Tag Archives: lizards

Will plants and animals be able to adapt to climate change? For many of them, probably not.

One way in which deniers often try to say there’s no reason to worry about climate change, even if it is happening, is by saying that species will just adapt to it, and everything will be just fine. There are a number of other arguments tied up in this one, but only a couple of them are directly relevant to answering this argument. First, there is the question of the scale of the change. If we look at the current temperature, and assume that this is as warm as it’s going to get, then really, there’s no cause for alarm. Indeed, the letter from the Hudson Institute makes the case that in the last ten thousand years we have seen climatic changes like the current one, and in some cases higher temperatures. The article does NOT note that those events were regional, not global, and it also fails to take global CO2 levels into account.

NOTE: The relationship between CO2 and global temperature is not under debate by any reasonable people, and I don’t have space to address that issue here, so if you want to look into that, either send me a note and I’ll discuss it later, or go here and see if you can find your answers. It will have to suffice, for now, to say that the influence of CO2 on atmospheric temperature has been tested, calculated, retested, and confirmed repeatedly from the late 1800’s, through the military’s development of heat-seeking missiles, and is now the field of fourth-grade science fair projects.

So – while regional temperatures, may have risen comparable amounts in the last couple thousand years, what about CO2 levels? Since that’s what’s driving this temperature increase, and we know that when CO2 increases, it takes time for the temperature to rise in response, how does today’s CO2 level compare?

Temperature and CO2 since the last ice age. Data sources: Vostok, Law Dome, Mauna Loa. Continue reading

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Why I give a damn

There’s a lot about climate change that is depressing, and a lot about it that’s frustrating, and every once in a while, it’s important to remind myself why I don’t just give up, shut it out, and live day to day.

There are a lot of reasons, obviously, but one of them is that my life is richer because of the current diversity of life. I’m not talking about medicines discovered in the disappearing Amazonian rainforests, or about the rolling landscapes in movies, or the joy of “just knowing they’re out there”, though those are all nice, I’m talking about my personal interactions with wildlife. As someone who has been obsessed with animals from a young age, I’ve sought them out, and so I’ve had a number of opportunities to see the diversity of life firsthand. In Tanzania, I got to watch lion cubs playing in the bushes, and I had a tiny bird basking on a rock a couple of feet from me in the frigid sunrise on Kilimanjaro. At Yellowstone I got to wake up in -10F weather to go out and watch wolves running across a snowbound field.  There have been many, many other experiences, both exotic and commonplace, at home and abroad, but for now I’m going to talk about just one in particular. Continue reading