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 Climate Change and Walden

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Aaron
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PostSubject: Climate Change and Walden   Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:10 am

I doubt Thoreau realized the implications of his nature studies.

Quote :
Climate Change Destroying Walden Pondís Flowers

Climate change is devastating the flowers of Walden Pond, picking off those species that cannot react to rising temperatures.

Comparing data meticulously gathered by Henry David Thoreau more than a century and a half ago with more recent observations, Harvard biologists report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that more than a quarter of Waldenís plant species have already been lost. And an additional 36 percent are in imminent danger, including lilacs, roses and buttercups.

"It had been thought that climate change would result in uniform shifts across plant species, but our work shows that plant species do not respond to climate change uniformly or randomly," said co-author Charles Davis, a biologist at Harvard, in a release.

The Walden study shows that even small changes in temperature can have outsized impacts on plants that are evolutionarily adapted to fulfill ecological niches. Together with changes seen in other locations, like the unprecedented pine beetle damage in the West, the new work suggests that finely tuned biological systems are having a difficult time keeping up with the rapid pace of human-induced climate change.

The average temperature around Walden has risen by more than four degrees over the last century as increasing greenhouse gas concentrations from burning fossil fuels changed the earthís climate.

But the warming is not just mowing the forest down, itís shaping it as some plant species thrive under the new global conditions.

"Most strikingly, species with the ability to track short-term seasonal temperature variation have fared significantly better under recent warming trends," the authors write.

Although the design of the Walden study is simple, it depends on the value of Thoreauís rare pre-industrial data.

"Whenever you have an opportunity to get a dataset where someone who has made very careful efforts to observe things in a systematic way, it gives you a snapshot of a particular time period and lets you make comparisons," said Mark Schwartz, a world expert in phenology, the field of seasonal changes in living things, at the University of
Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Unfortunately, very few ecosystems have been recorded in such excruciating detail.

"We donít have a large number of datasets of this sort," Schwartz said.
"Most of them are concentrated in Europe and in Asia. There are very few in North America."
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/10/climate-change/

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Paul Anthony

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PostSubject: Re: Climate Change and Walden   Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:49 am

I'm no botanist, so I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

We're talking about a 4-degree difference!!! And I'm supposed to believe that life as we know it is doomed?

The temperatures here in southern Arizona range from highs of 115F in the summer to lows of 32F in winter. And that is before "climate change". How in the hell can 4 degrees make such a drastic difference?
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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: Climate Change and Walden   Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:42 pm

I know. It doesn't seem like much but it doesn't take much.

Check this out.




The whole of the state of Massachusetts has jumped a full zone in less than 50 years. It would be my guess that it has probably jumped close to a couple of zones since the days when Thoreau was at Walden.

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PostSubject: Re: Climate Change and Walden   Tue Dec 08, 2009 3:14 am

According to these maps, the southwest is relatively unaffected by the changes.

No, you can't all move in with me! Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Climate Change and Walden   Tue Dec 08, 2009 8:59 am

Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Climate Change and Walden   Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:00 pm

The plant hardiness zone maps agree with my personal on-the-ground experience. I have often commented to friends that the climate in the southern part of my state (Alabama) seems to have moved northward into the central part of the state---in my lifetime---just as the map illustrates. So the fact of creeping climate change is pretty obvious to me.

However, the political implications of the threatened natural and cultural changes are all in a muddle right now. I just did a Google search on "Climate-gate", and 90% of the top items are gloats of delight from AGW deniers. The purloined emails may or may not have long-term scientific repercussions, but they are undeniably having short-term political impact.

For example the timing of the revelation will most likely cause the Copenhagen conference to be a complete bust. AGW advocates are clearly bunkering-down on the defensive, and must scramble their "media puppets" to put a positive neutral spin on the intent of the nefarious emails. Yet my shallow understanding of political conspiracies-in-general tells me that the damaging bits have been blown all out of proportion, and any innocent parts concealed. Only time will tell if there is any significance in all the sound & fury.

So I don't intend to form a judgment on the scientific ramifications, until the polar political conspirators have tired everyone out with their criminations and re-criminations. In a few weeks I suspect that Climate-gate will experience a gobal cooling, and we can dispassionately examine the aftermath.
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PostSubject: Re: Climate Change and Walden   Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:33 pm

Paul Anthony wrote:
I'm no botanist, so I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

We're talking about a 4-degree difference!!! And I'm supposed to believe that life as we know it is doomed?

The temperatures here in southern Arizona range from highs of 115F in the summer to lows of 32F in winter. And that is before "climate change". How in the hell can 4 degrees make such a drastic difference?

Weather & Climate scientists have learned from studies of complexity that large outcomes may arise from small initial inputs. It's the old "butterfly in Brazil" theory. Besides, climate is much more than temperature. When ordinary complexity crosses over into chaos, history is no help in predicting the next stable state.

The uncertainty of climate studies provides scientific reasons for some to scoff and others to obsess. Razz Crying or Very sad


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect
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PostSubject: Re: Climate Change and Walden   Fri Dec 11, 2009 12:23 am

jocolor


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PostSubject: Re: Climate Change and Walden   Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:11 am

I thought this was noteworthy. It's from Modern Mechanics circa 1932.

Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming (Jul, 1932)


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PostSubject: Re: Climate Change and Walden   Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:21 pm

Paul Anthony wrote:


We're talking about a 4-degree difference!!! And I'm supposed to believe that life as we know it is doomed?


Life "as we know it"; that incurs fatalities every minute, even if most of these are unobtrusive at first glance, c'nest pas confused On a less mystical note, The IPPC has made quite a convincing case for many areas of the tropics lapsing into disaster zones within the next few decades:

http://www.ipcc.ch/
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