Fish struggle with warming oceans and acidification

December 28, 2021 by  
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Fish face a new threat — ocean acidification caused by global warming. In a recent study published in  Global Change Biology , researchers found that warming waters and acidification could adversely affect how fish interact in groups.  The project leader, Professor Ivan Nagelkerken from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute and Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories, says that tropical species are traveling toward Earth’s poles and finding new ways of interaction. “Fish show gregarious behaviour and cluster in shoals which helps them to acquire food and for protection against predators,” said Nagelkerken. “Many gregarious tropical species are shifting poleward under current ocean warming and interacting in new ways with fish in more temperate areas.” Related: Scientists discover parasite that eats and replaces fish tongues Researchers reviewed how fish species interact and behave in changing environments. They aimed to determine how the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere affects fish behavior. With CO2 already driving global temperatures high, oceans and seas have also been warming up. When the oceans warm, they also get acidified, which affects the behavior of fish and other sea creatures. “We found that tropical and temperate fish species tend to move to the right when coordinating together in a shoal especially when spooked by a predator, but this bias significantly diminished under ocean acidification,” said Angus Mitchell, a University of Adelaide Ph.D. student who was among the researchers. The study found that mixed shoals of tropical and temperate species were less cohesive under warm ocean conditions. They also showed less interest in escape, raising concerns over the coexistence of predator and prey. Professor David Booth from the University of Technology, Sydney says that these responses from fish are a result of stress from interacting with new species and having to stay in new territories. “Our findings highlight the direct effect of climate stressors on fish behaviour and the interplay with the indirect effects of new species interactions,” said Booth. According to said Nagelkerken, the survival of certain fish species is threatened under these conditions. “Strong shoal cohesion and coordinated movement affect the survival of a species: whether to acquire food or evade predators,” said Nagelkerken. “If the ability for fish to work together is detrimentally affected it could determine the survival of particular species in the oceans of the future. Tropical species may initially fare poorly when moving into new temperate areas.” Via Newswise Lead image Pixabay

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Fish struggle with warming oceans and acidification

Global warming is coming for polar bears

December 28, 2021 by  
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Global warming and receding ice sheets threaten the lives of polar bears. But that’s not where the issues end. A new study published in  Ecosphere  established that the foraging range for polar bears in the Beaufort Sea area has increased by 64% between 1999 and 2016 compared to the period 1986-1998. The change is being driven by food scarcity. The study was led by Anthony Pagano, a postdoctoral researcher at Washington State University. Pagano and his colleagues from the U.S. Geological Survey reviewed satellite data ranging from the 1980s and found that polar bears began moving further outside their range in search of food. Receding sea ice habitats pushed the bears north in search of food. Related: Polar bears get a big win as court dismisses Arctic oil drilling project The continental shelf where polar bears feed has shallow water that contains plenty of fish and seals. As the world warms, the ice sheet that makes up the shelf melts off, leading to a food shortage for the bears. As a result, the animals have to travel further for food. “Having to travel farther means these bears are expending more energy which can threaten their survival,” said Pagano. “If we want to preserve the habitat of these amazing mammals, then we need to focus on the root of the problem, which is slowing global climate change .” Researchers say the continental sea ice continues to recede earlier and further each year. This forces polar bears to follow the sea ice to find food . “The combined impact of having to move farther and farther north with the ice in the summer and then having to move back in the fall and winter as the ice freezes is taking a major toll,” Pagano said. “Our work highlights the worrying impact of sea ice decline on polar bear movement patterns.” The study also found that about 20% of the polar bear population in the Beaufort Sea area avoids the traditional sea ice hunting grounds entirely. The bears prefer moving inland to feed on other foods such as carrion, berries, and even whale carcasses left on the shore by humans. “Sometimes you’ll have 50 to 100 polar bears that congregate around these whale carcasses and compete with each other for food,” Pagano said. “As more and more bears move on land, I suspect there’ll be a lot more competition for these food resources and we’ll probably start seeing further decreases in abundance and survival.”   Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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Global warming is coming for polar bears

Climate change may be driving albatross divorces

December 2, 2021 by  
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Ever heard of an albatross divorce? A new study published in the journal Royal Society found that Black-browed albatrosses  may separate from their life partners due to global warming. According to the study, albatrosses are among a few species that mate for life, but climate change is affecting their mating. The research analyzed the mating patterns of over 15,000 albatross pairs in the Falkland Islands over 15 years. It found that, during the years when the average annual temperature was higher than normal, the albatross “divorce” rate spiked. This means that researchers recorded up to 8% of albatross pairs separating to find new mates. Related: These are the 67 best and worst countries for animal rights Typically, albatrosses mate for life and only divorce when unable to reproduce. Under usual circumstances, the albatross divorce rate ranges from 1-3%. In contrast, during warmer years, the divorce rate seems to rise. Researchers attribute the high divorce rate to various factors. According to the scientists, warm temperatures mean fewer phytoplankton in the waters. These organisms are vital to the marine ecosystem. When there is no sufficient food, albatrosses are likely to fly further and leave their mates behind in search of food. According to  Scientific American , phytoplankton help maintain the marine food chain and ecosystem. Scientists say these ecosystem imbalances drive the birds to fly further than usual. As a result, if a mate is late to return to its partner, the partner might pick up a different mate for reproduction. Francesco Ventura, a researcher at the University of Lisbon and study co-author, explained that there seems to be a serious lack of understanding between albatross partners due to these travels . “We propose this partner-blaming hypothesis ? with which a stressed female might feel this physiological stress, and attribute these higher stress levels to a poor performance of the male,” Ventura said. Recently, a smaller  study  found that birds in the Amazon are getting smaller in size thanks to global warming . These findings continue to sound the alarm bells for the world to address climate change. Via HuffPost Lead image via iStock

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Climate change may be driving albatross divorces

Climate change is destroying Indigenous rock art

November 17, 2021 by  
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Indigenous  rock  art has survived tens of thousands of years. But global warming might be the death of it. As extreme weather events like fires, cyclones, floods and erosion intensify, rock art fades and disappears. A report at a recent symposium declared the damage is now irreversible. The symposium was held Tuesday at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia , spurred by a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to the report, the global temperature is likely to rise above the 1.5 degrees Celsius target of the Paris Agreement. Expect more extreme, rock art-damaging weather. Related: 12 sustainable, Indigenous-owned brands to support Rock  art  sites are found around the world and consist of paintings, engravings, drawings, stencils, prints and carvings. They’re found inside caves and on boulders, on cliff walls and rocky overhangs. The imagery has lasting aesthetic and spiritual power and can provide insight into the lives of Indigenous groups around the world. Australia and Africa each have at least 100,000 rock art sites, some stretching back 28,000 years. India, China, Siberia, Mexico and France are just a few more of the places where rock art endures. Dr. Jillian Huntley, an archaeological scientist at Griffith University, studies Australasian rock art. Her focus stretches from Australia up into  Indonesia , with an emphasis on Sulawesi. Huntley has noticed that changing weather is making salt crystals expand and contract, causing rocks to collapse. Some of the world’s oldest paintings are threatened.  “Those temperature increases are felt at a rate three times the rest of the world,” Huntley said, as reported by The Guardian. “A 2.4C warming would be a 6C warming in the tropics, which would be absolutely catastrophic.” And there’s no time to wait. “Not net zero by 2050,” she said. “Net zero as soon as possible.” Natural disasters, weather and climate fluctuations are nothing new. But this time, human technology is rocketing the planet — including its  Indigenous  rock art — toward disaster. “Today, we’re in sort of a critical situation or critical juncture,” said Daryl Wesley, an archeologist at Flinders who has studied destruction wrought on rock art by one of Australia’s worst tropical cyclones. Via The Guardian , Getty Museum Lead image via Pixabay

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Climate change is destroying Indigenous rock art

Renewable energy is growing too slow to stop climate change

October 26, 2021 by  
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A new study published in  Nature Energy  shows that the growth rate for wind and solar power is lower than required to stop climate change. The study, conducted by the Chalmers University of Technology, Lund University in Sweden, and Central European University in Austria, has found that no country is moving fast enough to curb global warming from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius. The study found that the production of renewable energy has been increasing at a dismal rate.  The researchers reviewed renewable energy production in 60 countries and found that the growth rate for wind and solar was lower than required in almost all countries. According to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a 1.4-3% yearly growth rate for renewables is needed to keep global warming below 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius. Related: Wind is the leading source of renewable energy “This is the first time that the maximum growth rate in individual countries has been accurately measured, and it shows the enormous scale of the challenge of replacing traditional energy sources with renewables , as well as the need to explore diverse technologies and scenarios,” said Jessica Jewell, Associate Professor of Energy Transitions at the Chalmers University of Technology. In an analysis of the 60 largest countries, researchers found that the maximum growth rate for onshore wind power averages 0.8% of total electricity supply per year and 0.6% for solar. These figures are far lower than IPCC predictions. Among the countries reviewed, only smaller ones such as Portugal, Chile and Ireland managed significant growth rates above 2% for wind and 1.5% for solar. Aleh Cherp, professor of Environmental Sciences and Policy at Central European University and Lund University, says that the whole world is now behind schedule. According to the Paris Climate Accord , the world must keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius based on pre-industrial levels to prevent hazardous climatic occurrences. Unfortunately, sluggish progress has remained a stumbling block across the world. “Among larger countries, only Germany has so far been able to sustain growth of onshore wind power comparable with median climate stabilization scenarios. In other words, to stay on track for climate targets, the whole world should build wind power as fast as Germany built recently,” said Cherp. + Nature Energy Lead image via Pixabay

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Renewable energy is growing too slow to stop climate change

Climate clock ticks out shame for rich nations

September 22, 2021 by  
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Activists in  New York  are trying to shame rich countries into keeping an expensive promise to the Global South. A new version of a digital “climate clock” displayed in Union Square shows a climate-action timeline along with an amount rich countries still owe. These richer countries promised to invest $100 billion annually in a global  green energy  fund to help developing nations. According to one photo taken of the digital clock, those countries are wondering about the whereabouts of the other roughly $90.5 billion promised this year. Related: NYC Metronome clock now displays deadline for irreversible global warming The climate clock forms part of the backdrop in which the United Nations General Assembly began its meeting in New York on Monday. The U.N. recently labeled the sorry state of our climate as a “code red for humanity.” According to the clock, we have about seven years and 300 days to slash emissions before facing the worst climate  emergency . “The new IPCC report sent a clear, unequivocal message: we are in a  climate  emergency, and without drastic corrective action on track for climate catastrophe,” said Laura Berry, Climate Clock research and advocacy director, in a statement, as reported by Common Dreams. The original climate clock was unveiled last September. Organizers of the display aren’t impressed by the progress made since then. They’re especially irate that the U.S. has failed to honor its  financial  obligations. “ Africa  needs countries like the U.S.—that are the greatest contributors to the problem—to also contribute the most to helping solve it,” said Climate Clock global ambassador Jerome Ringo. “The United States is only 5% of the world’s population but is responsible for 25% of the world’s carbon emissions. We must contribute our fair share to the Green Climate Fund.” A lot of individuals and organizations are pessimistic about whether the richer countries will step up. Oxfam International estimated that “wealthy nations are expected to fall up to $75 billion short of fulfilling their longstanding pledge to mobilize $100 billion each year from 2020 to 2025 to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to the dangerous effects of climate change and reduce their  emissions .” Via Common Dreams Lead image via Pixabay

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Climate clock ticks out shame for rich nations

California climate policy at risk in recall election

September 10, 2021 by  
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California may risk its climate reform progress in the upcoming recall elections. On September 14, California residents will vote to either affirm Governor Gavin Newsom or elect a new governor. Many worry that a loss for Newsom would prove detrimental to both the state and national fights against climate change. For a long time, California has positioned itself as a leader in the fight against climate change . Past governors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown, and Newsom have enacted some substantial regulations to phase out fossil fuels. These gains may be lost if climate change deniers take office. Related: Petaluma becomes first US city to ban new gas stations Climate-friendly policies enacted by the past three regimes include shifting away from natural gas in home heating, limiting tailpipe pollution from cars and trucks, and requiring utilities to source 100% of their electricity from clean energy by 2045. California’s Air Resources Board has also been ordered to lower statewide emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Election rules state that if 50% of voters choose to recall, Newsom will lose his position as governor. In that case, the seat would go to whichever candidate earned the most votes, even if they didn’t get the majority of votes. Polls in the past week suggest growing support for Newsom. However, some remain skeptical due to competition. The leading Republican candidate, according to polls, is Larry Elder, a conservative radio host who has said that “ global warming alarmism is a crock.” Behind Elder is Republican businessman John Cox, who claims California’s climate policies are detrimental to the economy. Richard Frank, a professor of environmental law at the University of California, Davis, says “There’s the real potential for a huge shift in direction,” if Newsom loses the election. “California has had substantial influence over the direction of climate policy both nationally and internationally, and that could easily wane,” he added. Via The New York Times Lead image via Pixabay

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California climate policy at risk in recall election

The generational divides on climate anxiety

September 2, 2021 by  
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Different generations suffer from different anxieties, and those anxieties influence economic models. While Baby Boomers worry about rising inflation draining their retirement funds while they’re still aboveground, Gen Z is terrified that  climate change  means there will soon be no safe air to breathe nor water to drink. Older Americans suffer from price growth, which is the fastest it’s been for more than a decade. In a  Bankrate.com  survey published Wednesday, three-quarters of Baby Boomers said inflation has negatively impacted their  finances . Contrast that with 54% of Millennials and Gen Zers. Related: Biden unveils $2 trillion infrastructure and green economy plan Meanwhile, 37% of Gen Z called climate change a “top concern,” according to a Pew  Research  Center study. A third of Millennials agreed, while only 29% of Baby Boomers were as worried. Gen Zers are likelier to push for a green economy, inflation be damned. In that scenario, climate-friendly ventures would be rewarded, and those contributing to global warming, penalized. A  carbon  tax and a shift toward domestic production would have environmental upsides but could add to inflation. A new mental  health  issue, eco-anxiety, may further drive the green economy. While there’s not yet an official clinical diagnosis or definition, a team of clinicians is working on it. “The symptoms of clinical anxiety are the same,” said Navjot Bhullar, a professor of psychology at the University of New England in Australia, as reported by Verywell. “There’s a sense of dread or doom and not being able to concentrate, with a physical side of heart palpitations.” Of course, Gen Z is hardly the first generation to suspect the world was about to end. People have been predicting apocalyptic disasters throughout recorded history. Ever since World War Two, people have lived in fear of atomic bombs ending life on Earth. Generations who attended school between the 1950s and 1980s may remember practicing duck and cover drills, and some suffered from a mental health condition called nuclear anxiety. The difference this time? Well, the world does seem in more peril than ever, and we see the pollution, suffering, death and devastation on social media 24/7. That’s enough to spur climate dread in any generation. The green  economy  isn’t perfect. But it might be all we have. Via Business Insider , VeryWell Lead image via Ittmust

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How many trees are needed to offset a city’s carbon emissions?

August 26, 2021 by  
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Trees are nature’s lungs. While we enjoy their beauty, shade and fruits of their existence, they are silently working to clean the air. The natural process of all plants taking in carbon and releasing oxygen not only gives us clean air to breathe but also stores carbon that otherwise contributes to global warming . Countries around the world are in a race to find solutions for these types of greenhouse gases, which are a result of human activities like driving cars and manufacturing goods. While the push for electric vehicles and renewable energy through  solar panels , wind power and hydroelectricity takes the spotlight, another part of the solution equation is growing all around us in the form of trees. Related: Three Americans’ lifetime emissions enough to kill one person The simple fact is, planting trees is an exceptional tool in the fight against climate change. With this in mind,  Compare The Market  has presented its most recent research on the number of trees capital cities around the world would need to plant annually to offset the carbon emissions they contribute to the atmosphere. The study is based on information available through the Global Carbon Atlas Global City Emissions dataset, which measures emissions levels. While major cities work to reverse, slow down and stop the creation of these carbon emissions, what is the estimated number of trees it would take to counterbalance them? Which countries are the highest contributors and which have the lowest  environmental  impact? According to the data, Asia has some work to do. Five of the ten top carbon-emitting capital cities are in Asia. Note that for comparative purposes, the dataset measures transport, industrial,  waste  and local power plants emissions within city boundaries. The report combined data to show the total amount of carbon produced alongside the number of trees it would take to offset it. For example, the five cities in Asia, which include Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, release a combined 219,506,539 tCO2 annually. The cities would have to plant 43,901,308 trees each year to offset those emissions. Individually, Beijing would need to plant 15,020,976 trees, followed by Singapore with 9,366,336 and Hong Kong with 8,975,292. Tokyo needs a 5,522,200-plant offset and Seoul 5,016,504. Other cities in the top 10 were Istanbul, Lagos, Santiago, London and Mexico City.  An energy spokesperson at Compare The Market comments, “Becoming carbon neutral is an essential goal for countries around the world, and as pledges roll in to reach this target by 2050 and beyond, immediate action is needed. One way we have studied is to offset emissions by planting trees which is great for absorbing CO2, with added benefits of supporting the ecosystem and  wildlife .” The tree offset calculation is based on information sourced from Carbonify.com’s carbon dioxide emissions calculator. The estimates are based on the assumption that five  trees  planted can clean up each ton of carbon dioxide produced.  The study stated, “A tree planted in the humid tropics absorbs on average 50 pounds (22 kg) of carbon dioxide annually over 40 years – each tree will absorb 1 ton of CO2 over its lifetime; but as trees grow, they compete for resources and some may die or be destroyed – not all will achieve their full carbon sequestration potential.” On the other end of the data spectrum are the countries performing better in the battle of low carbon emissions. For these results, a few substitutions were made in the face of missing data. Toronto, Milan and Basel were substituted to include Canada, Italy and Switzerland in the study. Reykjavik, Iceland was the least carbon-emitting capital in the study with total emissions of 346,630 tCO2 per year. The city would still have some work to do, planting 69,326 trees annually to offset its footprint. Of all the cities in the study, Reykjavik was the only one to come in below the 500,000 tCO2-produced mark. Even though nearly 70,000 is still a lot of trees, it was also the only city to have an estimate below 100,000 trees per year to offset carbon emissions. New Zealand took second place for carbon control with annual emissions of 621,179 tCO2. For Wellington to neutralize this, it will have to plant 124,236 trees a year. Basel, Switzerland, had the third-lowest number to plant at 156,786 trees to offset its 783,932 tCO2 footprint. Every other city in the study came in at over 200,000 trees a year. The study provides one tool in an array of options to reduce carbon release. Planting trees alone isn’t a sustainable solution, but neither is focusing solely on renewable energy or  recycling . To achieve goals set by world leaders, it will take a combination of actions across a range of environmental fields.  “The number of trees required may seem very high in cities like Beijing which would need to plant over 15 million trees, but this is if we only used plant power alone. There are many other initiatives and technologies in place, like the government incentives, which present lots of opportunities to offset carbon emissions on a small and large scale,” the spokesman said. + Compare The Market Images via Pixabay

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How many trees are needed to offset a city’s carbon emissions?

After 40 years, blue whales are returning to Spain

August 25, 2021 by  
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Blue whales have started returning to the coast of Spain 40 years after they vacated. The world’s largest mammals have been spotted on the coast of Galicia in northwest Spain several times since 2017. First, marine biologist Bruno Díaz spotted a blue whale in 2017, the first sighting of a blue whale in Galicia since the 1980s. In 2018, a different whale was spotted, followed by another in 2019. In 2020, two whales were spotted and identified by marine biologists as the ones from previous years. Just a week ago, a different blue whale was spotted off the Islas Cíes. Díaz says that blue whales vacated the coast of Spain due to human actions. Related: Humpback whales in Alaska thrive in absence of cruise ships “I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz said. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.” Spain enjoyed one of the most robust whaling industries for over a century before the ban. Unfortunately, by the time the ban arrived in 1986, blue whales in Spain were virtually extinct . The return of the blue whale to Spain may sound like good news to many, but some experts remain skeptical. Alfredo López, a marine biologist at a Galician NGO, says the whales’ return is likely due to climate change. “I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” López told the newspaper La Voz de Galicia. López worries that if the mammals are pushed further north of the equator due to global warming, they may run out of habitat in the future. Díaz has a different school of thought, arguing that other factors may influence blue whale migration . He notes that recent studies indicate whales migrate based on their memory of places they have been to before. He speculates that they may have remembered their ancestral home. “In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” Díaz said. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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After 40 years, blue whales are returning to Spain

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