Wildfires and climate change


This 31 July 2021 video says about itself:

What’s causing wildfires? | Inside Story

The last few months have seen a number of devastating weather events made worse by climate change.

Countries around the world are seeing unprecedented changes…

Last month, a small village in western Canada set that country’s highest record, with nearly 50 degrees Celsius.

Scientists say average temperatures are on the rise…

Wildfires seem to appear more often and more destructive.

And Europe has seen its worst floods in a generation…

So, what’s behind all this? –

And is climate change now a bigger worry than it’s ever been?

Presenter: Halla Mohieddeen

Guests:

Crystal Raymond – Climate Adaptation Specialist at the University of Washington.

Mark Diesendorf – Honorary Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales.

Cristiane Mazetti – Senior Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Brazil.

American pikas fight climate change


This 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

An American Pika runs along his kingdom among the boulders.

From Arizona State University in the USA:

American Pikas show resiliency in the face of global warming

October 13, 2020

The American pika is a charismatic, diminutive relative of rabbits that some researchers say is at high risk of extinction due to climate change. Pikas typically live in cool habitats, often in mountains, under rocks and boulders. Because pikas are sensitive to high temperatures, some researchers predict that, as the Earth’s temperature rises, pikas will have to move ever higher elevations until they eventually run out of habitat and die out. Some scientists have claimed this cute little herbivore is the proverbial canary in the coal mine for climate change.

A new extensive review by Arizona State University emeritus professor Andrew Smith, published in the October issue of the Journal of Mammalogy, finds that the American pika is far more resilient in the face of warm temperatures than previously believed. While emphasizing that climate change is a serious threat to the survival of many species on Earth, Smith believes that the American pika currently is adapting remarkably well.

Smith has studied the American pika for more than 50 years and presents evidence from a thorough literature review showing that American pika populations are healthy across the full range of the species, which extends from British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, to northern New Mexico in the U.S.

Occupancy in potential pika habitat in the major western North American mountains was found to be uniformly high. Among sites that have been surveyed recently, there was no discernible climate signal that discriminated between the many occupied and relatively few unoccupied sites.

“This is a sign of a robust species,” Smith said.

Smith said most of the studies that have raised alarms about the fate of the pika are based on a relatively small number of restricted sites at the margins of the pika’s geographic range, primarily in the Great Basin. However, a recent comprehensive study of pikas evaluating 3,250 sites in the Great Basin found pikas living in over 73% of the suitable habitat investigated. Most important, the sites currently occupied by pikas and the sites where they are no longer found were characterized by similar climatic features.

“These results show that pikas are able to tolerate a broader set of habitat conditions than previously understood,” Smith adds.

Smith’s most interesting finding is that pikas are apparently much more resilient than previously believed, allowing them to survive even at hot, low-elevation sites. Bodie California State Historic Park, the Mono Craters, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Lava Beds National Monument, and the Columbia River Gorge (all hot, low-elevation sites) retain active pika populations, demonstrating the adaptive capacity and resilience of pikas. Pikas cope with warm temperatures by retreating into their cool, underground talus habitat during the hot daylight hours and augment their restricted daytime foraging with nocturnal activity.

This doesn’t mean that some pika populations have not been pushed to their limit, leading to their disappearance from some habitats. Smith’s review points out that most documented cases of local loss of pika populations have occurred on small, isolated habitat patches.

“Due to the relatively poor ability of pikas to disperse between areas, those habitats are not likely to be recolonized, particularly in light of our warming climate,” Smith said. “In spite of the general health of pikas across their range, these losses represent a one-way street, leading to a gradual loss of some pika populations. Fortunately for pikas, their preferred talus habitat in the major mountain cordilleras is larger and more contiguous, so the overall risk to this species is low.”

Smith’s work emphasizes the importance of incorporating all aspects of a species’ behavior and ecology when considering its conservation status, and that all available data must be considered before suggesting a species is going extinct. For the American pika, the data conclusively show that rather than facing extinction, American pikas are changing their behaviors in ways that help them better withstand climate change, at least for now.

BIG BANKS ‘FUEL CLIMATE CHAOS’ Banks provided $3.8 trillion in financing to oil, gas and coal companies — more in 2020 than they did in 2016, the year countries signed the Paris climate agreement. The trajectory of the finance sector is heading “definitively in the wrong direction,” warned a new report published by several nonprofits. [HuffPost]

Global warming, United States politics, Bernie Sanders


This 25 June 2020 CNBC TV video from the USA says about itself:

Here’s how strong hurricane Tropical Storm Laura could become

While Tropical Storm Marco has collapsed, Tropical Storm Laura is expected to rapidly strengthen as it makes its way inland. Louisiana and Texas are now under hurricane watch.

From Senator Bernie Sanders in the USA, 25 August 2020:

Sometimes, when you hear a speech, what is NOT said is more important than what is said.

You wouldn’t know it if you watched the first night of the Republican National Convention, but we are in the middle of a climate emergency with scientists telling us we have just a few years to act in order to save our planet for future generations.

Just look around our country:

The second and third largest fires in the history of the state of California have burned more than 1.2 million acres in just a month, thousands of homes and businesses have been lost to the blaze, and tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee.

But that is not at all.

In the Gulf Coast, a pair of hurricanes threaten to strike within miles of each other and within a 48-hour period this week, a meteorological event unlike any in modern history.

But that too, is not all.

Earlier this month in the Midwest, an 800-mile wide derecho with winds the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane swept through Iowa and Illinois, causing absolutely catastrophic damage. Homes and businesses were lost. Some estimates say 35 percent of Iowa’s corn was destroyed along with “100 million bushels worth of grain storage and processing infrastructure as well,” according to Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture.

There’s more:

  • July 2020 was the second-hottest month ever recorded on Earth.
  • June 2020 was the second-hottest June of all time.
  • May 2020 was the hottest May of all time.
  • April 2020 was the second-hottest April of all time.
  • March 2020 was the second-hottest March of all time.
  • February 2020 was the second-hottest February of all time.
  • January 2020 was the hottest January of all time.

But was any of this discussed during last night’s Republican National Convention?

Of course, it wasn’t.

There wasn’t a word about climate change, other than to play a video calling me and our ideas “RADICAL.”

But don’t tell me the Green New Deal is radical.

What is radical is doing nothing to take on the existential threat of climate change while the world burns.

What is radical is the Trump administration opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling at a time when the Arctic is on fire and we face a serious climate emergency in this country and around the world.

What is radical is doing nothing while scientists tell us very clearly that if we do not act boldly within the next few years in transforming our energy systems away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy, the planet we leave our kids and future generations will be increasingly unhealthy and uninhabitable.

What is radical is making the decision to accept more drought, more famine, more floods, more ocean acidification, more extreme weather disturbances, more disease and more human suffering simply to line the pockets of a few greedy fossil fuel executives.

Here is the truth: in the midst of everything going on right now, a global pandemic, an economic meltdown, a struggle for racial justice and more, we simply cannot lose sight of the existential threat of climate change which puts at risk the very survival of this planet.

We cannot go far enough or be too aggressive on this issue.

We are living in absolutely unprecedented times that require us to bring forward an unprecedented response.

I wish I could say we could address our climate crisis with a few tweaks at the edges. But I cannot say that. Now more than ever, we need a Green New Deal to effectively address the existential threat of climate change. So, in my view there are two things we need to do:

Step 1: We must defeat Donald Trump. There is simply no way around just how important it is that we beat him this November and beat him badly.

Step 2: At the same time, we must elect as many progressive candidates as we possibly can who will fight to pass a Green New Deal.

Now, I cannot do that alone. And over the course of the next few months, our supporters are going to be doing everything possible to generate the largest voter turnout in American history, reaching out to people who might otherwise not be voting. We’re going to be doing virtual rallies and town halls in every battleground state. We’ll be making phone calls, sending text messages, and safely distributing literature throughout communities across this country.

That takes resources, but it is important work that must be done. So today, I am asking:

Can you make a $2.70 contribution to help me elect progressives all across this country who will come into office prepared to treat climate change as the existential threat we know it to be? This is important.

We are custodians of the earth. All of us. And it would be a moral disgrace if we left to future generations a planet and that was unhealthy, unsafe, and uninhabitable.

So thank you for making your voice heard.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

Pygmy owls threatened by climate change


This April 2018 video says about itself:

In an old forest in France, we meet a pygmy owl family and discover the feeding and young owls just going out of the niche.

I was privileged to see a pygmy owl near Turku in Finland.

From the University of Turku in Finland:

Climate change may melt the ‘freezers’ of pygmy owls and reduce their overwinter survival

August 5, 2020

Ecologists at the University of Turku, Finland, have discovered that the food hoards pygmy owls collect in nest-boxes (“freezers”) for winter rot due to high precipitation caused by heavy autumn rains and if the hoarding has been initiated early in the autumn. The results of the study show that climate change may impair predators’ foraging and thus decrease local overwinter survival. The study has been published in the internationally esteemed Global Change Biology journal.

Doctoral Candidate Giulia Masoero together with co-authors from the Department of Biology at the University of Turku analysed the unique long-term data set collected by Professor Erkki Korpimäki and his research group in 2003-2018. The aim was to study how the changing weather conditions in late autumn and winter affect the initiation of pygmy owls’ food hoarding as well as the accumulation, use and preservability of the hoarded food. The data set was collected from the Kauhava region in South Bothnia with over 500 food hoards and a research area covering 1,000 square kilometres.

Pygmy owls are small predators that feed on small mammals, especially voles which are their main prey, and birds. Pygmy owls start hoarding for winter usually in late October when the temperature drops below 0° C. They hoard a large amount of prey in tree cavities or nest boxes.

The food stores may be located in multiple nest boxes some kilometres apart. Female owls that are larger than males as well as young owls accumulate larger food stores than males and adult owls.

According to Erkki Korpimäki, the hoarded food is important for pygmy owls during winter, when small mammal prey are under snow and birds are scarce.

“This hoarding behaviour is highly susceptible to global warming because the weather during autumn and winter can affect the condition and usability of the food stores. In several northern areas, autumns have already become warmer and winters milder and rainy. Predictions show that climate change will likely continue along this path and the length of winter will strongly decrease.”

According to the study, the more rainy days there are between mid-October and mid-December, the more likely the food hoards of pygmy owls are to rotten. The owls use rotten food hoards particularly during poor vole years. However, the study showed that having rotten food hoards reduced the recapture probability of female owls in the study area, meaning female owls either die or are forced to leave the area.

“This result indicates that either the use of the rotten low-quality food and/or the energy waste linked with collecting a large food store that will not be used can lead to lower survival or dispersal from the study area,” notes Doctoral Candidate Giulia Masoero.

Pygmy owls might be partly able to adapt to climate change by delaying food hoarding but will more likely suffer due to the changes caused by the warming climate. The results of the study together with global climate predictions thus suggest that climate change has the potential to strongly impair the foraging behaviour and food intake of wintering predators, likely having negative impacts on the boreal forest food web as a whole.

‘Nuclear weapons worsen global warming problem’


This 24 July 2019 video from Britain says about itself:

Interview with Susi Snyder, from the Don’t Bank on the Bomb campaign

Susi Snyder is the project lead for the PAX No Nukes project, she also coordinates the Don’t Bank on the Bomb research and campaign.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 3 August 2020:

Nuclear weapons are incompatible with action on climate,’ report warns

CAMPAIGNERS called for a “vigorous and united” movement to abolish nuclear weapons today, as a new report warned of the bomb’s role in climate catastrophe.

Ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear attacks later this week, Don’t Bank on the Bomb’s study argues that ridding Britain of its nuclear stockpile is essential in addressing climate change.

Nuclear Weapons, the Climate and Our Environment warns that the combination of a new arms race and increasing disruption from climate change make nuclear war more likely.

Big Oil gets billions of taxpayers’ money


This 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

The Cost of Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Understanding how subsidies affect fossil fuel production is crucial to tackling climate change.

This video looks at the latest research into the impact subsidies and support have on the fossil fuel industry, the effect on oil prices and how things may change going forward.

The latest data on US fossil fuel subsidies along with the cost of subsidies and the impact of fossil fuel subsidies are examined and reported. Whilst much discussion on the impact of fossil fuel support and subsidies recently has been on the coal market, the oil and gas subsidies are equally as important. Total US fossil fuel subsidies matter as they are crucially important for climate change. The most recent numbers for fossil fuel subsidies 2016 show that over $300bn is spent annually.

Translated from Daphné Dupont-Nivet and Belia Heilbron in Dutch weekly De Groene, 1 July 2020:

European Union countries support the fossil fuel sector with 137 billion a year …

Henk Kamp is sure: “Fossil fuels are not subsidized in the Netherlands, not even through fiscal measures,” the then Minister of Economic Affairs told the House of Representatives five years ago. The reason was a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that showed that worldwide $ 5300 billion is involved in fossil subsidies. Not from the Netherlands, he thought. His successor Eric Wiebes said it just as clearly in the summer of 2017: “There is no policy to support the fossil sector in particular.” …

The Netherlands has a hodgepodge of tax measures that favour the fossil fuel sector.

For example, the tax exemption on kerosene in aviation and shipping accounts for about 3.5 billion subsidies per year. In addition, there are tax advantages for energy use in greenhouse horticulture and big consumers such as the fossil fuel industry themselves have to pay less energy tax than households. It is less known that the Dutch government provides insurance with which oil refineries are constructed in Kuwait and Oman. …

While parliament is waiting for the inventory, support for fossil fuels is being expanded. Eg, Wiebes has now prepared a bill to expand and increase the investment deduction for the extraction of gas in the North Sea, from 25 to 40 percent. In this way, the Netherlands must be able to compete again with the United Kingdom and Norway, which previously implemented the increase. …

In addition to its activities in Kuwait, the Netherlands supports the installation of oil platforms for the Mexican state oil company Pemex with nearly two hundred million euros, and more than 250 million guarantees for the construction of a new bulk terminal for oil on the coast of Oman, in a nature reserve with protected animal species including four species of sea turtles and the Arabian humpback whale. …

Of all [Dutch taxpayer subsidized] energy projects, 98 percent of the money went to fossil fuel and only two to renewable. …

That does not fit with the climate goal of “Paris” [climate agreement], the Advisory Council on International Affairs, the independent advisory body for government and parliament on international issues, said in July last year. The Council emphasizes that “subsidies, export credits and tax money are currently used for international trade and investment in fossil fuels” …

However, with 1.5 billion euros a year, the Netherlands provides more aid to the fossil fuel industry through export credit insurance than France, Germany or Russia.

Global warming benefits Greenland wolf spiders


This 2019 video says about itself:

Arctic Wolf Spiders‘ Changing Diet May Help Keep Arctic Cool & Lessen Some Impacts of Global Warming

Ecologist Amanda Koltz has a special interest in climate change and spiders. Koltz said she chose to study Arctic wolf spiders because they’re fierce hunters and abundant, making them one of the most important predators in the tundra. Leaving her biology lab at Washington University in St. Louis, Koltz conducts her field research in Northern Alaska. Koltz and her team discovered that Arctic wolf spiders may buffer some of the effects of global warming by helping to ‘keep it cool’. Wolf spiders may play a role decreasing decomposition rates in a warming climate. As the Arctic warms, research shows wolf spiders may dine differently initiating a cascade of food web interactions that could potentially alleviate some impacts of global warming.

From Aarhus University in Denmark:

Spider baby boom in a warmer Arctic

June 25, 2020

Climate change leads to longer growing seasons in the Arctic. A new study, which has just been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that predators like wolf spiders respond to the changing conditions and have been able to produce two clutches of offspring during the short Arctic summer.

Arctic spiders are at the top of the food chain among invertebrates and are numerous on the Arctic tundra. They typically take several years to become adults, and only produce offspring [once].

But something is happening in the high north in these years. A lot, actually.

Climate change is more dramatic here than in no other place on Earth. The average temperature is increasing significantly and this affects the ecosystems.

Researchers have previously reported how plants bloom earlier and earlier in the season. There are also signs that species move farther north and up into the mountains.

A team of researchers led by senior researcher Toke T. Høye from the Arctic Research Centre and Department of Bioscience at Aarhus University has now shown that changes are also occurring in the reproduction of invertebrates.

For almost 20 years, researchers at the Zackenberg Research Station in north-eastern Greenland have caught wolf spiders as part of the monitoring programme Greenland Ecosystem Monitoring. The spiders were caught in small pitfall traps set up in different vegetation types.

Wolf spiders carry their eggs in a so-called egg sac. The researchers counted the number of eggs in the individual spiders’ egg sacs and compared this information with the time of the season that the animal was caught. By looking at the distribution of the number of eggs in the egg sacs throughout the season, it became clear that in some summers the spiders produced two egg sacs — a phenomenon that is known from warmer latitudes, but which has not previously been observed in the Arctic.

Arctic ecosystems are changing

“We now have the longest time series of spiders collected the Arctic. The large amount of data allows us to show how small animals in the Arctic change their life history in response to climate change,” says Toke T. Høye.

The long time series tells the researchers that the earlier the snow disappears from the ground, the greater the proportion of spiders that can produce a second clutch of offspring.

“These changes in the life history have not been seen earlier and evidence suggests that the phenomenon plays an important role for Arctic insects and spiders,” Toke T. Høye says.

The researchers see the spiders’ response to climate change as an ability to adapt to the new conditions.

Wolf spiders feed on small organisms such as springtails in the soil. If there are more spiders — or insects — in the future Arctic, it can have an influence on the food chains on land.

“We can only speculate about how the ecosystems change, but we can now ascertain that changes in the reproduction of species are an important factor to include when we try to understand how Arctic ecosystems react to the rising temperatures on the planet,” Toke T. Høye says.

Devonian-Carboniferous mass extinction and global warming


This 2015 video says about itself:

New Carboniferous Life

After the Devonian extinction, new types of tetrapods, fish, plants, and other organisms repopulated the world, some of which led to more modern fauna and flora.

From the University of Southampton in England:

Erosion of ozone layer responsible for mass extinction event

May 27, 2020

Researchers at the University of Southampton have shown that an extinction event 360 million years ago, that killed much of the Earth’s plant and freshwater aquatic life, was caused by a brief breakdown of the ozone layer that shields the Earth from damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This is a newly discovered extinction mechanism with profound implications for our warming world today.

There have been a number of mass extinction in the geological past. Only one was caused by an asteroid hitting the Earth, which was 66 million years ago when the dinosaurs became extinct. Three of the others, including the end Permian Great Dying, 252 million years ago, were caused by huge continental-scale volcanic eruptions that destabilised the Earth’s atmospheres and oceans.

Now, scientists have found evidence showing it was high levels of UV radiation which collapsed forest ecosystems and killed off many species of fish and tetrapods (our four-limbed ancestors) at the end of the Devonian geological period, 359 million years ago. This damaging burst of UV radiation occurred as part of one of the Earth’s climate cycles, rather than being caused by a huge volcanic eruption.

The ozone collapse occurred as the climate rapidly warmed following an intense ice age and the researchers suggest that the Earth today could reach comparable temperatures, possibly triggering a similar event. Their findings are published in the journal Science Advances.

The team collected rock samples during expeditions to mountainous polar-regions in East Greenland, which once formed a huge ancient lake bed in the arid interior of the Old Red Sandstone Continent, made up of Europe and North America. This lake was situated in the Earth’s southern hemisphere and would have been similar in nature to modern-day Lake Chad on the edge of the Sahara Desert.

Other rocks were collected from the Andean Mountains above Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. These South American samples were from the southern continent of Gondwana, which was closer to the Devonian South Pole. They held clues as to what was happening at the edge of the melting Devonian ice sheet, allowing a comparison between the extinction event close to the pole and close to the equator.

Back in the lab, the rocks were dissolved in hydrofluoric acid, releasing microscopic plant spores (like pollen, but from fern-like plants that didn’t have seeds or flowers) which had lain preserved for hundreds of millions of years. On microscopic examination, the scientists found many of the spores had bizarrely formed spines on their surface — a response to UV radiation damaging their DNA. Also, many spores had dark pigmented walls, thought to be a kind of protective ‘tan’, due to increased and damaging UV levels.

The scientists concluded that, during a time of rapid global warming, the ozone layer collapsed for a short period, exposing life on Earth to harmful levels of UV radiation and triggering a mass extinction event on land and in shallow water at the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary.

Following melting of the ice sheets, the climate was very warm, with the increased heat above continents pushing more naturally generated ozone-destroying chemicals into the upper atmosphere. This let in high levels of UV-B radiation for several thousand years.

Lead researcher Professor John Marshall, of the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science, who is a National Geographic Explorer, comments: “Our ozone shield vanished for a short time in this ancient period, coinciding with a brief and quick warming of the Earth. Our ozone layer is naturally in a state of flux — constantly being created and lost — and we have shown this happened in the past too, without a catalyst such as a continental scale volcanic eruption.”

During the extinction, plants selectively survived, but were enormously disrupted as the forest ecosystem collapsed. The dominant group of armoured fish became extinct. Those that survived — sharks and bony fish — remain to this day the dominant fish in our ecosystems.

These extinctions came at a key time for the evolution of our own ancestors, the tetrapods. These early tetrapods are fish that evolved to have limbs rather than fins, but still mostly lived in water. Their limbs possessed many fingers and toes. The extinction reset the direction of their evolution with the post-extinction survivors being terrestrial and with the number of fingers and toes reduced to five.

Professor Marshall says his team’s findings have startling implications for life on Earth today: “Current estimates suggest we will reach similar global temperatures to those of 360 million years ago, with the possibility that a similar collapse of the ozone layer could occur again, exposing surface and shallow sea life to deadly radiation. This would move us from the current state of climate change, to a climate emergency.”

The remote locations visited in East Greenland are very difficult to access, with travel involving light aircraft capable of landing directly on the tundra. Transport within the vast field area was by inflatable boats equipped with outboard motors, all of which had to fit in the small aircraft.

All field logistics was organised by CASP, an independent charitable trust based in Cambridge specialising in remote geological fieldwork. Mike Curtis, Managing Director of CASP says: “We have a history of assisting research geologists such as John Marshall and colleagues to access remote field areas and we are particularly pleased that their research has proved to have such potentially profound implications.”

Forest wildlife worldwide, video


This 17 April 2020 video says about itself:

Our Planet | Forests

Experience our planet’s natural beauty and examine how climate change impacts all living creatures in this ambitious documentary of spectacular scope.

In this episode: Examine the fragile interdependence that exists between forests’ wide variety of residents, including bald eagles, hunting dogs and Siberian tigers.

Antarctic penguins and climate change


This 8 April 2020 video says about itself:

Antarctica, climate change and a tale of two penguins

Jonathan Watts visits Antarctica with a team of scientists to look at how human activity and rising temperatures are creating winners and losers among penguins – and why this should be a warning to us all.

Food wrapping, fishing gear and plastic waste continue to reach the Antarctic. Two new studies detail how plastic debris is reaching sub-Antarctic islands: here.