oops

In March, European Union leaders agreed to set a binding climate-change target to make biofuel account for 10 per cent of all Europe’s transport fuels by 2020.

However, the executive branch of the European Union, the European Commission, has since admitted that the objective may have the unintended consequence of speeding up the destruction of tropical rainforests in South-East Asia, resulting in actually increasing, not reducing, global warming.

Research by Friends of the Earth shows up to 87 per cent of deforestation in Malaysia is a result of new oil-palm plantations.

Vast swathes of rainforest are also burnt annually on Borneo (part of both Malaysia and Indonesia), and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, releasing millions of tones of carbon dioxide in the process.

Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Oct 2007

good weather for ducks?

Wild weather caused by climate change will hit Sydney’s poor, elderly and least-educated hardest, according to a new study mapping the city’s most vulnerable coastal regions.

Dr Benjamin Preston, a scientist with the CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation National Research Flagship, said the study was the first of its kind in Sydney. It would help emphasise the influence socio-economic factors have in determining the severity of climate change impacts.

The consequences of climate change will be influenced just as much by demographic factors, economic factors and future decisions regarding risk management as by changes in the climate system itself, Dr Preston said.

Elderly people, particularly those in units, were at an increased risk of death during heat waves, the study found. About 176 elderly people die from heat-related causes in Sydney each year. A report cited in the study predicted this could grow to more than 1000 deaths by the end of the century.

Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Apr 2008

You’re going to need an ocean, of calamine lotion ….

Poison ivy is the number one outdoor skin allergy in the world and grows in every state in the country except California, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Now, local doctors say it’s more potent than ever, and it boils down to the air we breathe. With more carbon dioxide in the air today, the leaves grow larger, making the allergy-causing oils, supercharged.

It takes less than a grain of salt to cause red, itchy blisters that can last for weeks. Dr. Daniel Aires, director of dermatology at the University of Kansas Hospital, said he has seen more cases of poison ivy in his practice. kctv5, 17 Jun 2015

danger point passed

Environmentalists say scientific findings that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have already reached dangerous levels reinforce the urgency of cutting emissions.

Scientist and Australian of the Year Tim Flannery said an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report to be adopted next month shows the world passed a danger point in 2005, a decade earlier than expected.

“The longer we stay above the levels we’re at at the moment, the more likely it is that we would start to see the loss of the Great Barrier Reef, you would actually start to see the collapse of the great ice sheets and places iike the Amazon starting to burn down,” the policy direct of the Independent Climate Institute said.

“It’s going to require countries like Autralia to reverse our emissions within five years and head towards 80 to 90 per cent reductions by 2050,” he said.

Illawarra Mercury (Australia), 10 Oct 2007 – screen copy held by this website

the black-throated diver, capercaillie and dotterel need to spread their wings!

The RSPB today called for urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid a ‘calamitous’ impact on birds.

A new report published today by the conservation charity shows that if climate change is not slowed down, the potential distribution of average bird species by the end of this century will shift nearly 342 miles (550km) to the north-east – equivalent to the distance from Plymouth to Newcastle.

Some species, including the black-throated diver, snow bunting, capercaillie and dotterel, could be left with few areas of suitable climate in the UK.

“To enable these potential new colonists to gain a foothold we must prepare for their arrival by giving them the habitat they need and the freedom from persecution they deserve,” said Mark Avery, the RSPB’s conservation director.

The Guardian, 15 Jan 2008

watch out for falling snails!

Nina Pinto is in no doubt that sea snails are tenacious creatures. To find out how strongly they could cling to the wall of a fish tank, the year 10 student from Hornsby Girls High glued tiny hooks to their shells.

She attached each snail to a pulley and added weights until its foot lost its grip and it dropped off.

Her purpose was to see if reductions in the water’s salinity – a possible consequence of climate change – affected the snails’ ability to hold on. As the salinity of the water decreased, so did the snails’ staying power.

“If sea levels rise there could also be stronger currents that pull them off,” she said. Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Oct 2007

watch out for speeding satellites

A primary cause of a warmer planet’s carbon dioxide emissions is having effects that reach into space with a bizarre twist.

Air in the atmosphere’s outermost layer is very thin, but air molecules still create drag that slows down satellites, requiring engineers to periodically boost them back into their proper orbits.

But the amount of carbon dioxide up there is increasing.

And while carbon dioxide molecules in the lower atmosphere release energy as heat when they collide, thereby warming the air, the sparser molecules in the upper atmosphere collide less frequently and tend to radiate their energy away, cooling the air around them.

With more carbon dioxide up there, more cooling occurs, causing the air to settle. So the atmosphere is less dense and creates less drag.Livescience, 16 Aug 2011

Vinegar flies behind the times

Drosophila, the vinegar fly, gives us clues about climate change, reports Geoff Maslen.

The insects are released in an area where there is no food resource other than a bucket of rotting banana mush. The students capture the flies with nets, put them in tubes and return to the laboratory where they are go under UV light and are separated.

Professor Hoffmann says that on a hot day the flies can travel up to 150 metres but in cold weather they move only a few metres from their release point. But what does all this effort prove?

“One way animals can counter the effects of climatic extremes is via physiological acclimation,” Professor Hoffmann says.

But acclimating to one extreme decreases their ability to survive under different conditions. If temperatures fluctuate, organisms acclimated to cold or hot conditions can suffer a decrease in fitness as temperatures move to the middle or the opposite extreme.

If you look at some of these specialist species that are very restricted in their distribution they don’t seem to have the adaptive potential, Professor Hoffmann says.

“As climate change comes in, those species will have lot more difficulty coping.”

The Age (Autralia), 25 Feb 2008

no clean bill of health

In a speech tonight to mark World Health Day, Dr Grant Blashki says climate change is already having direct and indirect effects on Australia’s health, and the problems are set to get worse.

His call for the medical profession to treat climate change as a health issue and address it as such is being echoed today around the country and the world, as the World Health Organisation chose “protecting health from climate change” as its theme.

Dr Blashki, a senior research fellow in the University of Melbourne’s Primary Care Research Unit, says general practitioners and other health care professionals will need to develop strategies to help patients deal with concerns. He said patients who came to him with depression or anxiety were increasingly citing climate change news as something they were having trouble coping with.

“These people tend to have a low threshold to taking on worries. When they pick up the paper and see a small part of Antarctica disintegrating, they take it on board,” he said. “They pick up on the negative things going on in the world. It comes down to maintaining hope, to get people motivated, not despairing. Action is a great stress reliever.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Apr 2008

scientist nearly gives game away!

Climate change over the past two million years has boosted human evolution by forcing us to adapt to changing conditions and allowing us to migrate to new areas.

Researchers found that far from hindering our development, periods when the earth is either cooling or warming up have actually been highly beneficial.

Experts from the National History Museum and Cambridge University have identified five key time periods when shifts in global climate have resulted in accelerated social and genetic evolution.

Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum and author of The Origin of Our Species told the Sunday Times: ‘Climate change has been a major player in our evolution. It created the conditions that encouraged our early ancestors to come down from the trees and later to spread out of Africa and across the globe. It made us what we are today.’

The Royal Society is holding a conference this week where details of recent research will be released. The scientists are keen to point out they are not suggesting that modern global warming is beneficial.

Daily Mail, 21 Nov 2011

swept along by inertia

We have already entered an era of dangerous climate change. We now know that the dynamics and inertia of our social and economic systems, if left unchecked or inadequately addressed, will sweep us on to ever more dangerous change and then, within a decade, to the start of an era of simply catastrophic climate change where humans wil lose all control over what happens and most of the globe becomes unliveable. (extract from Climate Code Red published by Friends of the Earth)

The Age (Australia), 6 Dec 2007 – screencopy held by this website

London calling

Britain could be one high rise city by the end of the century due to the number of migrants who will move here because their own countries have become too hot, scientists have predicted.

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.

The nation is already a large city and it will become even larger, with that will come the need to support people. We do not want starving refugees – that will be worse – so we have to spend a lot of money on infrastructure, said James Lovelock.

His comments were supported by a number of scientists writing in the New Scientist, some of whom said the human race may not even survive the increase in temperatures.

The Telegraph, 26 Feb 2009

giant icebergs!

A giant iceberg twice the length of Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” Stadium has been spotted floating off Australia and could be headed for New Zealand, scientists said on Thursday.

The ice chunk, measuring some 700 metres (2,300 feet) long with an estimated depth of 350 metres, caused a stir when it was sighted by experts based on Australia’s remote Macquarie Island.

“I’ve never seen anything like it — we looked out to the horizon and just saw this huge floating island of ice,” said fur seal biologist Dean Miller.

Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist Neal Young said the flat-topped slab could break into dozens of smaller icebergs as it moves in the direction of New Zealand, causing a possible shipping hazard.

“It’s rare to make a sighting like this — it’s certainly impressive-looking,” Young told AFP. He said the iceberg had probably split from a major Antarctic ice shelf nine years ago, and said more could be expected in the area if global warming continues.

“If the current trends in global warming were to continue I would anticipate seeing more icebergs and the large ice shelves breaking up,” he added. Phys Org, 12 Nov 2009

the scheme that launched a thousand (and a half) ships

It should be possible to counteract the global warming associated with a doubling of carbon dioxide levels by enhancing the reflectivity of low-lying clouds above the oceans, according to researchers in the US and UK.

John Latham of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, US, and colleagues say that this can be done using a worldwide fleet of autonomous ships spraying salt water into the air.

Latham and colleagues calculate that, depending on exactly what fraction of low-level maritime clouds are targeted (with some regions, notably the sea off the west coasts of Africa and North and South America, more susceptible to this technique than others), around 1500 ships would be needed altogether to counteract a carbon doubling, at a cost of some £1m to £2m each.

This would involve an initial fleet expanding by some 50 ships a year if the scheme is to keep in step with the current rate of increase in atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels.

PhysicsWorld, 4 Sep 2008

checkerspot butterfly paddles its own canoe!

The report last month from a butterfly conference in England was a bit different, however. It concerned the endangered quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino), well known for being threatened by climate change.

Many experts believed the species was doomed unless humans collected the butterflies and moved them north; their path to higher ground seemed to be blocked by the megalopolis of Los Angeles.

But at the conference, according to an account in the Guardian, Camille Parmesan of the Marine Sciences Institute at Plymouth University in the U.K., who has studied the quino checkerspot for years, reported that it had miraculously shifted its range to higher altitudes. Furthermore, it had somehow learned to lay its eggs on a new host plant.

“Every butterfly biologist who knew anything about the quino in the mid-1990s thought it would be extinct by now, including me,” Parmesan told the Guardian.

National Geographic, 6 May 2014

enemy identified!

Bolivian President Evo Morales said capitalism is to blame for global warming and the accelerated deterioration of the planetary ecosystem in a speech today opening an international conference on climate change and the “rights of Mother Earth.”

“The main cause of the destruction of the planet Earth is capitalism and in the towns where we have lived, where we respected this Mother Earth, we all have the ethics and the moral right to say here that the central enemy of Mother Earth is capitalism,” said Morales, who is Bolivia’s first fully indigenous head of state in the 470 years since the Spanish invasion.

Countercurrents.org, 21 Apr 2010

early bird butterflies

As Melbourne warms, the city’s butterflies are emerging at least 10 days earlier in spring than they did in 1945, according to research that reveals for the first time a causal link between increasing greenhouse gases, the city’s warming environment and the timing of a natural event.

Using emergence data on the common brown butterfly dating back 65 years, researchers from Melbourne University said the findings were unequivocal.

“There’s very little room to doubt that now,” said lead author Michael Kearney, of the zoology department. “Animals are doing things earlier because the climate is warming, because of human activity.”

The Age, 18 Mar 2010

blue-tongue moves north

A disease that normally only occurs in tropical or subtropical parts of the world made its first appearance in the UK last spring. It could be the first hard evidence that global warming is starting to change disease patterns around the world.

While this story carries an important message about human disease, this time at least, it was an animal disease that has moved. It’s the blue tongue virus, which affects cattle, sheep and goats.

It can be a devastating illness with up to a 70% mortality rate in sheep. The warmer temperatures have allowed blue tongue to gradually spread northwards in recent years, from Africa into southern Europe. That’s because the virus is carried by midges, which have headed north with the warmer weather.

But a shock came two years ago…blue tongue stopped following its well-predicted path and suddenly jumped into much colder northern Europe.

Professor Peter Mertens: An experienced veterinarian in Holland who saw a sick sheep and said: “Hey guys that looks like blue tongue to me, you know, out of the blue” and I imagine most people said “you’re kidding, it’s never been this far north”.

ABC (Australia) Catalyst, 8 May 2008

watch your step!

The country’s electricity and water supplies are at high risk from climate change, and immediate action is needed to prepare for the threat, a report presented to the Federal Government has warned.

Dams, roads, power stations and even paved footpaths are all at risk of damage from the increasing number of droughts and bushfires and rising sea levels during the next 30 to 50 years, said the report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

“Adaptation to cope effectively with these situations is expected to require major investment with integrated, high-level strategic planning,” the report said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Nov 2008

Is that a pizzly or a grolar?

What is clear is that warming is increasing many opportunities for gene mixing.

“As we’ve developed genomic methodologies, we’re finding that organisms are exchanging genes with other species,” Michael Arnold, a professor of genetics at the University of Georgia, said.

“Genetic exchange due to organisms coming together from climate change is the rule rather than the exception.”

Animals have been interbreeding for millennia. Even modern humans are the product of genetic exchange with Neanderthals some 60,000 years ago.

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

Warmer temperatures have allowed grizzly bears and polar bears to venture to habitats they don’t usually occupy and mate to form a hybrid: the pizzly or grolar bear.

Scientific American, 1 Jun 2015

saved by the Earth’s shift!

A new warning has come to NASA from the Inuits. They are warning that the change in climate is not due to global warming but rather, because of the Earth shifting a bit.

The Inuits are local people that live in the Arctic regions of Canada, the United States and Greenland. They are excellent weather forecasters and so were their ancestors. Presently they are warning NASA that the cause of change in weather, earthquakes etc, are not due to global warming as the world thinks.

They state that the earth has shifted or “wobbled”. “Their sky has changed!” The elders declare that the sun rises at a different position now, not where it used to previously. They also have longer daylight to hunt now, the sun is much higher than earlier, and it gets warmer much quickly.

Other elders across the north also confirmed the same thing about the sky changing when interviewed. They also alleged that the position of sun, moon and stars have all changed causing changes in the temperature. This has also affected the wind and it is very difficult to predict the weather now and according to them predicting weather is necessary on Arctic.

All the elders confirmed that the Earth has shifted, wobbled or tilted toward the North. This information provided by the Inuit Elders has caused a great concern in the NASA scientists. White Wolf Pack, 5 Mar 2004

all in a good cause

Sports fields, car parks and parklands will be important assets; houses will have walls that open, and some people might need to lose their water views to prepare for bigger, more frequent floods due to global warming, according to experts contacted by the Herald.

There is consensus in the scientific literature that “the flooding that happens on small urban type of catchments, which is a result of short rainfall bursts, is going up, because convection is intensifying”, Professor Ashish Sharma, an Australian Research Council future fellow in the school of civil and environmental engineering at the University of NSW, said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Mar 2012

that sinking feeling

Not only is the planet’s rising temperature melting massive glaciers, but it also seems to be thawing out the layer of permanently frozen soil below the ground’s surface. This thawing causes the ground to shrink and occurs unevenly, so it could lead to sinkholes and damage to structures such as railroad tracks, highways and houses.

Live Science, 16 Aug 2011

fire and ice

Tropical forests may dry out and become vulnerable to devastating wildfires as global warming accelerates over the coming decades, a senior scientist has warned.

Soaring greenhouse gas emissions, driven by a surge in coal use in countries such as China and India, are threatening temperature rises that will turn damp and humid forests into parched tinderboxes, said Dr Chris Field, co-chair of the UN’s Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Higher temperatures could see wildfires raging through the tropics and a large scale melting of the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere that will accelerate warming even further, he said.

The Guardian, 16 Feb 2009

moths go forth and…

Ecologist Florian Altermatt of the University of California, Davis has studied 44 species of moths and butterflies in Central Europe.

He published the results December 22 in the science journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B article, “Climatic warming increases voltinism in European butterflies and moths” (which is available online for free for a few more days).

“Voltinism” refers to the number of breeding cycles in a year. As the region has warmed since the 1980s, some of these species have added an extra generation during the summer for the first time on record in that location.

Among the 263 species already known to have a second or third generation there during toasty times, 190 have grown more likely to do so since 1980. ThinkProgress, 26 Dec 2009

vote the rascals out!

Climate change is the most important social welfare issue we face as social workers. Unless we bring our best thinking and organizing to bear on climate change, our work on all the other issues near and dear to our hearts runs the risk of being comparable to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

But individual actions are not enough. We need to be social worker activists, advocating to change public policies that will have major impact on the future we pass on to the next generation.

We can challenge elected officials at every level to support efforts to reduce the output of “greenhouse gases,” and we can vote the rascals out if they persist in wrong-headed decisions.

The New Social Worker, 20 Jan 2007

Saturn’s rings to solve global warming!

A wild idea to combat global warming suggests creating an artificial ring of small particles or spacecrafts around Earth to shade the tropics and moderate climate extremes.

There would be side effects, proponents admit. An effective sunlight-scattering particle ring would illuminate our night sky as much as the full Moon, for example.

But the idea, detailed today in the online version of the journal Acta Astronautica, illustrates that climate change can be battled with new technologies, according to one scientist not involved in the new work.

To keep the particles in place, gravitationally significant shepherding spacecraft might be employed. They would herd the particles much like small moons keep Saturn’s rings in place. LiveScience, 27 Jun 2005

live longer with climate change!

Actually, with respect to any temperature rise due to global warming, the research team found “For both men and women mortality was higher at low temperatures, suggesting a lesser ability to adapt to the cold.”

Based on another related study, they state “In England and Wales, the higher temperatures predicted for 2050 might result in nearly 9,000 fewer winter deaths each year.”

Laaidi et al. conclude “our findings give grounds for confidence in the near future: the relatively moderate (2°C) warming predicted to occur in the next half century would not increase annual mortality rates.”

worldclimatereport, 14/3/07

surf’s up!

A team of geophysicists from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, have determined that gigantic ocean waves have been speeding up due to global warming.

These large ocean waves, known as planetary waves, typically span hundreds of kilometers from crest to crest.

Having predicted that planetary waves would accelerate as a result of the ocean surface warming, John Fyfe and Oleg Saenko, writing in the latest issue of Geophysical Research Letters, modeled the changes to ocean wave patterns over the 20th and 21st centuries to test their hypothesis.

“We knew we’d see an effect, but we didn’t think it would be significant for at least another two centuries,” Fyfe said. TreeHugger, 13 Jun 2007

last-ditch effort to halt global warming!

The US government wants the world’s scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming, the Guardian has learned.

It says research into techniques such as giant mirrors in space or reflective dust pumped into the atmosphere would be “important insurance” against rising emissions, and has lobbied for such a strategy to be recommended by a major UN report on climate change, the first part of which will be published on Friday.

Scientists have previously estimated that reflecting less than 1% of sunlight back into space could compensate for the warming generated by all greenhouse gases emitted since the industrial revolution.

Possible techniques include putting a giant screen into orbit, thousands of tiny, shiny balloons, or microscopic sulphate droplets pumped into the high atmosphere to mimic the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption.

The Guardian, 27 Jan 2007

more plagues

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

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

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

BBC News, 22 Aug 2006

unprecedented sequence

What is clear, the scientists say, is that the floods in Pakistan – and the fires in Russia, the mudslides in China, the droughts in sub-Saharan Africa – are enunciations of scenarios climate forecasters have long predicted.

The “unprecedented sequence of extreme weather” over the past month matches climate projections, says the WMO. This is what global warming looks like, say climate experts at NASA. For years the warnings have been laid out in the scientific journals and in sober economic analyses. Global warming would super-saturate monsoons, extend droughts, breathe fury into wildfires and frenzy into hurricanes and cyclones.

Climate change raises fundamental questions of human security, survival and the stability of nation states, security expert Professor Alan Dupont argues. It will contribute to destabilising, unregulated population movements through Asia and the Pacific – mostly within borders, but the ripple effects will spill beyond them.

Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Aug 2010

La Nina to double!

Extreme weather arising from a climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean will get much worse as the world warms, according to climate modelling.

The latest data – based on detailed climate modelling work – suggests extreme La Nina events in the Pacific Ocean will almost double with global warming, from one in 23 years to one in 13 years. Most will follow extreme El Nino events, meaning frequent swings between opposite extremes from one year to the next.

Prof Mat Collins, Joint Met Office Chair in Climate Change at Exeter University, UK, is a co-researcher on the study, which involved teams in Australia, China, the US, UK and Peru. He said scientists were getting a better idea of how El Nino and La Nina are affected by global warming.

“Our previous research showed a doubling in frequency of extreme El Nino events, and this new study shows a similar fate for the cold phase of the cycle,” he said. “It shows again how we are just beginning to understand the consequences of global warming.”

BBC News, 26 Jan 2015

you take the high road …

The University of Durham looked at levels of land uplift and subsidence in the British isles since the Ice Age.

As the ice retreated 20,000 years ago the release of the enormous weight meant the north slowly tilted up while the south sank down. Scotland is still experiencing this “springboard” effect while southern Ireland, Wales and England continues to sink.

Prof Ian Shennan, who led the study, said soil sediments showed that sites in the north of the country are still rising.

“Subsidence and rising sea levels will have implications for people and habitats, and will require action to manage resorts, industrial sites, ports, beaches, salt marshes and wetlands, wildlife and bird migrations,” he said.

The Telegraph, 7 Oct 2009

giant gun to solve global warming!

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 astronomer 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. The gun would pack 100 times the power of conventional weapons and need an exclusion zone of several miles before being fired.

Dr Angel has already secured NASA funding for a pilot project and British inventor Tod Todeschini, 38, was commissioned to build a scaled-down version of the gun. He constructed the four-metre long cannon in his workshop in Sandlake, Oxfordshire, for a TV documentary investigating the sun shield theory.

He said: “The gun was horrendously dangerous. This was the first gun I’d ever built.”

The Telegraph, 26 Feb 2009

wolves bridges burnt

For the gray wolves of Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park, climate change has turned their island home from a refuge of solitude into untenable isolation.

Wolves were first spotted on Isle Royale in 1948; they were likely attracted by the moose. But how did either species get out there in the first place? By way of ice bridges from the mainland to the island, said wildlife ecologist Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University.

But continued burning of fossil fuels has warmed winter temperatures in the region. Ice formation on Lake Superior has decreased, and ice bridges are becoming increasingly rare.

“In the ’60s, an ice bridge would form about four out of every five years; now, it’s more like one out of every 10 years,” Peterson said. takepart, 16 Mar 2016

all is lost-ski

Global warming will sow destruction across Russia and ex-Soviet states, a report said on Tuesday after the world’s richest countries issued targets on harmful emissions that environmentalists criticized as too soft.

The 52-page report — written by green group WWF and British charity Oxfam — described a grim picture of social, ecological and economic collapse in the world’s biggest country and its former empire unless the world took urgent action. This diagram shows infrastructure collapse.

When the temperature rises the infrastructure breaks, WWF climate change expert in Russia Alexei Kokorin said holding up a diagram of the ex-Soviet Union swathed in bands of red, orange and yellow at a presentation of the report in Moscow.

We must understand that damage caused by climate change is here and now rather than a problem in the distant future, in distant lands, WWF’s director in Russia, Igor Chestin, said in a statement alongside the report.

“We must understand that damage caused by climate change is here and now rather than a problem in the distant future, in distant lands,” WWF’s director in Russia, Igor Chestin, said in a statement alongside the report. “There’s a lot at stake, including our health and even our lives.”

Reuters, 8 Jul 2008

Venice will rise again!

The cities of Venice, Italy and New Orleans, Louisiana have a tremendous problem in common. They are both built on river sediments and they are both slowly sinking into the sea.

Venice (the old city) is currently virtually exactly at sea level (and sinking) while New Orleans is already around 7 feet BELOW sea level (and sinking) and has had to be protected by levees surrounding it which keep the Mississippi River and a large lake and the water from the Gulf of Mexico out.

In 2002, I realized that it was actually possible to essentially hydrostatically ‘jack up’ the massive region of Venice and the surrounding area, at a rate of about one inch (2,5 cm) per month, by using river water sent down into selective water wells to develop hydrostatic pressure down there.

If a thousand gallons of water from local rivers is sent down every minute, in each of thirty standard water wells, that water is INCOMPRESSIBLE. In a five year period of this (natural) process, we should lift Venice and the entire region by about FIVE VERTICAL FEET, thereby totally solving Venice’s problem.

The process is NATURAL (river water falling down wells to develop pressure) and amazingly cheap and easy to do! C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago, 16 Aug 2016

And what do we do now?

Our world is about to change dramatically. We have already “locked in” global average warming of at least 2 degrees, which will have major impacts on food, water and global security.

Catastrophic outcomes – including economic, social, and ecological collapses – are likely even if, as Gilding expects, we manage to engineer a global emergency response. A world where half of all species becomes extinct is likely if an additional 2 billion people try to live like those in the most developed countries.

With planetary capacity already starkly breached, what happens then? And what do we do now?

The Age, 28 May 2011

more frequent and severe

This is the world we have changed, and we have to live in it – the world that caused the 2003 heatwave in Europe that killed more than 50,000 people and the 2011 drought in Texas that caused more than $5 billion in damage. Such events, our data shows, will become even more frequent and more severe said James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The Age, 7 Aug 2012 – screencopy held by this website

the crust beneath our feet

Reports by international groups of researchers – to be presented at a London conference next week – will show that climate change, caused by rising outputs of carbon dioxide from vehicles, factories and power stations, will not only affect the atmosphere and the sea but will alter the geology of the Earth.

Melting glaciers will set off avalanches, floods and mud flows in the Alps and other mountain ranges; torrential rainfall in the UK is likely to cause widespread erosion; while disappearing Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets threaten to let loose underwater landslides, triggering tsunamis that could even strike the seas around Britain.

“Not only are the oceans and atmosphere conspiring against us, bringing baking temperatures, more powerful storms and floods, but the crust beneath our feet seems likely to join in too,” said Professor Bill McGuire, director of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre, at University College London (UCL).

The Guardian, 6 Sep 2009

play misty for me

Enter “marine cloud brightening,” a geoengineering scheme that would increase cloud reflectivity over the ocean by spraying them with an ultrafine saltwater mist from ships.

The clouds, containing more particles, would cast enough sunlight back into space to at least partially offset the warming effects of all that CO2 from burning fossil fuels.

Stephen Salter, an emeritus professor of engineering design at the University of Edinburgh is the lead and was for many years the only engineer working on a proposal to accomplish marine cloud brightening by populating the world’s oceans with up to 1,500 ships of a somewhat exotic design—sometimes known as “albedo yachts”.

Each vessel would be remote-controlled, wind-powered, and capable of generating (via turbines dragged through the water) the electricity required to create a mist of seawater and loft it 1,000 meters into the atmosphere.

Scientific American, 21 Oct 2009

plagues

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

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

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

BBC News, 22 Aug 2006

disappearing beach

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

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

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

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

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

team’s target

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

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

ABC News (Australia), 15 Oct 2015

polar bears get the elbow

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

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

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

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

Heat Is Online, 24 Nov 2010 – Reuters

save the planet with fake trees!

Professor Klaus Lackner (Geophysics, Columbia University Earth Institute): Just like the leaves of a tree have air blowing over them, and they manage to extract some of the CO2 as it floats over the leaf’s surface, this device has surfaces over which the wind blows, and it gives up a fraction of its CO2 as it goes through. So the idea of this device is to capture carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Yes, it doesn’t look like a tree, because it’s just has functionally this one part in common. It doesn’t, like a normal tree, try to convert this with sunshine into starches. So the leaves of this tree do not have to be exposed to the sunshine, so they are stacked much more tightly. And, consequently, this synthetic tree is capable of collecting much more CO2 out of the wind than an ordinary tree would.

npr.org, 3 Dec 2007

truffles under threat!

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

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

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

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

Reuters, 16 May 2008

the flight of the bumble bee

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

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

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

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

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

grim outlook

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

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

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

The Age (Australia), 29/4/2008

watch where you’re standing!

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

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

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

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

mrc Newsbusters, 7 Aug 2007

invasion of the crocodile-eating snakes!

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

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

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

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

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

Science Net Links, 4 May 2009

see also – invasion!

moths move up

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

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

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

The Guardian, 29 Jan 2009

opening the vent

The Pacific Ocean may open a “heat vent” above it that releases enough energy into space to reduce projected climate warming caused by the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

High clouds over the western tropical Pacific Ocean seem to decrease when sea surface temperatures are higher, said Arthur Hou of the American space agency, Nasa.

The mechanism allows the heat to escape, keeping the oceans cool.

The newly discovered vent, if confirmed, could significantly reduce estimates of future global warming now being put forward by computer models of the Earth’s climate.

BBC News, 5 Mar 2001

cloud ships

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

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

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

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

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

sink or …

The idea was conceived by advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, who were commissioned by banking giant HSBC to promote its £50million project tackling climate change.

The Ogilvy team came up with an innovative way to show the adverse impact of global climate change.They glued an aerial view of a city to the base of a swimming pool. When the pool was filled with water, it gave a shocking effect akin to a city submerged in water.

The visual of a sunken city shocked swimmers and onlookers, driving home the impact of global warming, and how it could destroy our world someday.

The Telegraph, 26 Nov 2008

fisher-free

A group of scientists have called for the Coral Sea to be declared the world’s largest marine protected area, but the fishing industry says the idea is ludicrous.

Marine researchers said the Coral Sea, which covers one million square kilometres bordering the Great Barrier Reef, should become a non-fishing area to protect its immense environmental and heritage values from the escalating threats of overfishing and climate change.

Professor Terry Hughes, of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, said there was overwhelming evidence the world’s marine ecosystems have been seriously degraded by overfishing, pollution and global warming.

“These trends call for urgent, practical solutions” said Professor Hughes.

The Age (Australia), 10 Sep 2008

bats falling like flies

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

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

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

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

kiss the carbon years goodbye!

Get excited about an energy revolution, Visualize our Earth from space, Know that it’s fragile,

..Don’t drive, unless you have to, Walk more *Cycle more* Skate more…Avoid drive-thrus…Avoid fast food*Eat Less Meat, Share what you have*Buy Less Stuff, Reuse Before you Recycle, Dig up the concrete….Put your hot water heater on a timer…

Support climate friendly politicians…Put on a sweater….Buy tree-free or post-consumer paper….Use a clothsline instead of a dryer, Dream of a solar-hydrogen economy

….Kiss the carbon years goodbye, Our world will be whole, And Healed Tomorrow, If We Pay Attention Today.

Syracuse Cultural Workers postcard, How to end global warming, 2007

but it’s meat and drink to me!

Eating less lamb and drinking fewer pints will help save the planet, according to a Government advisor.

Diners are being encouraged to eat more pork and chicken instead, as they produce fewer carbon emissions. The study also found that alcoholic drinks contribute significantly to emissions with the growing and procesing of hops and malt into beer and whisky prodcing 1.5 percent of Britain’s greenhouse gases.

“Changing our lifesyles, including our diets, is going to be one of the crucial elements in cutrting carbon emissions,” said David Kennedy, chief executive officer of the Committee on Climate Change.

Mr Kennedy, who says he has stopped eating kebabs because they contain lamb, added:”We are not saying that everyone should become vegetarian or give up drinking but moving towards less carbon intensive foods will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve health.”

The Telegraph, 24 May 2009

walking on thin ice

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

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

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

The Guardian, 5 March 2015

bring back Sunday!

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

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

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

The Guardian, 17 Sep 2009

poisoned chalice

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

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

Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Sep 2012

worse than we thought – toll on plants and animals!

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

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

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

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

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 May 2008

water supply

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

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

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

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

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Sep 2005

fish emboldened

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

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

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

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

in support of small shops

Neighbourhood shops and farmers’ market will gain currency in the coming days, as reduction in vegetable transport will help save fuel and thereby help reduce global warming, said G, Nammalvar, organic farming scientist on Thursday.

Transportation of food items formed a considerable part in the entire transport industry, he added and suggested that shops like the Greens Shop would be best answer to reduce transportation.

Dr. Nammalvar suggested that ideal situation would be one where the distance between the points of production and sale was not more than 30 km. And, the presence of farmers’ and community markets would ensure absence of middlemen.

The Hindu, 26 Apr 2008

the case of the disappearing acorns

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

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

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

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

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

treehugger, 8 Dec 2008

country vs city

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

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

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

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

The Age (Australia), 15 Jan 2008

invasion – Asian carp

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

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

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

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

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

Time, 2/9/10

state of fear

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

The Age (Australia), 24 Oct 2008

coral reefs utterly destroyed

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

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

thanks to mervyn

rewriting history

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

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

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

The Conversation, 24 February 2015