cart before horse

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

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

thanks to Andrew Mark Harding

all is now explained!

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

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

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

glaciers head for the hills!

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

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

southern fish given the elbow!

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

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

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

good news for penguins!

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

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

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

Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Aug 2009

a stunned mullet

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

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

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

tree hugging explained

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

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

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

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

Washington Post, 20 Feb 2010

any volunteers to be “abated”?

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

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

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

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

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Mar 2010

pick a number between 1 and …

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

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

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

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

bean me up, Scotty

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

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

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

thanks to Peter

worm led team looks for fishy answers

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

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

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

hotter and meaner

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

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

thanks to ddh

beware of strangers bearing pavlovas

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

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

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

Ark put on hold!

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

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

stay at home coral

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

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

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

brother, you are not of the faith!

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

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

crocodile invasion – or maybe not

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

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

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

do as I say, not as ….

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

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

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

in other words, trust us

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

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

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

pity the poor wood warbler!

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

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

no flies on them!

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

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

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

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

salps move in for the krill

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

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

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

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

pot calling the kettle ….

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

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

their burp is worse than their ….

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

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

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

Saved, but the party’s still over

“According to climate scientist James Hansen, we are never going to see another ice age, ever. When the ice melts it will not be replaced. Ice extent will fluctuate from year to year, and some climate change deniers will selectively point to recovery years, but there is only a downward escalator. Which means, unless dangerous climate change is addressed, for some of us today, and many more tomorrow, the party will definitely be over.”The Conversation, 20 Sep 2013

waking the giant

giantThe disappearing ice, sea-level rise and floods already forecast for the 21st century are inevitable as the earth warms and weather patterns change – and they will shift the weight on the planet.

University College London’s Bill McGuire, professor emeritus of Geophysical and Climate Hazards, calls this process “waking the giant” – something that can be done with just a few gigatonnes of water in the right – or wrong – place.
Newsweek, 28 Apr 2015

thanks to Badgerbod and Andrew Mark Harding

sounds more like a religion everyday

In a project they hope to take nationwide at a cost of up to $2 million a year, Australia’s main environment groups will next week start door-knocking in Sydney’s east to talk about what predicted climate changes could mean for beaches and parks, health and hip pockets.

Supported by Greenpeace, WWF Australia, Climate Action Network Australia, the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and Environment Victoria, the Power to Change campaign will also include mail drops, street stalls and public meetings.

These reports aren’t aimed at scaring people by making outlandish predictions, said the campaign’s founder, Dave West. Rather, we are trying to paint the best picture of how climate change will affect people’s lives … how bad it will be depends on how fast we act and how deep we can cut our greenhouse gas emissions.
Sydney Morning Herald, 1 Oct 2005

painful news

Could global warming cause surge in kidney stones? Hot weather increases risk of painful condition, experts claim.

Researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia examined 60,000 patients in several cities across the U.S., with varying climates, discovering a link between hot days and kidney stones.

Lead researcher and urologist, Gregory Tasian, said: ‘We found that as daily temperatures rise, there is a rapid increase in the probability of patients presenting over the next 20 days with kidney stones.
Daily Mail (UK), 11 Jul 2014

fly less!

Aircraft emissions are seen as one of the principal causes of global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, aviation causes 3.5 per cent of man-made global warming. This could rise to 15 per cent by 2050 as the number of low-cost flights in Europe and Asia continues to increase.
The Telegraph (UK), 19 Nov 2005

US forests defy United Nations!

Highlights

  • We review information on US forest health in response to climate change.
  • We found that trees are tolerant of rising temperatures and have responded to rising carbon dioxide.
  • No long-term trends in US drought have been found in the literature.
  • CO2 tends to inhibit forest pests and pathogens.
  • Projections of forest response to climate change are highly variable.

“Physiological and ecological factors influencing recent trends in United States forest health responses to climate change” by Craig Loehlea, Craig Idsob, T. Bently Wigleyc, Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 363, 1 March 2016, Pages 179–189

thanks to ddh

new finding – planets that don’t have a United Nations will not survive!

Climate change in extraterrestrial environments is inevitable and, should life on hypothetically habitable worlds not act as a stabilizer for their environments, it serves as a “sell-by” date for all burgeoning lifeforms.

In new research published in the journal Astrobiology, astronomers of The Australian National University (ANU) pondered this scenario and realized that young habitable planets can become unstable very quickly. What once was a life-giving oasis becomes a hellish hothouse or frozen wasteland very quickly.

“The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens,” said Aditya Chopra, lead author of the paper. “Early life is fragile, so we believe it rarely evolves quickly enough to survive.”

“Most early planetary environments are unstable. To produce a habitable planet, life forms need to regulate greenhouse gases such as water and carbon dioxide to keep surface temperatures stable,” he said.
Discovery.com, 21 Jan 2016

thanks to ddh

the luckless ladybird

ladybugThe luckless ladybird, already under siege from foreign invaders and parasitic wasps, now has global warming to contend with, scientists said yesterday.

Climate change has resulted in the gardener’s friend waking from its seven-month winter hibernation up to two weeks early, said Dr Mike Majerus, an expert on ladybirds at Cambridge University’s department of genetics.

The worry is that the aphids they eat are not responding to the earlier springs in the same way, leaving ladybirds facing starvation.
The Telegraph (UK), 2 Feb 2005

the decline of the close clipped lawn

mowing_lawnGardeners should give up trying to grow many of the flowers that typify English cottage gardens and look for new varieties to meet the challenge of climate change, the Royal Horticultural Society said yesterday.

Forward-thinking gardeners should give up the “unequal struggle” of trying to keep them alive in the face of low rainfall and water restrictions, said Guy Barter, head of the Horticultural Advisory Service at the RHS gardens at Wisley, Surrey. …and the biggest casualty of drier, hotter summers will be the verdant, close-clipped lawn, so beloved of caring gardeners.

People should consider replacing them with gravel areas or trying hardier, tougher grasses common in hot climates, and not cutting them so finely or so frequently, he said.
The Telegraph (UK), 12 Jun 2005

flatter bread breaks hearts

German researchers have shown that high CO2 levels in the atmosphere lead to wheat crops throughout Europe with less gluten, the protein in flour that forms the gooey matrix of dough.

By 2050, the researchers say, the expected CO2 levels in the atmosphere may lead to dough that rises nearly 20% less than it does now. The researchers, from the Johann Heinrich von Thunen Institute in Braunschweig , say that CO2 disrupts nitrogen uptake by the plants, and this causes the protein deficiency.

A world with less gluten may appeal to coeliac sufferers and other members of the wheatless protection program. But for fans of ciabatta and pain de campagne, bread with texture like sponge cake is a heart-breaking prospect.
New Scientist, 10 Jul 2008

future of psychology profession assured!

In America, 200 Million People Will Suffer ‘Psychological Distress’ From Climate Change.

A report published by the National Wildlife Foundation finds that the majority of Americans can expect to suffer mental health problems as a result of global warming and warns that our mental health system is not equipped to handle it.

“The interplay between the climate realities we likely face and the potential psychological fallout from them was the subject of a conference convened in Washington D.C., in March 2009,” write Lise van Susteren, MD, and Kevin J. Doyle, JD, introducing their work. “A highly respected group of experts offered insights. Their thoughts, recommendations and supporting evidence are presented in this report.”
Gizmodo Australia, 30 Dec 2015

windows closed

windows_open_closedAlready, the window to prevent catastrophic climate change appears to be closing. Some governments are starting to redirect their attention away from climate change mitigation and towards staking their claims in a warming world.

“Canada is spending $3 billion to build eight new patrol boats to reinforce its claim over the Arctic waterways. Denmark and Russia are starting to vie for control over the Lomonosov Ridge, where new sources of oil and natural gas could be accessed if the Arctic Circle becomes ice free—fossil fuels that will further exacerbate climate change. These actions assume that a warming world is here,” said Erik Assadourian, Vital Signs Project Director.
Worldwatch Institute, 31 Mar 2015

we get the politicians we deserve

A top Democrat told high school students gathered at the U.S. Capitol Thursday that climate change caused Hurricane Katrina and the conflict in Darfur, which led to the “black hawk down” battle between U.S. troops and Somali rebels.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House (Select) Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee, also equated the drive for global warming legislation with the drive for women’s suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“In Somalia back in 1993, climate change, according to 11 three- and four-star generals, resulted in a drought which led to famine,” said Markey. “That famine translated to international aid we sent in to Somalia, which then led to the U.S. having to send in forces to separate all the groups that were fighting over the aid, which led to Black Hawk Down.”

“There was this scene where we have all of our American troops under fire because they have been put into the middle of this terrible situation,” he added. CNS News, 11 Jul 2008