24 January 2011


BIRD LOSSES. Few reputable climate scientists now deny the reality of global warming, and fewer still deny that, even given Earth's normal heating and cooling cycles spanning tens of thousands of years, the speed and magnitude of warming we are currently witnessing are a direct result of human activity -- most especially, the production of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide) from the burning of fossil fuels and from deforestation.

Elizabeth Rosenthal continues the narrative -- "Over the next 100 years, many scientists predict, 20 percent to 30 percent of species could be lost if the temperature rises 3.6 to 5.4 degrees Farenheit. If the most extreme warming predictions are realized, the loss could be over 50 percent, according to the United Nations climate change panel.

"Polar bears have become the icons of this climate threat. But scientists say that tens of thousands of smaller species that live in the tropics or on or near mountain tops are equally, if not more, vulnerable. These species, in habitats from the high plateaus of Africa to the jungles of Australia to the Sierra Nevada in the United States, are already experiencing climate pressure, and will be the bulk of the animals that disappear.

"In response to warming, animals classically move to cooler ground, relocating either higher up in altitude or farther toward the poles. But in the tropics, animals have to move hundreds of miles north or south to find a different niche. Mountain species face even starker limitations. As they climb upward, they find themselves competing for less and less space on the conical peaks, where they run into uninhabitable rock or a lack of their usual foods -- or have nowhere farther to go."

Whether or not one agrees that runaway global warming is anthropogenic (caused by humans), the cold fact is that temperatures around the world are rising faster and farther than ever before. If you are in a burning house, you don't stand around and ask whether the fire was started by a broken gas line or a cigarette. You put out the damned fire. All nations must unite in addressing this, the most urgent long-term issue of our time (alongside human overpopulation), for we all have a stake in the outcome. The stakes -- loss of species, rises in sea level, more numerous and powerful hurricanes, shifts in climate zones, loss of crop lands, famine, war -- are too dire to ignore.

NEW RECORDS. I'm pleased to report that readership of this forum has reached record levels. Yesterday for the first time, my sitemeter recorded over 200 visitors in one day. In addition, this month has already seen over 3000 visitors, and January isn't even finished. Whether measured over the past week, the past month, or the past year (see graphs below, recorded at 11:30 p.m. on 24 January -- click on any image to enlarge), the number of readers is increasing remarkably.

I'm most grateful to all who spend a few minutes here. I invite you to share your thoughts by clicking on "Comments" at the bottom of any given post. I also invite you to sign on as a Follower (see right-side column). Each new post will be delivered to your email inbox automatically. Thank you all.

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