tourism shake-up

An international team of economists predict that by the end of the century the expected rise in temperature will make many current tourist hot spots a bit too toasty while making some currently chilly places warm enough to entice fair-weather travelers.

“Climate change would shift patterns of tourism towards higher altitudes and latitudes, tourism may double in colder countries and fall by 20 percent in warmer countries….For some countries international tourism may treble whereas for others it may be cut in half,” write researchers Andrea Bigano of the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in Milan, Italy, Jacqueline M. Hamilton of Hamburg University and Richard S.J. Tol of the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin.

The biggest winners: Canada, which they predict will experience a 220 percent increase in international arrivals by 2100, Russia (174 percent) and Mongolia (122 percent). The biggest losers: Mauritania, where international arrivals will drop by 60 percent, Mali (-59 percent) and Bahrain (-58 percent).

“Currently popular destinations that are high up there include Macau (-48 percent), Aruba (-42 percent) and Jamaica (-39 percent),” Tol said in an e-mail.

Pew Research Centre, 17 Aug 2006

a small fish in a big pond

Fish have lost half their average body mass and smaller species are making up a larger proportion of European fish stocks as a result of global warming, a study has found.

It’s huge, said study author Martin Daufresne of the Cemagref Public Agricultural and Environmental Research Institute in Lyon, France.

Size is a fundamental characteristic that is linked to a number of biological functions, such as fecundity — the capacity to reproduce.

While commercial and recreational fishing did impact some of the fisheries studied, it “cannot be considered as the unique trigger” for the changes in size, the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found.

Although not negating the role of other factors, our study provides strong evidence that temperature actually plays a major role in driving changes in the size structure of populations and communities, the study concluded. Heat Is Online, – originally Discover.com 20 Jul 2009

not to be sneezed at

As the world warms, some regions may become more humid and other regions drier. With these changes it is highly likely that we are going to see an increase in pollens, fungal spores and dust in the air, triggering an increase in the number and severity of asthma attacks.

This may also mean an increase in the number of asthma sufferers. Patients with persistent asthma need to talk to their doctor about managing their condition effectively and not just its symptoms.

While the effects of climate change may be unpredictable and potentially frightening for most asthmatics, they should take their regular preventer therapy and be ready with their asthma action plans when things go wrong.

Newcastle Herald (Australia), 12 May 2007 – screen copy held by this website

you know what to do!

New Scientist has a little piece on the subject: “Would it be possible to reduce the impact of the greenhouse effect by painting roofs of buildings white to reflect sunlight in the same way the polar icecaps do?”

To answer that question, the the Earth Institute at Columbia University (New York) has undertaken the Global Rural Urban Mapping Project (GRUMP).

Its results show that roughly 3 per cent of the Earth’s land surface is covered with buildings. The Earth has an albedo of 0.29, meaning that it reflects 29 per cent of the sunlight that falls upon it. With an albedo of 0.1, towns absorb more sunlight than the global average.

Painting all roofs white could nudge the Earth’s albedo from 0.29 towards 0.30.

According to a very simple “zero-dimensional” model of the Earth, this would lead to a drop in global temperature of up to 1 °C, almost exactly cancelling out the global warming that has taken place since the start of the industrial revolution.

A zero-dimensional model, however, excludes the atmosphere and, crucially, the role of clouds. But! It would be interesting to see if more sophisticated models predict a similar magnitude of cooling.

So next time you replace the tiles on your roof or buy a new house, you know what to do (if you can’t/won’t get solar panels, white tiles or a green roof, at least try to get a light color).

Tree Hugger, 16 Dec 2005

see also – action plan

just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water – it is!

Rising ocean temperatures caused by global warming could make sharks significantly smaller and less aggressive, according to new research  carried out by Australian marine biologists.

“Warmer waters and ocean acidification will have major detrimental effects on sharks’ ability to meet their energy demands, with the effects likely to cascade through entire ecosystems,” said the study’s lead author, associate professor Ivan Nagelkerken.

“In warmer water sharks are hungrier, but with increased CO2 they won’t be able to find their food. With reduced ability to hunt, sharks will no longer be able to exert the same control over the marine food webs, which is essential for maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems.”

The Independent, 12 Nov 2015

it’s a bear eat bear world!

A new article in the journal Arctic suggests that polar bear cannibalism — typically the predation of small bears or cubs by much larger adult males — is either much more commonplace than previously thought, or has lately become more common.

The scientists are asking: are polar bears more often resorting to cannibalism because of increased hunger and desperation, or are we simply more frequently observing a behavior that has always existed?

They say it’s an important question to answer, because it will reveal whether or not the Svalbard polar bear population has started to feel the heat from climate change.

LiveScience, 15 Dec 2011

cases climb

As reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease climb in the United States — there have been three major outbreaks in the news this summer — researchers say the increase could be partly a result of climate change.

More than three times as many cases of legionellosis, of which Legionnaires’ disease is one form, were reported in 2009 than 2000 — 3,522 up from 1,110, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. David N. Fisman, a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, said in an email that he doubted the increase was the result solely of improved testing. The rise is linear and across all regions of the United States, he said.

“Given that we know climate change is going to make for hotter, stormier summers (and already is doing so) it doesn’t seem like a huge leap to suggest that the ongoing rise in legionellosis in the US could be at least partly due to climate change,” he wrote.

NBC New York, 30 Jul 2015

see also – just plain scary

saved by nuclear power

It would be a “noble act” if Australia embraced nuclear power, which could be generated more safely than coal-fired electricity, one of Australia’s leading scientists and climate experts claims.

Tim Flannery, director of the South Australian Museum and author of two books on climate change, said Australia, the worst greenhouse gas poluter per capita in the world, had few immediate options for clean-energy generation.

“Climate change is so catastrophic and imminent that only nuclear power can save us,” he said.

The Age, 5 Aug 2006 – screencopy held by website

see also – action plan

blame us for the moose and the wolves!

Global warming is impacting more than the water levels in the Great Lakes.

It could be the beginning of the end for the moose and wolves of Isle Royale. And if it is, a Michigan Technological University scientist places the blame squarely on the human race.

“Humans have made summers increasingly hot, which likely exacerbates moose ticks,” says John Vucetich, a population biologist in Michigan Tech’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

“Both the heat and the ticks are detrimental to moose. If wolves go extinct for a lack of moose, humans will be to blame.” Science Daily, 22 Aug 2007

holiday horror stories

A report commissoned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (UK) says heat waves, droughts, rising sea levels, flash floods, forest fires and disease “could turn profitable tourist destinations into holiday horror stories”.

The senior research scientist at the unit, Dr David Viner, said: “Areas like the Mediterranean could become unbearable during the traditional summer holiday season. As temperatures begin to soar, many tourists will stay away.”

Dr Ute Collier, WWF head of climate change, said: “The tourism industry could be faced with huge costs as global warming begins to influence decisions about when and where people are going to go on holiday.”

WWF’s recommendations include introducing an aviation fuel tax throughout the European Union, and preferably worldwide.

It also argues for a shift from fossil fuel use to renewable energy sources, and for improved energy efficiency in new buildings, including tourist resorts.

BBC News, 29 Aug 1999

strikes twice?

By now we’re familiar with some of the scarier potential impacts of climate change: Floods, fires, stronger hurricanes, violent conflicts.

Well, here’s a new one to add to your nightmares.

Lightning strikes in the continental United States will increase roughly 12 percent for every degree Celsius of global warming, a study published today in Science finds.

Mother Jones, 13 Nov 2014

do you want grasshoppers with that?

We cannot continue the way we are producing and consuming meat.

Obviously, this should not go as far as governments telling people what to eat. However, keeping meat consumption to levels recommended by health authorities would lower emissions and reduce heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. And of course there are alternative sources of protein.

For example, raising insects as an animal protein source. Insects have a very good conversion rate from feed to meat. They make up part of the diet of two billion people and are commonly eaten in many parts of the world.

Eating insects is good for the environment and balanced diets.

Kofi Annan, in The Guardian, 3 May 2015

a glass ceiling?

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 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.

Despite the obvious obstacles – including an estimated $350 trillion (244 trillion pound) price tag for the project – Dr Angel is confident of getting the project off the ground.

The Telegraph, 26 Feb 2009

see also – action plan

mixed results for weeds

Weeds from warm climates are poised to claim new turf as temperatures increase. But other invasives may lose ground.

Princeton researchers Bethany Bradley, Michael Oppenheimer and David Wilcove used computer models of global climate change to predict the future ranges of weeds that are widespread in the West.

Just as native species are expected to shift in range and relative competitiveness with climate change, they wrote in a study published in the journal Global Change Biology, “the same should be expected of invasive species.”

Using each weed’s preferred habitat characteristics and a scenario in which fossil fuel emissions are not reduced, Bradley and her colleagues created an invasion risk map for each weed. Their results were mixed.

The bad news for California: yellow star thistle will keep its current range and probably spread farther here and in Nevada.

Tamarisk, an exotic tree that sucks wildland creeks dry, will neither gain nor lose in a warmer West. The largest effects the Princeton group predicted were for cheatgrass and leafy spurge, which will shift their ranges north, and spotted knapweed, which will move to higher elevations.

SFGate, 16 Aug 2009

a safe earthquake

Efforts to stem global warming by pumping emissions of carbon dioxide deep into the Earth’s crust could trigger widespread earthquakes, a Stanford geophysicist warned.

Although those quakes would not be particularly destructive, they would be widely felt and disruptive – and it would also cost billions of dollars to create thousands of disposal sites for the greenhouse gas, said Mark Zoback, one of the country’s leading seismic experts.

Injecting carbon dioxide into thousands of sites in mid-America, he said, would increase the pressure along those faults and inevitably push many into abrupt failure. The result would be quakes with magnitudes of up to 4, he said.

Another serious problem with the sequestration proposals is that many injection wells would be drilled deep into rock and sand formations that are not impermeable, raising the possibility that much if not all of the carbon dioxide could escape into the atmosphere and start the greenhouse problem once again, Zoback said.

Heat Is Online – originally The San Francisco Chronicle 14 Dec 2010

see also – action plan

baby walruses all at sea

Melting Arctic ice may be putting walrus pups in peril, researchers say. A team of scientists working in the Arctic Ocean in 2004 says it encountered nine Pacific walrus pups struggling alone in the water far from shore.

“I’m not a walrus expert, but we thought it was unusual,” said Lee Cooper, a marine ecologist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, who led the team.”

“The baby walruses would swim up to the boat. It was heartbreaking,” he said.

Melting Arctic sea ice is the most likely explanation for the stranded pups, Cooper said. His team was in the region to study the intrusion of warm Bering Sea water into the Arctic Ocean. National Geographic, 27 Mar 2006

ban livestock!

According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport.

It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

Says Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch and senior author of the report: “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”

FAONewsroom, 29 Nov 2006

see also – action plan

climate change hits a sour note

But closer to home, you don’t have to look far for concrete examples of climate change, says Eugenia Choi, a UBC assistant professor of music.

Take her 300-year old, handcrafted Stradivarius violin. It’s not that they don’t make them like they used to, it’s that they can’t.

“For musicians, our instruments connect us to a natural world very much threatened by climate change,” Choi says. “People wonder why a fine violin can cost more than a house.”

“Largely, it’s because global warming has changed how trees grow. You can no longer create new violins of the same quality. There just aren’t the same types of wood or density.”

University of British Columbia, 5 Mar 2009

bees dying like flies!

More than 100 previous studies have shown that elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide decrease the nutritional value of plants, such as wheat and rice.

But the goldenrod study, published last month, was the first to examine the effects of rising CO2 on the diet of bees, and its conclusions were unsettling: The adverse impact of rising CO2 concentrations on the protein levels in pollen may be playing a role in the global die-off of bee populations by undermining bee nutrition and reproductive success.

“Pollen is becoming junk food for bees,” says Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Research Service in Maryland and lead author of the study.

The study itself concluded that the decline of plant proteins in the face of soaring carbon dioxide concentrations provides an “urgent and compelling case” for CO2 sensitivity in pollen and other plant components. Heat Is Online, 15 May 2016 Environment 360.Yale.edu

early birds beat the rush

As global warming brings an earlier start to spring, the early bird might not just get the worm.

It might also get its genes passed on to the next generation. Because plants bloom earlier in the year, animals that wait until their usual time to migrate might miss out on all the food.

Those who can reset their internal clocks and set out earlier stand a better chance at having offspring that survive and thus pass on their genetic information, thereby ultimately changing the genetic profile of their entire population.

Livescience, 16 Aug 2011

among the low-lifes

Dead and low-life zones in the world’s oceans are expected to expand as global warming continues to raise aquatic temperatures, according to a new report by researchers from the University of Kiel, Germany, and published in the journal Science.

Frank A. Whitney of the Canadian Institute of Ocean Sciences also warned that the biological consequences of oceanic oxygen loss will be severe.

“Many species will lose their deep habitat, meaning competition will become stronger in the remaining favorable habitat, and increased vulnerability to predation will likely occur,” he said.

Natural News, 3/10/08

fish left in the dark

Climate Change Could Harm Lake Fish: Light Determines Growth Of Fish In Lakes.

“In the brownest lakes sunlight can’t penetrate more than about two meters. In clear mountain lakes, the light can reach down to depths of 15-20 meters and lead to high production of algae on lake bottoms,” says Jan Karlsson, associate professor at Climate Impacts Research Center (CIRC).

The problem is that the algae that live on the lake bottom need sunlight for their photosynthesis. The algae provide food for various bottom-dwelling animals, which in turn are eaten by fish.

Limited light penetration thus has negative consequences for all living beings in a lake. Light is what determines the growth of fish in lakes. Climate change is expected to lead to browner lakes with less light penetration, which will lead to reduced growth of fish. Science Daily, 18 Aug 2009

a bargain at $40 billion

Australia could move to 100 per cent renewable energy within a decade if it spent heavily on cutting-edge solar thermal and wind technology, according to an analysis released as part of a community bid to redirect the flailing climate policy debate.

The shift would require the annual investment of up to $40 billion – roughly 3.5 per cent of national GDP – with the largest chunk going towards solar thermal power plants that used molten-salt heat storage to allow power generation to continue without sunlight.

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Feb 2010

Public transportation takes us there!

There are many different measures that we all can take to reduce global warming, however the most popular method that we can do this is to take public transportation.

In recent studies, conclusive evidence indicates that transportation by way of personal vehicles accounts for well over one fourth of all of the emissions of carbon dioxide in the country today. However, public transportation has resulted in many different types of savings.

These savings include just over one billion gallons of fuel, as well as one and a half million tons of the dangerous emissions of carbon dioxide on a yearly basis.

Green Life,1 May 2009

see also – action plan

VisitBritain gets a boost

Climate change could “dramatically” change the face of British tourism in the next 20 years, with European tourists flocking to the UK to escape unbearably hot continental summers, experts say.

Research shows that European tourists may choose to holiday in Britain as resorts nearer to home become too hot. Weather changes may provide revival opportunities for northern seaside towns such as Blackpool and put new strains on roads and development in southern coastal resorts, a study in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism said.

Academic David Viner, a researcher at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in Norwich, produced the report after analysing the work of experts around the globe.

“The likelihood [is] that Mediterranean summers may be too hot for tourists after 2020, as a result of too much heat and water shortages,” the study said.

There were “opportunities for the revival of northern European resorts, including Blackpool, in the next 20 years, as climate change and rising transport costs offer new holiday opportunities,” it said.

The Guardian, 29 Jul 2006

less call for call girls

Global warming and increasing temperatures will cause decreasing birthrates and lower paychecks for prostitutes. Researchers have released a study that suggests that higher temperatures make for lower sex drives.

The study, conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that birth rates have had a tremendous decline nine months after a particularly hot day, going down as much as 0.7% as cooler days.

From this they drew two conclusions: either heat reduces fertility or less desire to have sex.

The team also found that days with temperatures exceeding 80 degrees result in a significant decline in birth rate 8-10 months later, though they rebound after a few months.

Clapway, 6 Nov 2015

choosy cattle

Most climate models paint a bleak picture of the Great Plains a century from now as a hot region besieged by heavy rainstorms and flooding.

And new studies suggest that climate change may bring farmers another headache: more invasive plants. And they can’t count on cattle to gobble them up. Depending on the plant, most cattle either don’t want to eat it or could get sick if they do.

“You kinda have to teach them about a new plant,” says Ellen Nelson, a rancher in north-central Colorado who has a weed problem. “I’ve gotten some of them to eat some, but in general, that’s a hard one.” npr.org, 25 Mar 2014

destruction by thirds

Global warming presents the gravest threat to life on Earth in all of human history.

The planet is warming to a degree beyond what many species can handle, altering or eliminating habitat, reducing food sources, causing drought and other species-harming severe weather events, and even directly killing species that simply can’t stand the heat.

In fact, scientists predict that if we keep going along our current greenhouse gas emissions trajectory, climate change will cause more than a third of the Earth’s animal and plant species to face extinction by 2050 — and up to 70 percent by the end of the century.

Center for Biological Diversity, 20 Dec 2008

see also – just plain scary

nuclear on the march

Nuclear power is back on the march. Reviled and rejected for 25 years as man’s most dangerous and unsustainable fuel source, its friends are now billing nuclear power as the only practical way of countering climate change, oil shocks and landscape destruction in the west.

So, is it possible that public opinion is wrong, and that nuclear should be the fuel of choice of the future? Absolutely, says Tony Blair, who last month told MPs that America was pressing Britain to re-examine the case for building a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Nuclear must stay on the agenda “if you are serious about the issue of climate change”.

Definitely, says the independent scientist James Lovelock, who has repeated his lifelong support for nuclear energy and recently argued that civilisation is in “imminent danger” from global warming and must use nuclear power – “the one safe, available, energy source” – to avoid catastrophe.

Perhaps, say some of Britain’s leading environmental thinkers, who are calling for a debate about whether nuclear needs to be reassessed, and whether it should even be compared to other forms of renewable energy.

The Guardian, 12/8/04