climate change raises the heat

A new report blames global warming for rising rates of infidelity, especially bad news for couples in Miami, where rising tides and raging hurricanes remind us all how much extracurricular sex we could be having on a daily basis.

Victoria Milan, a dating website for people looking to cheat on their significant other, surveyed 5,000 of its members, both men and women.

A shocking 72 percent of them responded that yes, their own Al Gore-esque stress about unpredictable weather is the cause of their extramarital dalliances.

Guess the fact of their existing committed relationships was just an inconvenient truth.

Miami New Times, 28 May 2014

demise of a three eyed reptile

A three-eyed reptile whose ancestors used to scurry under the feet of dinosaurs could die out as global warming turns them all into males. The sex of tuatara, which look like giant, greenish-brown lizards, depends on the temperature of their nest. When it is above 22 degrees, only males are born, while females are produced at temperatures of about 21 degrees.
The Age, 3 Jul 2008

climate on steroids

It might even be the case that the mantra chanted after every catastrophic weather event – that it can’t be said to be caused by climate change, but it shows what climate change will do – has become a thing of the past.

“I think the steroids analogy is a useful one,” Professor Steffen, director of the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute, said. “Steroids do not create elite athletes – they are already very good athletes. What happens when athletes start taking steroids is that suddenly the same athletes are breaking more records, more often. We are seeing a similar process with the Earth’s climate.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 4 Mar 2013

flies falling over in bathtubs

In a world first, Melbourne researchers have shown that many species of fruit fly won’t survive even a modest increase in temperature. Many are close to or beyond their safety margin – and very few have the genetic ability to adapt to climate change.

Dr Vanessa Kellerman, of Monash University’s molecular ecology research group, said the scientists looked at the heat resistance of 100 different species of fruit flies. “This involved putting them in a water bath and slowly ramping up the water temperature over a three- or four-hour period until they started literally falling over.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Sep 2012

teenage mutant female ninja turtles?

Led by Mariana Fuentes, a James Cook University team working up in the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef has been evaluating the various climatic threats facing the green turtles..

Under the worst-case scenarios for climate change – which is pretty much the trajectory we are on – sea-level rise, and the consequent impact on nesting sites, shapes up as the biggest threat for the turtles from now until 2030. But by 2070, the models anticipate sands will have reached a temperature which would bring about a near-complete feminisation of hatchlings.

A few male enclaves are likely to survive where conditions provide some respite from the heat. But the overall picture is grim.
Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Apr 2011

wolves to the rescue

Balanced at the apex of an arch, the keystone locks all the other stones in place. Remove it and the arch collapses.

Keystone predators, such as wolves, are structurally similar, holding ecosystems together from the top down in food web relationships called trophic cascades.

Keystone predators control elk numbers and behavior. On the lookout for wolves, wary elk eat more sparingly. This releases shrubs and saplings from browsing pressure, improves habitat for other species, and increases biodiversity.

These cascading effects, termed the ecology of fear, are based on powerful evolutionary relationships that were in place until we eliminated large predators in the early part of the twentieth century.

While wolves won’t slow climate change, they certainly can help create ecosystems better able to withstand it. However, trophic cascades have yet to make it into the lexicon of climate change solutions.

Could this be because combating climate change with wolves is too implausible or costly?

Island Press 10 Sep 2010

not until … fly

“Global warming has certainly been observed very robustly, and we understand the processes by which humans are causing it quite well,” explains Noah Diffenbaugh, a Woods Institute for the Environment fellow and assistant professor of earth science at Stanford University.

Part of Diffenbaugh’s research includes studying how climate change affects pest patterns.

Corn—one of the main commodity crops used to feed pigs bound for the supermarket—is threatened by not only climate-related drought and flooding, but also by the corn earworm, and damage from the pest is projected to worsen in the coming decades, thanks to warmer winters.

In fact, we’re already seeing the scenario unfold: Bacon prices surged over the summer, thanks to climate-related troubles in cornfields.

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013

it’s a bird eat bird world

Jim Hayward, a seabird biologist based on Protection Island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, is making his evening rounds through the largest gull nesting colony in the Puget Sound region.

He’s been monitoring this site since 1987, so he’s used to the shrieking, the divebombing, the frequent splatterings of gull poop, and the pecking at his head, hands and feet.

What he’s not accustomed to is the cannibalism. Over the last decade, the gulls have shown a growing taste for their neighbors’ eggs and chicks. The trend appears linked to climate change.

“It doesn’t seem like a lot, but a one-tenth of a degree change in seawater temperature correlates to a 10 percent increase in (the odds of) cannibalism,” said Hayward, a professor at Andrews University in Michigan.

KitsapSun, 23 Jul 2016

smaller babblers and warblers

Australian birds are getting smaller and global warming is probably to blame, new research suggests.

Chief researcher Janet Gardner, from the ANU’s research school of biology, said the results reflected that animals tended to be smaller in warmer climates.

Dr Gardner said the extent of change in the south-eastern Australian species examined, including the grey-crowned babbler, hooded robin and speckled warbler, was surprising.
Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Aug 2009

koalas the new canary in the coalmine?

The koala could soon be even more endangered than at present, if it turns out that climate change alters the nutritional value of the only food it can eat—Eucalypt leaves.

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Neilson from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences from University of Copenhagen has received a $5 million grant from the Villum Young Investigator Program for the search of how the chemical structure of the leaves is disrupted.

“We are going to investigate how two distinct results of climate change, drought and elevated CO2 levels, affect the balance between nutrient and toxicant content of the Eucalypt leaves and how this affects the Koala. Eucalypt leaves are highly toxic and the koala needs to sleep or rest for 20 hours a day to efficiently detoxify the poisonous components and gain sufficient energy from their diet.”

“Therefore, the huge amount of energy spent on detoxification is only just about made up by the nutritional value. Any shift in the eucalypt chemistry caused by climate changes may alter the balance of nutritional value and toxicity, and impact koala survival”, says Assistant Professor Elizabeth Neilson.

Phys.org, 3 Feb 2016

thanks to ddh

if you try hard enough everything can be about climate change

“Scholars increasingly recognize the magnitude of human impacts on planet Earth, some are even ready to define a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene,” said anthropologist and fire expert Christopher I. Roos, an associate professor at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and a co-author on the research.

“But it is an open question as to when that epoch began,” said Roos. “One argument suggests that indigenous population collapse in the Americas resulted in a reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of forest regrowth in the early colonial period. Until now the evidence has been fairly ambiguous. Our results indicate that high-resolution chronologies of human populations, forests and fires are needed to evaluate these claims.”

“A contentious issue in American Indian history, scientists and historians for decades have debated how many Native Americans died and when it occurred. With awareness of global warming and interdisciplinary interest in the possible antiquity of the Anthropocene, resolution of that debate may now be relevant for contemporary human-caused environmental problems,” Roos said.

SMU Research, 25 Jan 2016

thanks to ddh

stem cell burger

Lurking in a Petri dish in a laboratory in the Netherlands is an unlikely contender for the future of food. The yellow-pink sliver, the size of a Band-Aid corn plaster, is the state-of-the-art in lab-grown meat, and a milestone on the path to the world’s first burger made from stem cells.

Dr Mark Post, head of physiology at Maastricht University, plans to unveil a complete burger – produced at a cost of more than £200,000 ($A295,000) – in October. The project, funded by a wealthy, anonymous individual, aims to slash the number of cattle farmed for food, and in doing so reduce one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Feb 2012

life is like a box of ……

Brace yourselves, chocolate lovers: The anticipated one-degree rise in world temperature by 2030 will devastate Western Africa’s small cocoa farms, according to Colombian researchers.

If the world temperature increases two degrees by 2050, it will be virtually impossible to grow cocoa plants at the elevations where current farms are located.

If there’s ever a reason to switch to energy-efficient lightbulbs and drive less, this is it!

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013

I’m sane, it’s everyone else who’s crazy

To test the relationship between ambient temperature and personality, we conducted two large-scale studies in two geographically large yet culturally distinct countries: China and the United States.

Using data from 59 Chinese cities (N = 5,587), multilevel analyses and machine learning analyses revealed that compared with individuals who grew up in regions with less clement temperatures, individuals who grew up in regions with more clement temperatures (that is, closer to 22 °C) scored higher on personality factors related to socialization and stability (agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability) and personal growth and plasticity (extraversion and openness to experience)……

As climate change continues across the world, we may also observe concomitant changes in human personality.

Wenqi Wei, Jackson G. Lu, […]Lei Wang Nature Human Behaviour 1, 890–895 (2017) doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0240-0, 27/11/17

thanks to David Hanig

cooling off period

A new study by three economists has found hotter temperatures lead to less sex. Stop climate change; get laid more.

Although it’s not quite as simple as that, as the economists explain in their paper “Maybe next month? Temperature shocks, climate change and dynamic adjustments in birth rates” published this week by the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research in the US.

Indeed, for any given month, additional days above 27 degrees were found to cause a large decline in birth rates about eight to 10 months later. While there was a rebound in subsequent months, this did not make up entirely for the decline.

The lack of a full rebound suggests that increased temperatures due to climate change may reduce population growth rates in the coming century.

Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Nov 2015

Run!

The deserts of north Africa are threatening to leap the Mediterranean and creep through Spain, according to government figures made public as part of a national campaign to halt desertification. A third of the country is at risk of being turned into desert as climate change and tourism add to the effects of farming.
The Guardian, 18 Jun 2005

thanks to Andrew Mark Harding

gingerbread houses continue to crumble

Gingerbread houses latest victim of global warming. Sweet-toothed Swedes who have spent hours constructing edible Christmas gingerbread houses are seeing their creations collapse in the Scandinavian country’s unusually damp winter, suppliers said on Monday.

“The damp weather spells immediate devastation for gingerbread houses. The problem is the mild winter,” spokesman at Sweden’s leading gingerbread wholesaler Anna’s, Aake Mattsson, told Swedish news agency TT.
Terra Daily, 11 Dec 2006

the jig is up!

Plotted on a map of Britain, the sightings can be seen to stretch from Liverpool to Dover and from Llanelli to Derby. Whatever the explanation, experts agree that the number of suspected flying saucers has hit unusual highs this summer. Malcolm Robinson, who studies the phenomenon, said: “Something very bizarre is happening in the skies over the UK.”

The founder member of Strange Phenomena Investigations, added: “There has been an unusual number of sightings recently. “Some experts believe it could be linked to global warming and craft from outer space are appearing because they are concerned about what man is doing to this planet.”

The Telegraph, 7 Jul 2008

one man’s meat is ….

The IPCC findings come hot on the heels of another study, “The importance of reduced meat and dairy consumption for meeting stringent climate change targets”, published in the April edition of Climate Change.

The study’s lead author argues that targeting the fossil fuel industry alone is insufficient because “the agricultural emissions … may be too high. Thus we have to take action in both sectors.”

In 2010 a UN report, “Priority, Products, and Materials” concluded that, “A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

ABC News (Australia), 28 Apr 2014

bumpy ride!

Nope, not even air travel is safe from our wavering weather.

Running atmospheric computer models, British researchers found a connection between climate change and turbulence, and they predict that the average strength of turbulence will increase by 10 to 40% by 2050. The amount of airspace containing significant turbulence will most likely double, too.

“The main takeaway message for flyers is to expect less-comfortable flights in the coming decades, with the seatbelt sign switched on perhaps twice as often,” explains study coauthor and atmospheric scientist Paul Williams, PhD, a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Reading.

Bumpier rides could translate into more bumps and bruises. The Federal Aviation Administration lists airplane turbulence as the number one cause of in-flight injuries. Between injuries and airplane damage, turbulence currently costs the airlines of the world tens of millions of dollars.

“Aviation is partly responsible for changing the climate, but our findings show for the first time how climate change could affect aviation,” Williams and his team notes.

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013

wet blankets

Gavin Houghton and his wife were prepared to put their money where their convictions are when renovating their Edwardian home in North Carlton.

The couple employed an architect who specialises in sustainable design, knowing the resulting plan’s passive solar energy, water savings and environmentally conscious elements would increase their building costs by 20 per cent.

The innovative design involved demolishing the back of their home to put large water tanks under a concrete slab. The slab would also provide thermal mass that, in conjunction with a “thermal chimney”, would create passive heating and cooling for their home.

The couple planned to create a second level and install two banks of solar panels on the roof. As well as creating space for their young family, their aim was to “future-proof” the property by turning a two-star energy-rated house into a six-star.

“I think it’s our duty as a society to build something which is going to last 50 or 60 years in a sustainable manner and I think what we have done seems a little bit odd now but these will be mandatory requirements in five or six years’ time,” Mr Houghton says.

Unfortunately for the Houghtons, their neighbours did not share that view. Soon after the planning application was advertised in August 2008, a campaign to object to the development began, with neighbours doorknocking to collect signatures for a petition.

In all, 36 residents objected. Concerns included the visual impact of the solar panels and thermal chimney on the area’s heritage and fears about the impact of the underground water tanks on adjoining properties.

The Age, 20 Feb 2010