damselfish in distress!

A study from scientists at James Cook University shows increased carbon dioxide levels impaired the senses of spiny damselfish, which live in the Great Barrier Reef.

Fish exposed to higher carbon dioxide levels – which are expected to increase in the oceans for several decades – showed impaired cognitive function, learning difficulties, slowed visual capacity and altered sense of smell and sound.

The damselfish also lose their ability to recognise threats, including the smells of predators when exposed to higher levels of carbon dioxide – and will even become attracted to them instead. Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Oct 2014

a wake up call

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects significant disruption to coffee production as the planet warms.

While some places might become more suitable to grow coffee as the planet warms, the drafts say that in many cases suitable growing land will contract significantly with 2 to 2.5 degrees of warming. An overall decline in good coffee growing areas by 2050 was found in all countries studied.
Sydney Morning Herald, 31 Mar 2014

pending collapse

The United Nations’ Global Environment Outlook-4 report, released in New York, reveals a scale of unprecedented ecological damage, with more than 2 million people possibly dying prematurely of air pollution and close to 2 billion likely to suffer absolute water scarcity by 2025.

Put bluntly, the report warns that the 6.75 billion world population, “has reached a stage where the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available”.

And it says climate change, the collapse of fish stocks and the extinction of species “may threaten humanity’s very survival”.

Launching the report, the head of the UN’s Environment Program, Achim Steiner, warned that, “without an accelerated effort to reform the way we collectively do business on planet earth, we will shortly be in trouble, if indeed we are not already”.

Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Oct 2007

see also – just plain scary

shocking approach

A shark expert has warned that Victoria’s “shocking approach” to beach safety could put swimmers at risk as the state faces what could be its worst shark season, due to global warming.

Ric Wilson, from Shark Patrol Victoria, has called for a statewide revamp of beach patrolling, saying the current system is “abysmal” and swimmers’ safety is “the luck of the draw”.

Mr Wilson – who has made voluntary patrols of Victorian waters using his own aircraft for the past 20 years – says he believes global warming ould be behind an increase in the number of sharks approaching on the state’s beaches.

The Sunday Age (Australia), 30 Dec 2007 – screencopy held by this website

a cruel hoax

After the warmest January on record, maple syrup producers in Ohio were surprised to have recently discovered premature maple tree buds.

The shocking thing about this story is that it is not about melting glaciers in faraway Alaska or snow melt at the North Pole, but about the impact of global warming on a very American rite of spring.

“The gathering of maple sap is how we all here know the season is upon us,” says Joe Logan. “This is a cruel hoax on the trees and us.”

A budding maple tree in early February is bad news for the farmer — and for anyone who enjoys delicious “made in America” maple syrup on their pancakes.

Imminent change is upon us — not just in Ohio and Alaska, but at breakfast tables all across the United States.

Huffington Post, 25 May 2011

sounds greenish to me

lightbulbThe inefficient standard light bulb could be phased out within three years to save up to 800,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The federal Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is expected today to announce a commitment to phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2009-10, a world first by a national government.

Colin Goldman, the head of Nelson Industries, a lighting importer, supported the move. Mr Goldman said compact fluorescent bulbs were available that emitted a range of light. “You can get warm white, which is a yellowish light, or natural, which is white, or day-light, which is more blueish.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Feb 2007

over the top

Australia needs a new “industrial revolution” to come up with an effective strategy against global warming, the Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery, will tell one of the country’s largest unions this week.

He will tell members of the Autralian Workers Union that climate change has occurred so quickly that the Government needs to think of it as like going to war.

While stopping short of endorsing either party, Professor Falannery’s speech tomorrow says: “We need a government willing to truly lead on the issue, one willing to get on a war footing, and willing to dip into our surplus to help fund a new industrial revolution that will give Australia’s industry and environment a new lease of life.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Feb 2007 – screen copy held by this website

help the helmeted honeyeater!

Drought could be threatening Victoria’s state bird emblem, the endangered helmeted honeyeater, with research showing a “significant correlation” between declining rainfall and reduced egg laying.

Bruce Quin, the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s field ornithologist for the helmeted honeyeater, agreed the future of the Victorian bird looked grim. He said the number of breeding pairs at Yellingbo — 50 kilometres east of Melbourne — had fallen to a record low of 11 in the past breeding season, compared with 15 in 1989-90.
The Age (Australia), 20 Apr 2007

ban trees, plants and soil!

Scientists at Bristol University in Britain say a recent surge in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is due to green house gas escaping from trees, plants and soils.

Global warming was making vegetation less able to absorb carbon pumped out by humans, such a shift could worsen predictions of the UN’s panel on Climate Change, which has warned there is less than a decade in which to tackle emissions to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

Measurements of carbon dioxide in air samples show unusually high levels in four of the past five years.
The Sydney Sun Herald, 13 May 2007 – screen copy held by this website

moving day

Imagine picking up Scone, carting the town 350 kilometres north west and dropping it in the dust near Moree.

Simultaneously, we would drag the entire Hunter Region into the hot, dry landscape over the Great Dividing Range.

Hunter residents will experience this climate shift during the next 22 years under a ‘moderate’ global warming scenario involving a one-degree temperature increase, according to a report by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Newcastle Herald, 10 Sept 2007 – screencopy held by this website

designing for climate change

Leading international fashion designers and industry experts say unpredictable and typically warmer weather worldwide is wreaking havoc on the industry.

It is forcing fashion houses to ditch traditional collections for transeasonal garments that may lead to a drastic overhaul of fashion show schedules and retail delivery dates.

So worried are some fashion houses about the impact of climate change is having on the way we dress and shop, they are calling in the climate experts.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that American retail giant Liz Claiborne Inc had enlisted a New York climatologist to speak to 30 of its executives on topics ranging from the types of fabrics they should be using to the timing of retail deliveries and seasonal markdowns.

Other US fashion retail giants, including Target and Kohl’s have also started using climate experts to plan their collections and schedule end-of-season sales. And from January, Target will sell swimwear year-round.

The Sunday Age (Australia), 7 Oct 2007 – screencopy held by this website

don’t feed the man meat

Climate change is not only a pertinent issue for anyone mindful of the environment, but also an opportunity for a serious recruitment drive by vegetarians.

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) research has found that food – in particular beef and dairy – is a major contributor to the average household’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Brisbane Vegetarian and Vegan spokeswoman Maureen Collier said she would try to take advantage of increased awareness of climate change.

“We are hoping that once people realize the effect that a meat-eating lifestyle is having on the environment, they will think more seriously about a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle,” she said.

Sun Herald, (Australia), 24 Aug 2008 – screencopy held by this website

simple!

According to research published today in the journal Science, global warming can be limited to 1.3 degrees above the pre-industrial levels by 2060 – less than the 2 degree rise that UN climate scientists warn is likely to trigger dangerous tipping points, The catch? We can’t build any new carbon dioxide-emitting power station or cars.
The Age (Australia), 10 Sep 2010

this isn’t exactly new

US Scientists are to conduct widespread trials of a new farming technique called adaptive multi-paddock grazing and which moves herds every 3 days. This helps to trap carbon dioxide from the air in the plant and in the soil. work by Dr Richard Teague at Texas A&M University that found that adaptive multi-paddock grazing could sequester an additional 30 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare over 10 years compared to conventional grazing.
Daily Mail (UK), 17 Feb 2015

stirring the pot

Recently, the scientific entrepreneur Nathan Myhrvold, whose company Intellectual Ventures has invested in several geoengineering ideas, said that we could cool the earth by stirring the seas. He has proposed deploying a million plastic tubes, each about a hundred metres long, to roil the water, which would help it trap more CO2.

“The ocean is this giant heat sink,’’ he told me. “But it is very cold. The bottom is nearly freezing. If you just stirred the ocean more, you could absorb the excess CO2 and keep the planet cold.”

The New Yorker, 14 May 2012

thanks to Andrew Mark Harding

lose the flakes

Dandruff and dog fur may be more than embarrassing inconveniences: they could be changing the world’s climate, new research shows.

Dead skin, animal hair and other materials, such as bacteria, fungi, algae, viruses, plant cells and pollens, have been found to make up a larger part of “aerosol” air pollution than was thought.

By counting and identifying cells in air samples from around the world, a German researcher, Ruprecht Jaenicke, showed that about 25 per cent of atmospheric particles came from these sources in some places.

Atmospheric aerosols play a crucial role in regulating the global climate, and the meteorological relevance of cellular particles could be high, said Dr Jaenicke, of the University of Mainz, whose results were published yesterday in the journal Science.

Sydney Morning Herald, 2 Apr 2005

not so fast

Blooms of toxic algae can occur in the open ocean, a team of scientists has reported. Once thought to be a problem plaguing only the coast, causing fishery closures and wildlife deaths, the research shows that open-sea algae populations also occasionally bloom into a toxic soup.

Since the algae consume carbon dioxide, earlier research by Moss Landing Marine Laboratories director Kenneth Coale had led to proposals to fertilise the ocean on a mass scale to stave off global warming.

The discovery of the algae’s toxicity throws a spanner into these plans.

“We should use this as a caution,” said Mary Silver of the University of California. “Using iron fertilisation as a remedy for global warming would be dangerous.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 November 2010

doped up cows!

New research carried out by The University of Nottingham suggests targeted use of hormone treatments could make the dairy industry more efficient and sustainable in addition to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Archer, a Research Fellow in Veterinary Epidemiology, said: “Routine hormone treatments could improve efficiency by getting more cows pregnant sooner. This is better for the environment as for every litre of milk produced; fewer animals would be needed, which generates less waste. This applies for any breed of cow and to the majority of farms, except those that are already exceptionally well managed.”

Phys Org, 11 Jun 2015

surprise, surprise!

Carbon offsets. The way this works is that you pay someone else to take action – by planting trees or investing in renewable energy sources – that will reduce greenhouse gases. That action acts as a proxy for your own emission cuts.

However, research by the University of NSW found many of the carbon certificates issued don’t represent additional cuts in emissions. In other words, some firms are being rewarded for doing things they would have done regardless of the financial incentive offered by the scheme.

For example, government agency, Forests NSW, generates certificates from its forests and sells the certificates to offset companies who then sell them to the public. But Forest NSW hasn’t planted any additional trees.
Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Mar 2007 – screen copy held by this website

missed it by that much!

Last year a series of lakes formed on the vast body of ice that covers most of Greenland. Acting like a lubricant, the water quickly made its way to the base of the ice sheet, forcing giant slabs of ice to rise, then slide into the ocean. The speed at which the ice broke off shocked many scientists.

“We used to think that it would take 10,000 years for melting at the surface of an ice sheet to penetrate down to the bottom. Now we know it doesn’t take 10,000 years; it takes 10 seconds,” says Richard Alley, a professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University.
Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Feb 2007

climate change causes mixed metaphors!

Commenting on the report, United States Secretary of State John Kerry said: “This is yet another wake-up call. Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire. This is science, these are facts, and action is our only option.”

“If this isn’t an alarm bell, then I don’t know what one is. If ever there were an issue that demanded greater cooperation, partnership, and committed diplomacy, this is it.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Sep 2013

their burp is worse than their ….

beef_cattleScientists from NSW’s Department of Primary Industries have been working for the past 15 years to find a way to breed more efficient beef cattle. After a decade of research, the scientists came up with a blood analysis that has been developed into a commercial test for selecting bulls able to breed the most food-efficient cows and steers.

Although it has been developed to cut farming costs, the scientists now believe the burp-reduced cattle will also help fight global warming, because methane is also a greenhouse gas, many times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

The leader of the department’s methane research effort, Roger Hegarty, said it may be possible to develop other methane-efficient animals, including sheep. Dr Hegarty estimated 95 per cent of methane from beef cattle was belched. The rest, he said, was “flatulence”.
Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Jun 2006

big winners!

When cockroaches are resting, they periodically stop breathing for as long as 40 minutes, though why they do so has been unclear.

To investigate the mystery, Natalie Schimpf and her colleagues at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, examined whether speckled cockroaches (Nauphoeta cinerea) change their breathing pattern in response to changes in carbon dioxide or oxygen concentration, or humidity.

They conclude that cockroaches close the spiracles through which they breathe primarily to save water. In dry environments the insects took shorter breaths than in moist conditions.

The nifty breath-holding adaptation has allowed cockroaches to colonise drier habitats, says George McGavin of the University of Oxford, and may allow them to thrive in climate change.

New Scientist, 18 Aug 2009

springback mountains

Though the average hiker wouldn’t notice, the Alps and other mountain ranges have experienced a gradual growth spurt over the past century or so thanks to the melting of the glaciers atop them.

For thousands of years, the weight of these glaciers has pushed against the Earth’s surface, causing it to depress. As the glaciers melt, this weight is lifting, and the surface slowly is springing back.

Because global warming speeds up the melting of these glaciers, the mountains are rebounding faster.

Livescience, 16 Aug 2011

save the trees!

Some 7,000 of around 100,000 tree species in the world are on the international IUCN Red List of endangered species, according to Douglas Gibbs, of Botanic Gardens Conservation International.

But experts believe around a quarter of tree species are already in danger, and that climate change could reduce the range of half the world’s plants and potentially put them at risk of extinction.

The Telegraph, 23 Sep 2008

Let them all out?

There is no population more captive to the effects of global warming than the incarcerated. A new study from Daniel W. E. Holt of the Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law explains over 144 pages what the climate-change toll truly is on the two-million-plus bodies caged in our prison system.

“The correctional sector may be alone in facing the prospect of viable constitutional litigation if it does not effectively adapt to the changing climate,” reads the report. The legal and fatal consequences of failing to adapt to climate change and overheating prisons are yet more rationale for reducing the incarcerated population, reads the report.
Mother Jones: Environment, 2 Oct 2015

thanks to David Mulberry

air conditioners to the rescue!

air_cond
Our innovative approach allows for presumably random variation in the distribution of daily temperatures to affect birth rates up to 24 months into the future.

We find that additional days above 80 °F cause a large decline in birth rates approximately 8 to 10 months later. The lack of a full rebound suggests that increased temperatures due to climate change may reduce population growth rates in the coming century.

…As an added cost, climate change will shift even more births to the summer months when third trimester exposure to dangerously high temperatures increases. Based on our analysis of historical changes in the temperature-fertility relationship, we conclude air conditioning could be used to substantially offset the fertility costs of climate change.
The National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 21681, Issued in October 2015

thanks to ddh

ban camels!

camel_in_carAn Australian government report has proposed killing many of the country’s estimated 1.2 million wild camels as a climate change solution.It is considering awarding carbon credits for culling the non-native camels, which are widely considered an ecological and an agricultural pest.

Apparently, a camel produces an estimated 100 pounds of methane a year, which is roughly equivalent to 1.1 tons of carbon dioxide. Methane is twenty times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Almost half of all global methane emissions come from belching livestock, mainly cows but also pigs, goats, sheep – and camels.
Open Knowledge, 10 Jul 2011

see also – action plan

to plant, or not to plant?

Plant trees to soak up carbon dioxide – why not? But it’s more complicated than it sounds. As a meeting of the American Geophysical Union heard in December, computer models show that trees can cool the planet through photosynthesis, but only in the tropics.

The problem is that forests are dark and absorb sunlight, thereby raising the planet’s temperature. Light-coloured landscapes reflect sunlight and cool things down. In the United States and Europe, “the climate benefits of planting will be nearly zero”, according to American ecologist Govindasamy Bala. In the seasonally snow-covered regions at higher latitudes, “planting trees could be actually counter-productive”.

Other left field ideas include waiting for the next ice age, though best guesses put it at 40,000 years away.

The Sunday Age, 18 Feb 2007 – screen copy held by this website

Christmas – bah, humbug!

Escalating climate change will have an impact on every aspect of Australian Defence Force operations, a report warns, with rising natural disasters and changes to the “physical battle space” affecting Defence’s mission, facilities and strategic environment.

The ADF will have to permanently abandon the idea of Christmas as a time of relaxation and get used to a world where increased floods, fires, storms and cyclones keep it busy throughout summer.

The authors, led by strategic analyst Anthony Bergin and head of the Antarctic Climate Research Centre Tony Press, say the Chief of the Defence Force should appoint a climate change adviser.

Sydney Morning Herald, 24 Mar 2013