worse than we thought – global food production!

The impact of climate change on global crop production is likely to be worse than previously predicted, scientists said at a Royal Society discussion meeting partly organised by Reading scientists in London.

A two-day international meeting entitled ‘Food Crops in a Changing Climate’ brought together world-class scientists in the fields of meteorology, climate science and agriculture, to discuss the impacts of a changing climate on the productivity of staple food crops, grown throughout the world.

“Both these results show that we need to seriously re-examine our predictions for future global food production as they are likely to be far lower than previously estimated.” said Professor Steve Long from Illinois University.

University of Reading, Impact of climate change on crops worse than previously thought, 27 Apr 2005

they all look the same to me

Climate change is being blamed for a changing of the guard among Sydney’s cockroach population.

Researchers say the most common sub-species in city households was the german cockroach, until it disappeared about seven years ago.

Martyn Robinson from the Australian Museum says the Australian house cockroach, methana marginalus, which likes warmer climates, has begun moving in.

“It’s most likely to be the…warmer climate,” he said.

ABC News (Australia), 14 Mar 2007

democracy in action

Copenhagen’s city council in conjunction with Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard sent postcards out to 160 Copenhagen hotels urging COP15 Climate Change Conference guests and delegates to ‘Be sustainable – don’t buy sex’.

In response SIO (Sexarbejdernes Interesse Organisation; or the Sex workers Interest Organisation) announced on their website that this was a political attempt to criminalize sex work in the city.

They also announced that anyone who had received such a postcard could use it instead of payment:

“If you are a delegate at COP15, Sexworkers in Copenhagen are accepting the postcard as payment for sex.

In other words – we offer free sex for your postcard. We do this as a protest against the unjust and degrading campaign of the City Council. .

Employees and politicians of the Municipality of Copenhagen are exempted from the offer.”

Science Blogs, 15 Dec 2009

worse than we thought – amplifying feedbacks!

Climate change will be much worse, much sooner than most people think. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) recent report, while rather dire, is actually a best-case analysis.

For example, the IPCC’s report did not include the effects of “amplifying feedbacks” such as melting permafrost releasing methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — which causes more warming, which melts more permafrost, and on and on.

Including such effects leads to much more dire results than the UN presented.

Daily Kos, 23 Feb 2009

Cavendish the top banana – for now!

banana The forgotten death of the ‘Gros Michel’ banana bears a stark warning about how global warming could drive us all to starvation.

In the 1950s, the world happily chomped its way through two different varieties of banana. There was the Cavendish, the banana that we know and love today, and the Gros Michel, a smaller, sweeter variety. The Gros Michel, however, was wiped out in the same decade by a single disease.

The entire world trade in bananas, and many developing economies, are now based on a single variety, the Cavendish. Experts fear that it too may be vulnerable.

The Telegraph, 7 Dec 2015

worse than we thought – destabilisation of global climate!

We are in a Global Climate Emergency. The situation is much worse than we are told by those in power and much worse than the day to day discussion in the media would suggest. The need to take action on climate is more urgent and more immediate than ever.

The measures currently being taken at the national level – and even the best plans, currently being floated at the international level – are quite inadequate to meet the current level of threat. The main reason for this is that the destabilisation of global climate has progressed much more quickly than scientists thought.

This has had the result that the plans developed to deal with it are now insufficient, being based on out of date scientific projections.

Campaign against climate change, 11 Jan 2009

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

the competitive world of weeds

Is global warming fueling a new generation of more aggressive weeds? According to recent research, the answer may be yes.

“Weeds are survivors,” said Lee Van Wychen, director of science policy for the Weed Science Society of America. “They can fill various niches and thrive under a wide range of conditions. While we have about 45 major crops in the U.S., there are more than 400 species of different weeds associated with those crops.”

“There is always another weed species ready to become a major competitor with a crop if growing conditions change, such as an increase in carbon dioxide levels.”

Weed Science Society of America, 25 Mar 2012

worse than we thought – beach erosion

South Coast beach erosion worse than predicted, says experts. Twenty years ago, Professor Short was among the first researchers to document beach rotation in Australia.

He helped in the latest research that suggests an upsurge of El Nino and La Nina events will lead to extreme flooding and erosion in populated regions across the Pacific, including Australia.

Professor Short, from Sydney University’s School of Geosciences, is co-author of a paper on coastal erosion of beaches that states it could be much worse than previously predicted. A South Coast resident, Professor Short says a persistent southern swell has built up sand on the northern end of smaller beaches.

Sydney Morning Herald, 1 Oct 2015

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

smarter than the average bear!

bearA historic Texas drought is driving bears into urban areas searching for food and water, the latest in a series of bizarre wildlife stories to come out of the deadly hot and dry weather across the nation.

They’re going to where they need to, said Louis Harveson, a Sul Ross State University professor of wildlife management who directs the school’s Borderlands Research Institute. “They’re scavengers — they’re basically an oversized raccoon.”

On a recent day, Penny Ferguson had returned from her 5:30 a.m. workout and, like any other morning, let her beagle out. The dog began barking wildly, and Ferguson ran outside to keep it from waking the neighbors.

A full-grown black bear on all fours, so big its shoulders reached her hips, was on her front lawn near the bird feeder. The bear ran out from under Ferguson’s front window and casually loped across the street. It wasn’t much bothered, but didn’t like the noise, said Ferguson, whose home in Fort Davis, Texas, is nestled near Davis mountains southeast of El Paso.

“We’re in town, much further into town than I would ever expect bears to be coming.”
Heat Is Online – Planetark.org, 1 Aug 2011

expert advice

It is in this context that Lehman Brothers decided to take a hard look at global warming, starting with the scientific and climatological evidence, then proceedings to the economic consequences and implications for policy; and finally – with significant help from the Firm’s equity analysts – considering potential impacts on major business sectors.

The result is this publication: The Business of Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities…And, as the title indicates, we consider that climate change poses many challenges but also presents many business opportunities…

This study is far from the last word; indeed, we see it as just a starting point for a dialogue with our investing an corporate clients. As the discussions with our clients and policy experts progress, we will take this work further.

Lehman Brothers, The Business of Climate Change, February 2007

a case for procrastination

Global warming could release radioactive waste stored in an abandoned Cold War-era U.S. military camp deep under Greenland’s ice caps if a thaw continues to spread in coming decades, scientists said on Friday.

Camp Century was built in northwest Greenland in 1959 as part of U.S. research into the feasibility of nuclear missile launch sites in the Arctic, the University of Zurich said in a statement. Staff left gallons of fuel and an unknown amount of low-level radioactive coolant there when the base shut down in 1967 on the assumption it would be entombed forever, according to the university.

It is all currently about 35 metres (114.83 ft) down. But the part of the ice sheet covering the camp could start to melt by the end of the century on current trends, the scientists added.

The study said it would be extremely costly to try to remove any waste now. It recommended waiting “until the ice sheet has melted down to almost expose the wastes before beginning site remediation.”

The Globe and Mail, 5 Aug 2016

thanks to ddh

censure the locavores!

Locavores, those who aim to eat locally grown food, may be doing more harm than good to the environment, writes Simon Webster.

British consumers would be better off buying dairy products from New Zealand than from their own country, a report from Lincoln University, New Zealand, concluded last year.

British dairy produces 35 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions than New Zealand dairy, even including transport from New Zealand to Britain, the report found. This is because New Zealand agriculture uses fewer fertilisers and its dairy cows graze outside on grass, whereas British cows are housed in barns where they eat bought-in, concentrated feed.

More efficient farming methods also make New Zealand lamb and apples better options in Britain than local produce, the researchers found.

Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Nov 2008

worse than we thought – solar energy!

We are all seeing rather less of the Sun. Scientists looking at five decades of sunlight measurements have reached the disturbing conclusion that the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface has been gradually falling.

Paradoxically, the decline in sunlight may mean that global warming is a far greater threat to society than previously thought. The effect was first spotted by Gerry Stanhill, an English scientist working in Israel. Comparing Israeli sunlight records from the 1950s with current ones, Stanhill was astonished to find a large fall in solar radiation.

“There was a staggering 22% drop in the sunlight, and that really amazed me,” he says.

BBC Radio, 14 Jan 2005

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

worse than we thought – global warming!

The latest scientific research indicates global warming is happening faster then recent United Nations reports projected, while China and India’s rapid economic growth means carbon emissions are rising quicker than expected, a Labor-backed panel into climate change has heard.

Summer in the northern hemisphere over the past century had extended 12 days, but in some areas, such as northern Norway, it was about six weeks longer, said Graeme Pearman, former chief of the CSIRO’s atmospheric research.

“This is not something that’s affecting people in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time. It’s now,” he said. “The recent science has strengthened the concern that we may have underestimated the rate of change.”

The Age (Australia), 15 Nov 2007 – screen copy held by this website

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

a shadow of their former selves

Songbirds in the US are getting smaller, and climate change is suspected as the cause. A study of almost half a million birds, belonging to over 100 species, shows that many are gradually becoming lighter and growing shorter wings.

This shrinkage has occurred within just half a century, with the birds thought to be evolving into a smaller size in response to warmer temperatures.

Dr Josh Van Buskirk of the University of Zurich, Switzerland and colleagues Mr Robert Mulvihill and Mr Robert Leberman of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Rector, Pennsylvania, US decided to evaluate the sizes of hundreds of thousands of birds that pass through the Carnegie Museum’s Powdermill ringing station, also in Pennsylvania.

But some species are losing more weight. For example, the rose-breasted grosbeak has declined in mass by about 4%, while the Kentucky warbler has dropped 3.3% in weight and the scarlet tanager 2.3%. The headline finding is that the body sizes of many species of North American birds, mostly songbirds, are gradually becoming smaller, says Dr Buskirk.

Heat Is Online – originally BBCNews.com, 13 Mar 2010

climate change causes swelled heads!

Jessica Ash and Gordon Gallup studied 109 fossilized skulls from different lattitudes to determine that “climate may have been an important selective force behind the evollution of human cranial capacity,” according to Gallup, who theorised that changes in global temperature could account for as much as 50 per cent of the variation in headmeat.

“Specifically we found that as the distance from the equator increased, north or south, so did brain size,” he said.

The researchers will publish their study in the spring edition of Human Nature.

Wired, 22 Mar 2007

UN climate conferences to end!

Car travel should be cut by 80%, road construction halted and public transport boosted if Australia is to meet carbon emission targets, energy experts have warned.

“The car is doomed,” Monash University associate professor Damon Honnery said, discussing the findings of a soon-to-be-published research paper, Mitigating Greenhouse: Limited Time Options, written with Dr Patrick Moriarty.

“People are going to have to fundamentally change the way they think about travel and make much more use of non-motorised travel such as cycling and walking.”

Dr Moriarty also believes there must be big reductions in air travel. “An overseas trip might become a once-in-a-lifetime experience rather than an annual event,” he said.

The Age (Australia), 3 Mar 2008 – screen copy held by this website

see also – action plan

an optimist speaks!

New research shows penguins will suffer in a warming world. But the important extension of this work is into the future.

The scientists took their current knowledge of penguin health and climate and asked what will happen to these penguins in the future. Since we do not have measurements in the future, the scientists used climate models.

These models are computer calculations of the actual climate that will exist in the future, and the calculations are based on our best understanding of how the climate system works.

Fortunately, climate models have an excellent history in predicting how the future will evolve.

I expect that now with the science of climate change settled (in the sense we know the climate is changing and we know humans are the main cause), scientists will turn their attention to impacts research.

Dr John Abraham, a professor of thermal sciences in The Guardian, 3 Aug 2016 – emphasis and underline by this website

thanks to ddh

a timely warning!

A climate researcher yesterday painted a dark picture of an inundated American coastline and the resulting economic impact should the west Antarctic ice sheet melt because of man-caused global warming within the next century.

“It is surely the most dramatic of the possible carbon-induced effects and its initiation cannot be ruled out as a possibility before the end of this century,” said Dr Stephen Schneider of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research at Boulder, Colo. in a report to a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Schneider and Robert Chen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology examined the implications of a 15 to 25 foot rise in ocean levels for the United States.

The nation’s coastline would change markedly. A 25-foot rise in sea level would submerge Savannah, Ga, Charleston S.C., four of the eight Virginia cities with populations over 100,000, one fourth of Delaware and portions of Washington, D.C.

The Palm Beach Post, 8 Jan 1979

thanks to Albert

the perils of climate science

From depression to substance abuse to suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, growing bodies of research in the relatively new field of psychology of global warming suggest that climate change will take a pretty heavy toll on the human psyche as storms become more destructive and droughts more prolonged.

For your everyday environmentalist, the emotional stress suffered by a rapidly changing Earth can result in some pretty substantial anxieties.

Two years ago, Camille Parmesan, a professor at Plymouth University and the University of Texas at Austin, became so “professionally depressed” that she questioned abandoning her research in climate change entirely.

“I don’t know of a single scientist that’s not having an emotional reaction to what is being lost,” Parmesan is quoted saying in the National Wildlife Federation’s 2012 report, “The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: And Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System is Not Adequately Prepared.”.

Heat Is Online – originally Madeleine Thomas in Grist.org, Oct. 28, 2014

the English and the Swedes to fade out!

Olympic Athletes Challenged by New Opponent: Global Warming.

Marathon runners, swimmers, volleyball players and even soccer referees will succumb to extreme temperatures and lose concentration during the games, in some cases risking their lives to heatstroke, according to a report released Monday by Observatorio do Clima, a Brazilian civil society group.

“Because of warming, sport will never be the same again,” and fewer records than in previous games are likely to fall as a result, the report said.

The heat is likely to be painful for athletes from colder climates, says Brazilian tennis player Fernando Meligeni. He reckons European players won’t be used to the humidity, which will make them sweat more than usual.

“I believe that the English and the Swedish, for example, will fade out,” Meligeni said, according to the report.

Bloomberg, 8 Aug 2016

thanks to ddh

we feel your pain

Can you relate to this grieving process? If so, you might find solace in the fact that you are not alone: Climate science researchers, scientists, journalists and activists have all been struggling with grief around what we are witnessing.

Last year I wrote about the work of Joanna Macy, a scholar of Buddhism, eco-philosophy, general systems theory and deep ecology, and author of more than a dozen books.

Her initiative, The Work That Reconnects, helps people essentially do nothing more mysterious than telling the truth about what we see, know and feel is happening to our world.

In order to remain able to continue in our work, we first must feel the full pain of what is being done to the world, according to Macy.

“Refusing to feel pain, and becoming incapable of feeling the pain, which is actually the root meaning of apathy, refusal to suffer – that makes us stupid, and half alive,” she told me. “It causes us to become blind to see what is really out there.”

Heat Is Online – originally Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org. Jan 25, 2015

lemming numbers are falling off a cliff!

Climate change is bringing wetter winters to southern Norway, a bleak prospect for the region’s lemmings.

Scientists found that numbers of the animals no longer vary over a regular cycle, as they did until a decade ago; there are no more bumper years.

The snow is not stable enough, they think, to provide winter shelter. Writing in the journal Nature, the researchers suggest the lack of Norwegian lemmings is affecting other animals such as foxes and owls.

Heat Is Online – originally BBCNews, 6 Nov 2008

Batman, Superman, etc, not needed!

In a recent study published in The Journal of Industrial Ecology, researchers at the Center for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey in England estimated the annual carbon footprint of crime in England and Wales, and found that reducing crime could actually cause society’s overall carbon footprint of society to increase.

While there is an energy cost to operating prisons, the study notes, inmates generally consume less than an average citizen in the country, so fewer prisoners might mean higher overall energy consumption.

Additionally, the money saved from reducing crime would go into the government’s budget and people’s pockets. All that money could be spent in other ways — infrastructure, buildings or goods — that may require more energy to produce or operate, possibly adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

New York Times, 3 Aug 2016

thanks to ddh

climate change causes increase in bad writing!

The language of ice in Antarctica gains clarity at about 500 feet up. It’s from here, glimpsed through the just open tailgate of a low-flying aircraft, that the nuance of its vocabulary, baffling in the scientific reports, may be heard.

The soft fragility of the floes, a translucent crust over the bays. The booming magificence of a glacier, its echo extending to an ice shelf that calves icebergs into the sea. Isolated islands of ice, their ballast glowing emerald green under the water, pushing loudly into the subdued scatter of pack ice.

Screaming cravasses fracturing the ice sheet, revealing unfathomable blue in its depths. The dynamics of the forces creating all this continues to confound scientists, who are now scrambling to translate and explain the language of ice even as it seems to find new and troubling expressions.

Jo Chandler, the Age (Australia), 21 Jan 2008 – screen copy held by this website

worse than we thought – animal extinctions!

Climate change over the next 50 years is expected to drive a quarter of land animals and plants into extinction, according to the first comprehensive study into the effect of higher temperatures on the natural world.

The sheer scale of the disaster facing the planet shocked those involved in the research. They estimate that more than 1 million species will be lost by 2050. The results are described as “terrifying” by Chris Thomas, professor of conservation biology at Leeds University.

Professor Thomas said: “When scientists set about research they hope to come up with definite results, but what we found we wish we had not. It was far, far worse than we thought, and what we have discovered may even be an underestimate.”

The Guardian, 9 Jan 2004

see also new category – the tendency for news stories about climate change to be not only bad news but “worse than we thought”

don’t tread on a sheep!

Sheep living on a remote island off the coast of Scotland have been shrinking for 20 years. Now it seems shorter winters caused by climate change are responsible.

Soay sheep are a primitive breed of domestic sheep, which live on the island of Hirta, in the St Kilda archipelago, without human interference. From 1955 onwards, the population has been closely studied.

Over the last 20 years, the average size of the sheep has been getting smaller, but it has been unclear why – particularly as natural selection would tend to drive the development of bigger bodies.

Kaustuv Roy, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California San Diego, who was not involved in the study, is impressed. “Their results are really useful, because they tease apart the different processes. It’s a really nice study,” he says.

New Scientist, 2 Jul 2009

worse than we thought – Antarctic ice!

Antarctic ice thawing faster than predicted.

Chris Rapley, the outgoing head of the British Antarctic Survey, said there were worrying signs of accelerating flows of ice towards the ocean from both Antarctica and Greenland with little sign of more snow falling inland to compensate.

The ice is moving faster both in Greenland and in the Antarctic than the glaciologists had believed would happen, Rapley told Reuters during a climate seminar in Ny Alesund on a Norwegian Arctic island 1,200 km from the North Pole.

Reuters, 22 Aug 2007

worse than we thought – impacts!

Global warming is driving humanity toward unprecedented risks, a United Nations scientific panel reports, warning that the changes have only just begun, with the worst effects hitting the earth’s poorest people the hardest.

“Things are worse than we had predicted in 2007, when the group of scientists last issued this type of report,” said report co-author Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at Independent University in Bangladesh. “We are going to see more and more impacts, faster and sooner than we had anticipated.”

al Jazeera America, 31 Mar 2014

the golden-winged warbler saves the day!

Birds appear to be able to sense a coming storm and fly away before it hits, according to research on golden-winged warblers in the United States.

”It’s the first time we’ve documented this type of storm avoidence behaviour in birds during breeding season,” said ecologist Henry Streby at the University of California.

“There’s growing research that shows that tornadoes are becoming more common and severe with climate change, so evasive actions like the one the warbler took might become more than necessary.” said Streby.

Illawarra Mercury, 20 Dec 2014 – screen copy held by this website

we’re going to need more psychologists!

Climate change will have significant negative impacts on Americans’ health and psychological well-being, due to an increase in the frequency and severity of climate-related natural disasters and other climate-related changes in the environment and weather.

Likely effects, which will increase as climate change’s physical impacts accelerate, include stress, anxiety, depression and a loss of community identity, says a new report from the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica.

Climate change is also likely to result in an increase in post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions because of the rise in the number and severity of natural disasters, according to the report. Climate change could also lead to increased feelings of loss and helplessness if individuals and communities are forced to relocate.

“The striking thing is how these effects will permeate so many aspects of our daily lives,” said Norman B. Anderson, PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association.

news-medical, 10 Jun 2014