The economics of Waxman-Markey

An insightful (if decidedly partisan) op-ed by Paul Krugman in Friday’s New York Times focuses on the Waxman-Markey climate change bill that was approved in the House but has stalled – due in no small part due to the debate over health care reform – in the Senate. Krugman points out that there are two kinds of people opposed to climate change legislation: those dwindling numbers who don’t believe climate change...

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Phenology, bees and climate change video

The Goddard Space Flight Center at NASA just put out this excellent video about pollination, phenology and the effects of climate change. Although NASA has satellite data showing that spring green-up has been occurring a half-day earlier each year, it’s a bit harder to figure out whether a corresponding change in phenology is occurring among pollinators. The video shows beekeepers–scientists and citizens...

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Study finds more agricultural trees than we thought

Sorghum grown under acacia and palm trees in Burkina Faso. According to a new study by scientists at the World Forestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, we’ve underestimated that amount of trees worldwide that are grown in agricultural areas. Using satellite imagery, the scientists show at the 2nd World Congress of Agroforestry this week in Nairobi that trees cover more than 10 percent of about 10 million square kilometers of farmland...

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INTECOL this week in Brisbane

The 10th International Congress of Ecology is taking place this week in Brisbane, Australia. This conference happens once every four years and aims to bring together ecologists from all corners of the world. The theme is “Ecology in a Changing Climate - Two hemispheres, one globe.” With the conference being held down under and hosted by the Ecological Society of Australia and the New Zealand Ecological Society, a lot of...

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Methane from plants increased by climate change

The debate about climate change has focused on one polarizing gas: carbon dioxide. CO2 and its portrayal to the general public is controversial because on one hand, it’s essential for all life, since plants need to breathe too.  But on the other hand it’s a greenhouse gas that traps heat in our atmosphere, and in some instances –such as new interpretations of the Clean Air Act–is regulated as a pollutant. But...

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Temperature predicts lifespan in ectotherms

Pearl mussels can vary greatly in lifespan over latitudinal and temperature gradients. Bergmann’s rule within physiological ecology postulates that animals get larger at higher latitudes and altitudes.  Similarly, the temperature-size rule predicts that although animals grow more slowly at cold temperatures, they reach a larger adult size (but see Angiletta and Dunham 2003).  A study published today in the Proceedings of the...

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Plants, our saviors from a deep freeze

As plants become starved for CO2, rock weathering diminishes. Credit: study coauthor David Beerling Earth is currently in an ice age. (People, especially climate change naysayers, sometimes forget that.) The growth of the Antarctic ice sheet began about 25 million years ago, and by about 3 million years ago we had a full-blown ice age.  What has remained a mystery to climate scientists and geologists alike is that the geological...

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The domino sea level effect

Some existing projections of global warming predict that by the year 2100, global sea levels will have risen by one meter due to polar ice cap melting and water expansion caused by rising temperatures. In a paper this week in Nature Geoscience, however, researchers determined that given our current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, our seas should actually be 25 meters higher than they are. Twenty-five meters?! Even one meter of...

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