water supply

Sydney’s water supply could be at risk from a growing threat of more intense and frequent bushfires brought on by extended drought and climate change, experts say.

Hotter and drier conditions related to a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could lead to exceptionally intense bushfires, the head of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute, John Merson, said last week.

They might threaten the ability of eucalypt forests in the mountains to recover, he told a climate change conference in Sydney. That could lead to erosion, silting of rivers and dams, and less water trickling through to aquifers in the catchment for Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.

If we got into another bad bushfire year this year the ability of the forests to recover would be seriously compromised, Dr Merson said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Sep 2005

see also – just plain scary

fish emboldened

Acidic ocean water blunts the sense of smell in fish, making them bolder – perhaps recklessly so, according to a new study offering a glimpse of the oceans of the future. The findings suggest that, if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, fish could suffer debilitating behavioral effects.

If reef fish behavior does not adapt to rising CO2 levels over coming generations, there could be serious consequences for the structure and function of future reef communities, the authors wrote in the study published in Nature Climate Change.

This is the first time people have been able to test what would happen in 100 years, said Danielle Dixson, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech University and co-author of the study, which was led by Australian researchers.

The differences are striking, said Karl Castillo, an assistant professor of marine sciences at the University of North Carolina who was not involved with the research. This is a strong study, Castillo said. “There’s no doubt there is something happening here due to acidification.” Heat Is Online, 14 Apr 2014 – The Daily Climate

in support of small shops

Neighbourhood shops and farmers’ market will gain currency in the coming days, as reduction in vegetable transport will help save fuel and thereby help reduce global warming, said G, Nammalvar, organic farming scientist on Thursday.

Transportation of food items formed a considerable part in the entire transport industry, he added and suggested that shops like the Greens Shop would be best answer to reduce transportation.

Dr. Nammalvar suggested that ideal situation would be one where the distance between the points of production and sale was not more than 30 km. And, the presence of farmers’ and community markets would ensure absence of middlemen.

The Hindu, 26 Apr 2008

see also – action plan

the case of the disappearing acorns

Rod Simmons, a field botantist based in Arlington, Virginia, and Arlington naturalists began calling around.

A naturalist in Maryland found no acorns on an Audubon nature walk there. Ditto for Fairfax, Falls Church, Charles County, even as far away as Pennsylvania. There are no acorns falling from the majestic oaks in Arlington National Cemetery.

“Once I started paying attention, I couldn’t find any acorns anywhere. Not from white oaks, red oaks or black oaks, and this was supposed to be their big year,” said Greg Zell, a naturalist at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington.

“We’re talking zero. Not a single acorn. It’s really bizarre.”

Is it climate change or could it be the extreme opposite of a natural boom-and-bust cycle?

treehugger, 8 Dec 2008

country vs city

More rural Australians will suffer mosquito-borne diseases and food poisoning as climate change causes temperatures to rise, an academic warns.

Professor Kevin Parton, from Charles Sturt University in Orange, NSW, said rural Australians will be harder hit by climate change than their metropolitan counterparts, as health services are more difficult to access in the country.

As vectors that support and carry diseases, such as air, water and organic movement, shift in response to climate change, so too will health problems, he said.

We could see both a worsening of existing diseases as well as the spread of diseases usually associated with warmer regions, such as Ross River and Barmah Forest viral infections, move to more temperate climates.

The Age (Australia), 15 Jan 2008

see also – just plain scary

invasion – Asian carp

They’re called Asian carp, and they emigrated to the lower reaches of the Mississippi River in the 1970s. Now they’re knocking on the door of the Great Lakes, threatening to destroy one of the most valuable aquatic regions in the U.S., unless the often fractious Great Lakes states manage to pull together and keep them out.

The situation is so serious that the White House convened an “Asian carp summit” on Monday to work out a defense plan.

Asian carp — a collection of related fish, including bighead carp and silver carp — are what’s known as an invasive species, an animal or plant that moves into a new environment, often badly disrupting it.

Invasive species are becoming more common because of international trade, which turns the planet into a giant pinball machine, transplanting wildlife from one corner of the world to another, and because of climate change, which prompts species to migrate to more hospitable environments, often at the expense of those that already live there.

If the preventive efforts don’t work, you might want to put on a helmet the next time you go waterskiing on Lake Michigan.

Time, 2/9/10

see also – invasion!

state of fear

Dr Pachauri supported the views of scientists who believe stabilising atmospheric carbon dioxide at 450 parts per million – a level that Professor Garnaut says is beyond reach in the short-term – was not enough. If you talk to the president of Maldives and indeed the People of the Maldive islands, they are living in a state of fear, he said yesterday. If you look at parts of Africa, by 2020 there will be 75 million to 250 million people living under water stress on account of climate change.

The Age (Australia), 24 Oct 2008

see also – just plain scary

coral reefs utterly destroyed

Unless we change the way we live, the Earth’s coral reefs will be utterly destroyed within our children’s lifetimes, says marine scientist JEN Veron.
Ponder these facts: The atmospheric levels of CO2 we are already committed to reach, no matter what mitigation is now implemented, have no equal over the entire longevity of the Great Barrier Reef, perhaps 25 million years. And most significantly, the rate of CO2 increase we are now experiencing has no precedent in all known geological history.

The Guardian, 7 Dec 2010 – screen copy held by this website

see also – just plain scary

thanks to mervyn

rewriting history

The Black Death struck Europe in 1347, killing 30-50% of the European population in six violent years. These outbreaks were traditionally thought to be caused by rodent reservoirs of infected rats lurking in Europe’s cities, or potentially by rodent reservoirs in the wilderness.

But our research, published in the journal PNAS, suggests otherwise. We found that Europe’s plague outbreaks were indeed associated with climate fluctuations – but in Asia.

Using tree-ring based climate records from Europe and Asia, we showed that plague reintroductions into European harbours were associated with periods of wet conditions, followed by a drought, across large parts of Central Asia.

The Conversation, 24 February 2015

see also – just plain scary

the latest loser – the lesser butterfly orchid

Climate change is likely to produce losers as well as winners in Britain’s native flora – flowers of the mountains and cooler places are expected to decline – but the survey did not pick up as much negative evidence.

More increases that may be consistent with a warming climate have been found in plants that specialise in growing on waste places, such as square-stalked willowherb and prickly lettuce.

However, there is one candidate for global warming victim, and this is once again an orchid: the lesser butterfly orchid. This is a species of northern Europe, which tends to grow on the edges of heaths and moorlands.

The Independent, 24 Apr 2006

will you lead by example?

If it’s so hard to change the climate to suit humans, why not alter humans to suit the changing climate, philosophers from Oxford and New York universities are asking. They suggest humans could be modified to be smaller, to dislike eating meat, have fewer children and be more willing to co-operate with social goals.

Behavioural changes might not be enough, even if they are widely adopted, and international agreements for market solutions such as emissions trading are proving difficult to achieve, say Matthew Liao, of New York University, and Anders Sandberg and Rebecca Roache, of Oxford University.

They suggest hormone treatments could be used to suppress child growth, or embryos selected for smaller size. They say people who lack the motivation or willpower to give up eating meat could be helped by “meat patches” on their skin, which deliver hormones to stimulate the immune system against common bovine proteins.

“Henceforth eating ‘eco-unfriendly’ food would induce unpleasant experiences,” the authors say. Better-educated women have fewer children, so human engineering to enhance cognition could lead to fertility reduction as “a positive side effect from the point of view of tackling climate change”, the paper also argues.

Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Apr 2012

see also – action plan

human development derailed!

Climate change may be the single factor that makes the future very different, impeding the continuing progress in human development that history would lead us to expect.

While international agreements have been difficult to achieve and policy responses have been generally slow, the broad consensus is clear: climate change is happening, and it can derail human development. – United Nations Human Development report The Guardian, 5 Nov 2010

can’t see the wood for…..

If global warming really is the mother of all enveronmental probalems, then perhaps the time has come to bring to an end the clearing and logging of natural forests. This will make a significant and cost-effective contribution to solving the global warming problem.

We must not forget that the laws of science apply universally and do not recognise political boundaries. Whether a natural forest is in Tasmania, Victoria or Papua, it performs the same kind of role in the global carbon cycle and in helping to regulate atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.

Brendan Mackey, professor of environmental science at the Australian National University, in The Age, 7 Aug 2007 – screen copy held by this website

see also – action plan

heat turned up!

The number of elderly Melburnians dying due to extreme heat is expected to rise dramatically as climate change takes hold this century, research suggests.

Nicole Joffe from consultants Net Balance found the number of days with an average temperature above 30 degrees would double by mid-century – from two to at least four a year – even if governments acted to cut greenhouse emissions. Failure to tackle climate change would trigger a steeper rise.

Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Mar 2007

see also – just plain scary

the private struggles of a climate scientist

For activists like Mike Tidwell — founder of the nonprofit Chesapeake Climate Action Network and author of The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Race to Save America’s Coastal Cities — — part of being on the front lines means being outspoken and passionate about the cause.

But while activism may be a more forgiving platform to express emotional stresses than within the scientific community, the personal toll of the work goes largely undiscussed.

“You don’t just start talking about unbelievably fast sea-level rise at a cocktail party at a friend’s house,” Tidwell says. “So having to deny the emotional need to talk about what’s on your mind all the time … those are some of the burdens that climate aware scientists and activists have to endure.”

“People talk about climate change, openly talk about activism, and people even talk about how scary it is, and about how screwed we are and unbelievable it is that sea level is rising, and world governments still aren’t doing sXXX. But nobody talks about how it makes them feel personally.”

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

no-one spared, not even retrospectively!

A study of woolly mammoths has added to evidence they were wiped out by climate change, scientists say.

British and Swedish researchers sequenced DNA from 88 samples of bone, tooth and tusk, looking for a signature in the genetic code handed down on the maternal line. They used this telltale sign to build a family tree of mammoths spanning 200,000 years.

A warm period 120,000 years ago caused populations to decline and become fragmented. Wrangel Island, in the Siberian Arctic, and the island of St Paul, off Alaska, are believed to have been the mammoths’ last refuge. Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Sep 2013 – screencopy held by this website

giant sunshade

Professor Roger Angel thinks he can diffract the power of the sun by placing trillions of lenses in space and creating a 100,000-square-mile sunshade.

Each lens will have a diffraction pattern etched onto it which will cause the sun’s rays to change direction. He intends to use electromagnetic propulsion to get the lenses into space. If work was started immediately Prof Angel thinks the sunshield could be operation by 2040.

He said: “Things that take a few decades are not that futuristic.”

The Telegraph, 17 Feb 2009

see also – action plan

Have you hypermiled lately?

Real men hypermile.

That’s the “attempt to maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one’s car and one’s driving techniques,” according to the Oxford American Dictionary, which named “hypermiling” the 2008 word of the year.

Hypermiling techniques include keeping tires perfectly inflated, killing engines at stoplights, turning off the air-conditioning and driving at a steady speed, with as little rapid acceleration or deceleration as possible.

Originally coined in 2004 by a driver named Wayne Gerdes, who has earned several gas-mileage records, hypermiling really caught on in 2008 as gas prices passed $4 a gallon in much of the country. Time, 3 Nov 2008

cokcroaches on the march!

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. They certainly have appeared for many many years just on little spot occurrences where somebody will find this funny little cockroach that’s probably come in on their suitcase from a trip up to Queensland.

ABC News, 14 Mar 2007

missing link found!

A Stanford scientist has spelled out for the first time the direct links between increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increases in human mortality, using a state-of-the-art computer model of the atmosphere that incorporates scores of physical and chemical environmental processes.

The new findings, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, come to light just after the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent ruling against states setting specific emission standards for this greenhouse gas based in part on the lack of data showing the link between carbon dioxide emissions and their health effects.

While it has long been known that carbon dioxide emissions contribute to climate change, the new study details how for each increase of one degree Celsius caused by carbon dioxide, the resulting air pollution would lead annually to about a thousand additional deaths and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma in the United States, according to the paper by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford.

Worldwide, upward of 20,000 air-pollution-related deaths per year per degree Celsius may be due to this greenhouse gas.

Eureka Alert, 3/1/08

Dear Earth, are you listening?

Dr. Sarah Perkins, a climate scientist and extreme events specialist with the University of New South Wales, shared both her concern and hope about our Earth.

“For sometime now I’ve been terribly worried. I wish I didn’t have to acknowledge it, but everything I have feared is happening. I used to think I was paranoid, but it’s true. She’s slipping away from us. She’s been showing signs of acute illness for quite a while, but no one has really done anything.

Her increased erratic behavior is something I’ve especially noticed. Certain behaviors that were only rare occurrences are starting to occur more often, and with heightened anger. I’ve tried to highlight these changes time and time again, as well as their speed of increase, but no one has paid attention.

It almost seems everyone has been ignoring me completely, and I’m not sure why. Is it easier to pretend there’s no illness, hoping it will go away? Or because they’ve never had to live without her, so the thought of death is impossible? Perhaps they cannot see they’ve done this to her. We all have. To me this is all false logic. How can you ignore the severe sickness of someone you are so intricately connected to and dependent upon.

How can you let your selfishness and greed take control, and not protect and nurture those who need it most? How can anyone not feel an overwhelming sense of care and responsibility when those so dear to us are so desperately ill? How can you push all this to the back of your mind? This is something I will never understand. Perhaps I’m the odd one out, the anomaly of the human race. The one who cares enough, who has the compassion, to want to help make her better.

The thing is we can make her better!! If we work together, we can cure this terrible illness and restore her to her old self before we exploited her. But we must act quickly, we must act together. Time is ticking, and we need to act now.”

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

water shortages

Global warming could bring water shortages to one in six people around the world, scientists have warned. Because higher temperatures would bring less snow and more rain, the ice would soon run out, bringing water shortages. They warn that even developed countries like America could be affected by droughts within 20 years. BBC News, 17 Nov 2005

world trapped in paradigmatic lock!

The UFO phenomenon has become part of the news for many decades. Meanwhile, our planet entered a crucial phase of its history like nobody has known before, when mankind obtained technical means allowing to seriously deteriorate its environment, and beyond, to destroy any life on Earth. Among most visible signs, global warming is obvious.

While our technology sees a spectacular progress, our fundamental knowledge tramples more and more. In our opinion, this is the consequence of immutable dogmatic prejudices, a refusal of any really innovative fundamental scientific idea, in particular any change in our comprehension of the universe which could make interstellar travel possible, therefore incursions of visitors coming from stellar systems located at several tens light-years from ours, or even more.

The systematic brake to engage a true research, focusing on a rational and scientific investigation of the UFO file, is also for us a cloistering of the thought, a paradigmatic lock.

UFO Science, 23 Jun 2007

you’re not paranoid – everyone IS ignoring you

“For sometime now I’ve been terribly worried. I wish I didn’t have to acknowledge it, but everything I have feared is happening. I used to think I was paranoid, but it’s true. She’s slipping away from us.

She’s been showing signs of acute illness for quite a while, but no one has really done anything. Her increased erratic behaviour is something I’ve especially noticed. Certain behaviours that were only rare occurrences are starting to occur more often, and with heightened anger.

I’ve tried to highlight these changes time and time again, as well as their speed of increase, but no one has paid attention. It almost seems everyone has been ignoring me completely, and I’m not sure why.

Is it easier to pretend there’s no illness, hoping it will go away? Or because they’ve never had to live without her, so the thought of death is impossible? perhaps they cannot see they’ve done this to her. We all have.” – Dr Sarah Perkins Climate Scientist, Extreme Events Specialist University of New South Wales.

Is This How You Feel? Website – How scientists feel

doctors to blame!

They’re meant to be the protectors of our health. But it seems that doctors are contributing to making the planet sick.

Unnecessary travel to medical conferences around the world is contributing to global warming, according to an editorial in a top medical journal. Writing in this week’s British Medical Journal, Ian Roberts, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and journal’s editor, Fioa Godlee, say that the threat to human health from climate change is substantial.

Most of the health burden of climate change is borne by children in developing countries.

“It is ironic that doctors, for whom protecting health is a primary responsibility, contribute to global warming through unnecessary attendances at international conferences,” they write; saying that evidence that attending conferences lectures improved practice was “scant”. The Age, 17 Feb 2007 – screen copy held by this website

white bearded 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.”

Leakey, whose palaeontologist father, Louis, caused a radical rethink of human evolution with key fossil finds in east Africa, said African governments lacked funds to do their own climate change studies, and so had to rely on researchers who he said were typically more focused on temperate regions.

Planet Ark, 1 Nov 2007

enlist the deceased!

Instead of the dead pushing up daisies, a Victorian scientist wants them to help in the fight against climate change by fertilising their favourite tree. The University of Melbourne’s Professor Roger Short has called for an end to cremations, declaring the environmental cost of burning a body and a wooden coffin is “enormous”.

The greener option, he said, was to place bodies in a cardboard coffin or a hessian sack, and then bury them upright next to a tree so the remains would help its growth.

“We have earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” he said. “Why not earth to earth, and stop at that?”

The Age (Australia), 19 Apr 2007

if blind lead the blind, both fall in the …

As temperatures rise due to global warming the UK will have to be prepared for ‘monsoon style’ storms by building open drainage ditches beside urban roads, pourous pavements and storing water in reservoirs under car parks.

Lord Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, said Britain is experiencing a “new kind of rain” in the summer that is putting cities at increasing risk, especially London.

The Telegraph (UK), 14/10/09 “Monsoon style floods to hit Britain

ban dogs!

A group of architects from New Zealand have calculated that a pet dog has an environmental footprint twice that of an SUV.

The calculations are based on how much land is required to grow enough food to feed a dog throughout its lifetime. ‘Time to Eat the Dog’ is the title of a new book by two architects from New Zealand.

Robert and Brenda Vale have calculated that a medium-sized dog has twice the environmental impact of a large four-wheel drive vehicle, when all factors are considered. Digital Journal, 22 Oct 2009