Tag Archives: climate change

Will the Great Barrier Reef survive?

The Great barrier Reef is the world’s largest living structure, being made up of 3800 individual reefs that stretch 2300km down the eastern coastline of Australia. A new study has found that 112 robust source reefs, only 3% of the entire system, had ideal properties to help in recovery of other reefs by spreading fertilized eggs to replenish depleted areas.

These reefs have the ability to survive more easily bleaching incidents and starfish outbreaks. Climate change is the culprit in bleaching incidents and the last time this happened in 2016 it killed 25% of the reef. This ability of the reef to heal itself is excellent news as climate change will not reverse itself any times soon.

Still, scientist are skeptical that the reefs could survive the long-term assault that climate change represents. And of course, animals that used to survive in one area of the reefs may not survive with other reefs. The long term viability is still not assured. Other measures such as climate mitigation, local management and coral re-seeding will be needed.

It should be noted that the reefs are part of Australia’s biggest drawing card as it generates 2 million annual visitors and contributes to enriching the Australian economy. Well worth saving for the future inhabitants of Australia and the world.

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The Totten glacier is melting.

For many years scientists thought that the Totten glacier was stable. Scientists thought that the glacier was in an area where warmer currents in the ocean would not affect it. No longer is this believed. They have discovered that the waters around the glacier were warmer than expected and thus, the glacier would melt the area that was underwater. The glacier is 75 miles in length and 19 miles wide.

Totten is the biggest glacier in the eastern part of Antarctica and its melting has the potential to contribute to the elevation of sea levels worldwide.

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Acidic oceans affecting sea life.

An eight-year study confirms that sea life will be affected by rising carbon dioxide emissions. This means that baby cod will be affected, with their numbers falling to a quarter of what they are now. Ocean acidification happens when CO2 from fossil fuels dissolves in seawater, producing carbonic acid and this will lower the ph of the water.

It is even possible that the changes could be made worse by an increase in pollution, more coastal development and over-fishing as well as climate change.

Already more than half of marines species tested react negatively to already moderate increases of CO2 concentrations. The early life stages of cod, blue mussels, starfish and sea urchins were affected. Some plants like algae may benefit from this change. More studies are planned to study the effect.

 

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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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