gardeners to the rescue!

As gardeners, we are both guardians and stewards of our environment, says Patty Glick, author of the report and Global Warming Specialist for the National Wildlife Federation. “There are many simple and thoughtful ways we can manage our gardens that can make an enormous difference in reducing the impacts of global warming.”

Gardeners can play an important role in minimizing the threat of invasive species expansion by removing invasive plants from the garden and choosing an array of native alternatives. Establish a “green roof” and plant trees around your house.

Planting rooftop gardens and planting trees near your home can significantly shield your home from the elements, reducing energy use for air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. There are a number of ways to reduce water consumption in your garden, which will be particularly important when water resources become scarce.

Actions that can help include mulching, installing rain barrels, watering only in the morning and evening to avoid mid-day evaporation and using drip irrigation.

National Wildlife Federation, 18 Apr 2007

(Don’t) Feed The Man Meat!

A report by Chatham House, “Changing Climate, Changing Diets: Pathways to Lower Meat Consumption,” released in late November, identifies the world’s appetite for meat as a major driver of climate change and concludes that a worldwide shift to healthier, more plant-based diets could bring about a 25% reduction in the gap between current global emissions plans and what is needed to prevent “dangerous” climate change.

“As governments look for strategies to close the Paris emissions gap quickly and cheaply, dietary change should be high on the list,” says Laura Wellesley, an author of the seminal report.

Newsweek, 8 Dec 2015

ban clean air!

It may seem counterintuitive, but cleaner air could actually be exacerbating global warming trends. The soot and other particles that make up air pollution tend to scatter light back out into space.

As countries around the globe have cleaned up their act, there are fewer particles to reflect light, meaning more sunlight is reaching the Earth’s surface and warming it, Martin Wild, a researcher at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, said Tuesday (Dec. 15) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Yahoo News, 29 Dec 2015

weeds on the move!

A recent CSIRO report for the Australian Government’s Land and Water Australia looked at what effects climate changes anticipated for 2030 and 2070 might have on the distribution of 41 weeds that pose a threat to agriculture (“sleeper” species) and the natural environment (“alert” species).

“We found that climate change will cause most of these weeds to shift south, with wet tropical species making the greatest move – over 1000km,” CSIRO researcher, Dr John Scott said.

“The predicted move south by both native and introduced plants would produce a ‘vacuum’ in northern Australia so, to prevent lurking species from invading, a new list of alert and sleeper weeds for this region needs to be developed,” Dr Scott said. Science Daily, 16 Apr 2009

but I thought….

The world’s dams are contributing millions of tonnes of harmful greenhouse gases and spurring on global warming, according to a US environmental agency.

International Rivers Network executive director Patrick McCully told Brisbane’s Riversymposium rotting vegetation and fish found in dams produced surprising amounts of methane – 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

Often it’s accepted that hydropower is a climate friendly technology but in fact probably all reservoirs around the world emit greenhouse gases and some of them, especially some of the ones in the tropics, emit very high quantities of greenhouse gases even comparable to, in some cases even much worse than, fossil fuels like coal and gas,” Mr McCully said.

The Age (Australia), 4 Sep 2007

head for the hills! – soon!

A study done by non-profit research organization Climate Central shows that even a seemingly minor temperature rise – 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit – on Earth will result in submerged cities around the world, and they’ve got the pictures to prove it.

“Two degrees Celsius warming will pose a long-term, existential danger to many great coastal cities and regions,” lead author Ben Strauss, vice president for sea level and climate impacts at Climate Central, told AFP and explains that a four-degree spike would double the danger.

Although the increase in temperature would take place over the course of 200 years, the group’s research says it’s more likely that these striking scenes wouldn’t actually occur for another 2,000 years.
New York Post, 9 Nov 2015

nature refuses to co-operate!

Global warming activists stormed Washington Monday for what was billed as the nation’s largest act of civil disobedience to fight climate change — only to see the nation’s capital virtually shut down by a major winter storm.

Schools and businesses were shuttered, lawmakers cancelled numerous appearances and the city came to a virtual standstill as Washington was blasted with its heaviest snowfall of the winter.

One protester named Kat had planned to get arrested and be bailed out Monday but decided to stay put and donate her money to a good cause instead.

“I don’t want to travel in the snow today. However, I am donating my bail money to fight mountaintop removal,” she wrote to the Climate Action Web site.

Foxnews, 2 Mar 2009

The South is not going to rise again!

Seventy miles south of New Orleans, on the eastern end of Grand Isle, a small tide gauge records the Gulf of Mexico rising against the surrounding land.

The monthly increases are microscopic, narrower than a single strand of hair. Climate scientists recording those results think they add up to something huge.

The gauge, they say, may be quietly writing one of the first big stories in the age of global warming: the obituary for much of southeast Louisiana.

In 50 to 100 years, the numbers tell them, rising seas caused by global warming, combined with the steady subsidence of Louisiana’s coast, will lift the Gulf of Mexico two to six feet higher in many areas surrounding New Orleans.

“This area is facing big trouble from climate change. I think there’s consensus on that point,” said Virginia Burkett, a senior researcher at the National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette and one of the nation’s foremost experts on climate change.

The Times-Picayune, 13 Dec 2008

flying squirrels team up!

Many species have responded to contemporary climate change through shifts in their geographic range. This could lead to increased sympatry between recently diverged species; likely increasing the potential for hybridization.

Recently, following a series of warm winters, southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) in Ontario, Canada rapidly expanded their northern range limit resulting in increased sympatry with the closely related northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus).

To our knowledge, this is the first report of hybrid zone formation following a range expansion induced by contemporary climate change. This is also the first report of hybridization between North American flying squirrel species.

“Global Change Biology, Volume 16, Issue 1 January 2010 Pages 113–121

moving mountains

The erosion caused by rainfall directly affects the movement of continental plates beneath mountain ranges, says a University of Toronto geophysicist — the first time science has raised the possibility that human-induced climate change could affect the deep workings of the planet.

“In geology, we have this idea that erosion’s going to affect merely the surface,” says Russell Pysklywec, a professor of geology who creates computer models where he can control how a range of natural processes can create and modify mountains over millions of years.

“These are tiny, tiny changes on the surface, but integrating them over geologic time scales affects the roots of the mountains, as opposed to just the top of them,” says Pysklywec. “It goes right down to the mantle thermal engine — the thing that’s actually driving plate tectonics. It’s fairly surprising — it hasn’t been shown before.”

Eureka Alert, 20 Apr 2006

black-capped chickadees turn up their noses

In yet another example of the far-reaching impact of global warming, a University of Rhode Island student found evidence that suggests some songbirds may avoid eating insects that consume leaves exposed to high levels of carbon dioxide.

URI senior Martina Miller of Kingston, working in cooperation with Associate Professor Scott McWilliams, Ph.D. candidate David Podlesak and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, studied the food preferences exhibited by black-capped chickadees.

“It was clear that the birds could tell the difference between the different caterpillars and they had strong preferences,” Miller said. “They’re intelligent birds with a keen capacity to learn.” medical news today, 27 Jan 2004

researcher fails to avoid overused cliché!

Twenty-first century disasters such as killer heat waves in Europe, wildfires in the United States, droughts in Australia and deadly flooding in Mozambique, Thailand and Pakistan highlight how vulnerable humanity is to extreme weather, says a massive new report from a Nobel Prize-winning group of scientists released early Monday.

The dangers are going to worsen as the climate changes even more, the report’s authors say, adding that no one is immune. “We’re all sitting ducks,” Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer, one of the main authors of the 32-volume report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said in an interview. theblaze, 31 Mar 2014

wracked with guilt

Magazine editor Alison Potter, 34, who lives with her husband Joe Ferrara, 35, and their two-year-old son Milo, in Sydney’s Rozelle, was spurred on to do her bit when she became pregnant with their second child.

She decided to view global warming as “an opportunity to change our values and standards of living.” Despite the spin, Potter says climate change is also her biggest fear. “I wonder what the future holds for my kids.”

And she struggles with guilt – when she flies (because the aviation industry’s contribution to greenhouse gases) and when she’s idling at traffic lights (fuelling the skies with carbon dioxide).

“I see everyone else beetling round in cars and I wonder how we’ll all make the transition to less car dependence,” says Potter “Having said that my husband and I splashed out on a Toyota Prius [a hybrid petrol-electric car] and that does make me feel less guilty.” And she’s planted hardy native plants.

“I water once a week and avoid putting things in pots so they can sort themselves out with water from the ground,” says Potter.

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

water world

The real greenhouse gas index (GGI) that we must measure is the concentration of all greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and we must be able to see that we are lowering the emissions at a global level.

It is the GGI that will be far more important than the Dow Jones or the all Ordinaries and we will need to watch it come down every year.

The Hunter Region in particular will be hit hard by increased heat stress and disease in humans and other animals, worse droughts and water shortages, severe storms and flash flooding and sea-level rise that will inundate all the land many metres above the current shoreline.

The expensive waterfront property, port infrastructure and our beaches will become water world. All these huge costly changes will occur within the lifetime of the current and next generation of Novocastrians; that is 50 to 100 years from now. Dr Glenn Albrecht, associate professor in environmental studies at the University of Newcastle in the Newcastle Herald, (Australia) 25 Jul 2007 – screen copy held by this website

not all beer and skittles

According to Jim Salinger, a climate scientist at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the warming globe will likely cause a decline in the production of malting barley, which, when combined with the scarcity of hops right now, stands to have a profound and negative impact on the world’s beer supply starting now, and for decades to come.

“It will mean either there will be pubs without beer or the cost of beer will go up,” Salinger told the Institute of Brewing and Distilling convention. He said climate change could cause a drop in beer production within 30 years, especially in parts of Australia, as dry areas become drier and water shortages worsen.

Treehugger, 10 Apr 2008

don’t snow on my parade!

World leaders flying into Copenhagen today to discuss a solution to global warming will first face freezing weather as a blizzard dumped 10 centimeters (4 inches) of snow on the Danish capital overnight.

“Temperatures will stay low at least the next three days,” Henning Gisseloe, an official at Denmark’s Meteorological Institute, said today by telephone, forecasting more snow in coming days. “There’s a good chance of a white Christmas.”

Delegates from 193 countries have been in Copenhagen since Dec. 7 to discuss how to fund global greenhouse gas emission cuts. U.S. President Barack Obama will arrive before the summit is scheduled to end tomorrow.

Bloomberg News, 17 Dec 2009

ban short nosed dogs!

You thought penguins were in gravest danger of extinction from global warming.

Now bulldogs, boxers, Pekinese, pugs and French mastiffs are among the breeds of dogs that may not see out many more Australian summers, experts say. Rising temperatures could also cast aside Persian cats in favour of fuller-faced felines.

Citing Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, RSPCA chief veterinarian Chris Thurgood said forecasts of frequent 40 degree days would gradually deplete local stocks of short-nosed dogs and cats, which typically suffer from respiratory problems and heat stress.

“Darwin’s theory will take care of them,” he said. “They won’t be around in the future; they won’t last.”

The director of Melbourne University’s veterinary teaching hospital, Mark Davis, said dog owners should act responsibly by opting for long-nosed or long-tongued breeds such as greyhounds or golden retrievers.

Dogs cool themselves by panting, which makes summer more difficult for breeds like bulldogs and pugs, which typically have squashed airways.

The Age (Australia), 20 Jan 2008

The time has come, the walrus said …

Nobody knows how many walruses the world holds.

But researchers have little doubt that the figure is on a downward slide, as the polar ice sheet on which the mammal depends for every stage of its life thins and retreats from beneath its flippered feet.

“The ice is melting three weeks earlier in the spring than it did 20 years ago, and it’s re-forming a month later in the fall,” said Carleton Ray of the University of Virginia, who has studied walruses since the 1950s.

“There’s no question that these changes are very bad for walruses,” Dr. Ray added, as they are for other ice dwellers like polar bears and four species of the walrus’s pinniped kin: the ribbon, ringed, spotted and bearded seals. New York Times, 20 May 2008

nervous herbivores

A new study has discovered that predators help to fight climate change. Plant matter stores a huge amount of carbon, yet herbivores eat plants. When predators hunt and kill the herbivores they are allowing a few more plants to survive and grow.

ENN gave examples of the elk and grasshopper that can be found in abundance on wild grasslands in the US. Both consume large amounts of carbon absorbing vegetation, but are in turn killed and eaten by wolves and ambush spiders.

The study, published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that the presence of the predators made the herbivores more nervous and agitated, forcing them to look up more in search of the predators, and therefore affording them less time to graze on plants.

Professor Oswald Schmitz, from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, said that “the results provide some new food for thought about how we might use animals to manage carbon release to the atmosphere.”

oilprice.com, 21 Jun 2014

lopsided world

Extra precipitation expected as a result of global warming could create a lopsided world in which sea ice increases around the South Pole while the far north melts away.

“Most people have heard of climate change and how rising air temperatures are melting glaciers and sea ice in the Arctic,” said Dylan Powell of the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

“However, findings from our simulations suggest a counterintuitive phenomenon. Some of the melt in the Arctic may be balanced by increases in sea ice volume in the Antarctic.”

Live Science, 29 Jun 2005

Mother Earth gets a voice!

Bolivia’s climate summit has had moments of joy, levity and absurdity. Yet underneath it all, you can feel the emotion that provoked this gathering: rage against helplessness.

The Bolivian government got the ball rolling by proposing four big ideas:

  • that nature should be granted rights that protect ecosystems from annihilation (a “Universal Declaration of Mother Earth Rights”);
  • that those who violate those rights and other international environmental agreements should face legal consequences (a “Climate Justice Tribunal”);
  • that poor countries should receive various forms of compensation for a crisis they are facing but had little role in creating (“Climate Debt”);
  • and that there should be a mechanism for people around the world to express their views on these topics (“World People’s Referendum on Climate Change”).

A New Climate Movement In Bolivia, By Naomi Klein – Countercurrents.org, 23 Apr 2010

squirrels needed!

For people who feel an acute unease about the future of the planet, a small but growing number of psychotherapists now offer a treatment designed to reduce worries as well as carbon footprints: ecopsychology.

But ecopsychology can help patients come to terms with their feelings about the natural world, said Thomas Doherty, who teaches an introductory course to ecopsychology at the Graduate School of Education and Counseling at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.

Since she took Dr. Doherty’s ecopsychology class last fall, Angeline Tiamson, a graduate student earning a master’s degree in counseling at Lewis & Clark, has embarked on a new way of thinking.

When she is on campus, she drifts to the low, wide trunk of an old black walnut tree, a spot she found during a nature exercise for class. She sits there for several minutes: no iPod, no cellphone, no laptop.

She rubs her hand over the bark, and sniffs the empty shells left behind by squirrels. New York Times, 16 Feb 2008

in search of a gender neutral glacier

A critical but overlooked aspect of the human dimensions of glaciers and global change research is the relationship between gender and glaciers.

While there has been relatively little research on gender and global environmental change in general (Moosa and Tuana, 2014; Arora-Jonsson, 2011), there is even less from a feminist perspective that focuses on gender (understood here not as a male/female binary, but as a range of personal and social possibilities) and also on power, justice, inequality, and knowledge production in the context of ice, glacier change, and glaciology.

Through a review and synthesis of a multi-disciplinary and wide-ranging literature on human-ice relations, this paper proposes a feminist glaciology framework to analyze human-glacier dynamics, glacier narratives and discourse, and claims to credibility and authority of glaciological knowledge through the lens of feminist studies.

Feminist glaciology asks how knowledge related to glaciers is produced, circulated, and gains credibility and authority across time and space. Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research, Mark Carey, M Jackson, Alessandro Antonello, Jaclyn Rushing – Progress in Human Geography 1–24, January 10, 2016

thanks to David Hanig

paper bag deflates

In studying the subject in even more detail over the 1950-2013 period, it was further found that this phenomenon could “account for between 70 and 80% of the recorded warming trend in Western Mediterranean cities.”

And in light of this discovery, Quereda et al. pose the important question: “are urban areas contributing to the observed warming trend on which climate change is based?” to which they respond by stating that “the answer to be drawn from our analysis is fully affirmative.”

And so they conclude by stating that “in these Western Mediterranean cities, the Urban Heat Island could account for up to 80% of the recorded warming.”

CO2 Science: The Impacts of Urban Heat Islands on Natural Warming Trends

thanks to David Mulberry

a wake-up call?

Climate change is coming for you in the night. That’s the conclusion of scientists who study how heat disturbs sleep—and how projected warming is expected to make bad sleep even worse.

Led by Nick Obradovich of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, a team of researchers are the first to document the relationship between rising temperatures and poor sleep.

Solomon Hsiang, who studies the effects of climate change on human behavior and economics at the University of California, Berkeley, credits the new study as the first to methodically analyze temperature, climate, and sleep.

The results, he said, “point toward systematic and important effects.”

Bloomberg, 27 May 2017

thanks to David Hanig

everyone into the gondolas!

By the end of the century, Venice – Italy’s City of Water – could face daily floods, and according to a new study, the costly and controversial flood barriers now being built might not be able to protect it.

Laura Carbognin at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Venice and colleagues combined data on land subsidence in the city with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s forecasts of global sea level rise.

They then calculated how this “personalised” sea-level forecast would change the city’s daily tides. When the tide rises above 110 centimetres, Venetians call it acqua alta (“high water”).

This currently happens about four times a year, but Carbognin’s team found that by the end of the century high water could swamp the city between 30 and 250 times a year. The impact on the local environment would be considerable – Carbognin calls it an “unsustainable aggression”. New Scientist, 24 Aug 2009

coverup alleged!

A former Canadian defense minister is demanding governments worldwide disclose and use secret alien technologies obtained in alleged UFO crashes to stem climate change.

“I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation … that could be a way to save our planet,” Paul Hellyer, 83, told the Ottawa Citizen.

“We need to persuade governments to come clean on what they know. Some of us suspect they know quite a lot, and it might be enough to save our planet if applied quickly enough,” he said.

TreeHugger, 28 Feb 2007

Field mustard plants beat the rush!

Field mustard plants have evolved in response to an extreme, four-year-long drought in southern California, which some sources have linked to global warming.

These plants flower and produce seeds near the end of the rainy season, but when the rainy season is cut short by a drought, late blooming plants may wither and die before they can produce seeds.

This form of natural selection favors early bloomers. Is just four years enough time to see the results of this evolutionary shift?

Researchers compared plants grown from wild seeds collected before and after the drought and found that post-drought plants had evolved to flower much earlier — sometimes by as much as 10 days!

Understanding Evolution, Jul 2008

blame McDonalds!

McDonald’s spend over $1.8 billion every year worldwide on advertising and promotions, trying to cultivate an image of being a ‘caring’ and ‘green’ company that is also a fun place to eat.

Children are lured in (dragging their parents behind them) with the promise of toys and other gimmicks.

But behind the smiling face of Ronald McDonald lies the reality – McDonald’s only interest is money, making profits from whoever and whatever they can, just like all multinational companies…..McDonald’s are the world’s largest user of beef. Methane emitted by cattle reared for the beef industry is a major contributor to the ‘global warming’ crisis.

Modern intensive agriculture is based on the heavy use of chemicals which are damaging to the environment. What’s Wrong with McDonalds, 1 Feb 2001

gardeners flying blind!

There are many things gardeners can do to cope with climate change. And at the same time, they can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and take other steps to slow the warming of the planet.

That’s the message delivered by David Wolfe, professor in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University. While gardeners everywhere like to complain about the weather, now they have to contend with an increasingly unpredictable climate.

“We are in the unfortunate situation of being the first generation of gardeners, ever, who cannot rely on historical weather records to tell us what our climate is, or what to expect in the future,” writes Wolfe. Cornell Climate Change

(c) Can Stock Photo / HitToon

That’s deth-picable!

It may be the stuff folklore or fairy tales are made of, but is it plausible for humans to evolve into some kind of species of mer-people? What about turning into a species that have no teeth? An expert says that theoretically, these are feasible.

It won’t happen in the near future, but an evolutionary scientist predicted that mankind’s next generation may possibly develop several characteristics such as webbed feet and translucent eyelids in order to adapt to changes in the environment like rising sea levels.

A study led by the University of Florida and published last year had revealed that sea levels could rise by 20 feet and affect low-lying areas worldwide because of climate change.

“As the planet warms, the poles warm even faster,” said Geochemist Andrea Dutton, who was part of the Florida study.

Tech Times, 14 Jan 2016

Tropical fruit flies taking over!

Scientists have been studying fruit fly genetics for a century. When they began to examine the genes found in whole populations of wild flies, they noticed a curious pattern.

Certain chromosomal markers (inversions) were common in populations living in warmer climates near the equator, and others were common in more polar, cool-weather populations.

It wasn’t clear what the genes associated with these different markers did exactly, but they seemed to help the flies cope with their divergent climates.

Now, scientists have gone back to many of the fly populations first studied — and have found that as the global climate has warmed, the warm-weather genetic markers are becoming more and more common.

Of the 22 fly populations on three continents that experienced warming trends, 21 seem to have already evolved in response to the climactic shift.

Berkeley University: Understanding Evolution, Jul 2008

Still hope for tropical flies!

Scientists believe some tropical species may be able to evolve and adapt to the effects of climate change. The new findings published in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests some sensitive rainforest-restricted species may survive climate change and avoid extinction.

But only if the change is not too abrupt and dramatically beyond the conditions that a species currently experiences. Dr Van Heerwaarden and Dr Carla M. Sgrò, from the Faculty of Science extended on an experiment from the 2000s in which tropical flies native to Australian rain forests called Drosophila birchii, were taken out of the damp rainforest and exposed to very dry conditions, mimicking the effects of potential climate change.

In the original experiment the flies died within hours and despite rescuing those that survived longest and allowing them to breed for over 50 generations, the flies were no more resistant, suggesting they didn’t have the evolutionary capacity to survive. Dr Sgrò said this finding suggests there is genetic variation present in these flies, which means they can evolve in response to climate change.

“Tropical species make up the vast majority of the world’s biodiversity and climactic models predict these will be most vulnerable to climate change. However these models do not consider the extent to which evolutionary response may buffer the negative impacts of climate change.”

“Our research indicates that the genes that help flies temporarily survive extreme dryness are not the same as those that help them resist more moderate conditions. The second set of genes are the ones that enable these flies to adapt,” she said. “We have much work to do but this experiment gives us hope that some tropical species have the capacity to survive climate change,” said Dr Sgrò.

Monash University, 29 Jul 2014

window closing

The chief UN climate negotiator has warned the world’s political leaders they must “act on the information provided by science” as they head to the Bali climate negotiations next month and foreshadowed that billions of dollars will need to be invested in clean energy.

Mr de Boer said there was a “window of opportunity of just 10 to 15 years to halt the march to dangerous climate change”.

Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Nov 2007

dog days

Global warming has been blamed for everything from an increase in hurricanes to rising sea levels and polar glacial activity.

Could it also be affecting the health and well-being of your dog?

The calamity of canine heartworm disease continues to prove deadly to dogs across the United States. What might be worse is that the warming of our planet may be contributing to the spread of this disease.

Canine heartworms are spread by more than 70 species of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes require warmth and humidity to survive and reproduce.

East Bay Times, 16 Mar 2009

trifecta of troubles

Ducks, geese and other migratory waterfowl face substantial population declines during this century in North America from a warmer climate and shrinking wetlands habitat caused by global warming, according to scientific research presented in a new National Wildlife Federation report.

The Waterfowler’s Guide to Global Warming reports that ducks and geese that use America’s flyways face “a trifecta of troubles caused by global warming,” says National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger, “including major loss of prime breeding grounds, a reduction of coastal winter habitat and disruptions in migration.”

Global warming is setting up ducks and geese for a Pandora’s box of problems that could devastate populations across the nation, Schweiger says.

National Wildlife Federation, 14 Jun 2005

oops

In March, European Union leaders agreed to set a binding climate-change target to make biofuel account for 10 per cent of all Europe’s transport fuels by 2020.

However, the executive branch of the European Union, the European Commission, has since admitted that the objective may have the unintended consequence of speeding up the destruction of tropical rainforests in South-East Asia, resulting in actually increasing, not reducing, global warming.

Research by Friends of the Earth shows up to 87 per cent of deforestation in Malaysia is a result of new oil-palm plantations.

Vast swathes of rainforest are also burnt annually on Borneo (part of both Malaysia and Indonesia), and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, releasing millions of tones of carbon dioxide in the process.

Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Oct 2007

You’re going to need an ocean, of calamine lotion ….

Poison ivy is the number one outdoor skin allergy in the world and grows in every state in the country except California, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Now, local doctors say it’s more potent than ever, and it boils down to the air we breathe. With more carbon dioxide in the air today, the leaves grow larger, making the allergy-causing oils, supercharged.

It takes less than a grain of salt to cause red, itchy blisters that can last for weeks. Dr. Daniel Aires, director of dermatology at the University of Kansas Hospital, said he has seen more cases of poison ivy in his practice. kctv5, 17 Jun 2015

the black-throated diver, capercaillie and dotterel need to spread their wings!

The RSPB today called for urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid a ‘calamitous’ impact on birds.

A new report published today by the conservation charity shows that if climate change is not slowed down, the potential distribution of average bird species by the end of this century will shift nearly 342 miles (550km) to the north-east – equivalent to the distance from Plymouth to Newcastle.

Some species, including the black-throated diver, snow bunting, capercaillie and dotterel, could be left with few areas of suitable climate in the UK.

“To enable these potential new colonists to gain a foothold we must prepare for their arrival by giving them the habitat they need and the freedom from persecution they deserve,” said Mark Avery, the RSPB’s conservation director.

The Guardian, 15 Jan 2008

watch out for falling snails!

Nina Pinto is in no doubt that sea snails are tenacious creatures. To find out how strongly they could cling to the wall of a fish tank, the year 10 student from Hornsby Girls High glued tiny hooks to their shells.

She attached each snail to a pulley and added weights until its foot lost its grip and it dropped off.

Her purpose was to see if reductions in the water’s salinity – a possible consequence of climate change – affected the snails’ ability to hold on. As the salinity of the water decreased, so did the snails’ staying power.

“If sea levels rise there could also be stronger currents that pull them off,” she said. Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Oct 2007

watch out for speeding satellites

A primary cause of a warmer planet’s carbon dioxide emissions is having effects that reach into space with a bizarre twist.

Air in the atmosphere’s outermost layer is very thin, but air molecules still create drag that slows down satellites, requiring engineers to periodically boost them back into their proper orbits.

But the amount of carbon dioxide up there is increasing.

And while carbon dioxide molecules in the lower atmosphere release energy as heat when they collide, thereby warming the air, the sparser molecules in the upper atmosphere collide less frequently and tend to radiate their energy away, cooling the air around them.

With more carbon dioxide up there, more cooling occurs, causing the air to settle. So the atmosphere is less dense and creates less drag.Livescience, 16 Aug 2011

Vinegar flies behind the times

Drosophila, the vinegar fly, gives us clues about climate change, reports Geoff Maslen.

The insects are released in an area where there is no food resource other than a bucket of rotting banana mush. The students capture the flies with nets, put them in tubes and return to the laboratory where they are go under UV light and are separated.

Professor Hoffmann says that on a hot day the flies can travel up to 150 metres but in cold weather they move only a few metres from their release point. But what does all this effort prove?

“One way animals can counter the effects of climatic extremes is via physiological acclimation,” Professor Hoffmann says.

But acclimating to one extreme decreases their ability to survive under different conditions. If temperatures fluctuate, organisms acclimated to cold or hot conditions can suffer a decrease in fitness as temperatures move to the middle or the opposite extreme.

If you look at some of these specialist species that are very restricted in their distribution they don’t seem to have the adaptive potential, Professor Hoffmann says.

“As climate change comes in, those species will have lot more difficulty coping.”

The Age (Autralia), 25 Feb 2008

no clean bill of health

In a speech tonight to mark World Health Day, Dr Grant Blashki says climate change is already having direct and indirect effects on Australia’s health, and the problems are set to get worse.

His call for the medical profession to treat climate change as a health issue and address it as such is being echoed today around the country and the world, as the World Health Organisation chose “protecting health from climate change” as its theme.

Dr Blashki, a senior research fellow in the University of Melbourne’s Primary Care Research Unit, says general practitioners and other health care professionals will need to develop strategies to help patients deal with concerns. He said patients who came to him with depression or anxiety were increasingly citing climate change news as something they were having trouble coping with.

“These people tend to have a low threshold to taking on worries. When they pick up the paper and see a small part of Antarctica disintegrating, they take it on board,” he said. “They pick up on the negative things going on in the world. It comes down to maintaining hope, to get people motivated, not despairing. Action is a great stress reliever.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Apr 2008

scientist nearly gives game away!

Climate change over the past two million years has boosted human evolution by forcing us to adapt to changing conditions and allowing us to migrate to new areas.

Researchers found that far from hindering our development, periods when the earth is either cooling or warming up have actually been highly beneficial.

Experts from the National History Museum and Cambridge University have identified five key time periods when shifts in global climate have resulted in accelerated social and genetic evolution.

Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum and author of The Origin of Our Species told the Sunday Times: ‘Climate change has been a major player in our evolution. It created the conditions that encouraged our early ancestors to come down from the trees and later to spread out of Africa and across the globe. It made us what we are today.’

The Royal Society is holding a conference this week where details of recent research will be released. The scientists are keen to point out they are not suggesting that modern global warming is beneficial.

Daily Mail, 21 Nov 2011

giant icebergs!

A giant iceberg twice the length of Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” Stadium has been spotted floating off Australia and could be headed for New Zealand, scientists said on Thursday.

The ice chunk, measuring some 700 metres (2,300 feet) long with an estimated depth of 350 metres, caused a stir when it was sighted by experts based on Australia’s remote Macquarie Island.

“I’ve never seen anything like it — we looked out to the horizon and just saw this huge floating island of ice,” said fur seal biologist Dean Miller.

Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist Neal Young said the flat-topped slab could break into dozens of smaller icebergs as it moves in the direction of New Zealand, causing a possible shipping hazard.

“It’s rare to make a sighting like this — it’s certainly impressive-looking,” Young told AFP. He said the iceberg had probably split from a major Antarctic ice shelf nine years ago, and said more could be expected in the area if global warming continues.

“If the current trends in global warming were to continue I would anticipate seeing more icebergs and the large ice shelves breaking up,” he added. Phys Org, 12 Nov 2009

checkerspot butterfly paddles its own canoe!

The report last month from a butterfly conference in England was a bit different, however. It concerned the endangered quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino), well known for being threatened by climate change.

Many experts believed the species was doomed unless humans collected the butterflies and moved them north; their path to higher ground seemed to be blocked by the megalopolis of Los Angeles.

But at the conference, according to an account in the Guardian, Camille Parmesan of the Marine Sciences Institute at Plymouth University in the U.K., who has studied the quino checkerspot for years, reported that it had miraculously shifted its range to higher altitudes. Furthermore, it had somehow learned to lay its eggs on a new host plant.

“Every butterfly biologist who knew anything about the quino in the mid-1990s thought it would be extinct by now, including me,” Parmesan told the Guardian.

National Geographic, 6 May 2014

enemy identified!

Bolivian President Evo Morales said capitalism is to blame for global warming and the accelerated deterioration of the planetary ecosystem in a speech today opening an international conference on climate change and the “rights of Mother Earth.”

“The main cause of the destruction of the planet Earth is capitalism and in the towns where we have lived, where we respected this Mother Earth, we all have the ethics and the moral right to say here that the central enemy of Mother Earth is capitalism,” said Morales, who is Bolivia’s first fully indigenous head of state in the 470 years since the Spanish invasion.

Countercurrents.org, 21 Apr 2010

early bird butterflies

As Melbourne warms, the city’s butterflies are emerging at least 10 days earlier in spring than they did in 1945, according to research that reveals for the first time a causal link between increasing greenhouse gases, the city’s warming environment and the timing of a natural event.

Using emergence data on the common brown butterfly dating back 65 years, researchers from Melbourne University said the findings were unequivocal.

“There’s very little room to doubt that now,” said lead author Michael Kearney, of the zoology department. “Animals are doing things earlier because the climate is warming, because of human activity.”

The Age, 18 Mar 2010

blue-tongue moves north

A disease that normally only occurs in tropical or subtropical parts of the world made its first appearance in the UK last spring. It could be the first hard evidence that global warming is starting to change disease patterns around the world.

While this story carries an important message about human disease, this time at least, it was an animal disease that has moved. It’s the blue tongue virus, which affects cattle, sheep and goats.

It can be a devastating illness with up to a 70% mortality rate in sheep. The warmer temperatures have allowed blue tongue to gradually spread northwards in recent years, from Africa into southern Europe. That’s because the virus is carried by midges, which have headed north with the warmer weather.

But a shock came two years ago…blue tongue stopped following its well-predicted path and suddenly jumped into much colder northern Europe.

Professor Peter Mertens: An experienced veterinarian in Holland who saw a sick sheep and said: “Hey guys that looks like blue tongue to me, you know, out of the blue” and I imagine most people said “you’re kidding, it’s never been this far north”.

ABC (Australia) Catalyst, 8 May 2008

watch your step!

The country’s electricity and water supplies are at high risk from climate change, and immediate action is needed to prepare for the threat, a report presented to the Federal Government has warned.

Dams, roads, power stations and even paved footpaths are all at risk of damage from the increasing number of droughts and bushfires and rising sea levels during the next 30 to 50 years, said the report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

“Adaptation to cope effectively with these situations is expected to require major investment with integrated, high-level strategic planning,” the report said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Nov 2008