BIODIVERSITY: The Twilight Age of Coral Reefs

Coral reefs will be the first global ecosystem to collapse in our lifetimes. The one-two punch of climate change that is warming ocean temperatures and increasing acidification is making the oceans uninhabitable for corals and other marine species, researchers said at a scientific symposium in Spain. And now other regions are being affected. Acidic or corrosive waters have been detected for the first time on the continental shelf of the west coast of North America, posing a serious threat to fisheries, Richard Feely, an oceanographer with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told attendees in Gijon, Spain Wednesday. More than 450 scientists from over 60 countries are participating in the “Effects of Climate Change on the World’s Oceans” symposium. (Link to IPS article)

‘Record greenhouse gas fall’

Greenhouse gas emissions by all the Group of Eight industrial nations except Russia fell in 2006 in the broadest dip since the world started trying to slow climate change in 1990, a Reuters survey showed today. Rising oil prices, some measures to curb global warming and a milder winter in the United States in 2006 that depressed energy demand for heating all contributed to an overall 0.6 per cent dip in G8 emissions in 2006 from 2005. “It is an encouraging sign that emissions decreased in 2006 in some major developed economies,” Michael Raupach, leader of the Earth Observation Centre in Canberra, said. “However, we have scarcely begun,” he said, adding that the world would need far tougher action to stabilise emissions at levels to avert “dangerous” climate changes of ever more heatwaves, food shortages, floods, droughts and rising seas. (Link to News.com.au article)

Climate change: ‘Mutiny’ needed against government inaction

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) president Professor Ian Lowe called on Australians to “mutiny” against government inaction on climate change, at a public forum on May 17. Forty people attended the event organised by Friends of the Earth (FoE). “In ecological terms, there can be little doubt that we are booked on the Titanic and steaming towards the iceberg of runaway climate change”, Lowe said.“The people who should know better are still in the first-class bar ordering smoked salmon and the best vintage champagne, secure in the knowledge that their cheque will not reach the bank. “The apathetic approach is [to assume] that the crew must know what they are doing. But the activist approach, my view, is that, if the crew on the bridge won’t change course, we should organise a mutiny”, Lowe urged a cheering audience. (Link to GreenLeft article)

A Stinging analysis

This year’s surveyed beekeepers reported a total loss of 36.1 percent of their honey bee colonies, up 13.5 percent from the previous year. The crisis of the vanishing bees is worse and proceeding faster than anyone imagined it might. Our emission of the hundreds of billions of tonnes of CO2 from burning of fossil fuels has filled our and the bees atmosphere with a concentration of CO2 40% higher than in the previous century. Every feature of form and function in bees focuses their evolution on living and managing with a slightly high CO2 level common to their hives — but not so high as our present air. Bees manage their social lives around CO2 in their colonies; and, when CO2 rises just a few percent above normal levels they exhibit what had, until now, been a workable and wonderful response. (Link to Responsible Nanotechnology blog)

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