Over the years it has been a familiar trope to point to examples of homosexuality in certain non-human species as a way of reinforcing the normality of it in homo sapiens, but why isn’t our Latin species name sufficient poof proof? And is “transgenderism” really an ism? Whatever.
Anyway, what to make, then, of this story from the current issue of Nature magazine:
It seems certain reptiles in Australia have figured out how to change their sex when the weather gets hot. Turns out scientists discovered most of these self-mutants in . . . Queensland. C’mon people! This has to be a troll job!
From the abstract:
Sex determination in animals is amazingly plastic. . .
Seems to be increasingly so in humans these days, too. But anyway. . .
Sex reversal has not yet been demonstrated in nature for any amniote, although it occurs in fish and rarely in amphibians. Here we make the first report of reptile sex reversal in the wild, in the Australian bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps), and use sex-reversed animals to experimentally induce a rapid transition from genotypic to temperature-dependent sex determination. Controlled mating of normal males to sex-reversed females produces viable and fertile offspring whose phenotypic sex is determined solely by temperature (temperature-dependent sex determination).
There’s a predictable punch line coming, naturally:
The instantaneous creation of a lineage of ZZ temperature-sensitive animals reveals a novel, climate-induced pathway for the rapid transition between genetic and temperature-dependent sex determination, and adds to concern about adaptation to rapid global climate change. (Emphasis added.)
So you can add Caitlyn Jenner to the list of things caused by global warming, although I’m sure further research is needed. Is there anything global warming can’t do?
Category Archives: Ecology
So I read in the paper today that humans are causing a sixth mass extinction on the planet.
Then, I see that one of the authors is Paul Ehrlich–author of the hysterically wrong The Population Bomb.
But the article doesn’t mention that (in)famous book or Ehrlich’s history of hyperbolic ecological fear mongering. It simply identifies Ehrlich as a Stanford University professor and president of the Center for Conservation Biology. That’s misleading by omission.
I checked other news reports, and they similarly merely refer to him as a professor, such as this one in the Telegraph:
Scientists at Stanford University in the US claim it is the biggest loss of species since the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction which wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. “Without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event,” said Professor Paul Ehrlich, at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
Doing that creates an illusion that Ehrlich would write an objective study. But Ehrlich is less a scientist than he is an ideologue who has made a good living off preaching doom and gloom for decades. And his prognostications are almost always wrong.
For example, the Telegraph’s Tim Chivers penned a valuable column a few years ago outlining some of the panicked claims Ehrlich made in his book that proved to be hysterical rather than prophetic. From the column:
So, let’s take a look at some of his predictions, made in 1968:
1) “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate,” he said. He predicted four billion deaths, including 65 million Americans…
What actually happened: Since Ehrlich wrote, the population has more than doubled to seven billion – but the amount of food per head has gone up by more than 25 per cent. Of course there are famines, but the death rate has gone down. I don’t think a significant number of Americans have starved.
3) “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”
What actually happened: I’m not hungry. I just ate. Are you hungry? Were you hungry in 2000, especially? Does England exist?
Here’s my point: You can’t report a doomsday story straight-faced as if Ehrlich doesn’t have a history.
People know who Ehrlich is and many will–rightly or wrongly–discount the study precisely because we know that he has an ideological agenda.
And then they moan that no one trusts “the science” anymore. This is an example of why–and why there is also so little trust remaining in the media.
As the great Glenn Reynolds says: “I’ll start believing it’s a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start acting like it.”
Don’t start believin’.
If Barack Obama wants you to fly across the Atlantic to talk about nature for a half-hour, then you do it.
But Obama probably doesn’t want you to do that. He wanted legendary nature documentarian and environmental advocate Sir David Attenborough. According to the Telegraph, Attenborough was flown to the White House from his London home last month for a 30-minute meeting with the president. Apparently, the president is a big nature buff—though the meeting seems like it was a bit odd…
Even upon leaving Washington, though, Attenborough admits he was “baffled” as to why Obama called for the meeting in the first place, other than just to chat.
I don’t know what’s so baffling about it. Barack Obama is the President of the United States, and he can do whatever he wants. If he wants to increase Sir David Attenborough’s carbon footprint by summoning him for a face-to-face about the environment, then it’s not hypocrisy because he’s the one doing it.
Phone? Skype? Gchat? All that stuff is for the little people. Y’know, the ones who are actually funding Obama’s various whims.
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a study Thursday claiming there’s no hiatus in global warming. But new satellite-derived temperature measurements show there’s been no global warming for 18 years and six months.
“For 222 months, since December 1996, there has been no global warming at all,” writes climate expert Lord Christopher Monckton, the third viscount Monckton of Brenchley
“This month’s [satellite] temperature – still unaffected by a slowly strengthening el Niño, which will eventually cause temporary warming – passes another six-month milestone, and establishes a new record length for the Pause: 18 years 6 months,” Monckton adds.
Monckton’s data comes as NOAA scientists release updated data purporting to show there’s actually been no hiatus in global warming. NOAA scientists made adjustments to temperature records to show more than twice as much warming as the old analysis at the global scale from 1998 to 2012.
“Newly corrected and updated global surface temperature data from NOAA’s [National Centers for Environmental Information] do not support the notion of a global warming ‘hiatus,’” wrote NOAA scientists in a new study.
Scientists have already pushed back against NOAA’s new study. The news site Mashable interviewed about a dozen climate scientists not involved in the study, and nearly all of them said “the study does not support the authors’ conclusion that the so-called warming pause never happened.”
“Instead, they said it simply proves that changing the start and end dates used for analyzing temperature trends has a big influence on those measurements, a fact that was already widely known,” Mashable reported.
“The main claim by the authors that they have uncovered a significant recent warming trend is dubious,” scientists with the libertarian Cato Institute wrote in an open letter on the NOAA study.
Americans are just going to have to trust the EPA’s 44 years of experience dealing with environmental issues when it comes to figuring out ways to cope with man-made global warming, says the agency’s chief.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told Big Think in an interview that while there are limits to how much the federal government can do for issues like global warming, the public needs to trust how the EPA translates the “complicated” science into real-life actions.
“Well I think we all have to recognize the strengths and limitations of government action,” McCarthy said. “But here’s what I think we can do at the federal level more effectively. We can speak to the science because it’s complicated and we do a lot of research and we do a lot of translation of the science into what it means for people so that the decisions can be made on the basis of real science and on the basis of a real technical understanding.”
“That’s how it has worked in EPA’s career for 44 years at EPA is we’ve listened to the science and the law and we have let solutions take off in the marketplace which is where the cheapest, most effective always win,” McCarthy said. “That’s why EPA can move environmental standards forward so effectively and grow jobs at the same time.”
The greater sage grouse is a boobish looking creature whose talents may not be up to survival in the modern world. Its population is declining in both Canada, which has no people, and the United States, which does. The greater sage grouse looks like this:
There are not many of these Pokêmon left; their numbers have been declining since the sixties. But now, d’après the Obama Administration, around 100 million acres of U.S. land will be specially regulated to shore up the grouse. It’s the largest land protection action in U.S. history.
Even NPR calls the property grab (only 64% of the grouse habitat is federally owned land–what a pity!) controversial.
Birdwatchers, who are all 300 years old and have made all the money they will ever need through robust growth periods of low taxes, deregulation, and healthy interest rates, are happy with the plan, according to birdwatchingdaily.com.
A new study out of the United Kingdom predicts the Earth is about to go through a major climatic shift that could mean decades of cooler temperatures and fewer hurricanes hitting the United States.
Scientists at the University of Southampton predict that a cooling of the Atlantic Ocean could cool global temperatures a half a degree Celsius and may offer a “brief respite from the persistent rise of global temperatures,” according to their study.
This cooling phase in the Atlantic will influence “temperature, rainfall, drought and even the frequency of hurricanes in many regions of the world,” says Dr. Gerard McCarthy. The study’s authors based their results on ocean sensor arrays and 100 years of sea-level data.
“Sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic vary between warm and cold over time-scales of many decades,” said McCarthy, the study’s lead author. “This decadal variability, called the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), is a notable feature of the Atlantic Ocean and the climate of the regions it influences.”
Global temperature change observed over the last hundred years or so is well within the natural variability of the last 8,000 years, according to a new paper by a former Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) lead author.
Dr. Philip Lloyd, a South Africa-based physicist and climate researcher, examined ice core-based temperature data going back 8,000 years to gain perspective on the magnitude of global temperature changes over the 20th Century.
What Lloyd found was that the standard deviation of the temperature over the last 8,000 years was about 0.98 degrees Celsius– higher than the 0.85 degrees climate scientists say the world has warmed over the last century.
“This suggests that while some portion of the temperature change observed in the 20th century was probably caused by greenhouse gases, there is a strong likelihood that the major portion was due to natural variations,” Lloyd wrote in his study.
The United Nations’ IPCC claims there’s been 0.85 degrees Celsius of warming since the late 1800s, and concludes that most of this warming is due to human activities– mainly, the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use. The IPCC says that “more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010” have been caused by human activity.
If Lloyd’s results hold, the IPCC may have to revise how much warming it attributes to mankind. In any case, the IPCC’s estimate of man-made and natural warming (0.85 degrees) is still below the standard deviation for the last 8,000, according to Lloyd’s results. This means that warming is not very significant within the context of the Earth’s recent climate history.
If you needed any more evidence that the entire theory of manmade global warming was a scheme to redistribute wealth you got it Sunday when a leading member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told a German news outlet, “[W]e redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.”
(NZZ AM SONNTAG): The new thing about your proposal for a Global Deal is the stress on the importance of development policy for climate policy. Until now, many think of aid when they hear development policies.
(OTTMAR EDENHOFER, UN IPCC OFFICIAL): That will change immediately if global emission rights are distributed. If this happens, on a per capita basis, then Africa will be the big winner, and huge amounts of money will flow there. This will have enormous implications for development policy. And it will raise the question if these countries can deal responsibly with so much money at all.
(NZZ): That does not sound anymore like the climate policy that we know.
(EDENHOFER): Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War. Why? Because we have 11,000 gigatons of carbon in the coal reserves in the soil under our feet – and we must emit only 400 gigatons in the atmosphere if we want to keep the 2-degree target. 11 000 to 400 – there is no getting around the fact that most of the fossil reserves must remain in the soil.
(NZZ): De facto, this means an expropriation of the countries with natural resources. This leads to a very different development from that which has been triggered by development policy.
(EDENHOFER): First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.
For the record, Edenhofer was co-chair of the IPCC’s Working Group III, and was a lead author of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report released in 2007 which controversially concluded, “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”
As such, this man is a huge player in advancing this theory, and he has now made it quite clear – as folks on the realist side of this debate have been saying for years – that this is actually an international economic scheme designed to redistribute wealth.
United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres said humanity “really should make every effort” to reduce global population trends to protect the environment and fight global warming in an interview with Climate One.
The U.N. predicts the global population will number 9 billion people by 2050 — a number that makes many environmentalists worry. Climate One Founder Greg Dalton pressed Figueres on whether or not she thinks there are policies to reduce the 9 billion 2050 estimate.
“I mean we all know that we expect nine billion, right, by 2050,” Figueres told Dalton in an interview. “So, yes, obviously less people would exert less pressure on the natural resources.”