blame climate change
May 31, 2019

If you didn't already have a reason to hate climate change, think of the puffins.

A recently-published report shows that thousands of puffins and other seabirds died in the Bering Sea during the winter of 2016 to 2017, and scientists say human-induced climate change is the likely culprit, reports Science News.

The report, dubbed "Unusual mortality of tufted puffins in the eastern Bering Sea," estimates between 3,150 and 8,800 puffins died during that fall and winter. During this period, bird carcasses were found at a rate 60-80 times higher than the normal baseline, with an unprecedented amount of puffins among them, per the report. The birds showed signs of starvation, per Science News, which was likely caused by warmer temperatures creating less of a breeding ground for plankton.

Sea ice, which drives plankton to the waters, has become increasingly scarce in the Bering Sea. The decrease in plankton has also caused other small fish species to dissipate, creating a ricochet in the Bering Sea's food web, reports Science News. Marianne Dodson

April 3, 2019

If you were planning on visiting the Great Barrier Reef, you might want to get on that soon.

A study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday found that the colorful species of coral that comprise the reef have had a harder time reproducing, thanks to warming ocean waters. After a major "coral bleaching" event in 2017, National Geographic explained, the reproductive ability of the Great Barrier Reef's coral was down by as much as 89 percent. And now, the study's results predict that it could take as long as 10 years for the reef to recover — if not even longer, if more bleaching events occur.

Not only is the coral population receding drastically, but the balance of different coral species is also changing, The Guardian reported. Acropora, the dominant species in the Great Barrier Reef, declined by 93 percent in the last two years. The changing ecosystem means it's likely that the reef will never be the same. "If you change the mix of babies, you change the mix that they grow up to be," explained Terry Hughes, the study's lead author.

"We've always anticipated that climate change would shift the mix of coral," Hughes said, but it's happening at a far faster rate than expected. Read more about the new study at National Geographic. Shivani Ishwar

February 20, 2019

Man-made climate change has completely eradicated its first mammal species, reports CNN.

The Bramble Cay melomys, a small brown rat, once inhabited an island off northern Australia and had not been seen for the last decade, per CNN. A 2016 report suggested the animal had gone extinct, but that finding was not confirmed by the Australian government until this week.

According to the report, the extinction's cause was "almost certainly ocean inundation" due to rising sea levels caused by climate change.

As many as several hundred rats lived on the tiny island in the 1970s, but the population rapidly declined in the following decades and the melomys was classified as endangered by 1992, reports CNN. Now that the species has been declared extinct, the Australian government will end its endangered species protections. Marianne Dodson

January 30, 2019

Political districts led by Republicans will likely see the greatest economic losses when it comes to mounting climate costs, a report from the Brookings Institute found.

The analysis shows that many Southern metro areas will bear the brunt of coastal property damage caused by climate change, with eight Florida metro areas ranking in the top ten of large metros most likely to be affected.

In contrast to many Southern states, some Northern areas stand to benefit from projected climate change impacts. The Northwest specifically could make major increases in agricultural yields while the Southwest, Southeast, and especially Florida could experience an increase in climate-caused deaths, per the report.

Fourteen of the top 15 states expected to have the highest economic burden caused by climate change voted for President Trump in 2016. Trump has previously said he doesn't "see" the effects of climate change, despite research from his own administration outlining the damage.

The number of people saying they feel the consequences of global warming has increased over the last several years, but climate change still remains a low priority among voters, reports Nature, an international journal of science. Marianne Dodson

January 18, 2019

The White House may not be worried about climate change, but the Pentagon sure is.

About two-thirds of the U.S. military's priority installations are vulnerable to current or future effects of climate change, a report from the Department of Defense found.

The report warned about rising sea levels flooding coastal bases and the dangers of drought-fueled wildfires spreading to bases inland, Bloomberg reports. Coastal bases on the East Coast and in Hawaii are in the most jeopardy, but drought vulnerabilities are widespread across the U.S., per the report.

The Pentagon's findings contradict President Trump's previous denial of climate change's devastating effects. Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recognized the importance of evaluating climate change, saying during his confirmation hearings that "the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon."

The report says the Pentagon now plans on incorporating climate resilience in all future decision-making processes regarding resources, rather than making climate a separate program. Marianne Dodson

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