the black-throated diver, capercaillie and dotterel need to spread their wings!

The RSPB today called for urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid a ‘calamitous’ impact on birds.

A new report published today by the conservation charity shows that if climate change is not slowed down, the potential distribution of average bird species by the end of this century will shift nearly 342 miles (550km) to the north-east – equivalent to the distance from Plymouth to Newcastle.

Some species, including the black-throated diver, snow bunting, capercaillie and dotterel, could be left with few areas of suitable climate in the UK.

“To enable these potential new colonists to gain a foothold we must prepare for their arrival by giving them the habitat they need and the freedom from persecution they deserve,” said Mark Avery, the RSPB’s conservation director.

The Guardian, 15 Jan 2008

watch out for falling snails!

Nina Pinto is in no doubt that sea snails are tenacious creatures. To find out how strongly they could cling to the wall of a fish tank, the year 10 student from Hornsby Girls High glued tiny hooks to their shells.

She attached each snail to a pulley and added weights until its foot lost its grip and it dropped off.

Her purpose was to see if reductions in the water’s salinity – a possible consequence of climate change – affected the snails’ ability to hold on. As the salinity of the water decreased, so did the snails’ staying power.

“If sea levels rise there could also be stronger currents that pull them off,” she said. Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Oct 2007

watch out for speeding satellites

A primary cause of a warmer planet’s carbon dioxide emissions is having effects that reach into space with a bizarre twist.

Air in the atmosphere’s outermost layer is very thin, but air molecules still create drag that slows down satellites, requiring engineers to periodically boost them back into their proper orbits.

But the amount of carbon dioxide up there is increasing.

And while carbon dioxide molecules in the lower atmosphere release energy as heat when they collide, thereby warming the air, the sparser molecules in the upper atmosphere collide less frequently and tend to radiate their energy away, cooling the air around them.

With more carbon dioxide up there, more cooling occurs, causing the air to settle. So the atmosphere is less dense and creates less drag.Livescience, 16 Aug 2011

Vinegar flies behind the times

Drosophila, the vinegar fly, gives us clues about climate change, reports Geoff Maslen.

The insects are released in an area where there is no food resource other than a bucket of rotting banana mush. The students capture the flies with nets, put them in tubes and return to the laboratory where they are go under UV light and are separated.

Professor Hoffmann says that on a hot day the flies can travel up to 150 metres but in cold weather they move only a few metres from their release point. But what does all this effort prove?

“One way animals can counter the effects of climatic extremes is via physiological acclimation,” Professor Hoffmann says.

But acclimating to one extreme decreases their ability to survive under different conditions. If temperatures fluctuate, organisms acclimated to cold or hot conditions can suffer a decrease in fitness as temperatures move to the middle or the opposite extreme.

If you look at some of these specialist species that are very restricted in their distribution they don’t seem to have the adaptive potential, Professor Hoffmann says.

“As climate change comes in, those species will have lot more difficulty coping.”

The Age (Autralia), 25 Feb 2008

no clean bill of health

In a speech tonight to mark World Health Day, Dr Grant Blashki says climate change is already having direct and indirect effects on Australia’s health, and the problems are set to get worse.

His call for the medical profession to treat climate change as a health issue and address it as such is being echoed today around the country and the world, as the World Health Organisation chose “protecting health from climate change” as its theme.

Dr Blashki, a senior research fellow in the University of Melbourne’s Primary Care Research Unit, says general practitioners and other health care professionals will need to develop strategies to help patients deal with concerns. He said patients who came to him with depression or anxiety were increasingly citing climate change news as something they were having trouble coping with.

“These people tend to have a low threshold to taking on worries. When they pick up the paper and see a small part of Antarctica disintegrating, they take it on board,” he said. “They pick up on the negative things going on in the world. It comes down to maintaining hope, to get people motivated, not despairing. Action is a great stress reliever.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Apr 2008

scientist nearly gives game away!

Climate change over the past two million years has boosted human evolution by forcing us to adapt to changing conditions and allowing us to migrate to new areas.

Researchers found that far from hindering our development, periods when the earth is either cooling or warming up have actually been highly beneficial.

Experts from the National History Museum and Cambridge University have identified five key time periods when shifts in global climate have resulted in accelerated social and genetic evolution.

Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum and author of The Origin of Our Species told the Sunday Times: ‘Climate change has been a major player in our evolution. It created the conditions that encouraged our early ancestors to come down from the trees and later to spread out of Africa and across the globe. It made us what we are today.’

The Royal Society is holding a conference this week where details of recent research will be released. The scientists are keen to point out they are not suggesting that modern global warming is beneficial.

Daily Mail, 21 Nov 2011

swept along by inertia

We have already entered an era of dangerous climate change. We now know that the dynamics and inertia of our social and economic systems, if left unchecked or inadequately addressed, will sweep us on to ever more dangerous change and then, within a decade, to the start of an era of simply catastrophic climate change where humans wil lose all control over what happens and most of the globe becomes unliveable. (extract from Climate Code Red published by Friends of the Earth)

The Age (Australia), 6 Dec 2007 – screencopy held by this website

London calling

Britain could be one high rise city by the end of the century due to the number of migrants who will move here because their own countries have become too hot, scientists have predicted.

If the world warms by an average of 4 degrees Celsius in the next 100 years, the worse case scenario suggested in certain climate change models, it is expected many areas in the south of the world will become too dry to support human life.

The nation is already a large city and it will become even larger, with that will come the need to support people. We do not want starving refugees – that will be worse – so we have to spend a lot of money on infrastructure, said James Lovelock.

His comments were supported by a number of scientists writing in the New Scientist, some of whom said the human race may not even survive the increase in temperatures.

The Telegraph, 26 Feb 2009

giant icebergs!

A giant iceberg twice the length of Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” Stadium has been spotted floating off Australia and could be headed for New Zealand, scientists said on Thursday.

The ice chunk, measuring some 700 metres (2,300 feet) long with an estimated depth of 350 metres, caused a stir when it was sighted by experts based on Australia’s remote Macquarie Island.

“I’ve never seen anything like it — we looked out to the horizon and just saw this huge floating island of ice,” said fur seal biologist Dean Miller.

Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist Neal Young said the flat-topped slab could break into dozens of smaller icebergs as it moves in the direction of New Zealand, causing a possible shipping hazard.

“It’s rare to make a sighting like this — it’s certainly impressive-looking,” Young told AFP. He said the iceberg had probably split from a major Antarctic ice shelf nine years ago, and said more could be expected in the area if global warming continues.

“If the current trends in global warming were to continue I would anticipate seeing more icebergs and the large ice shelves breaking up,” he added. Phys Org, 12 Nov 2009

the scheme that launched a thousand (and a half) ships

It should be possible to counteract the global warming associated with a doubling of carbon dioxide levels by enhancing the reflectivity of low-lying clouds above the oceans, according to researchers in the US and UK.

John Latham of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, US, and colleagues say that this can be done using a worldwide fleet of autonomous ships spraying salt water into the air.

Latham and colleagues calculate that, depending on exactly what fraction of low-level maritime clouds are targeted (with some regions, notably the sea off the west coasts of Africa and North and South America, more susceptible to this technique than others), around 1500 ships would be needed altogether to counteract a carbon doubling, at a cost of some £1m to £2m each.

This would involve an initial fleet expanding by some 50 ships a year if the scheme is to keep in step with the current rate of increase in atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels.

PhysicsWorld, 4 Sep 2008

checkerspot butterfly paddles its own canoe!

The report last month from a butterfly conference in England was a bit different, however. It concerned the endangered quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino), well known for being threatened by climate change.

Many experts believed the species was doomed unless humans collected the butterflies and moved them north; their path to higher ground seemed to be blocked by the megalopolis of Los Angeles.

But at the conference, according to an account in the Guardian, Camille Parmesan of the Marine Sciences Institute at Plymouth University in the U.K., who has studied the quino checkerspot for years, reported that it had miraculously shifted its range to higher altitudes. Furthermore, it had somehow learned to lay its eggs on a new host plant.

“Every butterfly biologist who knew anything about the quino in the mid-1990s thought it would be extinct by now, including me,” Parmesan told the Guardian.

National Geographic, 6 May 2014

enemy identified!

Bolivian President Evo Morales said capitalism is to blame for global warming and the accelerated deterioration of the planetary ecosystem in a speech today opening an international conference on climate change and the “rights of Mother Earth.”

“The main cause of the destruction of the planet Earth is capitalism and in the towns where we have lived, where we respected this Mother Earth, we all have the ethics and the moral right to say here that the central enemy of Mother Earth is capitalism,” said Morales, who is Bolivia’s first fully indigenous head of state in the 470 years since the Spanish invasion.

Countercurrents.org, 21 Apr 2010

early bird butterflies

As Melbourne warms, the city’s butterflies are emerging at least 10 days earlier in spring than they did in 1945, according to research that reveals for the first time a causal link between increasing greenhouse gases, the city’s warming environment and the timing of a natural event.

Using emergence data on the common brown butterfly dating back 65 years, researchers from Melbourne University said the findings were unequivocal.

“There’s very little room to doubt that now,” said lead author Michael Kearney, of the zoology department. “Animals are doing things earlier because the climate is warming, because of human activity.”

The Age, 18 Mar 2010

blue-tongue moves north

A disease that normally only occurs in tropical or subtropical parts of the world made its first appearance in the UK last spring. It could be the first hard evidence that global warming is starting to change disease patterns around the world.

While this story carries an important message about human disease, this time at least, it was an animal disease that has moved. It’s the blue tongue virus, which affects cattle, sheep and goats.

It can be a devastating illness with up to a 70% mortality rate in sheep. The warmer temperatures have allowed blue tongue to gradually spread northwards in recent years, from Africa into southern Europe. That’s because the virus is carried by midges, which have headed north with the warmer weather.

But a shock came two years ago…blue tongue stopped following its well-predicted path and suddenly jumped into much colder northern Europe.

Professor Peter Mertens: An experienced veterinarian in Holland who saw a sick sheep and said: “Hey guys that looks like blue tongue to me, you know, out of the blue” and I imagine most people said “you’re kidding, it’s never been this far north”.

ABC (Australia) Catalyst, 8 May 2008

watch your step!

The country’s electricity and water supplies are at high risk from climate change, and immediate action is needed to prepare for the threat, a report presented to the Federal Government has warned.

Dams, roads, power stations and even paved footpaths are all at risk of damage from the increasing number of droughts and bushfires and rising sea levels during the next 30 to 50 years, said the report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

“Adaptation to cope effectively with these situations is expected to require major investment with integrated, high-level strategic planning,” the report said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Nov 2008

Is that a pizzly or a grolar?

What is clear is that warming is increasing many opportunities for gene mixing.

“As we’ve developed genomic methodologies, we’re finding that organisms are exchanging genes with other species,” Michael Arnold, a professor of genetics at the University of Georgia, said.

“Genetic exchange due to organisms coming together from climate change is the rule rather than the exception.”

Animals have been interbreeding for millennia. Even modern humans are the product of genetic exchange with Neanderthals some 60,000 years ago.

But the rate at which species interbreed is accelerating because of climate change, researchers say. As habitats and animal ranges change and bleed into one another, species that never before would have encountered one another are now mating.

Warmer temperatures have allowed grizzly bears and polar bears to venture to habitats they don’t usually occupy and mate to form a hybrid: the pizzly or grolar bear.

Scientific American, 1 Jun 2015

saved by the Earth’s shift!

A new warning has come to NASA from the Inuits. They are warning that the change in climate is not due to global warming but rather, because of the Earth shifting a bit.

The Inuits are local people that live in the Arctic regions of Canada, the United States and Greenland. They are excellent weather forecasters and so were their ancestors. Presently they are warning NASA that the cause of change in weather, earthquakes etc, are not due to global warming as the world thinks.

They state that the earth has shifted or “wobbled”. “Their sky has changed!” The elders declare that the sun rises at a different position now, not where it used to previously. They also have longer daylight to hunt now, the sun is much higher than earlier, and it gets warmer much quickly.

Other elders across the north also confirmed the same thing about the sky changing when interviewed. They also alleged that the position of sun, moon and stars have all changed causing changes in the temperature. This has also affected the wind and it is very difficult to predict the weather now and according to them predicting weather is necessary on Arctic.

All the elders confirmed that the Earth has shifted, wobbled or tilted toward the North. This information provided by the Inuit Elders has caused a great concern in the NASA scientists. White Wolf Pack, 5 Mar 2004

all in a good cause

Sports fields, car parks and parklands will be important assets; houses will have walls that open, and some people might need to lose their water views to prepare for bigger, more frequent floods due to global warming, according to experts contacted by the Herald.

There is consensus in the scientific literature that “the flooding that happens on small urban type of catchments, which is a result of short rainfall bursts, is going up, because convection is intensifying”, Professor Ashish Sharma, an Australian Research Council future fellow in the school of civil and environmental engineering at the University of NSW, said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Mar 2012

that sinking feeling

Not only is the planet’s rising temperature melting massive glaciers, but it also seems to be thawing out the layer of permanently frozen soil below the ground’s surface. This thawing causes the ground to shrink and occurs unevenly, so it could lead to sinkholes and damage to structures such as railroad tracks, highways and houses.

Live Science, 16 Aug 2011

fire and ice

Tropical forests may dry out and become vulnerable to devastating wildfires as global warming accelerates over the coming decades, a senior scientist has warned.

Soaring greenhouse gas emissions, driven by a surge in coal use in countries such as China and India, are threatening temperature rises that will turn damp and humid forests into parched tinderboxes, said Dr Chris Field, co-chair of the UN’s Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Higher temperatures could see wildfires raging through the tropics and a large scale melting of the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere that will accelerate warming even further, he said.

The Guardian, 16 Feb 2009

moths go forth and…

Ecologist Florian Altermatt of the University of California, Davis has studied 44 species of moths and butterflies in Central Europe.

He published the results December 22 in the science journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B article, “Climatic warming increases voltinism in European butterflies and moths” (which is available online for free for a few more days).

“Voltinism” refers to the number of breeding cycles in a year. As the region has warmed since the 1980s, some of these species have added an extra generation during the summer for the first time on record in that location.

Among the 263 species already known to have a second or third generation there during toasty times, 190 have grown more likely to do so since 1980. ThinkProgress, 26 Dec 2009

vote the rascals out!

Climate change is the most important social welfare issue we face as social workers. Unless we bring our best thinking and organizing to bear on climate change, our work on all the other issues near and dear to our hearts runs the risk of being comparable to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

But individual actions are not enough. We need to be social worker activists, advocating to change public policies that will have major impact on the future we pass on to the next generation.

We can challenge elected officials at every level to support efforts to reduce the output of “greenhouse gases,” and we can vote the rascals out if they persist in wrong-headed decisions.

The New Social Worker, 20 Jan 2007

Saturn’s rings to solve global warming!

A wild idea to combat global warming suggests creating an artificial ring of small particles or spacecrafts around Earth to shade the tropics and moderate climate extremes.

There would be side effects, proponents admit. An effective sunlight-scattering particle ring would illuminate our night sky as much as the full Moon, for example.

But the idea, detailed today in the online version of the journal Acta Astronautica, illustrates that climate change can be battled with new technologies, according to one scientist not involved in the new work.

To keep the particles in place, gravitationally significant shepherding spacecraft might be employed. They would herd the particles much like small moons keep Saturn’s rings in place. LiveScience, 27 Jun 2005

live longer with climate change!

Actually, with respect to any temperature rise due to global warming, the research team found “For both men and women mortality was higher at low temperatures, suggesting a lesser ability to adapt to the cold.”

Based on another related study, they state “In England and Wales, the higher temperatures predicted for 2050 might result in nearly 9,000 fewer winter deaths each year.”

Laaidi et al. conclude “our findings give grounds for confidence in the near future: the relatively moderate (2°C) warming predicted to occur in the next half century would not increase annual mortality rates.”

worldclimatereport, 14/3/07

surf’s up!

A team of geophysicists from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, have determined that gigantic ocean waves have been speeding up due to global warming.

These large ocean waves, known as planetary waves, typically span hundreds of kilometers from crest to crest.

Having predicted that planetary waves would accelerate as a result of the ocean surface warming, John Fyfe and Oleg Saenko, writing in the latest issue of Geophysical Research Letters, modeled the changes to ocean wave patterns over the 20th and 21st centuries to test their hypothesis.

“We knew we’d see an effect, but we didn’t think it would be significant for at least another two centuries,” Fyfe said. TreeHugger, 13 Jun 2007

last-ditch effort to halt global warming!

The US government wants the world’s scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming, the Guardian has learned.

It says research into techniques such as giant mirrors in space or reflective dust pumped into the atmosphere would be “important insurance” against rising emissions, and has lobbied for such a strategy to be recommended by a major UN report on climate change, the first part of which will be published on Friday.

Scientists have previously estimated that reflecting less than 1% of sunlight back into space could compensate for the warming generated by all greenhouse gases emitted since the industrial revolution.

Possible techniques include putting a giant screen into orbit, thousands of tiny, shiny balloons, or microscopic sulphate droplets pumped into the high atmosphere to mimic the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption.

The Guardian, 27 Jan 2007

more plagues

Climatic changes could lead to more outbreaks of bubonic plague among human populations, a study suggests.

Researchers found that the bacterium that caused the deadly disease became more widespread following warmer springs and wetter summers. The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Writing in the paper, co-author Nils Stenseth from the University of Oslo said: “The desert regions of Central Asia are known to contain natural foci of plague where the great gerbil (Rhombomys opimus) is the primary host.”

BBC News, 22 Aug 2006

unprecedented sequence

What is clear, the scientists say, is that the floods in Pakistan – and the fires in Russia, the mudslides in China, the droughts in sub-Saharan Africa – are enunciations of scenarios climate forecasters have long predicted.

The “unprecedented sequence of extreme weather” over the past month matches climate projections, says the WMO. This is what global warming looks like, say climate experts at NASA. For years the warnings have been laid out in the scientific journals and in sober economic analyses. Global warming would super-saturate monsoons, extend droughts, breathe fury into wildfires and frenzy into hurricanes and cyclones.

Climate change raises fundamental questions of human security, survival and the stability of nation states, security expert Professor Alan Dupont argues. It will contribute to destabilising, unregulated population movements through Asia and the Pacific – mostly within borders, but the ripple effects will spill beyond them.

Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Aug 2010

La Nina to double!

Extreme weather arising from a climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean will get much worse as the world warms, according to climate modelling.

The latest data – based on detailed climate modelling work – suggests extreme La Nina events in the Pacific Ocean will almost double with global warming, from one in 23 years to one in 13 years. Most will follow extreme El Nino events, meaning frequent swings between opposite extremes from one year to the next.

Prof Mat Collins, Joint Met Office Chair in Climate Change at Exeter University, UK, is a co-researcher on the study, which involved teams in Australia, China, the US, UK and Peru. He said scientists were getting a better idea of how El Nino and La Nina are affected by global warming.

“Our previous research showed a doubling in frequency of extreme El Nino events, and this new study shows a similar fate for the cold phase of the cycle,” he said. “It shows again how we are just beginning to understand the consequences of global warming.”

BBC News, 26 Jan 2015

you take the high road …

The University of Durham looked at levels of land uplift and subsidence in the British isles since the Ice Age.

As the ice retreated 20,000 years ago the release of the enormous weight meant the north slowly tilted up while the south sank down. Scotland is still experiencing this “springboard” effect while southern Ireland, Wales and England continues to sink.

Prof Ian Shennan, who led the study, said soil sediments showed that sites in the north of the country are still rising.

“Subsidence and rising sea levels will have implications for people and habitats, and will require action to manage resorts, industrial sites, ports, beaches, salt marshes and wetlands, wildlife and bird migrations,” he said.

The Telegraph, 7 Oct 2009

giant gun to solve global warming!

Scientists claim they can fight global warming by firing trillions of mirrors into space to deflect the sun’s rays forming a 100,000 square mile “sun shade”.

According to astronomer Dr Roger Angel, at the University of Arizona, the trillions of mirrors would have to be fired one million miles above the earth using a huge cannon with a barrel of 0.6 miles across. The gun would pack 100 times the power of conventional weapons and need an exclusion zone of several miles before being fired.

Dr Angel has already secured NASA funding for a pilot project and British inventor Tod Todeschini, 38, was commissioned to build a scaled-down version of the gun. He constructed the four-metre long cannon in his workshop in Sandlake, Oxfordshire, for a TV documentary investigating the sun shield theory.

He said: “The gun was horrendously dangerous. This was the first gun I’d ever built.”

The Telegraph, 26 Feb 2009