Posts Tagged ‘Global Warming’

Oil Companies Get OK to Annoy Polar Bears

June 17, 2008

Less than a month after declaring polar bears a threatened species because of global warming, the Bush administration is giving oil companies permission to annoy and potentially harm them in the pursuit of oil and natural gas.

The Fish and Wildlife Service issued regulations this week providing legal protection to seven oil companies planning to search for oil and gas in the Chukchi Sea off the northwestern coast of Alaska if “small numbers” of polar bears or Pacific walruses are incidentally harmed by their activities over the next five years.

Environmentalists said the new regulations give oil companies a blank check to harass the polar bear.

About 2,000 of the 25,000 polar bears in the Arctic live in and around the Chukchi Sea, where the government in February auctioned off oil leases to ConocoPhillips Co., Shell Oil Co. and five other companies for $2.6 billion. Over objections from environmentalists and members of Congress, the sale occurred before the bear was classified as threatened in May.

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New Zealand seeks to curb livestock’s gas emissions

June 10, 2008

Over thousands of years of evolution, sheep, cattle and other cud chewers developed a nasty habit. They burp and break wind a lot.

That gives New Zealand a distressing gas problem.

The country’s 4 million people share two islands in the South Pacific with 40 million sheep, 9 million beef and dairy cattle and more than a million farmed deer, all producing the methane that many climate scientists say is one of the worst culprits behind global warming.

It may be a small country on the edge of the world, but New Zealand has big ambitions in the fight against climate change. Last year, Prime Minister Helen Clark set a national goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral country.

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Brown Argus Butterfly Sees Positive Effects Of Climate Change

June 6, 2008

The Brown Argus butterfly Aricia agestis has expanded northwards in Britain during the last 30 years. It is thought that the recent expansion of the species is due to the increasing summer temperatures caused by global warming.

Research carried out by scientists in the UK and Spain reveals that by moving into new areas, the Brown Argus may be escaping from some of its ‘natural enemies’ (parasitoids).

This is not because natural enemies are absent from the new areas, but that the parasitoids are not able to locate the Brown Argus. Instead, the parasitoids rely on the common blue butterfly Polyommatus icarus in these northern habitats. This species has a long-established range throughout Britain and suffers a larger amount of parasitism than the Brown Argus in these northern habitats.

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Bush’s polar bear legal disaster

May 23, 2008

As expected, the U. S. Department of the Interior added the polar bear to the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act last week. Even with the Bush administration’s attempt to render the ruling toothless, this action will almost surely go down in history as the turning point in the global-warming debate.

The department concluded that the past and projected melting of sea ice in the Arctic poses an immediate threat to the polar bear’s habitat. It pointed to greenhouse-gas-induced climate change as a primary cause for the recession of the sea ice, and emphasized that oil and gas development in the Arctic isn’t the reason the polar bear is threatened.

Make no mistake, within a year or two, we can expect the polar bear to begin influencing everyday U. S. economic life.

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Protecting Polar Bears Must Include Mitigating Global Warming, Group Argues

May 23, 2008

Following a three-year legal battle to protect the polar bear from extinction due to global warming, three environmental groups won protection for the species with the announcement today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing the polar bear as a federally “threatened” species.

The decision was issued in response to a 2005 scientific petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and was required by a court order in a lawsuit brought by the groups to end the administration’s delay in issuing a final Endangered Species Act listing decision.

While the polar bear listing is one of the administration’s clearest acknowledgments to date of the urgent threat posed by global warming, the administration is simultaneously attempting to reduce the protections the bear will receive under the Act. It claims in the listing decision that federal agencies need not consider the impact of global warming pollution on the polar bear; it has also proposed a separate regulation reducing the protections the polar bear would otherwise receive.

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Dramatic Impact Of Sea-Level Rise On Chesapeake Bay’s Coastal Habitats

May 23, 2008

A new report, Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Habitats of the Chesapeake Bay, shows in vivid detail the dramatic effects of sea-level rise on the largest estuary in the US, which sustains more than 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals including great blue herons and sea turtles.

If global warming continues unabated, projected rising sea levels will significantly reshape the region’s coastal landscape, threatening waterfowl hunting and recreational saltwater fishing in Virginia and Maryland, according to the report by the National Wildlife Federation.

Habitats at Risk

Coastal habitats in the Chesapeake Bay region, near Washington D.C., will be dramatically altered if sea levels rise globally about two feet by the end of the century, which is at the low end of what is predicted if global warming pollution remains unaddressed.

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British Birds Adapt to Changing Climate

May 9, 2008

Climate change threatens many animals — but with any luck, some will handle weather shifts with as much aplomb as Parus major, a colorful songbird also known as the great tit.

In a study published today in Science, ornithologists from the University of Oxford tracked the egg-laying times of great tits in Wytham, England. Since the mid-1970s, temperatures in Wytham have risen steadily, hastening the start of spring by two weeks. The birds have followed suit, timing their breeding to coincide with earlier hatches of their favorite food source, a species of moth caterpillar.

The birds’ adaptation appears to be based in what’s known as phenotypic plasticity — the ability of a creature to respond to changes in its environment — rather than natural selection favoring birds with earlier breeding times.

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Koalas’ future: hot, hungry

May 9, 2008

Koalas are under threat from climate change because rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels will affect the availability of their food, an Australian scientist has warned.

Ian Hume, of the University of Sydney, said his team had found, in laboratory experiments, that increases in carbon dioxide levels could reduce the amount of available nutrients and increase the amount of toxins in eucalyptus leaves.

Koalas were very fussy eaters, and some species of eucalyptus were already close to a threshold below which they would not contain enough goodness for the marsupials to feed on.

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Trouble In Paradise: Global Warming A Greater Danger To Tropical Species

May 7, 2008

Polar bears fighting for survival in the face of a rapid decline of polar ice have made the Arctic a poster child for the negative effects of climate change. But new research shows that species living in the tropics likely face the greatest peril in a warmer world.

A team led by University of Washington scientists has found that while temperature changes will be much more extreme at high latitudes, tropical species have a far greater risk of extinction with warming of just a degree or two. That is because they are used to living within a much smaller temperature range to begin with, and once temperatures get beyond that range many species might not be able to cope.

“There’s a strong relationship between your physiology and the climate you live in,” said Joshua Tewksbury, a UW assistant professor of biology. “In the tropics many species appear to be living at or near their thermal optimum, a temperature that lets them thrive. But once temperature gets above the thermal optimum, fitness levels most likely decline quickly and there may not be much they can do about it.”

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Global warming threat to native dragonfly species

April 23, 2008

Britain’s dragonflies, which date back to the dinosaurs but are increasingly threatened by habitat destruction, pollution and climate change, are to be the subject of a major national survey.

The five-year project, to be launched on Thursday, will result in a new atlas of the 39 species of dragonfly and damselfly that breed in Britain – which are soon likely to be joined by several others.

As it warms up, the climate is bringing new species into the UK from continental Europe, and allowing species already here to move further north. Already, one new European species has established itself here since the publication of the last British dragonfly atlas in 1996 – the small red-eyed damselfly. A decade ago it had never been seen in the UK; now it has breeding colonies from Devon to Norfolk, and continues to spread.

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Spring keeps coming earlier for birds, bees, trees

March 19, 2008

Pollen is bursting. Critters are stirring. Buds are swelling. Biologists are worrying.

“The alarm clock that all the plants and animals are listening to is running too fast,” Stanford University biologist Terry Root said.

Blame global warming.

The fingerprints of man-made climate change are evident in seasonal timing changes for thousands of species on Earth, according to dozens of studies and last year’s authoritative report by the Nobel Prize-winning international climate scientists. More than 30 scientists told The Associated Press how global warming is affecting plants and animals at springtime across the country, in nearly every state.

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Rain forests fall at ‘alarming’ rate

February 3, 2008

From Brazil to central Africa to once-lush islands in Asia’s archipelagos, human encroachment is shrinking the world’s rain forests.

The alarm was sounded decades ago by environmentalists — and was little heeded. The picture, meanwhile, has changed: Africa is now a leader in destructiveness. The numbers have changed: UN specialists estimate 60 acres of tropical forest are felled worldwide every minute, up from 50 a generation back. And the fears have changed.

Experts still warn of extinction of animal and plant life, of the loss of forest peoples’ livelihoods, of soil erosion and other damage. But scientists today worry urgently about something else: the fateful feedback link of trees and climate.

Global warming is expected to dry up and kill off vast tracts of rain forest, and dying forests will feed global warming.

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