calling the Avengers!

Federal wildlife officials plan to withdraw proposed protections for the snow-loving wolverine Tuesday, in a course reversal that highlights lingering uncertainties over what a warming climate means for some temperature-sensitive species.

Wolverines, or “mountain devils”, need deep snows to den. But while there is broad consensus that climate change will make the world warmer, drilling down to determine what that means for individual species remains difficult.

US Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe said predictions about climate change’s localized impacts remain “ambiguous”.

Rejecting the conclusions of the agency’s own scientists, Ashe said that made it impossible to determine whether less snow cover would put wolverines in danger of extinction in coming decades.

“Climate change is a reality,” Ashe said. “What we don’t know with reliability is what does climate change mean for denning habitat that wolverines prefer.”

He added, “It’s possible wolverines are adapting and continuing to adapt.””

The Guardian, 13 Aug 2014

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.

If warming continues unchecked, that could translate into a 50 percent increase in lightning by the end of the century—three strikes then for every two strikes now. (On average, there are currently about 25 million strikes per year.)

Mother Jones, 13 Nov 2014

the lawyers win again

Australia’s coastal residents could be about to encounter the impact of climate change on their property insurance, a Sydney climate forum has been told.

Climate change business risk analyst Karl Mallon told the conference that the cash value of a home would be cut by up to 80 per cent if it is deemed uninsurable for a severe weather event caused by global warming. He said developers and local councils risk litigation for negligence if they fail to factor climate change into planning. The Age, 10 Apr 2007

danger to dogs!

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.
insidebayarea.com/animals 16 Mar 2009

within margin of error?

California is experiencing its worst drought since record-keeping began in the mid 19th century, and scientists say this may be just the beginning.

B. Lynn Ingram, a paleoclimatologist at the University of California at Berkeley, thinks that California needs to brace itself for a megadrought—one that could last for 200 years or more.

“During the medieval period, there was over a century of drought in the Southwest and California. The past repeats itself,” says Ingram.

National Geographic, 13 Feb 2014

thanks to David Mulberry

We meant well.

Quereda et al. (2016) begin their work by stating that although “it may be accepted that urban heating is of local importance, there is no evidence that it alters the global temperature trend,” citing the IPCC (2001).

However, they backtrack significantly in this regard throughout their analysis of the subject by stating that “on comparing the temperature of urban areas and rural areas, various researchers have concluded that the urban effect could account for between 40% and 80% of the observed thermal trend in the last few decades,” citing the studies of Ren et al. (2007), Yan et al. (2010), and McKitrick and Michaels (2007), who concluded that half of the warming trend observed between 1980 and 2002 could have arisen from changes in land use.

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.”

Quereda, J., Monton, E., Quereda, V. and Molla, B. 2016. Significant Climate Warming (1950-2013) in the Spanish Mediterranean: Natural Trend or Urban Heat Island (UHI). Tethys 13: 11-20.

thanks to David Mulberry

more volcanoes

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and landslides are some of the additional catastrophes that climate change and its rising sea levels and melting glaciers could bring, a geologist says.

Areas of rebounding crust could change the stresses acting on earthquake faults and volcanoes in the crust.

“In places like Iceland, for example, where you have the Eyjafjallajökull ice sheet, which wouldn’t survive [global warming], and you’ve got lots of volcanoes under that, the unloading effect can trigger eruptions,” Bill McGuire of the University College London’s Hazard Research Center said.

LiveScience, 30 Aug 2007

go forth but don’t multiply

What is the Earth’s optimum population? In view of global warming, many would argue that it’s lot less than it is currently.

Two weeks ago, British-based green think tank the Optimum Population Trust called for Britons to have fewer children. This, says an OPT report, is the best way for the planet to combat climate change.

If couples had two children instead of three, says the OPT, they could cut their family’s lifetime carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.

“The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off light bulbs,” says John Guillebaud, co-chairman of the OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College, London.

“The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child.”

The Sunday Age, 27 May 2007 – screen copy held by this website

see also – action plan

nail everything down!

While rising sea levels and changing global temperatures are already known to be a consequence of alleged manmade climate change, the GOCE satellite – which was not intended to study the effects of a warming climate – has found that gravity is weakening where ice is melting the fastest.

The results show that the thinning ice sheet from November 2009 to June 2012 caused local variations in gravity, measured by the satellite.

Daily Mail, 30 Sep 2014

food shortage

Millions may face protein deficiency as a result of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions.

If CO2 levels continue to rise as projected, the populations of 18 countries may lose more than 5% of their dietary protein by 2050 due to a decline in the nutritional value of rice, wheat, and other staple crops, according to new findings from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Researchers estimate that roughly an additional 150 million people may be placed at risk of protein deficiency because of elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Eureka Alert, 2 Aug 2017

see also – just plain scary

thanks to David Hanig

Europe feels the heat

By the end of the century, two out of three people living in Europe will be affected by heat waves, coastal floods and other weather-related disasters, largely due to global warming and climate change, according to a study published Friday in the journal Lancet Planetary Health.

That’s 350 million people in 31 countries subjected to an increased risk of death and health hazards. Overall, weather-related disasters are expected to cause 152,000 deaths a year in Europe between 2071 and 2100, jumping from 3,000 weather disaster-related deaths a year between 1981 and 2010.

CNN, 4 Aug 2017

see also – just plain scary

thanks to David Hanig

Out, damned Spot!

Fido And Fluffy Are Ruining The Environment, UCLA Study Says.

When it comes to global warming, Fido and Fluffy are part of the problem, a new study by UCLA indicates. . . .

Pet ownership in the United States creates about 64 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, UCLA researchers found. That’s the equivalent of driving 13.6 million cars for a year.

The problem lies with the meat-filled diets of kitties and pooches, according to the study by UCLA geography professor Gregory Okin.

Dogs and cats are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the impacts of meat production in the United States, said Orkin.

Compared to a plant-based diet, meat production “requires more energy, land and water and has greater environmental consequences in terms of erosion, pesticides and waste,” the study found. Patch, 6 Aug 2017

thanks to David Hanig

end of everything

Climate change means, quite plausibly, the end of everything we now understand to constitute our humanity. If action isn’t taken soon, the Amazon rainforest will eventually burn down, the seas will fester into sludge that submerges the world’s great cities, the Antarctic Ice Sheet will fragment and wash away, acres of abundant green land will be taken over by arid desert.

The Baffler, Sept 2017

see also – just plain scary

thanks to snowman

keep off the concrete!

Recent research suggests that global warming will also exacerbate respiratory allergies, as higher CO2 concentrations lead to vast increases in ragweed pollen production.

“There’s no denying there’s a change,” says Paul Ratner, an immunologist with the American College of Allergies. “It’s definitely bad news for people who have allergies.”

“Urban places, because of the baking effect of that increased concrete, definitely pollinate more,” says Ratner.

It doesn’t help that warming will also increase the production of ground-level ozone, a respiratory irritant that worsens asthma.

Time, 15 Sep 2008

sermons for sale

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made national news last year when he fought to pass and signed a tax bill that levied a tax on Marylanders, businesses and churches for the amount of “impervious surface” they have on their property.

Roofs, driveways, sidewalks, and parking lots qualify for the “rainwater remediation fee” to “protect the Chesapeake Bay.” Though the O’Malley administration calls it a “fee,” it is commonly called the “rain tax” throughout the state.

It is wildly unpopular and the promise to fight to repeal the tax was a large factor in Maryland electing Republican Larry Hogan governor this month.

Now Prince George’s Country is offering a way for churches to avoid paying the tax, which is estimated to be an average of $744 per year for them — preach “green” to their parishioners.

The Daily Caller, 19 Nov 2014

missed it by that much!

“The central fact is that, after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the Earth seems to be cooling down.

Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.” – Newsweek: April 28, 1975

That’s an excerpt from a story I wrote about climate science that appeared almost 40 years ago. Titled “The Cooling World,” it was remarkably popular; in fact it might be the only decades-old magazine story about science ever carried onto the set of a late-night TV talk show.

Now, as the author of that story, after decades of scientific advances, let me say this: while the hypotheses described in that original story seemed right at the time, climate scientists now know that they were seriously incomplete.

Our climate is warming — not cooling, as the original story suggested.

Peter Gwynne in Inside Science, 21 May 2014

no fragrance in short rice

An experiment by Indian agriculture scientists points to the enormous effect global warming could have on the fragrant basmati rice. Basmati, Sanskrit for the fragrant one, may lose not just its aroma, the famous long grains may get shorter, say scientists.

H Pathak, principal investigator of Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s Climate Change Challenge Programme, told TOI the Tarawari basmati grown in research fields in Delhi did not grow long enough and wasn’t as fragrant as it should have been when cooked.
Times of India, 30/1/11

plain leaves

Every fall, Marilyn Krom tries to make a trip to Vermont to see its famously beautiful fall foliage. This year, she noticed something different about the autumn leaves. “They’re duller, not as sparkly, if you know what I mean,” Krom, 62, a registered nurse from Eastford, Conn., said during a recent visit. “They’re less vivid.” Other “leaf peepers” are noticing, too, and some believe climate change could be the reason.
Fox News, 22 Oct 2007

Is nothing safe?

Venice’s gondoliers are being forced by ever-higher tides to “amputate” the tail end of their boats in order to squeeze under the city’s bridges. The boatmen blame the more frequent high tides bedevilling the city on global warming and one of the rainiest seasons in years.
The Telegraph (UK) 17 May 2004, Stormy days on canals of Venice as boatmen cut off gondolas’ tails

hardy gardens needed

People’s gardens are already changing. The days of the English lawn in Australia have gone forever. We need Australian gardens that can survive new extremes.

There will be a reduction in the number of exotic plants. People’s gardens are starting to look different and in 20 years time they will be radically different. People are going to have to return to growing some of their own food in their own gardens.

Peter Cundall, Presenter of Gardening Australia and conservationist, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Jun 2007 – screen copy held by this website

holy orders

Australia’s environmentally conscious Catholic nuns, brothers and priests want to buy hybrid cars and install solar panels on convents, schools, hospitals and aged care homes to reduce their carbon footprint.

The national body, Catholic Religious Australia, representing 8500 members, plans to negotiate a bulk purchase of hybrid vehicles to replace the religious order’s current car fleets.

The diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes bought a hybrid car two years ago. Bishop Chris Toohey, chairman of Catholic Earthcare, said the car was economical and reliable, but not ideal for long distances.

The hybrid car was very much a personal choice, he said. “When you are passing a road train it gets a bit hairy, and we have to take it all the way to Dubbo to get it serviced.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Jul 2007 – screencopy held by this website

ban progress!

The boom in flatscreen television could be fuelling global warming more than official estimates, scientists have warned.

Experts in California estimate that production of a powerful greenhouse gas used in their production has hit 4,000 tonnes a year – enough to match the annual carbon dioxide emissions of Austria.

Professor Michael Prather from the University of California at Irvine, who came up with the estimate, said that if the entire annual production of NF3 was released into the atmosphere it would have the equivalent effect on the Earth’s climate as 67 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. The Telegraph, 2 Jul 2008

on the hacking treadmill

New research indicates that hacking the atmosphere — pumping microscopic particles into the stratosphere or clouds to block sunlight and offset global warming caused by greenhouse gases — is imminently possible. The problem is we could never, ever stop doing it.

Climate scientists Damon Matthews of Concordia University and Ken Caldeira of Stanford ran the numbers on atmospheric geo-engineering through a climate simulation and found that while cranking out carbon dioxide at business-as-usual rates we can geo-engineer our way back toward pre-industrial temperatures in short order, reaching 1900 levels in about five years.

Not only that, it would be fairly cheap and easy to do. The problem is what happens if we stop short or screw it up. Bring the geo-engineering process to a halt, and those sun-warmed carbon sinks spit the carbon dioxide right back into the atmosphere.

The rebound warming, to temperatures that would have been reached without the geo-engineering, would be 10 to 20 times the pace of today’s global warming. The rapid warming, up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, would wreak havoc on the planet and threaten civilization.

To prevent disaster, the geo-engineering process would have to continue as long as carbon-dioxide levels were elevated.

A quarter of the carbon dioxide that comes out of your car’s tailpipe is still in the atmosphere a thousand years later, Caldeira said. We’ve never had systems work for a thousand years without failure, he added.

Heat Is Online – originally ABCNews.com, July 25, 2007

see also – action plan

exile the cows!

The good news is that our bilbies are finally breeding. The bad news, is that there are only a few hundred of them left on this continent, as opposed to 29 million cows.

To save the bilbies, bettongs, woylies, potoroos, leristas, phascogales and other diminutive creatures that abounded this continent before the arrival of the cow, we might give up our addiction to milk and beef.

Here’s my modest proposal: let’s send this country’s cattle back to where they came from. Land clearing is a key threat to biodiversity, says the Bureau of Statistics. It destroys and degrades the habitat on which native species rely.

Clearing also allows weeds and invasive animals to spread, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and can lead to soil degradation, such as erosion and salinity, which in turn can effect water quality.

Why are we clearing all this forest? To create pasture for cows, mainly. And in return, the cows are killing us. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation has determined that cattle are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Sun Herald (Australia), 16 Nov 2008 – screen copy held by this website

see also – action plan

shrinking menu

Oysters, lobsters, mussels, sea urchins and abalone could be wiped off the menu by global warming, an Australian scientist warned yesterday.

Jane Williamson, a Macquarie University marine ecologist, made the prediction after discovering that climate change is likely to take a dramatic toll on the ability of sperm from many marine creatures to swim to and fertilise eggs shed in the water.

Even if sperm can find and fertilise the eggs, the probability of their surviving long enough to grow into larvae is likely to plunge.

Scientists have warned that the oceans can no longer cope with the uptake of carbon dioxide, and rising acidity “is an urgent scientific and policy challenge”.

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Aug 2008

can I bend your ear?

Young coral reef fish with misshapen ear bones are more likely to get lost and die, and exposure to warmer waters makes the problem worse, according to a study of fish living around Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Monica Gagliano at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, Queensland, and colleagues found that at hatching, just over half of Ambon damselfish had asymmetrical otoliths, or ear bones.

Gagliano says that as-yet-unpublished work shows that exposing adult reef fish to higher water temperatures and increasingly acid water – both of which are associated with global warming – increases the percentage of offspring born with asymmetrical otoliths.

Increased acidification reduces the availability of calcium to be absorbed by fish to make bones.

“And general stress, such as having to regulate their internal pH when it is changing in the water, also seems to affect the development of otoliths in the baby fish,” says Gagliano.

New Scientist, 6 Mar 2008

research back to front

Talk agriculture, greenhouse gases and carbon price, and Richard Eckard immediately destroys one myth about methane emissions from cattle.

“The methane … comes out the front, not the back. We love the acronyms about what comes out the back, but probably less than 2%-5% comes from there. It’s really a burp and breathe out tax,” says Dr Eckard, a lead researcher on greenhouse and climate change in Victorian agriculture.

“Our work is focussing on dietary supplements – feeding the cattle to produce more milk profitably and reduce methane at the same time,” he said.

The research has concentrated on naturally occurring plants that have higher oils.

“A range of oils will work – mineral, vegetable oils, it doesn’t seem to matter what they are – they all have an effect on methane,” Dr Eckard said.

He said their experiments, and a review of similar studies around the world, had shown that with every 1% of oil in the diet, there was a 6% reduction in methane.

The Age (Australia), 18 Aug 2008 – screen copy held by this website

trout drought!

Global warming is the single greatest threat to the survival of trout in America’s interior west.

If nothing is done to reduce human-produced greenhouse gas emissions — the primary culprit behind global warming — trout habitat throughout the Rocky Mountain region could be reduced by 50 percent or more by the end of the century, bringing fewer opportunities for anglers to enjoy sportfishing and resulting in serious economic consequences for those who depend on the fishing, recreation and tourism industry for their livelihoods.

This July 2008 issue paper by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Montana Trout Unlimited makes clear that we must act now at the national, regional and local levels to reduce our emissions of global warming pollution and adopt other policies that appropriately value healthy rivers, lakes and streams.

The paper also includes recommendations for anglers on how to reduce their impact on trout while fishing.

Natural Resources Defense Council, 18 Jul 2008

in search of squirrels

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.

Dr. Doherty advises clients with global warming anxiety to recognize their concern about climate change and accept the limits of what they can control. He recommends “fasts” from shopping, the news and sending e-mail, while cultivating calmer pursuits like meditation or gardening.

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.

“You can’t have a good relationship with anything if you are afraid or feel guilty,” Ms. Tiamson said. “You have to love it first.” New York Times, 16 Feb 2008