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Global warming's impact on US plants, animals

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  • Global warming's impact on US plants, animals

    Global warming's impact on US plants, animals determined from review of dozens of studies

    Global warming has forced U.S. plants and animals to change their behavior in recent decades in ways that can be harmful, according to a new report prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
    The Pew Center review of more than 40 studies is co-authored by Camille Parmesan, integrative biologist at The University of Texas at Austin, and Hector Galbraith of Galbraith Environmental Services, who is affiliated with the University of Colorado at Boulder. Their analyses revealed that more than half the studies provided strong evidence of a direct link between global warming and changes in the behavior of species in the continental United States and Alaska.

    Other recent syntheses of biological impacts, including my own, have focused on very large datasets across the globe," said Parmesan. "The conclusion from those studies is that global climate change has affected about half of all wild species. That's important, but what people really want to know is what's happening in their backyard. This is the first study to focus on U.S. datasets. The message from the report is that human-driven climate change has affected species all across the U.S., from new tropical species arriving in Florida to changes in the basic functioning of ecosystems in Alaska."

    Parmesan's similar findings involving an even larger statistical review of global warming's impact on plants and animals around the world appeared in a January 2003 issue of Nature.

    The Pew report, "Observed Impacts of Global Climate Change in the U.S.," involved studies of diverse plants and animals that lasted from 20 to more than 100 years. The report revealed that some plants are flowering earlier in the spring than ever before and some birds breeding earlier. In addition, species from Edith's checkerspot butterflies to the red fox have been gradually moving northward or to higher elevations, where more tolerable climate conditions now exist. Some of these species are also disappearing from southern, or lower elevation, portions of their ranges.

    These shifts sometimes have had no overall negative impact. But in other cases, they have made survival tougher as the large-scale movements bring new species into contact with each other, often resulting in direct competition, such as appears to be occurring as the competitively superior red fox pushes the arctic fox farther towards the sea. But more subtle changes are also likely to result from species relocating themselves, such as changes in food quality or in availability of breeding sites.

    Similar concerns exist for the Earth's waters. For example, 60 years of study have revealed that warmer-water species of fishes and intertidal species, such as starfish and sea anemone, now dominate waters near Monterey, Calif., that once were known for colder-water counterparts.

    Scientists generally agree that global warming over the past century has increased average temperatures worldwide by 1 degree Fahrenheit. Although this average applies across the lower 48 states, some parts of Alaska have experienced increases of up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit. The larger the change is, the fewer species are expected to be able to biologically adjust to the new conditions.

    "With warming for the next century projected to be two to 10 times greater than the last, we're heading toward a fundamental and potentially irreversible disruption of the U.S. landscape and wildlife," said Eileen Claussen, president of the non-profit Pew Center on Global Climate Change in Arlington, Va.

    A 2001 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change involving Parmesan concluded that human use of fossil fuels was primarily responsible for the average hike in temperatures over the past 50 years. Gases released from spent fuel are known to enter the Earth's atmosphere, trapping extra sunlight there similar to the way a greenhouse works. Studies since then have gone further, and also attribute a considerable chunk of recent climate change across the United States to human-released greenhouse gases.

    The new report highlights actions that could be taken to reduce global warming's impact, such as providing more nature preserves that have flexible boundaries, and reducing habitat destruction and other stressors on the natural world.

    Implementing a very small carbon tax to promote reduced fossil fuel use also was recently recommended in an Oct. 15 Science article by Gary Yohe, the economist at Wesleyan University in Connecticut who co-authored the 2003 Nature paper with Parmesan.

    "Scientists with diverse expertise are spending an enormous amount of energy providing sound information about global warming," Parmesan said. "Without a concerted effort to minimize its impact, it's clear that species in our own backyards will become increasingly vulnerable to the effects of rising global temperatures."

    Source: University of Texas at Austin
    \"No, I think Space is a dimension of Time. My theory is that Time is a field and that Space exists as an aspect of Time.\" Michael Moorcock

    \"All I know about anything is \"I wasn\'t. I am. I will not be.\" Michael Moorcock

  • #2
    Many of Europe's birds in danger of vanishing: report

    Many of Europe's birds in danger of vanishing: report

    AMSTERDAM - Almost half of the species of birds in Europe are at risk of disappearing, according to a new report.

    The latest assessment by BirdLife International, an umbrella organization of conservation groups, says 226 species of birds on the continent, or about 43 per cent, are in danger of being wiped out.

    Birds are excellent environmental indicators and the continued decline of many species sends a clear signal about the health of Europe's wildlife and the poor state of our environment," said Clairie Papazoglou, head of BirdLife.

    The report, Birds in Europe, was presented Monday at a conference on biodiversity in the Netherlands. It blamed intensive agriculture, construction projects and climate warming for the drop in birds.

    The report says a number of "waders," such as the northern lapwing, have declined because of the drainage of river valleys and lowlands. Migratory birds that winter in Africa and farmland birds, such as the corn bunting, are also at risk. The report also says urban birds such as the house sparrow have declined sharply in number.

    Papazoglou says the report will remind the European Union of its promise to halt the loss of wildlife by 2010.

    The report had some good news for 14 species, which were on the rise thanks to conservation efforts including Audouin's gull, the Eurasian griffon and the white-tailed eagle.

    The northern lapwing has suffered declines across much of Europe since 1990.
    \"No, I think Space is a dimension of Time. My theory is that Time is a field and that Space exists as an aspect of Time.\" Michael Moorcock

    \"All I know about anything is \"I wasn\'t. I am. I will not be.\" Michael Moorcock


    • #3
      India puts on fishy feast for winged visitors

      India puts on fishy feast for winged visitors

      Shimla - With the onset of winter, the northern state of Himachal Pradesh is preparing to cater for tens of thousands of feathered migrants, ravenous after their long journeys from Europe and Central Asia.

      Nestled in the Himalayan foothills, one of India's most picturesque lakes has been restocked with some five million small fish to satisfy the hungry migratory birds now beginning to arrive.

      Last year around two million fingerlings were introduced into the Pong wetland but this proved inadequate and the annual catch of local fishermen was depleted by the winged visitors, BD Sharma, state fisheries chief, told reporters at the weekend.

      Birds arrive at the lake each November from across Europe, Siberia, Central Asia and China as their summer wetlands begin to freeze over.

      Numbers jumped by 20 percent to a record 138 000 last year, thrilling bird-watchers but putting pressure on Pong lake.

      Production from fish farming which is carried out in the lake fell to 307 tons from 379 tons in 2002, Sharma said. In 1997, when the wetland was a less popular winter destination for the migratory birds, the yield was 414 tons.

      "Last year, a record number of migratory birds visited the Pong wetland and their numbers are steadily rising. We are working out a long-term strategy to counter the depletion of fish," said Sharma.

      He said wildlife experts were concerned that some of the two dozen species of fish found it the man-made lake, such as the golden mahseer and snow trout, could disappear.

      Those species being farmed commercially include carp and catfish, he added.

      Himachal Pradesh was forced to buy fingerlings from other neighbouring states to satisfy the voracious birds, especially cormorants which consume around 300g of fish a day each.

      Scientists are hoping to relieve some of the pressure on the lake, which stretches over 407 square kilometres, by growing food crops to attract more herbivorous birds rather than fish-eating varieties, said AK Gulati, the state's wildlife chief.

      "I have also asked wildlife officials to suggest measures for increasing available food for cormorant birds," he said.

      Pong Lake, which was formed by damming the Beas river in the mid-1970s, attracts more than 220 species of migratory birds including white-necked storks, ruddy shelduck, bar-headed geese, cormorants, mallards and red-necked and black-necked grebes.

      Even before the dam was built, the Beas river and its surrounds proved a fertile feeding ground for certain insectivorous, herbivorous, wading and diving water birds.

      The lake, which was in 1986 declared a wildlife sanctuary by the Himachal Pradesh government, boasts four islands rich in fauna and flora which are favoured by the winter guests.

      An adjoining forest sanctuary supports wildlife such as leopards, wild boar and barking deer.

      Before the river was dammed to form the lake, villagers existed on subsistence farming with fishing as a sideline.

      But with the creation of the reservoir, a lucrative fishery business started, attracting villagers who had been forced off their ancestral homes by the waters and who were left without other viable means of livelihood.
      \"No, I think Space is a dimension of Time. My theory is that Time is a field and that Space exists as an aspect of Time.\" Michael Moorcock

      \"All I know about anything is \"I wasn\'t. I am. I will not be.\" Michael Moorcock


      • #4
        Isn't it odd how the powers that be have finally got around to accepting that global warming exists, so they can propose pathetically inadequate solutions now it's too late? The knowledge has been there for upwards of thirty years for those who have been bothered to look:

        Layers of smoke in the atmosphere
        Have made the earth too hot to bear
        The Earth might be a desert soon,
        America has left the Moon
        Uncle Sam's on Mars...
        Robert Calvert, 1977
        We took the wrong step years ago! :(
        \" ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell