Archive for October, 2007

Oct 14 2007

CAN PENGUINS FLY?

Published by under climate crisis,floods,gnus

Not if you’re watching.

These documentary film-makers went to great expense to prove the point:

Do Pinguins Fly?

You can find the film at iFilm.

Flying might be the answer.

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Photo: Arthur Morris – Corbis

Do gnus fly?
What do gnus do?
Jumana Farouky of Time tells us that because of the climate crisis “there’s bad news for gnus:”

More than a million wildebeest — also known as gnus — crossing from the Serengeti in Tanzania to Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve and then back again in the search of fresh grass makes for some dramatic action shots, as massive herds travel across the plains before plunging into the Mara River to swim to greener pastures …

This time, piles of wildebeest carcasses line the riverbanks, after 10,000 of the animals drowned trying to cross the Mara at the start of their journey back east to the Serengeti …

The Mara River was especially high this year, after the heavy rains that flooded parts of Africa, killing hundreds of people and uprooting thousands more. Climatologists are pointing to the downpours as proof that predictions that Africa will suffer the most from global warming and climate change are already coming true. The human toll is what makes all the headlines, but the consequences for Africa’s wildlife is just as drastic.

Floods. And more floods. Sorry to repeat myself but … according to James Copnall of the BBC the Ivory Coast town of Grand Lahou is sinking.

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Ivory Coast Lighthouse – Photo: BBC

Once one of the first points of contact between Africans and the French in what is now Ivory Coast, Grand Lahou is threatened by a combination of climate change and other factors.

Some predict the town will be completely under water within 10 years, and it is widely accepted it is doomed unless drastic action is taken …

According to Guillaume Za-Bi, a senior scientist at the Ivorian Ministry of the Environment, the uncontrolled mouth of the river Bandama is attacking the town from behind, while the sea is eroding it from the front.

It is a complicated problem, and one for which it seems global warming is at least partly responsible.

“Climate change is one of the reasons for what we can locally see in Grand Lahou,” Mr Za-Bi explains.

Paging Noah! Anybody out there IM’ing the man? Got his cell number on speed dial? Flooding elsewhere in Africa:

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Log Canoe, Lira Uganda – Photo: Anony Njunga – Reuters

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Flood – Budalangi in W. Kenya – Photo: EPA

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Flood, N.E. Ghana – Photo: Jane Hahn, EPA




Can Penguins Fly? Not yet, but we’re practicing.

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Oct 05 2007

DRAGONFLIES IN ARCTIC SKIES

Published by under floods,penguins

Names. like dollars, are your ways. We are accustomed to tone and touch and smell and sight, to song. But as your philosopher Darwin taught us all, you have to adapt to survive. Along the way we have learned to appreciate the gifts and intentions of some very kind humans. That helps a small bit to counterbalance the melting of the ice, the loss of life, and the destruction of home, the death of Mother Earth.

We are grateful to our dear friend Lannie Moore and her friend Bronwyn Cooke who bring us pictures of some of our brothers and sisters in Boston.

We have yet to make it there ourselves, so it is always a pleasure to learn of our extended family.


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Photos: Lannie Moore





There is, of course, some important news to share.

Like the dragonflies in the arctic skies.
Dawn Walton of the Toronto Globe and Mail writes about what Pierre Tautu has been seeing around his Nunavut home in Chesterfield Inlet, at the top of Hudson Bay.

“We still have ice year-round, but there’s been a little bit of changes,” he said. “Different kinds of insects and different kind of birds that come around our area now.”

His hamlet (population 330) is a prime nesting ground for a variety of birds, but last summer the 44-year-old hunter and guide spotted a type of owl he had never seen that far north. For the first time, he also saw a dragonfly in his Inuit community.

“We don’t have dragonflies around, but I’ve seen one,” Mr. Tautu said. “This was just out in our backyard and I was pretty surprised to see one.”

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500 miles from Alaska – Photo – Andy Armstrong NOAA



Julian Borger of the UK Guardian writes about the damage the climate crisis is wrecking right now: the increase in floods and droughts and storms.

A record number of floods, droughts and storms around the world this year amount to a climate change “mega disaster”, the United Nation’s emergency relief coordinator, Sir John Holmes, has warned.

Sir John, a British diplomat who is also known as the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said dire predictions about the impact of global warming on humanity were already coming true.

“We are seeing the effects of climate change. Any year can be a freak but the pattern looks pretty clear to be honest. That’s why we’re trying … to say, of course you’ve got to deal with mitigation of emissions, but this is here and now, this is with us already,” he said …

More appeals were likely in the coming weeks, as floods hit west Africa. “All these events on their own didn’t have massive death tolls, but if you add all these little disasters together you get a mega disaster,” he said.

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2 girls rescue a dog in flood in Trinidad, Bolivia – Photo, Aizar Raldes, AFP



Since we have been writing lately about the arctic, it is appropriate to end with two articles which much sum up the problems we face.

Stephen Leahy of IPS News writes “U.S. Moving Backwards:”

As global warming melts the Arctic, the United States’s biggest banks are investing billions of dollars in as many as 150 new coal-fired power plants around the country.

The obvious climatic and fiscal stupidity of such investments is staggering, say environmentalists.

“What are they (the banks) thinking?” asked Leslie Lowe, energy and environment programme director at the Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility …

“It is folly to build new coal-fired plants,” she said.

And yet that is just what Bank of America and Citi (formerly Citigroup) are doing, according to the new report “Banks, Climate Change & the New Coal Rush” by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

Electricity generation from coal is the biggest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the world — larger than deforestation or the transportation sector, says Rebecca Tarbotton, director of RAN’s Global Finance Campaign

The 150 proposed new plants would add 600 million to 1.1 billion tonnes of carbon annually into the atmosphere, Tarbotton said in an interview. Total global emissions of carbon are currently about 8 billion tonnes.

“There is no hope of averting climate catastrophe if a significant number of those plants are built,” said Bill McKibben, author and founder of Step It Up, the largest demonstration against global warming in history.

Dollars and more dollars and even more dollars. And fewer polar bears.

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Photo – USFWS



Andrew Revlin of the New York Times writes:

Two biologists who measure field time with polar bears in decades sat in a federal building here, envisioning two possible fates for this denizen of ice in a warming world — and neither future looked bright …

On one possible track, the bears, facing a chronic food gap, could weaken and reproduce ever less as the ice-free summer season expands. The other course could be a swift collapse, should more summers unfold like this past one, said Steven C. Amstrup of the United States Geological Survey …

The script for a slow fade-out may already be on display along the western shores of Hudson Bay in northern Canada, Dr. Amstrup said.

After binging on ringed seals early each year, this southern population, well below of the Arctic Circle, leaves the melting ice and scrounges snow geese and lyme grass, losing weight all summer.

“It appears they’ve reached a point where the earlier departure of the sea ice and their earlier appearance onshore is starting to affect their survival,” he said.

But an abrupt collapse could occur, as well, Dr. Amstrup said.





Yes, and an abrupt collapse could occur as well.



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