28 posts · 18,941 views
Phil Camill is the Rusack Associate Professor and Program Director of Environmental Studies at Bowdoin College. He studies the impacts of climate warming on boreal and Arctic ecosystems.
European bee populations are on the decline worldwide. Who cares? These bees are major pollinators of crops and therefore perform, for free, a vital ecological service worth about $U.S. 14 billion per year. Not to mention the many other species of non-crop flowering plants that reproduce with the help of insects like this.
The recent kind [...]... Read more »
Christopher A. Mullin, Maryann Frazier, James L. Frazier, Sara Ashcraft, Roger Simonds, Dennis vanEngelsdorp, Jeffery S. Pettis. (2010) High Levels of Miticides and Agrochemicals in North American Apiaries: Implications for Honey Bee Health. PLoS ONE. info:/
Most people have heard about the potential positive feedback of soil carbon on climate: As temperatures warm, soil microbes are more active and permafrost begins to thaw–both of which can hasten decomposition and the release of CO2 to the atmosphere. This, in turn, has the potential to accelerate warming.
A lot of us who study climate [...]... Read more »
Burnham, J. H., and R. S. Sletten. (2010) Spatial Distribution of Soil Organic Carbon in Northwest Greenland and Underestimates of High Arctic Carbon Stores. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. info:/10.1029/2009GB003660
The IPCC 2007 report projected a conservative sea level rise of about 18-59 cm by the year 2100.
Why conservative? Because it mainly accounted for things we know are happening and can measure well—like thermal expansion of the ocean and melting of land glaciers (see here for a discussion of the Kilimanjaro example). What it doesn’t [...]... Read more »
Jevrejeva, S., J. C. Moore, and A. Grinsted. (2010) How will sea level respond to changes in natural and anthropogenic forcings by 2100?. Geophysical Research Letters. info:/10.1029/2010GL042947
Methane (CH4) release from ocean sediments has long intrigued scientists. There is an event that happened 54 million years ago called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), when up to 4,500 gigatons of carbon were released from the oceans, possibly as one large methane burp caused by an underwater landslide.
That’s a lot of carbon—more than 10 [...]... Read more »
Shakhova, N., Semiletov, I., Salyuk, A., Yusupov, V., Kosmach, D., & Gustafsson, O. (2010) Extensive Methane Venting to the Atmosphere from Sediments of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Science, 327(5970), 1246-1250. DOI: 10.1126/science.1182221
There have traditionally been two ways to produce more food for an increasing population: Convert native ecosystems like forests and grasslands into agricultural fields (what we call “extensification”) or make the yields on existing croplands go up, through the use of things like machinery, fertilizers, irrigation, pesticides, and GMOs (what we call “intensification”).
Historically, these processes [...]... Read more »
H. K. Gibbs, A. S. Ruesch, F. Achard, M. K. Clayton, P. Holmgrene, N. Ramankutty, and J. A. Foley. (2010) Tropical forests were the primary sources of new agricultural land in the 1980s and 1990s. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/
A lot of us are on the lookout for increased releases of soil carbon in northern ecosystems, which could signal the initiation of a positive feedback to warming. Remember that more warming has the possibility of increasing decomposition of soil carbon, which causes the release of more CO2 to the atmosphere, causing further warming (the [...]... Read more »
Bond-Lamberty, B., & Thomson, A. (2010) Temperature-associated increases in the global soil respiration record. Nature, 464(7288), 579-582. DOI: 10.1038/nature08930
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are back in the news. A few days ago, NPR featured a couple of blog posts (here and here) considering whether the new GMO “supersized” salmon will be harmful to aquatic ecosystems.
A concern with GMOs is that—like the early adoption of pesticides—potential risks are being borne by the environment and consumers [...]... Read more »
Jennifer L. Tank, Emma J. Rosi-Marshall, Todd V. Royer, Matt R. Whiles, Natalie A. Griffiths, Therese C. Frauendorf, and David J. Treering. (2010) Occurrence of maize detritus and a transgenic insecticidal protein (Cry1Ab) within the stream network of an agricultural landscape. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1006925107
The rise in global mean temperature of about 0.9 degrees C over the 20th century is one of the most well-known trends in the science of global change. Several modeling and empirical studies suggest that some (~0.3 degrees C) of this warming is due to natural causes like increased solar intensity and decreased vulcanism [...]... Read more »
Thompson, D., Wallace, J., Kennedy, J., & Jones, P. (2010) An abrupt drop in Northern Hemisphere sea surface temperature around 1970. Nature, 467(7314), 444-447. DOI: 10.1038/nature09394
At the 2009 meeting of the American Geophysical Union, renowned climate scientist Richard Alley (Penn State) gave a keynote address, The Biggest Control Knob: Carbon dioxide in Earth’s Climate History, in which he used a variety of paleoclimatological proxy data to show how CO2 changes over much of Earth history have exerted a strong influence [...]... Read more »
Lacis, A., Schmidt, G., Rind, D., & Ruedy, R. (2010) Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth's Temperature. Science, 330(6002), 356-359. DOI: 10.1126/science.1190653
Here’s an interesting thought question: How much would global temperature warm if we used only the existing energy infrastructure (i.e., power plants, furnaces, motor vehicles) until these machines reached the end of their useful lives? Once they died, they would be replaced by devices that did not emit CO2.
Steven Davis and colleagues addressed this question [...]... Read more »
Davis, S., Caldeira, K., & Matthews, H. (2010) Future CO2 Emissions and Climate Change from Existing Energy Infrastructure. Science, 329(5997), 1330-1333. DOI: 10.1126/science.1188566
When CO2 from fossil fuels accumulates in the atmosphere, some of it dissolves into the oceans where it reacts with water to form a weak acid (H2CO3) —carbonic acid— that lowers seawater pH and makes it increasingly difficult for corals and other calcitic organisms to form their calcium carbonate (CaCO3) skeletons.
A new study in the [...]... Read more »
Rebecca Albright, Benjamin Mason, Margaret Miller, and Chris Langdon. (2010) Ocean acidification compromises recruitment success of the threatened Caribbean coral Acropora palmata. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/
Water security is making a bit of a splash this week. CNBC ran this story on the water crises in western U.S. states, where the region is possibly closing in on a day of reckoning, as described by Felicity Barringer in the NY Times, and creating a climate of pessimism among some western water managers.
The [...]... Read more »
Vörösmarty, C., McIntyre, P., Gessner, M., Dudgeon, D., Prusevich, A., Green, P., Glidden, S., Bunn, S., Sullivan, C., Liermann, C.... (2010) Global threats to human water security and river biodiversity. Nature, 467(7315), 555-561. DOI: 10.1038/nature09440
In my series on why people don’t engage climate change, we saw major socioeconomic and demographic differences in how people perceive climate change.
In the current issue of Population and Environment, Aaron McCright authors an article, The effects of gender on climate change knowledge and concern in the American public, in which he examines whether women [...]... Read more »
McCright, A. (2010) The effects of gender on climate change knowledge and concern in the American public. Population and Environment, 32(1), 66-87. DOI: 10.1007/s11111-010-0113-1
In a forthcoming article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Patric Allard and Monica Colaiácovo use a nemotode (round worm) system to explore how BPA damages genetic processes in animals.
BPA ranks among the highest production volume chemicals with a global annual production scale of ≈4 million metric tons. It is commonly used in [...]... Read more »
Patrick Allard and Monica P. Colaiácovo. (2010) Bisphenol A impairs the double-strand break repair machinery in the germline and causes chromosome abnormalities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1010386107
In 1990, I remember driving on a freeway in Phoenix after midnight. The temperature was a cool 102 degrees F after breaking the all time heat record of 126 F that day. Deserts are good at cooling off at night. But with all of the built environment in Phoenix storing heat from the day, the [...]... Read more »
Mark McCarthy, Martin Best, and Richard Betts. (2010) Climate change in cities due to global warming and urban effects. Geophysical Research Letters. info:/10.1029/2010GL042845
Right up there with climate change, biodiversity conservation is one of the most challenging issues at the intersection of nature and culture. Part of this challenge arises because of genuine differences in how people value other species.
In an interesting forthcoming article in Conservation Biology, Chris Sandbrook and colleagues at Cambridge University argue that these value [...]... Read more »
There have been several critiques of geoengineering as a climate mitigation tool. Two of the most incisive, in my opinion, come from science and ethics.
The first is a 2007 paper in PNAS by Matthews and Caldeira showing that if we establish aerosol clouds or space reflectors while doing nothing to reduce carbon emissions, we run [...]... Read more »
Mary W. Silvera, Sibel Bargu, Susan L. Coale, Claudia R. Benitez-Nelson, Ana C. Garcia, Kathryn J. Roberts, Emily Sekula-Wood, Kenneth W. Bruland, and Kenneth H. Coale. (2010) Toxic diatoms and domoic acid in natural and iron enriched waters of the oceanic Pacific. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1006968107
It’s been easy for citizens of the developed, industrialized world to criticize China and India over their rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions. This was one of the major reasons why the Kyoto Protocol was never ratified in the United States.
As many have pointed out, however, there are several flaws with this argument:
The per-capita C emissions [...]... Read more »
Steven J. Davis and Ken Caldeira. (2010) Consumption-based accounting of CO2 emissions . PNAS. info:/10.1073/pnas.0906974107
There’s a new paper in this week’s issue of Science that suggests that growing a landscape mixed with genetically modified (GM) Bt corn and non-GM hybrid varieties of corn can be mutually beneficial to all corn farmers.
Why? They argue that the populations of GM corn knock down the populations of insect herbivores enough that, on [...]... Read more »
Hutchison, W., Burkness, E., Mitchell, P., Moon, R., Leslie, T., Fleischer, S., Abrahamson, M., Hamilton, K., Steffey, K., Gray, M.... (2010) Areawide Suppression of European Corn Borer with Bt Maize Reaps Savings to Non-Bt Maize Growers. Science, 330(6001), 222-225. DOI: 10.1126/science.1190242
In a previous post from my series on why people don’t engage climate change, I described my interpretations of work by Susanne Moser and Lisa Dilling1, which suggested that the use of fear can be a poor way to motivate behavioral changes to deal with climate warming:
Challenge 6: Fear can change perception but not willingness [...]... Read more »
Martijn van Zomeren, Russell Spears, Colin Wayne Leach. (2010) Experimental evidence for a dual pathway model analysis of coping with the climate crisis . Journal of Environmental Psychology. info:/10.1016/j.jenvp.2010.02.006
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