Tag Archives: Greenhouse Effect

Conservation and Climate Change – The State of the Birds

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On March 14 2010, Sciam (Scientific American) tweeted a report called “Climate Change – State of the Birds 2010 Report”.  A link is in the Reference section at the end of this post.

My wife and I are a lifelong conservationists with a special place in our hearts for birds.  In our home country, New Zealand, we gardened organically, without pesticides or artificial fertilisers, and planted native trees in the garden of every house we have owned, to attract, feed and encourage the NZ and exotic birds back into our lives.  People change landscapes, and we feel strongly that we should provide the means for the native wildlife to survive those changes.  So we do just that, and are rewarded by the tuis, wood pigeons, fantails, wax-eyes, goldfinches, starlings, sparrows and other birds that swarm in our garden.  They are so comfortable with us that they pick for food at our feet when we sit on the garden deck.  They will do so again when we return.

Here during our sojourn in the Netherlands, our greatest delight is the splendid variety of birds that grace the trees in our tiny lane in Haarlem, and fill the polders, reserves and wetlands.  We put out seeds, nuts, fat balls and insect blocks this winter, because it has been the harshest for forty years.  No doubt we have assisted the great tits, blue tits, jays, tree-creepers and robins that are outside the window, ten feet from me, right now.  And now that spring quickens the trees and the temperature is finally back above zero, we shall once more roam the cycle lanes in the reserves, among the swans, ducks, herons and magpies.

So how does a Grumpy Old Conservationist react to the report?  By grumping – it is shameless advocacy.  A load of self-serving twaddle riding the coat-tails of the highly exaggerated predictions of anthropogenic catastrophic global warming.  Prediction after prediction in the IPCC report is being exposed as nonsense.  Himalayan glaciers, African crop yields, Amazon rain-forest health are three examples.  These are not small errors – they are critical for the IPCC’s advocacy.  It will not be long before their predicted six-degree Celsius global temperature rise for the twenty-first century is similarly nailed, and nailed conclusively.  Already, scientific analyses of the various bases on which that prediction was based are showing them to be doubtful at best, and suggest that some of them have been shamelessly manipulated.  The leaked emails of the Climategate incident add weight to that suggestion.

Audubon and the other conservation agencies have done a great conservation job of maintaining, recovering and protecting wildlife populations, and will continue to do so.  It is important work, mitigating the environmental consequences of the actions of humankind.  It enriches all of life.  They should keep it up.

It saddens me to see that work, and the agencies who perform it, hooked up in the advocacy of the AGW group.  The predictions of the AGW camp will be shown to be about as accurate as the Jehovah’s Witnesses predictions of the end of the world in 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994.  IPCC and all of those who have promoted AGW will be utterly discredited.  An angry world may well discredit all conservationist groups along with them.

That would be a very great shame.


2010 State of the Birds:  http://www.stateofthebirds.org/habitats

Postscript: Scientific American is diminished.  It used to be great magazine that reported science.  Now it is an avenue for advocacy.

Vegetarianism and Global Warming – what Next?

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Francis Moore Lappe’s daughter Anna has written her own book – “Diet for a Hot Planet”.  Her mother wrote “Diet for a Small Planet”, promoting a vegetarian lifestyle, back in 1971.  Now her daughter is doing her own thing and playing off the title of her mother’s book.  And she is pitching her update of her mother’s original ideas as a measure to combat global warming.

This Anna Lappe is a sad case of one of my pet peeves – someone who degrades what could be a real environmental message by climbing on the global warming bandwagon.  Inevitably, AGW will be exposed for what it is – the biggest scientific scam since Piltdown Man.  The perpetrators of the Piltdown hoax sought to discredit the theory of evolution. While they were misguided creationists, at least they had the saving grace of humour.  AGW is far more sinister – it is a con of biblical proportions that will make its promoters extremely rich, and is intended to provide the religious power base of the UN.

Along comes Anna Lappe, preaching sustainable agriculture.  Nothing wrong with that – factory farming over time destroys the land, sooner or later.  The California dustbowl, land slips in hillsides stripped of trees and over-grazed by sheep and cattle, pollution of streams and rivers with run-off from farms, decline in bird populations, increasing reliance on pesticides that destroy not only the pests but also their natural predators.  And so on.  But climate?

“We hear little about how food affects climate,” she said.  No surprise – because it does not significantly affect global climate (although it clearly can affect local climate – for example, deforestation and excess draw-off from rivers both powerfully affect local climate).

Every human being has a religious standpoint, and vegetarianism, like atheism, monotheism, polytheism, agnosticism, animism, communism, capitalism or any other ism (or AGWarmism), is a form of religion.  Anna Lappe has every right to believe in vegetarianism – and every right to talk about it.  But to claim that meat-eaters contribute to global warming is twaddle.  Even Realclimate says that methane is not a threat to the planet.  And it is becoming more and more evident that CO2 is not the pollutant that the AGW believers say it is.

All the CO2 and methane from farming or any other source has a negligible effect globally.  And contrary to Lappe’s beliefs, livestock rotated through cropping fields enhance the fertility and sustainability of the land with their manure.  Want to destroy land?  Just crop it year after year.  Want to sustain it?  Put everything you don’t eat back into the land as compost.  Plant it in grass every so often, then graze it with cattle or sheep, then let the pigs in, and then the chickens.  Then crop it again.  Small-holding real organic farmers have known that for centuries.

The pity is, when the world backlash rejects AGW, it may also reject all environmental and conservationist theories and initiatives, even the ones that are soundly scientifically based.  They will be tainted by association.

Reference: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/03/AR2010030302065.html

Who killed the Golden Toads? Not Global Warming, but…

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A new study shows that the extinction of Monteverde golden toads in the Andes in the 1980s was not caused by global warming.  Earlier widely publicised studies said global warming was the cause.  The authors of the new study, however, are careful to warn us that global warming may cause ecosystem stresses that may cause extinctions.  This is what happened, and why they give that warning in spite of their study’s conclusions.

The Monteverde golden toad disappeared from Costa Rica Pacific coastal forest in the late 1980s, killed by the chytrid fungus.   Many researchers have linked outbreaks of the deadly fungus to climate change.

In a 2006 paper in Nature, a team of U.S. and Latin American scientists linked rising tropical temperatures to the disappearance of 64 amphibian species in Central and South America.  “Disease is the bullet killing frogs, but climate change is pulling the trigger,” the lead author of the Nature study and a research scientist at the Monteverde reserve, J. Alan Pounds, said at the time.

A new study by Kevin J Anchukaitis of Columbia University and Michael N Evans of the University of Maryland, says it was El Nino, not climate change or global warming, that caused the fungus to thrive, killing the golden toad. “El Niño pulled the trigger,” said Anchukaitis.  El Nino always dries up the area in which the toads lived, which maked them congregate closely together in the few pools that remain.  So all were exposed to the fungus, which wiped them out completely.

This latest study shows that El Nino is the cause of the extinction of the golden toads.  It shows conclusively that there was no discernible long-term trend visible in the circumstances of that event.  At a time when the IPCC is making dire predictions of mass extinctions caused by global warming, and cites events like the extinction of the golden toad as evidence that it is already happening, that is refreshing.  And that should be that.  The earlier study was yet another of the many climate change studies that have blamed global warming for every possible disaster, and predicted more catastrophes to come if we don’t take firm action to stop it.

But wait.  Anchukaitis and Evans then talk about what their study definitely did not show.

In their Q&A section of the study, the authors say “Both the rate and magnitude of ongoing and future climate change are very likely to put additional stresses on ecosystems. In combination with land use change, introduced pathogens, pollution, and other related ecological changes, anthropogenic climate change will undoubtedly play a role in future extinctions.”  And Evans says extinctions happen for reasons that are independent of human-caused climate change, but that does not mean human-caused climate change can’t cause extinctions”.

No part of their study supports those statements.  So why do they depart from the legitimate findings of their study when they are supposedly discussing the study?

Because their sources of present or future funding expect warnings about global warming to be communicated with the findings.  Even when the study conclusions in no way support those warnings.  Them’s the rules.  That’s the tune the men with the money expect the pipers to play.

By the way, their results in the new study are only the latest challenge to the theory that climate change is driving the deadly chytrid outbreaks in the Americas. In a 2008 paper in the journal PLoS Biology, University of Maryland biologist Karen Lips mapped the loss of harlequin frogs from Costa Rica to Panama.  She found that their decline followed the step-by-step pattern of an emerging infectious disease, affecting frogs in the mountains but not the lowlands.  Had the outbreak been climate-induced, she said, the decline should have moved up and down the mountains over time.