worse than we thought – solar energy!

We are all seeing rather less of the Sun. Scientists looking at five decades of sunlight measurements have reached the disturbing conclusion that the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface has been gradually falling.

Paradoxically, the decline in sunlight may mean that global warming is a far greater threat to society than previously thought. The effect was first spotted by Gerry Stanhill, an English scientist working in Israel. Comparing Israeli sunlight records from the 1950s with current ones, Stanhill was astonished to find a large fall in solar radiation.

“There was a staggering 22% drop in the sunlight, and that really amazed me,” he says.

BBC Radio, 14 Jan 2005

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

worse than we thought – global warming!

The latest scientific research indicates global warming is happening faster then recent United Nations reports projected, while China and India’s rapid economic growth means carbon emissions are rising quicker than expected, a Labor-backed panel into climate change has heard.

Summer in the northern hemisphere over the past century had extended 12 days, but in some areas, such as northern Norway, it was about six weeks longer, said Graeme Pearman, former chief of the CSIRO’s atmospheric research.

“This is not something that’s affecting people in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time. It’s now,” he said. “The recent science has strengthened the concern that we may have underestimated the rate of change.”

The Age (Australia), 15 Nov 2007 – screen copy held by this website

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

a shadow of their former selves

Songbirds in the US are getting smaller, and climate change is suspected as the cause. A study of almost half a million birds, belonging to over 100 species, shows that many are gradually becoming lighter and growing shorter wings.

This shrinkage has occurred within just half a century, with the birds thought to be evolving into a smaller size in response to warmer temperatures.

Dr Josh Van Buskirk of the University of Zurich, Switzerland and colleagues Mr Robert Mulvihill and Mr Robert Leberman of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Rector, Pennsylvania, US decided to evaluate the sizes of hundreds of thousands of birds that pass through the Carnegie Museum’s Powdermill ringing station, also in Pennsylvania.

But some species are losing more weight. For example, the rose-breasted grosbeak has declined in mass by about 4%, while the Kentucky warbler has dropped 3.3% in weight and the scarlet tanager 2.3%. The headline finding is that the body sizes of many species of North American birds, mostly songbirds, are gradually becoming smaller, says Dr Buskirk.

Heat Is Online – originally BBCNews.com, 13 Mar 2010

climate change causes swelled heads!

Jessica Ash and Gordon Gallup studied 109 fossilized skulls from different lattitudes to determine that “climate may have been an important selective force behind the evollution of human cranial capacity,” according to Gallup, who theorised that changes in global temperature could account for as much as 50 per cent of the variation in headmeat.

“Specifically we found that as the distance from the equator increased, north or south, so did brain size,” he said.

The researchers will publish their study in the spring edition of Human Nature.

Wired, 22 Mar 2007

UN climate conferences to end!

Car travel should be cut by 80%, road construction halted and public transport boosted if Australia is to meet carbon emission targets, energy experts have warned.

“The car is doomed,” Monash University associate professor Damon Honnery said, discussing the findings of a soon-to-be-published research paper, Mitigating Greenhouse: Limited Time Options, written with Dr Patrick Moriarty.

“People are going to have to fundamentally change the way they think about travel and make much more use of non-motorised travel such as cycling and walking.”

Dr Moriarty also believes there must be big reductions in air travel. “An overseas trip might become a once-in-a-lifetime experience rather than an annual event,” he said.

The Age (Australia), 3 Mar 2008 – screen copy held by this website

see also – action plan

an optimist speaks!

New research shows penguins will suffer in a warming world. But the important extension of this work is into the future.

The scientists took their current knowledge of penguin health and climate and asked what will happen to these penguins in the future. Since we do not have measurements in the future, the scientists used climate models.

These models are computer calculations of the actual climate that will exist in the future, and the calculations are based on our best understanding of how the climate system works.

Fortunately, climate models have an excellent history in predicting how the future will evolve.

I expect that now with the science of climate change settled (in the sense we know the climate is changing and we know humans are the main cause), scientists will turn their attention to impacts research.

Dr John Abraham, a professor of thermal sciences in The Guardian, 3 Aug 2016 – emphasis and underline by this website

thanks to ddh

a timely warning!

A climate researcher yesterday painted a dark picture of an inundated American coastline and the resulting economic impact should the west Antarctic ice sheet melt because of man-caused global warming within the next century.

“It is surely the most dramatic of the possible carbon-induced effects and its initiation cannot be ruled out as a possibility before the end of this century,” said Dr Stephen Schneider of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research at Boulder, Colo. in a report to a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Schneider and Robert Chen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology examined the implications of a 15 to 25 foot rise in ocean levels for the United States.

The nation’s coastline would change markedly. A 25-foot rise in sea level would submerge Savannah, Ga, Charleston S.C., four of the eight Virginia cities with populations over 100,000, one fourth of Delaware and portions of Washington, D.C.

The Palm Beach Post, 8 Jan 1979

thanks to Albert

the perils of climate science

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

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

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

“I don’t know of a single scientist that’s not having an emotional reaction to what is being lost,” Parmesan is quoted saying in the National Wildlife Federation’s 2012 report, “The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: And Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System is Not Adequately Prepared.”.

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

the English and the Swedes to fade out!

Olympic Athletes Challenged by New Opponent: Global Warming.

Marathon runners, swimmers, volleyball players and even soccer referees will succumb to extreme temperatures and lose concentration during the games, in some cases risking their lives to heatstroke, according to a report released Monday by Observatorio do Clima, a Brazilian civil society group.

“Because of warming, sport will never be the same again,” and fewer records than in previous games are likely to fall as a result, the report said.

The heat is likely to be painful for athletes from colder climates, says Brazilian tennis player Fernando Meligeni. He reckons European players won’t be used to the humidity, which will make them sweat more than usual.

“I believe that the English and the Swedish, for example, will fade out,” Meligeni said, according to the report.

Bloomberg, 8 Aug 2016

thanks to ddh

we feel your pain

Can you relate to this grieving process? If so, you might find solace in the fact that you are not alone: Climate science researchers, scientists, journalists and activists have all been struggling with grief around what we are witnessing.

Last year I wrote about the work of Joanna Macy, a scholar of Buddhism, eco-philosophy, general systems theory and deep ecology, and author of more than a dozen books.

Her initiative, The Work That Reconnects, helps people essentially do nothing more mysterious than telling the truth about what we see, know and feel is happening to our world.

In order to remain able to continue in our work, we first must feel the full pain of what is being done to the world, according to Macy.

“Refusing to feel pain, and becoming incapable of feeling the pain, which is actually the root meaning of apathy, refusal to suffer – that makes us stupid, and half alive,” she told me. “It causes us to become blind to see what is really out there.”

Heat Is Online – originally Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org. Jan 25, 2015

lemming numbers are falling off a cliff!

Climate change is bringing wetter winters to southern Norway, a bleak prospect for the region’s lemmings.

Scientists found that numbers of the animals no longer vary over a regular cycle, as they did until a decade ago; there are no more bumper years.

The snow is not stable enough, they think, to provide winter shelter. Writing in the journal Nature, the researchers suggest the lack of Norwegian lemmings is affecting other animals such as foxes and owls.

Heat Is Online – originally BBCNews, 6 Nov 2008

Batman, Superman, etc, not needed!

In a recent study published in The Journal of Industrial Ecology, researchers at the Center for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey in England estimated the annual carbon footprint of crime in England and Wales, and found that reducing crime could actually cause society’s overall carbon footprint of society to increase.

While there is an energy cost to operating prisons, the study notes, inmates generally consume less than an average citizen in the country, so fewer prisoners might mean higher overall energy consumption.

Additionally, the money saved from reducing crime would go into the government’s budget and people’s pockets. All that money could be spent in other ways — infrastructure, buildings or goods — that may require more energy to produce or operate, possibly adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

New York Times, 3 Aug 2016

thanks to ddh

climate change causes increase in bad writing!

The language of ice in Antarctica gains clarity at about 500 feet up. It’s from here, glimpsed through the just open tailgate of a low-flying aircraft, that the nuance of its vocabulary, baffling in the scientific reports, may be heard.

The soft fragility of the floes, a translucent crust over the bays. The booming magificence of a glacier, its echo extending to an ice shelf that calves icebergs into the sea. Isolated islands of ice, their ballast glowing emerald green under the water, pushing loudly into the subdued scatter of pack ice.

Screaming cravasses fracturing the ice sheet, revealing unfathomable blue in its depths. The dynamics of the forces creating all this continues to confound scientists, who are now scrambling to translate and explain the language of ice even as it seems to find new and troubling expressions.

Jo Chandler, the Age (Australia), 21 Jan 2008 – screen copy held by this website

worse than we thought – animal extinctions!

Climate change over the next 50 years is expected to drive a quarter of land animals and plants into extinction, according to the first comprehensive study into the effect of higher temperatures on the natural world.

The sheer scale of the disaster facing the planet shocked those involved in the research. They estimate that more than 1 million species will be lost by 2050. The results are described as “terrifying” by Chris Thomas, professor of conservation biology at Leeds University.

Professor Thomas said: “When scientists set about research they hope to come up with definite results, but what we found we wish we had not. It was far, far worse than we thought, and what we have discovered may even be an underestimate.”

The Guardian, 9 Jan 2004

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

don’t tread on a sheep!

Sheep living on a remote island off the coast of Scotland have been shrinking for 20 years. Now it seems shorter winters caused by climate change are responsible.

Soay sheep are a primitive breed of domestic sheep, which live on the island of Hirta, in the St Kilda archipelago, without human interference. From 1955 onwards, the population has been closely studied.

Over the last 20 years, the average size of the sheep has been getting smaller, but it has been unclear why – particularly as natural selection would tend to drive the development of bigger bodies.

Kaustuv Roy, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California San Diego, who was not involved in the study, is impressed. “Their results are really useful, because they tease apart the different processes. It’s a really nice study,” he says.

New Scientist, 2 Jul 2009

worse than we thought – Antarctic ice!

Antarctic ice thawing faster than predicted.

Chris Rapley, the outgoing head of the British Antarctic Survey, said there were worrying signs of accelerating flows of ice towards the ocean from both Antarctica and Greenland with little sign of more snow falling inland to compensate.

The ice is moving faster both in Greenland and in the Antarctic than the glaciologists had believed would happen, Rapley told Reuters during a climate seminar in Ny Alesund on a Norwegian Arctic island 1,200 km from the North Pole.

Reuters, 22 Aug 2007

worse than we thought – impacts!

Global warming is driving humanity toward unprecedented risks, a United Nations scientific panel reports, warning that the changes have only just begun, with the worst effects hitting the earth’s poorest people the hardest.

“Things are worse than we had predicted in 2007, when the group of scientists last issued this type of report,” said report co-author Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at Independent University in Bangladesh. “We are going to see more and more impacts, faster and sooner than we had anticipated.”

al Jazeera America, 31 Mar 2014

the golden-winged warbler saves the day!

Birds appear to be able to sense a coming storm and fly away before it hits, according to research on golden-winged warblers in the United States.

”It’s the first time we’ve documented this type of storm avoidence behaviour in birds during breeding season,” said ecologist Henry Streby at the University of California.

“There’s growing research that shows that tornadoes are becoming more common and severe with climate change, so evasive actions like the one the warbler took might become more than necessary.” said Streby.

Illawarra Mercury, 20 Dec 2014 – screen copy held by this website

we’re going to need more psychologists!

Climate change will have significant negative impacts on Americans’ health and psychological well-being, due to an increase in the frequency and severity of climate-related natural disasters and other climate-related changes in the environment and weather.

Likely effects, which will increase as climate change’s physical impacts accelerate, include stress, anxiety, depression and a loss of community identity, says a new report from the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica.

Climate change is also likely to result in an increase in post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions because of the rise in the number and severity of natural disasters, according to the report. Climate change could also lead to increased feelings of loss and helplessness if individuals and communities are forced to relocate.

“The striking thing is how these effects will permeate so many aspects of our daily lives,” said Norman B. Anderson, PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association.

news-medical, 10 Jun 2014

biggest challenge ever faced!

Britain’s chief scientist, Sir David King, said the report indicated “that if we don’t take global action … we will be faced with the kind of downturn that has not been seen since the Great Depression and the two world wars”.

“If you look at sea level rises alone, and the impact that will have on global economies where cities are becoming inundated by flooding … this will cause the displacement of hundreds of millions of people,” he said.

“In my view, this is the biggest challenge our global political system has ever been faced with. We’ve never been faced with a decision where collective decision-making is required by all major countries … around risks to their populations that are well outside the time period of any electoral process.”

The International Energy Agency predicts that $US15 trillion ($20 trillion) of investment in new energy sources will be required during the next 15 years. The massive investment program that’s ahead of us is an opportunity for us to move towards a zero carbon energy system.

“The investment process is going to act quite possibly in the opposite direction to an economic downturn,” Sir David said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Oct 2006

worse than we thought – temperature!

Climate change may be far worse than scientists thought, causing global temperatures to rise by at least 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, or about 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Nature, takes a fresh look at clouds’ effect on the planet, according to a report by The Guardian. The research found that as the planet heats, fewer sunlight-reflecting clouds form, causing temperatures to rise further in an upward spiral.

“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,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said after the IPCC report was released.

Huffington Post, 1 Jan 2014

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

extinction ahead!

The Earth is warming so rapidly that unless humans can arrest the trend, we risk becoming “extinct” as a species, a leading Australian health academic has warned.

Helen Berry, associate dean in the faculty of health at the University of Canberra, said while the Earth has been warmer and colder at different points in the planet’s history, the rate of change has never been as fast as it is today.

“What is remarkable, and alarming, is the speed of the change since the 1970s, when we started burning a lot of fossil fuels in a massive way,” she said. “We can’t possibly evolve to match this rate [of warming] and, unless we get control of it, it will mean our extinction eventually.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 31 Mar 2014

worse than we thought – sea ice loss!

Meanwhile, sea ice in the Arctic reached a record low this year, covering just 1.59 million square miles and thus shattering the previous 2005 minimum of 2.05 million square miles. The observed rate of loss is faster than anything predicted, says senior research scientist Mark Serreze of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.
Scientific American, 26 Nov 2007

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

sounds more like the description of a tax collector

As we worry about the ability of some species to run from climate change and escape extinction, ticks, mosquitoes, kissing bugs, and the parasites they carry may thrive under climate change.

Where will these crawling and flying disease carriers move? And who will be at risk for what were once called tropical diseases?

A forest nymph brushing against a hiker doesn’t begin to drink blood immediately. She crawls across the skin, searching for a comfortable dinner spot.

She grips her prey with spindly legs and uses knife-like mouthparts to slice into human skin. She secretes cement around the wound, binding herself to her host, and then begins to imbibe.

Once attached, this offspring of a changing climate can’t be simply brushed off.

statnews.com, 1 Jul 2016

thanks to ddh

funding needed!

Reproductive efficiency has suffered a dramatic decrease since the mid-1980s despite rapid worldwide progress in genetics and management of high producing dairy herds.

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

Further studies should try to establish the effect of global warming at the farm level. This problem is reflected with warm summers and even with peaks of temperatures in winter.

Science 2.0, 5 Sep 2007

catastrophe has come and gone

Climate change is real and urgent, and Australia must have emissions trading in place in 2010 or face a catastrophe.

That’s the message from the nation’s top climate change adviser Ross Garnaut, who is sticking to his guns on the need for drastic action to counter global warming. He said failing to act on climate change would end up decimating the economy and the environment.

“With unmitigated climate change, on the basis of the mainstream science, we won’t have much, if any, of the Great Barrier Reef, of Kakadu.”

The Age (Australia), 4 Jul 2008

watch your step

Scientists were baffled last July when they discovered three giant holes in the ground in the Yamal Peninsula in northern Siberia. Now, with the help of satellite imagery, researchers have located four additional craters–and they believe there may be dozens more in the region.

The leading theory is that the holes were created by gas explosions triggered by underground heat or by rising air temperatures associated with climate change, the Siberian Times reported last December.

Huffington Post, 23 Feb 2015

thanks to Andrew Mark Harding

worse than we thought – Climate sensitivity to CO2!

Climate change is likely to be worse than many computer models have projected, according to a new analysis. The work, published yesterday in Science, finds evidence that Earth’s climate is more sensitive to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than some earlier studies had suggested.

“Temperatures are likely to go up to the high side of current projections, as is [atmospheric] water vapor,” said John Fasullo, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “To the extent those environmental impacts influence events like [Superstorm] Sandy, expect the impacts to be on the high side.”

Scientific American, 9 Nov 2012

bigger waves

………………………………….

Big waves are energetically costly for fish, and there are more big waves than ever. The good news is that fish might be able to adapt.

“There has been a lot of recent work in oceanography documenting the fact that waves are becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change,” says Mr Dominique Roche, PhD candidate from the Jennions Lab at the Research School of Biology. “The habitats that fish live in are changing.”

Australian National University, Research School of Biology 3 Feb 2014

worse than we thought – ocean circulation!

Michael Mann: We do suspect that this ocean circulation pattern not only could slow down, there is evidence now… that it’s already happening and it’s happening faster than the models predicted it to.
Thom Hartmann: Which is bad news.
Michael Mann: Yeah.
Faster Than Expected, 13 Oct 2015

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

come hell or high ….

desert

Right now, the 3.6 million people living in Melbourne have more water than they need, with 71 billion litres set aside in half-full rivers and dams for whenever we feel like turning on a tap. But not for much longer.

By 2030, another 800,000 people are expected to squeeze into Melbourne’s sprawling suburbs. Quenching their thirst – not to mention keeping them clean – will take another 53 billion litres of water. So far the equation doesn’t look bad.

But then comes the big subtraction, climate change, which CSIRO scientists have forecast will make the city hotter and drier in the decades ahead. That means that unless we change the way we live, by 2030 Melbourne will be facing a 55 billion litre shortfall.

The Age (Australia), 21 Apr 2006 – screen copy held by this website

more insects

………………………………….

A rise in the Earth’s temperature could lead to an increase in the number of insects worldwide, with potentially dire consequences for humans, a new study suggests.

New research shows that insect species living in warmer areas are more likely to undergo rapid population growth because they have higher metabolic rates and reproduce more frequently. The consequences could be more serious than just a few extra bug bites each summer.

“If they’re crop species, we could count on needing to use more pesticides and it could be very costly,” said Melanie Frazier, a doctoral student at the University of Washington and lead author of the study.

Live Science, 4 Nov 2006

less insects

“If you want to know how organisms react to climate change, it is important to find out how insects react to climate change,” said Dr. Jessica Hellmann, conservation biologist at the University of Notre Dame, explaining that most of the multicellular living organisms in our world are insects.

Yet, currently these invertebrates have become the hidden sufferers of global warming. As cold blooded organisms, insects cannot regulate their own body temperatures, making them particularly sensitive to climate change.
The Epoch Times, 20 Sep 2009
………………………………….

Yes, we have no ……

The world’s supply of bananas is under threat from plagues of bugs and fungal infections which could be disastrous if they continue to spread, researchers say. The government in Costa Rica, one of the biggest suppliers of the fruit, has already declared a “national emergency” over the state of its crop.

Magda Gonzalez, the director of the agriculture ministry’s State Phytosanitary Services (SFE), told The Tico Times last week that climate change had boosted insect populations in recent years, making plagues increasingly likely across the world. “I can tell you with near certainty that climate change is behind these pests,” she said.

The Independent, 16 Dec 2013

worse than we thought – heatwaves in Australia!

The government has been urged to better articulate the dangers of climate change after a report that shows the frequency of heatwaves in parts of Australia has already surpassed levels previously predicted for 2030.

The Climate Council report highlights that Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra all experienced a higher average number of hot days between 2000 and 2009 than was expected to occur by 2030. Tim Flannery, of the Climate Council, told Guardian Australia that heatwaves were the “most dangerous natural hazards in Australia”.

“They kill hundreds of people and the fact they are accelerating beyond the predicted trends is a concern,” he said.

“Heatwaves are coming earlier, they are lasting longer and they are hotter. They build up for days and before you know it, elderly people, infants and the homeless are in danger.”

The Guardian, 18 Feb 2014

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

worse than we thought – glaciers in Greenland!

The study—written by James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist, and 16 co-authors, many of whom are considered among the top in their fields—concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years.

The implications are mindboggling: In the study’s likely scenario, New York City—and every other coastal city on the planet—may only have a few more decades of habitability left. That dire prediction, in Hansen’s view, requires “emergency cooperation among nations.”

The Slate, 20 Jul 2015

straight from the ……

small_horse

After they first appeared in the fossil record, horses got smaller as a result of a warming planet, says a study just published in Science.

“Horses started out small, about the size of a small dog like a miniature schnauzer,” said co-author Jonathan Bloch, associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.

“What’s surprising is that after they first appeared, they then became even smaller and then dramatically increased in size, and that exactly corresponds to the global warming event, followed by cooling.”

“It had been known that mammals were small during that time and that it was warm, but we hadn’t understood that temperature specifically was driving the evolution of body size.”

Grist, 23 Feb 2012

worse than we thought – Arctic sea ice!

Summer Arctic sea ice shrank to its fourth lowest level on record this month, dispelling faint hopes of a recovery, federal scientists said.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center announced Tuesday that the Arctic hit its summer minimum last week with 1.7 million square miles of sea ice, down 240,000 square miles from 2014. That’s a difference the size of California, New York and Maryland combined.

That means there’s no recovery in Arctic sea ice, despite claims of some climate change doubters, said Stroeve and Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasn’t part of the government measurement team.

“We remain on a trajectory that is actually ahead of model predictions,” Mann said. “Arctic sea ice is one of several aspects of climate change that his happening even faster than originally predicted.”

Chicago Tribune, 15 Sep 2015

Ban plants!

The surprising discovery that plants may be responsible for up to 30 per cent of the world’s methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, is no reason to stop planting forests, a scientist has warned.

A team led by Frank Keppler, of Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Germany, found that living plants emit 10 to 1000 times more of the gas than decaying matter. And plants increase their methane emissions when warmed by the sun, it was found.

Plants have long been seen as weapons against global warming because they absorb another greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.

It’s a surprise, said David Etheridge of the CSIRO’s Marine and Atmospheric Research division. “You think you know everything.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Jan 2006

jelly balls to the rescue!

Vast numbers of marine “jelly balls” now appearing off the Australian east coast could be part of the planet’s mechanism for combating global warming.

The jellyfish-like animals are known as salps and their main food is phytoplankton (marine algae) which absorbs the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the top level of the ocean. This in turn comes from the atmosphere.

Mark Baird of the CSIRO said salps were notoriously difficult for scientists to study in the laboratory and consequently little attention has been paid to their ecological role until recently.

Dr Baird was part of a CSIRO and University of NSW marine survey last month that found a massive abundance of salps in the waters around Sydney. They were up to 10 times what they were when first surveyed 70 years ago.

Brisbane Times, 17 Nov 2008

a socially isolated cow

cow

CSIRO research shows methane is more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide in causing global warming.

Each year, cattle generate about 100 million tonnes of the gas, which is generated by micro-organisms in the cow’s stomach. NSW Agriculture’s research at Tocal Agricultural College showed one cow produced about 100 grams of methane a day, or about 10 to 15 per cent of the energy they digested, and that most was expelled from the cow’s mouth rather than its rear.

“Genetic variations enable some animals to better convert feed to body weight,” Dr Autin said. “More efficient feeding produces less methane.”

Newscastle Herald, 7 Jan 2006 – screen copy held by this website

worse than we thought – financial cost!

How much is climate change going to cost us? Estimates have varied greatly over the years, from the Stern Review’s worst-case scenario of around 20 percent of the global GDP, to economist William Nordhaus’s vastly smaller number.

A new study, however, suggests a much higher cost than many have estimated—largely, it turns out, because economists hadn’t been looking at the issue in sufficient detail.

The problem, argues a team of Princeton University researchers led by Francis Dennig, is that accounting for regional differences in discounting likely masks the effects of substantial within-region variation in income.

Pacific Standard, 8 Dec 2015

worse than we thought – carbon storage!

Climate Change Models Will Need Revision. The amount of greenhouse gasses stored in the area which the researchers examined, 117 sites across North America, is “roughly equivalent to one sixth of the entire carbon content in the atmosphere.”

Again, that is just for North America: European and Asian Arctic regions probably hold a similar amount of stored carbon. So what that means is basically that a lot more climate change causing gases will be released into the atmosphere as the arctic warms and the permafrost melts than we’ve accounted for before.

Treehugger, 26 Aug 2008

keep off the grass!

In Australia, where 11 million cattle range in Queensland alone, this call for livestock reform has been a whisper on the edges of the greenhouse debate. I became interested after reading a letter by animal rights activist Geoff Russell to climate-change campaigner Tim Flannery.

In his letter, Russell quotes climate scientist James Hansen, who says meat reduction is the second-most important thing one can do to combat climate change (the most important is to elect a government committed to action). Russell then quotes the CSIRO, who “have tested Australian cattle on grass and grain – those on grass produce about three times more methane”.

Could this be true? Could a fat corn-fed cow be better for the environment than one allowed to range over grass?

Sydney Morning Herald, 17 Feb 2009

worse than we thought – ocean warming!

People are already familiar with the idea of global warming, but new data shows that we might be underestimating just how fast global warming is taking place right now.

Paul Durack and his colleagues from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have come to the conclusion that estimates of ocean warming for the southern hemisphere have been miscalculated; the actual number could actually more than double than originally thought.

This means that in total, the world’s oceans are actually around 24 to 58 percent warmer than thought.

GMA News online, 6 Oct 2014

worse than we thought – sea levels!

Anny Cazenave of France’s National Center for Space Studies told the meeting that improved satellite measurements show that sea levels are rising faster than had been expected.

Rising oceans can pose a threat to low level areas such as South Florida, New York and other coastal areas as the ocean warms and expands and as water is added from melting ice sheets.

And the rise is uneven, with the fastest rising areas at about 1 centimeter _ 0.39 inch _ per year in parts of the North Atlantic, western Pacific and the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, she said.

Huffington Post, 17 Mar 2009

in search of the secetive chestnut rail

Stephen Garnett, a professor of tropical knowledge at Charles Darwin University believes global warming will herald stronger and more frequent cyclones and, as habitats change, life forms will fight for space or even existence.

Consider the chestnut rail, a secretive bird whose ginger body and green beak make it prettier than it sounds – a raucous “wack waka, wah-wah”, alternated with grunts – and once common on Marchinbar Island, about 640 kilometres north-east of Darwin.

Since Cyclone Monica swept through, in April last year, the chestnut rail has been nowhere to be seen on the island.

Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Nov 2007

flat as a …

pancakes

It may be a bit harder to drown your pancakes in maple syrup in the future, studies suggest.

According to a 2010 Cornell University study, “maple syrup production in the Northeast is expected to slightly decline by 2100, and the window for tapping trees will move earlier by about a month.”

Additionally, most maple syrup production south of Pennsylvania “will likely be lost by 2100 due to lack of freezing.”

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

worse than we thought – risk!

The most comprehensive modeling yet carried out on the likelihood of how much hotter the Earth’s climate will get in this century shows that without rapid and massive action, the problem will be about twice as severe as previously estimated six years ago – and could be even worse than that.

Study co-author Ronald Prinn, the co-director of the Joint Program and director of MIT’s Center for Global Change Science, says that, regarding global warming, it is important “to base our opinions and policies on the peer-reviewed science,” he says Without action, “there is significantly more risk than we previously estimated,” Prinn says. “This increases the urgency for significant policy action.”

MT News, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 19 May 2009

…but can new wine be put in new bottles?

World wine producers face rising challenges from global warming and soaring fuel costs but any price increases will be bearable, the head of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine said yesterday.

More efficient producers, who find how to produce better wine even with rising costs, will be the winners, Frederico Castellucci said shortly after being re-elected director-general at the organistion’s congress, where 44 countries were represented.

Solutions being researched including lighter bottles and other packaging such as boxes, increased competition and cost-saving efforts could speed the trend to bigger plots, he said.

The Sun Herald (Australia), 22 Jun 2008 – screen copy held by this website

worse than we thought – pollution impact!

An independent climate change report has found pollution’s impact on global warming is worse than previously predicted. The University of Melbourne study was commissioned by The Climate Institute.

It found temperature rises and ice cap melting are occurring faster than the worst-case scenarios predicted by the United Nations. The Climate Institute’s John Connor says the predictions of dangerous temperature rises for Australia are alarming.

“A rise of three degrees above pre-industrial levels for Australia will be disastrous,” he said. “It’ll see increased droughts, wildfires affecting our capital cities and it will also put at risk the Greenland ice sheets and some of the Antarctic ice sheets which are the real biggies in terms of sea level rises if they slip into the oceans.”

yourdemocracy.net.au, 9 Oct 2007

mound-building Mallee fowl takes a hit!

For nearly 20 years, Joe Benshemensh has been monitoring the mound-building Mallee fowl, trying to discern what’s killing them off, and whether they have a future.

“If climate change is a reality then the prognosis is dire. On the other hand, they have a geographic range that gives us some hope they won’t be eliminated, just take a severe hit. Our big challenge is to modify the monitoring program, to actively preserve them.”

The Sunday Age (Australia), 1 Jun 2008 – screen copy held by this website

worse than we thought – tides!

Global sea levels have risen faster than previously thought over the past century, suggesting that climate change is having a greater than expected impact on the rising oceans, a study has found.

Previously, researchers gathered tide gauge records from around the world, averaged them together from different regions and then averaged those rates together again to create a global estimate, said Dr Eric Morrow of Harvard University.

“But these simple averages aren’t representative of a true global mean value. Tide gauges are located along the coasts, therefore large areas of the ocean aren’t being included in these estimates and the records that do exist commonly have large gaps,” he said.
Independent, 15 Jan 2015

true believers rocked!

“It’s time to get over big government. I know most Australians did so aeons ago but a few hold-outs, such as myself, kept the faith.

The Government’s wimpish response to the crisis of climate change has rocked the faith of the true believers. We can’t wait any longer for government to provide leadership, the price signals and incentives push us towards a simpler life.

If the planet is to be saved it will have to start at the bottom, with people deciding to change the way they live. People power, we can only hope will embolden the Government to do the right thing.

It would seem that whatever personal action we take to reduce our carbon footprint – buy a hybrid car, install solar heating, give up meat – will be negated by a Chinese family now rich enough to buy its first car and first fridge, who will replace the carbon dioxide we have virtuously reduced.”

Adele Horin, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Jul 2008 – screen copy held by this website

human civilisation threatened!

Zoe Rogers warns that, at this very moment, the fate of life on Earth hangs in the balance.

A member of Climate Action Newcastle, Ms Rogers said carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was already too high at 387 parts per million and levels were increasing at an alarmong rate.

“According to eminent climate scientists such as NASA’s James Hansen, current business as usual greenhouse gas emissions would result in an increase of more than six degrees by 2100. Under this scenario, the damage to the planet would be irreversible, with the majority of species wiped out and human civilisation threatened.”

Newcastle Herald (Australia), 22 Nov2008 – screen copy held by this website

worse than we thought – ice sheet decay!

NASA scientists are now warning that recent projections seem too conservative: Since 1992, sea levels have increased by an average of 3 inches around the world.

Three years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that by 2100 sea levels could rise 28 to 98 centimeters (11 to 38 inches), depending on the volumes of greenhouse gases emitted.

“We’ve never seen anything on that scale before,” says Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “I was in awe.”

“The IPCC projections produce conservative scenarios of ice-sheet decay, because those models do not yet include the fast melt [of ice] into the ocean that would prevail during times of rapid or catastrophic ice sheet retreat,”

National Geographic, 27 Aug 2015

time is up for sheep and cattle!

In his report on climate change released at the beginning of the month, Professor Garnaut said that the price of beef and land would soar to a point where only wealthy households could afford beef.

Citing research, he said kangaroo meat “Could again become important” and that if a way to reduce methane emissions from livestock wasn’t found, 7 million cattle and 36 million sheep could be replaced by 175 million farmed kangaroos.

Kangaroos produce no methane, and the other environmental benefit is that kangaroos have soft feet, which means less damage to the land and less soil erosion compared to sheep and cattle.

Newcastle Herald (Australia), 15 Oct 2008 – screen copy held by this website

worse than we thought – Albatross nests

Climate Change May Swallow Albatross’ Nesting Grounds Sooner Than We Thought. Bigger storms caused by rising seas will flood seabird nests long before their colonies are actually submerged—and albatrosses may be too stubborn to adapt. All of which adds up to trouble for the birds—and soon.

“When you include the storm wave piece on top of the sea level rise piece, the impacts happen a lot earlier,” says Nat Seavy, research director of bird conservation non-profit Point Blue (he was not involved in the research). “And sea level rise is happening even faster than predicted, which means that these impacts will happen even sooner.”

Audubon, 8 Oct 2015

hot enough to fry an egg!

In 50 years, summers across most of the globe could regularly be hotter than any summer experienced so far by people alive today, according to a study by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

If climate change continues on its current trajectory, the probability that any summer between 2061 and 2080 will be warmer than the hottest on record is 80 percent across the world’s land areas, excluding Antarctica, which was not studied.

If greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, however, that probability drops to 41 percent, according to the study.

“Extremely hot summers always pose a challenge to society,” said NCAR scientist Flavio Lehner, lead author of the study. “They can increase the risk for health issues, but can also damage crops and deepen droughts. Such summers are a true test of our adaptability to rising temperatures.”

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “Future summers could regularly be hotter than the hottest on record.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2016

thanks to David Mulberry

worse than we thought – catastrophic damages!

The world is now on track to experience more catastrophic damages from climate change than in the worst-case scenario forecast by international experts, scientists have warned.

The research, published in a prestigious US science journal, shows that between 2000 and 2004 the rate of increase in global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels was three times greater than in the 1990s.

Emissions are increasing faster than we thought, which means the impacts of climate change will also happen even sooner than expected, said Dr Raupach, a co-chairman of the Global Carbon Project, based at the CSIRO in Canberra.

The Age, 22 May 2007

Climate conference emits hot air!

Amid talk of offsetting the hefty carbon footprint of the United Nations climate conference in Bali, organisers missed a large elephant in the room.

The air-conditioning system installed to keep more than 10,000 delegates cool used highly damaging refrigerant gases – as lethal to the atmosphere as 48,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, and nearly the equivalent of the emissions of all aircraft used to fly delegates to Indonesia.

In addition, the refrigerant is a potent greenhouse gas, with each kilogram at least as damaging as 1.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Investigators at the Balinese resort complex at Nusa Dua counted 700 cylinders of the gas, each of them weighing 13.5 kilograms, and the system was visibly leaking.

Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Dec 2007

worse than we thought – dire global consequences!

The Arctic Climate Feedbacks: Global Implications report, released today, outlines dire global consequences of a warming Arctic that are far worse than previous projections.

The report shows that numerous arctic climate feedbacks – negative effects prompted by the impacts of warming — will make global climate change more severe than indicated by other recent projections, including those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 assessment.

“We need to listen now to these signals from the Arctic, and take the necessary action in Copenhagen this December to get a deal that quickly and effectively limits greenhouse gas emissions,” said James Leape, director general of WWF International. WWF Global, 2 Sep 2009

worse than we thought – soot!

Soot worse for global warming than thought.

Grains of soot deposited in snow have also caused about one-quarter of the observed rise in global surface temperature since 1880, suggests the model by James Hansen and Larissa Nazarenko. The pair examined how soot particles affect the atmosphere when they darken snow and ice.

The effect of soot on snow is unambiguous,” Hansen told New Scientist. “It causes a strong warming effect.”

New Scientist, 22 Dec 2003

pull up the moat!

A report done by University of NSW’s Dr Mark Diesendorf found energy efficiency to be a key way to cut greenhouse emissions.

Commissioned by Greenpeace, the report is based on the premise that to prevent global average temperatures from rising above 2C over pre-industrial levels, the world must cut emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

To do that, interim targets are vital, with several estimates suggesting developed nations such as Australia must cut pollution by at least 30 per cent relative to 1990 levels by 2020.

To achieve the 30 per cent cut, more controversial measures such as an end to land clearing, a 20 per cent cut in beef production to reduce the effect of methane from cattle, a 50 per cent cut in business and professional immigration, and the elimination or offset of emissions from aluminium smelting would be needed.

Sydney Morning Herald, 10 Oct 2007 – screen copy held by this website

worse than we thought – ice at both poles!

On the eve of the Copenhagen conference, a group of scientists has issued an update on the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Their conclusions? Ice at both poles is melting faster than predicted, the claims of recent global cooling are wrong, and world leaders must act fast if steep temperature rises are to be avoided.

The report — titled “The Copenhagen Diagnosis” — finds that in several key areas observed changes are outstripping the most recent projections by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and warns that “there is a very high probability of the warming exceeding 2 °C unless global emissions peak and start to decline rapidly” within the next decade.

Elizabeth Kobert, Environment360, 24 Nov 2009