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Ups & Downs: Shrinking birds, record temperatures, and fluctuating water levels

The Clim8


Photo Credit: via Istock

Birds are shrinking. Here’s why that matters. (The Hill)

For a long time, scientists have assumed that rising temperatures are directly linked to shrinking animal body sizes. Only now, through a recent study done on over 70,000 North American bird specimens, have they been able to prove this theory. The study, conducted over the past forty years, found that warming temperatures have been shrinking birds, along with several fish and other cold-blooded animals. This finding backs up Bergmann’s Rule, a long-established observation that dictates that individual animals in a species that reside in warmer regions of that species’ geographical range tend to be smaller.

Check it out: Read the study on North American bird species for yourself here.

Photo Credit: David Crosling via AAP

When climate change kills: Annual heat-related deaths on the rise (The Guardian)

A 20-year study has found that around five million people -- accounting for 9.4% of total annual global deaths -- die each year due to extreme temperatures, and that this number is only rising. Although over the past two decades, more have died due to excessive cold rather than excessive heat, today the balance is shifting, and cases of heat-related deaths are increasing while cold-related deaths are dropping. Some solutions include improving housing insulation and installing solar-powered air conditioning systems.

Check it out: Read the study, published in the journal the Lancet Planetary Health, for yourself here.

Photo Credit: Kent Porter via AP

Why oil monopolies owe the people of the world (CNN)

Over the past two weeks, a lethal heat wave has swept across the western United States and parts of Canada killing hundreds, US President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, which contains a strategy to reduce carbon emissions, has faced massive resistance from Senate Republicans, oil giant ExxonMobil’s corruption has been brought to light, and the European Union has begun to consider a motion to end the sale of oil-fueled internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035. These recent news headlines in the world of climate change are key because they make clear America’s corrupt political system, which rewards the richest bidders and most-organized lobbies, such as the oil and gas lobbies, and reveal that damage these major, international oil companies such as ExxonMobil, have been inflicting across the world. Right now, it seems corporate greed and secrets are the people’s number one enemy when it comes to fighting climate change.

Photo Credit: G.M.B. Akash via UNICEF

So little time, so much to do (UN News)

At the Climate Vulnerable Finance Summit, UN Secretary General António Guterres urged investment in climate change-related financial goals, and he focused on the need for increased and equal funding for both climate adaptation and resilience and climate mitigation measures. Guterres also cited the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO’s) first Hydromet Gap Report, which reported that about 23,000 lives could be saved per year through increasing and improving hydromet (weather, climate, and water) services.

Check it out: Read the Hydromet Gap Report 2021 here.

Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images

Record June temperatures in North America (BBC)

June 2021 was a record-setting month for temperature highs. It was the warmest recorded June in North America. In Europe, last month was the second warmest June on record. In fact, this past June was the fourth warmest June on record globally. According to climate scientist Professor Peter Scott of the United Kingdom Meteorological Office, temperature records aren’t just being broken, but they are being smashed by huge margins (think 5 degrees Celsius above previous records in a few North American cities last month and in Siberia last year). The Meteorological Organization said the likelihood of this extreme heat has increased with human-caused climate change.

Photo Credit: Stephen Smith via Reuters

Climate-induced flooding in New York City (The Guardian)

Tropical storm Elsa swept through New York City this week, causing thunderstorms and flooding Thursday. Although many blamed poor infrastructure for the city’s flooding, scientists cited climate change for causing stress on the current infrastructure. As the planet warms, rain intensity and thus flooding is expected to increase in the Northeast due to climate change. Climate scientist Andra Garner predicts that 7ft (2.25m) floods in New York City could occur every five years due to climate change within the next 10 years, whereas before such floods were only expected to hit once every 25 years.

Further reading: See the climate study backing up these climate predictions here: Fourth National Chapter Assessment - Chapter 18: Northeast.

"The recent dominant trend in precipitation throughout the Northeast has been towards increases in rainfall intensity, with recent increases in intensity exceeding those in other regions in the contiguous United States."

Photo Credit: via Plug and Play Tech Center

A shift to sustainable farming (CNN)

With the unpredictability of our climate, many farmers find themselves turning to sustainable farming practices that focus more on conservation for future generations. While programs have been created in order to help farmers implement more sustainable practices, the programs tend to be underfunded, making it difficult for many farmers to actually receive assistance. With increased funding to these programs and ensured accessibility, more farmers will be able to improve their sustainability.

Photo Credit: via Scientific American

The power struggle between precipitation and evaporation (NY Times)

Climate change is threatening the water levels of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. As climate change has led to an increase in rainfall, the water levels of the two bodies of water have risen and resulted in more floods. While climate change has increased the water levels, it has also decreased the water levels; as the planet grows hotter, water evaporates quicker. While you might think that the two forces would cancel each other out, that hasn’t been the case.


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