Help Protect Great Tits, Fight Global Warming

Hell Yeah, Sign Me Up! Take me to those pictures of…

Great Tit - Male Parus Major

Hey wait a minute? That’s just a little endangered bird. Curse You TreeHugger.com !!!

What a great headline. I realize this is a serious subject you know with all the death and destruction caused by global climate change, but it’s so refreshing to be able to mix good old titty jokes with environmental awareness. Here are a couple of my favorites from the comments so far.

So while this may bode well for the great tits, let us not forget the middling and lesser tits. All tits have their place in this world, and in spite of slight differences in shape and size we should hold them all in equal esteem.
If we fail at this, our boobies and buffleheads can’t be far behind.

Great tits may be coping well with global warming, but regular tits may need support.

Melting Mountain Glaciers Will Shrink Grain Harvests in China and India

Eartk Policy Logofrom EarthPolicy.org

So why do I care? Because…

The population in either the Yangtze or Gangetic river basin is larger than that of any country other than China or India. And the ongoing shrinkage of underground water supplies and the prospective shrinkage of river water supplies are occurring against a startling demographic backdrop: by 2050 India is projected to add 490 million people and China 80 million.

In a world where grain prices have recently climbed to record highs, with no relief in sight, any disruption of the wheat or rice harvests due to water shortages in these two leading grain producers will greatly affect not only people living there but consumers everywhere. In both of these countries, food prices will likely rise and grain consumption per person can be expected to fall. In India, where just over 40 percent of all children under five years of age are underweight and undernourished, hunger will intensify and child mortality will likely climb.

For China, a country already struggling to contain food price inflation, there may well be spreading social unrest as food supplies tighten. Food security in China is a highly sensitive issue. Anyone in China who is 50 years of age or older is a survivor of the Great Famine of 1959–61, when, according to official figures, 30 million Chinese starved to death. This is also why Beijing has worked so hard in recent decades to try and maintain grain self-sufficiency.

As food shortages unfold, China will try to hold down domestic food prices by using its massive dollar holdings to import grain, most of it from the United States, the world’s leading grain exporter. Even now, China, which a decade or so ago was essentially self-sufficient in soybeans, is importing 70 percent of its supply, helping drive world soybean prices to an all-time high. As irrigation water supplies shrink, Chinese consumers will be competing with Americans for the U.S. grain harvest. India, too, may try to import large quantities of grain, although it may lack the economic resources to do so, especially if grain prices keep climbing. Many Indians will be forced to tighten their belts further, including those who have no notches left.

Even Monkeys pay for Sex. Now I don’t feel so bad.

Macaque Monkeysfrom Time.com

You know, I usually feel like a monkey anyway, especially when it comes time to understanding or placating (or bribing as it turns out) the opposite sex for, well, you know, “personal favors”. So here comes a scientific article about the courting behavior of macaque monkeys that sums it up nicely with this sentence; ” The better a male’s odds of getting lucky, the less nit-picking time the females received. ” Touché, touché. Here’s an excerpt.

According to the paper, “Payment for Sex in a Macaque Mating Market,” published in the December issue of Animal Behavior, males in a group of about 50 long-tailed macaques in Kalimantan Tengah, Indonesia, traded grooming services for sex with females; researchers, who studied the monkeys for some 20 months, found that males offered their payment up-front, as a kind of pre-sex ritual. It worked. After the females were groomed by male partners, female sexual activity more than doubled, from an average of 1.5 times an hour to 3.5 times. The study also showed that the number of minutes that males spent grooming hinged on the number of females available at the time: The better a male’s odds of getting lucky, the less nit-picking time the females received. Though primates have been observed trading grooming for food sharing or infant care, this is the first time this kind of exchange has been observed between male and female primates in a sexual context, says lead researcher Michael Gumert of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, demonstrating that the amount of time a male macaque “will invest in [its] partner” depends largely on how many options it has around.

Solar is the Solution – Duh!

It’s time to harness the world’s virtually inexhaustible supply of solar energy and start building a brighter future.

Is there really anything else that needs to be said? Great article by Steve Heckeroth over at MotherEarthNews.com. Here’s a single portion serving for you.

We know that relying on coal, oil and natural gas threatens our future with toxic pollution, global climate change and social unrest caused by diminishing fuel supplies. Instead of relying on unsustainable fossil fuels, we must transform our economy and learn to thrive on the planet’s abundant supply of renewable energy.

I have been studying our energy options for more than 30 years, and I am absolutely convinced that our best and easiest option is solar energy, which is virtually inexhaustable. Most importantly, if we choose solar we don’t have to wait for a new technology to save us. We already have the technology and energy resources we need to build a sustainable, solar-electric economy that can cure our addiction to oil, stabilize the climate and maintain our standard of living, all at the same time. It is well past time to start seriously harnessing solar energy.

A New Scientific Resolve – Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf – The venerable grandfather of the Internet (who is now a Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google) writes a great article about the need for a focused, concerted effort to address man-made climate change with the same level of focused effort that was gathered and directed for the American Space Program in response to the successfull Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite.

BTW – There are some other great articles over at ScienceProgress.org that you should read as well. Here’s an excerpt.

Reflecting forward on our nation’s incredible ability to respond swiftly to complex scientific challenges one can’t help but begin with the shock of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik launch 50 years ago today. Suddenly, there was a new star in the firmament, its radio signal sounding like the ominous ticking of a clock towards Armageddon. If the Soviets could put a satellite in orbit then they could potentially launch nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles in the future.

Just over a decade later (see timeline) the United States mobilized the basic science, the requisite technologies and the financial and policymaking wherewithal to carry Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the Earth’s Moon. This stunning sequence of events and actions spell out in forceful and compelling terms the ability of the United States to marshal its resources to respond to national and international challenges. That we were able to do so is an inspiring lesson that should be applied to the challenges we now face in the 21st century.