Tag Archives: climate change

Beavers on the move!

Just another confirmation that climate change is real and is happening literally in front of our eyes. Canadian beavers are moving north, colonizing areas that had not seen a beaver in generations.

Because of a warming climate beavers are making their way to the Arctic coastline. This migration has caused problems for the native ecosystem but as well to the people of the north. Fish-bearing creeks are being plugged by the beavers and some lakes have dried up.

As the Arctic becomes more green the beavers are finding it more to their liking, but at the same time this warming is threatening species such as caribou, reindeer and pikas.

Fishermen in the Mackenzie Delta are worried that beavers may become so plentiful as to affect their livelihood. Favourite fishing creeks are being dammed up.

Other people in the area are less worried. Some of the older generation remember when beavers were far numerous in the Mackenzie Delta. Beaver populations seem to fluctuate in the area.

 

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The effect of climate change on human health.

It now seems that not only will our physical world will be affected by climate change but even our health. It seems that even our sleep will be affected. Once again it will be the poor who will suffer.

Scientists have looked at the issue and as poorer people do not have air-conditioning they will have more sleepless nights. The study made by an American scientist came to the conclusion that for every 100 Americans 6 additional sleepless nights in a month will be the result. A hotter climate will also affect the elderly as they have trouble adjusting to heat waves. More heat waves could mean more deaths. Add to that more grumpiness as well of course.

Admittedly, this side-effect of climate change is far down the list of things that worry scientists, but nevertheless, it just shows how varied and pervasive this change in the climate will be. We are, after all, the subjects of this experiment. We are the guinea pigs. Once again, the richer you are the easier you will ride this thing out.

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Planting trees cannot overcome climate change!

For many years scientists thought that planting trees could counteract the effects of climate change, but not anymore. A new report by a German institute has deflated that possibility to a large degree.

A whole industry has sprouted in the belief that growing trees and other kinds of biomass could turn the tide on climate change. Carbon credits are right now exchanged by countries who preserve forests or green spaces. These credits can be sold or traded to other countries. Companies do the same thing.

Several scenarios were played out and it seems that if we continue what we are doing right now our trees and forests could not absorb all the carbon dioxide that would be pumped in the atmosphere. Furthermore there would be harmful consequences on our food production.

Even if the levels of carbon dioxide are cut to reflect the Paris Agreement, tree planting alone is still not enough to reach the goal of keeping the average temperature of the planet under 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels. It seems that far from being the main solution to absorb all the carbon, tree planting can only be one strategy among others.

If one adds to the fact that not all trees are equal in absorbing carbon emissions, young forests absorbing more than old forests, it is clear that the real solution is cutting the rate at which we emit carbon dioxide. No other way is possible.

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The greening of Antarctica.

A new study seems to indicate that vegetation has increased in Antarctica in the past decades due to the warming of the climate. And the trend seems to be for a greener continent. Vegetation exists on only 0,3% of the continent.

Few plants live in this frigid environment but the study of lichens shows an increased biological activity. In three areas of the continent lichens were collected deep under ground where they have been preserved for the past 150 years the analysis seem to prove that biological activity is much higher for the last 50 years.

The temperature in the area has increased about half a degree every ten years since the 1950’s. An increase in precipitations and stronger winds all point to a warming climate. With an increase in temperature the area will be more green in the future and we will see more glaciers melting away. The future of Antarctica is green, and that is not good for the planet.

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Littering the Arctic waters.

This is sad but true; a lot of our plastics are finding their way into Arctic waters. The world’s oceans are littered by these plastics coming from bottles, bags and others articles, most of which are mostly tiny particles of plastic.

The fault for this littering is due to an ocean current mainly from the North Atlantic that carries these bits of plastics and leaves them on the surface of the frigid waters and possibly even on the ocean floor.

Every year more than 8 million tons of plastic get into the oceans and scientists estimate that 110 million tons of plastic are in the oceans. This pollution has already made its way into the food chain and no one knows the effects it has on life, including on us.

Most of the plastic found in the Arctic waters is in fragments, and small at that. Other plastics were in the form of fishing line, film or pellets. Most scientist think that only an international agreement could solve the issue of plastic pollution. Good luck with that with an American president who thinks climate change is not true.

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Solar geoengineering to the rescue!

Scientists have come out with a new way to reduce global warming, but this could entail consequences that we do not know. What would happen is that the atmosphere would be shaded from the sun and this would cool the earth, thus compensating for global warming. It is a risky plan.

The concept called solar geoengineering, implies that tiny particles would be injected in the atmosphere. These then would act as a sun shield reflecting sunlight back in space and cooling the planet.

Of course, scientists say that the scheme is not as crazy at it sounds as Nature does it all the time. When volcanoes erupt they spew particles in the atmosphere that do exactly what scientists propose. On a smaller scale the same would happen, with a fleet of aircraft spraying 250,000 metric tonnes of sulfur dioxide into the lower stratosphere. The particles would change how much sunlight is reflected back to space, with less reflection thus a cooling of the planet. Only one percent of sunlight reflected back into space could provide enough cooling to balance the effects of the warming caused by carbon emissions.

Naturally the project would have to be an international effort and would cost about 1 to 10 billion dollars per year. It sounds a lot but could be well worth the effort. After all the United States spends well over 670 billions dollars per year on the military alone.

It is a risky scheme when one tinkers with Nature and a system that has been in use for billions of years. No one can predict the consequences of rolling the dice. What if things become worse? I think it is best to think of this solution as a last gasp, a Hail Mary pass in case we really have no other choices. The best thing is still to drive down emissions and to have countries cooperate to fight global warming as it is in our interest to do so. We all have a stake in this.

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Amazonian deforestation still going on.

Ten years ago a movement to save the rain forest seemed to have succeeded, stopping the devastation. But now it seems that food giants are pushing back and pushing hard into the Amazon forest. It seems that an appetite for soy products and other crops is raising the specter of a slide back. Food giants like the American Cargill are on the forefront of things.

2015 was the first year in a decade where deforestation rose compared to previous years. The culprit it seems is farmers cutting down the forest to supply Cargill with agricultural products. The other big giant in food is the other American called Bunge. These two giants seems to be responsible for the large-scale clearing of the forest that is seen now.

The loss of forest is detrimental to the climate as it is a contributor to climate change. The clearing of woodlands generates one-tenth of all global warming emissions as well. Only 15% of the world’s forest cover remains intact the rest having been cleared or degraded, wiping out ecosystems and displacing people in the process.

Most of the rain forest is in Brazil but a part of it is in Bolivia. In that country it is clear that securing food is more important than preserving the rain forest. And why not, as Bolivia is a poor country and the clearing of land means that people can work and eat.

If one adds to that the fact that companies seem to interpret legal texts that they have signed in a liberal way, most notably Cargill, one can see how the rain forest is still in danger. If the countries themselves are not careful in monitoring how the forest is exploited then it will be the end of the rain forest, and of course we will all suffer as climate change affects people globally, not only locally.

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