Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Species on the Move and Carbon Increase

Two stories appeared this week with more bad news on climate change. First, a review of 866 papers found that animal and plant species are shifting their ranges northward, while polar species are dying out.

"Wild species don't care who is in the White House," Parmesan said. "It is very obvious they are desperately trying to move to respond to the changing climate. Some are succeeding. But for the ones that are already at the mountaintop or at the poles, there is no place for them to go. They are the ones that are going extinct."

Among the most affected species, Parmesan said, are highland amphibians in the tropics. She said more than two-thirds of 110 species of harlequin frogs, which occupy mountain cloud forests in Central America, have become extinct in the past 35 years.

Meanwhile, many pest species -- including roaches, fleas, ticks and tree-killing beetles -- are surviving warming winters in increasing numbers. "We are seeing throughout the Northern Hemisphere that pests are able to have more generations per year, which allows them to increase their numbers without being killed off by cold winter temperatures," said Parmesan.

The linked article from the Post included several paragraphs on the economic implications, in this case ski resorts and power companies. I imagine that they are not the only industries facing challenges.

Meanwhile, the rate of increase of carbon emissions has risen since 2000. Around that year , the annual rate of increase rose from about 1% to 2.5%. The Global Carbon Project, which established those figures, identified two causes.
"There has been a change in the trend regarding fossil fuel intensity, which is basically the amount of carbon you need to burn for a given unit of wealth," explained Corinne Le Quere, a Global Carbon Project member who holds posts at the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey.

"From about 1970 the intensity decreased - we became more efficient at using energy - but we've been getting slightly worse since the year 2000," she told the BBC News website.

"The other trend is that as oil becomes more expensive, we're seeing a switch from oil burning to charcoal which is more polluting in terms of carbon."