surprise, surprise!

Carbon offsets. The way this works is that you pay someone else to take action – by planting trees or investing in renewable energy sources – that will reduce greenhouse gases. That action acts as a proxy for your own emission cuts.

However, research by the University of NSW found many of the carbon certificates issued don’t represent additional cuts in emissions. In other words, some firms are being rewarded for doing things they would have done regardless of the financial incentive offered by the scheme.

For example, government agency, Forests NSW, generates certificates from its forests and sells the certificates to offset companies who then sell them to the public. But Forest NSW hasn’t planted any additional trees.
Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Mar 2007 – screen copy held by this website

ban trees, plants and soil!

Scientists at Bristol University in Britain say a recent surge in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is due to green house gas escaping from trees, plants and soils.

Global warming was making vegetation less able to absorb carbon pumped out by humans, such a shift could worsen predictions of the UN’s panel on Climate Change, which has warned there is less than a decade in which to tackle emissions to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

Measurements of carbon dioxide in air samples show unusually high levels in four of the past five years.
The Sydney Sun Herald, 13 May 2007 – screen copy held by this website

help the helmeted honeyeater!

Drought could be threatening Victoria’s state bird emblem, the endangered helmeted honeyeater, with research showing a “significant correlation” between declining rainfall and reduced egg laying.

Bruce Quin, the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s field ornithologist for the helmeted honeyeater, agreed the future of the Victorian bird looked grim. He said the number of breeding pairs at Yellingbo — 50 kilometres east of Melbourne — had fallen to a record low of 11 in the past breeding season, compared with 15 in 1989-90.
The Age (Australia), 20 Apr 2007

over the top

Australia needs a new “industrial revolution” to come up with an effective strategy against global warming, the Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery, will tell one of the country’s largest unions this week.

He will tell members of the Autralian Workers Union that climate change has occurred so quickly that the Government needs to think of it as like going to war.

While stopping short of endorsing either party, Professor Falannery’s speech tomorrow says: “We need a government willing to truly lead on the issue, one willing to get on a war footing, and willing to dip into our surplus to help fund a new industrial revolution that will give Australia’s industry and environment a new lease of life.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Feb 2007 – screen copy held by this website

sounds greenish to me

lightbulbThe inefficient standard light bulb could be phased out within three years to save up to 800,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The federal Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is expected today to announce a commitment to phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2009-10, a world first by a national government.

Colin Goldman, the head of Nelson Industries, a lighting importer, supported the move. Mr Goldman said compact fluorescent bulbs were available that emitted a range of light. “You can get warm white, which is a yellowish light, or natural, which is white, or day-light, which is more blueish.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Feb 2007

a wake up call

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects significant disruption to coffee production as the planet warms.

While some places might become more suitable to grow coffee as the planet warms, the drafts say that in many cases suitable growing land will contract significantly with 2 to 2.5 degrees of warming. An overall decline in good coffee growing areas by 2050 was found in all countries studied.
Sydney Morning Herald, 31 Mar 2014

damselfish in distress!

A study from scientists at James Cook University shows increased carbon dioxide levels impaired the senses of spiny damselfish, which live in the Great Barrier Reef.

Fish exposed to higher carbon dioxide levels – which are expected to increase in the oceans for several decades – showed impaired cognitive function, learning difficulties, slowed visual capacity and altered sense of smell and sound.

The damselfish also lose their ability to recognise threats, including the smells of predators when exposed to higher levels of carbon dioxide – and will even become attracted to them instead. Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Oct 2014

more tipping points

An average global temperature rise of 7.2F (4C), considered a dangerous tipping point, could happen by 2060, causing droughts around the world, sea level rises and the collapse of important ecosystems.

The Arctic could see an increase in temperatures of 28.8F (16C), while parts of sub Saharan Africa and North America would be devastated by an increase in temperature of up to 18F (10C).

Britain’s temperature would rise by the average 7.2F (4C) which would mean Mediterranean summers and an extended growing season for new crops like olives, vines and apricots.

However deaths from heat waves will increase, droughts and floods would become more common, diseases like malaria may spread to Britain and climate change refugees from across the world are likely to head to the country.

Dr Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, said the new study showed how important it was to try and reduce emissions.

The Telegraph (UK), 27 Sep 2009

like cats on a hot tin roof

When Kristina Vesk started working at the Cat Protection Society of NSW in 2006, she rarely saw kittens in winter. Now warmer weather means cats are breeding all year round, increasing the numbers of unwanted kittens and the threat to native wildlife from strays and feral cats.

Ms Vesk, the society’s chief executive, said there used to be weeks from June to September when the shelter saw very few, if any, kittens. But with the climate changing and temperatures rising, it seems cats are increasingly on heat.

“For the past three years, I don’t think we’ve experienced a full week at any time of year where we don’t have at least a couple of kittens in our care,” Ms Vesk said. “Kitten ‘season’ has grown longer and longer as we keep having … enough warm and sunny days in winter that make cats think it’s a good time to start breeding.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 8 Feb 2016

thanks to ddh

dog day afternoons

Leading pet behaviourists told The Independent that the number of depressed and unsettled dogs they have seen in recent months is unprecedented. And they suggested that the spate of wet winters could be at the root of the problem, as owners cut down on the daily walks that are crucial to keeping dogs’ spirits up.

“I’ve been working with dogs for more than 20 years and I can’t remember a time when they’ve been this bored. I tend to see boredom in bursts but I’m seeing it chronically this winter,” said Carolyn Menteith, a dog behaviourist who was named Britain’s Instructor of the Year in 2015.

She – like many scientists and meteorologists – puts this down to climate change and expects to see more bored dogs in the future as global warming unleashes increasingly frequent and intense bouts of winter rainfall.
The Independent, 5 Feb 2016

thanks to ddh

if you try hard enough everything can be about climate change

“Scholars increasingly recognize the magnitude of human impacts on planet Earth, some are even ready to define a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene,” said anthropologist and fire expert Christopher I. Roos, an associate professor at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and a co-author on the research.

“But it is an open question as to when that epoch began,” said Roos. “One argument suggests that indigenous population collapse in the Americas resulted in a reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of forest regrowth in the early colonial period. Until now the evidence has been fairly ambiguous. Our results indicate that high-resolution chronologies of human populations, forests and fires are needed to evaluate these claims.”

“A contentious issue in American Indian history, scientists and historians for decades have debated how many Native Americans died and when it occurred. With awareness of global warming and interdisciplinary interest in the possible antiquity of the Anthropocene, resolution of that debate may now be relevant for contemporary human-caused environmental problems,” Roos said.

SMU Research, 25 Jan 2016

thanks to ddh

koalas the new canary in the coalmine?

The koala could soon be even more endangered than at present, if it turns out that climate change alters the nutritional value of the only food it can eat—Eucalypt leaves.

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Neilson from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences from University of Copenhagen has received a $5 million grant from the Villum Young Investigator Program for the search of how the chemical structure of the leaves is disrupted.

“We are going to investigate how two distinct results of climate change, drought and elevated CO2 levels, affect the balance between nutrient and toxicant content of the Eucalypt leaves and how this affects the Koala. Eucalypt leaves are highly toxic and the koala needs to sleep or rest for 20 hours a day to efficiently detoxify the poisonous components and gain sufficient energy from their diet.”

“Therefore, the huge amount of energy spent on detoxification is only just about made up by the nutritional value. Any shift in the eucalypt chemistry caused by climate changes may alter the balance of nutritional value and toxicity, and impact koala survival”, says Assistant Professor Elizabeth Neilson.

Phys.org, 3 Feb 2016

thanks to ddh

smaller babblers and warblers

Australian birds are getting smaller and global warming is probably to blame, new research suggests.

Chief researcher Janet Gardner, from the ANU’s research school of biology, said the results reflected that animals tended to be smaller in warmer climates.

Dr Gardner said the extent of change in the south-eastern Australian species examined, including the grey-crowned babbler, hooded robin and speckled warbler, was surprising.
Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Aug 2009

stem cell burger

Lurking in a Petri dish in a laboratory in the Netherlands is an unlikely contender for the future of food. The yellow-pink sliver, the size of a Band-Aid corn plaster, is the state-of-the-art in lab-grown meat, and a milestone on the path to the world’s first burger made from stem cells.

Dr Mark Post, head of physiology at Maastricht University, plans to unveil a complete burger – produced at a cost of more than £200,000 ($A295,000) – in October. The project, funded by a wealthy, anonymous individual, aims to slash the number of cattle farmed for food, and in doing so reduce one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Feb 2012

teenage mutant female ninja turtles?

Led by Mariana Fuentes, a James Cook University team working up in the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef has been evaluating the various climatic threats facing the green turtles..

Under the worst-case scenarios for climate change – which is pretty much the trajectory we are on – sea-level rise, and the consequent impact on nesting sites, shapes up as the biggest threat for the turtles from now until 2030. But by 2070, the models anticipate sands will have reached a temperature which would bring about a near-complete feminisation of hatchlings.

A few male enclaves are likely to survive where conditions provide some respite from the heat. But the overall picture is grim.
Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Apr 2011

flies falling over in bathtubs

In a world first, Melbourne researchers have shown that many species of fruit fly won’t survive even a modest increase in temperature. Many are close to or beyond their safety margin – and very few have the genetic ability to adapt to climate change.

Dr Vanessa Kellerman, of Monash University’s molecular ecology research group, said the scientists looked at the heat resistance of 100 different species of fruit flies. “This involved putting them in a water bath and slowly ramping up the water temperature over a three- or four-hour period until they started literally falling over.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Sep 2012

climate on steroids

It might even be the case that the mantra chanted after every catastrophic weather event – that it can’t be said to be caused by climate change, but it shows what climate change will do – has become a thing of the past.

“I think the steroids analogy is a useful one,” Professor Steffen, director of the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute, said. “Steroids do not create elite athletes – they are already very good athletes. What happens when athletes start taking steroids is that suddenly the same athletes are breaking more records, more often. We are seeing a similar process with the Earth’s climate.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 4 Mar 2013

stable shoreline slips away

“More ominous tipping points loom. West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are vulnerable to even small additional warming. These two-mile-thick behemoths respond slowly at first, but if disintegration gets well under way, it will become unstoppable. Debate among scientists is only about how much sea level would rise by a given date.

In my opinion, if emissions follow a business-as-usual scenario, sea level rise of at least two meters is likely within a century. Hundreds of millions of people would become refugees, and no stable shoreline would be reestablished in any time frame that humanity can conceive.”
Dr James Hansen, Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near on Global Warming, Huffington Post, 07/01/2008 , Updated May 25, 2011

a bent globe

square_earthBill McGuire, of the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre at University College London, and the author of a review in the journal of research in the area, said warming temperatures melted ice from ice sheets and glaciers and increased the amount of water in the oceans.

And the greater weight of the water in the oceans where sea level has risen as ice melts can “bend” the Earth’s crust.
The Telegraph (UK), 19 Apr 2010

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

Comment – adapting to a change of climate

The Australian federal government has proposed a restructure of its science agency, the CSIRO, to place more emphasis on practical measures rather than environmental research.

But the proposal has met resistance including University of Melbourne earth scientist Kevin Walsh who said: “It is incorrect to say that the climate change science problem is solved, and now all we need to do is figure out what to do about it. No working climate scientist believes that.”
The Australian, 5 Feb 2016

It seems that if you ask questions about climate change you’re told that the science is settled.

But if you want to trim the budget of a government science agency you suddenly find that the science isn’t settled.

………………………………….

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

tipping point passed

“Today I testified to Congress about global warming, 20 years after my June 23, 1988 testimony, which alerted the public that global warming was underway. There are striking similarities between then and now, but one big difference. The difference is that now we have used up all slack in the schedule for actions needed to defuse the global warming time bomb.

The next president and Congress must define a course next year in which the United States exerts leadership commensurate with our responsibility for the present dangerous situation.

Otherwise it will become impractical to constrain atmospheric carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas produced in burning fossil fuels, to a level that prevents the climate system from passing tipping points that lead to disastrous climate changes that spiral dynamically out of humanity’s control.”

Dr James Hansen, Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near on Global Warming, Huffington Post, 07/01/2008 , Updated May 25, 2011

staring down barrel

pig_in_barrel“And how far will it go? Climate forecasts have long noted that every increase in global temperature heightens the odds of runaway global warming, beyond any human control. Continued overheating could unlock more methane from Arctic regions beyond Siberia.

It could cripple the vital ability of plants and oceans to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, turning them into gushing sources of new CO2 that accelerate the superheating even further. The ice caps that help cool the Earth by reflecting sunlight into space could vanish. In the end, the relentless rise in temperature could induce a cataclysmic venting of billions of tons of methane from the oceans.

It seems likely that we are staring down the barrel of the full force, worst-case scenarios studied by the IPCC and other research organizations”
alternet.org, 12 Oct 2005

deluge!

Boston and Atlantic City, New Jersey could experience the equivalent of a once-in-100-years flood as frequently as every year or two, according to the report by the Union of Concerned Scientists and a team of more than 50 researchers and economists.

Only western Maine would retain a reliable ski season by the end of the century if emissions are at the higher end of the scientists’ projections, the report said. Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the scientists’ group and chair of the research team that worked on the report.
bloomberg.com 12 Jul 2007

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

uninhabitable planet!

uninhabited_planetThe world is currently on course to exploit all its remaining fossil fuel resources, a prospect that would produce a “different, practically uninhabitable planet” by triggering a “low-end runaway greenhouse effect.”

This is the conclusion of a new scientific paper by Prof James Hansen, the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the world’s best known climate scientist.
The Guardian, 10 Jul 2013