Thursday, June 09, 2016

How is global warming impacting the world’s penguins?

There may be other challenges impacting penguin numbers but we can be absolutely certain that global warming is not hurting them.  Why?  Because penguins live in the Southern hemisphere only, overwhelmingly in Antarctica.  And Antarctica is NOT warming.  The ice cover there continues to GROW in fact.  If you asked the question "What impact is Antarctic cooling having?" that would be a more sensible question

Not surprisingly, penguins—those cute and quirky flightless birds of the Southern Hemisphere that are loved by humans and have inspired countless films, books, comic strips and sports teams—are in deep trouble as a result of reckless human activity.

The nonprofit International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which maintains the “Red List” of at-risk species around the world, considers five of the world’s 18 penguin species “endangered.” IUCN classifies five more penguin species as “vulnerable” and yet another five as “near threatened.” Only three species still exists in healthy enough numbers to qualify for IUCN’s “least concern” classification.

Penguins have evolved over millions of years and adapted to big ecosystem and climatic changes along the way, but they face their biggest challenges from threats posed by humans over just the last century.

One of the more dire threats to penguins is commercial fishing. “Overfishing and concentrated fishing efforts near penguin colonies for forage species such as Antarctic krill can make it more difficult for penguins to find nourishment…especially when fishing grounds overlap with the foraging grounds of penguins,” reports the Pew Charitable Trusts, a leading nonprofit with a focus on ocean conservation.

Meanwhile, predators and non-native invasive species introduced by humans are also taking their toll. According to Pew, several colonies of little penguins in Australia, for example, have been wiped out by non-indigenous dogs and foxes, while the Galápagos penguin has suffered big losses as a result of pathogen-borne illnesses introduced by non-native species and some natural bird migration.

Yet another threat is habitat destruction. “Tourism-related pressures, such as foot traffic and litter, can encroach on penguin colonies and nesting sites,” says Pew. “Oil spills have had severe effects on the health of individual colonies of penguins as well as their foraging habitats.”

And climate change—with its resulting melting of vast sheets of sea ice—could well be the greatest threat to already struggling penguin populations. “Ice plays a crucial role in the breeding process for several species of Antarctic penguins and also provides a place for penguins to rest and to avoid predators during long foraging trips,” reports Pew. “The loss of sea ice along the Antarctic Peninsula is contributing to reductions in the abundance of Antarctic krill, a favorite food of several penguin species.”

But according to Pew, the situation isn’t completely hopeless. The creation of more marine reserves where penguins can thrive without the stresses of overfishing and other human activity is a big step in the right direction. Pew is also pushing for better fisheries management in order to increase food sources for penguins and other marine wildlife dependent on nutrients further down the food chain, and also for a reduction in the number of introduced predators and invasive species.

According to Pew, the penguins’ plight is a portent of larger environmental concerns: “These birds are sentinels for the health of the entire sea. Changes to their populations can indicate trouble for other species that depend on these waters for survival.”


The Global Warming Con — Fabricating Phony Fear Over Sea Levels

Climate alarmists are warning that the Statue of Liberty is at risk of being overrun by rising sea levels caused by global warming. A more reasonable voice, however, says the nattering nabobs of “the narrative” are off the mark.

It must be tiring to be a practitioner of the global warming dark arts, always having to invent a new scenario of disaster to keep the public in turmoil, as H.L. Mencken said, over “an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

But give them credit: They keep coming.

And they continue to be mistaken. Or, in some cases, purposely misrepresenting the facts so the facts will fit their political agenda. This appears to be the case with a 2012 study that the alarmists have used to gin up fear that human carbon dioxide emissions are driving us to a global disaster.

When that paper was released, the Los Angeles Times reported that “sea levels in a 620-mile ‘hot spot’ along the Atlantic coast are rising three to four times faster than the global average, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.” What came next was the feverish, Mencken-esque hobgoblin that is required in every global warming story.

“The sharp rise in sea levels from North Carolina to Massachusetts could mean serious flooding and storm damage for major cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Boston, as well as threats to wetlands habitats.”

The Weather Channel followed up on the claim, declaring last week that “the Statue of Liberty is facing a disturbing future because of rising seas and a warming planet.” This latest argument is based on a new United Nations report, which means that this cautionary statement has all the objective science of a children’s book about a wolf and a young girl with fair hair.

Naturally, the media either ignore or marginalize anything that disputes the global warming narrative. But contrary findings and opinions exist. In this case, climate change website Watts Up With That took a look at the “hot spots” identified in the 2012 study and determined that the researchers were guilty of practicing “bad science” and “cherry picking the time window” that backed the conclusion they wanted to reach.

“Since December 2009,” wrote guest essayist Giordano Bruno, “the sea levels have declined in both Washington, D.C., and The Battery, N.Y.” The decreases were 3.3 millimeters a year in Washington, 10.7 millimeters a year in New York.

The logic behind the study “was clearly flawed, but obviously Nature,” which published the report, “did not accept any comment,” wrote Bruno.

“The science is settled, and can’t be discussed,” he added.

Obviously Bruno — whose true identity is disguised by a pseudonym taken from a man who was executed in part because he held a different set of cosmological views — was being sarcastic, because the science is far from being settled. The fact that the paper was corrected — its supplementary information is the data Bruno used to make his point — proves it.

But, as Bruno said, that can’t be discussed.




Executive Summary

This study looks at the positive environmental effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a topic which has been well established in the scientific literature but which is far too often ignored in the current discussions about climate change policy. All life is carbon based and the primary source of this carbon is the CO2 in the global atmosphere. As recently as 18,000 years ago, at the height of the most recent major glaciation, CO2 dipped to its lowest level in recorded history at 180 ppm, low enough to stunt plant growth. This is only 30 ppm above a level that would result in the death of plants due to CO2 starvation. It is calculated that if the decline in CO2 levels were to continue at the same rate as it has over the past 140 million years, life on Earth would begin to die as soon as two million years from now and would slowly perish almost entirely as carbon continued to be lost to the deep ocean sediments.

The combustion of fossil fuels for energy to power human civilization has reversed the downward trend in CO2 and promises to bring it back to levels that are likely to foster a considerable increase in the growth rate and biomass of plants, including food crops and trees. Human emissions of CO2 have restored a balance to the global carbon cycle, thereby ensuring the long-term continuation of life on Earth.

This extremely positive aspect of human CO2 emissions must be weighed against the unproven hypothesis that human CO2 emissions will cause a catastrophic warming of the climate in coming years. The one-sided political treatment of CO2 as a pollutant that should be radically reduced must be corrected in light of the indisputable scientific evidence that it is essential to life on Earth.


Conflict about Climate Change at the American Meteorological Society: Meteorologists’ Views on a Scientific and Organizational Controversy

Neil Stenhouse et al.


This article analyzes open-ended survey responses to understand how members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) perceive conflict within the AMS over global warming. Of all survey respondents, 53% agreed that there was conflict within the AMS; of these individuals who perceived conflict, 62% saw it as having at least some productive aspects, and 53% saw at least some unproductive aspects. Among members who saw a productive side to the conflict, most agreed as to why it was productive: debate and diverse perspectives enhance science. However, among members who saw an unproductive side, there was considerable disagreement as to why. Members who are convinced of largely human-caused climate change expressed that debate over global warming sends an unclear message to the public. Conversely, members who are unconvinced of human-caused climate change often felt that their peers were closed-minded, and were suppressing unpopular views. These two groups converged, however, on one point: politics was seen as an overwhelmingly negative influence on the debate. This suggests that scientific organizations faced with similar conflict should understand that there may be a contradiction between legitimizing all members’ views and sending a clear message to the public about the weight of the evidence. The findings also reinforce the conclusion that attempts by scientific societies to directly address differences in political views may be met with strong resistance by many scientists.


Revised windfarm plan nodded through to anger of activists

Dissent in the Scottish Highlands

Highland councillors yesterday nodded through a radically revised windfarm proposal without a debate despite claims that they had not been provided with key information. Two leading activists had written to members of the north planning committee to highlight their point.

Due to the scale of the 19turbine Corriemoillie development, a final decision rests with Scottish Government ministers.

Councillors were offered the opportunity to comment as statutory consultees. French firm EDF Energy’s revised submission was for more powerful turbines, featuring larger blades, for its scheme at Gorstan near Garve.

Anti-windfarm campaigner Brenda Herrick, who had written to members, said: “I was completely shocked.

“The planning report omitted to state that the turbine hub height was reduced in order to allow a considerable increase in blade length amounting to a total change in rotor diameter.”

She claimed it would result in the turbines “appearing much larger and having a considerably increased detrimental effect visually.”

Fellow activist Lyndsey Ward added: “It beggars belief that this was rubberstamped without a question being asked. Has nothing changed that doesn’t warrant a closer look? It’s a dark day for local democracy.”

Head of planning and building standards, David Mudie, had told councillors that the 410ft Corriemoillie turbines were “consistent with the neighbouring Lochluichart Windfarm, although the blade length for that windfarm is 331ft and the proposal in front of you is 338ft.”

He said the turbine model had “already been agreed”. Speaking afterwards, Sutherland SNP councillor George Farlow, a committee member, said the agenda item had gone through “despite persistent nay-sayers over long periods of time.”


Climate change's role in Eastern Australia's recent big storms

Acacia Pepler seems to be a dear little thing and she definitely has real talent as an academic. She has written a long and careful article below on how likely it is that Australia's recent big storms were influenced by climate change:  An inevitable question.  And she does have extensive knowledge of East coast weather.  But her answer to the question could be accurately summarized in just two words: "Nobody knows".  To stretch that out into a long article is real talent.  She will go far in academe

Australia's east coast is recovering from a weekend of wild winds, waves and flooding, caused by a weather pattern known as an east coast low. Tragically, several people have died in flooding.

Parts of New South Wales have received more than 400mm of rain since Friday morning.  Some places such as Canberra and Forster recorded their wettest June day on record.  Waves have also caused severe coastal erosion and damaged property.

East coast lows are a type of low-pressure system or cyclone that occur on the Australian east coast. They are not uncommon, with about seven to eight lows a year causing widespread rainfall along the east coast, particularly during late autumn and winter.  An east coast low in April last year caused similar damage.

But whenever they happen, they raise the question: did climate change play a role?

Climate models suggest the cyclones that move through the global mid-latitudes — around 30 to 50 degrees S — are moving south.  This is contributing to long-term declines in winter rainfall in south-western Australia and parts of southeast Australia.

These models also suggest the atmospheric conditions that help east coast lows form could decline by between 25 per cent and 40 per cent by the end of the century.

In recent work, my colleagues and I looked even more closely at how climate change will affect individual east coast lows. Our results also found east coast lows are expected to become less frequent during the cool months May to October, which is when they currently happen most often.

But there is no clear picture of what will happen during the warm season. Some models even suggest east coast lows may become more frequent in the warmer months. And increases are most likely for lows right next to the east coast — just the ones that have the biggest impacts where people live.

What about the big ones? The results in the studies I talked about above are for all low-pressure systems near the coast — about 22 per year, on average.

But it is the really severe ones that people want to know about, like the current event, or the storm that grounded tanker Pasha Bulker in Newcastle in June 2007. These storms are much rarer, which makes it harder to figure out what will happen in the future.

Most of the models we looked at had no significant change projected in the intensity of the most severe east coast low each year.

Warming oceans provide more moisture, so intense rainfall is expected to increase by about 7 per cent for each degree of global warming.

East coast lows are no different; even during the winter, when east coast lows are expected to become less frequent, the frequency of east coast lows with heavy rain is likely to increase.

Finally, even though there may be fewer east coast lows, they are occurring in an environment with higher sea levels.

This means many more properties are vulnerable to storm surges and the impact of a given storm surge is that much worse.

Was it climate change?

While the frequency of cool-season east coast lows looks likely to decrease in the future, changes in the big ones are a lot less certain.

However, east coast lows are very variable in frequency and hard to predict.

So far, there has not been any clear trend in the past 50 years, although east coast lows may have been more frequent in the past.

As for extreme rainfall, studies have found little influence of climate change on Australian extreme rainfall so far.

Climate variability, such as El Nino, currently plays a much larger role.

This does not mean climate change is having no effect; it just means it is hard to tell what impact a warming world is having at this stage.

So did climate change cause this weekend's storms? No — these events, including intense ones, often occur at this time of year.

But it is harder to rule out climate change having any influence at all.

For instance, what is the impact of higher sea levels on storm surges? And how much have record-warm sea temperatures contributed to rainfall and storm intensity?

We know these factors will become more important as the climate system warms further, so as the clean-up begins, we should keep an eye on the future.



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1 comment:

Slywolfe said...


I think "nobody knows" is a valid and appropriate conclusion.