Sunday, December 19, 2021

Climate change affects the ability of fish to form tight, defensive schools, leaving them more vulnerable to predators, scientists say

Professor Nagelkerken, corresponding author of the study referred to below, is a real go-getting Dutchman. He has had half a dozen papers published already this year.

And it is amusing that one of those publications contradicts the paper referred to below. In the paper below we are told that acidification is bad for fish. But another paper under his name says the opposite, I refer to:

Nagelkerken, I., Alemany, T., Anquetin, J. M., Ferreira, C. M., Ludwig, K. E., Sasaki, M., & Connell, S. D. (2021). Ocean acidification boosts reproduction in fish via indirect effects. PLoS Biology, 19(1), e3001033-1-e3001033-21.

The abstract for the present paper is here:
So how come the contradiction? I am afraid that Nagelkerken seems to get his numbers up by doing "quick and dirty" research. In the case of the work below he studied fish in the laboratory. But the probability of any laboratory setting representing accurately a real-life oceanic environment would seem to be small.

Additionally, instead of having one treatment that mirrors real-life as accurately as possible, he subjected his fish to many combinations of acidity and temperature, some fairly extreme. And he then seems to have sought a trend in all his data. So the extreme conditions would appear to have gone into the trend found, which is absurd. His findings tell us nothing about probable conditions

The journal editors should look at his work more critically

They're also less able to dart quickly in the same direction, giving whatever is chasing them a better chance of a bigger meal.

University of Adelaide Professor Ivan Nagelkerken led a new study that used tanks to simulate two primary effects of climate change - warmer seas and ocean acidification.

He and his team then studied how those simulated conditions affect schooling behaviour - the main defensive mechanism for many species including tuna, sardines and anchovies.

The results aren't good news.

Schools were less cohesive and less compact under future conditions, and showed slower escape responses from potential threats.

"A school that is more compact has better protection than a school that has fish with a bigger distance between each other," Prof Nagelkerken said.

"What we found, under a future climate, is that schools of mixed species are much less compact. We also found these schools allow predators to approach to a closer distance before they would try to swim away."

Ocean acidification also appears to affect a natural tendency for fleeing schools to move towards the right.

Typically schools will head right most of the time but will also throw in a handful of leftwards manoeuvres to keep whatever's chasing them guessing.

"We found that under ocean acidification, the tendency to deviate to the right was much more diminished. That means the school, as a whole, functions differently compared to evolutionary times," Prof Nagelkerken said.

The study indicates schooling fish will face increased mortality from predators as the climate continues to change.

"It doesn't mean that all fish will die, but predators will likely be able to capture more fish," said the professor from Adelaide University's Environment Institute and Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories.

"When you combine that with the other impacts on the ocean, like destruction of habitat, overfishing, pollution, then less effective schooling behaviour is yet another thing fish will need to cope with in the bigger scheme of things."

The study looked at both single-species schools, and mixed-species schools, with the latter of particular interest due to the southern migration of tropical fish into temperate waters now warm enough to sustain them.

The research has been published in the journal Global Change Biology.


Tories' costly policy failures lie at the root of election defeat

Net Zero Watch has warned that the Tories’ latest election fiasco is only a taste of things to come unless the Government halts and reverses the dramatic rise in the cost of energy and the cost of living.

The startling defeat in the Shropshire by-election is clearly due to a strong protest vote, indicating deep dissatisfaction with the general policy direction taken by the Conservatives.

In essence, the party is reaping the whirlwind of years of poor policymaking, which has driven up the cost of living and has disillusioned their core base to such a degree that they will actually vote Liberal Democrat in order to make their feelings known.

Conservatives should not delude themselves that a change of leader will be sufficient to remedy their difficulties.

Charities and analysts are warning that the cost of energy for households and businesses are likely to rise by up to 70% next year, while the Ofgem is threatening to increase the price cap for energy bills every three months.

Root and branch reform of environmental policy units and incompetent and unbalanced energy regulators and climate committees that are driving utopian agendas will also be necessary.

In recent years, the party has pursued a radical green “out-reach” policy, where it has taken its core vote for granted while abandoning most of its key principles. This has backfired badly, not only with core voters but also with the centre-ground that it was seeking to attract.

Dr John Constable, Net Zero Watch energy editor, said:

“The Conservatives have an underlying and general reputational problem. Energy and environment policy is one mess amongst many, but it is highly significant.

Decades of bad ideas, many adopted from the Labour Party, such as the subsidies to wind power and other renewables, now adding over £10 billion a year to consumer bills, the foolish and counterproductive introduction of an energy bill price cap, botched attempts to introduce heat pumps, and to ban internal combustion engines, amongst many other errors, are having a cumulative effect, undermining confidence in the party’s intellectual capacity. Party-gate is just the straw that broke the camel’s back."

Dr Benny Peiser, Net Zero director said:

“Unless the government begins to realise that the astronomical cost of its Net Zero plans will bring it down at the next election, key voters will eventually lose confidence in the Conservative Party. The cost of Net Zero and the cost of living continue to rise relentlessly as a direct result of government policies. The Shropshire election fiasco is a grim warning of things to come.”

Contact Dr Benny Peiser, Director, Net Zero Watch, e:


Now peat is bad for the climate

Once a major source of energy in Ireland

The sale of peat to gardeners in England and Wales is to be banned by 2024 under plans published by the government on Saturday. Ministers said they also aimed to end peat use in the professional horticulture sector by 2028.

The government set a voluntary target in 2011 for compost retailers to end sales of peat by 2020. But peat use fell by only 25% from 2011-2019 and increased by 9% in 2020 as Covid lockdowns boosted gardening as a hobby.

Peat is the UK’s largest carbon store, trapping as much as tropical rainforests per hectare, but is routinely dug up for horticulture. This releases carbon dioxide, adding to the climate crisis. Peatlands are also vital habitats for rare species of wildlife, and help filter water and reduce flooding.

However, the government consultation also contains measures that fall short of an outright ban, instead including an additional charge on the price of peat compost, or the provision of information on the environmental impact of peat at the point of sale. The government said it did not intend to ban the sale of plants in pots that contained peat and that its plans would not affect current licences for peat extraction.

The environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “We are committed to bring forward the ban [on the sale of peat to gardeners] by the end of this parliament – that’s an absolute commitment.”

“Our peatlands are an incredibly valuable natural resource,” she said. “There are now more sustainable and good quality peat-free alternatives available than at any other time, so I am confident now is the right time to make the shift permanent.” Sustainable alternatives to peat include compost made from wood fibre and bark, wool, coir, and other plants.

Pow said the weaker measures were included because “in a consultation, it is best to be fully informed with as much evidence and data as we can have, and some people in the industry are still pressing for other potential routes”.

Craig Bennett, of the Wildlife Trusts, said: “The government has been dithering over this crucial issue for decades and the consultation on the use of peat by gardeners is long overdue. But it’s a damp squib.

“It refers to the damaging effects of peat extraction, but this activity is still allowed in England, which is absurd. We need an immediate ban on the use of peat by individuals and the wider horticulture industry and an immediate end to extracting peat.”

Prof Dave Goulson, from the University of Sussex, said: “We need to stop kicking the can down the road. The government acknowledges we are in a climate emergency, but isn’t even prepared to stop depletion of a vital carbon store for needless ornamental use in our gardens. We need to stop peat use now.” Pow said “historic” licences allowing the extraction of peat were being reviewed.

Alan Titchmarsh, Kate Bradbury and James Wong are among the high-profile gardeners who have backed a ban, and Monty Don has called peat in compost “environmental vandalism”.

Peat may become harder to buy in the UK in any case because most is imported from bogs in Ireland, where the state-backed company Bord na Móna ended all peat extraction in 2020, although its reserves are still being sold. Some big retailers of peat have implemented their own bans, including Dobbies and the Co-op in 2021, and B&Q by 2023.

About 70% of peat is sold to gardeners and 30% is used by professional growers. The government estimates a ban on both uses would cut CO2 emissions by 4m tonnes in the next two decades.


Australia: China-made wind turbines crack sparking outrage they weren't made locally

Chinese-made wind turbines on Australia's biggest wind farm have cracked, sparking outrage that the project didn't use locally made machinery.

Nineteen of 40 turbines inspected at the Stockyard Hill wind farm, in Victoria's central highlands, are defective and will take months to fix, according to the Australian Manufacturing Worker's Union.

Another 109 turbines were yet to be inspected and it was feared they could also be damaged.

The massive wind farm, which is Australia's biggest, was operating for less than five months.

The AMWU, which found the damage in inspections, savaged the federal government for not forcing the project's developers to buy Australian-made turbines.

'The federal government sat on it's hands while our largest wind farm imported towers from China instead of supporting local jobs,' it said. 'Shame on the federal government for not mandating local content.'

The project was started by Windpower Australia, then sold to Origin Energy, which sold it to Xinjiang Goldwind, a Chinese-owned company, for $110 million.

Goldwind, which owns or operates nine wind and solar farms in Australia, is part of Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co, the world's biggest wind turbine manufacturer, based in Beijing.

Goldwind is listed on the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges, but 40 per cent of its top 10 investors are owned by the ruling Chinese Communist Party

Origin is contracted to buy 530MW of power from Goldwind until 2030 for up to 425,000 Victorian homes from the wind farm.

It was completed in 2020 and only began operation in July this year.

The union insisted Australian manufacturers should be 'front and centre' in green energy projects.

'Earlier this year workers from local wind tower manufacturer Keppel Prince met with local member [Trade Minister] Dan Tehan to urge him to mandate local content in major projects like wind farms. 'He did nothing.'

The union found the damage, which is on the 'top cover housing key mechanics' behind the blades, when it inspected the turbines.

It claims repairs will take up to 76 weeks 'and they still haven't inspected all of the towers'.

A further 109 turbines are yet to be inspected.




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