blame us for the moose and the wolves!

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

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

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

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

holiday horror stories

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

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

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

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

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

BBC News, 29 Aug 1999

strikes twice?

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

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

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

Mother Jones, 13 Nov 2014

do you want grasshoppers with that?

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

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

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

Eating insects is good for the environment and balanced diets.

Kofi Annan, in The Guardian, 3 May 2015

mixed results for weeds

Weeds from warm climates are poised to claim new turf as temperatures increase. But other invasives may lose ground.

Princeton researchers Bethany Bradley, Michael Oppenheimer and David Wilcove used computer models of global climate change to predict the future ranges of weeds that are widespread in the West.

Just as native species are expected to shift in range and relative competitiveness with climate change, they wrote in a study published in the journal Global Change Biology, “the same should be expected of invasive species.”

Using each weed’s preferred habitat characteristics and a scenario in which fossil fuel emissions are not reduced, Bradley and her colleagues created an invasion risk map for each weed. Their results were mixed.

The bad news for California: yellow star thistle will keep its current range and probably spread farther here and in Nevada.

Tamarisk, an exotic tree that sucks wildland creeks dry, will neither gain nor lose in a warmer West. The largest effects the Princeton group predicted were for cheatgrass and leafy spurge, which will shift their ranges north, and spotted knapweed, which will move to higher elevations.

SFGate, 16 Aug 2009

baby walruses all at sea

Melting Arctic ice may be putting walrus pups in peril, researchers say. A team of scientists working in the Arctic Ocean in 2004 says it encountered nine Pacific walrus pups struggling alone in the water far from shore.

“I’m not a walrus expert, but we thought it was unusual,” said Lee Cooper, a marine ecologist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, who led the team.”

“The baby walruses would swim up to the boat. It was heartbreaking,” he said.

Melting Arctic sea ice is the most likely explanation for the stranded pups, Cooper said. His team was in the region to study the intrusion of warm Bering Sea water into the Arctic Ocean. National Geographic, 27 Mar 2006

climate change hits a sour note

But closer to home, you don’t have to look far for concrete examples of climate change, says Eugenia Choi, a UBC assistant professor of music.

Take her 300-year old, handcrafted Stradivarius violin. It’s not that they don’t make them like they used to, it’s that they can’t.

“For musicians, our instruments connect us to a natural world very much threatened by climate change,” Choi says. “People wonder why a fine violin can cost more than a house.”

“Largely, it’s because global warming has changed how trees grow. You can no longer create new violins of the same quality. There just aren’t the same types of wood or density.”

University of British Columbia, 5 Mar 2009

bees dying like flies!

More than 100 previous studies have shown that elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide decrease the nutritional value of plants, such as wheat and rice.

But the goldenrod study, published last month, was the first to examine the effects of rising CO2 on the diet of bees, and its conclusions were unsettling: The adverse impact of rising CO2 concentrations on the protein levels in pollen may be playing a role in the global die-off of bee populations by undermining bee nutrition and reproductive success.

“Pollen is becoming junk food for bees,” says Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Research Service in Maryland and lead author of the study.

The study itself concluded that the decline of plant proteins in the face of soaring carbon dioxide concentrations provides an “urgent and compelling case” for CO2 sensitivity in pollen and other plant components. Heat Is Online, 15 May 2016 Environment 360.Yale.edu

early birds beat the rush

As global warming brings an earlier start to spring, the early bird might not just get the worm.

It might also get its genes passed on to the next generation. Because plants bloom earlier in the year, animals that wait until their usual time to migrate might miss out on all the food.

Those who can reset their internal clocks and set out earlier stand a better chance at having offspring that survive and thus pass on their genetic information, thereby ultimately changing the genetic profile of their entire population.

Livescience, 16 Aug 2011

among the low-lifes

Dead and low-life zones in the world’s oceans are expected to expand as global warming continues to raise aquatic temperatures, according to a new report by researchers from the University of Kiel, Germany, and published in the journal Science.

Frank A. Whitney of the Canadian Institute of Ocean Sciences also warned that the biological consequences of oceanic oxygen loss will be severe.

“Many species will lose their deep habitat, meaning competition will become stronger in the remaining favorable habitat, and increased vulnerability to predation will likely occur,” he said.

Natural News, 3/10/08

fish left in the dark

Climate Change Could Harm Lake Fish: Light Determines Growth Of Fish In Lakes.

“In the brownest lakes sunlight can’t penetrate more than about two meters. In clear mountain lakes, the light can reach down to depths of 15-20 meters and lead to high production of algae on lake bottoms,” says Jan Karlsson, associate professor at Climate Impacts Research Center (CIRC).

The problem is that the algae that live on the lake bottom need sunlight for their photosynthesis. The algae provide food for various bottom-dwelling animals, which in turn are eaten by fish.

Limited light penetration thus has negative consequences for all living beings in a lake. Light is what determines the growth of fish in lakes. Climate change is expected to lead to browner lakes with less light penetration, which will lead to reduced growth of fish. Science Daily, 18 Aug 2009

a bargain at $40 billion

Australia could move to 100 per cent renewable energy within a decade if it spent heavily on cutting-edge solar thermal and wind technology, according to an analysis released as part of a community bid to redirect the flailing climate policy debate.

The shift would require the annual investment of up to $40 billion – roughly 3.5 per cent of national GDP – with the largest chunk going towards solar thermal power plants that used molten-salt heat storage to allow power generation to continue without sunlight.

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Feb 2010

VisitBritain gets a boost

Climate change could “dramatically” change the face of British tourism in the next 20 years, with European tourists flocking to the UK to escape unbearably hot continental summers, experts say.

Research shows that European tourists may choose to holiday in Britain as resorts nearer to home become too hot. Weather changes may provide revival opportunities for northern seaside towns such as Blackpool and put new strains on roads and development in southern coastal resorts, a study in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism said.

Academic David Viner, a researcher at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in Norwich, produced the report after analysing the work of experts around the globe.

“The likelihood [is] that Mediterranean summers may be too hot for tourists after 2020, as a result of too much heat and water shortages,” the study said.

There were “opportunities for the revival of northern European resorts, including Blackpool, in the next 20 years, as climate change and rising transport costs offer new holiday opportunities,” it said.

The Guardian, 29 Jul 2006

less call for call girls

Global warming and increasing temperatures will cause decreasing birthrates and lower paychecks for prostitutes. Researchers have released a study that suggests that higher temperatures make for lower sex drives.

The study, conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that birth rates have had a tremendous decline nine months after a particularly hot day, going down as much as 0.7% as cooler days.

From this they drew two conclusions: either heat reduces fertility or less desire to have sex.

The team also found that days with temperatures exceeding 80 degrees result in a significant decline in birth rate 8-10 months later, though they rebound after a few months.

Clapway, 6 Nov 2015

choosy cattle

Most climate models paint a bleak picture of the Great Plains a century from now as a hot region besieged by heavy rainstorms and flooding.

And new studies suggest that climate change may bring farmers another headache: more invasive plants. And they can’t count on cattle to gobble them up. Depending on the plant, most cattle either don’t want to eat it or could get sick if they do.

“You kinda have to teach them about a new plant,” says Ellen Nelson, a rancher in north-central Colorado who has a weed problem. “I’ve gotten some of them to eat some, but in general, that’s a hard one.” npr.org, 25 Mar 2014

nuclear on the march

Nuclear power is back on the march. Reviled and rejected for 25 years as man’s most dangerous and unsustainable fuel source, its friends are now billing nuclear power as the only practical way of countering climate change, oil shocks and landscape destruction in the west.

So, is it possible that public opinion is wrong, and that nuclear should be the fuel of choice of the future? Absolutely, says Tony Blair, who last month told MPs that America was pressing Britain to re-examine the case for building a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Nuclear must stay on the agenda “if you are serious about the issue of climate change”.

Definitely, says the independent scientist James Lovelock, who has repeated his lifelong support for nuclear energy and recently argued that civilisation is in “imminent danger” from global warming and must use nuclear power – “the one safe, available, energy source” – to avoid catastrophe.

Perhaps, say some of Britain’s leading environmental thinkers, who are calling for a debate about whether nuclear needs to be reassessed, and whether it should even be compared to other forms of renewable energy.

The Guardian, 12/8/04

early bird

Allen Hurlbert and Zhongfei Liang used more than 48 million observations from amateur birdwatchers to conclude that every 1.8-degree rise in temperature makes birds reach their migration milestones 0.8 days earlier on average (though much more for some species in some locations).

That’s less than 11 hours per degree, so who gives a titmouse’s mouse tit? Well, birds do, or would if they had brains big enough to contain a large-scale self-preservation instinct.

Says Hurlbert: Timing of bird migration is something critical for the overall health of bird species. They have to time it right so they can balance arriving on breeding grounds after there’s no longer a risk of severe winter conditions.

If they get it wrong, they may die or may not produce as many young. A change in migration could begin to contribute to population decline, putting many species at risk for extinction.

CounterCurrents.org, 4 Mar 2012

Why a duck?

The gradual warming of the Upper Midwest could cut the duck population in half as early as 2050, according to a new study published in the journal BioScience.

The study looked at how climate change could affect the Upper Midwest, where North America’s best duck breeding grounds are, over the next 50 to 100 years.

The study’s predictions left Duluth conservationist Dave Zentner dumbfounded. Zentner coordinated a rally for ducks, wetlands and clean water in April that drew an estimated 4,000 people to the state Capitol.

He said wetland losses should concern hunters and anyone else who cares about trumpeter swans, gulls, terns, bitterns, night herons and other wildlife that depend on wetlands. I would hope that duck hunters would take this seriously and realize that this is not far-fetched theory, he said.

“This is a real threat and the country needs to develop policies for it.”

USA Today, 29 Nov 2005

ban outdoor heaters!

A call for a ban on outdoor heaters has been backed by the European Parliament. MEPs voted to endorse a report that says a timetable should be set to phase out patio heaters, as well as standby modes on televisions.

Report author Fiona Hall – a British MEP – says significant steps have to be taken to cut CO2 emissions, and a ban should at least be considered.

Many people are already aware that patio heaters produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide, she said. It’s important that we at least look into taking them off the market.

BBCNews, 31 Jan 2008

build in wood!

Wood and Green Building. Promotion of wood products can act as a greener alternative to more fossel-fuel intensive materials. Substituting a cubic metre of wood for other construction materials (concrete, blocks or bricks) results in the significant average of 075 to 1 tonne of CO2 savings.

International Institute for Environment and Development, Using Wood products to mitigate climate change, 2004, Canadian Wood Council download, 23 Aug 2007

take your pick

But there are some who literally worry themselves sick over the environment, and those people have what is known as eco-anxiety.

These people obsess over the environmental impact of everything they do, to the extent that they lay awake at night worrying about that jar they accidentally threw away instead of recycling, or what sorts of environmental catastrophes their unborn grandchildren will be dealing with.

As you can imagine, there are some people who believe eco-anxiety is ridiculous. It would be easy to write it off as the “disease du jour,” nothing more than an excuse people could use to seek attention.

While that’s certainly possible, I’m inclined to take it a bit more seriously — after all, anxiety is a common and serious affliction, and there’s plenty out there to overwhelm any of us.

The Greenists, 4 May 2009

save the camels!

The world’s association of camel scientists fought back angrily over Australian plans to kill wild dromedaries on the grounds that their flatulence adds to global warming.

The idea is “false and stupid… a scientific aberration”, the International Society of Camelid Research and Development (ISOCARD) said yesterday, adding the animals were being made culprits for a man-made problem.

We believe that the good-hearted people and innovating nation of Australia can come up with better and smarter solutions than eradicating camels in inhumane ways, it said.

The kill-a-camel suggestion is floated in a paper distributed by Australia’s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, as part of consultations for reducing the country’s carbon footprint.

The scheme is the brainchild of an Adelaide-based commercial company, Northwest Carbon, a land and animal management consultancy, which proposes whacking feral camels in exchange for carbon credits. The Herald Sun, 5 Jul 2011

people in …

As the country faces acute power shortage and the global warming debate hots up, energy conservationists caution against growing number of buildings with glass facades dotting the landscapes of cities as being responsible for energy consumption much in excess that a normal structure would do.

If you see the structures that have come up recently, they are all mostly made with glass. Right from top to below, you can see huge shinning glass.

Though these buildings look very contemporary and stylish, they are the biggest culprit when it comes to energy consumption, says Harsh Narang, director, Modern India Architects.

Glass building are a very European concept because they don’t get much of sunlight. Hence, their main aim is to get maximum sunlight. But, in our country where temperatures at times go as high as 50 degrees Celcius, these glasses take in more of sunlight.

Hence, the offices use more air-conditioners directly resulting in higher consumption of electricity and also in the form of carbon-dioxide emission and also CFCs that air-conditioners generate causing damage to the ozone layer, he adds.

According to a study conducted by Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, London, a complete glass building consumes four times more electricity than a normal building.

Rediff India Abroad, 12 Jun 2007

Arthur or Martha?

Temperature, that is to say, the weather, can affect the determination of sex in insect offspring, says new research out of the University of Montreal in Canada.

According to a study led by Joffrey Moiroux and Jacques Brodeur of the school’s Department of Biological Sciences, and published in the May issue of the journal Animal Behaviour, an insect will either have a male or female offspring depending on how hot or cold the climate happens to be.

“We know that climate affects the reproductive behavior of insects. But we never clearly demonstrated the effects of climate change on sex allocation in parasitoids,” Moiroux said in a news release.

Heat Is Online, 23 May 2014 – The Latin Post

thinner shellfish shells

The number of shelled creatures in the ocean is truly dizzying. And we need them — they are keystone species for everything from building coral reefs to anchoring the ocean food chain to making a killer linguine and clam sauce.

But as carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere, ocean water becomes more acidic. And shellfish have trouble growing their shells.

Scientists have worried for years about ocean acidification affecting shelled creatures in the future, but according to a new study, it’s already happening, and has been for over a hundred years.

Led by Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University in New York, a team of researchers grew Northern quahog clams and Atlantic bay scallops under varying CO2 concentrations. What was surprising was how sensitive the animals were to increasing CO2.

In the researchers’ experiment, that was already enough to stunt shellfishes’ growth and make their shells thinner.

Heat Is Online, 1 Oct 2010 – Discovery.com

red squirrels jump the gun

University of Alberta researchers recently concluded a 10-year study showing that red squirrels in the Yukon are reproducing earlier in the year in response to global warming and thus being genetically affected by it.

The researchers, who studied the mating habits and DNA of more than 5,000 female red squirrels, found that litters were being born an average of three weeks earlier than they historically had been.

We’ve been the first to show that this is a genetic change … and not just behavioral change, professor Stan Boutin, who led the team that conducted the study, told a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter. Heat Is Online – originally Discover.com, July 23 2003

putting the squeeze on Salamanders

Wild salamanders that live in the Appalachian Mountains are shrinking because they must burn more energy as the local climate gets hotter and drier, according to a new study.

Researchers found that the salamanders they collected between 1980 and 2012 were 8 percent smaller than those collected in earlier decades, starting in 1957.

The findings confirm predictions that some species will shrink in response to climate change. The climate where the salamanders live has gotten warmer and drier, researchers said.

We compared the size of the museum specimens to the current animals and we were surprised to see that, in fact, many species has become smaller over just a 50- to 60-year period, said study author Karen Lips, a biologist at the University of Maryland.

Heat Is Online, 11 Apr 2014 – Livescience.com

stay-at-home brants

Scientists have documented that increasing numbers of black brant are skipping that far southern migration and staying in Alaska instead.

Fewer than 3,000 wintered in Alaska before 1977. In recent years, however, more than 40,000 have remained north, with as many as 50,000 staying there last year, during the most ice-free winter that the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge had seen in more than a decade.

The temperatures now in winter are much warmer, said David Ward, a researcher at U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center, who conducted the research along with scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“In years past you’d often have ice that would build up in these lagoons, and the eelgrass would be unavailable for the winter period. But now that’s changing.”

Heat Is Online, 30 Oct 2014 – Environmental Health News

cool shades

A proposal to reverse climate change by placing mirrors in the sky to reflect sunlight away from Earth won’t give us back the same climate we had before we started emitting so much carbon dioxide, says a new study.

Researchers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom applied state-of-the-art global climate models to predict the effect of using reflective sunshades to send a fraction of the sunlight that enters Earth’s atmosphere back into space before it can heat things up.

Although we managed to cancel out warming on a global average, what you end up with is some areas that warm up and some that cool down, said Dan Lunt, who led the study, published in Geophysical Research Letters. Heat Is Online – originally Discovery.com, July 8, 2008

drawing the line

In Sydney’s Elanora Heights, Dick Clarke, 50, a building designer, lives with his wife, Bronwyn, and two of his three sons (Peter, 20, and Tim, 17) in an environmentally friendly house.

Clarke’s upstairs home office, perched among gently swaying melaleucas, is a kind of nest for the sustainable man. “A sustainabe lifestyle guides so much of what I do,” says Clarke. “But it’s a journey with no end point.

You have to come to grips with where you want to draw the line. we have water tanks, solar power, but we don’t grow any food, which is a priority if you want to live sustainably. But I can’t do a vege patch, I work 18 hours a day.”

Clarke seems to have an involuntary reflex that switches off lights and computers a he moves through his house.

“Things seem to magically turn on as the kids walk past,” he says, shaking his head.

“They call me an eco-nazi. Sometimes I lose it and hide the amp lead, take lights away from them. But sometimes you have to turn a blind eye to a 20-minute shower.”

The Sun Herald (Sydney), 29 Jul 2007 – screen copy held by this website

not all bad news!

Belgian scientists have identified a hitherto unsuspected benefit of global warming – more time for all of us. They say increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere will slow the Earth’s rotation.

One of the team, Dr Olivier de Viron, told BBC News Online: “When you increase the amount of CO2, you perturb the atmosphere’s dynamics, the winds and so on. We know that globally the wind blowing from West to East will increase, so the Earth’s rotation will decrease. “The days will be longer – and the nights won’t be shorter to compensate.”

“It means 24 hours won’t be 24 hours any more. It will be something a little bit more.”

BBC News, 12 Feb 2002

delving into deep frames

Communicating the climate message to inform, but also engage and influence behaviour has proven intensely difficult. Over a decade of research on this issue has highlighted the need for communication to engage with people’s “deep frames” – beliefs formed over a lifetime, which are mostly subconscious.

My research paper, recently published in WIRES Climate Change draws upon cognitive science, evolutionary psychology and philosophy, among other fields, to explore the emerging idea that global warming exceeds modern humans’ cognitive and sensory abilities. To overcome this impasse, climate communication needs to engage people at a philosophical, sensory and feeling level.

People need to be able to feel and touch the new climate reality; to explore unfamiliar emotional terrain and be helped to conceive their existence differently. How is this to be done? The world must turn to its artists: storytellers, film-makers; musicians; painters and multi-media wizards, to name a few.

Under the global Future Earth initiative, a team of around 60,000 scientists and social scientists has been assembled to understand and report on the physical, tangible dimensions of the problem.

I argue we need 60,000 arts and humanities experts to focus upon the intangibles – the communication, engagement and meaning-making aspects of the problem.

Elizabeth Boulton, PhD Candidate, cross-disciplinary approaches to climate and environmental risk, Australian National University, Conversation, 8 Jun 2016

bye, bye…

Populations of the rusty blackbird, a once-abundant North American species, have declined drastically in recent years, and Auburn University researchers say climate change is to blame.

That’s the finding of graduate students Chris McClure, Brian Rolek and Kenneth McDonald published recently in the scientific journal Ecology and Evolution.

Under the direction of ornithology professor Geoffrey Hill, McClure, Rolek and McDonald studied the blackbird decline and wrote the paper “Climate change and the decline of a once common bird.”

“Changing climate is affecting everything,” McClure said. “These birds used to be everywhere and usually when people are talking about climate change, you look at the effects on an isolated species, such as some rare bird on a mountaintop somewhere.”

“But our research proved that it has a much wider effect. These birds literally span an entire continent, living in different climates, and yet they are affected just as much as anything else.”

Phys Org, 20 Feb 2012

global warming explained

The current situation – the Poles glaciers’ melting is accelerating. The climate and geological changes will be increased because the planet Eris/ Nibiru hasn’t even been close to Pluto, its nearest point to Earth is supposed to happen between 2010 and 2012.

At present identical phenomena (global warming, volcanoes activation, etc.) also take place on other planets from our solar system because of Eris/ Nibiru.

Few examples: The Neptune’s moon, Triton is warming (BBC Science & Technology News, July 25, 1999), The Neptune’s moon, Triton is warming (BBC Science & Technology News, July 25, 1999), Pluto experiences an extraordinary heating (Massachusetts Institute of Technology News, October 9, 2002), Volcanic eruption on Jupiter’s satellite Io (Icarus Astronomy, November 2002), The warming of Mars (ABC News, December 7, 2002), The warming of Saturn.

Scientists of the UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) – physics and astronomy department and those at the University of Boston have noticed that the temperature of the superior atmosphere of Saturn is higher that estimated.

Thus, professor Alan Aylward at UCLA considers necessary the reexamination of the main hypotheses regarding the planetary atmosphere and establishing the cause of the respective heating.

He also noticed a similar process on Mars, concluding: “Studying the aspects within other planetary atmospheres will help us to find out clues of the Terra’s future.”

UFO Digest, 30 May 2007

beavers blamed!

Beavers are contributing to climate change, adding an estimated 800 million kg of methane to the atmosphere every year, scientists have found.

In their work published in the Springer journal AMBIO, experts note that carbon builds up in oxygen-poor pond bottoms like those created by beavers, and methane is generated. The gas cannot be dissolved and is released into the atmosphere.

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada have found this methane release from beaver ponds is now 200 times higher than it was a century ago.

Lead author Colin J Whitfield and his team estimated the size of the current global beaver population and the area covered by their ponds to work out the methane release.

Whitfield said: “The dynamic nature of beaver-mediated methane emissions in recent years may portend the potential for future changes in this component of the global methane budget. Continued range expansion, coupled with changes in population and pond densities, may dramatically increase the amount of water impounded by the beaver.”

“This, in combination with anticipated increases in surface water temperatures, and likely effects on rates of methanogenesis, suggests that the contribution of beaver activity to global methane emissions may continue to grow.” International Business Times, 17 Dec 2014

rainbow faces cut-throat competition

Montana’s Flathead Basin has long been a spawning haven for the westslope cutthroat trout. But as waters in the region warm, rainbow trout have swum up from the western lakes where they were introduced decades ago to cutthroat native grounds.

As rainbow trout meet and interbreed with dwindling cutthroat trout populations, the survival of cutthroat trout is at risk. Instead, a hybrid species is taking its place.

“It’s a major cause of species extinction—lots of species are now disappearing because they are being genetically swamped by other, commoner ones,” said Stuart Pimm, a professor of conservation ecology at Duke University.

In some cases, hybridization can lead to reduced genetic diversity in animals, according to David Tallmon, an associate professor of biology at the University of Alaska. “Rather than growing a new branch on the [genetic] tree, you have two branches growing together,” he said.

In the case of cutthroat-rainbow trout hybrids, the hybrids are less genetically fit, with offspring of the hybrids struggling to survive, a study led by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey found.

Scientific American, 1 Jun 2015

glass for a day

Given that Australia produces the second highest greenhouse gas emissions per person in the world after the US, will the average urban Australian come on board? Giselle Wilkinson, 53, admits it’s sometimes a struggle.

As we talk, Wilkinson, who lives in Heidelberg Heights in Melbourne, with her daughters, Mereki, 20, and Hannah, 19, stirs a neat bunch of garden fresh lemon balm in the teapot.

Stuck on a cabinet above her is a note – “Choose your glass for the day” – to save on washing up. The Sun Herald (Sydney), 29 Jul 2007 – screen copy held by this website

new culprit identified!

In the charge against global warming, carbon dioxide has long held sway as public enemy number one. But now, less-recognized molecules are entering the fray as significant agents of global warming.

Aerosols emitted from smokestacks, exhaust pipes and domestic cooking fires consist of substances such as sulphates and nitrates that scatter light and have a local cooling effect; they also contain black carbon — or soot — a byproduct of incomplete combustion, which absorbs light.

In a study published recently in Nature2, Veerabhadran Ramanathan, an atmospheric scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, and colleagues, report that aerosols locked up in brown clouds over Asia are significant contributors to regional warming.

“Brown clouds from the United States cover the Atlantic, the European brown cloud goes over central Asia, and China’s brown cloud crosses the Pacific over to us,” says Ramanathan. “We are each a back yard to someone else, and we’re polluting every other person’s back yard.”

Nature Reports, 9 Jul 2007

clam-gobbling rays reach Japan!

Warming tied to spread of clam-gobbling ray. A species of ray that is usually found in tropical and subtropical waters has been seen in waters around Japan in recent years and is believed to be responsible for damaging the local shellfish habitat.

The long-headed eagle ray, whose scientific name is Aetobatus flagellum, has been spotted in the Ariake Sea and Seto Inland Sea in western Japan.

Scientists believe that a rise in sea temperature is responsible for the expansion of the creature’s habitat.

While a theory has it that sea temperature rises in the Pacific Ocean are part of long-term temperature fluctuations, many scientists believe that global warming is responsible for the phenomenon.

Nature In Japan, 26 May 2008

save the bread basket!

But the area known as the cradle of civilization is now under serious threat.

Before the end of this century, the Middle East’s legendary bread basket could dry up as a result of global warming, to the extent that it is no longer suitable for traditional rain-fed agriculture — destroying its existence as an agrarian landscape.

However, Pinhas Alpert, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Tel Aviv University believes the Fertile Crescent can still be saved.

“It depends very much on how the world will react, whether the world will really take serious action as is needed (against climate change),” he says.

Spiegel Online, 16 Apr 2008

locusts on the wane

It’s not often we can report on some good news associated with climate change. But it seems that warming temperatures could give welcome respite to farmers – in China, at least – by suppressing locust plagues.

Zhibin Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues found that the Oriental migratory locust (Locusta migratoria manilensis), which has been named as one of the most damaging agricultural pests in Chinese history, operates on a climate-driven cycle.

Every 160 to 170 years, the swarms get bigger then subside again.

New Scientist, 26 Nov 2008

wolves speak!

Scientists studying grey wolves in Yellowstone national park have developed a method to predict how animals will respond to climate change.

“We now have the tools to determine how wolves would react to climate change,” said Tim Coulson, a professor of life sciences at Imperial College London, who led the study. “With any luck, in the future we can apply the methods developed from the wolves down to small mites or to large herbivores.”

The study used data that is already routinely collected on radio-collared wolves to get a glimpse of some basic responses to a changing environment – population numbers, genetics, body size, and the timing of key events in the wolf life cycle, such as when they first have pups.

Some animals will be constantly on the move, up hill and to cooler locations at a rate of about a quarter of a mile a year according to one study, in search of suitable homes. Other animals will run out of space, and die out. Still others may successfully adapt, growing bigger or smaller to suit their new conditions. The Guardian, 2 Dec 2011

warning against light green

Some 35 million Americans regularly buy products that claim to be earth-friendly, according to one report, everything from organic beeswax lipstick from the west Zambian rain forest to Toyota Priuses.

With baby steps, more and more shoppers browse among the 60,000 products available under Home Depot’s new Eco Options program. But even at this moment of high visibility and impact for environmental activists, a splinter wing of the movement has begun to critique what it sometimes calls “light greens.”

“There is a very common mind-set right now which holds that all that we’re going to need to do to avert the large-scale planetary catastrophes upon us is make slightly different shopping decisions,” said Alex Steffen, the executive editor of Worldchanging.com, a Web site devoted to sustainability issues.

The genuine solution, he and other critics say, is to significantly reduce one’s consumption of goods and resources. It’s not enough to build a vacation home of recycled lumber; the real way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to only own one home.

The New York Times, 1 Jul 2007