Tag Archives: Climate change

Wet – Yeah, Right!


The Lone Grey Squirrel’s secret hideout is located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  I know I’ve kind of just given away the secret location but hey, it’s still not as if you will find the hideout on Google Map.

Now what you should know about Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia is that it is an equatorial country with a vast equatorial rainforest.  According to all geography text books, encyclopedias and even Wikipedia, this means that the place is hot and wet.  Equatorial = hot and rainforest = wet.

Well it looks like all those books and websites are defunct.

We are supposed to get about 2360 mm of wet, refreshing rain every year with February being one of the dryer months still getting  145 mm.   Most of the time in February, we can expect it to rain on 53% of the days.

So why is it that this year there has been almost no rain at all?  Many places in Malaysia have not had rain for at least 20 days and a few areas have not had rainfall for a month.  In Kuala Lumpur, we finally got a small splattering of rain these last two days.; not a lot but just enough to make the accumulated dust on my car turn into caked mud!

So now in Kuala Lumpur and the state of Selangor, we are faced with water rationing as our water reserves drop to critical levels.  I once attended an experts’ meeting on water resources about 10 years ago in which the issue of future water shortages and climate change was raised.  Despite the scientific paper presented by one of the speakers on the topic, it was clear that many of the government officials did not take it seriously.  When I spoke to some of them, they merely felt that whatever challenges would arise in the future, they would be able to use technology or engineering to resolve it.  “Just build more dams.” they said.

Well, now we are facing water rationing in what should be a water rich country.   Taps are running dry, crops are failing and the air is thick with haze from the record 7,000 forest and bush fires last month.  Currently, some 2.5 million Malaysians will receive water for two days followed by two days without water.  Some really unfortunate households only get two pails of water delivered to them each day by water tankers.  This is expected to go on for at least till the end of March when it is hoped that some rain will come.

But there really is no guarantee that the rain will come.  The authorities tried to do cloud seeding but the most we got was that little bit that was absorbed by the dust on my car.

I think they are now resorting to more traditional ways.  The bomoh.  The Malay version of a witch doctor, the bomoh is believed to be able to cast spells and influence the weather.  Bomohs are often used to help teams win soccer games but judging from Malaysia’s FIFA world soccer ranking of 150 (out of 207), doesn’t give me a whole lot of confidence in their abilities!

Traditional "Match-Fixing" by Bomoh
Traditional “Match-Fixing” by Bomoh

So my friends, beware of climate change and human arrogance.  A very parched and smelly un-showered squirrel signing off.  Have to go store water instead of nuts.

Worms in Space


On 31st October 2011, a baby was born somewhere in the world and suddenly the Earth groaned under the strain of supporting 7 billion human beings.  Then, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) released a scary report on 28th November 2011 entitled, “The State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture .” or SOLAW.

SOLAW notes that in the 50 years between 1961 and 2009 cropland increased by just 12% but agriculture and food production grew by an amazing 150% largely due to the practices introduced during the “Green Revolution”.  It could be said that we dodged the bullet then because in the same period, the world population also increased by 100%.  If it were not for the Green Revolution, the world would already be facing widespread famine.

However, SOLAW also noted that the success of the Green Revolution has also been costly in terms of soil fertility and pollution and today the “rates of growth in agricultural production have been slowing in many areas and are today only half of what they were during the heyday of the Green Revolution. ”  Today, there is very little arable land left for expansion of agricultural lands.  If anything, we are even losing arable land, burying it under concrete as cities spread out.  Furthermore, SOLAW points out that 25% of the world’s land is now highly degraded, another 8% is moderately degraded and only 10% is showing an improvement in status.

Water scarcity, salination and pollution of groundwater and other water sources and habitats are all making food production harder.  All these effects will be magnified further by the effects of climate change.

Yet while agriculture and food production is in decline and under threat, the human population is expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050.  So in the midst of the decline and decay, we will have to pull another miracle out of the bag and increase food production by another 70% in the next 40 years.

Yet at the Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa that is on right now, developed countries and even some developing countries are trying to delay implementation of further measures to reduce carbon emissions and reduce the impact of climate change.  Canada is even threatening to pull out of the minimal Kyoto Protocol because of concerns that carbon reduction targets might affect its economic competitiveness with the USA.

This reminds me of a Government Minister from a developing nation who called his farmers “stupid” for planting food crops when they could use the land for planting cash crops.  He said with the profits, “we can always buy food”.  How short sighted!  The recent flood in Thailand for example caused widespread panic amongst countries dependent on it for their rice.  Climate change is going to make this situation far worse.

It sure looks like we are all heading towards global disaster like idiots; like Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned or like lemmings heading for the cliff while assuring themselves there is no other way.

Is it any surprise then that even worms are venturing into space to escape?  Read about it here and see the video here.

And just to link with my previous post on the Muppets, there are also Pigs in Space.

 

Wettest, Coldest, Hottest


I was working on something while having the TV on in the background.  It happened to be on CNN and my alert squirrel ears picked up something that seemed odd and just a little bit funny.  The announcer was saying that the temperatures in southern USA was about 6-7 degrees Celsius colder than Canada.  Colder than Canada?

Now you have to admit that this is just not the natural order of things when Texas is colder than Canada.

This unusually cold weather and heavy snowfall also hit most of northern Europe disrupting air, rail, and road travel around year’s end for the second year in a row.  Should we expect regular yearly massive disruption of airport and rail schedules by extremely bad weather from now on?

In India, the winter has  also been  colder than they have been used to , resulting in deaths and NGO’s giving out thin sheets of bubble wrap to help the homeless fight off the cold.  Meanwhile, Northern Australia is suffering terrible flooding which may have killed many  already and in  many places, the floods come on the heels of severe drought.

The last 14 years including 2010 all fall within the 15 hottest years on record. 2010 was the third wettest year on record for Australia.  For the UK, December 2010 was the coldest in 100 years and in Northern Ireland burst frozen pipes left large sections of the population without water and resulted in senior water officials having to resign.

The climate change theory predicts for such extreme weather events.  Are there still those who doubt?

If the above data isn’t enough for the nay-sayers, perhaps the following research by observant squirrels will supply the final proof.

Can You Imagine If This Carries On For Another 20 Years?

The Sky is Falling….


 

It’s too late. Chicken Little was right.  Like Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned, we collectively have wasted our time politicking and in self delusion until now, climate change and its impact on Earth and mankind has become a certainty.  The world will definitely change within the next 30 years.

In a study by the consultancy firm Maplecroft, the five main threats of climate change were looked at.  These are flooding, drought, storms, rising sea levels and changes to ecosystems.  The data was then analysed in a number of ways and  its impact on countries was assessed.

Most at Risk to Suffer Climate Change Effects (Maplecroft 2009)

Based on their current vulnerability and ability to cope , the worst countries are Somalia followed by Haiti, Afghanistan, Sierra Leonne, Burundi, Guinea, Rwanda, the Gambia, Chad and Nigeria.  Africa would seem to be the area of highest risk.  Least at risk is Norway followed by Finland, Japan and Canada.

Most Vulnerable to Climate Change Effects (Maplecroft 2010)

This list was a revision of the 2009 list above and placed a greater emphasis on a countries ability or lack of ability to respond to the effects of climate change.  This list has as most vulnerable, Bangladesh followed by India, Madagascar, Nepal, Mozambique, the Philippines, Haiti, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Myanmar.  Least vulnerable was Norway, Finland , Iceland and Ireland,

Most Vulnerable to Natural Disasters

Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Sudan, Mozambique, Haiti, the Philippines and Columbia are most at risk from natural disasters.

Most Vulnerable to Food Crisis

Afghanistan, DR Congo, Burundi, Eritrea, Sudan, Ethiopia, Angola, Liberia, Chad and Zimbabwe.  Least vulnerable are Finland followed by Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

The message is clear. A pattern is forming and  in the interest of self preservation, I think I had better brush up on Norwegian and Finnish.

God dag. Kunne du trykk inn en vennlig flyktning ekorn hvem er skinn fra klimaet endre?”  (Norwegian)

Hei te antaa kotona ystävällinen pakolainen orava joka on häipyä polveutua ilmanala”  (Finnish)

“Hello.  Could you let in a friendly refugee squirrel who is fleeing from climate change?”  (English)

Sucking Up to Norwegian Immigration

 

Hot, Sweaty Men


There are three posts in one.

Post No:1 Sensational Blogging

The Lone Grey Squirrel has succumbed to blatant sensationalism to attract more readers by pandering to the blogging demographics (overwhelmingly women) and has basically resorted to give them what they want………….HOT, SWEATY MEN.

It is a pity that cute, furry squirrels have not proved to be sufficient.

Anyway, all these pictures and the short video at the end were taken by the Lone Grey Squirrel for your viewing pleasure, ladies. The are all about a performance during an Earth Hour Event at a mall last Saturday night.


Post No: 2 Sensational Nature Documentaries

There were about 300 people gathered at this shopping mall open air atrium to observe Earth Hour. I am sure most of you know about Earth Hour but in case you don’t , this event encourages people and cities around the world to switch off the lights for one hour. Switching off the lights for one hour barely makes a dent in our annual consumption of energy but the idea is to just raise awareness about the problem of climate change and our need to reduce our personal impact on the environment including our energy consumption. If those 300 people at the mall then just change their lifestyles to stop wasting energy and manage to reduce their energy consumption by even 10%, then that is what will make the difference that counts.

However, my thoughts drifted to the fact that the organisers had to organise a didgeridoo player, two clowns, one fire-eater, a whole troupe of hot sweaty men, a drum act, a band, two Malaysian celebrity singers and a choir from a children’s home to get people to come for the event. They were all great but if we didn’t have any of that, would the people have come just to sit in the darkness for one hour?

So regrettably, I note that people today need to be given eye and ear candy. It is not good enough just to support a good cause. The cause needs to also be entertaining.

I notice it is even true of once astute institutions like National Geographic or Discovery Channel. I grew up with nature and wildlife documentaries that introduced their viewers to the beauty of nature and animals while teaching a good respect for all things wild and promoting the common sense of keeping one’s distance for the mutual benefit of wildlife and human viewer. Today, it is different. There seems to be a proliferation of documentaries that take great pride on how close the presenter can get to a snake or a crocodile without getting bitten.

In one recent documentary, the presenter takes a walk in a coastal forest at night and tells the viewers that the forest is a particularly dangerous place to be at night and that you would be foolish to come there at night………….and there he is walking there at night.

I did have a chance to talk to a film producer about this once and he said that the reality is that today, channels like Discovery, see their rivals as channels like HBO. In other words, documentaries are about entertainment first and education a distant second.

This is sad. We really have to draw the line somewhere and in my opinion, documentaries must first be about education.

Post No: 3 Sensational World
If you have made it down to this final post past all the sensational hot sweaty men, thank you. I have only one thing to say, “We do have a sensational world, let’s keep it that way. Let us change our wasteful and selfish ways for Mother Earth.”

Melting Point


The Doomsday Clock must surely be clicking towards midnight. This year another climate change landmark has been reached and this is a serious cause for concern especially as it has happened way ahead of most projections by at least a decade or two. I refer to the fact that the North Pole has become an island for the first time in human history.

The last time this occurred is estimated at 125,000 years ago. The famed legendary Northwest Passage to the Orient for which so many died, which lies through Canadian waters, is now truly open for sea-traffic and is a reality. The Russian counterpart or the Northeast Passage is also open simultaneously.

What is Big Business’ s reaction? The shipping companies are already jumping for joy and are barely able to contain their excitement. The Beluga group, based in Bremen, Germany, plans to send the first ship through the North-East passage next year, cutting 4,000 nautical miles off the voyage from Germany to Japan. Many others are expected to do something similar.

Comediennes might find some humor in suggesting that Santa will have to have a Summer Re-location Sale. Or they might suggest that now is a good time to challenge the records for the quickest walk to the North pole.

However, this truly is a dire development and one that must be seen in that light instead of being touted as a shipping business opportunity. Mark Serreze, a sea ice specialist, described the images as an ‘historic event’ – but warned they added to fears that the Arctic icecap has entered a ‘death spiral’. The next doomsday marker would be the absence of ice altogether at the North Pole during summer. Earlier projections suggested that it would be at least a century away but recent observations raise possibilities that it may occur as recent as in the next 5 years. The more optimistic project the polar meltdown for 2030.

How this massive meltdown and increase in freshwater will affect global climate systems and ecosystems is another serious question? For now though, the plight of the polar bears (my previous post here) is very real and very present. Previously, the ice floes on which they hunt were forming later in the year causing some to starve to death but now even those that make it to the floes are in danger of drowning as the floes melt earlier and more completely.

In a recently reported story, a group of 9 polar bears were found trying to swim to the polar ice cap after the floe on which they were hunting had melted. Solid land lies a mere 60 miles south of their position but they swam north expecting to find the ice cap. However, the receding polar ice cap means that the nearest ice is now 400 miles away. Without help, none of the 9 bears are expected to survive. A different group managed a journey of 100 miles but some in that group drowned. There is now talk of getting a ship up there to pick up the struggling bears.

Four weeks ago, tourists had to be evacuated from Baffin Island’s Auyuittuq National Park in northern Canada because of flooding from thawed glaciers. Ironically,the park’s name means ‘land that never melts’.

I think all of mankind is now on shaky ground and the whole world with us. Our politicians should realise the life and death implications of climate change and stop fighting over small monetary issues. Let us leave a world for our children. Let us act to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bear Problem


Global warming means extreme weather throughout the world. Hundreds die in floods in Pakistan while at the same time hundreds also die of heat wave in Eastern Europe and Greece. Meanwhile floods also hit England and Oklahoma. Manitoba gets hit by multiple tornadoes on two consecutive days. This was all in the last week.

Even before this, it was noted that the sea ice in Northern Canada was forming later in the year and there was less of it. This is severely impacting the polar bears that rely on the ice to go out to sea to hunt for seals. The lack of sea ice has led to reports for the first time of large numbers of malnourished polar bears, reports of bears eating their own cubs and even for the very first time, reports of bears drowning because there was too much sea between ice packs.

Some fear that this could be a serious threat to the polar bears and could lead to their extinction. The few optimists that remain think that nature will learn to adapt.

For polar bears, adaptation may mean finding alternative food sources or moving to where the food is and as bears of all sorts begin to move southwards, this invariably could lead to more human animal clashes. As a service to those in potentially affected areas like the USA and Canada, I have included the following advice on safety from the Alaskan Deparment of Fish and Game. For all our sakes, please read it carefully to the very last line.