Diary of destruction and healing
THOSE WHO LOVE GOD SURELY RECKON the delights this planet has to offer as second only to the gift of salvation for the joy they impart; climate change is threatening to rob them of their pleasure and rob the world of this testimony to the glory of God. Who can help but mourn at the atrocities being committed every day against the earth and its denizens by human beings in thrall to greed. Or at the environmental havoc being wrought by hapless souls struggling to survive in a world that doesn't care enough to help them do so without damaging their surroundings. Who can help but thrill to hear of progress being made to check the destruction and reverse the damage being done.
If you have any items that can be added, positive or negative, to the "Diary of destruction and healing" and its symptoms, or the list of restoration projects below, please email us.
Please note that this diary does not include mention of the many predictions being made about future environmental problems. It is limited to cataloging actual developments.
For a contrary view on the state of the world, see "A TRAJECTORY OF PROGRESS - AN UP-BEAT GRAND NARRATIVE OF THE HUMAN RACE". What do you think?
18th March: A colourful spot of good news! After nearly four decades of going AWOL, a brilliantly colourful sea slug, Felimare californiensis, is making a comeback in mainland Californian waters. According to a AC Santa Barbara post, "In the 1970's, the abundant F. californiensis started to disappear from Southern California, and by 1984, was extinct in the region...
12th March: Canada boasts the largest amount of glacier ice after Greenland and Antarctica. That ice is now melting fast. "In the past few years, the mass of the glaciers in the Canadian Arctic archipelago has begun to plummet. Observations from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites suggest that from 2004 to 2011 the region's glaciers shed approximately 580 gigatons of ice. Aside from glacier calving, which plays only a small role in Canadian glacier mass loss, the drop is due largely to a shift in the surface-mass balance, with warming-induced meltwater runoff outpacing the accumulation of new snowfall."
22nd January: Rising temperatures are affecting glaciers in the tropical Andes. "Since the 1970s, glaciers in tropical Andes have been melting at a rate unprecedented in the past 300 years. Globally, glaciers have been retreating at a moderate pace as the planet warmed after the peak of the Little Ice Age, a cold period lasting from the 16th to the mid-19th century. Over the past few decades, however, the rate of melting has increased steeply in the tropical Andes. Glaciers in the mountain range have shrunk by an average of 30-50% since the 1970s…".
16th January: Old records are demonstrating the reality of current climate change trends. In the nineteenth century, American naturalists, Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, kept meticulous notes about many things natural, including the flowering time of plants. Their records show that many native plants in the eastern United States are now flowering up to a month earlier than they did back in their days. The reason seems axiomatic.
14th January: Temperature data from around the world are showing that, "Monthly temperature extremes have become much more frequent… On average, there are now five times as many record-breaking hot months worldwide than could be expected without long-term global warming".
8th January: A report released by the NOAA shows that for the contiguous United States, 2012 the "average annual temperature of 55.3°F was 3.2°F above the 20 th century average, and was the warmest year in the 1895-2012 period of record for the nation. The 2012 annual temperature was 1.0°F warmer than the previous record warm year of 1998."
26th December: Although not everybody would celebrate this news, those who love God's handiworks certainly will. Tigers are making a comeback in three "key landscapes" in India, Thailand, and Russia.
23rd December: A recent article in the journal "Nature Geoscience" reports that "the western part of the [Antarctic] ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought". The dire implication of this fact is simple enough: "… the region could make an even bigger contribution to sea level rise than it already does".
7th December: It's a wonder we don't all have a nervous breakdown what with the continuation of bad news about the environment. A new report in the journal "Science" tells us about "an alarming increase in deathrates among trees 100-300 years old in many of the world's forests, woodlands, savannahs, farming areas and even in cities… Without… policy changes, large old trees will diminish or disappear in many ecosystems, leading to losses of their associated biota and ecosystem functions".
5th December: According to the NOAA website, "The Arctic region continued to break records in 2012—among them the loss of summer sea ice, spring snow cover, and melting of the Greenland ice sheet".
4th December: According to a study publicshed in "Biodiversity and Concervation" journal, "About 75 percent of Africa's savannahs and more than two-thirds of the lion population once estimated to live there have disappeared in the last 50 years". The study lays the blame for the loss at the massive deforestation caused by increasing human population.
29th November: Perhaps the major bone of contention in the climate change debate revolves around the question of whether or not human activity plays any role in what is now almost universally accepted as a fact — that climate is indeed changing. Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have now authoritatively pronounced that "tropospheric and stratospheric temperature changes are clearly related to human activities".
29th November: In a report that will rattle the cages of climate change skeptics, the World Meteorological Organization has just reported that "climate change is taking place before our eyes". In 2012, the Arctic reached its lowest annual sea ice extent since satellite records began to be kept. "Weather and climate extremes" are affecting many parts of the world on an unprecedented scale.
28th November: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a report reviewing the most up-to-date research on Arctic permafrost. The news is definitely not good, informing us that large-scale thawing of the permafrost has probably already begun. According to a New Scientist report on the report, "We may be closer to a major climate tipping point than we knew. Earth's permafrost – frozen soil that covers nearly a quarter of the northern hemisphere and traps vast amounts of carbon – may be melting faster than thought and releasing more potent greenhouse gasses."
27th November: Scientists from the IPCC have been alarmed to discover that sea levels are rising faster than predicted. "While temperature rises appear to be consistent with the projections made in the IPCC's fourth assessment report (AR4), satellite measurements show that sea-levels are actually rising at a rate of 3.2 mm a year compared to the best estimate of 2 mm a year in the report."
25th November: Scientists have long been concerned about potential impacts of the rising level of ocean acidification. Now for the first time evidence is coming to light of its effect. According to a press release from the British Antarctic Survey, "The shells of marine snails – known as pteropods – living in the seas around Antarctica are being dissolved by ocean acidification according to a new study published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience . These tiny animals are a valuable food source for fish and birds and play an important role in the oceanic carbon cycle."
2nd November: In the Pacific Northwest, meadows are disappearing and trees are moving in to take their place. A recent analysis of Jefferson Park, a subalpine meadow complex in the central Oregon Cascade Range, shows that "tree occupation rose from 8 percent in 1950 to 35 percent in 2007". And yes, what else can you pin this development on other than climate change?
29th October: On this day, Hurricane Sandy, the Frankenstorm of all storms, and the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, hit New York and New Jersey with unprecendented ferocity. The damage bill is estimated to exceed $20 billion. Many thousands lost their power for days, bringing misery to all those affected. But let us not worry: everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Yeh, sure.
23rd October: It's enough to give great hope to climate-change skeptics. While Arctic sea ice is famously dwindling, Antarctic sea ice is quietly growing. "A new NASA study shows that from 1978 to 2010 the total extent of sea ice surrounding Antarctica in the Southern Ocean grew by roughly 6,600 square miles every year, an area larger than the state of Connecticut." Climate scientists, however, are warning against hubris on the part of skeptics, saying that "the fact that some areas of the Southern Ocean are cooling and producing more sea ice does not disprove a warming climate." The point out that, "Climate does not change uniformly: The Earth is very large and the expectation definitely would be that there would be different changes in different regions of the world… That's true even if overall the system is warming."
18th October: A recent report demonstrates the impact of even small increases in temperature due to global warming. Scientists have linked the major decline in fish stock near Venezuela to changes in trade wind intensity which are in turn linked to small temperature changes in low latitudes.
2nd October: Scientists report that Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef has lost about 50% of its coral since 1985 due to storm activity, predation by the crown-of-thorns starfish, and bleaching. All these "causes", of course, are themselves indicators that something very sinister is going on.
28th September: Bad news for climate skeptics. The much-quoted Medieval Warm Period, supposedly showing that today's warming trend is nothing more than part of a natural cycle, was not what it is claimed to be. New evidence shows that, "The Medieval Warm Period was not as uniformly warm as we once thought — we can start calling it the Medieval Period again".
5th September: We all know that glaciers are melting, but the latest findings concerning the rate of glacial melt in Patagonian icefields is alarming. According to a Cornell University study, "the rate of glacier thinning has increased by about half over the last dozen years in the Southern Patagonian Icefield, compared to the 30 years prior to 2000".
27th August: A new record has been set; Arctic sea ice has reached the lowest extent every recorded.
19th August: Records made by the Massachusetts Butterfly Club provide clear evidence of a warming trend in New England. Warm-climate butterflies that used to be rare in the area are increasing in number.
15th August: "Melting over the Greenland ice sheet shattered the seasonal record on August 8 -- a full four weeks before the close of the melting season, reports Marco Tedesco, assistant professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences at The City College of New York." (Greenland Melting Breaks Record Four Weeks Before Season's End)
10th August? Good news or bad news? Well, that depends on whether you are sanguine or melancholic. Yippee. The rate of extinction of North American freshwater fish species has leveled in the past decade. Moan and groan. "The number of extinct species has grown by 25 percent since 1989".
8th August: We should all hope that climate change skeptics are on the money. However, they are finding their faith coming under increasing strain. "According to NOAA scientists, the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the nation. The previous warmest July for the nation was July 1936 when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4°F. The warm July temperatures contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895."
8th August: Climate change produces complex effects; it's not simply a matter of temperatures going up in all places simultaneously. In parts of the Rocky Mountains climate change is producing late spring snow falls. The results could be disastrous for the Columbian ground squirrel. These snows have set back its emergence time from hibernation by ten days over the past twenty years. According to a recent report, "Losing just 10 days during their short active period reduces their opportunity to eat enough food so they can survive through the next hibernation period of eight to nine months". Heads up for squirrel lovers: better go see one now before they are gone forever.
6th August: "A new statistical analysis by NASA scientists has found that Earth's land areas have become much more likely to experience an extreme summer heat wave than they were in the middle of the 20th century." (See "Research Links Extreme Summer Heat Events to Global Warming")
4th July: It may be of little interest to most people that leaves are getting narrower in some species of plants, but scientists are concerned about the significance of this newly-found phenomenon. Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia have found that "recent climate change is causing leaves of some Australian plants to narrow in size... Climate change is often discussed in terms of future impacts, but changes in temperature over recent decades have already been ecologically significant."
3rd July: It's not all doom and gloom; Pakistan's iconic mammal species, the markhor, is making a remarkable comeback from its endangered status due to conservation efforts. Since 1999, the total population in one region where detailed studies have been made over time has risen from around 1000 individuals to 1500. Keep up the good work.
27th June: A shocking report in the journal "Ecohydrology" tells of the massive loss of pinyon pine and juniper trees in the American Southwest during the past fifteen years; major dieback of these trees has occurred over an area of 2.5 million acres. As if this loss of trees was not bad enough in its own right, what it portends is even more scary. "The widespread dieback of these tree species is a special concern, scientists say, because they are some of the last trees that can hold together a fragile ecosystem, nourish other plant and animal species, and prevent serious soil erosion. The major form of soil erosion in this region is wind erosion. Dust blowing from eroded hills can cover snowpacks, cause them to absorb heat from the sun and melt more quickly, and further reduce critically-short water supplies in the Colorado River basin." When will we rise from our collective stupor and take some collective affirmative action?
18th June: May, 2012, was the second warmest May, globally, since records began to be kept in 1880. The same report informs us that, "May 2012 also marks the 36 th consecutive May and 327 th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average".
14th June: In a remarkable reversal of the usual trend towards loss of species, scientists report in the Journal of Wildlife Management that cougars are returning into areas in the US Midwest that had been cougar-free for many years, with "the number of confirmations steadily increasing between 1990 and 2008".
11th June: Are humans really responsible for global warming? Skeptics insist that warming is a result of natural cycles. One study of ocean warming shows strong evidence that human activity is implicated.
11th June: Human recreational fishing is having a major deleterious impact on ecosystems. A recent study shows that Cape Cod marshes are dying-off due to the removal of predator species by anglers.
11th June: Increasing temperatures are leading to a greening of the Arctic. "The results show that most plants in the Arctic have grown taller, and the proportion of bare ground has decreased. Above all, there has been an increase in evergreen shrubs."
6th June: Scientists have been surprised to find that global warming is turning shrubs into trees in the Arctic tundra. "In just a few decades shrubs in the Arctic tundra have turned into trees as a result of the warming Arctic climate, creating patches of forest which, if replicated across the tundra, would significantly accelerate global warming."
17th May: A comprehensive, multi-pronged study by University of Melbourne researchers of temperatures in Australia over the past 1000 years has shown that warming has been most pronounced since 1950. Of greater significance, the study also shows that "recent warming in a 1000 year context is highly unusual and cannot be explained by natural factors alone, suggesting a strong influence of human-caused climate change in the Australasian region."
16th May: The tropical belt is widening. Earth scientists at the University of California report that "the tropics have widened by 0.7 degrees latitude per decade". They blame man-made pollutants for the increase.
9th May: A shocking report reveals that 12% of grouper species "are at risk of extinction if current overfishing trends continue", while another 13% are Near Threatened. (One-Quarter of Grouper Species Being Fished to Extinction)
7th May: The evidence that our planet is warming continues to flood in. According to the journal "Climatic Change", "Lakes in the undeveloped High Peaks area of the Adirondack Park are covered with ice for significantly shorter periods than they were 32 years ago, providing evidence that climate change is occurring rapidly and that not even the most pristine wilderness areas are immune".
7th May: Man gives, and man takes away. While most of the news concerning the status of the world's biodiversity is grim, the occasional ray of hope shines through. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers have begun returning captive-bred specimens of America's rarest snake — the Louisian pine snake — back to the wild.
2nd May: Very intriguing. Studies show that streams in the western United States are not warming in lockstep with the rise in air temperature. This surprising result probably shows that "the relationship between air temperatures and stream temperatures may be more complex than previously realized".
5th April: As ESA's Envisat satellite marks ten years in orbit, it continues to observe the rapid retreat of one of Antarctica's ice shelves due to climate warming.
3rd April: March was the warmest month on record for the contiguous United States. "Temperatures over the U.S. averaged 2.82 C (almost 5.1 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal in March."
3rd April: Cost Antarctic Bottom Water is disappearing at an alarming rate. Is it a cause or an effect of global warming?
1st April: The ocean has been warming for at least one hundred years, according to a new study. Intriguingly, the study shows that "the magnitude of the temperature change since the 1870s is twice that observed over the past 50 years".
21st March: All three species of Antarctic penguins are experiencing population changes; gentoo penguin numbers are on the rise, while the other two species are declining all too rapidly. Scientists equate the changes with warming in the region.
22nd February: Clouds have dropped in altitude by 1% over the past decade, telling us that something significant is going on. Though a sign of bad things happening, the phenomenon could be good news! "A consistent reduction in cloud height would allow Earth to cool to space more efficiently, reducing the surface temperature of the planet and potentially slowing the effects of global warming. This may represent a "negative feedback" mechanism — a change caused by global warming that works to counteract it."
1st February: Scientists have shown that global warming can produce colder climates locally. See Less Summer Arctic Sea Ice Cover Means Colder, Snowier Winters in Central Europe.
10th January: Elk are living longer and longer in higher elevations due to you-know-what, according to the journal "Nature Climate Change". The impact on plant and bird communities is dramatic.
8th January: The evidence contines to mount. A comprehensive study of 17 mountain areas in Europe conducted over the past ten years has shown a definitive change in mountain vegetation has occurred over the period. As reported in "Nature Climate Change", the results show "clear and statistically significant evidence of a continent-wide warming effect on mountain plant communities".
8th December: Duke University researchers report that tropical birds in South America are moving to higher altitudes due to climate change.
17th November: Climate-change skeptics need to think again, according to a recent study aimed at "separating signal and noise in climate warming", which "saw a clear signal of human-induced warming of the planet".
15th November: "The first climate study to focus on variations in daily weather conditions has found that day-to-day weather has grown increasingly erratic and extreme, with significant fluctuations in sunshine and rainfall affecting more than a third of the planet" (Erratic, Extreme Day-To-Day Weather Puts Climate Change in New Light).
9th November: The combined heating effect of greenhouse gases continues to rise, according to the NOAA's Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI). In 2010 the effect was 29% higher than in 1990, which has been taken as the "index year". This compares with a 27% increase for 2009.
3rd November: Trees are on the march across much of the US West in response to climate change. Described as a "huge migration", scientists tell us that "many species that were once able to survive and thrive are losing their competitive footholds, and opportunistic newcomers will eventually push them out".
28th October: In the last 20 years, 10 of the driest 12 winters have taken place in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Investigators are pinning the increase at least partly on manmade climate change.
15th September: Arctic sea ice cover in 2011 is the second lowest on record.
14th September: In a rare bit of environmental good news, research shows that improved fishing equipment has contributed to a 90% drop in accidental sea turtle deaths in US coastal waters.
10th Septermber: Scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, N.C, report that the USA has just experienced its second warmest summer on record. Southern states are suffering under a record-breaking drought. The average U.S. temperature in August was 75.7 degrees F, which is 3.0 degrees above the long-term (1901-2000) average, while the summertime temperature was 74.5 degrees F, which is 2.4 degrees above average.
25th August: What is going on? Over the past eighteen years, according to data from Jason-1, Jason-2 and Topex/Poseidon spacecraft, sea level has gradually risen around the world, exactly as climate-change advocates have been warning. But something went bump in the night during 2010 — sea levels actually dropped by almost 1/4 inch. Are the climate-change skeptics right after all? See NASA Satellites Detect Pothole On Road to Higher Seas.
18th August: Greenland Glacier Melting Faster Than Expected
28th July: Analysis of effects of Arctic wildfires on carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere have been released. The news is not good. See also Largest Recorded Tundra Fire Yields Scientific Surprises.
28th July: Good news. Fish stocks off the east coast of Canada are bouncing back. See Cod Resurgence in Canadian Waters
27th July: Fires keep us warm, but they can also exacerbate global carbon dioxide release from carbon reservoirs. "After a 10,000-year absence, wildfires have returned to the Arctic tundra, and a University of Florida study shows that their impact could extend far beyond the areas blackened by flames." (Tundra Fires Could Accelerate Climate Warming)
25th July: Big fish are in big trouble. See Double Jeopardy: Tuna and Billfish
31st May: Nature fights back against increased carbon dioxide levels — as one would expect when you understand that it was intelligently designed. As carbon dioxide levels increase, eventually various mechanisms will kick into gear to bring tbem back to normal. A recent study shows that as temperatures rise, trees become able to store more carbon in their tissues, thus acting as a more efficient carbon sink.
4th May: Climate change is affecting the Arctic faster than thought. A recent report says that, "The changes we see are dramatic. And they are not coincidental. The trends are unequivocal and deviate from the norm when compared with a longer term perspective".
4th April: Good news or bad news? The number of leatherback turtle nests on Florida beaches has been increasing by 10.2% per year since 1979. Good news? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on what is causing the increase. The trouble is, nobody knows whether the rise is due to conservation efforts or to an imbalanced marine ecosystem. As a recent report tells it, "Changing ocean conditions linked to climate variability may be altering the marine food web and creating an environment that favors turtles by reducing the number of predators and increasing the abundance of prey, particularly jellyfish." In addition, the collapse of the shark population in the northwest Atlantic over the past decade may play a significant role in turtle recovery.
29th March: Great news (unless you are a deer). Due to conservation efforts, tiger numbers are on the increase in India.
25th March: The composition of Russia's extensive boreal forests — covering an area as large as the contiguous USA — is changing in response to climate change. "The boreal forest, particularly in Siberia, is converting from predominantly needle-shedding larch trees to evergreen conifers in response to warming climate", says Jacquelyn Shuman, lead author of a study on the subject published recently in the journal Global Change Biology.
25th March: Citizens of northern parts of the USA — get ready for the invasion! Kudzu is on its way to a place near you. Well, it is moving north, but just how far it gets depends on the continuation or otherwise of climate change.
17th March: Studies of the 2010 heat wave that struck eastern Europe and much of Russia have shown it to be the most intense in the past 500 years. Scientists predict that "the probability of a summer experiencing 'mega-heatwaves' will increase by a factor of 5 to 10 within the next 40 years".
14th March: The past super-cold winter in North America may be due to global warming! See "Arctic on the verge of record ozone loss".
11th March: Japan has been hit by a massive tsunami, with a huge loss of life (numbered in the multiple thousands) and a number of nuclear reactors being severely damaged. Time alone will reveal the environmental consequences of the damage to the nuclear reactors.
3rd March: The annual Spring Diatom Increase (SDI) is now occurring up to fifty days earlier than it used to in parts of the Arctic. Researchers say, "Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, along with colleagues in Portugal and Mexico, plotted the yearly spring bloom of phytoplankton -- tiny plants at the base of the ocean food chain — in the Arctic Ocean and found the peak timing of the event has been progressing earlier each year for more than a decade". Nobody knows what impacts the earlier blooming will have on the marine food chain.
28th February: Lodgepole pines, adapted to cold conditions, are disappearing over large areas as climate change bites hard.
25th February: People allergic to ragweed pollen have just received bad news. A new report shows that, "Ragweed pollen in some parts of the northern United States and Canada now lingers almost a month longer than it did in 1995." And yes, the longer ragweed season has been definitively linked with climate change in the higher latitudes.
22nd February: Climate change has already begun to affect world supplies, and has enormous potential for worse to come. For example, in 2005, when waters around Alaska reached 15 degrees, an oubreak of Vibrio affected fish stocks. (See Climate Change Affecting Food Safety.)
22nd February: Some good news among all the bad. Comparison of the growth rates of an Antarctic species of bryozoans today with records going back to 1901 show that their growth more than doubled after 1990, locking away more carbon dioxide on the seabed in their "shells".
20th February: Alaska's giant carbon sinks are diminishing due to climate change and ensuing fires. American and Canadian researchers report that "... climate change is causing wildfires to burn larger swaths of Alaskan trees and to char the groundcover more severely, turning the black spruce forests of Alaska from repositories of carbon to generators of it. And the more carbon dioxide they release, the greater impact that may have in turn on future climate change. "
3rd February: 2010 saw the second severe drought in just five years. And scientists say that this latest is probably one of the worst ever. Dr Simon Lewis says, "Having two events of this magnitude in such close succession is extremely unusual, but is unfortunately consistent with those climate models that project a grim future for Amazonia" (Two Severe Amazon Droughts in Five Years Alarms Scientists).
28th January: North Atlantic water flowing into the Arctic Ocean are the warmest in at least 2000 years. Scientists propose that this warming trend lies behind the decrease in Arctic sea ice thickness in recent years.
14th January: The warming trend seems relentless. 2010 is tied with 2005 for the warmest year on record.
11th December: Interesting. Despite a 30-year warming trend, the last three years in the Bering Sea have been the coldest on record! And Europe is experiencing a record-breaking cold December, with temperatures in Poland down to -33F. After ten years of savage drought, eastern Australia is awash after experiencing one of the wettest springs on record. Is all this evidence that global warming is a blip on the radar screen of history or that it is settling down for the long haul? The evidence can be interpreted either way.
10th December: A new study by researchers from Texas A&M University reports that the greenhouse effect will grow worse in future decades as a result of "cloud feedback". "Andrew Dessler, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, says that warming due to increases in greenhouse gases will cause clouds to trap more heat, which will lead to additional warming. This process is known as the "cloud feedback" and is predicted to be responsible for a significant portion of the warming over the next century."
9th December: It's not all bad news. A new computer model illuminates a negative feedback in the seemingly endless list of positive feedbacks (it's about time!) in global warming. "A new NASA computer modeling effort has found that additional growth of plants and trees in a world with doubled atmospheric carbon dioxide levels would create a new negative feedback -- a cooling effect -- in the Earth's climate system that could work to reduce future global warming."
6th December: Yet another positive feedback in the global warming trend. " Climate change is causing wildfires to burn more fiercely, pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than previously thought". A new study shows that forest fires in Alaska over the past decade have released much more carbon into the atmosphere than was stored by the region's forests over the same period.
29th November: Lakes are warming! "In the first comprehensive global survey of temperature trends in major lakes, NASA researchers determined Earth's largest lakes have warmed during the past 25 years in response to climate change. "
17th November: Global warming could lead to some serious cooling on a large scale. See Global Warming Could Cool Down Northern Temperatures in Winter
8th October: Common frog populations across the United Kingdom are crashing. See Killer Disease Decimates UK Frog Populations
5th October: Fish are on the move in south-eastern Australia. Significant changes in the range and distribution of many fish species in waters off south-eastern Australia indicate effects of global warming. See Climate Change Hits Southeast Australia Fish Species
5th October: Freshwater is flowing into Earth's oceans in greater amounts every year, a team of researchers has found, thanks to more frequent and extreme storms linked to global warming.
1st October: A recent report by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies underscores the perils of taking local temperatures as an indication of the state of the globe as a whole. Detailed studies show, for instance, that in spite of last winter's extreme cold in many parts of North America, it was the second-warmest on record for the world as a whole.
1st October: The world's rivers are in crisis "of ominous proportions" due to a combination of factors, including pollution, introduction of exotic species, etc. Since fresh water is regarded as the world's "most essential natural resource", the crisis has enormous implications for the entire human race.
7th September: At last, a glimmer of hope in the midst of all the bad news. Recent satellite data indicates that the Greenland and West Antarctic ice caps are melting at half the predicted speed.
5th September: While doomsayers are predicting the collapse of the global economy due to climate change and its consequences, some claim that climate change will herald a new age of prosperity — at least for some parts of the world. UCLA geographer Laurence Smith forecasts boom times for areas of the world currently rendered unproductive due to permanent cold. Warmer conditions will turn them into a future bread basket. The downside is that the ecology of those regions will suffer serious change.
17th August: If the trend of global temperatures between January and July continues, 2010 will go down as the warmest year on record.
28th July: This is serious stuff. Recent research shows that phytoplankton has been declining by perhaps 1% per year since the 1950s in the Northern Hempiphere. That doesn't sound like much until you do the calculations and realize that this translates into a 40% decline so far. Daniel Boyce, lead author of the report, says, "Phytoplankton is the fuel on which marine ecosystems run. A decline of phytoplankton affects everything up the food chain, including humans."
16th July: Global warming is killing off a major coral species in the Red Sea. (Global Warming Slows Coral Growth in Red Sea)
2nd May: A sunken drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico that went down in late April is releasing about 42,000 gallons of crude per day into the sea. President Obama is warning that we could be in the process of watching an unprecedented environmental disaster unfolding before our eyes.
17th February: Recent research shows that permafrost is receding rapidly in the James Bay region of Canada. The southern limit of permanently frozen ground, or permafrost, is now 130 kilometers further north than it was 50 years ago.
22nd January: NASA scientists report that the past year tied as the second warmest year on record since 1880. It was the warmest year on record for the Southern Hemisphere.
14th January: We have been told that the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere is continuing to rise. A recent study asserts that, "Despite the predictions of coupled climate-carbon cycle models, no trend in the airborne fraction can be found". In short, taking into account the uncertainties associated with the measurement of atmospheric CO2, "the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades" (Is the Airborne Fraction of Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Increasing?).
6th January: Is global warming faltering? Or could the naysayers be right after all? Across the northern hemisphere, it would seem, winter is colder and wetter (or snowier) than it has been in a long time. From Scotland to Mongolia, temperatures have plummeted and the snow has fallen thick. Beijing has experienced the heaviest snowfalls since 1951, while Seoul, in South Korea, has had the heaviest fall on record. Traffic in Britain has been brought to a standstill by huge dumps. The eastern part of the USA is likewise feeling the brunt of unusual conditions, with part of New England experiencing record falls, and some farmers in the south facing possible ruin. Weather forecasters are predicting that the mercury will drop below zero in St Louis for the first time since 1999. Meanwhile, parts of north-eastern Australia are enjoying/enduring some of the heaviest rains in many years; at the same time, Western Australia is in the grip of a heat wave that is producing savage fires. While global-warming skeptics are shouting loudly, "See, we told you so", the Chinese government is blaming the severe winter on global warming. Is the widespread freak weather evidence for or against global warming? One thing is for sure, it certainly suggests that climate change is a stark reality.
22nd December: Over eighty people have died in unusually cold winter conditions in Europe. (Cold weather wreaks havoc across Europe) Hmm. Certainly giving global-warming skeptics ammunition.
21st December: What more can be said? What more was expected? The Copenhagen summit has ended in total disaster. As one Greenpeace spokesman put it, Copenhagen is a crime scene from which all the culprits are speeding to the airport. If the future of the planet's climate is in the hands of politicians, as many scientists believe, the future looks bleak indeed.
18th December: Serious questions are being raised as to the accuracy of climate predictions, adding fuel to the contentious debate over what's really going on with the world's climate. You really shoud read "Chicken or Egg Question Looms Over Climate Debate".
15th December: Scientists are alarmed at the rapid rate of melting of earth's "third pole" — the Tibetan plateau's covering of ice. According to a recent article, "Tibet's glaciers are retreating at an alarming rate... Black soot is probably responsible for as much as half of the glacial melt, and greenhouse gases are responsible for the rest." The soot increase is attributed to "carbon emissions in Europe and South Asia".
8th December: Leading politicians from around the world, including many heads of state, are gathering in Copenhagen today to begin discussions on reducing carbon emissions. (See, for instance, Copenhagen climate summit.) Many see this summit as make-or-break — if a substantial, effective agreement is not hammered out, the world can expect a climate catastrophe. Others, such as James Hansen, the Nasa scientist who has repeatedly provided evidence on climate change to the US Congress and is one of the world's pre-eminent experts on global warming, "has controversially suggested that it would be better for the Copenhagen talks to collapse than result in nations committing to emission cuts that will not go far enough to help avert dangerous levels of climate change." (See Hansen hopes Copenhagen talks fail.)
26th November: According to the just-released Copenhagen Diagnosis, the impact of global warming is worse than just about anybody predicted. The actual rates of sea level rise and the melting of Arctic ice are outstripping previous predictions. For instance, while the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) estimated a rise in sea level of of 1.9 millimeters per year from 1993 to 2008, the actual rate was 3.4 millimeters per year!
13th November: A report in Science magazine tells us that the Greenland ice cap is melting faster than ever.
10th November: Some good news among all the bad! Global warming is causing some Antarctic glaciers to melt. But a negative feedback mechanism may turn this melting into a means of combating further warming. According to an article in "Global Change Biology", "Large blooms of tiny marine plants called phytoplankton are flourishing in areas of open water left exposed by the recent and rapid melting of ice shelves and glaciers around the Antarctic Peninsula. This remarkable colonisation is having a beneficial impact on climate change. As the blooms die back phytoplankton sinks to the sea-bed where it can store carbon for thousands or millions of years." (For comments on feedback, see Dawn to Dusk blog "Global warming and the fourth horseman".)
3rd November: The remaining ice fields atop famed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania could be gone within two decades and perhaps even sooner, based on the latest survey of the ice fields remaining on the mountain .
13th September: Sunspot activity has reached its lowest ebb since 1913. Could this be the end of global warming?! 'Quiet' sun could mean cooler days
11th September: Loss of polar ice habitat is causing a rapid decline in the numbers of ivory gull, Pacific walrus, ringed seal, hooded seal, narwhal, and polar bear. The researchers found that Polar bears and ringed seals, both of which give birth in lairs or caves under the snow, lose many newborn pups when the lairs collapse in unusually early spring rains. These species may be headed for extinction. Dramatic Biological Responses To Global Warming In The Arctic
15th August: Officials are stunned at the failure of the annual sockeye salmon run up the Fraser River, Canada. Only 6% of the number expected have arrived. The cause of the collapse is unknown, but the best guess relates it to environmental factors. See Salmon Spawn Shock.
6th April: A floatingAntarctic ice shelf half the size of Scotland has finally broken away from the continent today when a narrow bridge of ice that kept it tethered finally shattered. It is the tenth but largest ice shelf to have done so. Dr Ras Van Ommen of the Australian Antarctic Division says that, "It's telling us that the effect of climate change or warming are actually being felt more and more progressively on the rest of the continent, so it's a warning sign, if you like, that in fact the warming is actually reaching Antarctica."
14th March: Scientists are concerned that the entire marine food web is being jeopardized by global warming. The "immediate cause" of concern is the finding by Dutch researchers that increased CO2 levels, although increasing the growth rate of microalgae, are reducing the nutritional value of the algae. "As they are the first link in the underwater food chain, the algae ultimately influence the entire ecosystem."
1st March: An article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports the disturbing possibility that "even a lower level of increase in average global temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions could cause significant problems in five key areas of global concern", including a greater risk of extreme weather conditions, and that these changes will be more dramatic in some parts of the world than others.
17th February: US Climate scientist, Prof Chris Field, claims that "future climate change will be beyond anything predicted". He says new data shows that greenhouse gases are rising more rapidly than expected due largely to the burning of coal for electricity in India and China.
5th February: Climatologists have discovered that Australia's severe and long-lasting drought is due, not to conditions in the Pacific Ocean as previously thought, but to warming of the Indian Ocean. Some scientists fear that this warming is here to stay leading to possibly severe long-term problems for Australia's climate.
23rd January: A recent study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Alaska shows that climate change in the Arctic is "dramatically reducing polar bears' survival and reproductive rates", and that the bears are likely to become extinct in the southern Beaufort Sea region of Alaska and adjacent Alaska. (See Melting Ice Threatens Polar Bears' Survival.)
18th March: The average rate of melting of the world's glacial ice almost tripled in 2006, according to the latest report from the UN-backed World Glacier Monitoring Service. UN under-secretary general, Achim Steiner, is reported to have said, "There are many canaries emerging in the climate change coal mine. The glaciers are perhaps among those making the most noise and it is absolutely essential that everyone sits up and takes notice.'' (See World's Glaciers Are Melting at Record Rate.)
10th April: A radio report moments ago declared that numbers of many species of birds, particularly trans-oceanic migratory species, had dropped by 75% over the past 25 years. At the anecdotal level, this author has noted a drastic drop in the size of flocks of little lorikeets in northern Tasmania over the past 20 years, from flocks of over 20 birds to groups of just two or three. For a sobering report on the plummeting numbers of the bobolink of North America, see "Did your shopping list kill a songbird?"
23rd April: Global atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide rose by 0.6 per cent in 2007. Perhaps more alarmingly, after nearly a decade of no increase, methane levels rose by 27 million tons, probably due to rapid industrialization in Asia and seepage from warming peatlands in the Arctic as well as from tropical peat deposits. The big concern is that as frozen lands in the high north thaw out, methane emissions from large frozen deposits will be released. Some researchers, such as Michael Benton, believe that release of large amounts of methane at the end of the Permian period played a large part in the biggest extinction event in the history of the planet. (See Benton's book, "When Life Nearly Died".)
27th July: "Critical food shortages and growing demand for bio-fuels and hydro-electricity due to high fossil fuel prices rank among the greatest threats today to the preservation of precious wetlands worldwide as farmers and developers look for new areas for agriculture, energy crop plantations and hydro dams."
28th July: A recent report from University of Toronto researchers raises concerns about the future of wild bee populations as a result of infection of wild bees by commercial bees escaping from greenhouses. Their models suggest that although the disease will spread slowly at first, "given sufficient time, spillover will result in a large-scale epidemic among wild bees". The results of declining pollination in the wild could have drastic effects on entire ecosystems. See Commercial Bees Spreading Disease To Wild Pollinating Bees.
29th July: As reported in Going, Going, Gone: Is Animal Migration Disappearing, many of nature's most spectacular animal migrations have disappeared or have gone into steep decline as a result of human mismanagement of the environment. Not only are we losing some of nature's most awe-inspiring phenomena but more importantly we may be jeopardizing ecosystems on a vast scale.
30th July: The pH of the oceans is dropping (acidity increasing) due to heightened carbon dioxide levels. The consequences for marine life reproductive capacity could be quite serious. It could also affect the capacity of shellfish to make their calcium carbonate shells, thus reducing even further the capacity of the oceans to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide. (See Ocean acidification.) See also Acidification Of Sea Hampers Reproduction Of Marine Species.
30th July: Species of birds rarely seen in Britain have begun to arrive in larger numbers as the climate warms. Coming from the balmier regions of the Continent, the new arrivals seem to be flourishing. At the same time, birds in northern Britain adapted to colder climates are not faring well and numbers are dropping. These findings parallel those of an earlier study in the United States in 2007. (European Birds Flock to Warming Britain)
6th August: Computer models of climate change have predicted that global warming will produce more and more savage rainfall events, producing flooding on a scale hitherto unseen. A new report by the Universities of Miami and Reading (U.K.) provides observational evidence that this prediction is coming to pass. What makes this study even more striking is its finding that, "the observed amplification of rainfall extremes was found to be substantially larger in the observations than what is predicted by current models".
11th August: According to a News Release from San Francisco State University, the well-known phenomenon of amphibian extinction is reaching a new level of intensity as "their extinction rates rise to unprecedented levels". The report sends out a stark warning in pondering, "whether Earth is experiencing its sixth mass extinction". Amphibian extinction may well be telling us, "that we may have little time to stave off a potential mass extinction".
13th August: As reported in Mass Extinctions and "Rise of Slime" Predicted for Oceans, "Human activities are cumulatively driving the health of the world's oceans down a rapid spiral, and only prompt and wholesale changes will slow or perhaps ultimately reverse the catastrophic problems they are facing". Human activities are laying the groundwork for mass ocean extinctions on a scale equal to "vast ecological upheavals of the past".
21st October: " The Earth is in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of both plants and animals, with nearly 50 percent of all species disappearing", reports Science News. See "Earth In Midst Of Sixth Mass Extinction: 50% Of All Species Disappearing ".
3rd November: " Last winter, the thickness of sea ice in large parts of the Arctic fell by nearly half a metre (19 per cent) compared with the average thickness of the previous five winters." (Arctic Sea Ice Is Suddenly Getting Thinner As Well As Receding)
6th November: "The world is heading for an ecological credit crunch as human demands on the world's natural capital reach nearly a third more than earth can sustain", according to a recent "Science News" article. Mankind is increasingly overdrawing on its ecological capital, with possible consequences that you don't need a degree in rocket science to predict.
25th November: Maybe global warming predictions have been overstated! All computer models depend on both the factors that are "fed into" the model and the accuracy of the data; all models are therefore suspect. A recent study which rejigs one important bit of data — black carbon levels in the soil — shows that soil may produce less carbon dioxide than previously believed. Soil adds ten times as much CO2 to the atmosphere as all human activities combined.
26th November: The acidity of the ocean is growing ten times faster than climate change models had predicted. The impact of increasing acidity cannot yet be predicted with certainty, but it will undoubtedly be severe.
16th December: Three times as much ice was lost from Greenland this year than last year. And last year broke the previous record!
January: The final reports are in. In a remarkable irony, while Australia overall had slighly higher rainfall than average in 2006, many parts of the country, notably the south-east, where most of the population can be found, experienced its driest year on record, and it's continuing. The big dry is impacting so severely in the rural sector that an average of one farmer per week is committing suicide. (Major source: Drought Statement)
4th January: The canaries keep singing. As dying canaries in a coal mine tell miners something is really wrong, ongoing weird weather keeps sounding the alarm. In what should be about the coldest month of the year in the Midwest and East Coast of the United States, "Crocuses are pushing out of the ground in New Jersey. Ice fishing tournaments in Minnesota are being canceled for lack of ice. And golfers are hitting the links in Chicago in January. Much of the Midwest and the East Coast are experiencing remarkably warm winter, with temperatures running 10 and 20 degrees higher than normal in many places… New York City saw a November and December without snow for the first time since 1877. And New Jersey had its warmest December since records started being kept 111 years ago." (Source: So… you call this winter?)
21st January: "Pesticides from coffee and banana cultivation are accumulating in Costa Rica's biodiverse cloud forests… Pesticides used in lowland areas are carried by air currents to higher elevations where they are they precipitated out as rain when the air cools. The chemicals -- especially insecticide endosulfan and fungicide chlorothalonil -- then accumulate in the ecosystem, potentially affecting montane forest biodiversity." ("Pesticides threaten cloud forests in Costa Rica")
24th January: Cambridge University researchers report that the live fish trade for up-market restaurants is depleting marine stocks of fish off Borneo, and probably elsewhere in Southeast Asia. (See "Live fish trade causing massive depletion of coral reef species")
30th January: The "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change", meeting in London, says that temperatures could rise more than previously predicted by 2100. Predictions have put the possible upper limit of increased temperature to 6.3 degrees, up half a degree over previous predictions. An increase of even 2 degrees is considered dangerous to human society, and an increase of 5 degrees would spell the end of many cities such as London. (See Global warming will be catastrophic to cities)
5th February: The unique shallow-water communities along the Antarctic Peninsula are in danger of disappearing — thanks to global warming, of course. Evidence of the danger comes from the encroachment of king crabs into colder shallower waters from deep down where warmer temperatures enable them to thrive. Until recently, shallow waters around Antarctica have been too cold for these crabs to survive. Now they are climbing up towards the shallows. (See Polar Science from the Deep)
17th February: The most detailed analysis yet of the largest body of ice in the world's tropics shows the 5000-year-old glacier in danger of disappearing in five years. Glaciologist Lonnie Thompson, who presented the findings here yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes Science NOW), says his study of the vanishing Quelccaya Ice Cap in Peru provides frightening new evidence of accelerating glacier loss, which he says could be a "canary in the coal mine" for intense global climate change. (See Climate on the Rocks)
23rd February: Hey, it's not all bad news. "Beavers have returned to New York City for the first time since colonial days when the animals were hunted to extinction for their pelts… the appearance of the animal, which have swam downstream from Westchester County, is a symbol of New York city's improving urban environment."
March: The March edition of National Geographic reports on the amazing success of efforts to bring the whooping crane back from the brink of extinction. Hunting and habitat loss in the 1940s had reduced their numbers to a mere 21 individuals! Now, thanks to ongoing efforts by Operation Migration, numbers have climbed to over 500.
5th March: Warmer temperatures are turning the Canadian tundra into boreal forest — see "Global warming causing disappearance of tundra in Canada".
8th March: It's scandalous, but apparently true. The Bush administration has, "banned discussion of polar bears, sea ice, and global warming among officials traveling overseas." ("Bush administration issues gag order on polar bear talk"). Governments fiddle while the world burns.
8th March: Channel 4 in the United Kingdom aired the highly provocative show, "The Great Global Warming Swindle", according to which, "… if the planet is heating up, it isn't your fault and there's nothing you can do about it". The film doesn't deny that the planet is warming up, but puts it down to a natural cycle in which temperatures on earth walk in lockstep with solar activity. (However, see what experts say at "Sun not linked to global warming".)
15th March: Scientists studying shrinking sea ice in the Arctic believe that, "Earth could be reaching a tipping point that could trigger rapid climate change." This sober assessment by sober scientists should ring alarm bells worldwide. Will we hear them? (See "Earth may be near global warming tipping point")
16th March: The US-based NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) reports that the Northern Hemisphere winter of 2007 is the warmest since records began to be kept in 1880 about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century mean. (See "Past Winter was the Warmest on Record".)
28th March: Thousands of harp seal pups are assumed dead in Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence due to the lack of ice floes, which mother seals require to give birth and nurse their pups successfully. The Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is the annual birthing ground of hundreds of thousands of harp seals, is virtually devoid of both ice and seals. The disaster is attributed to rising temperatures by Dr. David Lavigne of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. (See "Harp Seal Pups Perish".)
20th April: An article on the Mongabay website provides disturbing evidence of the awesome potential for destruction of Africa's natural treasure trove as a result of China's burgeoning quest for natural resources. The Chinese government has no scruples about making deals with regimes rejected as irresponsible and tyrannical by the West, with the potential consequence of environmental disaster. See Growing Pains and Growing Alliances.
4th May: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change publishes its long-awaited Fourth Assessment Report on long-term strategies for governments and industry on mitigating carbon dioxide emissions. It argues that the costs of mitigating global warming may be much lower than generally believed — emissions can be reduced rapidly using existing technology at a cost of 0.12 percent of GDP per year over the next 25 years.
7th May: Both Indonesia and Malaysia are planning forest rehabilitation programs. Malaysia intends to breathe new life into 10,000 acres of damaged forest on the island of Borneo, while Indonesia is planning a massive rehabilitation program involving 146 million acres throughout the archipelago.
7th May: A landmark agreement to end high seas bottom trawling in the South Pacific has been reached by twenty governments. Bottom trawling, which drags huge, heavy nets across the seafloor, wrecks reefs and breeding habitat for a number of species of fish. Environmentalists say bottom trawling, which destroys reefs and depletes slow-growing fish species, is one of the world's most destructive fishing practices. Time alone will tell what impact the ban will have.
16th May: Recent studies of satellite data show that massive melting of Antarctic snow cover occurred during the summer of 2005. Snow covering an area the size of California thawed and then remelted during the unusually warm summer. While melting has been observed on the Antarctic Peninsula, this thaw took place farther inland and at higher elevations, where melting was not expected.
17th May: When will the bad news about atmospheric carbon dioxide end? Just when we need the oceans to absorb more carbon dioxide, not less, new studies show that the southern-most regions of the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have lost some of their normal appetite for drawing down atmospheric CO2. The capacity of these oceans for absorbing man-made atmospheric CO2 has dropped from 15% to 10%. In a classic vicious cycle, extraordinary winds believed to be caused by global warming are reducing the capacity of surface waters to absorb carbon dioxide, compounding the problem further.
14th June: A new study shows that breeding ranges of North American birds have shifted north over the past twenty six years, matching increases in temperature over the region.
21st June: Talk about feeding the hand that bites you. Everybody has heard of the dramatic formation of massive icebergs off Antarctica as a result of melting due to global warming. Studies show that these massive products of global warming may help combat its relentless march. The release of terrestrial material trapped by icebergs creates a “halo effect” with significantly increased phytoplankton and krill populations out to a two-mile radius around the icebergs. Higher abundance of phytoplankton and krill attracts other forms of sea life and may help offset climate change by absorbing larger amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. (See K.L. Smith, Jr., and others. "Free-Drifting Icebergs: Hotspots of Chemical and Biological Enrichment in the Weddell Sea," Science, 22 June 2007.) For more thoughts on planet earth's inbuilt ability to fight back against global warming, see the Dawn to Dusk editorial "Global warming: good news, bad news".
9th July: Mongabay.com reports that global fishing stocks are in trouble. After expanding from 18 millions tons in 1950 to around 94 million tons in 2000, annual world fish catch has leveled off and may even be declining. Scientists estimate that the number of large predatory fish in the oceans has fallen by 90 percent since the 1950s.
9th July: Glaciers at the source of the Yangtze River in Tibet are shrinking much faster than scientists had anticipated, according to recent reports. (See Global Warming Threatens Tibet.) Tibet faces the possibility of shrinking glaciers, frozen earth melting, grasslands turning yellow and rivers drying up. 15 percent of rich grassland and one fourth of wetland at high altitude have vanished in the past 15 years.
13th July: Glaciers in Western China have melted at "alarming" rates over the past 40 years, according to Chinese state media. Xinhua reports that Wang Feiteng, an assistant researcher with the Tianshan Mountain glacier monitoring station under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said the principal glacier at Tianshan has lost 20 million cubic meters of ice in the last four decades, and the east and west sections of the glacier are receding by 3.5 meters (11 feet) and 5.9 meters (19 feet), respectively every year.
27th July: Recent temperature increases in Antarctica are impacting some penguins' abilities to feed and breed, creating population dips in species that can't handle the heat. (Penguin drama unfolds as Antarctica heats up — video.)
8th August: Following an intensive survey of its habitat that yielded no signs of its existence, the Yangtze River dolphin has been declared extinct. "The freshwater marine mammal, which could grow to eight feet long and weigh up to a quarter of a tonne, is the first large vertebrate forced to extinction by human activity in 50 years, and only the fourth time an entire evolutionary line of mammals has vanished from the face of the Earth since the year 1500."
23rd October: According to A Science Daily news article, Unexpected Growth in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased 35% faster than expected since 2000. In addition to the usual suspect — human economic growth — an alarming development is causing considerable angst. The land and oceans are faltering in their capacity to absorb atmospheric CO2. It would seem we are on a malign spiral — the more CO2 we produce, the less capable the environment is of compensating for our folly.
24th October: Massive bushfires sweeping southern California are consistent with global warming patterns. Experts say, "they may be just a prelude to many more such events in the future — as vegetation grows heavier than usual and then ignites during prolonged drought periods".
26th October: The Fourth "Global Environment Outlook", released by the United Nations in Islamabad today. According to a local radio report, the UN report declares that human survival is at stake unless urgent action is taken to reverse current trends. The complete document can be downloaded in pdf format (22 Mg) from the UNEP site.
2nd November: More than a third of Europe's freshwater fish species are at risk of extinction, according to new data released this week by the World Conservation Union. Of Europe's 522 freshwater fish, 200 species are at serious risk of vanishing from the planet—and 12 are already extinct.
20th November: In its just-released "Summary for Policy Makers", the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" (IPCC) warns that, among other things, the rate of ice pack loss from the poles is likely to increase at a faster rate than previously predicted. See IPCC Synthesis Report: Risks And Rewards Of Combating Climate Change for a straightforward and thorough summary of the report's salient points.
11th December: For a readable, anecdotal account of the probable impact of climate change, see Ice Beetles Impacted by Climate Change.
12th January: The journal, “Nature”, has just announced that frog extinctions of the past two decades are a result of global warming. Extinctions have gone in lock step with increases of temperature in the areas studied. Temperature increases favour the chytrid fungi that are the “cause” of the losses. The worst affected areas are those where night time temperatures have gone up and daytime temperatures have gone down.
18th January: “By observing more than 1,800 right whales in the southern Atlantic, researchers have determined that changes in climate are affecting the whales' reproductive success. The problem, experts believe, is not that whales suffer directly from warm conditions, but that their food supply—mainly krill—does” (National Geographic News).
January: Something very scary is happening to the trees in Canada's "pine kingdom". An infestation of mountain pine beetles is devastating pine forests in British Columbia. One fifth of British Columbia's "birthright" faces certain ruin. "Canaries in the mine" such as this cannot be ignored.
18th February: The American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual conference in St Louis was told that the quantity of ice coming off Greenland's glaciers into the Atlantic had almost doubled in the past five years. There are fears that experts may have significantly underestimated how much sea levels could rise as a result. The Greenland ice sheet could raise the global sea level by 7m if it melted entirely.
20th February: A new report entitled "The State of Britain's Larger Moths" warns that the population of British moths is plummeting, with potentially grave consequences for those birds, bats and invertebrates that feed on them. Habitat loss and climate change are likely causes for the decline. Sir David Attenborough calls the decline "significant and worrying" and says,"Moths are valuable indicators of what is happening in our countryside. Other insects too are almost certainly in decline."
28th February: Florida wildlife officials announced record manatee deaths for January—one-third more than were reported for the same month last year. The cause was traced to brevetoxins produced by the algae that cause red tides — in a dog chasing cat that ate the rat fashion, many scientists believe that contaminants from land run-off are the ultimate cause through their stimulation of algal growth. Some scientists believe that humans, too, are at risk because these blooms produce a gas cocktail that is toxic to humans. "In coastal areas of South Florida, researchers have noted a sharp rise in emergency room admissions for lung conditions, such as bronchitis and asthma, during red tide events" (National Geographic News).
1st March: The largest oil spill ever to occur on the North Slope region of Alaska's oil fields (267,000 gallons), which contains most of the state's oil reserves, is increasing already well-founded concerns about drilling in the area. Home to thousands of migratory birds, caribou, and other creatures, future spills could spell disaster if they occurred in summer. Thankfully, this spill occurred in winter when wildlife is scarce. What is really scaring many conservationists is the fact that this spill was not even discovered for five days (National Geographic News).
7th March: New data suggest that extinctions are now occurring at the rate of 50 species per day instead of the "normal" rate of one species every five years. A new report says that "the planet is entering the largest mass extinction in 65 million years" and that as many as five million species — half of earth's living things — may be lost this century by current projections. (See "Scientists call for urgent action over extinction rate".)
March: National Geographic this month reports some good news! Efforts to return the bustard to Great Britain are having moderate success. One of the heaviest of flying birds, bustards disappeared from Britain in 1832. Of 33 birds brought from Russia, Spain, Portugal and Hungary and released, 20 are still surviving in the wild. Keep it coming!
9th June: Scientists in the department of biology at Rome's La Sapienza University report that climate change is bringing animals out of hibernation prematurely, causing them stress and weight loss. Dormice and marmots are losing weeks of "sleep time", while the breeding cycles of birds, reptiles, turtles and rodents are all changing for the worse. In addition, some tropical species of fish are now turning up in the Mediterranean Sea as its waters warm. (Source: The Age)
15th June: US President George Bush plans to designate an island chain spanning nearly 1,400 miles of the Pacific northwest of Hawaii as a national monument today, creating the largest protected marine reserve in the world. Encompassing nearly 140,000 square miles, an area nearly the size of Montana and larger than all the national parks combined, the reserve will just surpass Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park as the largest protected marine area in the world. Isn't it great to hear some good news?
16th June: Pro-whaling nations may take control of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) this weekend for the first time since commercial whale hunting was banned 20 years ago. The impact upon whale populations should whaling commence again on a large scale will be enormous. The flow-on effect on marine ecosystems can only be guessed at.
19th July: The ozone hole over Antarctica is having a bigger impact on life than realised, scientists believe. New Scientist magazine reported yesterday that an analysis of east Antarctic waters had shown that high levels of UV light could significantly reduce phytoplankton blooms. "If you have a substantial reduction in the amount of plant material, that's going to have all sorts of knock-on effects for the rest of the food web," said Andrew Davidson, of the Australian Antarctic Division in Kingston, Tasmania.
1st August: The worst fears of Tasmanians (island state of Australia) were realized when a fox carcass was discovered in the northern midlands of the state. Until recently, Tasmania had enjoyed freedom from the feral pest which has wrought such ecological destruction on mainland Australian wildlife for over one hundred years. Concerns arose about the possibility of their entering Tasmania a few years ago when one was allegedly sighted coming off a ship in the Port of Burnie. This is the first time a real live dead fox has been confirmed. Those who love nature cannot help but grieve over the possible collapse of native populations of echidnas, possums, bandicoots, vulnerable birds, including the little penguin, and possibly the famous Tasmanian devil, already considered vulnerable. (Fox Carcass Found)
11th August: A new study shows that the Greenland ice sheet is now melting three times faster than five years ago. Forty eight cubic miles of Greenland ice is being turned into water each year, raising sea level by one inch every fifty years (National Geographic News).
30th October: The Nicholas Stern report warns that unless major global action is taken by all countries now, the cost to the world economy of global warming may reach as much as 20% of the world's economic output by the middle of the century.
3rd November: "There will be virtually nothing left to fish from the seas by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a major scientific study. Stocks have collapsed in nearly one-third of sea fisheries, and the rate of decline is accelerating " (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6108414.stm).
7th November: New fires sweeping through the degraded peatlands in Kalimantan are risking an environmental disaster on a global scale, as huge amounts of carbon dioxide are emitted. Indonesia has now become the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide after the USA and China. (http://au.news.yahoo.com/061026/19/1129i.html)
7th November: Rupert Murdoch, media mogul whose publications, until recently, pooh-poohed global warming, has had a road to Damascus experience of some kind, and has turned into a global-warming Elijah (http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,23636,20715043-462,00.html).
6th - 17th November: The United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, reports that Africa is going to suffer more than most from climate change despite being the lowest emitter of greenhouse gases (http://allafrica.com/stories/200611061169.html).
14th November: Unchecked climate change could drive up to 72 per cent of the world's bird species into extinction but the world still has a chance to limit the losses, conservation group WWF said in a report on Tuesday. From migratory insect-eaters to tropical honeycreepers and cold water penguins, birds are highly sensitive to changing weather conditions and many are already being affected badly by global warming, the new study said (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L13486051.htm).
28th November: Scientists are finding that global warming is already killing species—and at a much faster rate than had originally been predicted.
6th December: Some good news in the fight against slaughter of wildlife. Rangers in Africa are getting out the latest news on animal atrocities on their blogs. See Exposing Atrocities.
13th December: One of only four species of freshwater dolphins, the baiji, has become extinct, according to recent reports. Lipotes vexilifier is the first species of cetacean – whales, dolphins and porpoises – to disappear from our globe in modern times… "the first large mammal to go extinct as a result of man's destruction of their natural habitat and ressources". See "The Race Goes On".
29th December: "A huge Canadian ice shelf 500 miles (800 kilometers) from the North Pole has disintegrated, leaving a large floating island of ice stranded 30 miles (48 kilometers) offshore…" (Great Ice Shelf Breaks off in Canadian Arctic.) Scientists believe the dramatic event was caused largely by global warming. Canada's ice shelves have shrunk by 90% over the past 100 years.
10th May: The island of Kiribati recently had the highest tide on record, and people had to flee inland. People are making plans to leave now before it's too late. Temperatures are so high people cannot walk barefoot anymore and are having to work at night. Groundwater is turning brackish.
13th June: 1000 of 25,000 Siberian lakes have shrunk considerably in past 25 years and 100 have vanished entirely. The ground is warming and water is seeping away. If the pattern persists, it may imperil migratory birds and wreak further havoc on the region's weather, warns Laurence Smith, an associate professor of geography at UCLA.
20th August: Melting of Siberian permafrost, which acts as a barrier preventing huge amounts of methane leaking into the atmosphere, will probably accelerate global warming rapidly.
20th August: Confirmation has finally come — previously pooh-poohed by skeptics — that the stratosphere is warming.
September: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. New Orleans devastated.
21st September: Conference being held in NSW, Australia, to discuss the “catastrophic changes” taking place on many rivers. Water birds on the Macquarie River used to breed at least every two years. It is now five years since they bred.
26th September: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change publishes its definitive "Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage".
12th October: The Amazon basin is experiencing the worst drought in 30 years. Brazilian meteorologists are blaming climate cycles, not global warming. Greenpeace disagrees, blaming deforestation and global warming.
18th November: A WWF report says that fish are increasingly threatened by the effects of climate change as temperatures rise in rivers, lakes and oceans. Hotter water means less food, less offspring and even less oxygen for marine and freshwater fish populations. Some temperate fish like salmon, catfish and sturgeon cannot spawn at all if winter temperatures do not drop below a certain level.
21st November: Are polar bears on the way out? Polar bears in northern Canada depend on the Arctic Ocean icing over to enable them to migrate to winter feeding grounds. This year, four weeks after the sea is normally iced over, the bears are still waiting. Starvation is a distinct possibility.
16th December: Polar bear problems are only getting worse. Four bear carcases have found floating in one month in a single patch of sea off the north coast of Alaska, where average summer temperatures have increased by 2-3C degrees since 1950s. Scientists believe that polar bears are drowning because the Arctic ice shelf is melting and are having to swim longer distances to find food, making them vulnerable to exhaustion.
30th March: The number of dead zones in the ocean has been doubling every decade since the 1960s. These are zones starved of oxygen due to the explosive growth, death and decay (using up all the oxygen in the process) of algal blooms due to increased nitrogen coming from car exhausts and power plants. This problem will overtake over-fishing as the main cause of depletion of fish stocks. Two areas badly affected are Baltic and Black Seas. Also Gulf of Mexico. Mainly a problem where big rivers draining a large area spill into sea.
9th April: Amazon rainforest has shrunk by 2% in the past year due to deforestation.
5th May: The past several summers have been the hottest for more than 500 years worldwide.
22nd August: Great news! China and India are growing economically at a rapid rate. They want cars, and lots of them! What an opportunity for auto manufacturers.
20th September: Dust storms in the Sahara have increased tenfold in the past 50 years, choking coral reefs over a wide area. 4 wheel drives are making the problem much worse by scouring the surface, breaking up the crust and loosening the dust beneath. Namibia has restrictions, but many countries have no restrictions. A lot of people are doing a lot of driving and disturbing the desert surface. The impact on climate change is “a big unknown”. 2000 million tons of dust goes into the atmosphere from deserts each year. Dust may suppress rainfall. A lot of dust off Africa can affect the melting of snow and ice.
12th October: Scientists at Mauna Loa who monitor CO2 levels in atmosphere announced that CO2 levels have gone up faster over the past two years than expected, and that no “natural” explanation can be found.
15th October: 120 species of amphibians have gone extinct in the past 24 years. 1/3 of all species are on brink of extinction, as are ½ of all freshwater tortoises.
20th November: Many farmers in West Australian wheat belt are walking off the land due to salinity buildup. Others, however, are frantically working to reverse the decline.
22nd November: The population of Tasmanian devils had dropped by 50% in eastern and southern Tasmania due to facial tumors.
27th November: The world's tiger population has plummeted by 95 per cent from the beginning of the 20th century to as few as 5000 now, and is further threatened by the lucrative trade in their skins. In Asia, tiger skins can sell for $US 15,000 while in Vietnam a skeleton can fetch as much as US$ 25,000. The Global Tiger Forum heard the global population of wild tigers was about 100,000 a century ago, but dwindled to 8000 by 1960.
7th December: 20% of coral reefs are now damaged beyond repair. This is up from 11% only four years ago!
May: Worst tornadoes ever in tornado alley, USA.
6th June: United Nations concerned about diminishing groundwater sources worldwide.
Mid-August: Europe in grip of unprecedented heat wave. Fires raging, particularly in Portugal. England had its hottest day on record, the mercury going above 100 F.
17th August: “Science” magazine announces that no pristine coral reefs are left in the world.
19th September: University of California study on lions in South Africa shows their numbers to be plummeting. Now down to 23,000.
30th September: “Nature” magazine says that the oceans are becoming more acidic (acidity has increased by 0.1 unit of acidity). This means that carbonate ions will be reduced in number, so that corals and mollusks that use those ions in shell or skeleton may have serious problems.
1st December: Giant kelp around Tasmania's waters may be listed as endangered. Giant kelp forests have been reduced by 50% over past 10 years.
September: US fire season worst ever
7th October: Tree dieback in California becoming critical.
7th October: Earnest discussions among old Soviet republics for ways to save the Aral Sea from drying up — it is now one third its original size. As it dries, its salt crystallizes (a million tons a year) and is then blown around, causing snow melt as far away as Europe.
25th October: The Darling River of Australia has been reduced to a series of pools near Wilcannia. Unprecedented low levels of water in the Menindee Lakes system.
25th October: New study shows that pollution from Europe ends up in the Mediterranean area, increasing air pollution considerably. Also, pollution from both Asia and North America also ends up in the high atmosphere (40-40 kms) over Mediterranean, reducing sun and rainfall in North Africa.
1st November: Demand for fish will double in the next 20 years. However, unless current harvests are cut by 1/3, many if not most fish stocks will be totally depleted.
18th December: World coral reefs are recovering from bleaching events. Possibly due to human effort to reduce pollution.
STATE OF THE WORLD: SOURCES OF INFORMATION
Many sites can be found with information on environmental issues. If you know of any that can be added to this list, please email us.
World Watch magazine
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Free "synthesis" reports available for download from this page
Green Facts: Scientific Facts on Ecosystem Change
Mongabay.com: an excellent site for latest news, with particular emphasis on rainforests and Madagascar. This site has an excellent archive of free articles relating to issues of the environment and global warming.
Everglades Restoration Project: begun in 1992 by US Army Corps of Engineers aims to turn around the destruction of the Everglades. Critics call it a "water project" rather than a "conservation project". Go to site.
Nile Basin Initiative: Click here for link to official site.
Southern marshes of Iraq: A helpful article can be found here.
The American Chestnut Foundation: Dedicated to the restoration of the American Chestnut through scientific breeding and cooperative research. See American Chestnut Foundation
Wetlands International: Wetlands International is the only global NGO dedicated to the conservation and wise use of wetlands. It works globally, regionally and nationally to achieve the conservation and wise use of wetlands, to benefit diversity and human well-being. See Wetlands International
The Megafish Project: A project aimed at saving freshwater fishes that grow over two meters in length. Due to their size they are the most vulnerable of freshwater fish to habitat change. The Chinese giant paddlefish, which can grow to almost seven meters in length, has not been seen since 2003. See Real "Loch Ness Monsters" to Be Monitored".
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