Saturday, September 3, 2011

Climate Is A Changin'

Climate change is debatable in many political circles but many animal species are apparently convinced or at least preparing for the possibility.  By now you have probably encountered the study from the journal Science as reported by the Associated Press and other media outlets.

Chris Thomas and colleagues analyzed recent studies from around the globe that measured the movement of species into new territory.  Species are always on the move but the rate of movement is suddenly much greater.  A 2003 study that found species moving north at a rate of just more than a third of a mile per year and up mountains at a rate of 2 feet a year.  About 2,000 species examined this decade in Thomas's study "are moving away from the equator at an average rate of more than 15 feet per day, about a mile per year."  That is 45 times faster than the previous decade!

Species also move up mountains to escape the heat.  The previous rate was 2 feet a year but they are now averaging about 4 feet a year.

What ever the cause, there is no doubt that the last decade was the hottest on record.  We can all probably agree that there are climate changes throughout history including droughts, ice ages, etc.  With instant news outlets and unavoidable media  across TV and computer screens, we are probably more aware of these changes than in the past.  I doubt most of us would have been aware of the current conditions in Texas in the world that existed in 1950.

The conflict comes when we begin to assign blame to human behavior.  Many cities are setting the blame game aside and preparing for possible scenarios if predictions of---Global Warming--- (there, I had to say it) should happen to be true.  Kinda like the animals.

We have all ready noticed that armadillos are increasingly more common in the Ozarks.  It is difficult to ascribe this to warming temperatures alone, however similar findings across the continent are hard to ignore.

The Wall Street Journal recently had coverage of communities such as Chicago and San Francisco which are making long term plans to deal with climate change.  This includes the possibility of rising sea levels in coastal areas and increased flooding in Chicago from the changing patterns of Midwest storms.

Some of this is simply common sense applied to current problems such as building in flood plains and areas inundated by high tides.  I can recall a recent trip along the Mississippi.  There was a large sign advertising a industrial development along the river with "Flood Plain" in its name.  A short way down the road there was a billboard opposing the development, simply saying "They Call it a Flood Plain for a Reason!"

The study by Chris Thomas and colleagues from the University of York was reported in the journal Science.  The abstract and study methods are available at this link.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I remember the first time I read 'The Sand County Almanac' . These things affect me in much the same way as that little book did.