… almost?

As the world commits billions of dollars to save the world from global warming, criminals are poised to carve off their share. And increasingly they will use the internet to pull off their green scams in cyberspace. Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty told the Age “green crime ” was a new frontier for law enforcement.

“New concepts such as carbon trading had significant potential for fraud”, he said. “Carbon trading is a derivatives or futures market. You’re actually trading in something that almost doesn’t exist so the opportunity for fraud or corruption could be significant.”

The Age (Australia), 21 Jul 2007 – screen copy held by this website

Dark Age looms!

knight_on_horseImagine a future in which humanity’s accumulated wisdom about Earth — our vast experience with weather trends, fish spawning and migration patterns, plant pollination and much more — turns increasingly obsolete.

As each decade passes, knowledge of Earth’s past becomes progressively less effective as a guide to the future. Civilization enters a dark age in its practical understanding of our planet.

To comprehend how this could occur, picture yourself in our grandchildren’s time, a century hence. Significant global warming has occurred, as scientists predicted.

Nature’s longstanding, repeatable patterns — relied on for millenniums by humanity to plan everything from infrastructure to agriculture — are no longer so reliable. Cycles that have been largely unwavering during modern human history are disrupted by substantial changes in temperature and precipitation.William B Gail, in New York Times, 19 Apr 2016

thanks to ddh

less meat means less heat!

Less meat means less heat. It’s a slogan that leading scientists hope will catch on worldwide, part of a call for people to reduce consumption of meat and dairy products to slow the pace of climate change.

Writing in the medical journal The Lancet, a team of international health experts led by Tony McMichael warns that the world’s growing appetite for meat is increasing greenhouse gas emissions, as vast areas of rainforest are bulldozed for grazing land and as more sheep and cattle burp.

Professor McMichael of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, Canberra, and his colleagues argue that “for the world’s higher-income populations, greenhouse-gas emissions from meat eating warrants the same scrutiny as do those from driving and flying”.

According to a study published in July by Japanese scientists, a kilogram of beef generates the equivalent of 36.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide, more than the equivalent of driving for three hours while leaving all the lights on back home.

Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Sep 2007

blame it all on the Arctic ground squirrel!

A study has found that the Arctic ground squirrel is contributing far more to global warming than previously thought, suggesting that it is a major contributor to climate change.

The study, by the Woods Hole Research Centre in Massachusetts, reveals that Arctic squirrels are hastening the release of the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide by melting the permafrost that has kept dead animals and vegetation preserved underground for years.

“It certainly has a bigger impact than we’ve considered and it’s something we will be considering more and more going into the future,” said Dr Sue Natali, of the Woods Hole Research Centre.
The Independent, 17 Dec 2014

physician, heal thyself!

“The truth can be terrifying, so terrifying that often we prefer avoidance or lies. So it is with the reality of climate change. Like a diagnosis of terminal cancer, how I wish it wasn’t so. If only we could go on and on, with the dream of endless abundance and growing prosperity.”

“The problems of disease, poverty, and even war, seem dwarfed and solvable, compared to global warming. I am a psychologist, trained to help others with anxiety, depression, and despair, but I too wrestle with these demons. I have worried about the past and the ills that may befall my loved ones. Worries and doubts have kept me awake at night, and reduced my enjoyment of life.”

“I first realised how we were careening towards our doom nine years ago. I read The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery and viewed Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. I felt traumatised.”

Lyn Bender, a Melbourne psychologist, Eureka Street, 2 Mar 2014

listen to the bees!

bee_megaphoneWhen bees began to disappear from the landscape – and in America and Europe they are disappearing in their billions – it is an alarm signal. Today the bees are telling us something, and we need to listen.

The recent phenomena of the missing bees has been given a name: colony collapse disorder. Because bees play a key role in the landscape, they are a critical indicator of general environmental health. As one of Australia’s leading bee experts, Doug Somerville, of the NSW Department of Primary Industry, told me on Friday: “Honey bees are the canaries in the coalmine of the environment.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Aug 2007 – screencopy held by this website

all in a good cause!

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power posted photos on Twitter Wednesday to illustrate the purported effects of climate change on a West African nation’s coastline, but the pictures show a hotel that collapsed into the sea 12 years ago, the victim of erosion blamed largely on years of illegal mining of coastal sand.

“Had sobering meeting with Benin’s U.N. Ambassador, who described the devastating effects of climate change on his coastal country,” she tweeted. “Showed me chilling photos of eroding coastline, said ‘that’s climate change – a daily life of falling in the sea.’”

A Nexis search of news reports going back almost two decades shows that Benin, like its Gulf of Guinea neighbors, has long struggled with coastal erosion, a problem recorded since the 1960s. The earlier reports, however, say nothing about climate change, rising sea levels or melting icecaps. Only in more recent years have references to climate change started to appear in news reports on Benin’s erosion problems.

CNS News, 17 Jul 2014

…with few egrets

“I was amazed at the magnificent spectacle; there were egrets nesting in tall trees, birds by the hundreds of thousands,” says George Boland, remembering one of the most famous breeding events in NSW, less than a decade ago, on the farm he managed with his son in the Gwydir Valley near Moree….But the Yarrol station clearing is just one of the litany of disasters to wreak havoc in the Murray-Darling Basin in the past two decades. Massively expanding irrigation, water harvesting by farmers, drought and rising temperatures from climate change are putting the wetlands in the basin under severe stress.
Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Jun 2007 – screen copy held by this website

there’s an upside!

Dr Graeme Pearman – a former chief of CSIRO atmospheric research, and one of Australia’s foremost experts on climate change – sees progress, but then he is, despite all he knows, still an optimist. Adding to this is a paucity of solid investigation and analysis of the economic underpinnings of energy alternatives and carbon action.

“We are still caught up in these structures, and I don’t think we recognise them as a severe limitation,” Pearman says. “An effective response requires much more inclusive consideration of what you are doing, because you are trying to achieve multiple outcomes. You are trying to protect the economy. You are trying to protect the environment. You are trying to protect societal wellbeing, as well as leave something useful for the next generation. To do that requires a degree of integrated policy development that is really alien to us at this stage.”

The philosopher in him ponders whether this might be the gift of climate change: to teach humanity to transform into a more integrated, cohesive global organism.

The Age (Australia), 29 Sep 2007

otherwise known as a houseboat

The chairman of the Dutch National Climate Research Program, Professor Kabat has been a pioneer in climate research for 25 years and is a key player in developing the radical approach that has challenged the Dutch public to seize opportunities presented by climate change.

He says the Netherlands has developed floating houses, local companies are investing in saline-tolerant agriculture and experimental work is under way with floating greenhouses in the horticulture sector: “These too have been developed entirely to cope with climate change. I think that swap in attitude – from threat to opportunity – took on board a lot of private business interest immediately.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Dec 2009

report published just in time!

Scientists at the centre published their study last Thursday in the leading peer-reviewed journal Science.

“Given how fundamental these processes are to clouds and the overall global climate, our findings indicate that warming is likely to be on the high side of current projections,” John Fasullo, one of the researchers, said.

The new centre findings come ahead of a crucial United Nations conference in Doha starting on November 26 , where ministers will discuss the future of international action on greenhouse gas emissions.
Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Nov 2012

recycled water?

penguin_umbrella“Even if greenhouse gas emissions were stopped today, sea level would continue to rise for centuries, with the long-term sea-level commitment of a 2C warmer world significantly exceeding 2m.

In view of the potential implications for coastal populations and ecosystems worldwide, we investigate, from an ice-dynamic perspective, the possibility of delaying sea-level rise by pumping ocean water onto the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet.

We find that due to wave propagation ice is discharged much faster back into the ocean than would be expected from a pure advection with surface velocities.”

Delaying future sea-level rise by storing water in Antarctica. K. Frieler1, M. Mengel1, and A. Levermann1, Earth Syst. Dynam., 7, 203–210, 2016

thanks to ddh

movie potential!

The world’s oldest mummies are at risk of disappearing because of man-made climate change, according to a group of Harvard University scientists.

Bodies mummified about 7,000 years ago in Chile are starting to rapidly degrade, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences said Monday in an e-mailed statement. Tests by Harvard’s Alice DeAraujo and Ralph Mitchell show that microbes that flourish in an increasingly humid climate are turning the preserved remains of Chinchorro hunter-gatherers into “black ooze.”
Bloomberg, 10 Mar 2015<?a>

Your Earth needs you!

“My audit of my family’s contribution to global warming: maintain our lease on the hybrid fuel car (uses significantly less petrol); follow David Suzuki’s maxim of walking or cycling whenever a journey is needed, or use the train; plant more vegies so we can consume where we produce; recycle our clothing needs by visiting the op-shop; install water tanks; put solar panels on our roof.”
Susan Ackroyd, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 Nov 2006

why didn’t someone tell us this before?

For more than 30 years, Dr Joseph Reser, of the Australian Psychological Society, has been studying how people respond to environmental and natural disasters.

Over the past year, he has been in charge of studies relating to the psychological impact of climate change. Reser says research has found that saturation coverage of the issue in the media is causing some people to suffer a range of negative emotions, such as distress, frustration and anger.

“Many psychological and social science studies have been written about media overload. there’s so much discrepant information that people find it very difficult to make sense of it all,” he says.

The Australian Psychological Society says there are strategies people can use to overcome feelings of anxiety about the future. Perhaps the most useful advice it gives is to simply take a “news break”.

Switch off the radio and TV and avoid reading the newspaper for a few days. A tip that’s so obvious yet many of us forget that we have the power to do so.

The Age, 14 Jul 2007 – screen copy held by this website

stating the obvious

Global warming will force more animals onto the threatened species list, and some endangered animals will probably become extinct.

The mouse sized pygmy possum, which lives only in frosty alpine regions of NSW and Victoria, is one of the species most at risk as the temperature rises.

National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman John Dengate said: “If the climate warms up the mountain pygmy possum will have to go further up the mountains. But they are already at the top and can’t go any further.”

Sun Herald, 26 Aug 2007 – screen copy held by this website

turtles need to speed up!

speeding_turtleSea turtles are among the earth’s oldest creatures. They have been around in various forms for 110 million years, since the age of the dinosaurs. During this time they have, of course, dealt with several changes in climate.

The difference with today’s climate change is its speed. “Compared to the past,” says Booth, “this change is happening lightning fast.” This is bad news for sea turtles, which are slow-growing and long-living (between 50 and 70 years), meaning they pass on adaptive traits only gradually.

“Basically, if the turtles can’t adapt fast enough, if they can’t move rookeries or change breeding seasons, then they’re doomed.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Mar 2014

foragers making slow progress

Foragers looking for sloes this year are facing a poor harvest because of the weather, according to gardeners. Sloes are the last fresh fruit you can pick in Britain before the winter sets in and is traditionally picked in Autumn to make sloe gin for Christmas.

Graeme Proctor, from Crown Nursery in Suffolk, said the weather had not been good for sloes for the last two summers. He said: “Because last year’s summer was very bad, it meant the fruit bud initiation on which this year’s crop would grow was very poor. This led to fewer flower buds this spring. He blamed climate change for the bad weather.”

He added: “For that reason [climate change], it’s been a bad year for all stone fruit including plums. It’s all down to global warming.”
The Telegraph (UK), 14 Oct 2008

the sky isn’t falling – it’s shrinking!

Scientists have discovered yet another enigma about our planet: the thermosphere has undergone serious shrinkage. The thermosphere is the largest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere and is the next-to-last region before you reach the vacuum of outer space.

While we are coming out of one of the longer periods of low solar activity in a century, scientists have found that the thermosphere has shrunk some 28 percent. That’s the largest drop in recorded history, and they cannot explain why.
ars technica, 22 Jul 2012

cart before horse

The Centre for Psycho-Social Studies at the University of the West of England is organising a major interdisciplinary event Facing Climate Change on this topic at UWE on 7 March 2009.

Professor Paul Hoggett is helping to organise the conference. “We will examine denial from a variety of different perspectives – as the product of addiction to consumption, as the outcome of diffusion of responsibility and the idea that someone else will sort it out and as the consequence of living in a perverse culture which encourages collusion, complacency, irresponsibility,” he said.
The Telegraph (UK) September 17th, 2010

thanks to Andrew Mark Harding

all is now explained!

In her book This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein points to a study by sociologists Aaron McCright and Riley Dunlap that finds that white males are six times as likely to believe climate change “will never happen” as the rest of the adults surveyed.

They attribute this finding to the fact that white males are disproportionately threatened by the potentially disruptive effects that climate change policy will have on the kind of power they wield in society.

So in order to maintain their social rank, people who have more to lose are more likely to deny information that would force them to change their worldview.
Policy.Mic 2 Dec 2014

glaciers head for the hills!

Climbers and officials in Nepal are worried that global warming is making the glacial environment unsafe for humans in the Himalayas. They say human settlements and activities such as mountaineering are threatened by glaciers retreating and glacial lakes growing both in number and size.

Global warming rates in different parts of the country vary, says Saraju Baidya, a meteorologist at the department, which has been collecting data from around the country for 30 years. He and his colleagues say climate change has caused glaciers in the northern Himalayas to retreat at a rate never seen before, posing the threat of ‘glacial lake outburst floods’
BBC News, 21 May 2007

southern fish given the elbow!

crowded_fishClimate change is expected to considerably change Australia’s marine environment with fish stocks moving further south as ocean temperatures rise, a new CSIRO report warns.

Report co-author Dr Alistair Hobday said that global warming could have positive and negative impacts on fish numbers around the country. “The southeast of Australia will experience ocean warming that will allow some fish species to move south into temperate waters,” he said.

“That could have, for example, a positive impact for recreational tuna fishermen. The negative impact would be that southern fish species are pushed too far south, meaning their numbers will decline because they will not have a suitable habitat to survive in.”
The Age (Australia), 4 Apr 2007

good news for penguins!

Warmer waters plus a feast of fast, fishy food equals frisky little penguins, according to experts at Phillip Island, who are reporting an early start to the breeding season.

Penguin ecologist Peter Dann said although the breeding season typically started in spring and early summer, about 10 per cent of the island’s burrows – home to the 26,000-strong penguin colony – already had eggs in them.

‘If global warming is going to warm up Bass Strait, then in a short to medium term, that’s going to be good news for penguins,’ he said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Aug 2009

a stunned mullet

Climate change is damaging fish brains and causing them to lose their survival instinct, researchers warn.

Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is absorbed into ocean waters, where it dissolves and lowers the pH of the water. Fishes sensory systems were impaired by the change, causing neurons in the brain to misfire and they were unble to distinguish predators.

‘These results verify our laboratory findings,’ said Danielle Dixson, an assistant professor in the School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Daily Mail, 16 Apr 2014

tree hugging explained

Parker, a forest ecologist at the Smithsonian Institution, has spent the past 22 years on a research project so repetitive, so time-consuming, that it impresses even researchers with the patience to count tree rings.

Since 1987, he and a group of volunteers have embraced thousands of trees, slipped a tape measure behind them, and wrapped it around to measure the trees’ girth.

“My wife said I had to get out of the house and start dealing with live people,” said Dale Morrow, 72, a former elementary-school teacher who had gotten deep into genealogy (“dead people,” his wife said) in retirement.

He volunteered at the Smithsonian, and people there sent him to Parker. “My wife’s first comment was, ‘I didn’t want you interacting with trees; I wanted you interacting with people.’ ” Morrow told her: ” ‘Trees are people, too.’ ”

Washington Post, 20 Feb 2010

any volunteers to be “abated”?

A key conservation group has taken the provocative step of nominating human population growth as a “threatening process” under national environment laws.

The nomination by the Australian Conservation Foundation means a preliminary review of the link between the growing population in Australia and destruction of key environment areas will be conducted by the federal environment department.

The little known “threatening process” provision lists major forces, such as colonies of invasive species, which impact on endangered species and ecosystems under the national environment laws.

ACF’s director of strategic ideas, Charles Berger added that if population is listed the government could then develop a “threat abatement plan” – a series of policies to address the problem.

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Mar 2010

pick a number between 1 and …

A secret draft version of the next report by the United Nation’s influential panel of climate experts, to be given to governments in April, will say a reliable upper limit can no longer be put on how quickly the world will warm.

Professor Ian Lowe, an environmental scientist and president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said he hoped the report would convince the Australian Government of the seriousness of the issue because it was still listening to the “10 or 12 sceptics of the world.”

In the worst case scenario, the world could warm up to 11 degrees in response to a doubling of carbon dioxide, a 2005 study that harnessed the power of 90,000 computers worldwide found. This is much greater than previous predictions of between 1.5 to 4.5 degrees.

Sydney Morning Herald 1 Mar 2006 – screen copy held by this website

bean me up, Scotty

Rich western urbanites expecting to dodge the impacts of climate change should prepare for a jolt: global warming is leading to bad, expensive coffee.

Almost 2bn cups of coffee perk up its drinkers every day, but a perfect storm of rising heat, extreme weather and ferocious pests mean the highland bean is running out of cool mountainsides on which it flourishes.

Mauricio Galindo, head of operations at the intergovernmental International Coffee Organisation, is equally worried: “Climate change is the biggest threat to the industry. If we don’t prepare ourselves we are heading for a big disaster.”
The Guardian, 29 Mar 2014

thanks to Peter

worm led team looks for fishy answers

Just a few years after scientists warned of impending ocean apocalypse, a handful of simple management tools have pulled some of Earth’s fisheries back from the edge of collapse, according to a review of global fish populations and catch data.

“In most cases, when you reduce fishing pressure enough, the stock rebounds. But there’s a breaking point beyond which the system has changed so much that it may not recover,” said Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Canada’s Dalhousie University.

In a paper published Thursday in Science, a Worm-led team of fisheries experts updated those findings, providing the most comprehensive analysis to date of global fisheries.
Wired, 30 Jul 2009

hotter and meaner

Naomi Klein, best selling author and social activist, said climate change would exacerbate social problems such as racism and inequality, predicting Australia would become “meaner” as it gets hotter.

“You see that in Australia where the treatment of migrants is a profound moral crisis,” she said. “It’s clear that as sea levels rise that this mean streak and open racism is going to become more extreme – climate change is an accelerant to all those other issues.”
The Guardian, 17 Aug 2015

thanks to ddh

beware of strangers bearing pavlovas

The Waitahuna River runs through one of the prettiest and most pristine corners of the world, the green rolling hills of Otago, in the deep south of the South Island of New Zealand.

But last November, strangers from the North Island came to the Waitahuna town hall bearing pavlovas and sandwiches. The representatives of the energy company TrustPower had arrived to present their plans to “steal our river”, says local deer farmer Steven Martin. “We might be simple country people, but we’re not stupid.”

TrustPower wants to pump the headwaters of the Waitahuna River and nearby Bungtown Creek uphill out of the valley and over two ridges into a lake to feed the existing Waipori hydro-electric power scheme. Martin says the proposal makes little commercial sense, except that it is subsidised by valuable carbon credits the New Zealand Government has awarded for the project.
Sydney Morning Herald, 31 Mar 2005

Ark put on hold!

According to maps published by National Geographic, Australia will get an inland sea if global warming continues and melts the world’s ice caps and glaciers, lifting sea levels about 70 metres.

The US-based organisation said it would take about 5000 years for all the ice to melt, although impacts will hit coastal communities much sooner – and having an inland sea won’t be much consolation to Australians.
Sydney Morning Herald, 8 Nov 2013

stay at home coral

As the ocean gets warmer, baby coral are becoming more reluctant to leave home. A Queensland study has found that as ocean temperatures rise more coral larvae may remain on their birth reefs rather than exploring the underwater world and finding a new system on which to settle.

Study co-author, James Cook University Professor Sean Connoly, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE), said this will make it more difficult for larger systems to recover after cyclones and coral bleaching because fewer larvae will disperse from other reefs.

“The loss of connectivity can make reef systems such as the Great Barrier Reef more vulnerable,” Mr Connolly, said.
Illawarra Mercury (Australia), 30 Apr 2014 – screencopy held by this website

brother, you are not of the faith!

Martin Dix, senior research scientist at CSIRO Atmospheric Research in Aspendale, says measuring today’s greenhouse gas levels is one thing, but predicting future levels is an altogether different matter.

No scientific data, no matter how comprehensive, is ever going to produce anything like a definitive projection of how much greenhouse gases will continue to build in the atmosphere, nor of how the earth’s climate will behave as they do. Humankind is unpredictable and nature is chaotic.
Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Jun 2005

crocodile invasion – or maybe not

crocodileA Warming World Could Be a Crocodile-Infested One …there is one species that stands to gain from climate change: crocodiles. The heat-loving reptiles could thrive as the Earth gets hotter, growing not just in numbers but also in species variety, say British and U.S researchers in a new study.

“The past is the key to the present and the future,” said study coauthor Jon Tennant, a paleontologist at Imperial College London. “The only way we can really predict how future climate change is going to impact different groups of animals is by looking at historical fossil records revealed to us.”

“It won’t be an army of crocodiles popping up overnight, but we might see crocodiles in places we haven’t seen them before,” Tennant said. “It’s not like the movies where crocodiles take over the Earth, but we now have 23 species. In the future, we could see many different forms, or we might only see one or two new species.”
Yahoo News, 2 Oct 2015

do as I say, not as ….

The founders of the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet books, troubled that they have helped spread a casual attitude towards air travel that could trigger devastating climate change, are uniting to urge tourists to fly less.

Mark Ellingham, founder of the Rough Guide, and Melbourne based Tony Wheeler, who created Lonely Planet after taking the hippie trail across Asia, want travellers to “fly less and stay longer” and donate to cargon offsetting schemes.

But the two biggest travel publishers are refusing to give up flying and admit they are not models of environmental virtue. Asked if he felt guilty about the hunderds of flights he has undertaken, Mr Wheeler said: “Absolutely. I’m the worst example of it.”
The Sunday Age (Australia) 5 Mar 2006 – screencopy held by this website

in other words, trust us

Speaking at a Melbourne summit on the green economy, Professor Will Steffen criticised the media for treating climate change science as a political issue in which two sides should be given a voice.

While there were uncertainties about the pace and impact of change, he said, the core of climate science – that the world was warming and the primary cause since the middle of the last century had been industrial greenhouse gas emissions – should be accepted with the same confidence as the laws of gravity and relativity.

Asked about the scepticism of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, he said scientists respected leaders from both sides of politics who showed respect for scientific expertise.
Sydney Morning Herald, 25 May 2010

pity the poor wood warbler!

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and other conservation bodies have regularly warned that climate shifts could have a devastating impact on some species.

Three years ago, Marcel Visser from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Heteren collated a number of cases. The North American wood warbler has not adapted its migration pattern to the earlier emergence of caterpillars in its breeding ground, and the Dutch honey buzzard is also failing to adapt to the earlier appearance of wasps, which it eats. BBC News, 8 May 2008

no flies on them!

The pesky little flies that hover around rotting fruit could act as a sensitive warning system for the effects of global warming.

Professor Ary Hoffmann, a member of the La Trobe and Monash University team that studied the vinegar flies, said the changes in the genetic composition of the fly populations because of hotter conditions was surprisingly rapid.

The researchers sampled flies from Tasmania to far north Queensland, visiting farms, fruit shops and some supermarkets. “We’d go in with a net and ask where they dumped their rotten fruit,” Professor Hoffmann said.

They then studied the genes, including one called Adh that is linked to metabolism.
Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Apr 2005

salps move in for the krill

Human activity is driving changes in the world’s oceans at a rate not seen for several million years, a series of reports has concluded.

Oscar Schofield, of Rutgers University in the US, said environmental change had been “profound” in the West Antarctic Peninsula and was altering the food chain on which whales in this polar region depend.

Blooms of phytoplankton, or microscopic plants, had decreased by 12 per cent in the past 30 years, and the size of the cells had also shrunk.

This had allowed jellyfish-like creatures called salps, which find it easier to feed on the small cells, to start to replace shrimp-like krill, on which whales depend for food. The Age (Australia), 18 Jun 2010

pot calling the kettle ….

Bill Moyers, the founding director of Public Affairs Television in Washington, retired three months ago, one of the United States’ most honoured journalists. Harvard Medical School that same month named him the recipient of its fourth annual Global Environmental Citizen Award.

“Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven. Ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.” Sydney Morning Herald, 9 Mar 2005

their burp is worse than their ….

beef_cattleScientists from NSW’s Department of Primary Industries have been working for the past 15 years to find a way to breed more efficient beef cattle. After a decade of research, the scientists came up with a blood analysis that has been developed into a commercial test for selecting bulls able to breed the most food-efficient cows and steers.

Although it has been developed to cut farming costs, the scientists now believe the burp-reduced cattle will also help fight global warming, because methane is also a greenhouse gas, many times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

The leader of the department’s methane research effort, Roger Hegarty, said it may be possible to develop other methane-efficient animals, including sheep. Dr Hegarty estimated 95 per cent of methane from beef cattle was belched. The rest, he said, was “flatulence”.
Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Jun 2006

I’ve told you a hundred million times, don’t exaggerate!

The day will soon come when we shall be roused from our beds, not by the ringing of the alarm clock, but by the rising sea levels slapping us on our slumbering faces. That is how serious global warming is. What makes it worse is that we shall all be so morbidly obese by then we won’t be able to rise from our beds to save ourselves.

There is absolutely, positively no question whatsoever that we are in the midst of a climate change crisis. It is also categorically and undeniably beyond any dispute that it is man-made. Maybe.
The Age (Australia), 13 Nov 2006

We’re all doomed!

In a world of celebrity filled with sportsmen and actors, Tim Flannery is a rare breed indeed; a celebrity scientist, explorer and writer dubbed the “Indiana Jones of science”.

“We were sliding into a crisis, without anyone knowing. It’s a dire situation which could lead to the collapse of our global civilisation. If we don’t get on top of the problem this decade, we won’t.”

Although he says his book has been well-received by the Australian public, he is disappointed at the lack of political action. “There’s a moral paralysis in both parties,” Flannery says, in typically outspoken fashion. “In the absence of legislative change, we’re doomed.”
The Sydney Morning Herald 24 May 2006 (Tim Flannery was Australia’s first (and last) Climate Commissioner)

stating the obvious

turtle

The male sea turtle is a rather promiscuous creature, so it suits him to be naturally outnumbered by the female of the species. But the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is wondering if male turtles will be so outnumbered in future the species will fail to breed.

The authority is concerned that global warming will push up the temperature of turtle eggs as they incubate in sand. The warmer the egg, the more likely the hatchling will be female.

“While the natural population can be female-skewed,” says the authority’s species conservation unit manager Dr Kirstin Dobbs, “males obviously play a key role.”

The Age (Australia), 17 Nov 2005

less gray whales

………………………………….
As many as 118,000 gray whales roamed the Pacific before humans decimated the population through hunting, and human-induced climate change may now be depriving those that remain of the food they need, according to a study released yesterday.

There definitely are large-scale ecosystem effects going on, said Stanford doctoral student S. Elizabeth Alter, the lead author, in an interview yesterday.
Washington Post, 11 Sep 2007

more gray whales

The number baby gray whales born along the Pacific Coast has increased over the past five years, leading scientists to believe that for now pregnant females are doing all right feeding in a warming Arctic environment.

“In the short term they appear to be doing well, based on our monitoring of reproduction. But we really don’t know how th elong term warming ttrend is going to affect this population,” saidWayne Perryman, a fisheries biologist with NOAA in La Jolla (San Diego County).
SFGate, 28 Jun 2006
………………………………….

see also – having it both ways

pity the poor immigrant

A California anti-immigration group has created a multimedia ad campaign blaming immigrants for climate change and environmental degradation in California.

Californians for Population Stabilization, or CAP, argues that immigrants, legal and illegal, increase their carbon footprint four-fold when they move to the US and “Americanize” their consumption habits, thus exacerbating climate problems.

According to CAP President Diane Hull, “Californians [have] made significant progress in energy conservation over the last couple of decades. However, the progress has been mitigated by massive population growth over the same period, driven by immigration and births to immigrants.”
Triple Pundit, 10 Nov 2009

one swallow doesn’t make…

In what experts say is the first documented evidence of the species “overwintering” here, a solitary swallow has been monitored from November to the end of February in a village near Truro, Cornwall.

Paul Stancliffe, a spokesman for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), called the discovery “incredible”. As further evidence of climate change, volunteers have also recorded “early returns” by many migrants this year, as well as unseasonably early nesting by birds that ordinarily remain here.
The Telegraph (UK), 16 Mar 2008

more tipping points than a see saw

see_sawEarth may be approaching its points of no return. As Arctic sea ice hits a record low, focus is turning to climate ”tipping points” – a threshold that, once crossed, cannot be reversed and will create fundamental changes to other areas.

“It’s a trigger that leads to more warming at a regional level, but also leads to flow-on effects through other systems,” said Will Steffen, the chief adviser on global warming science to Australia’s Climate Commission. There are about 14 known “tipping elements”, according to a paper published by the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Age (Australia), 23 Sep 2012

beware of lurking frog finders

Melbourne Water has encouraged volunteers to record frog calls in their local areas. Armed with digital recorders, a small army of dedicated “frog finders” will lurk at local waterholes to seek out vociferous amphibians.

The annual frog census, now in its ninth year, was launched at Werribee Zoo yesterday as part of World Animal Day. Melbourne Water’s manager of waterways, Chris Chesterfield, said frogs were a key barometer of environmental health but climate change was taking its toll.
Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Oct 2009

ban cities!

In the concrete jungle at the core of a city, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are dominated by the fossil fuels burned by the dense concentrations of cars and buildings.

Boston University researchers now have shown, however, that in metropolitan areas surrounding the city core, plant roots and decomposing organic material in soil give off enough CO2, in a process termed “soil respiration,” to make an unexpectedly great contribution to total emissions.

“When people mulch their landscaped areas or fertilize their lawns, they’re putting out yummy fresh highly decomposable carbon that soil microbes can use,” says Pamela Templer, Associate Professor of Biology. “And that’s stimulating microbial growth and loss of CO2 out of these urban soils.”

Science Daily, 23 Feb 2016

thanks to ddh

anyone remember when the word science meant science?

The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 (UK) prohibit discrimination in the workplace by reason of any religion or belief. The regulations were amended in 2007, so that “belief” now means “any religious or philosophical belief”.

Tim Nicholson claimed that he was dismissed from his position because of his extremely strongly held belief that it is necessary to significantly reduce carbon emissions in order to avoid a global catastrophe.

In today’s ruling, Mr Justice Michael Burton decided that: “A belief in man-made climate change, and the alleged resulting moral imperatives, is capable if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the 2003 Religion and Belief Regulations.”

“Under those regulations it is unlawful to discriminate against a person on the grounds of their religious or philosophical beliefs.”

Personnel Today, 27 May 2009

scientific proof!

“Anzac Day, April 25, is a temperature marker for me because for many years I’ve risen at much the same time, for more than a decade as a reporter to cover the dawn services and later because I have become, since my misspent 20s, an early riser.”

“It is beyond doubt that Anzac Days these days are not as cold as they used to be. As a young reporter out and about at six on Anzac Day morning I’d be wearing every piece of warm clothing I could find and long costs were common, but the change has been such that these days the most that’s required is a light jacket and if coats are worn it’s for formal reasons.”
Jeff Corbett, reporter, Newcaste Herald (Australia), 5 Jun 2007 – screen copy held by this website

climate change is like a wet blanket

According to a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, warmer weather means less “coital frequency.” “Extreme heat leads to a sizable fall in births,” the study says.

“Temperature extremes could affect coital frequency. It could affect hormone levels and sex drives. Alternatively, high temperatures may adversely affect reproductive health or semen quality on the male side or ovulation on the female side,” say the three economists from Tulane University, University of California and University of Central Florida who wrote the paper.

In the paper, Maybe Next Month? Temperature Shocks, Climate Change and Dynamic Adjustments in Birth Rates, the researchers predict that “increased temperatures due to climate change may reduce population growth rates in the coming century.”

Looking at 80 years of U.S. fertility and temperature data, they found that “additional days above 80 degrees Fahrenheit cause a large decline in birth rates approximately eight to 10 months later.” And these would-be parents often do not “make up for lost time in subsequent, cooler months,” reports Bloomberg.
EcoWatch, 4 Nov 2015

thanks to Peter

life not a box of….

chocolateAll signs point to a pretty terrifying future for the world if scientists’ warnings about climate change continue to fall on deaf ears. But now, it looks like our inability to address climate change adequately might cost us one of the world’s most pure, innocent, and wonderful pleasures: chocolate.

According to Barry Callebaut Group, the world’s largest chocolate manufacturing company, our growing love for chocolate might mean “a potential cocoa shortage by 2020.” But the shortage isn’t just about the world going crazy for chocolate — it also has a lot to do with climate change…. Higher temperatures mean that more water evaporates into the air from leaves and earth, leaving less behind for cocoa trees — a process called “evapotranspiration.”
Salon, 20 Nov 2014

thanks to Peter

climate change causes mixed metaphors!

Commenting on the report, United States Secretary of State John Kerry said: “This is yet another wake-up call. Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire. This is science, these are facts, and action is our only option.”

“If this isn’t an alarm bell, then I don’t know what one is. If ever there were an issue that demanded greater cooperation, partnership, and committed diplomacy, this is it.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Sep 2013

one of the four horsemen gets a run!

4_horsemenUp to 300,000 Australians on average may annually be exposed to the dengue virus by 2020, and between 600,000 and 1.4 million by 2050, according to climate change predictions finalised yesterday by global scientists. CSIRO climate change scientist Kevin Hennessy, a lead author on the report’s Australian chapter, was in Brussels for behind-closed-doors talks to finalise the summary.

This should help governments, industries and the community to begin planning responses to climate change, Mr Hennessy said. “But there are likely to be considerable cost and institutional constraints (on finding solutions) … Water security and coastal communities are the most vulnerable sectors.”
The Age(Australia), 7 Apr 2007

missed it by that much!

Last year a series of lakes formed on the vast body of ice that covers most of Greenland. Acting like a lubricant, the water quickly made its way to the base of the ice sheet, forcing giant slabs of ice to rise, then slide into the ocean. The speed at which the ice broke off shocked many scientists.

“We used to think that it would take 10,000 years for melting at the surface of an ice sheet to penetrate down to the bottom. Now we know it doesn’t take 10,000 years; it takes 10 seconds,” says Richard Alley, a professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University.
Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Feb 2007

surprise, surprise!

Carbon offsets. The way this works is that you pay someone else to take action – by planting trees or investing in renewable energy sources – that will reduce greenhouse gases. That action acts as a proxy for your own emission cuts.

However, research by the University of NSW found many of the carbon certificates issued don’t represent additional cuts in emissions. In other words, some firms are being rewarded for doing things they would have done regardless of the financial incentive offered by the scheme.

For example, government agency, Forests NSW, generates certificates from its forests and sells the certificates to offset companies who then sell them to the public. But Forest NSW hasn’t planted any additional trees.
Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Mar 2007 – screen copy held by this website

ban trees, plants and soil!

Scientists at Bristol University in Britain say a recent surge in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is due to green house gas escaping from trees, plants and soils.

Global warming was making vegetation less able to absorb carbon pumped out by humans, such a shift could worsen predictions of the UN’s panel on Climate Change, which has warned there is less than a decade in which to tackle emissions to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

Measurements of carbon dioxide in air samples show unusually high levels in four of the past five years.
The Sydney Sun Herald, 13 May 2007 – screen copy held by this website

help the helmeted honeyeater!

Drought could be threatening Victoria’s state bird emblem, the endangered helmeted honeyeater, with research showing a “significant correlation” between declining rainfall and reduced egg laying.

Bruce Quin, the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s field ornithologist for the helmeted honeyeater, agreed the future of the Victorian bird looked grim. He said the number of breeding pairs at Yellingbo — 50 kilometres east of Melbourne — had fallen to a record low of 11 in the past breeding season, compared with 15 in 1989-90.
The Age (Australia), 20 Apr 2007

over the top

Australia needs a new “industrial revolution” to come up with an effective strategy against global warming, the Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery, will tell one of the country’s largest unions this week.

He will tell members of the Autralian Workers Union that climate change has occurred so quickly that the Government needs to think of it as like going to war.

While stopping short of endorsing either party, Professor Falannery’s speech tomorrow says: “We need a government willing to truly lead on the issue, one willing to get on a war footing, and willing to dip into our surplus to help fund a new industrial revolution that will give Australia’s industry and environment a new lease of life.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Feb 2007 – screen copy held by this website

sounds greenish to me

lightbulbThe inefficient standard light bulb could be phased out within three years to save up to 800,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The federal Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is expected today to announce a commitment to phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2009-10, a world first by a national government.

Colin Goldman, the head of Nelson Industries, a lighting importer, supported the move. Mr Goldman said compact fluorescent bulbs were available that emitted a range of light. “You can get warm white, which is a yellowish light, or natural, which is white, or day-light, which is more blueish.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Feb 2007

a wake up call

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects significant disruption to coffee production as the planet warms.

While some places might become more suitable to grow coffee as the planet warms, the drafts say that in many cases suitable growing land will contract significantly with 2 to 2.5 degrees of warming. An overall decline in good coffee growing areas by 2050 was found in all countries studied.
Sydney Morning Herald, 31 Mar 2014

damselfish in distress!

A study from scientists at James Cook University shows increased carbon dioxide levels impaired the senses of spiny damselfish, which live in the Great Barrier Reef.

Fish exposed to higher carbon dioxide levels – which are expected to increase in the oceans for several decades – showed impaired cognitive function, learning difficulties, slowed visual capacity and altered sense of smell and sound.

The damselfish also lose their ability to recognise threats, including the smells of predators when exposed to higher levels of carbon dioxide – and will even become attracted to them instead. Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Oct 2014

more tipping points

An average global temperature rise of 7.2F (4C), considered a dangerous tipping point, could happen by 2060, causing droughts around the world, sea level rises and the collapse of important ecosystems.

The Arctic could see an increase in temperatures of 28.8F (16C), while parts of sub Saharan Africa and North America would be devastated by an increase in temperature of up to 18F (10C).

Britain’s temperature would rise by the average 7.2F (4C) which would mean Mediterranean summers and an extended growing season for new crops like olives, vines and apricots.

However deaths from heat waves will increase, droughts and floods would become more common, diseases like malaria may spread to Britain and climate change refugees from across the world are likely to head to the country.

Dr Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, said the new study showed how important it was to try and reduce emissions.

The Telegraph (UK), 27 Sep 2009

like cats on a hot tin roof

When Kristina Vesk started working at the Cat Protection Society of NSW in 2006, she rarely saw kittens in winter. Now warmer weather means cats are breeding all year round, increasing the numbers of unwanted kittens and the threat to native wildlife from strays and feral cats.

Ms Vesk, the society’s chief executive, said there used to be weeks from June to September when the shelter saw very few, if any, kittens. But with the climate changing and temperatures rising, it seems cats are increasingly on heat.

“For the past three years, I don’t think we’ve experienced a full week at any time of year where we don’t have at least a couple of kittens in our care,” Ms Vesk said. “Kitten ‘season’ has grown longer and longer as we keep having … enough warm and sunny days in winter that make cats think it’s a good time to start breeding.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 8 Feb 2016

thanks to ddh

dog day afternoons

Leading pet behaviourists told The Independent that the number of depressed and unsettled dogs they have seen in recent months is unprecedented. And they suggested that the spate of wet winters could be at the root of the problem, as owners cut down on the daily walks that are crucial to keeping dogs’ spirits up.

“I’ve been working with dogs for more than 20 years and I can’t remember a time when they’ve been this bored. I tend to see boredom in bursts but I’m seeing it chronically this winter,” said Carolyn Menteith, a dog behaviourist who was named Britain’s Instructor of the Year in 2015.

She – like many scientists and meteorologists – puts this down to climate change and expects to see more bored dogs in the future as global warming unleashes increasingly frequent and intense bouts of winter rainfall.
The Independent, 5 Feb 2016

thanks to ddh

if you try hard enough everything can be about climate change

“Scholars increasingly recognize the magnitude of human impacts on planet Earth, some are even ready to define a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene,” said anthropologist and fire expert Christopher I. Roos, an associate professor at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and a co-author on the research.

“But it is an open question as to when that epoch began,” said Roos. “One argument suggests that indigenous population collapse in the Americas resulted in a reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of forest regrowth in the early colonial period. Until now the evidence has been fairly ambiguous. Our results indicate that high-resolution chronologies of human populations, forests and fires are needed to evaluate these claims.”

“A contentious issue in American Indian history, scientists and historians for decades have debated how many Native Americans died and when it occurred. With awareness of global warming and interdisciplinary interest in the possible antiquity of the Anthropocene, resolution of that debate may now be relevant for contemporary human-caused environmental problems,” Roos said.

SMU Research, 25 Jan 2016

thanks to ddh

koalas the new canary in the coalmine?

The koala could soon be even more endangered than at present, if it turns out that climate change alters the nutritional value of the only food it can eat—Eucalypt leaves.

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Neilson from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences from University of Copenhagen has received a $5 million grant from the Villum Young Investigator Program for the search of how the chemical structure of the leaves is disrupted.

“We are going to investigate how two distinct results of climate change, drought and elevated CO2 levels, affect the balance between nutrient and toxicant content of the Eucalypt leaves and how this affects the Koala. Eucalypt leaves are highly toxic and the koala needs to sleep or rest for 20 hours a day to efficiently detoxify the poisonous components and gain sufficient energy from their diet.”

“Therefore, the huge amount of energy spent on detoxification is only just about made up by the nutritional value. Any shift in the eucalypt chemistry caused by climate changes may alter the balance of nutritional value and toxicity, and impact koala survival”, says Assistant Professor Elizabeth Neilson.

Phys.org, 3 Feb 2016

thanks to ddh

smaller babblers and warblers

Australian birds are getting smaller and global warming is probably to blame, new research suggests.

Chief researcher Janet Gardner, from the ANU’s research school of biology, said the results reflected that animals tended to be smaller in warmer climates.

Dr Gardner said the extent of change in the south-eastern Australian species examined, including the grey-crowned babbler, hooded robin and speckled warbler, was surprising.
Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Aug 2009