Fish Failing to Adapt to Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels in Ocean

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA’s Environment and Climate Resource Center page.

Spiny damselfish Acanthochromis polyacanthus.
Photograph: Flickr/creative commons

Rising carbon dioxide levels in oceans adversely change the behavior of fish through generations, raising the possibility that marine species may never fully adapt to their changed environment, research has found.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, found that elevated CO2 levels affected fish regardless of whether their parents had also experienced the same environment.

Spiny damselfish were kept in water with different CO2 levels for several months. One level was consistent with the world taking rapid action to cut carbon emissions, while the other was a “business as usual” scenario, in which the current trend in rising emissions would equate to a 3C warming of the oceans by the end of the century.

The offspring of the damselfish were then also kept in these differing conditions, with researchers finding that juveniles of fish from the high CO2 water were no better than their parents in adapting to the conditions.

This suggests that fish will take at least several generations to cope with the changed environment, with no guarantee they will ever do so, meaning several species could be at risk of collapsing due to climate change.

The research was conducted by the ARC center of excellence for coral reef studies, based at James Cook University in Queensland.

Previous studies by the center have found that rising CO2 levels in the oceans directly alters neuron transmitters in fish brains, modifying their behavior. Their sense of smell is hindered, as well as their wariness, meaning more are picked off by predators.

More than 90% of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere, primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is soaked up by the oceans.

When CO2 is dissolved in water it causes ocean acidification, which slightly lowers the pH of the water and changes its chemistry. Crustaceans can find it hard to form shells in highly acidic water, while corals are more prone to bleaching.

Professor Philip Munday, a co-author of the study, told Guardian Australia the research suggested fish would not be able to adapt to climate change in the short term.

>>> Read the Full Article

A Cure for Climate Change: Muscle Over Motor

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[Why hasn't this caught on, in the age of carbon footprint awareness?]

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/12/05/muscle-over-motor/

It’s definitely late fall here in Colorado, and the trees have dumped most of their leaves onto the ground. In my neighborhood, this invariably triggers a flurry of lawn contractor activity. A pickup truck pulling a long trailer full of equipment pulls up, a fleet of young guys gets out and each picks up a leafblower, then for the next hour they blow leaves and gasoline fumes back and forth at each other while the surrounding square mile of city becomes a toxic and ear-splitting war zone. Eventually they manage to get a portion of the leaves into plastic bags in their trailer and they motor off.
Just a few days ago, there was yet another snowstorm here, dropping four inches of luxurious fluffy powder onto the newly blown lawns. I was enjoying a quick bike riding errand through the stuff when I encountered another one of my fellow Longmontians clearing the light powder from his short sidewalk with a SNOWBLOWER! Like 99% of the snowfalls in this region, this was a quantity of snow that could have been easily swept aside with a shovel, or a broom, or even a tiny little bird feather.. but my man was out there doing his duty with a gas-powered appliance. The stench leaking from the crude 2-stroke engine left a stain in the air that could be smelled from 500 feet away.
Earlier in the week, when the temperature was in the 60s, other neighbors were using gas-powered lawnmowers to slowly mow their lawns while simultaneously sucking up and chopping the autumn leaves into the lawnmower’s bag, which they then threw out with their weekly trash.
All of these events led my brilliant engineer’s brain to come up with a few new Inventions:
Imagine a leafblower so advanced that it harnesses the power of your abdomen and biceps, while sucking away your stored fat reserves. Yet it operates nearly silently and costs under 15 bucks. With just a simple wooden handle and a few ounces of sturdy bent plastic or metal prongs, it could be lightweight and quite wide, and be able to clear thousands of square feet of densely-packed leaves per hour, leaving you feeling refreshed and healthier and more connected with Nature every time you use it.
Imagine a snowblower so supreme that it works a complementary set of muscles to the leafblower above: your shoulders and your lower back, as well as the hamstrings and portions of the gluteus. It also operates with silky silence, and it ALSO gets 100% of its power from the ultimate renewable resource – your beer belly. You would assume this would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, right? Wrong! This too is under fifteen bucks.
My next invention is an advanced motorcycle that weighs less than thirty pounds and costs less than three hundred dollars. Yet it has a range of over a hundred miles per day, and you never have to find a power outlet to plug it in, because its power source is – you guessed it – the cellulite stored in your ass which gets converted into muscles in your legs and calves as a side effect of the transportation!!
I know I am blowing your mind with these inventions, but I actually have working prototypes right in my garden shed and garage.
I also have a lawnmower with a spinning reel of sharp metal blades that gets its power from me pushing on the handle, and even a boat (which I am demonstrating for you in the picture below), that is 11 feet long, and able to navigate everything from tranquil lakes to roaring ocean surf waves to car-sized river rapids.. but which deflates to fit in a bike trailer, weighs less than 25 pounds, costs less than $100, and is also powered entirely by muscles.
Yee Haw! Motorboats be damned.
I think you might be noticing a pattern here. And the pattern is of course Muscle over Motor. It’s more than just an article. It’s a Founding Principle of Mustachianism, because when you embrace it, it adds great fun to your life even while it simultaneously strips away the fat from your physique and your budget. It’s one of the most powerful little three-word sentences you can embrace.
Because of the power of Muscle over Motor, you should be deeply suspicious of anything with a motor. A motor represents a shortcut to getting something done. That sounds good on the surface, but you must consider what you are shortcutting.
A motorboat will get you across the lake quickly, but wait a minute, you like being on the lake – so why not use your muscles to actually earn your trip across it. It takes longer – that is a good thing. You will enjoy the beers on the deck afterwards much more when you really deserve them.
A Hummer will get you up the logging road and across the rocky meadows. But dude, you’re sitting in a glorified Lazy-Boy recliner and pushing on a pedal. What kind of wussy way of climbing a mountain is that? Leave the motor vehicles where the pavement ends and put on your hiking boots like a Real Man or Woman (or a pair of old flip-flops if you want to be even more badass like a local ultrahiker friend of mine). If you want speed and the ability to cross dozens of miles of terrain per day (as well as catching much more air on the descents), try a mountain bike instead of an SUV.
A Harley with its quiet stock mufflers replaced with illegal straight pipes will get you through some beautiful rocky canyon roads and allow you to ruin the outdoor dining of thousands of people in the hopping downtown Chicago restaurant districts. But a nice lightweight road bike will get you up the same roads and let you hear the birds at the same time, and your resulting muscular physique and healthy glow will get a lot more positive attention in downtown Chicago than the overpriced motorcycle and standard-issue black leather “Independent-minded Renegade Harley® Rider” Halloween costume ever will.
If you need to carry a few bags of cement over to a neighbor’s house, try a wheelbarrow or dolly instead of a pickup truck. If you need to get up to a different level of a building, give me a break, you don’t need an elevator or escalator… find the stairs! You work on the 63rd floor? I envy you!
In the gym, the machines with displays are to be mocked, because there is already a much more effective yet simpler tool that helps you exercise, namely the chunks of metal with handles on them in the free weights section.. or better yet, in your own garage or basement or living room or friend’s house. Even if you’re missing some of your younger physical abilities or you are in a wheelchair, you can still use what you’ve still got to kick as much ass as possible!
The thing about this philosophy is that it keeps you very busy, which means it keeps you out of trouble. If you are following Muscle over Motor, your leisure time is packed with active high-effort outdoor activities which you love. And because of this, you don’t even have time to take up expensive hobbies like waterskiing behind a powerboat, or jacking up your Jeep so it has higher ground clearance so you can drive it around the trails at Moab, or riding ATVs around to shoot at animals. These are surely fun activities as well, but we all have a finite amount of time and money. So which activities do we choose: the expensive ones where you sit on your butt and twist a throttle? Or the low-cost ones that also make us healthy and develop our physical skills?
This isn’t a perfect rule, because there are exceptions. Motors are still useful when we’re trying to get some serious work done. I’m not suggesting that the world’s excavator operators climb down out of their cabins and pick up garden shovels, or that carpenters sell their table saws and start cutting 16-foot trim boards with a handsaw. Taxi drivers may or may not want to switch to rickshaws, and accountants should definitely not give up their computers.
But when applied to most of your life, this whole idea of powering your own damned recreational activities (including lawn care) is a great one. It’s another form of Insourcing, but it applies to everyone, not just homeowners with chores.  If you find yourself tempted to use a motor when a muscle will do just as well, you should imagine me hovering behind you and reminding you of the slogan every time you reach for a gas-powered lifestyle accessory. More: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/12/05/muscle-over-motor/
[Again, why hasn't this caught on, in the age of carbon footprint awareness?]

Monkey populations will suffer as climate change alters their food

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/monkey-populations-will-suffer-as-climate-change-alters-their-food-20141002-10mfas.html

October 2, 2014   Science Editor

If you consider the consequences of global warming, it’s always the major effects that receive the most attention – glaciers melting, sea levels rising, more frequent and more intense bushfires, floods and cyclones.

But climate change is affecting plants and animals in ways that are far less spectacular and harder to detect. And yet these subtle changes have the same potential to decimate populations.

This month scientists will publish research that links a decline in the nutritional quality of leaves eaten by colobus monkeys in Uganda to changes in climate over the past 30 years.

Specifically, the team found that in a range of plant species in Kibale National Park the amount of fibre had increased by up to 15 per cent, while the proportion of protein had decreased by about 6 per cent.

David Raubenheimer, a professor of nutritional ecology and co-author of the study, said this shift was significant because many variety of monkey selected their food based on its nutritional quality, in particular the amount of protein to fibre in plant leaves.

“We know if we go out and measure leaves and find patches that have a lot of protein to fibre, that’s good territory for monkeys,” said Professor Raubenheimer, from the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney.

But over the past three decades the climate in Kibale National Park has become hotter and wetter, which in turn has altered the composition of plant foliage.

The team, led by primatologist Jessica Rothman from the City University of New York, found nine out of 10 species had increased their fibre concentration and reduced in protein. Only one plant showed the opposite trend, where its protein level increased.

“There are a number of experiments on plants showing that an increase in temperature and moisture has an impact on the fibre concentration,” Professor Raubenheimer said.

A rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has also been linked to a drop in the amount of protein in leaves.

While colobus populations remain stable, the study, published in the Ecology journal, propose that this shift in plant nutrients will have a significant effect on future populations.

Professor Raubenheimer said monkeys cannot digest a lot of fibre. So as fibre increases in their diet, he predicts their other nutrients needs, from protein and sugars, will not be met.

Females deprived of a balanced diet are less fertile and give birth to smaller young.

“The population birth rate is slowed, so you get a decline in population,” he said.

Because humans had destroyed so much plant and animal habitat for urbanisation and agriculture, many species were confined to isolated pockets of bushland or nature reserves.

“If climate change is causing these [reserves] to change biologically, then there is nowhere for them to go,” Professor Raubenheimer said.

“They can’t migrate to follow climates that are better suited to them like they could have a few hundred years ago.”

Warm North Pacific Waters Threaten Native Fish, Usher in Unusual Species

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
October 3, 2014

Unusually high water temperatures throughout the North Pacific Ocean have brought concerns from researchers about how it could affect native species of fish as well as sightings of uncommon species.

The three areas of the North Pacific with the most notable warming trend include the Gulf of Alaska, the Bering Sea and an area off the coast of Southern California down to Baja California, Mexico, with temperatures as high as 5 degrees above average.

These sea surface temperature anomalies have remained this way for more than a year, one of the longest stretches on record, according to researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This is a sea surface temperature anomaly map in the North Pacific Ocean. The darker the red, the farther above average the sea surface temperature, according to NOAA. (Photo/NOAA)

The warmer water has prompted questions about how it will impact the marine food web, said Laurie Weitkamp, a research fisheries biologist with NOAA’s Northwest Fishery Science Center in Newport, Oregon.

A big concern for native species of fish, such as salmon, is that the primary food items they eat may no longer be available, Weitkamp said.

Potentially adding further stress to the situation, warm water also increases the metabolic rate of the fish so they have to eat more in warmer water, but there may not be enough to eat because the conditions are not suitable for their food items, Weitkamp said.

RELATED:
Great White Shark Populations Increase in Both Pacific, Atlantic Waters
PHOTOS: Rare Blue Lobster Caught in Maine
Northwest Regional Weather Radar

Nate Mantua, leader of the landscape ecology team at the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, attributes these conditions in the Gulf of Alaska to the same ridge of high pressure that’s believed to have contributed to California’s extreme drought. Storms and winds that commonly cool and stir the sea surface have been quelled by the ridge.

“If the warming persists for the whole summer and fall, some of the critters that do well in a colder, more productive ocean could suffer reduced growth, poor reproductive success and population declines,” Mantua said in a NOAA Fisheries article.

“This has happened to marine mammals, sea birds and Pacific salmon in the past. At the same time, species that do well in warmer conditions may experience increased growth, survival and abundance,” Mantua said.

Another effect likely brought about by the noticeably warmer waters is observations of different species of fish that are not known for frequenting this part of the ocean.

Earlier this past summer, a research vessel found a thresher shark in the Gulf of Alaska, which was the northernmost documented catch of the species, according to Michael Milstein, a spokesman for NOAA Fisheries.

“Thresher sharks are know for preferring warm waters,” Milstein said.

More: http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/warm-north-pacific-waters-threaten-fish/34699318

What do Wolves, Hunting Accidents and Trophy Hunter Kendall Jones have in Common?

Answer: Well, nothing really, yet. They just happen to be three of the more popularHNTSTK_1_2__66133_1314490481_1280_1280 keywords, and I hoped that if I used them in a title I’d tempt more of you to read some of the recent posts that have been overlooked according to this blog’s stats.

Why, for instance, did an article about Kendall Jones’ trophy hunting pictures receive over 22,000 reads here, whereas posts about climate change, elk or mute swans have only been looked at by a few dozen?

I’m trying to figure out what makes people tick.

Maybe there just aren’t enough hunting accidents involving trophy hunters to keep people reading, so here’s one that someone made up:

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Obama: Western wildfires have a lot “to do with climate change”

james1

While I’m generally no hardline presidential apologist, I do have to praise Obama for acknowledging that the record-setting Carlton Complex wildfire, along with other ongoing western blazes, can be attributed to climate change.

“A lot of it has to do with drought, a lot of it has to do with changing precipitation patterns, and a lot of that has to do with climate change,” the USA Today quoted the president as saying during a recent visit to Seattle.

Unfortunately since then, the media has been silent about the president’s statement, omitting it in any subsequent article about President Barack Obama signing a federal emergency declaration for the areas affected by the wildfires. The declaration authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate disaster relief and help state and local agencies with equipment and resources.

That’s good news for this particular weather event, but it hardly trumps the fact that the planet is sure to experience this scale of catastrophic wildfire again and again in the future.

Perhaps the reason we’re not hearing about the climate change connection has to with the results of a recent survey revealing that Americans are more skeptical of climate change than others polled across the globe.

According to an ABC News article, when asked if they agreed with the statement, “The climate change we are currently seeing is largely the result of human activity,” just 54 percent of Americans surveyed said yes. Although this number indicates a majority, the United States still ranked last among 20 countries in the poll.

Meanwhile, China topped the list, with 93 percent of its citizens agreeing that human activity is causing climate change. Large majorities also agreed in France (80 percent), Brazil (79 percent), Germany (72 percent) and other countries.

Similarly, 91 percent of those from China agreed with the statement, “We are heading for environmental disaster unless we change our habits quickly.” Only 57 percent of Americans thought so — again, last among 20 nations surveyed.

‘Mother Nature is winning here’: Wildfire destroys about 100 homes in central Washington

As  you’ve probably heard by now, Washington’s scenic Methow Valley, up in the North central portion of the state, is on fire. Big time. The title of the attached U.S. News article, “Mother Nature is Winning Here,” hit the nail on the head. What started out two days ago as 4 small fires covering 18,000 acres has mushroomed almost overnight to a monstrous 240,000 acre inferno, capable of gobbling up any town that tries to stand in its way.

photo Copyright Jim Robertson

photo Copyright Jim Robertson

I lived in the  Methow for 20 some years, in a cabin in the heart of the Lake Chelan Sawtooth range, nestled on the eastern edge of the North Cascades mountains. My wife grew up in the valley; my brother and his wife still live there.

It was there that I learned to really respect the power of wildfires. I was working on a trail crew for the U.S. Forest Service. When we were sent on “controlled” burn on the Gold Creek Ridge near the now infamous town of Carlton I saw just how quickly an out of control fire can spread.

Being a “controlled” burn, it was planned for the spring when conditions aren’t nearly as dry as they are this time of year. We were using drip torches to set off slash piles. One big pile was next to the edge of a flagged “unit,” next to an unlogged slope. The guy working on that pile got carried away, so a couple of us went over to help keep his fire from spreading. We started frantically pulling slash off the unburned slope and tossing it out of reach of the flames. But the effort was too late; one worker who stopped to take a break saw the flames reach across the flag line behind us. He yelled, “Get out of there, you guys.” We turned to see the fire move over our fire line and into the brush and trees outside the unit. Luckily we hurried out of the fire’s path. Within seconds, the flames reached the crowns of the trees and the fire shot uphill and blackened the entire slope before we could even think about trying to get ahead of it and slow its progress…

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‘MOTHER NATURE IS WINNING HERE’: Wildfire destroys about 100 homes in central Washington

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS and GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press

PATEROS, Wash. (AP) — A fire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes, leaving behind smoldering rubble, solitary brick chimneys and burned-out automobiles as it blackened hundreds of square miles in the scenic Methow Valley.

Friday’s dawn revealed dramatic devastation, with the Okanagan County town of Pateros, home to 650 people, hit especially hard. Most residents evacuated in advance of the flames, and some returned Friday to see what, if anything, was left of their houses. There were no reports of injuries, officials said.

A wall of fire wiped out a block of homes on Dawson Street. David Brownlee, 75, said he drove away Thursday evening just as the fire reached the front of his home, which erupted like a box of matches.

“It was just a funnel of fire,” Brownlee said. “All you could do was watch her go.”

Next door, the Pateros Community Church appeared largely undamaged.

The pavement of U.S. Highway 97 stopped the advance of some of the flames, protecting parts of Pateros.

Firefighters poured water over the remnants of homes Friday morning, raising clouds of smoke, steam and dust. Two big water towers perched just above the town were singed black by the flames. The fire consumed utility poles from two major power lines, one feeding Pateros and the other feeding the towns of Winthrop and Twisp to the north.

Gov. Jay Inslee said about 50 fires were burning in Washington, which has been wracked by hot, dry weather and lightning. Some 2,000 firefighters were working in the eastern part of the state, with about a dozen helicopters from the Department of Natural Resources and the National Guard, along with a Washington State Patrol spotter plane.

Inslee said that the state was rapidly training about 1,000 additional National Guard troops and active duty military could be called in as well.

“This, unfortunately, is not going to be a one-day or one-week event,” he said.

The Methow Valley, about 180 miles northeast of Seattle, is a popular area for hiking and fishing. Sections of several highways were closed.

“There’s a lot of misplaced people, living in parking lots and stuff right now,” said Rod Griffin, a fly-fishing guide who lives near Twisp. “The whole valley’s in disarray.”

He described long lines for gasoline, with at least one gas station out of fuel, and said cellphone towers must have been damaged as well because there was very little service.

In Brewster, 6 miles to the south, a hospital was evacuated as a precaution. The smoke was so thick there Friday it nearly obscured the Columbia River from adjacent highways. The smoke extended all the way to Spokane, 150 miles to the east.

Jacob McCann, a spokesman for the fire known as the Carlton Complex, said it “ran quite a bit” Thursday and officials were also able to get a better handle on its size. It blackened 260 square miles by Friday morning, up dramatically from the prior estimate of 28 square miles.

“Mother Nature is winning here,” Don Waller, chief of Okanogan County Fire District 6, told The Wenatchee World newspaper.

The county sheriff, Frank Rogers, said his team counted 30 houses and trailers destroyed in Pateros, another 40 in a community just outside the town at Alta Lake, and about 25 homes destroyed elsewhere in the county of about 40,000 people.

More: http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2014/07/18/growing-wildfire-empties-washington-town

Why whale poo could be the secret to reversing the effects of climate change

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/08/whale-poo-reverse-climate-change

I have been at the wrong end of a defecating sperm whale: it smells, it’s nutrient rich, and could just save the world
A whale seen under a whalewatching boat in Peninsula Valdez, Argentina.

A whale seen under a whalewatching boat in Peninsula Valdez, Argentina. Photograph: Justin Hofman / Barcroft Media

The first success of the environmental movements of the 1960s was to save the whale. Now, with deep irony, whales may be about to save us with their poo. A new scientific report from the University of Vermont, which gathers together several decades of research, shows that the great whales which nearly became extinct in the 20th century – and are now recovering in number due to the 1983 ban on whaling – may be the enablers of massive carbon sinks via their prodigious production of faeces.

Not only do the nutrients in whale poo feed other organisms, from phytoplankton upwards – and thereby absorb the carbon we humans are pumping into the atmosphere – even in death the sinking bodies of these massive animals create new resources on the sea bed, where entire species exist solely to graze on rotting whale. There’s an additional and direct benefit for humans, too. Contrary to the suspicions of fishermen that whales take their catch, cetacean recovery could “lead to higher rates of productivity in locations where whales aggregate to feed and give birth”. Their fertilizing faeces here, too, would encourage phytoplankton which in turn would encourage healthier fisheries.

Such propositions speak to our own species’ arrogance. As demonstrated in the fantastical geoengineering projects dreamed up to address climate change, the human race’s belief that the world revolves around it knows no bounds. What if whales were nature’s ultimate geoengineers? The new report only underlines what has been suspected for some time: that cetaceans, both living and dead, are ecosystems in their own right. But it also raises a hitherto unexplored prospect, that climate change may have been accelerated by the terrible whale culls of the 20th century, which removed hundreds of thousands of these ultimate facilitators of CO2 absorption. As Greg Gatenby, the acclaimed Canadian writer on whales told me in response to the Vermont report, “about 300,000 blue whales were taken in the 20th century. If you average each whale at 100 tons, that makes for the removal from the ocean of approximately 30m tons of biomass. And that’s just for one species”.

A defecating sperm whale off the coast of Sri Lanka. A defecating sperm whale off the coast of Sri Lanka. Photograph: Andrew Sutton There’s another irony here, too. American whaling, as celebrated in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851), declined in part because of the discovery of mineral oil wells in the second half of the 19th century. One unsustainable resource – the whale oil which lit and lubricated the industrial revolution – was replaced by another. By killing so many whales, then turning to carbon-emitting mineral oil, humans created a double-whammy for climate change. (Conversely, and perhaps perversely, some US commentators have claimed that capitalism saved the whales rather than environmentalists. They contend that our use of mineral oil actually alleviated the pressure on whale populations – proof, they say, that human ingenuity has the ultimate power to solve the planet’s problems).

The 10 scientists who jointly contributed to the new paper note the benefits of “an ocean repopulated by the great whales”. Working on a whalewatching boat off Cape Cod last month, I witnessed astonishing numbers of fin whales, humpbacks and minkes feeding on vast schools of sand eels. I watched dozens of whales at a time, co-operatively hoovering up the bait – and producing plentiful clouds of poo in the process. (Having been at the receiving end of a defecating sperm whale, I can testify to its richly odiferous qualities.)

Observers in the Azores have reported similarly remarkable concentrations of cetaceans this summer. And with a 10% increase in humpback calves returning to Australian waters each year, and blue whales being seen in the Irish Sea, a burgeoning global population of cetaceans might not just be good for the whalewatching industry, they may play a significant role in the planet’s rearguard action against climate change.

It would certainly be a generous return on their part, given what we’ve inflicted on them. Indeed, as Melville imagined in his prophetic chapter in Moby-Dick, Does the Whale’s Magnitude Diminish?, the whale might yet have the last laugh, regaining its reign in a flooded world of the future to “spout his frothed defiance to the skies”.

We’re in a War Over Climate Change…

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — America’s “WWIII, the Global Warming War” was launched by the Bush Pentagon in 2004 with this warning: “Climate could change radically and fast … be the mother of all national security issues … hit home sooner and harder than we ever imagined,” reported Fortune, causing “massive droughts, turning farmland into dust bowls and forests to ashes.” Accelerating population unrest, so that by “2020 there is little doubt that something drastic is happening … an old pattern could emerge, warfare defining human life,” expanding in 12 climate change war zones worldwide.
In the past decade America spent over $7 trillion on the Pentagon’s budget. We’ve had time for a new General Eisenhower to emerge, plan and launch a WWIII “D-Day” attack on the “Climate Change” battlefield. Instead, we’re losing WWIII, in retreat, sabotaged by Big Oil, GOP political drama, and a powerful army of climate-science deniers … as 2020 and the “mother of all national security issues” relentlessly targets our defenses.
Well, the president finally launched a counterattack, rearming America with new EPA regulations targeting large carbon emitters, coal-burning power plants. But these regs are the global warming equivalent of video games fighting against combat-ready warriors, military strategies, weapons, B-2 bombers, nuclear armed drones and silo-launched missiles. We’re still virtually defenseless against an enemy with a war chest of billions, millions of employees and science deniers, plus the backing of shareholders, politicians, lobbyists, bankers and auto owners.
Yes, the new EPA regs may minimize the more immediate dangers of all the incoming bogies that trigger global warming — auto pollution, fracking, methane, hot oceans, overfishing, deforestation, glaciers melting. But unfortunately, the new EPA regs aim too low, targeting aging power generators and coal-burning power plants with outdated technology, most of which already are slated for replacement and release a mere 4% of the industry’s CO2 emissions. Worse, the full impact of the new regs won’t kick in till 2030 … long after the Pentagon’s warning ignites.
WWIII? Where’s the “D-Day” urgency? A decade after the Pentagon’s warning that by 2020 “warfare will define human life,” our leaders still lack moral courage as our collective conscience keeps drifting deep into pure materialism, choosing short-term economic growth and jobs, handicapping the long-term survival of the planet and our civilization. Worse, we’re ignoring the growing threat as the world’s population explodes from 7 billion today to 10 billion by 2050, further accelerating unrest among all nations.
WWIII Phase 2: new EPA regs vs. Big Oil, GOP, science deniers
Yes, global-warming politics is an American war, started by the Bush Pentagon. Obama’s EPA regulations officially launched Phase II. As the president put it in an interview with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman: “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050.” The president added, “Science is science. There’s no doubt that if we burned all the fossil fuel that’s in the ground right now that the planet’s going to get too hot and the consequences could be dire.” So “we’re not going to be able to burn it all. … but we have to use this time wisely, so that you have a tapering off of fossil fuels replaced by clean energy sources that are not releasing carbon.”
The GOP counterattacked: House Speaker John Boehner called the new EAP regs a “war on coal” that “will kill 224,000 jobs and surge electric bills by $17 billion every year.” The conservative Townhall magazine says “a half a million workers” could lose jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claimed businesses would lose over $50 billion a year. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the regulations “a dagger in the heart of the middle class.” Forbes, and other media echoed Boehner’s numbers. When the noise cleared, newspaper fact-checker PolitiFact.com analyzed Boehner’s statement, ruled it “false.” This war is in our heads.
For years we’ve been using a 12-sector investment strategy based on Jared Diamond’s classic, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” He analyzed 12 macroeconomic areas that over the centuries resulted in entire civilizations disappearing. Here are those 12 macro sectors. Given the threat as 2020 approaches, these 12 are now war zones in President Obama’s Phase 2 of the accelerating WWIII Global Warming Wars:
1. Global population growth
Optimists and bulls see an abundant world and three billion more consumers by 2050 and others see the United Nation’s estimates as limiting growth. However, population is “the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment,” says Scientific American. In Diamond’s 12-factor equation, population growth and lifestyles increases are the two main drivers impacting the others. By 2050 global population will explode from 7 billion to 10 billion, with 1.4 billion each in China and India. Yes, experts challenge the numbers. Earth Institute’s Jeffrey Sachs says even five billion is unsustainable.
2. Worldwide consumer lifestyle
Today, all across the world, people have their own version of the American Dream. In effect, we are all capitalists, the rich, middle class and poor all want more. Witness luxury-car sales in China, microloans for entrepreneurs in India. The downside is that even if population levels off, accelerating lifestyle demands are driving all nations to increase resource use to the same rate as America today, 32 times more resources and dumping 32 times more waste.
3. Global water crisis
Buffett says buy what you know. Well, buy water. It’s everywhere, essential for drinking, industry, agriculture, transportation. And threatened. Media calls water the “new gold.” Water generated over a half trillion dollars in revenue worldwide in 2010. As world population accelerates, as more than one billion “lack access to clean drinking water,” it will soon “trade like oil futures.” For many, water is more valuable than fuel. Consider bottled water companies, soft-drinks, purification, desalination. Buy water.
4. World’s food and nutrition
Huge opportunities: “If you want to become rich, become a farmer,” says Jim Rogers in “Hot Commodities.” The World Bank, UN and IMF all estimate a billion of the planet’s seven billion people are poor, undernourished, surviving on two dollars a day. Mostly subsistence farmers. Monsanto and other agriculture giants have a huge stake in the future of farming, fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and genetically engineered seeds. Downside: Money manager Jeremy Grantham says the planet can’t feed the three billion more projected. Others focus on commercial opportunities, and they’re hot.
5. Productive agricultural zones
Both billionaire investors and nations see the opportunities: Owning farmlands is a solid bet on the future of developed economies and emerging nations. Critics call the trend “land-grabbing” when rich nations buy the agricultural assets of poorer nations. But rich or poor, new populations demand better lifestyles, needing more food. So today there’s a global rally in ag lands, with 25% returns possible.
6. Worldwide forest lands
The demand for urban land and lumber rides population growth up. China and India are planning 500 new cities. Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is advising China. Half the world’s rain forests and natural habitats have been converted into new urban centers. Another quarter will be converted by 2050. Downside: Soils are being eroded by water and wind at “rates between 10 to 40 times the rates of soil formation,” much higher in forests where erosion is “between 500 and 10,000 times” replacement rate, due to the accelerating of mega fires.
7. Global fossil fuels
Even if you’re not a cash-rich nation or superrich billionaire, you can still invest in energy mutual funds at Vanguard, Fidelity and Pimco. They manage hundreds of billions in oil and natural gas equities, bonds and commodity funds. Pimco’s Bill Gross predicts a “significant break” in the world’s “growth pattern,” betting we’re past the “peak oil” tipping point. His New Normal strategy accounts for a decline in consumer shopping as economies grow slower and “corporate profits will be static.” Many investors already own energy stocks and mutual funds.
8. Alternative energy
In his classic, “The Quest,” Daniel Yergin, the world’s leading energy expert, says alternative energies will remain a niche market for decades. Fossil fuels will remain 80% of the total in 2050. The Foreign Policy journal echoes Yergin’s forecast in “The 7 Myths About Alternative Energy.” Biofuels, solar, wind and nuclear may not be the “major ticket,” but still huge with global economies now in excess of $80 trillion annually. And with America spending over a trillion annually on total energy usage, 20% on alternatives may grow even faster as fossil fuel production costs increase.
9. International solar power
New technologies are inviting innovative alternatives, such as fuel cells and batteries. Also promising: When the Mars Rover project shut down, Silicon Valley billionaires privatized the Mars engineering team tasked to build new rockets and robots to explore and mine 10,000 asteroids for energy resources potentially worth trillions. If this sounds like a plot right out of the movie “Avatar,” well, it is.
10. Global toxic chemicals

Human solutions to climate change have unintended consequences. For example, while mining generates economic growth, it also dumps toxins into the air, soil, rivers, lakes, oceans. Toxins break down slowly, if at all. From insecticides, pesticides and herbicides to detergents and plastics, balance is essential between growth and public health. Yet, solutions are more in the realm of politics and government regulations, all of which are at odds with business plans, yet offer new opportunities for innovation. 
11. International ozone 
Yes, human activities, autos and manufacturing plants produce carbon dioxides and other gases that escape into the atmosphere and destroy the protective ozone or absorb and reduce solar energy. Innovative geo-engineering plans are under development to explore using space rockets to block harmful sun rays, reduce global warming, reverse climate change. 
12. Species diversity 
In his classic “Collapse,” Diamond warns, “a significant fraction of wild species, populations and genetic diversity has been lost. And at present rates, a large percent of the rest will disappear in a half century.” Diamond also targeted the unpredictable consequences of transferring native species onto foreign lands where they begin “preying on, parasitizing, infecting or outcompeting” native animals and plants that lack evolutionary resistance, infecting native species with new diseases. 
We’re falling behind, losing WWIII. The new EPA regs are a small step. Lots more must be done. Soon. Diamond tells us these 12 climate-change war zones are “time bombs with fuses of less than 50 years, if unsolved would do us great harm, because they all interact with each other … we need to solve them all.” 
Piecemeal solutions won’t save us from collapse: “The world’s environmental problems will get resolved, in one way or another within the lifetime of the children and young adults alive today…. The only question is whether they will become resolved in pleasant ways of our own choice, or in unpleasant ways not of our choice, such as warfare, genocide, starvation, disease epidemics, and collapses of societies.” 
-Paul B. Farrell