Tag: climate

Hey Look What's Making News!

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | December 2, 2010 6:44 pm

I’ve been writing and speaking about ocean acidification for a long time. And will continue. Now at CNN:

The chemistry of the world’s oceans is changing at a rate not seen for 65 million years, with far-reaching implications for marine biodiversity and food security, according to a new United Nations study released Thursday.”Environmental Consequences of Ocean Acidification,” published by the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP),” warns that some sea organisms including coral and shellfish will find it increasingly difficult to survive, as acidification shrinks the minerals needed to form their skeletons.

Lead author of the report Carol Turley, from the UK’s Plymouth Marine Laboratory said in a statement: “We are seeing an overall negative impact from ocean acidification directly on organisms and on some key ecosystems that help provide food for billions. We need to start thinking about the risk to food security.”

Damn straight. Read the full article here.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Environment, Marine Science

Is It Time to Start Countering Climate Denial at the Local Level?

By Chris Mooney | November 2, 2010 8:55 am

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with Scholastic (which makes bajillions off textbooks and Harry Potter) to produce an “energy” curriculum–one that neglects environmental consequences and climate change, at least in the materials presented so far (PDF).

Scholastic also offers the “United States of Energy,” another lesson plan/educational program “brought to you” in part by the American Coal Foundation.

Meanwhile, in state after state, anti-evolutionists are arguing not only that we should “teach the controversy” around evolution, but that the same goes for other controversial topics as well–and then global warming inevitably gets roped in. And the strategy has been working.

In the most infamous case, legislators in South Dakota called for “balanced teaching” about global warming in their state. In one version, their bill justified this assault by noting, “there are a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect world weather phenomena [and] the significance and interrelativity of these factors is largely speculative…”

Yeah. They did write that.

Is it time for the creation of an organization, like the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), that will be capable of countering these many and varied attempts to torque what children learn about climate and energy? Doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me. Here’s Eugenie Scott, of NCSE, discussing the idea:

The Sea Cucumber Shall Inherit the Earth

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | October 27, 2010 11:29 am

Sheril's Pictures 181..okay not exactly. But anyone who reads The Intersection regularly likely knows I have an affinity for the sea cucumber–the charismatic little critter I studied in graduate school up at UMaine. What I haven’t shared previously is that because I worked on them for years, I also became extremely sensitive to the toxin they produce–as many researchers working with different echinoderms do. In fact, I am now severely allergic to cucumaria frondosa. Needless to say, you don’t want to mess with them.

So I’m not surprised to learn that unlike many species at risk from ocean acidification–already adversely affecting marine organisms like clown fish–echinoderms seem to be less vulnerable. From the BBC:

When the animals, known as echinoderms, were exposed to water high in carbon dioxide early in their lives, there were no adverse effects.

Echinoderms are a diverse group that includes sea cucumbers and starfish.

Their natural resilience could represent a competitive advantage under some climate change scenarios.

Hence, as ocean acidification threatens the marine realm, the meek cucumber may be alright in the end. That is, if we don’t overharvest them first. Read the full article here

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Marine Science

A Warming Planet Can Mean More Snow

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | February 15, 2010 11:31 am

Many people are confused about the relationship between weather and climate, and Jeff Masters did a nice job of explaining the difference today on NPR’s Morning Edition:

Meteorologist Jeff Masters, with the Web site Weather Underground, says it’s average temperatures — not snowfall — that really measure climate change.

“Because if it’s cold enough to snow, you will get snow,” Masters says. “We still have winter even if temperatures have warmed on average, oh, about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 100 years.”

Masters say that 1 degree average warming is not enough to eliminate winter. Or storms.

A storm is part of what scientists classify as weather. Weather is largely influenced by local conditions and changes week to week. It’s fickle — fraught with wild ups and downs.

Climate is the long-term trend of atmospheric conditions across large regions, even the whole planet. Changes in climate are slow and measured in decades, not weeks.

Go listen to the full clip by Christopher Joyce here.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Global Warming, Media and Science

Obama on Climate and Energy in the SOTU

By Chris Mooney | January 28, 2010 8:33 am

Here’s the part of last night’s speech that is directed at us nerds:

Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history – an investment that could lead to the world’s cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year’s investments in clean energy — in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.

The new investments in science were wonderful–but will they be able to continue with the president’s proposed three year “freeze” on spending?

But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

I know greens are ticked about this part of the speech. The conjunction of nuclear, drilling, and clean coal made them understandably apoplectic. But it seems to me that now that Democrats have lost their supermajority in the Senate, it may be necessary to give some ground on these areas if we want a real energy plan to go through. And it sounds like Obama is willing to do that.

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. And this year I’m eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate.

I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy. I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here’s the thing – even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.

Go Greg Craven–Obama made your argument!

I’m glad the president isn’t backing down on the Senate bill. I am not in a position to handicap the votes, but, let’s face it: George W. Bush would have gotten the bill through without a supermajority in the Senate. He did it again and again. If Democrats play tougher, and smarter, they can still put us on a path towards solving the climate problem.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Energy, Environment, Global Warming
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