The time has come, the walrus said …

Nobody knows how many walruses the world holds.

But researchers have little doubt that the figure is on a downward slide, as the polar ice sheet on which the mammal depends for every stage of its life thins and retreats from beneath its flippered feet.

“The ice is melting three weeks earlier in the spring than it did 20 years ago, and it’s re-forming a month later in the fall,” said Carleton Ray of the University of Virginia, who has studied walruses since the 1950s.

“There’s no question that these changes are very bad for walruses,” Dr. Ray added, as they are for other ice dwellers like polar bears and four species of the walrus’s pinniped kin: the ribbon, ringed, spotted and bearded seals. New York Times, 20 May 2008

nervous herbivores

A new study has discovered that predators help to fight climate change. Plant matter stores a huge amount of carbon, yet herbivores eat plants. When predators hunt and kill the herbivores they are allowing a few more plants to survive and grow.

ENN gave examples of the elk and grasshopper that can be found in abundance on wild grasslands in the US. Both consume large amounts of carbon absorbing vegetation, but are in turn killed and eaten by wolves and ambush spiders.

The study, published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that the presence of the predators made the herbivores more nervous and agitated, forcing them to look up more in search of the predators, and therefore affording them less time to graze on plants.

Professor Oswald Schmitz, from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, said that “the results provide some new food for thought about how we might use animals to manage carbon release to the atmosphere.”

oilprice.com, 21 Jun 2014

lopsided world

Extra precipitation expected as a result of global warming could create a lopsided world in which sea ice increases around the South Pole while the far north melts away.

“Most people have heard of climate change and how rising air temperatures are melting glaciers and sea ice in the Arctic,” said Dylan Powell of the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

“However, findings from our simulations suggest a counterintuitive phenomenon. Some of the melt in the Arctic may be balanced by increases in sea ice volume in the Antarctic.”

Live Science, 29 Jun 2005

Mother Earth gets a voice!

Bolivia’s climate summit has had moments of joy, levity and absurdity. Yet underneath it all, you can feel the emotion that provoked this gathering: rage against helplessness.

The Bolivian government got the ball rolling by proposing four big ideas:

  • that nature should be granted rights that protect ecosystems from annihilation (a “Universal Declaration of Mother Earth Rights”);
  • that those who violate those rights and other international environmental agreements should face legal consequences (a “Climate Justice Tribunal”);
  • that poor countries should receive various forms of compensation for a crisis they are facing but had little role in creating (“Climate Debt”);
  • and that there should be a mechanism for people around the world to express their views on these topics (“World People’s Referendum on Climate Change”).

A New Climate Movement In Bolivia, By Naomi Klein – Countercurrents.org, 23 Apr 2010

squirrels needed!

For people who feel an acute unease about the future of the planet, a small but growing number of psychotherapists now offer a treatment designed to reduce worries as well as carbon footprints: ecopsychology.

But ecopsychology can help patients come to terms with their feelings about the natural world, said Thomas Doherty, who teaches an introductory course to ecopsychology at the Graduate School of Education and Counseling at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.

Since she took Dr. Doherty’s ecopsychology class last fall, Angeline Tiamson, a graduate student earning a master’s degree in counseling at Lewis & Clark, has embarked on a new way of thinking.

When she is on campus, she drifts to the low, wide trunk of an old black walnut tree, a spot she found during a nature exercise for class. She sits there for several minutes: no iPod, no cellphone, no laptop.

She rubs her hand over the bark, and sniffs the empty shells left behind by squirrels. New York Times, 16 Feb 2008

Another Paris agreement needed!

Global warming is the cause of a number of damaging effects to the earth and its inhabitants, such as climate change, glacier retreat, rising sea levels, and now we may have a new threat on the horizon… world war!

According to the 2007 CNA Corporation report, there is clear indication that as the tensions of global warming continue to heat up, so may the possibilities of war… a Hot War! The first thing we need to do as a nation is concentrate on reducing our own pollution levels.

Each country has the most control over itself and its citizens and should therefore be held accountable for its own actions.

Beyond that, each government needs to open communications with each other in order to help incorporate pollution reduction programs and technologies into every nations lifestyle around the world.

Such a plan would help make current efforts more effective by not only producing awareness on a global level, but providing a consistent plan for all to follow.

Tree Hugger, 4 Jan 2009

in search of a gender neutral glacier

A critical but overlooked aspect of the human dimensions of glaciers and global change research is the relationship between gender and glaciers.

While there has been relatively little research on gender and global environmental change in general (Moosa and Tuana, 2014; Arora-Jonsson, 2011), there is even less from a feminist perspective that focuses on gender (understood here not as a male/female binary, but as a range of personal and social possibilities) and also on power, justice, inequality, and knowledge production in the context of ice, glacier change, and glaciology.

Through a review and synthesis of a multi-disciplinary and wide-ranging literature on human-ice relations, this paper proposes a feminist glaciology framework to analyze human-glacier dynamics, glacier narratives and discourse, and claims to credibility and authority of glaciological knowledge through the lens of feminist studies.

Feminist glaciology asks how knowledge related to glaciers is produced, circulated, and gains credibility and authority across time and space. Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research, Mark Carey, M Jackson, Alessandro Antonello, Jaclyn Rushing – Progress in Human Geography 1–24, January 10, 2016

thanks to David Hanig

paper bag deflates

In studying the subject in even more detail over the 1950-2013 period, it was further found that this phenomenon could “account for between 70 and 80% of the recorded warming trend in Western Mediterranean cities.”

And in light of this discovery, Quereda et al. pose the important question: “are urban areas contributing to the observed warming trend on which climate change is based?” to which they respond by stating that “the answer to be drawn from our analysis is fully affirmative.”

And so they conclude by stating that “in these Western Mediterranean cities, the Urban Heat Island could account for up to 80% of the recorded warming.”

CO2 Science: The Impacts of Urban Heat Islands on Natural Warming Trends

thanks to David Mulberry

a wake-up call?

Climate change is coming for you in the night. That’s the conclusion of scientists who study how heat disturbs sleep—and how projected warming is expected to make bad sleep even worse.

Led by Nick Obradovich of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, a team of researchers are the first to document the relationship between rising temperatures and poor sleep.

Solomon Hsiang, who studies the effects of climate change on human behavior and economics at the University of California, Berkeley, credits the new study as the first to methodically analyze temperature, climate, and sleep.

The results, he said, “point toward systematic and important effects.”

Bloomberg, 27 May 2017

thanks to David Hanig

everyone into the gondolas!

By the end of the century, Venice – Italy’s City of Water – could face daily floods, and according to a new study, the costly and controversial flood barriers now being built might not be able to protect it.

Laura Carbognin at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Venice and colleagues combined data on land subsidence in the city with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s forecasts of global sea level rise.

They then calculated how this “personalised” sea-level forecast would change the city’s daily tides. When the tide rises above 110 centimetres, Venetians call it acqua alta (“high water”).

This currently happens about four times a year, but Carbognin’s team found that by the end of the century high water could swamp the city between 30 and 250 times a year. The impact on the local environment would be considerable – Carbognin calls it an “unsustainable aggression”. New Scientist, 24 Aug 2009

coverup alleged!

A former Canadian defense minister is demanding governments worldwide disclose and use secret alien technologies obtained in alleged UFO crashes to stem climate change.

“I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation … that could be a way to save our planet,” Paul Hellyer, 83, told the Ottawa Citizen.

“We need to persuade governments to come clean on what they know. Some of us suspect they know quite a lot, and it might be enough to save our planet if applied quickly enough,” he said.

TreeHugger, 28 Feb 2007

biodiversity plummets!

I recently attended the Ecological Society of America’s annual meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the theme was global warming. Eminent ecologists presented models that projected climate change into a bleak future where species that require unique habitat may be unable to persist.

According to conservation biologist Paul Ehrlich, with an extinction rate 200 times normal expected to continue apace, 20 years from now biodiversity will plummet. And 50 years from now—well within our children’s lifespans—life as we know it on our blue-green planet will be immeasurably transformed.

Island Press, 10 Sep 2010

global society collapses!

A scientific model has suggested that society will collapse in less than three decades due to catastrophic food shortages if policies do not change.

The model, developed by a team at Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute, does not account for society reacting to escalating crises by changing global behaviour and policies.

However the model does show that our current way of life appears to be unsustainable and could have dramatic worldwide consequences.

Dr Aled Jones, the Director of the Global Sustainability Institute, told Insurge Intelligence: “The results show that based on plausible climate trends, and a total failure to change course, the global food supply system would face catastrophic losses, and an unprecedented epidemic of food riots.”

“In this scenario, global society essentially collapses as food production falls permanently short of consumption.”

The Independent, 22 Jun 2015

Field mustard plants beat the rush!

Field mustard plants have evolved in response to an extreme, four-year-long drought in southern California, which some sources have linked to global warming.

These plants flower and produce seeds near the end of the rainy season, but when the rainy season is cut short by a drought, late blooming plants may wither and die before they can produce seeds.

This form of natural selection favors early bloomers. Is just four years enough time to see the results of this evolutionary shift?

Researchers compared plants grown from wild seeds collected before and after the drought and found that post-drought plants had evolved to flower much earlier — sometimes by as much as 10 days!

Understanding Evolution, Jul 2008

blame McDonalds!

McDonald’s spend over $1.8 billion every year worldwide on advertising and promotions, trying to cultivate an image of being a ‘caring’ and ‘green’ company that is also a fun place to eat.

Children are lured in (dragging their parents behind them) with the promise of toys and other gimmicks.

But behind the smiling face of Ronald McDonald lies the reality – McDonald’s only interest is money, making profits from whoever and whatever they can, just like all multinational companies…..McDonald’s are the world’s largest user of beef. Methane emitted by cattle reared for the beef industry is a major contributor to the ‘global warming’ crisis.

Modern intensive agriculture is based on the heavy use of chemicals which are damaging to the environment. What’s Wrong with McDonalds, 1 Feb 2001

gardeners flying blind!

There are many things gardeners can do to cope with climate change. And at the same time, they can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and take other steps to slow the warming of the planet.

That’s the message delivered by David Wolfe, professor in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University. While gardeners everywhere like to complain about the weather, now they have to contend with an increasingly unpredictable climate.

“We are in the unfortunate situation of being the first generation of gardeners, ever, who cannot rely on historical weather records to tell us what our climate is, or what to expect in the future,” writes Wolfe. Cornell Climate Change

(c) Can Stock Photo / HitToon

change you can believe in!

That doesn’t mean climate change won’t affect tropical forests of today. It already is. And it definitely doesn’t mean humans needn’t worry about global warming.

Climate change will be the end of the world as we know it. But it also will be the beginning of another.

Mass extinctions will open ecological niches, and environmental changes will create new ones. New creatures will evolve to fill them, guided by unforeseen selection pressures.

What this new world will look like, exactly, is impossible to predict, and humans aren’t guaranteed to survive in it. (And that’s if civilization somehow manages to survive the climate disasters coming its way in the meantime, from superstorms to sea level rise to agriculture-destroying droughts).

MotherJones, 8 Sep 2015

That’s deth-picable!

It may be the stuff folklore or fairy tales are made of, but is it plausible for humans to evolve into some kind of species of mer-people? What about turning into a species that have no teeth? An expert says that theoretically, these are feasible.

It won’t happen in the near future, but an evolutionary scientist predicted that mankind’s next generation may possibly develop several characteristics such as webbed feet and translucent eyelids in order to adapt to changes in the environment like rising sea levels.

A study led by the University of Florida and published last year had revealed that sea levels could rise by 20 feet and affect low-lying areas worldwide because of climate change.

“As the planet warms, the poles warm even faster,” said Geochemist Andrea Dutton, who was part of the Florida study.

Tech Times, 14 Jan 2016

Comment – US withdraws from the Paris agreement.

President Trump has withdrawn the US from the Paris Agreement fulfilling one of his major campaign promises. The decision is made more impressive given the considerable pressure he was under to remain.

There has been a big reaction, much of it bordering on the hysterical. But nowhere in this reaction have we seen acknowledgement of some basic facts.

  • China and India, two of the world’s highest emitters, are able to increase their emissions under the terms of the Paris agreement while the US is obliged to reduce its emissions.
  • The evidence suggests that even if all parties adhered to their promises the result would be a reduction in global temperature of a small fraction of 1 degree.
  • The stated goal of keeping temperature rise to less than 2 degrees appears to be nothing more than a marketing tool and does not seem to be linked to anything.
  • The bulk of the cash payments through the Climate Fund would be from the US.

This website congratulates President Trump and hopes this decision will go part of the way in taking politics out of the climate debate.

What seems to have been lost over the past decades is the importance of a scientific approach. What is the hypothesis? What is the evidence based on objective experiments and observations? Irrespective of existing beliefs and agendas, what conclusions does the evidence point to?

Tropical fruit flies taking over!

Scientists have been studying fruit fly genetics for a century. When they began to examine the genes found in whole populations of wild flies, they noticed a curious pattern.

Certain chromosomal markers (inversions) were common in populations living in warmer climates near the equator, and others were common in more polar, cool-weather populations.

It wasn’t clear what the genes associated with these different markers did exactly, but they seemed to help the flies cope with their divergent climates.

Now, scientists have gone back to many of the fly populations first studied — and have found that as the global climate has warmed, the warm-weather genetic markers are becoming more and more common.

Of the 22 fly populations on three continents that experienced warming trends, 21 seem to have already evolved in response to the climactic shift.

Berkeley University: Understanding Evolution, Jul 2008

Still hope for tropical flies!

Scientists believe some tropical species may be able to evolve and adapt to the effects of climate change. The new findings published in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests some sensitive rainforest-restricted species may survive climate change and avoid extinction.

But only if the change is not too abrupt and dramatically beyond the conditions that a species currently experiences. Dr Van Heerwaarden and Dr Carla M. Sgrò, from the Faculty of Science extended on an experiment from the 2000s in which tropical flies native to Australian rain forests called Drosophila birchii, were taken out of the damp rainforest and exposed to very dry conditions, mimicking the effects of potential climate change.

In the original experiment the flies died within hours and despite rescuing those that survived longest and allowing them to breed for over 50 generations, the flies were no more resistant, suggesting they didn’t have the evolutionary capacity to survive. Dr Sgrò said this finding suggests there is genetic variation present in these flies, which means they can evolve in response to climate change.

“Tropical species make up the vast majority of the world’s biodiversity and climactic models predict these will be most vulnerable to climate change. However these models do not consider the extent to which evolutionary response may buffer the negative impacts of climate change.”

“Our research indicates that the genes that help flies temporarily survive extreme dryness are not the same as those that help them resist more moderate conditions. The second set of genes are the ones that enable these flies to adapt,” she said. “We have much work to do but this experiment gives us hope that some tropical species have the capacity to survive climate change,” said Dr Sgrò.

Monash University, 29 Jul 2014

window closing

The chief UN climate negotiator has warned the world’s political leaders they must “act on the information provided by science” as they head to the Bali climate negotiations next month and foreshadowed that billions of dollars will need to be invested in clean energy.

Mr de Boer said there was a “window of opportunity of just 10 to 15 years to halt the march to dangerous climate change”.

Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Nov 2007

look out for falling buildings!

Tall buildings are engineered to survive SOME predictable historical weather conditions, (like 150 mph winds), but they can NOT endure the extreme never-before conditions that are becoming increasingly probably as a result of man-made climate change Pendulum-Swing Climate Change Chaos.

There has been a large upswing in the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes, beginning in 1995. This corresponds directly to an increase in tropical North Atlantic Ocean surface water temperature, which is very-likely the Earth’s natural response to increasing man-made (anthropogenic) greenhouse gases, overpopulation, urbanization, deforestation, methane release, and huge megacity urban heat islands.

(Only 11% of all powerful tropical storms occur in the Atlantic, the rest are in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.)  The number of worldwide tropical-storm hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones has remained about the same over time, (at roughly 90 per year), BUT man-made Global Warming has caused the energy released by the average tropical storm to increase about 70% in the past three decades, corresponding to approximately a 15% increase in the maximum wind speed, and a 60% increase in storm duration – doing far-more damage over much-larger areas than most of the smaller tropical storms of only 30-years ago.

If this increasing storm intensity trend continues to get worse (as NASA scientists predict it will do in the 21ST Century), the worst-case engineering design specifications of almost all tall megacity buildings may be far exceeded. Emerald Eco City, 2010

(c) Can Stock Photo

dog days

Global warming has been blamed for everything from an increase in hurricanes to rising sea levels and polar glacial activity.

Could it also be affecting the health and well-being of your dog?

The calamity of canine heartworm disease continues to prove deadly to dogs across the United States. What might be worse is that the warming of our planet may be contributing to the spread of this disease.

Canine heartworms are spread by more than 70 species of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes require warmth and humidity to survive and reproduce.

East Bay Times, 16 Mar 2009

trifecta of troubles

Ducks, geese and other migratory waterfowl face substantial population declines during this century in North America from a warmer climate and shrinking wetlands habitat caused by global warming, according to scientific research presented in a new National Wildlife Federation report.

The Waterfowler’s Guide to Global Warming reports that ducks and geese that use America’s flyways face “a trifecta of troubles caused by global warming,” says National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger, “including major loss of prime breeding grounds, a reduction of coastal winter habitat and disruptions in migration.”

Global warming is setting up ducks and geese for a Pandora’s box of problems that could devastate populations across the nation, Schweiger says.

National Wildlife Federation, 14 Jun 2005

calling all climate warriors

The American Psychological Association also released a report in June about the psychological impacts of climate change. “Well-being is more than just the absence of injury or disease; it is also about human flourishing and resilience,” the report says.

Lise Van Susteren, a psychiatrist, has offered some tips on how to care for yourself when feeling climate change burn out. They include practical advice for anytime—exercise, spend time outside, eat healthy.

Her tips also have some specific points for dealing with climate change anxiety: Recognize that your fears are realistic, but don’t give up. And “connect with your fellow climate warriors to laugh and play games.” Just maybe keep the conversation clear from climate to keep the laughs coming.

Smithsonian, 5 Nov 2014

oops

In March, European Union leaders agreed to set a binding climate-change target to make biofuel account for 10 per cent of all Europe’s transport fuels by 2020.

However, the executive branch of the European Union, the European Commission, has since admitted that the objective may have the unintended consequence of speeding up the destruction of tropical rainforests in South-East Asia, resulting in actually increasing, not reducing, global warming.

Research by Friends of the Earth shows up to 87 per cent of deforestation in Malaysia is a result of new oil-palm plantations.

Vast swathes of rainforest are also burnt annually on Borneo (part of both Malaysia and Indonesia), and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, releasing millions of tones of carbon dioxide in the process.

Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Oct 2007

good weather for ducks?

Wild weather caused by climate change will hit Sydney’s poor, elderly and least-educated hardest, according to a new study mapping the city’s most vulnerable coastal regions.

Dr Benjamin Preston, a scientist with the CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation National Research Flagship, said the study was the first of its kind in Sydney. It would help emphasise the influence socio-economic factors have in determining the severity of climate change impacts.

The consequences of climate change will be influenced just as much by demographic factors, economic factors and future decisions regarding risk management as by changes in the climate system itself, Dr Preston said.

Elderly people, particularly those in units, were at an increased risk of death during heat waves, the study found. About 176 elderly people die from heat-related causes in Sydney each year. A report cited in the study predicted this could grow to more than 1000 deaths by the end of the century.

Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Apr 2008

You’re going to need an ocean, of calamine lotion ….

Poison ivy is the number one outdoor skin allergy in the world and grows in every state in the country except California, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Now, local doctors say it’s more potent than ever, and it boils down to the air we breathe. With more carbon dioxide in the air today, the leaves grow larger, making the allergy-causing oils, supercharged.

It takes less than a grain of salt to cause red, itchy blisters that can last for weeks. Dr. Daniel Aires, director of dermatology at the University of Kansas Hospital, said he has seen more cases of poison ivy in his practice. kctv5, 17 Jun 2015

danger point passed

Environmentalists say scientific findings that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have already reached dangerous levels reinforce the urgency of cutting emissions.

Scientist and Australian of the Year Tim Flannery said an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report to be adopted next month shows the world passed a danger point in 2005, a decade earlier than expected.

“The longer we stay above the levels we’re at at the moment, the more likely it is that we would start to see the loss of the Great Barrier Reef, you would actually start to see the collapse of the great ice sheets and places iike the Amazon starting to burn down,” the policy direct of the Independent Climate Institute said.

“It’s going to require countries like Autralia to reverse our emissions within five years and head towards 80 to 90 per cent reductions by 2050,” he said.

Illawarra Mercury (Australia), 10 Oct 2007 – screen copy held by this website