Tag Archives: global warming

Climate changes within my lifetime

Photos courtesy of NASA.gov

Side by side comparisons of sea ice from 1979 and 2003.

What major climate change shifts can I expect to see within my lifetime?

  • “Melting of Arctic sea-ice (about 10 years)
  • Collapse of the Indian summer monsoon (about 1 year)
  • Greening of the Sahara/Sahel and disruption of the West African monsoon (about 10 years)”

What if I live to the age of 90?

  • “Dieback of the Amazon rainforest (about 50 years)
  • Dieback of the Boreal Forest (about 50 years)”

These predicted climate change shifts and more were reported in the BBC news article Climate set for sudden shifts.  The article reports:

“Many of Earth’s climate systems will undergo a series of sudden shifts this century as a result of human-induced climate change, a study suggests… The work by an international team appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. “

Photo courtesy of the BBC News.

Photo courtesy of the BBC News.

I wonder what changes our future children will see.


Related articles:
What is global warming?
What could happen?
What’s being done about it?

In the mean time, Help solve global warming using this guide for individuals, by S. Genovese

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Why should we care about disappearing frogs?

A story about extinction

When I was working on my film on Siquijor island in the Philippines in 2004-2005, I met a fellow scholar in my fellowship program, herpetologist Cameron Siler who was studying for his PhD. Cameron was based on a neighboring island called Negros, in the city of Dumaguete.  He studied frogs and other amphibians throughout the archipelago. He collected and preserved hundreds of them for his university.  Cameron explained in a recent email that researchers have to follow “very strict collection permits that were given to us by the Philippine government.”

“The main purpose of our research is to document and understand the full diversity of an area.  So we attempt to conduct really detailed surveys and collect voucher specimens that can represent these unique and amazing species in a museum.  Usually this amounts to only 2 or 3 individuals for a species, and so we are confident that we minimize our impact on their populations.”

The biodiversity of frogs and lizards in the country is incredible.  I saw so many in daily life.  Inside the hut where I lived or whereever I stayed in the country, there were little insect-eating lizards hanging on the walls and ceilings, as well as geckos the size of my hand.  Each morning, while we ate breakfast outside, a giant monitor lizard we named Larry the lizard passed before us. He was probably on his way to snacking on the chickens or chicks, who were feeding on our compost pile in the yard.

During our occasional visits to Dumaguete, Cameron would tell us about his adventures to far-flung islands finding sometimes exotic large frogs or wrestling with monitor lizards which grew to the size of adult humans. He showed us his photos of them on his laptop and told us about how he preserved their bodies for scientific study, which were stored in his room.

As he told us about his research, I wondered why the study of frogs should be of any significance to my life. I started to answer this question for myself after being told a few more stories.  Cameron recalled a time when he was in the rice fields around the city of Dumaguete. He found frogs growing extra legs.  He guessed that this condition may have been due to the pesticides applied to the rice fields.  From then on, I vowed to try only to buy the locally grown organic brown rice, which was mainly grown locally for export to Japan.

In the Aug. 12, 2008 article published last week Dying frogs sign of a biodiversity crisis by Rachel Tompa in “UC Berkeley News,” David Wake, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley mentions climate change as a cause of mass deaths and says,

“Amphibians have been around for about 250 million years. They made it through when the dinosaurs didn’t. The fact that they’re cutting out now should be a lesson for us.”

Tompa reports:

“In an article published online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers argue that substantial die-offs of amphibians and other plant and animal species add up to a new mass extinction facing the planet.”

In the meantime, I’ll keep searching for ways to step lightly on the earth and reduce my own contribution to climate change — and extinction.

Articles on this topic:
Dying frogs sign of a biodiversity crisis
Link to Global Warming in Frogs’ Disappearance Is Challenged
‘Last wave’ for wild golden frog

Related articles (updated):
To save ourselves, we need to need to understand why primates face extinction
‘Only 50 years left’ for sea fish
UN issues ‘final wake-up call’ on population and environment

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“The time for small changes is over”

Small and big changes are necessary to meet the challenges facing our earth. As I begin this blog, I ask myself how: we can meet the challenges of climate change and the depletion of our earth’s resources? How can humans live sustainably?

I recently read two articles that addressed these questions.  In “Begging for Small Change,” Dr. Tom Crompton in an article for the BBC says,

“Of course, it’s helpful for people to switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, or turn their central heating down; cumulatively, such changes will have a beneficial impact.

…In fact, some research shows that, for a significant number of people, the opposite is true. Having embraced one simple change, some people then tend to rest on their laurels and be less likely to engage in other more significant changes.”

He explains how a green consumer can paradoxically create more waste. Dr. Crompton also proposes positive solutions for change, among them:

“We need a different approach to motivating people to change; one which stems from a re-examination of the values upon which this change is built.

Studies find that people who engage in behaviour in pursuit of “intrinsic” goals – such as personal growth, community involvement, or a sense of connection with nature – tend to be more highly motivated and more likely to engage in environmentally friendly behaviour than individuals who are motivated by “extrinsic” goals – that is, financial success, image and the acquisition of material goods.”

Read the complete article: Begging for more than small change

The subject of overconsumption is discussed in Crompton’s article and also in Too Many People, Too Much Consumption by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich of Stanford University. They discuss how humans have been depleting the earth’s resources “as if there were no tomorrow.”

“Four decades after his controversial book, The Population Bomb, scientist Paul Ehrlich still believes that overpopulation — now along with overconsumption — is the central environmental crisis facing the world. And, he insists, technological fixes will not save the day.”

Their pointed remarks about consumption resonate with me as an American and hit home:

“Consumption is still viewed as an unalloyed good by many economists, along with business leaders and politicians, who tend to see jacking up consumption as a cure-all for economic ills. Too much unemployment? Encourage people to buy an SUV or a new refrigerator. Perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell, but third-rate economists can’t think of anything else. Some leading economists are starting to tackle the issue of overconsumption, but the problem and its cures are tough to analyze. Scientists have yet to develop consumption condoms or morning-after-shopping-spree pills.”

The Ehlrichs provide inspiring remarks for positive change:

“We’ll continue to hope and work for a cultural transformation in how we treat each other and the natural systems we depend upon. We can create a peaceful and sustainable global civilization, but it will require realistic thinking about the problems we face and a new mobilization of political will.”

Read the complete compelling article Too Many People, Too Much Consumption.

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