Tag Archives: climate change

Climate change affecting parasites.

We all know about animals that might face extinction due to climate change, but now scientists have discovered that even parasites could disappear, and that is not good. It is possible that in the next century 33% of them could be extinct.

Scientists know that parasites are not sexy and thus people will not miss them, but they are important to the world’s ecosystem. Entire food webs could be affected and this might even harm human health.

Even if some parasites are adversely affected by climate change scientists know that other will thrive. Some might move into new territory recently vacated by another. Deer ticks for example have a rosy future as many climate change models show them expanding northward.

Here is the scary part for humans; it is possible that some parasites are keeping down other parasites that could have more harmful effects on humans. New diseases could spring up threatening us. And all this from having more heat in the atmosphere than we should have…..


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Alaska’s permafrost is melting.

The permafrost in Alaska is melting and is starting to thaw. By 2050 much of this frozen carbon could be gone and will have contributed to climate change. It is in the Arctic that one can see the effects of climate change as the warming is twice as fast as in other parts of the planet.

The permafrost is a layer of ground that is usually always frozen. In Alaska, much of the ground underneath is permafrost. It extends a few feet below the surface to hundreds of feet below. It contains vast amounts of carbon in organic matter that has been frozen for decades and decades coming from vegetable matter. If this ancient carbon material begins to thaw, microbes will digest this and convert it into carbon dioxide and methane, two gases that contribute to global warming.

The problem of all this thawing is not only for the planet, but for the communities that live in those areas. What one sees is sagging infrastructures with the slumping of land as ice loses volume and turns into water. Roads and airport runways have now to be re-inforced with liquid-filled pipes that transfer heat out of the permafrost to prevent slumping.

Naturally, the thawing of the permafrost will be slow. There is a massive amount of carbon below the surface and the temperatures are still cold, but less so than before. It was a freezer before but now it is turning into a refrigerator. It will take milleniums before all the permafrost is thawed out. Perhaps before then our gas emisions will have fallen enough to prevent this man-made disaster from happening.

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Climate change affecting land in Africa.

You would think that Africa does not have a problem of good land, but it does. It is a problem now compounded by climate change as well as other factors such as more people, erosion, poaching and soil degradation.

In various parts of Africa people are on the move, desperate to find usable land as good farmland is diminishing. The problem is that the population is rising and the quality of land is going down. This in turn means competition for that good land and usually those with the guns get that land.

As most people in Africa live off the land, having too many people for that land that is getting rarer and rarer is a recipe for turmoil and war. The sizes of farms now are going down as the typical family is now larger. The slices of farmland are now smaller and it is harder to live off them. If one adds to the mix climate change and the fact that drought and desertification are on the rise one can see that the future is grim. Violence is in the cards. More and more countries in Africa will suffer from famines. This year three countries will suffer from this while in the past only one would suffer in a bad year.

In many areas the soil has dried up and is exhausted. Even with rain the quality of the soil is impacted. This means that many countries will have to rely on imports from abroad. If one adds the protection of wildlife to the mix it is clear that climate change is a problem not in the future but right now for most African countries. And private companies and investors are not helping as they are buying good farmland now knowing that it is diminishing rapidly and the price of that commodity will simply rise in the future, thereby increasing the difficulties for the average African farmer who has little money.


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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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