Category: Adaptation


 

The Washington Times

By Jessica Chasmar

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Photo by: Matt Brown

**FILE** Smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Mont., on July 1, 2013. Colstrip is kind of plant called on by President Barack Obama‘s climate change plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. On Feb. 24, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the unanimous federal appeals court ruling that upheld the Environmental Protection Agency‘s unprecedented regulations, aimed at reducing the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. The case comes to the court amid Obama‘s increasing use of his executive authority to act on environmental and other matters when Congress doesn’t, or won’t. (Associated Press)

A co-founder of Greenpeace told a Senate panel on Tuesday that there is no scientific evidence to back claims that humans are the “dominant cause” of climate change.

Patrick Moore, a Canadian ecologist who was a member of Greenpeace from 1971-86, told members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee environmental groups like Greenpeace use faulty computer models and scare tactics in further promoting a political agenda, Fox News reported.

“There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years,” Mr. Moore said. “Today, we live in an unusually cold period in the history of life on earth and there is no reason to believe that a warmer climate would be anything but beneficial for humans and the majority of other species.

“It is important to recognize, in the face of dire predictions about a [two degrees Celsius] rise in global average temperature, that humans are a tropical species,” he continued. “We evolved at the equator in a climate where freezing weather did not exist. The only reasons we can survive these cold climates are fire, clothing, and housing.

 

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New maps show how habitats may shift with climate change

This map shows how marine habitat ranges will shift likely in a segment of the Northern Hemisphere. The length of the black arrows indicates the velocity of temperature change, and the color schemes correspond with the nature of the habitat migration, as follows. SINK: Migrations terminate due to some barrier, such as coastlines. SOURCE: Migrations do not terminate. CORRIDOR: Many migrations passing through. DIVERGENCE: Fewer migrations end than start. CONVERGENCE: More migrations start than end. Credit: Michael Burrows and Jorge Garcia Molinosor (Credit: Michael Burrows and Jorge Garcia Molinosor)

This map shows how marine habitat ranges will shift likely in a segment of the Northern Hemisphere. The length of the black arrows indicates the velocity of temperature change, and the color schemes correspond with the nature of the habitat migration, as follows. SINK: Migrations terminate due to some barrier, such as coastlines. SOURCE: Migrations do not terminate. CORRIDOR: Many migrations passing through. DIVERGENCE: Fewer migrations end than start. CONVERGENCE: More migrations start than end. Credit: Michael Burrows and Jorge Garcia Molinosor

As regional temperatures shift with climate change, many plants and animals will need to relocate to make sure they stay in the range of temperatures they’re used to.

For some species, this shift will mean a fairly direct adjustment toward higher latitudes to stay with cooler temperatures, but for many others, the path will take twists and turns due to differences in the rate at which temperatures change around the world, scientists say.

Now, a team of 21 international researchers has identified potential paths of these twists and turns by mapping out climate velocities— the speed and intensity with which climate change occurs in a given region — averaged from 50 years of satellite data from 1960 through 2009, and projected for the duration of the 21st century.

MSN Weather: What causes global warming?
MSN Weather: How global warming can make cold snaps even worse

“We are taking physical data that we have had for a long time and representing them in a way that is more relevant to other disciplines, like ecology,” said co-author Michael Burrows, a researcher at the Scottish Marine Institute. “This is a relatively simple approach to understanding how climate is going to influence ocean and land systems.”

Where species come and go

The resulting maps indicate regions likely to experience an influx or exodus of new species, or behave as a corridor or, conversely, a barrier, to migration. Barriers, such as coastlines or mountain ranges, could cause local extinctions if they prevent species from relocating, the team says.  [Maps: Habitat Shifts Due to Climate Change]

“For example, because those environments are not adjacent to or directly connected to a warmer place, those species from warmer places won’t be able to get there very easily,” Burrows told Live Science. “They might still get there in other ways, like on the bottoms of ships, but they won’t get there as easily.”

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kvue.com

Professor to live in dumpster for year

by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on February 4, 2014 at 6:28 PM

Updated today at 9:27 AM

AUSTIN — Dumpster diving is taking on a whole new meaning at Huston-Tillotson University. It’s all about a professor and the number “one.” The dean of Huston Tillotson’s University College will live on campus for the next year.

His goal is to live in a space one percent the size of the average home, while using one percent of the water and energy used by an average home and producing only one percent of the waste an average home produces.

“This is what’s called an eight cubic yard dumpster, also with windows and doors,” said Huston-Tillitson environmental science professor Jeff Wilson, Ph.D.

Wilson made those comments back in October when he checked out dumpsters, not for trash or treasure, but rather to size them up as a future home.

“Telling people you have life dreams, you want to live in a dumpster, it brings sympathy your way,” Wilson said.

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Texas university professor moves into a DUMPSTER on school campus for a year to show students that they can live with less

  • Dr. Jeff Wilson, a Harvard-educated environmental science professor at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, moved into the dumpster Tuesday
  • The experiment is designed to show students, and the world, that humans can live on a smaller scale and lessen our environmental footprint
  • Thankfully for Wilson, who’s now known as Professor Dumpster, his new home isn’t your ordinary smelly dumpster
  • It will be getting kitted out by his students so it includes creature comforts like a shower, kitchen, bed, WiFi and toilet

By Helen Pow

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A university professor in Austin, Texas, has moved into a 33sq ft dumpster, which he plans to call home for an entire year. 

Dr. Jeff Wilson, a Harvard-educated environmental science professor, took up residence in the trash can Tuesday in an effort to show students at Huston-Tillotson University, and the world, that humans can live on a smaller scale and lessen our environmental impact.

Thankfully for Wilson, who’s now known as Professor Dumpster, his new home isn’t your ordinary smelly dumpster but will be getting kitted out by his students so it includes creature comforts like a shower, kitchen, bed, WiFi and toilet.

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Dumpster time: Dr. Jeff Wilson, pictured Tuesday, Dean of the University College and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Huston-Tillotson University, moved into a 33-square foot dumpster on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas on Tuesday

Dumpster time: Dr. Jeff Wilson, pictured Tuesday, Dean of the University College and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Huston-Tillotson University, moved into a 33-square foot dumpster on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas on Tuesday

Outfitting the tiny space is step one in the trash can challenge, and the goal is to design the dumpster to be as energy efficient as possible, with solar panels and an energy producing toilet.

‘The idea here is to ultimately show one can have a pretty good life in a dumpster,’ Wilson told Fast Company.

However, the dumpster is starting off modestly. Tuesday night, the 6ft 1in Professor Dumpster posted a picture of his new abode on Twitter with a maroon sleeping bag laid out tightly in the small space with little else in view.

If occasionally Wilson needs a break from the box, students can opt to take his place for the night.

One student, Evette Jackson, has already signed up.

Mod cons: Thankfully for Wilson, pictured, his new home isn't your ordinary smelly dumpster but a special version customized by his students that includes creature comforts like a shower, kitchen, bed, WiFi and toilet

Mod cons: Thankfully for Wilson, pictured, his new home isn’t your ordinary smelly dumpster but a special version customized by his students that includes creature comforts like a shower, kitchen, bed, WiFi and toilet

Not very big: Wilson posted a picture of his new home on Twitter Tuesday with the comment 'Bird's eye view of dumpster home at bedtime'

Not very big: Wilson posted a picture of his new home on Twitter Tuesday with the comment ‘Bird’s eye view of dumpster home at bedtime’

‘I think it’s pretty intriguing,’ she told KVUE. ‘It’s pretty cool. I want to live in it too.’

After the year of dumpster living is up, Wilson plans on taking the bin across the United States, educating students about the possibility of following in his ‘less is more’ footsteps.

Wilson said the project idea came to him two years ago while he was sipping a latte at Starbucks.

‘I looked out the window into the parking lot and saw an eight-yard dumpster and had some sort of strange flash that I was definitely moving into a dumpster,’ he told Fast Company.

So when the lease ran out on his lovely, full-sized, apartment a year later, he posted an announcement on Facebook, which read: ‘Starting at 6pm, I will be selling all of my home furnishings, clothes, kitchen appliances, and everything else in the apartment for $1 an item.’

Help: Wilson, right, had help from students and other educators including Dr Karen Magid, pictured

Help: Wilson, right, had help from students and other educators including Dr Karen Magid, pictured

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Arctic polar bears may be adjusting their eating habits as their sea ice habitat melts and the furry white predators stand to lose the floating platform they depend on to hunt seals, their primary food. According to researchers, however, the bears are displaying flexible eating habits as their world changes around them.

Indeed, scientific studies indicate polar bear populations are falling as the sea ice disappears earlier each spring and forms later in the fall. But a series of papers based on analysis of polar bear poop released over the past several months indicate that at least some of the bears are finding food to eat when they come ashore, ranging from bird eggs and caribou to grass seeds and berries.

“What our results suggest is that polar bears have flexible foraging strategies,” Linda Gormezano, a biologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a co-author of several of the papers, told NBC News.

Quinoa, a dog, finds polar bear scat

Robert Rockwell / American Museum of Natural History
Quinoa, a Dutch shepherd who was trained to sniff out polar bear scat, sits next to find. Analysis of the polar bear scat reveals the animals have a flexible foraging strategy.

The results stem from research in western Hudson Bay, near Chruchill, Manitoba, Canada, which is in the southern extent of polar bear habitat and serves as a harbinger of what the animals are likely to face throughout their Arctic range as the climate continues to warm and sea ice breaks up earlier and earlier each spring.

The flexible foraging strategy of polar bears “means that there may be more to this picture in terms of how polar bears will adjust to changing ice conditions” than indicated by models based on the spring breakup date of the sea ice and thus their access to seals, Gormezano said.

She added that nobody knows for sure how well polar bears will adapt to the changing food supply, but a big step toward an answer is to study what they eat on land “rather than assume that they may just be fasting.”

Let them eat car parts
In addition to berries, birds and eggs, Andrew Derocher, a University of Alberta polar bear biologist who was not involved with the recent studies, said people have seen a polar bear drink hydraulic fluid as it was drained out of a forklift, chomp the seats of snow machines, and eat lead acid batteries.

“Polar bears will eat anything,” he told NBC News. “The question is: Does is it do them any good? And everything we can see from what bears eat when they are on land is it has a very, very minimal energetic return relative to the cost.”

Gormezano said the plants found in any given pile of poop were usually the same, suggesting the bears eat whatever they find in their immediate surroundings — they don’t spend a lot energy searching for food. Mothers and cubs, who wander farthest inland, feast on berries found there. On the coast, where adult males linger, the poop is predominantly shoreline grass seeds.

Animal remains, however, showed no pattern, which fits with a landscape rich with nesting birds and caribou and polar bears opportunistically eating whatever crosses their path, according to a paper Gormenzano and colleague Robert Rockwell published in BMC Ecology in December 2013.

In a paper published in Polar Biology in May 2013, the researchers report observations of polar bears chasing and capturing snow geese with the efficiency of a skilled hunter — snagging one right after the other.

Polar bear eats a caribou

Robert Rockwell / American Museum of Natural History
A polar bear eats a caribou on land. Recent studies suggest polar bears have a flexible foraging strategy, which help them survive as they come ashore earlier due to melting Arctic sea ice.

“Previously, it had been thought that that would not be a very energetically profitable thing for a polar bear to do because they expend more energy in the chase than they get from consuming the food,” Gormezano noted.

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Jan 16, 2014 by Sci-News.com

According to an international group of scientists led by Dr Nate Stephenson of the US Geological Survey, most of tropical and temperate tree species grow more quickly and sequester more carbon as they grow older.

Eucalyptus bridgesiana tree.

Eucalyptus bridgesiana tree.

The report, published in the journal Nature, is based on repeated measurements of 673,046 individual trees belonging to 403 species, some going back more than 80 years.

“Rather than slowing down or ceasing growth and carbon uptake, as we previously assumed, most of the oldest trees in forests around the world actually grow faster, taking up more carbon. A large tree may put on weight equivalent to an entire small tree in a year,” said co-author Dr Richard Condit from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

“This report would not have been possible without long-term records of individual tree growth. It was remarkable how we were able to examine this question on a global level, thanks to the sustained efforts of many programs and individuals,” added co-author Dr Mark Harmon of Oregon State University.

“Extraordinary growth of some species, such as Australian mountain ash – also known as eucalyptus – (Eucalyptus regnans), and the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is not limited to a few species,” Dr Stephenson said.

“Rather, rapid growth in giant trees is the global norm and can exceed 600 kg per year in the largest individuals. In human terms, it is as if our growth just keeps accelerating after adolescence, instead of slowing down. By that measure, humans could weigh half a ton by middle age, and well over a ton at retirement.”

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Jan 10, 2014 by Sci-News.com

According to paleontologists from the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan, long-extinct Bandringa sharks migrated downstream from freshwater swamps to the ocean to spawn in shallow coastal waters and left behind fossil evidence of one of the earliest known shark nurseries.

This is an artist's impression of Bandringa shark. Image credit: John Megahan / University of Michigan.

This is an artist’s impression of Bandringa shark. Image credit: John Megahan / University of Michigan.

The long-snouted Bandringa shark (Elasmobranchii, Chondrichthyes) – a bottom-feeding predator that lived in an ancient river delta system in what is today the Upper Midwest – is likely one of the earliest close relatives of modern sharks.

It resembled present-day sawfish and paddlefish, with a spoon-billed snout up to half its body length. Juveniles were 4 to 6 inches long and grew into adults of up to 10 feet.

Bandringa sharks were discovered in 1969 and soon became one of the most prized fossils from the well-known Mazon Creek deposits in northern Illinois.

Until now, paleontologists believed that the genus Bandringa contained two species – B. rayi and B. herdinae, one that lived in freshwater swamps and rivers and another that lived in the shallow ocean.

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Jan 16, 2014 by Sci-News.com

By using the same experimental framework normally applied to test learnt behavioral responses in animals, biologists from Australia and Italy have successfully demonstrated that Mimosa pudica – an exotic herb native to South America and Central America – can learn and remember just as well as it would be expected of animals.

Mimosa pudica at the Botanical Garden KIT, Karlsruhe, Germany. Image credit: H. Zell / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Mimosa pudica at the Botanical Garden KIT, Karlsruhe, Germany. Image credit: H. Zell / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Mimosa pudica is known as the Sensitive plant or a touch-me-not. Dr Monica Gagliano from the University of Western Australia and her colleagues designed their experiments as if Mimosa was indeed an animal.

They trained Mimosa‘s short- and long-term memories under both high and low-light environments by repeatedly dropping water on them using a custom-designed apparatus.

The scientists show how Mimosa plants stopped closing their leaves when they learnt that the repeated disturbance had no real damaging consequence.

The plants were able to acquire the learnt behavior in a matter of seconds and as in animals, learning was faster in less favorable environment.

Most remarkably, these plants were able to remember what had been learned for several weeks, even after environmental conditions had changed.

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LA Times  Science

Neanderthal toe bone

This toe bone from a Neanderthal, discovered in Denisova Cave in Siberia, is helping scientists understand interbreeding among species of ancient humans. (Bence Viola / December 18, 2013)

A 50,000-year-old toe bone found in a Siberian cave is giving scientists a surprising view of the breeding habits of early humans.

In what has been described as a “Lord of the Rings”-type world, researchers say that Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and two other groups of early humans mingled and interbred thousands of years before all species but ours became extinct.

The findings were presented Wednesday in the journal Nature by a team of scientists who sequenced the DNA from the Neanderthal toe fossil and compared it to the genomes of 25 present-day humans, as well as the genome of a sister group to Neanderthals called Denisovans.

According to their analysis, Neanderthals contributed roughly 2% of their DNA to modern people outside Africa and half a percent to Denisovans, who contributed 0.2% of their DNA to Asian and Native American people.

The biggest surprise, though, was the finding that a fourth hominin contributed roughly 6% of the DNA in the Denisovan genome. The identity of this DNA donor remains a mystery.

“It is possible that this unknown hominin was what is known from the fossil record as Homo erectus,” said lead study author Kay Prufer, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. “Further studies are necessary to support or reject this possibility.”

Geneticists and anthropologists said the inch-long bone and resulting analysis have greatly illuminated a period of time roughly 12,000 to 126,000 years ago.

“It does seem that Eurasia during the Late Pleistocene was an interesting place to be a hominin, with individuals of at least four quite diverged groups living, meeting and occasionally having sex,” biologist Ewan Birney of the European

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LocoTV Dos LocoTV Dos

 

Published on Mar 7, 2013

Finally, a Billboard That Creates Drinkable Water Out of Thin Air

I’ve never cared much for billboards. Not in the city, not out of the city — not anywhere, really. It’s like the saying in that old Five Man Electrical Band song. So when the creative director of an ad agency in Peru sent me a picture of what he claimed was the first billboard that produces potable water from air, my initial reaction was: gotta be a hoax, or at best, a gimmick.

Except it’s neither: The billboard pictured here is real, it’s located in Lima, Peru, and it produces around 100 liters of water a day (about 26 gallons) from nothing more than humidity, a basic filtration system and a little gravitational ingenuity.

Let’s talk about Lima for a moment, the largest city in Peru and the fifth largest in all of the Americas, with some 7.6 million people (closer to 9 million when you factor in the surrounding metro area). Because it sits along the southern Pacific Ocean, the humidity in the city averages 83% (it’s actually closer to 100% in the mornings). But Lima is also part of what’s called a coastal desert: It lies at the northern edge of the Atacama, the driest desert in the world, meaning the city sees perhaps half an inch of precipitation annually (Lima is the second largest desert city in the world after Cairo). Lima thus depends on drainage from the Andes as well as runoff from glacier melt — both sources on the decline because of climate change.

Enter the University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC), which was looking for something splashy to kick off its application period for 2013 enrollment. It turned to ad agency Mayo DraftFCB, which struck on the idea of a billboard that would convert Lima’s H2O-saturated air into potable water. And then they actually built one.

It’s not entirely self-sufficient, requiring electricity (it’s not clear how much) to power the five devices that comprise the billboard’s inverse osmosis filtration system, each device responsible for generating up to 20 liters. The water is then transported through small ducts to a central holding tank at the billboard’s base, where you’ll find — what else? — a water faucet. According to Mayo DraftFCB, the billboard has already produced 9,450 liters of water (about 2,500 gallons) in just three months, which it says equals the water consumption of “hundreds of families per month.” Just imagine what dozens, hundreds or even thousands of these things, strategically placed in the city itself or outlying villages, might do. And imagine what you could accomplish in any number of troubled spots around the world that need potable water with a solution like this.

MAYO DRAFTFCB / UTEC
Mayo DraftFCB says it dropped the billboard along the Pan-American Highway at kilometer marker 89.5 when summer started (in December, mind you — Lima’s south of the equator) and that it’s designed to inspire young Peruvians to study engineering at UTEC while simultaneously illustrating how advertising can be more than just an eyesore. (Done and done, I’d say.)

“We wanted future students to see how engineers can also solve social needs in daily basis kinds of situations,” said Alejandro Aponte, creative director at Mayo DraftFCB.

The city’s residents could certainly use the help. According to a 2011 The Independent piece ominously titled “The desert city in serious danger of running dry,” about 1.2 million residents of Lima lack running water entirely, depending on unregulated private-company water trucks to deliver the goods — companies that charge up to 30 soles (US $10) per cubic meter of H2O, or as The Independent notes, 20 times what more well-off residents pay for their tapwater.

Read more: http://techland.time.com/2013/03/05/f…

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Rainwater harvesting: dismissed by Texas voters but embraced by business

australia drought

Lake Eucumbene in Old Adaminaby, Australia. Rainwater collection played a key role in getting several Australian cities through their recent ‘millenium drought’. Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Texas voters last night approved the creation of a water bank expected to fund nearly $30bn in water infrastructure projects in the coming decades. The passage of Proposition 6 means the state will begin putting its 2012 State Water Plan – which calls for more than $50b in spending on new water infrastructure by 2060 – into action.

The project list is heavy on big new pipelines and reservoirs (including a controversial $3.3bn reservoir in East Texas to service the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex 170 miles away), and also features agricultural conservation and municipal water reuse projects.

But advocates of rainwater collection say a key tool for water security is missing from the plan. “Rainwater harvesting was not recommended as a water management strategy to meet needs since the volume of water may not be available during drought conditions,” the plan states.

Rainwater harvesting – one of the most efficient ways of reducing water demand and related infrastructure costs, according to Tamim Younos, president of Virginia’s Cabell Brand Center – has gained popularity in recent years. To protect themselves from water shortage or price increases, some of the world’s largest companies – such as Walmart, Home Depot, and TD Ameritrade – have been installing their own projects.

While Texas offers a number of incentives for rainwater harvesting, including allowing governmental districts to exempt such systems from property taxes, inclusion of the practice in the State Water Plan would have certainly accelerated the trend.

Rainwater collection played a key role in getting several Australian cities through their recent “millennium drought“. But the practice routinely gets overlooked in the United States, as underlined by the Texas plan.

David Crawford, founder of Virginia-based Rainwater Management Solutions, attributes the limited US rollout to resistant utilities, relatively low water costs, a confusing melange of local codes and ignorance about the practice.

“There’s these municipalities that say, ‘Oh, no, we don’t want you to flush our toilets with rainwater because we’ll lose budget money on it,’” Crawford said. “The reality of it is they don’t have the water to sell in many cases.”

Corporate rainwater collection rises

In May, online brokerage TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation consolidated five offices in Omaha, Nebraska, into a single $250m, 12-story tower expected to receive the LEED Platinum certification.

Along with an abundance of natural lighting, solar-heated hot water, and wind-powered parking lot lights, the building boasts a rainwater harvesting system that waters the landscaping and flushes the toilets. All together, the green measures cut building maintenance costs in half, claims spokesperson Kim Hillyer.

“Anytime you move 2,000 people into one location you worry about how many natural resources you’re going to drain, and if we can limit that then we’ve done our job in being a good community partner,” Hillyer said.

Box stores with large roofs and significant landscaping also appear to be a natural fit for rainwater harvesting, which typically involves collecting rainwater from rooftops, storage in large tanks, and filtration and pumping for non-potable needs. The American Water Works Association estimates that 80% of the typical commercial building’s water use goes to non-potable uses, such as flushing toilets, watering landscaping, and for cooling and processing water.

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