Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s liberal govt’s reaction to another earthquake close to planned nuclear dump sit – “She’ll be right, mate!”

Kim Mavromatis  Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA. 21 Feb 19, FED LIBS REACTION TO ANOTHER EARTHQUAKE TREMOR AT PROPOSED NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP SITES AT KIMBA : She’ll be right mate – no worries – trust us – we’ll make the radioactive nuclear waste dump earthquake and flood proof – and if it doesn’t work and radioactive poison leaks onto Eyre Peninsula farmland or Flinders Ranges and completely stuffs up people’s livelihood and south australia’s economy, we’ll blame it on the boat people and the Labor opposition for allowing sick refugees to go to hospital. https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/

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February 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Middle East wars, displacement of populations – resulting from climate change

Climate change will fuel more wars and displacement in the Middle East, experts warn
‘Terrorist organisations like ISIS also capitalise on climate change to get new members’ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/middle-east-climate-change-war-food-water-refugees-jihadis-un-a8786911.html,
20 Feb 19,  Borzou Daragahi The Hague @borzo ,Themost volatile region in the world is about to be plunged into further chaos because ongoing climate change, with food scarcity and water shortages adding to the flood of displaced people, sparking wars, and providing opportunities for extremist groups, warned scholars and international officials at a conference on Tuesday.

A UN development official predicted that 7 to 10 million people in the Middle East and North Africa will be forced to leave their ancestral or temporary homes over the next decade because a lack of water, food or owing to wars possibly sparked by conflicts over resources. Others speaking at a panel at the annual Planetary Security Initiative in the Dutch capital cited small and large conflicts in the region over the years, including food riots in 2008 in Jordan, and identified other future hotspots in the Levant and north Africa.

“Food and fuel in security can very quickly quickly lead to unrest,” Jamal Saghir, a professor at McGill University.

  • “It’s likely that such shocks will happen again. Such crises might trigger violent crisis and increase public support for extremist groups offering viable alternatives,” he told attendees at the conference. “Terrorist organisations like ISIS also capitalise on climate change to get new members. They find impoverished farmers to take advantage of – they are offered food, salaries, and other advantages.”

    First launched in 2015, the Planetary Security Initiative is a conference sponsored by the Dutch government and several international organisations to address climate change and associated crises. It seeks to broaden the definition of security beyond weapons and borders to include daily sustenance.

  • Scholars and policymakers have already attributed to climatic shifts that a decades-long drought that has afflicted the Middle East. During the opening talk, the Iraqi ambassador showed a chart that traced average rainfall in Baghdad collapsing and temperatures rising consistently over the last decade.

  • The changing conditions contributed to unrest in Syria and Iraq and other Arab nations plunged into chaos in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, and the subsequent rise of ISIS. But the troubles are far from over, with warmer temperatures leading to less water, for example along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that nourish Iraq.

    “In Iraq, what is projected is the reduction of rainfall or snow in the headwaters,” said Nadim Farjallah, a professor specialising in climate change issues at the American University of Beirut. “The Middle East has all the problems now and all it needs is a spark. We already have all the tinder there.”

    Adding to the complications, the Middle East region imports 65 percent of its grain, with the numbers increasing, making governments and populations even more vulnerable to market shifts or climactic changes in other regions. “The region is completely dependent on the sustainable  management of agriculture in other parts of the world for its food security,” said Johan Schaar, a scholar at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

    The United Nations and other development agencies are nibbling at the edges of the looming crisis. They’ve established a fund to find water solutions for Egypt, where the bulk of its nearly 100 million population live along the Nile River. Kishan Khoday, a UNDP official focused on Middle East issues, described initiative bring solar energy to Somalia and manage underground water resources.

  • Participants spoke of the urgent need of making governments and publics more aware of the need to manage water and other natural resources. “We need to weave climate change more systematically into our analysis of what’s happening in the region,” said Elizabeth Sellwood, an official of the UN’s environment arm.

    In Jordan and Gaza, international officials have launched efforts to find  sources of agricultural water that are sustainable.

    But in the end, many were sceptical that either policymakers or populations  had a sense of the looming threat, and the waves of crises still ahead.

    “We’re looking at a situation of rising scarcity due to climate change and people on the move being the new normal,” said Tessa Terpstra, the Netherlands’ envoy for water matters in the Middle East.

    A  handful of governments — including those of Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco — have begun to address the issue of climate change. The preamble to Tunisia’s landmark 2014 constitution stresses “the preservation of a healthy environment that guarantees the sustainability of our natural resources.”

    But for the most part, governments are blithely ignoring the issue, especially those wealthy Arabian Peninsula states dependent on the export of oil and gas. “Between the talk and the walk there’s a major discourse that needs to be addressed,” said Mr Saghir. “I don’t think the political will is there.”

February 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

New research indicates that world efforts towards climate change targets are likely to be too slow to take effect.

World climate targets ‘unlikely to be met’, SBS, 20 Feb 19, 
New research indicates the way people use land is having an impact on global climate change targets, which may not be met.
Global targets to limit climate change are unlikely to be met due to delays in changing the way people use land, according to new research.The study, involving researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the University of Edinburgh, suggests that efforts to make land management less damaging to the climate need to be stepped up dramatically if high levels of climate change are to be avoided.

The 2015 Paris Agreement to limit average global temperature increases to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels relies heavily on changes in the management of agricultural land and forests around the world, researchers said.

Many countries plan to prevent deforestation or establish new forests over large areas to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, changes which would remove up to 25 per cent of the greenhouse gases released by human activity every year.

However, the new research shows that such changes in land use usually take decades to happen, far too slowly to help slow climate change to the agreed level.

Dr Calum Brown of KIT, lead author of the study, said: “The 195 countries that signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 set out a range of actions they would take to tackle climate change.

“In most cases little progress has been made in implementing these actions and often the situation has actually worsened in the last three years.

“Our research suggests that many of the plans for mitigation in the land system were unrealistic in the first place and now threaten to make the Paris target itself unachievable.”

The research highlights deforestation in tropical regions, which has accelerated recently after previously slowing down…….. https://www.sbs.com.au/news/world-climate-targets-unlikely-to-be-met

February 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Donald Trump in a hurry to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

Donald Trump rushing to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear technology | Al Jazeera English  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1GvW3CuhMI, 20 February 2019 

The US is rushing to transfer sensitive nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia, according to a new congressional report.

A Democratic-led House panel has launched an inquiry over concerns about the White House plan to build nuclear reactors across the kingdom.

Whistleblowers told the panel it could destabilise the Middle East by boosting nuclear weapons proliferation.

Firms linked to the president have reportedly pushed for these transfers.

The House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee report notes that an inquiry into the matter is “particularly critical because the Administration’s efforts to transfer sensitive US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia appear to be ongoing”.

President Donald Trump met nuclear power developers at the White House on 12 February to discuss building plants in Middle Eastern nations, including Saudi Arabia.

And Mr Trump’s son-in-law, White House adviser Jared Kushner, will be touring the Middle East this month to discuss the economics of the Trump administration’s peace plan.

Lawmakers have been critical of the plan as it would violate US laws guarding against the transfer of nuclear technology that could be used to support a weapons programme.

They also believe giving Saudi Arabia access to nuclear technology would spark a dangerous arms race in the volatile region. Continue reading

February 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to back the Adani mine.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to back the Adani mine. Fin Rev , 19 Feb 19

Labor candidates in regional Queensland have split from the party’s line on Adani’s $2 billion Carmichael mine, saying the project was needed to bring more jobs to regional Queensland. … (subscribers only ) 

February 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

New York Times – it’s time to panic about climate change

New York Times 16th Feb 2019 Time to Panic: The age of climate panic is here. Last summer, a heat wave baked the entire Northern Hemisphere, killing dozens from Quebec to Japan. Some of the most destructive wildfires in California history turned more than a million acres to ash, along the way melting the tires and the sneakers of those trying to escape the flames.

Pacific hurricanes forced three million people in China to flee and wiped away almost all of Hawaii’s East Island. Panic might seem counterproductive, but we’re at a point where alarmism and catastrophic thinking are valuable, for several
reasons. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/16/opinion/sunday/fear-panic-climate-change-warming.html

February 19, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Urgent climate action is now needed: sharp rise in methane levels

Sharp rise in methane levels threatens world climate targets, Experts warn that failure to act risks spike in global temperatures, Guardian, Robin McKie, Sun 17 Feb 2019 Dramatic rises in atmospheric methane are threatening to derail plans to hold global temperature rises to 2C, scientists have warned.

In a paper published this month by the American Geophysical Union, researchers say sharp rises in levels of methane – which is a powerful greenhouse gas – have strengthened over the past four years. Urgent action is now required to halt further increases in methane in the atmosphere, to avoid triggering enhanced global warming and temperature rises well beyond 2C.

“What we are now witnessing is extremely worrying,” said one of the paper’s lead authors, Professor Euan Nisbet of Royal Holloway, University of London. “It is particularly alarming because we are still not sure why atmospheric methane levels are rising across the planet.”

Methane is produced by cattle, and also comes from decaying vegetation, fires, coal mines and natural gas plants. It is many times more potent as a cause of atmospheric warming than carbon dioxide (CO2). However, it breaks down much more quickly than CO2 and is found at much lower levels in the atmosphere.

During much of the 20th century, levels of methane, mostly from fossil fuel sources, increased in the atmosphere but, by the beginning of the 21st century, it had stabilised, said Nisbet. “Then, to our surprise, levels starting rising in 2007. That increase began to accelerate after 2014 and fast growth has continued.”

Studies suggest these increases are more likely to be mainly biological in origin. However, the exact cause remains unclear. Some researchers believe the spread of intense farming in Africa may be involved, in particular in tropical regions where conditions are becoming warmer and wetter because of climate change. Rising numbers of cattle – as well as wetter and warmer swamps – are producing more and more methane, it is argued.

This idea is now being studied in detail by a consortium led by Nisbet, whose work is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. This month the consortium completed a series of flights over Uganda and Zambia to collect samples of the air above these countries.

“We have only just started analysing our data but have already found evidence that a great plume of methane now rises above the wetland swamps of Lake Bangweul in Zambia,” added Nisbet.

However, other scientists warn that there could be a more sinister factor at work. Natural chemicals in the atmosphere – which help to break down methane – may be changing because of temperature rises, causing it to lose its ability to deal with the gas.

Our world could therefore be losing its power to cleanse pollutants because it is heating up, a climate feedback in which warming allows more greenhouse gases to linger in the atmosphere and so trigger even more warming……… https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/17/methane-levels-sharp-rise-threaten-paris-climate-agreement

February 19, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

As Trump abandons landmark arms treaty, the new Cold War has officially begun

Trump’s Nuclear Reversal https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/18/opinion/letters/trump-nuclear-treaty.htmlThe president of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles says the New Cold War has officially begun. Feb. 18, 2019 Robert Dodge, Ventura, Calif. The writer, a family physician, is president of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles and co-chairman of its Committee to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

With the Trump administration’s suspension of the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the New Cold War has officially begun.

Climate science predicts catastrophic global effects from even a limited nuclear war, resulting in a nuclear famine killing up to a quarter of the global population with no adequate humanitarian or medical response.

There are no winners in nuclear war. The critical missing ingredient is diplomacy, with engagement of all nuclear states to build trust toward verifiable reductions, ultimately joining the nonnuclear countries as they work to bring into force the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

It is time to join the chorus of scientific and religious authorities and municipalities in their demand to step back from the brink.

February 19, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The future of humanity hangs in the balance’: Why the world could not handle a nuclear attack

What would you choose? Live or die?

The future of humanity hangs in the balance’: Why the world could not handle a nuclear attack . The Journal I.e.  Órla Ryan @orlaryan,  orla@thejournal.ie, 17 Feb 19

An expert explains how we could be “headed for a nuclear arms race”. NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARE probably talked about more nowadays that at any stage since the Cold War.

There are about 14,500 such weapons in the world, with nine countries owning them. The vast majority of the weapons are owned by the US (about 6,500) and Russia (about 6,800).

Tense relations between these two countries, as well as North Korea trying to increase its nuclear capability, has increased fears about a potential nuclear race.

During the week, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched a campaign calling for a global ban on nuclear weapons……….  https://www.thejournal.ie/global-ban-on-nuclear-weapons-4495766-Feb2019/

What would a nuclear war look like? And how would anyone be able to help?

February 17, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Propagandists for nuclear fusion deceive the American Association for the Advancement of Science

ITER Promoters Pull Wool Over Eyes of AAAS  http://news.newenergytimes.net/2019/02/14/iter-promoters-pull-wool-over-eyes-of-aaas/Feb. 14, 2019 – By Steven B. Krivit –

Three of the four panelists who will speak on Friday, Feb. 15, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting have contributed to the worldwide misrepresentation of the mission and design of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). The panelists will be part of a workshop that is financially sponsored by the ITER Organization. Continue reading

February 16, 2019 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Casks of nuclear waste still there stranded, decades later, and posing a safety threat

These dumpsters of old nuclear waste are costing taxpayers a fortune, They were supposed to be hauled away decades ago. They’re still here. Boston Globe,  By Joshua Miller GLOBE STAFF  JANUARY 31, 2019 

 “…….Under constant armed guard, 16 canisters of highly radioactive waste are entombed in reinforced concrete behind layers of fencing. These 13-foot-tall cylinders may not be much to look at, but they are among the most expensive dumpsters in the country, monuments to government inaction.

……….Senator Edward J. Markey, a longtime nuclear skeptic, said lingering nuclear waste tends to focus the attention of nearby cities and towns on a simple question: “When is this problem going to be solved? Or am I going to have a nuclear waste site in my community for the rest of my family’s life?”

…….So far, across the country, there haven’t been any serious accidents with the casks, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But as the time frame for their use stretches out indefinitely, no one can be sure how long before the waste poses a threat.

…….The NRC believes the casks should be safe for years to come, licensing their use for up to 40 years at a time.

The agency has ruled that, with proper inspection and maintenance, casks could last more than 100 years before the waste would have to be transferred to a new steel canister and concrete shell.

But Allison M. Macfarlane, a former NRC chairwoman, said there’s no guarantee the infrastructure will be in place to monitor them for safety.

“That assumes our institutions are robust and will last hundreds of years and I think that’s a poor assumption based on no evidence whatsoever,” Macfarlane said in the midst of the partial federal shutdown……… fortune https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/01/31/these-dumpsters-old-nuclear-waste-are-costing-you-billions/lw7aIpcWOhmn3ThjeqEnVP/story.html

February 16, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The danger of dry casks storage of nuclear wastes

The Future Of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station: Radioactive Waste And Many Questions By Sarah Mizes-Tan WGBH, 

“…….. When a nuclear power plant closes, it leaves radioactive waste, and a lot of unanswered questions……..

One morning, Turco visited the plant to point out what she’s really worried about: the dry cask storage units, a cluster of concrete cylinders sitting next to the plant.

“We should not be able to be here. If somebody had bad intent, there’s the dry casks right there,” she said.

She’s worried that the casks, which contain radioactive material from the reactor, are too easily accessible and unprotected. An attack on the casks could result in a nuclear explosion.

“You could jump over here and be over there in two minutes,” she said. She pointed out a lack of security surveillance of the road passing by the storage casks.

To add to existing concerns, Entergy is now looking to sell the power plant to Holtec, a company that specializes in nuclear decommissioning — basically, shutting nuclear power plants down. It’s the same company that manufactured the dry cask storage cylinders that Turco pointed out. ……https://www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2019/02/12/the-future-of-pilgrim-nuclear-power-station-radioactive-waste-and-many-questions

February 16, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The world cannot afford to wait for Bill Gates’ nuclear power dream to come true

Consumers, businesses and utilities all win with this new distributed clean utility because renewables plus efficiency and batteries is available as a very resilient, near-zero carbon solution to providing power when and where it’s needed at the lowest cost. As these technologies continue to scale, they continue to experience steep cost declines, making the idea of a nuclear alternative vanishingly unrealistic.

Tens of billions of dollars have been spent developing different nuclear power plant designs, and even with enormous government subsidies and guarantees, corporations and utilities do not want to invest in nuclear power. Gates is a large investor in a nuclear firm, Terrapower, which hopes to build a prototype by 2030. If this target is achieved and a prototype is demonstrated by 2030, it could move toward commercial deployment in the 2030s. But we cannot afford to wait 15 or 20 years to scale very-low-carbon energy — and, fortunately, we don’t need to.

Renewable energy has more than doubled in the last decade to provide 20 percent of U.S. electricity, as much as nuclear.

Bill Gates’ quixotic quest to revive nuclear power https://www.greenbiz.com/article/bill-gates-quixotic-quest-revive-nuclear-power,Greg Kats, February 7, 2019  Bill Gates has been lobbying Congress to secure federal financial support for nuclear power and for a nuclear company in which he is a large investor. This plea for federal largesse from a decabillionaire illustrates why further nuclear subsidies make no sense.

Nuclear power is already a heavily subsidized 60-year-old industry with over half a trillion dollars invested in several hundred large operating nuclear plants, including 99 in the United States. The cost of nuclear power has soared while the cost for other low-carbon power options — including wind, solar, batteries and energy efficiency — have plunged. This is why no U.S. utilities want to build nuclear plants unless they can get large additional subsidies.

Gates’ rationale for nuclear power can be summarized as follows: Given the reality and gravity of climate change, nuclear provides the only large-scale, very-low-carbon electricity source that cost-effectively can provide power at scale when needed. Other very-low-carbon options, such as wind and solar power, batteries and energy efficiency, cannot reliably provide power when needed — especially on hot summer afternoons when air conditioning loads are large.

This same argument was made by nuclear advocates 30 years ago and is even less true today. Continue reading

February 16, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

UK-wide strike of schoolchildren in protest over inaction on climate change

School pupils call for radical climate action in UK-wide strike, Guardian, Matthew TaylorSandra Laville , Amy Walker , Poppy Noor and Jon Henley16 Feb 2019

Thousands of young people walk out of lessons in protest at political inaction over crisis 
Thousands of schoolchildren and young people have walked out of classes to join a UK-wide climate strike amid growing anger at the failure of politicians to tackle the escalating ecological crisis.Organisers said more than 10,000 young people in at least 60 towns and cities from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall joined the strike, defying threats of detention to voice their frustration at the older generation’s inaction on the environmental impact of climate change.

Anna Taylor, 17, one of the most prominent voices to emerge from the new movement, said the turnout had been overwhelming. “It goes some way to proving that young people aren’t apathetic, we’re passionate, articulate and we’re ready to continue demonstrating the need for urgent and radical climate action.”

Organisers estimated around 3,000 schoolchildren and young people gathered in London, with 2,000 in Oxford, 1,000 each in Exeter and Leeds and several hundred in Brighton, Bristol, Sheffield and Glasgow.

In London, the protesters held banners and chanted as police and onlookers watched. They blocked the roads outside parliament chanting “Turn off your engines” at passing cars, and “We want the chance for change now” before mounted police moved them away. There were three arrests in London in connection with the protests. A 19-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl were arrested for obstructing the highway, and a 17-year-old boy for a public order offence.

In Manchester, hundreds gathered outside the Central Library before marching to the Royal Northern College of Music with signs reading “Climate over capitalism” and chanting “Whose future? Our future.”

Matt Sourby, 18, said his journey from Queen Elizabeth school in Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria, was worth it: “This is our future and this is making a difference. The government has to listen. I feel incredibly powerful just being here.”

The protests won the backing of a former UN climate chief, who said it was “time to heed the deeply moving voice of youth”.

Christiana Figueres, who led the historic 2015 Paris agreement, said the fact that children were so worried about their future they were prepared to strike should make adults sit up and take notice.

“It is a sign that we are failing in our responsibility to protect them from the worsening impacts of climate change,” she said.

The school strike movement started in August when Greta Thunberg, then 15, held a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament. Now, up to 70,000 schoolchildren each week hold protests in 270 towns and cities worldwide.

On Friday, tens of thousands marched again, some for the sixth week in succession, through towns and cities across Europe.

For the first time up to 1,000 pupils demonstrated in Paris chanting “Don’t go breaking my earth” and “One, two, three degrees – a crime against humanity”.

In Berlin, a large crowd gathered for the sixth week in a row. “We’re here now because we want to be able to be here in 50 years’ time,” read one banner……….

Thunberg hit back at the Conservative government, saying on Twitter that political leaders had wasted 30 years by not taking action against climate change. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/15/uk-climate-change-strike-school-pupils-children-environment-protest

February 16, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The world’s small creatures are being killed off by climate change

Climate change is killing off Earth’s little creatures http://theconversation.com/climate-change-is-killing-off-earths-little-creatures-109719, Bill Laurance, Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate, James Cook University, February 12, 2019 Climate change gets blamed for a lot of things these days: inundating small islands, fueling catastrophic fires, amping-up hurricanes and smashing Arctic sea ice.
But a global review of insect research has found another casualty: 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered. It confirms what many have been suspecting: in Australia and around the world, arthropods – which include insects, spiders, centipedes and the like — appear to be in trouble.

The global review comes hard on the heels of research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA that suggests a potent link between intensifying heat waves and stunning declines in the abundance of arthropods.

If that study’s findings are broadly valid – something still far from certain – it has chilling implications for global biodiversity.

Arthropod Armageddon

In the mid-1970s, researchers on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico conducted a large-scale study to measure the total biomass (living mass) of insects and other arthropods in the island’s intact rainforests, using sweep nets and sticky-traps.

Four decades later, another research team returned to the island and repeated the study using identical methods and the same locations. To their surprise, they found that arthropod biomass was just one-eighth to one-sixtieth of that in the 1970s – a shocking collapse overall.

And the carnage didn’t end there. The team found that a bevy of arthropod-eating lizards, birds and frogs had fallen sharply in abundance as well.

In the minds of many ecologists, a widespread collapse of arthropods could be downright apocalyptic. Arthropods pollinate some of our most important food crops and thousands of wild plant species, disperse seeds, recycle nutrients and form key links in food chains that sustain entire webs of life.

This ecological ubiquity arises because arthropods are so abundant and diverse, comprising at least two-thirds of all known species on Earth. In the 1940s, evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane quipped that “God has an inordinate fondness for beetles.” Humans might think we rule the world, but the planet really belongs to arthropods.

Killer heat waves

The researchers who documented the arthropod collapse in Puerto Rico considered a variety of possible causes, including pesticides and habitat disruption. But the evidence kept pointing to another driver: rising temperatures.

Weather stations in Puerto Rico indicate that temperatures there have risen progressively in the past several decades – by 2℃ on average.

But the researchers are far less worried about a gradual increase in temperature than the intensification of heat waves—which have risen markedly in Puerto Rico. This is because nearly all living species have thresholds of temperature tolerance.

For example, research in Australia has shown that at 41℃, flying foxes become badly heat-stressed, struggling to find shade and flapping their wings desperately to stay cool.

But nudge the thermometer up just one more degree, to 42℃, and the bats suddenly die.

In November, heat waves that peaked above 42℃ in north Queensland killed off almost a third of the region’s Spectacled Flying Foxes. The ground beneath bat colonies was littered with tens of thousands of dead animals. Dedicated animal carers could only save a small fraction of the dying bats.

The El Niño connection

El Niño events – fluctuations in Pacific sea-surface temperatures that drive multi-year variations in weather across large swaths of the planet – are also part of this story. New research appears to be resolving longstanding uncertainties about El Niños and global warming.

Recent studies published in Nature and Geophysical Research Letterssuggest global warming will in fact intensify El Niños – causing affected areas to suffer even more intensively from droughts and heat waves.

And this ties back to Puerto Rico, because the researchers there believe a series of unusually intense El Niño heatwaves were the cause the arthropod Armageddon. If they’re right then global warming was the gun, but El Niño pulled the trigger.

Beyond heat waves

Puerto Rico is certainly not the only place on Earth that has suffered severe declines in arthropods. Robust studies in EuropeNorth AmericaAustralia and other locales have revealed big arthropod declines as well.

And while climatic factors have contributed to some of these declines, it’s clear that many other environmental changes, such as habitat disruptionpesticidesintroduced pathogens and light pollution, are also taking heavy tolls.

So, at a planetary scale, arthropods are suffering from a wide variety of environmental insults. There’s no single reason why their populations are collapsing.


Read more: Climate change: effect on sperm could hold key to species extinction


The bottom line is: we’re changing our world in many different ways at once. And the myriad little creatures that play so many critical roles in the fabric of life are struggling to survive the onslaught.

February 14, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment