Earth has a fever!

The dinosaurs dominated the earth for 160 million years. We are in danger of putting our future at risk after a mere quarter of a million years. The force of the Gaia thesis has never been more apparent. When an alien infection invades the body, the body develops a fever in order to concentrate all its energies to eliminate the alien organism. In most cases it succeeds, and the body recovers. But where it does not, the body dies. The Guardian, 14/2/03

birds getting bigger

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Birds are getting bigger in central California, and that was a big surprise for Rae Goodman and her colleagues. What’s making the birds bigger? The researchers think that the trend is due to climate change…Climate change may affect body size in a variety of ways, they note in their paper.

For instance, birds might get bigger as they store more fat to ride out severe weather events, which are expected to be more common under global climate change. Climate change could also alter a region’s plant growth, which may eventually lead to changes in a bird’s diet that affect its size.
San Franciso State University News, 31 Oct 2011

birds getting smaller

Australian bird species are getting smaller due to global warming suggest researchers. “Our results demonstrate a generalised response by eight avian species to some major environmental change over the last 100 years or so, probably global warming.” write Dr Janet Gardner and colleagues from the Autralian National University. “It’s the broad-scale, consistent pattern that we’re seeing that makes us conclude that global warming is likely to be causing the changes,” Dr. Gardner told The Associated Press.
ABC (Australia) News 12 Aug 2009

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a non-viable species?

The Archbishop of Canterbury warned last night that the damage being inflicted on the planet by global warming threatened humans’ “viability as a species”. Dr Rowan Williams, in his first major speech on the environment since becoming archbishop, backed the description of climate change by Sir David King, Tony Blair’s chief scientific adviser, as “a weapon of mass destruction”.
The Telegraph (UK), 6 Jul 2004

agreement or oblivion!

Delegates at the U.N. climate conference struggled to agree Tuesday on whether they will call on rich nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by specific amounts, and the U.N. chief warned that the human race faces oblivion if it fails to confront global warming. “We are at a crossroad,” he added. “One path leads to a comprehensive climate change agreement, the other to oblivion. The choice is clear.” The Washington Post, 11 Dec 2007

it’s so scary, I need to see a psychologist!

4.1. Climate change is regarded as the most serious global health threat of the 21st Century (Costello et al., 2009). The major threats, both direct and indirect, come from changing patterns of disease, water and food insecurity, vulnerable shelter and human settlements, extreme climatic events such as more catastrophic bushfires, droughts, floods and cyclones, and population growth and migration.

4.2 The main categories of risks to physical health in Australia come from health impacts of extreme weather events, temperature extremes, vector-borne infectious diseases, food-borne infectious diseases, water-borne infectious diseases and risks from poor water quality, diminished food production, increased in urban air pollution, (Horton & McMichael, 2008)

4.3 The main mental health consequences of climate change will come from direct impacts of extreme weather events, disruptions to the social, economic and demographic determinants of mental health (e.g., from impaired rural livelihoods, increased costs of basic services), and emotional stresses and mental health problems in response to perceptions/fears of climate change and to family stresses.

4.4 The most severe impacts of climate change will fall on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities who have played the smallest part per capita in contributing to the rise in greenhouse gases. Variations in vulnerability to climate change impacts are evident across nations and communities, and also across social class, age, and gender, with women, children, the elderly, and future generations more vulnerable.
The Australian Psychological Society position statement on Psychology and Climate Change, August 2010

therapy_session

stirring the pot

Recently, the scientific entrepreneur Nathan Myhrvold, whose company Intellectual Ventures has invested in several geoengineering ideas, said that we could cool the earth by stirring the seas. He has proposed deploying a million plastic tubes, each about a hundred metres long, to roil the water, which would help it trap more CO2.

“The ocean is this giant heat sink,’’ he told me. “But it is very cold. The bottom is nearly freezing. If you just stirred the ocean more, you could absorb the excess CO2 and keep the planet cold.”

The New Yorker, 14 May 2012

thanks to Andrew Mark Harding

to someone with purple-tinted glasses, everything looks purple

The local inhabitants along the river Dyak had a lot to say about climate change….Raimie, our wildlfe guide has also noticed that the heat arrives earlier in the dry season and that the season lasts longer.

One of the consequences of this shift is a greater prevalence of fire, and Raimie mentioned that a year earlier, in neighbouring Kalimantan, 1000 orang-utans burned to death — a significant proportion of the world’s population.

Such catastrophes are reported occasionally in the media but the link with climate change is almost never made.
The Age, 3 Nov 2007, “Seasons of change” an edited extract from An Explorer’s Notebook by Tim Flannery

monkeys on the move

The white-bearded De Brazza’s monkeys were found in the Great Rift Valley, a place they had never been spotted before, Richard Leakey, a prominent white Kenyan credited with ending the slaughter of the nation’s elephants, told Reuters in Nairobi. “That is telling us a lot about the climate change scenarios we are looking at now,” he said. “It puts climate change as the most critical consideration as we plan for the future.”Planet Ark, 1 Nov 2007

Earth gets Royal reprieve!

2009 –
Prince Charles told 200 business leaders in Rio de Janeiro that the world has “less than 100 months” to save the planet.

“As the world’s economy heads further into recession, it would be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture; to commit the sin, as we say in England and if you will pardon the terrible pun, of ‘not seeing the wood for the trees’. For we are, I fear, at a defining moment in the world’s history.”The Telegraph (UK) 12 Mar 2009
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2015 –
Tackling global warming is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced, the Prince of Wales tells today’s Western Morning News. In an exclusive interview before the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall arrive for a three-day visit to the Westcountry on Monday, His Royal Highness warns that we have just 35 years to save the planet from catastrophic climate change.

He says with a global population boost of around three billion by 2050 the 90 trillion dollars of global infrastructure development predicted to take place over the next 20 years must be “as carbon neutral as possible”.Western Morning News, 18 Jul 2015

Comment: climate change and the madness of crowds

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

This is from the preface to ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds’ by Charles Mackay, first published in 1841. The book chronicles popular follies, including the South Sea stock crisis and other economic bubbles, witch trials, fortune telling, alchemy and many others.

Particularly relevant to today’s belief in catastrophic climate change are the several instances of “terror of the end of the world”.

Around 1000AD a belief spread that the return of the messiah was imminent. Many headed towards Jerusalem in numbers “so great that they were compared to a desolating army.”

“Every phenomenon of nature filled them with alarm. A thunderstorm sent them all upon their knees in mid-march. It was the opinion that thunder was the voice of God, announcing the day of judgment…. Every shooting star furnished occasion for a sermon, in which the sublimity of the approaching judgment was the principal topic.”

This website maintains the book is compulsory reading for those attending the Paris climate conference at the end of the year.

shooting_star

get in quick

Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara warned on Wednesday the 2016 Olympics could be the last Games, with global warming an immediate threat to mankind. “It could be that the 2016 Games are the last Olympics in the history of mankind,” Ishihara told reporters at a Tokyo 2016 press event ahead of the vote.

“Global warming is getting worse. We have to come up with measures without which Olympic Games could not last long. “Scientists have said we have passed the point of no return,” said Ishihara. Reuters, 30 Sep 2009

trust the numbers

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A long investigation into the effects of greenhouse gases has strived to be objective, responsible, cautious and realistic. There are many opinions, floating around the blogosphere and newspaper opinion pieces, that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change lacks integrity and accountability. If this was true to any significant degree, it would be very serious for public policy. The Age, 9 Jan 2014, Author: Mary Voice, a climatologist and lecturer and was formerly head of the National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology

don’t trust the numbers

Scientists working on the most authoritative study on climate change were urged to cover up the fact that the world’s temperature hasn’t risen for the last 15 years, it is claimed. A leaked copy of a United Nations report, compiled by hundreds of scientists, shows politicians in Belgium, Germany, Hungary and the United States raised concerns about the final draft.

Published next week, it is expected to address the fact that 1998 was the hottest year on record and world temperatures have not yet exceeded it, which scientists have so far struggled to explain. The report is the result of six years’ work by UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is seen as the world authority on the extent of climate change and what is causing it – on which governments including Britain’s base their green policies.
Daily Mail, 20 Sep 2013

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extended world war

If we do not deal with climate change decisively, “what we’re talking about then is extended world war,” Lord Nicholas Stern, the eminent economist, said. What Lord Nicholas was telling them, was the potential for mass migrations setting off mass conflict. “Somehow we have to explain to people just how worrying that is,” the British economic thinker said.

If negotiators falter, if emissions reductions are not made soon and deep, the severe climate shifts and sea-level rises projected by scientists would be “disastrous.” It would “transform where people can live,” Stern said. “People would move on a massive scale. Hundreds of millions, probably billions of people would have to move if you talk about 4-, 5-, 6-degree increases” Homeland Security Newswire 24 Feb 2009

this isn’t exactly new

US Scientists are to conduct widespread trials of a new farming technique called adaptive multi-paddock grazing and which moves herds every 3 days. This helps to trap carbon dioxide from the air in the plant and in the soil. work by Dr Richard Teague at Texas A&M University that found that adaptive multi-paddock grazing could sequester an additional 30 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare over 10 years compared to conventional grazing.
Daily Mail (UK), 17 Feb 2015

simple!

According to research published today in the journal Science, global warming can be limited to 1.3 degrees above the pre-industrial levels by 2060 – less than the 2 degree rise that UN climate scientists warn is likely to trigger dangerous tipping points, The catch? We can’t build any new carbon dioxide-emitting power station or cars.
The Age (Australia), 10 Sep 2010

insect taxi service

Now a new study by Durham University shows human beings could help by transporting the insects to cooler climes in the south. The researchers caught the Marbled White and Small Skipper butterflies in North Yorkshire and transported them in soft cages to safe areas in County Durham and Northumberland.

Eight years later the research, published in Conservation Letters, showed both species thriving in their new home. Professor Brian Huntley from Durham University said other species at risk of climate change could also be moved. The Telegraph (UK), 18 Feb 2009

Britain’s finest minds put their noses to the grindstone

Britain’s finest scientific minds have turned their attention to a problem that they claim is threatening the future of the planet – farm animal flatulence.

Experts at the Rrowett Research Institute in Aberdeen say the average cow contributes as much to global warming as a family car that travels 12,ooo miles. The scientists are now trying to produce new foodstuffs that result in livestock producing less methane.The Telegraph (UK), 20 Mar 2008

paying people to eat

Lord Stern, the former government advisor on climate change, yesterday predicted that a mechanism would be established to “pay the poor to eat” as part of efforts to cope with global warming. Increases in prices of food staples sparked riots on three continents in recent weeks and have in part been blamed on the effects of global warming.

Lord Stern’s 2006 report on the economic impact of climate change provided an apocalyptic view of a warming planet. At an energy industry summit yesterday the former head of the government economic service said he would be even more pessimistic if he was writing his report today. He said: “I was too reticent.”
The Telegraph (UK), 17 Apr 2008

CO2 scrubber

A group of scientists are devising a ‘CO2 scrubber’ which they claim will capture one tonne of CO2 from the air every day, about the same per passenger as a flight from London to New York, reducing the warming effect of greenhouse gases produced each year.

The ‘scrubber’ devices – small enough to fit inside a shipping container – would need to be produced in their millions to soak up human carbon emissions, and the CO2 trapped would still need to be disposed of. The prototype will cost about £100,000 and take about two years to construct at a laboratory in Tucson, Arizona.
The Telegraph (UK), 1 Jun 2008

a holiday used to be just a holiday

The man who inspired a generation of backpackers to see the world has claimed that travelling is environmentally destructive. Mark Ellingham, the founder the Rough Guide series of books, is urging holidaymakers to cut down on foreign flights.

He wants to stop the trend for “binge flying” and is calling for green taxes on overseas plane trips. He added:”Balancing all the positives and negatives, I’m not convinced there is such a thing as a ‘responsible’ or ‘ethical’ holiday.”

The Telegraph (UK), 7 May 2007

the hills are alive….

The mountains in Europe are growing taller and melting glaciers are partly responsible, scientists say. Heavy glaciers cause the Earth’s crust to flex inward slightly. When glaciers disappear, the crust springs back and the overlaying mountains are thrust skyward, albeit slowly.

The European Alps have been growing since the end of the last little Ice Age in 1850 when glaciers began shrinking as temperatures warmed, but the rate of uplift has accelerated in recent decades because global warming has sped up the rate of glacier melt, the researchers say.

The conclusion is based on a new computer model that assumes that over timescales of a few years to thousands of years, the surface of the Earth behaves like a very thick fluid.
Live Science, 4/8/06

screened houses

Fifteen thousand Australians would die each year from heat-related illnesses within the next 100 years and dengue fever would spread as far as Brisbane and Sydney if greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically reduced, a report warns.

Dengue fever, which is spread by mosquitoes, would also spread through Brisbane and Sydney by that time and remote and Aboriginal communities, people with low incomes and the elderly would be at highest risk.

“We’d be living in screened houses and would have to be much more vigilant about what we did in the backyard in terms of not having ponds and plants sitting around with water in them,” report co-author Rosalie Woodruff said.
The Age 23 Sep 2005

fish getting bigger but growing slower

Climate change is leading to bigger fish in shallow water, but they are growing slower at greater depths, CSIRO research in Tasmania suggests. These observations suggest that global climate change has enhanced some elements of productivity of shallow-water stocks but at the same time reduced the productivity and possibly the resilience of deep water stocks. The Australian research was published by the US National Academy of Sciences this week.
The Age, 27 Apr 2007

quick change

Scientists have found a mosquito that appears to have evolved and adapted to climatic changes induced by global warming— the first documented case of a genetic change in response to the apparent heating up of the planet. Even more surprising, said evolutionary biologist William Bradshaw, of the University of Oregon, in Eugene, who led the study, is that this evolutionary change can occur in as little as five years.
National Geographic, 5 Nov 2011

heart attacks

Many more people will die of heart problems as global warming continues, experts are warning. Climate extremes of hot and cold will become more common and this will put strain on people’s hearts, doctors say. A study in the British Medical Journal found that each 1C temperature drop on a single day in the UK is linked to 200 extra heart attacks.

Ellen Mason, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Although the increased risk is small, if there is a nationwide drop in average temperature it could equate to a significant number of heart attacks each day.
BBC News, 11 Aug 2010

no-one untouched

No one will be untouched by climate change with storm surges, flooding and heatwaves among the key risks of global warming in the coming decades, claim scientists.

This was the warning made in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II report. The report said that violent conflicts, food shortages and serious infrastructure damage were also predicted to become more widespread over the coming years.

‘We live in an era of man-made climate change,’ said Vicente Barros, co-chair of the IPCC study on climate change impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation, from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. ‘In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.’
Daily Mail, 31 Mar 2014