Hoot to Climate Change

February 23, 2011

Interesting, new evidence of climate change via The Atlantic Wire:

A study carried out over thirty years and published recently in the journal Nature Communications showed that while grey tawny owls had higher survival rates in colder environments, brown owls were becoming more common.
Dr. Patrik Karell from the University of Helsink, the leader of the journal study, tells the BBC that they’ve gone from around 30 percent of the tawny population in Finland to around 50 percent, despite the fact that the grey color trait is the dominant gene when mixed.
The brown owl’s “survival has improved as winters have become warmer,” says the Dr. Karell, as quoted in the BBC. “…climate-driven selection has led to an evolutionary change in the population.”

Bird in hand.

(Illustration found here).

And another important side issue of global warming is the sneeze.
From the New York Daiy News:

Climate change has lengthened the ragweed allergy season in states like North Dakota and Minnesota by 16 days and up to 27 days in parts of Canada, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals.
The same researchers published an earlier study showing global warming in urban areas like New York spawned ragweed with five times more pollen than that of their rural cousins.
“This is a caution light. Pollen seasons may be getting longer,” said Lewis Ziska, the USDA plant expert who headed the research team.
On the flip side, Ziska’s research shows hay fever season getting shorter in Southern states such as Arkansas and Texas.
He said climate change has delayed the winter’s first frost in the Northern states, allowing ragweed to grow longer.
Ziska and his colleagues based their results on 15 years of pollen data. Hay fever allergies afflict 35million Americans annually.

The medical enviornment view of that: Higher carbon dioxide (CO2) levels associated with global warming may have doubled the amount of pollen that ragweed produces, mostly over the past four or five decades. Another doubling could occur by the end of this century. Pollen production rose almost 400% with a 200% increase in the amount of CO2. Findings show that high CO2 levels have increased the potential production of ragweed pollen and may produce pollen earlier.

And another way to get some kind of grip on climate change and diet — eat bugs, at least according to a new study.
Entomophagy, the eating of insects, is fairly gross to most of us, but according to a 2006 report by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector accounts for a sizable portion of humans’ greenhouse gas emissions — nine percent of CO2 emissions (much of this originates in changes in land use), 37 percent of methane and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions.
Bugs, however, are high on protein and don’t take much to live — insects generally produced less methane, nitrous oxide and ammonia both per unit of body mass and per unit of mass gained than pigs or cattle.
Hamburger or a bug? Alan Dangour, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, one of the researchers in the new study, has his doubts on the menu shift: It is clearly worthwhile investigating alternative sources of high-quality protein,” Dangour wrote. “However, the practical barriers to eating insects (in Westernized societies) are extremely large and perhaps currently even likely to be insurmountable.”

Birds and bugs and man.
Climate change — President Obama’s people have tried to raise the drama by calling it ‘global climate disruption‘ — and is by far the biggest shit-storm facing man, birds and bugs today.
And yet, US peoples are the most ill-informed folks on the planet about this enormous threat — Only 35 percent of Americans saw climate change as a serious problem, according to a 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
The future will not repent.
From Climate Central in a post on Monday:

Now, many scientists insist that recent human activity, beginning about 250 years ago, is having such a significant environmental impact on the Earth’s climate, geography, and biological composition that we have actually entered into a new period of geologic time.
That means this change to the “age of man” — or the “Anthropocene” epoch — could be distinctly recognizable when future geologists sift through tiered cakes of rock thousands of years from now.

None of these (skyscrapers, the highways, and the suburban sprawl) are likely to leave as indelible a mark as the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is causing global climate change, sea level rise, and ocean acidification.
And though deforestation is rapidly transforming vast swaths of the planet’s landscape today, Kolbert points out that the most serious and noticeable consequence of this in the future could be a mass extinction event caused by the clear-cut.
It may be thousands of years before our particular era can be truly verified as a new epoch, but scientists say the measurable transformations that are happening now are so rapid and distinct they make this time a good candidate for a name change.
And if nothing else, some say that adopting the Anthropocene name will raise awareness of the fact that humans are having enduring affect on the planet.

And that, as they say, is no hoot.

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