December 20, 2006

Some Good News for Christmas–Reptile and Butterflies Flourishing

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals

How many times have you seen articles in newspapers about global warming causing the extinction of some frog, toad, lizard, butterfly, or you name it, specie? If today’s newspaper doesn’t contain such an article, Google “Global Warming and Extinction” and enjoy over two million sites. Repeatedly, if you see “Global Warming” and any specie in the title of an article, heaven help members of that specie, right?

What is odd is that literally thousands of professional journal articles show that virtually all plants benefit from elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels with or without any increase in temperature. With all the goodness in the world of flora, why do the fauna of the planetary ecosystem seem so vulnerable? The dirty secret is that the literature is full of articles showing the animal kingdom benefiting from changes that are underway.

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December 19, 2006

A Christmas Caribou Story

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals

Santa has his sleigh pulled and magically flown each year by Rudolph and his reindeer buddies, but Santa could just as easily select the local caribou for the same job. Given that global warming is expected to impact high latitude locations of the Northern Hemisphere more than the rest of the world, one might fairly asked how the herds of animals of Santa’s world are coping with the elevated carbon dioxide levels.

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December 18, 2006

Snowe/Rockefeller Letter and Response

Filed under: Climate Politics

A couple of weeks ago, Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and John Rockefeller (D-WV), teamed up to write a letter to ExxonMobil asking them to no longer fund climate change skeptics. Apparently, the Senators feel that they already know enough and are not interested in hearing anything by anyone other than from who and what they already believe about the issue of climate change and it potential impacts.

The reactions to the letter have been mixed, to say the least. While the Senators obviously thought this was a good idea, others were less than thrilled. A few folks think that this amounts to little more than politics-as-usual (e.g., here), while others are a bit more incensed(e.g., see here, here, and here, for example).

We invite you to visit the link above and decide for yourself.




December 13, 2006

Happy Holidays, Thanks to CO2

Filed under: Adaptation, Agriculture, Plants

Like many of you, we have a Christmas tree here decorated with candy canes with a cute little coal train running around the base. The smell of pine is terrific and we are looking forward to eating the candy canes after the holidays. We are all planning a great holiday season and we are looking forward to a bright future. We hope you and your family share our optimism during this fun time of the year.

Today, we will turn out attention to the state of affairs for the tree and the candy canes, and we searched the literature for any updates on how pine trees and sugar cane will fare in a world of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. Given that the literature contains literally thousands of articles on the positive effects of elevated CO2 on plants, we were optimistic that recent material could be found. Of course, three articles were located within minutes dealing with elevated CO2, pine trees, and sugarcane.

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December 12, 2006

Global Warming Good for Mediterranean Tits?

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals

When some people think of a trip to the Mediterranean, they think there is a good chance to see a wide variety of tits, and for those of you interested in global warming, you might fairly wonder how climate change in the Mediterranean might change this situation. Well, you are in luck given an article in the most recent issue of Global Change Biology that specifically addresses potential climate impacts on Mediterranean tits. There are certainly many tits to study in that region, and there is no doubt that any change in climate could have an impact on their characteristics. To us at World Climate Report, this sounds like an important issue and we applaud any effort to explore climate change and tits throughout the planet.

An international team of tit experts from France, Belgium, and Canada note that “Climate change over the past century has had important ecological consequences, but predictions concerning the impact of future climate change on biodiversity remain subject to large uncertainties.” As tits are hardly confined to the Mediterranean, this work could provide insights into tit response in many other regions. World Climate Report has focused on tits in the past (see our story “Great tit watching in the British Isles” for more details), and we eagerly awaited the publication of this important manuscript.

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December 11, 2006

Seal’s Hair Skins Hockey Stick?

We have written probably a dozen essays over the past few years on the crazy “Hockey Stick” favored by global warmers showing virtually no global temperature variation over the past 1,000 years followed by a substantial increase in temperature over the past 100 years. Who could ever forget Al Gore’s performance pointing to a few minor bumps on the “stick” 1,000 years ago and kidding about how others claim that the world was warmer than today a millennium ago? Al’s prop with the hoist was a highlight for us during the epic film that by now must have surpassed Ben Hur in terms of audience excitement.

The science literature is always alive and well, and we are fairly certain you have not seen this classic in many places before visiting us at World Climate Report. The elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) has an interesting story to tell us about the Hockey Stick and the global temperatures over the past few thousand years. In a recent article in the very prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of scientists from the United States, United Kingdom, and Italy reveal an amazing discovery that further challenges the shape of the hockey stick.

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December 8, 2006

A Stickier Handle on the “Hockey Stick”

Many of the documents generated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make repeated reference to the famous “Hockey Stick” - the depiction of reconstructed Northern Hemisphere temperature for the past 1,000 years (Figure 1). We at the World Climate Report have maintained an anxious curiosity about the temperature series. If you will remember, at issue are the absences within the “Hockey Stick” of the so-called “Medieval Warm Period” of 1,000 years ago and the “Little Ice Age” that began 450 years ago and ended around 1900. Lacking evidence of the “Medieval Warm Period,” the “Hockey Stick” can be wielded to characterize the warmth of the last of the 20th century as beyond anything of the past millennium. Therefore, that pronounced warmth is a key piece of evidence in the climate change debate. Unfortunately for those swinging the “Hockey Stick,” the handle portion of the stick has become increasingly sticky from a stream of articles that show evidence of the warm period in the climate records of locations sprinkled across Earth. Yet another such piece appeared earlier this year in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

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December 6, 2006

Oceans “Warming or Cooling”?

The oceans are warming, the buildup of greenhouse gases is certainly to blame, and the warmer oceans, particularly in low latitudes, are firing up bigger hurricanes than ever before – right? An article has appeared recently in Geophysical Research Letters by a team of scientists from the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton, UK and the School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences at the University of Plymouth, UK. The title immediately caught our attention at World Climate Report: “Anomaly of heat content in the northern Atlantic in the last 7 years: Is the ocean warming or cooling?”

Is the sky blue? Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear…, nevermind, you get the idea. Just the title of the article suggests to us that there could be some debate about whether the ocean is warming or cooling among oceanographers at highly respected institutions, and the fact that an excellent peer-reviewed journal like Geophysical Research Letters published the article tips us off to what should be an interesting set of findings.

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December 5, 2006

Sea Level Rise? - Not From Antarctic Melting

Filed under: Antarctic, Polar, Sea Level Rise

Earth’s polar regions have been loudly touted as evidencing the greatest response to global warming during the last two decades of the 20th century. Likewise, global climate models forecast that the high latitudes will experience the greatest change in temperature should greenhouse gas emissions increase through the 21st century. The warming supposedly has and will cause large-scale glacial melt and an input of fresh water that will produce global sea level rise and a breakdown of the fundamental worldwide oceanic circulation. These aspects of potential climate change serve as great talking points for alarmists, as they portray inundated coastal areas and a Europe subject to Arctic-like winters as in the movie Day After Tomorrow.

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December 4, 2006

Decelerating the Sea Level Rise Scare

One of the basic, and often never challenged claims of the global warming advocates is that sea level is rising, and thanks to global warming, the rise in sea level is accelerating at an alarming pace. Many popular presentations of the global warming issue (e.g., Gore’s film) show images of low-lying nations that are seeing their islands erode away thanks to the rising seas. Throw in a few locals dressed in native clothing who looked distraught over the situation, blame the industrialized nations (and obviously the United States), and another pillar of the global warming story is reinforced.

If one simply took the time to examine the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2001 report, they may be absolutely stunned to read “No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected.” Although since the publication of the IPCC 2001 report, a few studies have been published which report to have found evidence of sea level rise acceleration. However, the jury is still way out on this issue.

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