a year in Europe between 2071 and 2100, jumping from 3,000 weather disaster-related deaths a year between 1981 and 2010.

CNN, 4 Aug 2017

thanks to David Hanig

Out, damned Spot!

Fido And Fluffy Are Ruining The Environment, UCLA Study Says.

When it comes to global warming, Fido and Fluffy are part of the problem, a new study by UCLA indicates. . . .

Pet ownership in the United States creates about 64 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, UCLA researchers found. That’s the equivalent of driving 13.6 million cars for a year.

The problem lies with the meat-filled diets of kitties and pooches, according to the study by UCLA geography professor Gregory Okin.

Dogs and cats are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the impacts of meat production in the United States, said Orkin.

Compared to a plant-based diet, meat production “requires more energy, land and water and has greater environmental consequences in terms of erosion, pesticides and waste,” the study found. Patch, 6 Aug 2017

thanks to David Hanig

end of everything

Climate change means, quite plausibly, the end of everything we now understand to constitute our humanity. If action isn’t taken soon, the Amazon rainforest will eventually burn down, the seas will fester into sludge that submerges the world’s great cities, the Antarctic Ice Sheet will fragment and wash away, acres of abundant green land will be taken over by arid desert.

The Baffler, Sept 2017

thanks to snowman

keep off the concrete!

Recent research suggests that global warming will also exacerbate respiratory allergies, as higher CO2 concentrations lead to vast increases in ragweed pollen production.

“There’s no denying there’s a change,” says Paul Ratner, an immunologist with the American College of Allergies. “It’s definitely bad news for people who have allergies.”

“Urban places, because of the baking effect of that increased concrete, definitely pollinate more,” says Ratner.

It doesn’t help that warming will also increase the production of ground-level ozone, a respiratory irritant that worsens asthma.

Time, 15 Sep 2008

sermons for sale

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made national news last year when he fought to pass and signed a tax bill that levied a tax on Marylanders, businesses and churches for the amount of “impervious surface” they have on their property.

Roofs, driveways, sidewalks, and parking lots qualify for the “rainwater remediation fee” to “protect the Chesapeake Bay.” Though the O’Malley administration calls it a “fee,” it is commonly called the “rain tax” throughout the state.

It is wildly unpopular and the promise to fight to repeal the tax was a large factor in Maryland electing Republican Larry Hogan governor this month.

Now Prince George’s Country is offering a way for churches to avoid paying the tax, which is estimated to be an average of $744 per year for them — preach “green” to their parishioners.

The Daily Caller, 19 Nov 2014

missed it by that much!

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

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

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

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

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

Peter Gwynne in Inside Science, 21 May 2014

hardy gardens needed

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

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

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

holy orders

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

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

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

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

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

ban progress!

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

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

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

on the hacking treadmill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

exile the cows!

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

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

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

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

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

see also – action plan

shrinking menu

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

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

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

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

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Aug 2008

can I bend your ear?

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

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

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

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

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

New Scientist, 6 Mar 2008

research back to front

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

trout drought!

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

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

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

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

Natural Resources Defense Council, 18 Jul 2008

in search of squirrels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tourism shake-up

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

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

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

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

Pew Research Centre, 17 Aug 2006

a small fish in a big pond

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

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

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

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

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

not to be sneezed at

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

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

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

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

you know what to do!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tree Hugger, 16 Dec 2005

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

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

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

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

The Independent, 12 Nov 2015

it’s a bear eat bear world!

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

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

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

LiveScience, 15 Dec 2011

cases climb

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

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

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

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

NBC New York, 30 Jul 2015

saved by nuclear power

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

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

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

The Age, 5 Aug 2006 – screencopy held by website

blame us for the moose and the wolves!

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

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

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

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

holiday horror stories

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

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

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

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

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

BBC News, 29 Aug 1999

strikes twice?

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

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

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

Mother Jones, 13 Nov 2014

do you want grasshoppers with that?

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

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

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

Eating insects is good for the environment and balanced diets.

Kofi Annan, in The Guardian, 3 May 2015

a glass ceiling?

Scientists claim they can fight global warming by firing trillions of mirrors into space to deflect the sun’s rays forming a 100,000 square mile “sun shade.”

According to Dr Roger Angel, at the University of Arizona, the trillions of mirrors would have to be fired one million miles above the earth using a huge cannon with a barrel of 0.6 miles across.

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

The Telegraph, 26 Feb 2009