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

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

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

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

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