first victims – birdseed factory, a holy lake in China, Baltic Sea fish and new born hedgehogs

A birdseed factory in Shropshire, a holy lake in China, Baltic Sea fish and new-born hedgehogs have emerged as the first tangible victims of climate change in the year which forecasters predicted this week would be the warmest on record.

The CJ Wild Bird Foods company near Shrewsbury has announced that the demand for its products has all but disappeared, because the mild winter had maintained an alternative supply of berries for finches, tits and other species.

The warmer environment is also contributing to the gradual disappearance of the vast Lake Qinghai, a holy site for Tibetans in the remote western province of Qinghai.

More evidence of the consequences of failure arrived yesterday from conservation groups who reported that climate change was causing the deaths of hundreds of baby hedgehogs, born out of season. Confused by the milder autumn months, the creatures are continuing to breed rather than hibernate. This is causing the death of the young who need to grow before they hibernate.

An indication of the effects of climate change on fish has also arrived this week, from a team of German scientists who warned that rising sea temperatures were killing off the eelpout. The fish, which lives in the North and Baltic seas, has been hit by warmer summers, which have increased its need for oxygen at the same time as the water’s oxygen levels have dropped.
The Independent, 6 Janury 2007