Canary in the coal mine – beetles

Beetles, the new canary in a coalmine. Although this number appears to be small, it has effectively removed nature’s ecological cold curtain enabling mountain pine beetles an opportunity to speed up their life cycle, invade and decimate high elevation pine forests across the continent.

Instead of absorbing CO2, billions of beetle-killed trees across the West are decaying and stoking the ever-rising pool of greenhouse gases.
Ruidoso News, 24 Jan 2012

Canary in the coal mine – Marshall Islands

Canary in a coal mine: Extreme weather, rising seas plague atoll nation. Marshall Islands president issues a call to action ahead of international climate summit next week hosted by the UN. As global leaders gear up to meet at next week’s United Nations Climate Summit in New York, the president of a small Pacific island nation vulnerable to rising seas caused by global warming said the future of his people depends on creating a carbon-free world by 2050.
Al Jazeera America, 18 Sep 2014

Canary in the coal mine – the godwit, plover and snipe

The unavoidable sea level rises, which are already thought to be locked in by current greenhouse gas emission levels, are expected to devastate water bird populations, according to advice from Birds Australia. Migratory birds like the black-tailed godwit, the grey plover and Latham’s snipe can be regarded as the ”canaries in the coalmine” for climate change, said Dr Eric Woehler of Birds Australia, who gave evidence to the parliamentary committee.
Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Oct 2009

Canary in the coal mine – amphibians

Amphibians: Canaries in the environmental coal mine. Amphibian die-off, like the death of canaries by noxious gases in coal mines during the last century, may be warning us of serious environmental dangers ahead. Frogwatch USA is a partnership program affiliated with USGS and designed to enlist the aid of volunteers in describing and monitoring amphibians nationwide.

This year–designated “The year of the frog” by Amphibian Ark, a conservation organization–the Fort Collins Natural Areas Program is using its cadre of volunteers to make a baseline survey of amphibians in Fort Collins natural areas.
North Forty News, July 2008

Canary in the coal mine – freshwater mussels

During laboratory tests, USGS scientists and partners found that the heart and growth rates of some species of young freshwater mussels declined as a result of elevated water temperatures, and many died.

Freshwater mussels have been compared to the “canary in the coal mine” in that they are indicators of good water and sediment quality in U.S. rivers.

They are also important in the aquatic food web, filter large amounts of water and suspended particles, and serve as food for other organisms. The study is published in the December issue of the journal Freshwater Science.
US Geological Survey, 3 Dec 2013

Canary in the coal mine – lobster

The New England lobster, under threat from disease and invasive species, may be the “canary in the coal mine” of climate disruption, according to a new report that examines case studies from around the nation about how global warming is altering wildlife habitats.

Lobsters are king, Wahle said. “If lobsters aren’t the canary in the coal mine, then we might at least consider them a poster child for marine climate change.” Rick Wahle, a research associate professor at the University of Maine.
Public News Service Feb 2013,

Canary in the coal mine – Kiribati

There is a tendency in much of the world to view climate change as a slow and gradual process where the harmful effects will be able to prevented before they occur. What is happening in Kiribati is evidence to the contrary.

Kiribati is “like the canary in the coal mine in terms of the dramatic impact of climate change on a whole civilization of people,” says Harvard University biological oceanographer James J. McCarthy. “They didn’t cause the problem, but they are among the first to feel it.”
Kiribati: Climate Change website

Canary in the coal mine – Aspen

The Canary Initiative is so named because Aspen (which is economically dependent on winter snow for recreation and summer snow pack for water supply) sees itself as a canary in the coal mine for climate change. The Initiative called for: a green house gas (GHG) emissions inventory, an assessment of impacts due to climate change, an action plan and education and advocacy on regional, state and national levels.
City of Aspen Canary Initiative, Climate Action Plan

Canary in the coal mine – Australian ski industry

The Australian ski industry represents a ‘canary in the coalmine’. Globally, it is one of the first and most visibly impacted industries by the risk of climate change.

This study explores the perceptions of people associated with the operations of ski resorts in south-eastern Australia. It was hypothesised that ski resorts, given the value of their assets, would anticipate and respond to the threat of climate change.
Geographical Research Volume 44, Issue 4, pages 386–400, December 2006

Canary in the coal mine – coral

Corals, Earth’s Canary in Coal Mines, Facing ‘Calamitous’ Global Declines. The current state of most of the world’s coral reefs is so calamitous that it’s difficult to over-dramatize the situation. Reefs have seen massive declines around the globe, and while there is much debate about which particular threat is most responsible, most scientists agree humans are to blame.
Yale Climate Connections, 1 Sep 2009

Canary in the coal mine – big trees

The researchers suspect that climate change is the biggest culprit and that big trees are acting as the ‘canary in the coalmine’ for the effects of global warming on the world’s forests. Big trees are more susceptible to high temperatures and water shortages than smaller trees.

“Older, larger trees are declining because of disease, drought, logging and other factors, but what stands out is that this decline is statewide,” said lead author Patrick McIntyre, of the University of California in Berkeley.
The Independent 22 Jan 2015

Canary in the coal mine – Australia

He was talking about the floods in his region, but the sense that Australia – which maintains one of the highest per-capita carbon footprints on the planet – has summoned up the wrath of the climate gods is everywhere.

“Australia is the canary in the coal mine,” says David Karoly, a top climate researcher at the University of Melbourne. “What is happening in Australia now is similar to what we can expect to see in other places in the future.”
Rolling Stone, “Climate change and the end of Australia” 3 Oct 2011

Canary in the coal mine – Arctic

“Climate change in the Arctic is a reality now!” So insists Robert Corell, an oceanographer with the American Meteorological Society. Wild-eyed proclamations are all too common when it comes to global warming, but in this case his assertion seems well founded. That points to one reason the world should pay attention to this week’s report.

Like a canary in a coal mine, the hyper-sensitive polar regions may well experience the full force of global warming before the rest of the planet does.
The Economist 11/11/04

Canary in the coal mine – national parks

David Frey: National Parks are a climate change canary. National parks across the country are facing landscape-altering changes at the hands of global warming. Most famous is the melting ice at Glacier National Park in Montana. The question at hand is: How long will it be until that name is a misnomer? How long until those beautiful glaciers are gone for good? Not long.
Aspen Times, 13 Oct 2009

Canary in the coal mine – birds …

“The canary in the coal mine.” That phrase has become part of the lexicon as a warning for danger. Now birds are cautioning humans about the imminent threat of climate change—and the news is not good. This from a report based on seven years of research by the National Audubon Society.

The Common Loonis a familiar bird for people out fishing or swimming in the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota. Our Climate Report suggests that loons may no longer be in Minnesota by the end of the century.
Daily Kos, 16 Feb 2015, “Birds tell an urgent climate message”

Canary in the coal mine – … and bees

Scott Groom, PhD student at Flinders University has engaged mathematical modelling to identify changes in bee populations over the past 20,000 years across the South Pacific region and says that exceptionally large declines in bee populations coincided with changes in temperature, ABC News reports.

“They’re almost canaries in the coal mine, you can see that they’re going to be the first sort of species to be impacted by changes in climate,” Groom said.
Food Magazine 9 May 2014

Canary in the coal mine – Bolivia

Bolivia, a canary in the coal mine. Recently, Bolivia has been experiencing the complete portfolio of climate impacts. In the past few years, Bolivia has faced record-breaking mudslides, a deceased glacier, soaring food prices, extreme droughts and frosts, and environmental-induced migration.

As one might expect, the impacts Bolivia faces have a causal relationship to the nation’s policy stance. It is hard to imagine a country so uprooted by the effects of climate change signing on to an agreement which has been predetermined to be incapable of achieving its goals.

It’s an unsettling thought that admits some level of defeat, but perhaps populations need to experience, on a local level, the impacts of climate change before they are willing to act upon them. Will Bolivia’s struggle soon be our own?
Arizona State University, Coping With Climate Change, 11 Apr 2011

Canary in the coal mine – shellfish growers

Ocean acidification is sometimes called the evil twin of climate change: Both are caused by rising amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. More CO2 dissolved in the water is making it harder for many creatures to form shells.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) said the rising acidity of the world’s oceans needs to be a national priority for economic reasons. “Ocean acidification is a jobs issue,” Cantwell said. “Shellfish growers are the canary in the coal mine.”
KUOW.org, Seattle News, 12 Aug 2014

Canary in the coal mine – the cryosphere

The planet’s ”canary in the coal mine” is showing disturbing symptoms and we have only years, not decades, to save it. The cryosphere – the regions of our Earth covered by snow and ice – has long been considered the “canary in the coal mine” for global warming. We already knew things were bad. We now know the future of snow and ice on our planet is actually much worse.
Jonas Gahr Stoere, Norway’s Foreign Minister. The Age, Australia 14 Dec 2009

Canary in the coal mine – trees

Researchers at Princeton University recently took a deep dive into the lovely autumnal colors of the Northeast and Midwest with an eye on climate change.

They found that as the planet heats up, fall foliage will respond in messy, unpredictable ways — and that as a whole, leaves will begin changing color later and the period in which bright orange, red and yellow leaves stay on trees will last longer.

But even though tourists in Vermont may celebrate, it’s important to note that the researchers’ findings indicate changes that could extend beyond fall photo ops.

Trees, as it turns out, are the canary in the coal mine.
Modern Farmer, 30 Sep 2014

Canary in the coal mine – agriculture

Agriculture — A Canary in the Coal Mine for Climate Change. An often overlooked culprit, the agricultural sector accounts for fourteen per cent — or as much as twenty-five per cent if you include agriculture-driven deforestation — of global greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, agriculture may be one of the greatest tools we have for mitigating climate change, and Massachusetts can lead that charge.
Massachusetts government website

Canary in the coal mine – Inuit

While this drama may seen remote and unimportant to those who defend what they believe to be their God-given right to burn fossil fuels, what befalls the Inuit may soon befall all of us. In simple terms, they are the canaries in the coal mine of climate change.

This was the profoundly moving message that 2007 Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Arctic activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier gave to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Communities Conference in Ottawa recently.
Common Dreams, 27 Feb 2008

Canary in the coal mine – The Great Lakes

“The Great Lakes in a lot of ways have always been a canary in the coal mine,” Cameron Davis, the senior adviser to the U.S. EPA on the Great Lakes, said last week. “Not just for the region or this country, but for the rest of the world.”

Lake Superior, which is the largest, deepest and coldest of the five lakes, is serving as the “canary for the canary,” Davis said at a public meeting of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force last week, pointing to recent data trends.
New York Times, 19 Jul 2010

Canary in the coal mine – penguins

But for Dee Boersma, a biology professor at University of Washington, Turbo and the 200,000 other Magellanic penguins from the Punta Tombo colony on the Atlantic coast of Argentina are far more than new friends.

They have become the canaries in the global warming “coal mine,” signalling the effects of climate change on oceans through their rapidly declining population.
Seattle pi 30 Jun 2008

Canary in the coal mine – African communities

There were many representatives for those with no voice, for example small African communities and people in the Torres Strait, who are experiencing difficulty growing crops, fresh water supplies, and collapsing sea walls.

These are the canaries in the coal mine. What is happening to them now is actually affecting the richer nations now, but people just chose not to see it.

They think they can fix it by building sea walls and all sorts of other things, but it wont work. Even here at the Hobart docks, the high tide now floods the low part of Fisherman’s Wharf. This did not happen in the past.
Byron Greens website: Senator Christine Milne talks with Robert Hart about the Copenhagen Climate Conference

Canary in the coal mine – Bering Sea

In recent years, scientists have directed their attention to the impacts of climate change in the Bering Sea’s ecosystem, which is considered by scientists “a canary in a coal mine” because it appears to be showing climate change effects before the rest of the ocean.

Although it is “a good start” that people begin to realize the gravity of melting ice and rising sea level, we must be aware that humans are now responsible for comprehensive changes in the way Earth’s ecosystem works” said marine ecologist Dave Hutchins.
Climate Institute website, Seals and their race against climate change