Did Life Originate In Brinicles? Icy Sea Stalactites Provide Environment Conducive To Emergence Of Life

May 3, 2013 in Animals & Insects, Geology & Climate

Did life on Earth originate in the almost otherworldly environments of brinicles — the icy sea stalactites that grow near the Earth’s poles? These rather strange looking tubes of ice could very possibly have been where life on the Earth originated, according to new research published in the journal Langmuir.

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Massive Arctic Greening Within Only A Few Decades? Transformation Could Make The Arctic The Center Of Human Activity

April 2, 2013 in Geology & Climate, Plants

The Arctic will experience a massive “greening” in the coming decades as a result of rising temperatures and climate change, new research from the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation has found. The research shows that rising temperatures will cause total plant cover area in the Arctic to increase significantly, with wooded areas increasing in size by as much as 50% in only a few decades. This rapid increase in vegetation will result in accelerated warming within the region and also globally.

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“Such widespread redistribution of Arctic vegetation would have impacts that reverberate through the global ecosystem,” said Richard Pearson, primary author of the paper and a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation.

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Climate Change Global Effects : Large Wars, Migrations, Disease Outbreaks, Desertification, and Agricultural Failure

January 21, 2013 in Geology & Climate, Humans

Climate change will result in vast changes occurring to the world over the next few hundred years. And many of these changes won’t be physical ones, they will be changes to the human created infrastructure and social systems of the world. Even if the conditions of the physical world remain well within the limits of human survival, the world will no doubt seem a very different place to people.

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In the article below I examine some of the most likely, and most important (to humans) effects of climate change. But most specifically those that affect the social systems and infrastructure of the world. Effects such as the likely-hood of large (perhaps global) resource based wars, agricultural failure/diminishing productivity, large-scale migrations, outbreaks of diseases/pandemics, and the desertification/non-livability of many currently inhabited areas of the globe.

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Deforestation Effects, Causes, And Examples: Top 10 List

December 13, 2012 in Geology & Climate, Plants

Over half of the world’s forests have been destroyed in the last 10,000 or so years, the majority of this loss has occurred in the last 50 years, occurring simultaneously with a massive increase in the human population. The incredible scale of this loss has led to significant changes throughout many parts of the world, and in recent years these changes have been accelerating. These changes include: large scale extinction events, desertification, climatic changes, topsoil loss, flooding, famine, disease outbreaks, and insect ‘plagues’, among others.

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Deforestation occurs primarily due to: agriculture, fuel use (firewood, charcoal, etc), timber, pasture for livestock animals, and expanding human settlements. And also, to a degree, due to large scale war, throughout history fire has often been used as a way to deprive enemy populations of necessary resources. These areas almost always inevitably end up as wastelands via the processes of soil erosion and desertification, if they aren’t reforested. Many of the areas of the world that were deforested thousands of years ago remain as severely degraded wastelands or deserts today.

Currently the world’s annual deforestation rate is estimated to be about 13.7 million hectares a year, that’s about the land area of Greece. Roughly half of this area gets reforested to a degree, though new growth forests don’t function in the same way, support the same biodiversity, nor do they provide the many benefits that old-growth forests do. In addition to these numbers, forests have been becoming more and more affected by climate change, with increasing drought, forest fires, increased and more powerful storms, diseases, and an explosion in insect numbers.

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Death Rates Among The World’s Biggest Trees Are Soaring, Research Finds

December 8, 2012 in Geology & Climate, Plants

The death rate of the world’s largest and oldest trees has been rising significantly in recent years, according to new research. These big old trees often form the basis of many ecosystems and contribute significantly to their health and the health of the other species that live in them.

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A new report, just released by three of the world’s leading ecologists, is warning that the “alarming” and rapid increase in the death rates of trees 100-300 years old will have very negative effects on the health of ecosystems around the world. The deaths aren’t confined to any particular areas either, they are spread out amongst the forests, savannahs, woodlands, farming regions, and cities of the world.

“It’s a worldwide problem and appears to be happening in most types of forest,” says lead author Professor David Lindenmayer of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and Australian National University.

“Large old trees are critical in many natural and human-dominated environments. Studies of ecosystems around the world suggest populations of these trees are declining rapidly,” he and colleagues Professor Bill Laurance of James Cook University, Australia, and Professor Jerry Franklin of Washington University, USA, say in their Science report.

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