There is a passage early on in McKenzie Funk’s book, Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming, that ticks through so many world-gone-crazy anecdotes that maybe aren’t but probably are related to a changing climate that the mind boggles. Drought-crazed camels would soon rampage through a village in Australia, a manatee would swim past Chelsea Piers in New York City’s Hudson River…. Armadillos were reaching northeast Arkansas. Wolves ate dogs in Alaska. Fire consumed fifty million acres of Siberia. Greenland lost a hundred gigatons of ice. The Inuit got air-conditioning units…. In retrospect, this was the moment that we began to believe in global warming—not in the abstract science [...]
Some 20,000 polar bears are left on Earth, their only planet, and most of them live in the Canadian Arctic. While the bears have been distracted by the melting away of polar ice and their entire habitat, humans at a meeting in Thailand have decided that's it's okay to continue killing the endangered animals to sell their parts on the international market for bits of endangered animals—bearskin rugs and claws and "other body parts."
The United States delegation proposed not hunting the polar bear to extinction. Although the ban had the backing of Russia, which also has a declining polar bear population in its arctic zone, the Convention [...]
Did you forget to stay up late waiting for results from the U.N. climate talks in Doha? Well, you'll be happy to know global warming is solved thanks to a bold consensus decision to take aggressive international action on carbon emissions and sustainability. No, wait, that is not what happened. Here's a typically sunny reaction: "It’s very, very depressing. There is nothing [in the text] at all on finance, nothing about emissions reduction, it's all about workshops and talk shops. There is no commitment by [by rich countries] on anything."
Then again, "low expectations" were the only expectation at all. Sorry, polar bears and etc.
"It is a greater change than we could even imagine 20 years ago, even 10 years ago. And it has taken us by surprise and we must adjust our understanding of the system and we must adjust our science and we must adjust our feelings for the nature around us." —The urgency apparent in Norwegian Polar Institute's Dr. Kim Holman's assessment of recent data about the melting arctic ice cap is truly terrifying. But the fact that the Institute named its icebreaker ship "Lance" makes me smile.
One of the cool things about the West and the Southwest is that lots of species get pooled and segregated into little genetic pools—at the top of isolated mountains, squirrels that once roamed and mingled now have been separated for ages, like the nine sub-species of Abert's squirrel. Now at Yosemite, the Alpine chipmunk is being forced to ascend uphill as well, into isolated genetic pods. Radical lesbian elitist climate change atheist publication Nature Climate Change reported the details on how "global warming" is forcing the squirrels ever upwards. Climb, chipmunks! Climb for your lives! (Picture: a detail from a photo by Miss Pudding.)
"There is a little bit of elitist-versus-populist tensions. There are meteorologists who feel, 'Just because I have a bachelor's degree doesn't mean I don't know what's going on.'" -Science writer Bob Henson suggests one of the reasons meteorologists, who wear make-up and say wacky things about the weather, are more prone to dismiss global warming than climatologists, who are actually scientists.
Great. Now even the trees are going to destroy the planet. A major bummer of an article in Nature explains that, due to global warming, trees are growing farther north than they have before. And how, because tree-tops are darker than barren land, they have less "albedo" (that's a cool word!) or "reflectiveness," and so the earth with absorb more heat from the sun. "When the vegetation moves in, there will be an amplification of the warming," says Inez Fung, an atmospheric physicist at the University of California, Berkeley.
Chuck Watson, a "disaster-impact analyst," "recalls attending a meeting on natural-hazard-response planning in South Florida, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state: 'I mentioned sea-level rise, and I was treated to a 15-minute lecture on Genesis by one of the commissioners. He said, God destroyed the Earth with water the first time, and he promised he wouldn't do it again. So all of you who are pushing fears about sea-level rise, go back and read the Bible.'"
So yeah this Rolling Stone article on how Florida will be a disaster over the next 80 years didn't go over so well. "I was hopeful of a more [...]
Good news, maybe, about our challenging situation here on the only available habitable planet: Today's climate change study (from Norway) says maybe the 1990s were worse for global warming than the 2000s, which means …. we can go back to five steaks a day, and McMansions, and Hummers?
New estimates from a Norwegian research project show meeting targets for minimizing global warming may be more achievable than previously thought. After the planet’s average surface temperature rose through the 1990s, the increase has almost leveled off at the level of 2000, while ocean water temperature has also stabilized, the Research Council of Norway said in a statement on its website.[...]
Carrie: So Ken, I understand that you recently purchased a Prius and are pleased with your purchase! And I bought one several years ago, and am likewise very happy with it. So my first question would be: What do you think the plural of Prius is: Prius-us? Pri-i?
Ken: Well, did you know that Toyota asked Prius owners to vote for the plural form of Prius, because the actual Latin plural (priora) was already taken by a crappy Lada? I just read this on Wikipedia, so I am pretty much an "automotive journalist" now. Anyway, the plural is officially and legally prii.
Carrie: I did not know that! Very [...]
You know that thing about how if a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, it can cause a tornado in Texas? Well, something like that is happening right now. Except in this case, it's more like, if a butterfly hatches out of its cocoon in Montreal, it means that everyone south of there is going to die in fire. Because this particular butterfly is a Giant swallowtail butterfly called a Papilio cresphontes Cramer, indigenous to tropical areas in Central and South America, and the fact that it is now able to live in northern Nordic zones is attributable to climate change. There are plenty of other videos I [...]
Huh.Thanks to global warming, and the resultant increase in oceanic wind speeds, seabirds are flying faster than they've ever flown before. They're healthier—gaining weight and wingspan and everything—because of it. Man, if this had happened 40 years ago, Jonathan Livingston Seagull would never even have had to be written! But it was. And they made a movie, and Neil Diamond made the soundtrack. Lots of other songs have been written about seabirds, though. There's something about them that makes us feel lonely and wistful, I think, the way they soar for so long on the wind over the empty expanse of the sea. So out of reach. Oh, [...]
This is a very nice story about a fun renegade weatherman who is free to oppose global warming! This weatherman is in good company with other weatherpeople, it turns out. "Twenty-nine percent of the 121 meteorologists who replied [to an Emory University study] agreed with [KUSI's John] Coleman-not that global warming was unproven, or unlikely, but that it was a scam. Just 24 percent of them believed that humans were responsible for most of the change in climate over the past half century-half were sure this wasn't true, and another quarter were 'neutral" on the issue. "
"Nitrous oxide (N2O) has become the greatest threat to the ozone layer, a new analysis suggests. The ozone-destroying abilities of the gas have been largely ignored by policy-makers and atmospheric scientists alike, who have focused on the more potent chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)-historically the dominant ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere." So says Nature magazine, reporting on the work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado (figures.)
Wild Nature Institute is the nonprofit creation of wildlife biologist Monica Bond and quantitative ecologist Derek Lee. They live and work for much of the year in Africa, where they study and inventory iconic and threatened wildlife populations such as the Masai Giraffe, which is rapidly declining due to lost habitat, disease and illegal hunting.
Ken Layne: Hello, Derek Lee! Because you are traveling between Nairobi and Zanzibar and I'm on the other side of the planet, maybe we'll do this in email format? So what is it that you and Monica do in Africa? This past week sounds like it held a lot of safari travel and [...]
Barack Obama said more about climate change in his inauguration speech—and expressed it more forcefully—than he did at any point in the 2012 election campaign and during much of his first term [...] He made a carefully calibrated appeal to Republicans, situating a transition from fossil fuels to clean energy in a religious and conservative framework of God and constitution.
The Earth and its many forms of life were thrilled to hear the American president mark his second inauguration with a long overdue promise to save the planet from human ruination. Since the Frankenstorm made it okay for centrist Democrats (and a handful of moderate Republicans) to acknowledge that [...]
"Scientists are beginning to look for a Plan B. There are two distinct approaches under consideration—sucking carbon out of the atmosphere, or creating an artificial sun shield for the planet. The former, which involves reversing some of the very processes that are leading to the climate problem, is expensive. The latter just sounds scary. David Keith, a leading thinker on geoengineering, calls it 'chemotherapy' for the planet. 'You are repulsed?' he says. 'Good. No one should like it. It's a terrible option.'" —If you happen to be feeling too wildly optimistic about the future of mankind today, this Foreign Policy article exploring alternatives to our failing attempts at cutting [...]
Isn't it great how no one really talks about the coming rise in sea levels? It was such a hot topic a few years ago and then we basically had to pull the conversation way back because people in America mostly wanted to argue about whether we are really related to monkeys. Fortunately, we are intentionally raising our children to be stupider, by means of intentionally cutting funds to schools, so as to serve American students ever less-well, so that we can make a large disposable servant-worker class and a smaller educated class. Also it serves someone's interests, clearly, if we can convince a majority of America that evolution [...]
What are you going to do this weekend? Catch up on your CSI? Some light cleaning? Or maybe you could polish off two chapters in your dusty old novel! Maybe it's your first novel, the one that you would rather die before showing anyone? Or, as Michael Berger puts it today, "The one people will say, provided it ever gets published: oh that was just his first novel. That's why it was so childish and so preoccupied with sex and werewolves and time travel." (Um, yes please.) Anyway, that is what he is going to do this weekend and why don't you join him? He is still hacking out [...]