Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

An Earlier Exodus Amid Climate Change

December 2, 2013

From The New York Times

godwit-NYTimesBirds are migrating earlier and earlier each year, and scientists have long suspected that climate change is responsible. A new study by researchers at the University of East Anglia in England shows that individual birds migrate like clockwork, but nesting and hatching are happening earlier as a result of warmer temperatures, and this appears to be linked to the advancing of overall migration patterns.

PERMALINK: The New York Times

The Brown Cloud

November 17, 2008

Because it is now official, at least according to the government of the United States, that global climate change is real and that we humans are making a significant contribution to the problem, this blog will, from time to time, bring it up.  After all, it is affecting the lives of birds all over the planet as well as the lives of all other sentient beings on the planet.

We’ll try, however, not to get all preachy about it.

But here is a photo of a brown cloud covering much of Asia.


The photo accompanied this story last week in the New York Times.  Those of us living in the industrialized world tend to forget that, for millions of people, wood in stoves and fireplaces still constitutes most of their heat, that for millions more electricity comes only from coal-fired power plants and that brown clouds are measurably decreasing the amount of sunlight reaching Asia.

This is the 200th post on this blog.  Lots of bloggers would get all narcissistic about that, prating on about the effort, the daily grind, the etc., etc., etc., it takes to keep a blog going.  Not this blog.  No sir.  Why we won’t even mention it.  It’s just an arbitrary number. Not that we’re not impressed with ourselves. But we’ll just skip over it in a display of modesty exceeded only by our great humility and majestic writing.

Seriously, thanks for staying with us.

Climate Change in the National Parks

November 14, 2008


Sitting on my desk is a brochure published by NASA and the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior of the official government of the United States of America.  Entitled, “Climate Change in the National Parks” it begins with this quote — in large italicized print — from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global sea level.

Open the brochure and you read, “Scientists tell us there is little doubt that human activities are having a major impact on the atmosphere and ecosystems of our planet.”

Carbon dioxide levels, this publication of the United States government tells us, are higher now than any time in the past 650,000 years.  And rising.

Carbon Dioxide Levels

Carbon Dioxide Levels

Higher temperatures in spring and summer bring earlier and faster runoffs and more frequent and more intense wild fires.  The pikas of Yosemite National Park are in danger of extinction because they have to keep moving higher to get to the cool microclimate they need to live.  Soon they’ll be at the top with no where else to go.  At Bandelier National Monument the temperatures coupled with a drought brought infestations of bark beetles which are slaughtering the trees.  In Yellowstone National Park pine beetles are killing whitebark pines whose seeds are a critical food source for the grizzly bears and birds.  At Joshua Tree National Monument the cool winters and freezing temperatures the trees need to flower and set their seeds are getting too warm for their survival and the Joshua trees that give the place its name are dying so fast there soon may be no more in the park.  The glaciers in Glacier National Park will be completely gone in 20 years.  Photographs of Muir Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park taken in 1941 and 2004 prove that the planet is melting.  Rising sea levels threaten the freshwater wetlands that are the Everglades National Park.

Muir Glacier Melting

Muir Glacier Melting

According to our own government climate change is real and humanity is, “. . . having a major impact on the atmosphere and ecosystems of our planet.”

It’s official now.  The United States of America says so. The climate is changing and we are contributing in a big way.  It is time to get busy.  Tempus fugit.

I leave you with a last quote from the brochure,

What is the use of a house, if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?

Henry David Thoreau


The brochure can be downloaded here.

NASA maintains two web sites about climate change here and here.

Magpies, Al Gore and Climate Change

October 14, 2007

I’ve been gone for a few days and out of touch with the world. But I knew that Al Gore and the scientists who study global climate change would receive the Nobel Peace Prize while I was gone. A Magpie told me. Actually, the Magpie only told me that Al Gore and the scientists are right: The climate is warming and faster than it ought to. I figured the rest out for myself. blackbilledmagpie12.JPG

Magpies, in many mythologies, are messenger birds; able to transcend time and space and communicate with worlds unseen by us. They can fly to the heavens and receive messages which they bring back to earth. They’ve been in North America since long before humanity arrived here. Their range was once as extensive as that of the bison. They followed the great bison herds as they ranged throughout the current western United States.

The Magpies, now that I look back on it, have been telling me for years that the climate is warming. But I need to back up a bit. My family – for three generations now – has been the privileged custodian of an old cabin in a canyon of the southern Rocky Mountains. The cabin itself is more than 100 years old and the trees which were used to make it probably another century older than that. When I first made the annual pilgrimage I was a baby and have no conscious memory of the Magpies. But, by the time I was eight or nine years old, I delighted in seeing them. We lived outside their range and so saw them only during our summer vacation as we approached the cabin. In those days, the northern extent of their local range was about 20 miles south of the cabin.

But over just the short span of my life, the Magpies have moved north and, more important, up into the Canyon. Unless you look back more than four decades, the movement was imperceptible. But now the Magpies live a mere six and a half miles from the cabin. They have reduced their range 15 miles north and 1000 feet upward. The Magpie I saw yesterday was further north than I have ever seen one and was at least a mile further up-canyon than last year.

The only reason for their movement is that the climate here is warming. Magpies don’t do well when temperatures rise to 35 degrees centigrade (95 Degrees Fahrenheit) for more than an hour or so a day. They move upward to cooler temperatures to stay alive and are well adapted to colder temperatures. The only reason for the speed of the Magpies’ upward move is that the earth is warming faster than it would be without Homo Sapiens Sapiens adding carbon dioxide to the air at breakneck speed. It may be news to humans, but not to the Magpies. They’ve known for a long time.

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