… almost?

As the world commits billions of dollars to save the world from global warming, criminals are poised to carve off their share. And increasingly they will use the internet to pull off their green scams in cyberspace. Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty told the Age “green crime ” was a new frontier for law enforcement.

“New concepts such as carbon trading had significant potential for fraud”, he said. “Carbon trading is a derivatives or futures market. You’re actually trading in something that almost doesn’t exist so the opportunity for fraud or corruption could be significant.”

The Age (Australia), 21 Jul 2007 – screen copy held by this website

Dark Age looms!

knight_on_horseImagine a future in which humanity’s accumulated wisdom about Earth — our vast experience with weather trends, fish spawning and migration patterns, plant pollination and much more — turns increasingly obsolete.

As each decade passes, knowledge of Earth’s past becomes progressively less effective as a guide to the future. Civilization enters a dark age in its practical understanding of our planet.

To comprehend how this could occur, picture yourself in our grandchildren’s time, a century hence. Significant global warming has occurred, as scientists predicted.

Nature’s longstanding, repeatable patterns — relied on for millenniums by humanity to plan everything from infrastructure to agriculture — are no longer so reliable. Cycles that have been largely unwavering during modern human history are disrupted by substantial changes in temperature and precipitation.William B Gail, in New York Times, 19 Apr 2016

thanks to ddh

less meat means less heat!

Less meat means less heat. It’s a slogan that leading scientists hope will catch on worldwide, part of a call for people to reduce consumption of meat and dairy products to slow the pace of climate change.

Writing in the medical journal The Lancet, a team of international health experts led by Tony McMichael warns that the world’s growing appetite for meat is increasing greenhouse gas emissions, as vast areas of rainforest are bulldozed for grazing land and as more sheep and cattle burp.

Professor McMichael of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, Canberra, and his colleagues argue that “for the world’s higher-income populations, greenhouse-gas emissions from meat eating warrants the same scrutiny as do those from driving and flying”.

According to a study published in July by Japanese scientists, a kilogram of beef generates the equivalent of 36.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide, more than the equivalent of driving for three hours while leaving all the lights on back home.

Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Sep 2007

blame it all on the Arctic ground squirrel!

A study has found that the Arctic ground squirrel is contributing far more to global warming than previously thought, suggesting that it is a major contributor to climate change.

The study, by the Woods Hole Research Centre in Massachusetts, reveals that Arctic squirrels are hastening the release of the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide by melting the permafrost that has kept dead animals and vegetation preserved underground for years.

“It certainly has a bigger impact than we’ve considered and it’s something we will be considering more and more going into the future,” said Dr Sue Natali, of the Woods Hole Research Centre.
The Independent, 17 Dec 2014

physician, heal thyself!

“The truth can be terrifying, so terrifying that often we prefer avoidance or lies. So it is with the reality of climate change. Like a diagnosis of terminal cancer, how I wish it wasn’t so. If only we could go on and on, with the dream of endless abundance and growing prosperity.”

“The problems of disease, poverty, and even war, seem dwarfed and solvable, compared to global warming. I am a psychologist, trained to help others with anxiety, depression, and despair, but I too wrestle with these demons. I have worried about the past and the ills that may befall my loved ones. Worries and doubts have kept me awake at night, and reduced my enjoyment of life.”

“I first realised how we were careening towards our doom nine years ago. I read The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery and viewed Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. I felt traumatised.”

Lyn Bender, a Melbourne psychologist, Eureka Street, 2 Mar 2014

listen to the bees!

bee_megaphoneWhen bees began to disappear from the landscape – and in America and Europe they are disappearing in their billions – it is an alarm signal. Today the bees are telling us something, and we need to listen.

The recent phenomena of the missing bees has been given a name: colony collapse disorder. Because bees play a key role in the landscape, they are a critical indicator of general environmental health. As one of Australia’s leading bee experts, Doug Somerville, of the NSW Department of Primary Industry, told me on Friday: “Honey bees are the canaries in the coalmine of the environment.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Aug 2007 – screencopy held by this website

all in a good cause!

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power posted photos on Twitter Wednesday to illustrate the purported effects of climate change on a West African nation’s coastline, but the pictures show a hotel that collapsed into the sea 12 years ago, the victim of erosion blamed largely on years of illegal mining of coastal sand.

“Had sobering meeting with Benin’s U.N. Ambassador, who described the devastating effects of climate change on his coastal country,” she tweeted. “Showed me chilling photos of eroding coastline, said ‘that’s climate change – a daily life of falling in the sea.’”

A Nexis search of news reports going back almost two decades shows that Benin, like its Gulf of Guinea neighbors, has long struggled with coastal erosion, a problem recorded since the 1960s. The earlier reports, however, say nothing about climate change, rising sea levels or melting icecaps. Only in more recent years have references to climate change started to appear in news reports on Benin’s erosion problems.

CNS News, 17 Jul 2014

…with few egrets

“I was amazed at the magnificent spectacle; there were egrets nesting in tall trees, birds by the hundreds of thousands,” says George Boland, remembering one of the most famous breeding events in NSW, less than a decade ago, on the farm he managed with his son in the Gwydir Valley near Moree….But the Yarrol station clearing is just one of the litany of disasters to wreak havoc in the Murray-Darling Basin in the past two decades. Massively expanding irrigation, water harvesting by farmers, drought and rising temperatures from climate change are putting the wetlands in the basin under severe stress.
Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Jun 2007 – screen copy held by this website

there’s an upside!

Dr Graeme Pearman – a former chief of CSIRO atmospheric research, and one of Australia’s foremost experts on climate change – sees progress, but then he is, despite all he knows, still an optimist. Adding to this is a paucity of solid investigation and analysis of the economic underpinnings of energy alternatives and carbon action.

“We are still caught up in these structures, and I don’t think we recognise them as a severe limitation,” Pearman says. “An effective response requires much more inclusive consideration of what you are doing, because you are trying to achieve multiple outcomes. You are trying to protect the economy. You are trying to protect the environment. You are trying to protect societal wellbeing, as well as leave something useful for the next generation. To do that requires a degree of integrated policy development that is really alien to us at this stage.”

The philosopher in him ponders whether this might be the gift of climate change: to teach humanity to transform into a more integrated, cohesive global organism.

The Age (Australia), 29 Sep 2007

otherwise known as a houseboat

The chairman of the Dutch National Climate Research Program, Professor Kabat has been a pioneer in climate research for 25 years and is a key player in developing the radical approach that has challenged the Dutch public to seize opportunities presented by climate change.

He says the Netherlands has developed floating houses, local companies are investing in saline-tolerant agriculture and experimental work is under way with floating greenhouses in the horticulture sector: “These too have been developed entirely to cope with climate change. I think that swap in attitude – from threat to opportunity – took on board a lot of private business interest immediately.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Dec 2009

report published just in time!

Scientists at the centre published their study last Thursday in the leading peer-reviewed journal Science.

“Given how fundamental these processes are to clouds and the overall global climate, our findings indicate that warming is likely to be on the high side of current projections,” John Fasullo, one of the researchers, said.

The new centre findings come ahead of a crucial United Nations conference in Doha starting on November 26 , where ministers will discuss the future of international action on greenhouse gas emissions.
Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Nov 2012

recycled water?

penguin_umbrella“Even if greenhouse gas emissions were stopped today, sea level would continue to rise for centuries, with the long-term sea-level commitment of a 2C warmer world significantly exceeding 2m.

In view of the potential implications for coastal populations and ecosystems worldwide, we investigate, from an ice-dynamic perspective, the possibility of delaying sea-level rise by pumping ocean water onto the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet.

We find that due to wave propagation ice is discharged much faster back into the ocean than would be expected from a pure advection with surface velocities.”

Delaying future sea-level rise by storing water in Antarctica. K. Frieler1, M. Mengel1, and A. Levermann1, Earth Syst. Dynam., 7, 203–210, 2016

thanks to ddh

movie potential!

The world’s oldest mummies are at risk of disappearing because of man-made climate change, according to a group of Harvard University scientists.

Bodies mummified about 7,000 years ago in Chile are starting to rapidly degrade, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences said Monday in an e-mailed statement. Tests by Harvard’s Alice DeAraujo and Ralph Mitchell show that microbes that flourish in an increasingly humid climate are turning the preserved remains of Chinchorro hunter-gatherers into “black ooze.”
Bloomberg, 10 Mar 2015<?a>

underwater umbrellas

underwater_umbrellasUnderwater ‘umbrellas’ should be used to protect Great Barrier Reef says report.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Gukdberg of Queensland University, Australia, writing with Greg Rau from the University of California and Elizabeth McLeod from The Nature Conservancy, calls for “unconventional, non-passive methods to conserve marine ecosystems”. Daily Telegraph(UK), 20 Aug 2012

Your Earth needs you!

“My audit of my family’s contribution to global warming: maintain our lease on the hybrid fuel car (uses significantly less petrol); follow David Suzuki’s maxim of walking or cycling whenever a journey is needed, or use the train; plant more vegies so we can consume where we produce; recycle our clothing needs by visiting the op-shop; install water tanks; put solar panels on our roof.”
Susan Ackroyd, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 Nov 2006

why didn’t someone tell us this before?

For more than 30 years, Dr Joseph Reser, of the Australian Psychological Society, has been studying how people respond to environmental and natural disasters.

Over the past year, he has been in charge of studies relating to the psychological impact of climate change. Reser says research has found that saturation coverage of the issue in the media is causing some people to suffer a range of negative emotions, such as distress, frustration and anger.

“Many psychological and social science studies have been written about media overload. there’s so much discrepant information that people find it very difficult to make sense of it all,” he says.

The Australian Psychological Society says there are strategies people can use to overcome feelings of anxiety about the future. Perhaps the most useful advice it gives is to simply take a “news break”.

Switch off the radio and TV and avoid reading the newspaper for a few days. A tip that’s so obvious yet many of us forget that we have the power to do so.

The Age, 14 Jul 2007 – screen copy held by this website

stating the obvious

Global warming will force more animals onto the threatened species list, and some endangered animals will probably become extinct.

The mouse sized pygmy possum, which lives only in frosty alpine regions of NSW and Victoria, is one of the species most at risk as the temperature rises.

National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman John Dengate said: “If the climate warms up the mountain pygmy possum will have to go further up the mountains. But they are already at the top and can’t go any further.”

Sun Herald, 26 Aug 2007 – screen copy held by this website

turtles need to speed up!

speeding_turtleSea turtles are among the earth’s oldest creatures. They have been around in various forms for 110 million years, since the age of the dinosaurs. During this time they have, of course, dealt with several changes in climate.

The difference with today’s climate change is its speed. “Compared to the past,” says Booth, “this change is happening lightning fast.” This is bad news for sea turtles, which are slow-growing and long-living (between 50 and 70 years), meaning they pass on adaptive traits only gradually.

“Basically, if the turtles can’t adapt fast enough, if they can’t move rookeries or change breeding seasons, then they’re doomed.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Mar 2014

foragers making slow progress

Foragers looking for sloes this year are facing a poor harvest because of the weather, according to gardeners. Sloes are the last fresh fruit you can pick in Britain before the winter sets in and is traditionally picked in Autumn to make sloe gin for Christmas.

Graeme Proctor, from Crown Nursery in Suffolk, said the weather had not been good for sloes for the last two summers. He said: “Because last year’s summer was very bad, it meant the fruit bud initiation on which this year’s crop would grow was very poor. This led to fewer flower buds this spring. He blamed climate change for the bad weather.”

He added: “For that reason [climate change], it’s been a bad year for all stone fruit including plums. It’s all down to global warming.”
The Telegraph (UK), 14 Oct 2008

the sky isn’t falling – it’s shrinking!

Scientists have discovered yet another enigma about our planet: the thermosphere has undergone serious shrinkage. The thermosphere is the largest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere and is the next-to-last region before you reach the vacuum of outer space.

While we are coming out of one of the longer periods of low solar activity in a century, scientists have found that the thermosphere has shrunk some 28 percent. That’s the largest drop in recorded history, and they cannot explain why.
ars technica, 22 Jul 2012

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