Category Archives: Essays

The browning of lakes.

A new study seems to show that as the permafrost is melting more northern freshwater lakes are turning brown due to an increase in organic carbon into the water. This phenomenon is a global thing but the rate in the North is extreme.

Organic carbon is very good at absorbing sunlight but it is not a good thing for aquatic systems because sunlight cannot penetrate the water and thus phytoplankton can’t propagate as it needs sunlight. And that means as well that insects and fish will not have anything to eat.

The local people will be affected as there will be less fish of a lesser quality and the quality of the water to drink will be diminished. More money would have to be spent to have drinkable water.

The study ends by saying that with increased rainfall and extreme weather events the browning of northern lakes will only further increase.



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Warming seas are endangering King Penguins.

A new study published in a magazine seems to show that King Penguins are in peril as it warns that 70% of the 1.6 million breeding pairs could be affected in this century. The stark warning is that either they will move from where they are or they will disappear.

It seems that the largest colonies of these birds will be too far away from their sources of food. Researchers used models to predict which islands that harbor the penguins will be able to sustain them and which will not be able to.

By 2100, half the King penguins on the Crozet and Prince Edward islands in the Indian Ocean will lose their habitat. The 21% that presently rest on the Kerguelen Islands as well as those on the Falkland and Tierra del Fuego islands would see their nesting grounds altered and would have to find food further away or relocate.

The scientists admit that some islands will become more habitable for the penguins but these King penguins do not nest on ice and so their choices will be more limited.

A 70% loss may be a conservative estimate as the fish and krill that the penguins feed on will also be affected by the warming seas, and so this will mean less food in the years to come for the penguins. As the models indicate which islands will be better for the penguins conservation measures can be taken to limit tourism in those areas as will as reduce fishing.

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Over fishing the oceans.

A new map just published shows how much of the oceans are being over fished. More than half of the world’s oceans are now being fished by industrial vessels and more than 70,000 vessels cover a greater surface than agriculture on earth. As it stands, more than one-third of commercial fish stocks are caught at levels that cannot be sustained and fish stocks are in decline everywhere.

Among the findings are that five countries account for 85% of commercial fishing measured by hours at sea. China accounts for half of that number, and the others include Spain, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Let us not forget that people eat on average 20kg of fish each year but in developing countries, up to 70% of their proteins come from fish.

The only hope to prevent over fishing is that human beings restrain themselves. After all, on weekends and holidays the map shows sharp declines in fishing at these times. Cultural and political events impact on fishing show that humans still control the fate of the world’s fisheries.


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Sea levels are rising faster and faster!

A study published on Monday reports that sea levels could climb by 65 centimeters by the end of the century, a number that is in accord with the estimations of the United Nations. This increase could seriously impact coastal cities.

The annual increase which is now around 3 millimeters per year could more than triple to reach 10 millimeters per year before the year 2100. These results are based on information collected by satellites in the past 25 years and are in agreement with the report submitted in 2014 by a group of experts on climate change to the United Nations.

As Greenland and Antarctica see an accelerating rate of melt this could double the increase of sea level in comparisons to projections that estimated the rate of melt would be constant. With this increase in melting the sea levels will increase by more than 60 centimeters by the end of the century. And that is a conservative estimate. But of course we all know that climate change was an invention of the Chinese…according to president Trump.

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Ecosystems shrinking in Alberta, Canada.

A new study on ecosystems in Alberta has concluded that portions of it are shrinking faster than the Amazonian tropical forests. The study concluded that 70% of Alberta is still intact, most of it in the northern part.

However, in some areas of the province human activities such as forestry has increased from 20% to 29%, an increase of 60%, nearly two times superior at what was found in the Amazonian forests over the same period. That is surprising and shocking at the same time.

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A setback for clean water in the United States.

One should not be surprised that the Trump administration has decided to suspend an Obama clean water regulation, saying it plans to issue a new one later this year. Of course, the new one will be more friendly to industry.

According to what is known, the new rules will have looser requirements for farmers, ranchers and real estate developers on how to safeguard streams and tributaries that flow through their property and into other bodies of water.

Small landowners objected to Obama clean water rules as they regulated how much pesticides could be allowed in the waters. Naturally, these same landowners are part of Mr. Trump’s base.

The Obama rules on water had been hailed by environmentalists but it was opposed by farmers and ranchers as an infringement of their property rights. As usual in such cases, the ruling by the Trump administration will be challenged in court. The Clean Water Rule protects the bodies of water that feed the drinking water supply of 33% of Americans

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Musk oxen vulnerable to climate change.

After a decade studying musk oxen scientists have announced that these animals are very vulnerable to climate changes that are occurring in the Arctic. With the climate warming up female musk oxen may have trouble finding enough food to provide for their young. And if the young do not eat enough they will suffer from stunted growth, pushing back the time when they can become sexually active.

This study is the first to suggest a strong relationship between more winter rainfall and the declining health of Arctic mammals. Other big mammals such as caribou and Dall sheep could also be vulnerable.

It is also possible that as winter rains increase the range of the musk oxen could be smaller. They may survive only in colder climates such as northern Greenland which is drier and colder than other parts of the Arctic. When one knows that the Arctic is warming up twice as fast as the average global rate there is cause for concern for big mammals.

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