Climate Change

Monday, August 14, 2006

CORAL REEF BLEACHING

Coral reefs are one of the most industrious and sensitive ecosystems on Earth. They provide services in form of fisheries, shoreline protection, tourism and they have assisted us with medicine (Union of Concerned Scientists 2005, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs 1999). As global temperatures are expected to increase and already it is, enormous pressure is exerted on reefs as a slight increase of temperature can cause coral to lose their symbiotic algae. Corals develop effectively where the water is between 26° and 30°C (Merle 2006). Above 30°C pending on species or ecotype, corals become separated from the symbiotic algae which are the crucial partners of their survival (Buddemeier and Fautin 1993). These algae are responsible for the feeding and colour of corals. When the algae die, corals turn whitish and are said to be “bleached”. According to Buddemeier and Fautin (1993) bleaching appears to be a basic physiological attribute of many, if not all, organisms having zooxanthellae, both in response to stress and in the absence of stress. Keep in mind that this is a natural occurring event.
Since the 1970 and 1980, a strong correlation existed between the increase water temperature and coral bleaching. These data were based on the El Nino that raised the water temperature of the Pacific near Tahiti resulting in over 500 kilometres of reefs that have been bleached. Similar results were observed for the reefs near the Caribbean Islands but on a lesser scale. During the mentioned above years the El Nino-effect raised the sea surface temperature with 4°C above normal, but global warming pose are far greater problem, as the El Nino occurs approximately every ten years, while global warming will kind of give a permanent increase of temperature (Union of Concerned Scientists 2005). Thus it is possible to associate coral bleaching to increase sea surface temperature due to global warming caused by anthropogenic activities.

Global warming will provide coral reefs with plenty of stress. Apart from the increase of temperature on the surface of the sea, humans will always increase their resources due to the ever increasing human population.
Thus mass bleaching events will become more frequent and widespread. Increasing human stresses such as pollution, overfishing, soil erosion, and physical damage from boats and other recreational activities will also weaken corals (Union of Concerned Scientists 2005, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs 1999). The time for coral to regenerate take several decades and the stresses mention above, will slow down their adaptation to the most important change, that of climate change.

Coral bleaching is not just an isolated case, but it is happening all over the ocean within the suitable climatic regions (tropical, warm temperatures), and several coral reefs in 60 countries in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Mediterranean and Caribbean have been reported. It is appearing not only at shallow depth but also deeper down (Union of Concerned Scientists 2005).
Furthermore, as ocean warming coincides with sea-level rise and perhaps more frequent tropical storms and El Ninos, reefs are likely to experience greater coastal erosion, sedimentation, and turbidity, which would add to their demise.

Reference:

Union of Concerned Scientists. Climate change: Early Warning Signs- Coral Bleaching; 2005 October. [Cited 2006 Aug 10]. Available from: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/early-warning-signs-of-global-warming-coral-reef-bleaching.html

Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. Coral Bleaching, Coral Mortality, and Global Climate Change; 1999 March. [Cited 2006 Aug 10]. Available from: http://yosemite.epa.gov/oar/globalwarming.nsf/content/ImpactsFisheries.html

Merle J. South Pacific Climate Variability and its Impact on Low-Lying Islands;
Date Unknown; [Cited 2006 Aug 10]. Available from: http://www.unesco.org.uy/phi/libros/enso/merle.html

Buddemeier RW & Fautin DG. 1993. Coral Bleaching as an Adaptive Mechanism: A testable hypothesis. Bioscience 43 (5): 320-326.



PLAGIARISM DECLARATION
1.I know that plagiarism is wrong. Plagiarism is to use another’s work and to pretend that it is one’s own.
2. I have used the CSE/CBE convention for citation and referencing. Each significant contribution to, and quotation in this project from the work, or works, of other people has been attributed, and has been cited and referenced.
3. This assignment is my own work.
4. I have not allowed, and will not allow anyone to copy my work with the intention of passing it off as his or her own work.

REVIEW: ARE WE PUTTING OUR FISH IN HOT WATER? WWF-REPORT

A topic during the Honours course (Parasitology) dealt with abilities of parasites and fishes as indicators of a system. This debate between the students showcased the best indicator for any ecosystem. The result of the debate were inconclusive, however for the purpose of this assignment, I will look at the sensitivity of various of fish species in different regions of the world, and how it try to cope at luring dangers of a rapid increase in global temperature, caused mainly by humans.
Fishes are more sensitive to temperature than any other animal on this planet. The reason why is because they can’t keep their body temperature constant and readily adopt that of the environment. Planet Earth has over 27 000 known fish species and it forms an integral part of the global biodiversity. Primarily from a human perspective, fishes are the staple food for billions with approximately 132 millions metric tons of fish that are capture and raised each year. From this millions, 75 % are directly consumed by humans.

Fishes occupies different and sometimes narrow niches, which are sometimes and most often characterize by temperature. As human has increased their usage and burning of fossil fuel (Coal, Oil and Gas) over the past 100 years, a rapid rise in global temperature is already happening. Warmer water, changes in climate, rainfall, currents and sea level are a result of global warming which are already influencing fisheries and fish biology around the world. Warmer water might be fatal, for several Artic species which depend on the cold, nutrient rich oxygenated water. Temperate fishes will now tend to move polewards, while tropical fish will enter new ecosystems due to the increase in temperature. Fishes at or near the poles has no other way to go deeper into the ocean, threatening their existance and competition will automatically increase in this system.

A study has shown that 120 000 birds died recently because these polar fishes went a bit deeper, resulting that these birds were unable to feed on them. The South Eastern Province of India, heavily rely on False Trevally where it is economically and culturally important. Due to the climatic changes, this part of India has received much less rain which meant less water running from the rivers into the sea. This caused a reduction in both nutrients and the fish population. In the poorer parts of the World, especially in Africa, fishing forms an important part in human’s purse and stomach. A study in Ghana revealed that when fish supply was low, bush meat (variety of wild animals) soared plus the poaching inclined. The indigenous people of the Artic have first hand experience of the shift and fluctuation of fish population as the global warming – effect have change the distribution and numbers of the former common fishes.

In order to conserve the global biodiversity, all of us have to take responsibility and lower our greenhouse gas emissions. It is not just the climate that will be affected but every other organism’s distribution and numbers. We as humans have to realize that we are part of web that are regulated by a sensitive climate, and already some part of the web are beginning to disappear.



PLAGIARISM DECLARATION
1.I know that plagiarism is wrong. Plagiarism is to use another’s work and to pretend that it is one’s own.
2. I have used the CSE/CBE convention for citation and referencing. Each significant contribution to, and quotation in this project from the work, or works, of other people has been attributed, and has been cited and referenced.
3. This assignment is my own work.
4. I have not allowed, and will not allow anyone to copy my work with the intention of passing it off as his or her own work.

GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE & THE FLORA OF SOUTH AFRICA

Global climate change, I believe should be and are already on top of the international agenda. With the hunger and thirst that we as humans go after fossil fuel to sustain our daily livelihoods, we actually just shaping the environment to something different that it has been the past billion years. We are rapidly increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, with some climate models predicting a rise in temperature of 1.5 – 4.5° Celsius causing the Earth to warm up(Rowlands 1996). The concentration of Carbon Dioxide is set to exceed the 500 part per million in the year 2050 which might cause great natural disasters (Midgley and other 2002).

The economy of South Africa is an exceptionally energy demanding one (Rowlands 1996). In particular, we thrive on carbon in the form of coal. The country contains one of the world largest reserves of coal and this source has provided and still contributes 90% of the electricity for the 46 million people. Coal is reasonably cheap in comparisons with other energy sources; subsequently this source makes South Africa a fair contributor to global climate change. On a list for countries contributing to global climate change, South Africa embraces the eighteenth spot with emissions per capita being above the global average (Rowlands 1996).

Mzanzi are blessed with over 21 000 unique and indigenous plants that gives us pleasure to watch, to atlas and for some they provide bread and butter (Midgley and other 2002). Information from the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in the United Kingdom forecast by the year 2050 the country will be warmer and drier than today. Based on the assumption that CO2 will increase to 550 ppm towards 2050, the temperature in January will increase mostly in the central interior and Northern Cape (2.5 - 4.5° C) and least at the coast (0.5 – 1.0° C) (Midgley and other 2002). The Western Cape is expected to lose approximately 25% of its winter rainfall with massive implication on agriculture and already water scarce province.

The vegetation types throughout South Africa are impacted by the climate. The highveld grassland are sustained by winter frosts. The two most diverse and unique floral regions, the Fynbos and Succulent Karoo Biomes originated with the help of the winter rainfall of the Western Cape/ West Coast. Just look at the difference in vegetation types between that in the Great Karoo and evergreen forests of the Southern Cape. The differences between them are regulated by the annual rainfall. By using climate predictions from the Hadley Centre the distribution patterns of seven biomes of South Africa can look like the following in 2050.

The succulent Karoo biome will the most affected as only the tougher of the succulents will be able to occupy this region. The flora of the succulent Karoo will tend to migrate southwards and the only viable region in 2050 pending on climate, will be the Agulhas Plain. The Fynbos biome are set to lose a large number of species, but the borders however will remain the relatively the same like it is today. The Fynbos biome is already restricted to the mountains of the Western Cape, which will provide refuge to some species to move up or down into different microclimates. Large portions of the Fynbos vegetation are also near the coast, meaning that warming of these areas will be much slower than the interior part of the country (Midgley and other 2002). The remaining biomes will also tend to move eastwards according the Hadley Centre which will result in competition, invasion and worst of all extinction.

Even though climate plays a pivotal role in the distribution of plants, it is not the only factor, as soil type, ecological interactions, fire, pest and grazing pressure limit the distribution of our flora (Midgley and other 2002).

Reference:

Midgley G, Ashwell A, Rutherford M, Bond W, Hannah L, Powrie L. 2002. Charting Uncertainty: Global climate change and its implications for our flora. Veld & Flora 88(2): 70-72.

Rowlands IH. 1996. South Africa and Global Climate Change. The Journal of Modern African Studies 34(1): 163-178.

PLAGIARISM DECLARATION
1.I know that plagiarism is wrong. Plagiarism is to use another’s work and to pretend that it is one’s own.
2. I have used the CSE/CBE convention for citation and referencing. Each significant contribution to, and quotation in this project from the work, or works, of other people has been attributed, and has been cited and referenced.
3. This assignment is my own work.
4. I have not allowed, and will not allow anyone to copy my work with the intention of passing it off as his or her own work.

MOVIE REVIEW: IF OIL RUNS OUT

After watching this movie, it confirms the last piece that I wrote about searching for black gold and quite strange I only watched the movie after I wrote “In search of Black Gold”. In a speech of George W. Bush, he publicly admitted that Americans are addicted to oil and that the reserves are in unstable parts of the world. The two oil analysts in the movie, Matt Simmons and Paul Domjan are given the scenario about how people will cope with lower fuel supply and higher prices of almost everything in 2016. Throughout the movie one gets the feeling that the average person on the street thinks that it is their God giving right to fill up their tanks with oil. The scenario that is created is the increased fuel price of about R14 per litre in January of 2016 (current exchange rate) till it reaches R72 per litre by August 2016.

According Simmons and Domjan, we discover fewer and fewer major oil fields each year with 16 major oil fields in 2000, 9 in 2001 and only 1 in 2005. This put enormous pressure not only the big economies but also on developing countries. These developing countries and in particular Zimbabwe, where the inflation rate is just below 1000%, experience already and are in an oil crisis, don’t even to talk about 2016. These two analysts explain the addiction of the West on oil, with studies estimating that each American burns about 25 barrels of oil each year, each Briton 11 barrels and one Chinese about 2 barrels. With China and India that contribute almost 30% to the global population and their economies on the rise, one would suspect that their demand for oil will be up in 2016 and competing with the likes of America and the U.K.
Thus, nations around the world will explore their own land to look for oil and some nations will become selfish as they will use their resources for own purposes. The last piece American soil that is thought to have large quantities of oil to fuel them for decades is located with in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). This remote place in Alaska will be the battlefield for a classic case where environmental preservation and oil supply will lock horns. If the government of that time will allow companies to drill there, they will admit U.S addiction to lower foreign oil by any means what so ever. Again the environment will come second best after the hunger for fossil fuel as it has done for almost two hundred years.

People around the globe and in particular in the West are beginning to accept the fact that their basic lives in terms of their ability to get around and their ability to heat their home, the fact that they have a job depend on stable geopolitics with the major oil producers. These are the words of one of the oil analysts in the movie: It is important to think today about what we can do to move away from the oil age, to build a more environmentally sustainable and a more secure economy that relies on fuel and broader variety of fuels that don’t bring with them all the political, environmental problems that oil does.


PLAGIARISM DECLARATION
1.I know that plagiarism is wrong. Plagiarism is to use another’s work and to pretend that it is one’s own.
2. I have used the CSE/CBE convention for citation and referencing. Each significant contribution to, and quotation in this project from the work, or works, of other people has been attributed, and has been cited and referenced.
3. This assignment is my own work.
4. I have not allowed, and will not allow anyone to copy my work with the intention of passing it off as his or her own work.