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Planet Earth Under Threat

Listen Again - Tuesdays at 11.02 GMT Radio 4

  • Julian Hector
  • 22 Jan 07, 03:45 PM

We've started our repeat schedule now, so you can listen again off air or on-line. Tuesday 23 January is "Life on the Move" - In this episode we hear about one of the main impacts of warming. It's get out or die out time - climate change modifies the natural and many living things can't stay where they are - the trouble is, there might be a road, city, container port - or just nothing, to move in to or across.

This looks interesting. Look at The Royal Society. And the Hadley weather Centre, part of the British Met Office - full of data. NOAA has loads to look through. Try also WWF.

Update:

Listen again to programme 2: Life on the move

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:39 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Annie Thorby wrote:

Up to 2005 the ragwort(?) on Dunwich cliffs would have been covered with Cinnabar moth caterpillars but I found only 2 last year...about a mile apart, even though their food-source was abundant. Can you explain this, please?

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Great Blog.

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  • 3.
  • At 01:06 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • joymcdonald wrote:

How can I contact Mark Tully for a print out of his last Sunday's program?
Also for a college project I would dearly like quotes from any thinkers / RESOLUTION to the Planet Earth problem. thanks

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  • 4.
  • At 03:03 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Chris Thomas wrote:

Annie Thorby asks about Cinnabar moth numbers.

Numbers of cinnabar are notoriously variable, with numbers being high in some years, then very low in others. Whilst I don't know what happened at Dunwich, the commonest cause of population crashes is mass starvation.

Numbers sometimes get so large that the caterpillars strip off all the foliage and flowers from the ragwort plants. If there is nothing left to eat before any of the caterpillars have got large enough to turn into pupae, they will starve, and all die. In most places, the ragwort plants then re-sprout, so the next year there is lots of ragwort, and very few caterpillars eating it. Other possibilities include mowing at the time of year when the caterpillars are growing, and natural enemies killing them (e.g., moles will eat the pupae in the soil).

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  • 5.
  • At 11:40 AM on 24 Jan 2007,
  • Dr Peter R Lewis wrote:

Shouldn't the BBC provide a balance on the global warming theory by allowing critics to comment on air? You seem to me to be adding an extra note of hysteria to add to the mountain of media-led panic on this topic.

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My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, The President of the United States with an important announcement on Global Warming.

Pray silence, please.
xx
ed

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  • 7.
  • At 02:17 PM on 24 Jan 2007,
  • Julian Hector wrote:

A number of entries on this blog concern whether PEuT contributes to the hype on climate change. A really crucial thing is that we made and broadcast PEuT at extactly the right time - a time when the awareness of the issues has never been greater. The editorial mission of PEuT was to set out and find if there were any consequences to wildlife from a changing climate. We spoke to scientists, all of whom publish in international and peer reviewed journals, of their findings. One general consequence of climate change, we discovered, was life, when the environment around it changed, goes on the move (indeed the theme of this weeks programme). Not all of this movement at a species level is detrimental. We heard of UK butterflies, scandinavian deer - the red fox to name some that seem, if anything, to be benefiting from warmer conditions and longer growing seasons. But we also heard of many species that are finding it tough to find cooler places (perhaps up mountains as we heard about in the US Rockies) in in terms of getting closer to the Polar regions. All over the world biologists are recording life on the move. Also, my understanding is that the rate of global warming is such that life finds it hard to respond (coral bleaching cited as an example here). In the series it is well covered that the Earth has inherent variability in its climate. There have been many periods of warming and cooling accompanied by climate change. Or the warming or cooling events are part of a wider climate change phenomenon. It's the unique tilt the earth has on its axis - and the wobble in its orbit that drive our seasons and drive the variability over a longer time scale. That climate change has happened before has never been in dispute. That human activities since the late 1700's has contributed and even been causal in the recent warming event that we experience now is supported by many biologists and climatologists globally. The average increase in global temperatures that we are experiencing now - we understand to be 0.6 degree Celcius - I understand can only occur if there are major wamrming events over sustained periods. Many parts of the world are experiencing longer hotter summers and fewer long cold periods. The UK met office support and generate this data, as do other collators of met data, for example NOAA. The overwhelming message we discovered in making the series was not so much is warming happening and what is the cause of it, but the consequences of climate change (whether this be warming events, increased snow fall, sea level changes, storm severity, drought durations and surface area, ice and perma frost thaw - flooding, and more) in concert with habitat destruction through development and over utilisation of natural resources and the introduction of alien species is what has the potential to create a "killing effect" of our precious biodiversity. We understand that if it was only climate change on its own, wildlife could move about and adapt. But our presence, with our infrastructure and needs for natural resources combine with the shifting sadns of climate change to yield the potential of being the greatest environmental threat to the Earth. This series researched and broadcast what biodiversity is and why should we care anout biodiversity. And, our experts tell us, it's this biodiversity that performs essential functions to support all of life, including us - And we need to both know what it is (what life occurs on earth), what it does and look after it. So this series was not trying to deny warming is happening - but it wasn't always trying to point the finger at humanity. It attempted to present an honest assessment of the consequences of global climate change on the natural world.

The power of this blog has been to provide a forum for all views - with bloggers linking to source material and those sites with similar or other views.

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Julian,

Thanks for the series and your efforts to bring it all together. The only really critical observation reflects the fact that, as others have noted in this blog, the fact of our numbers and their pivotal part in the stresses the planet and its climate sysatem are experiencing has not been addressed. It barely gets an understated mention:


"But our presence, with our infrastructure and needs for natural resources combine with the shifting sands of climate change to yield the potential of being the greatest environmental threat to the Earth."

And our growing numbers with growing lifestyle wants (often confused with 'needs').

Perhaps its a topic for another series. And, with the moral and ethical ramifications, perhaps such a series should be undertaken in collaboration with the other appropriate sections of the marvellous BBC. It is certainly a topic which must be addressed, taboo or not.

Thanks again.
Vaya con Gaia
ed
24/01/2007 at 15:39:35 GMT

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Thanks Ed
Couldn't have put it better myself. Even Julian has stated that overpopulation is the issue (albeit under pressure). Come on Julian, help Aunty kick the taboo.

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  • 10.
  • At 08:50 PM on 29 Jan 2007,
  • john cooknell wrote:

Julian,

The largest climate change event of recent years is the cooling of the oceans as reported by NOAA, this has been peer reviewed,undoubtably some will challenge the data, but as it is the same and only data source that largely gives rise to the global warming 0.6 degree rise figure I cannot see where this is going.

It also doesn't appear in any of the media reports, or in your programme, I can only assume because it doesn't fit the current fashion for human induced global warming.

This cooling is of immense planet size proportions outweighing and dwarfing anything discovered elsewhere, if all the ice on the planet melted into the sea tomorrow it would not cause this cooling by a factor of 1000.

But your programme mentioned nothing about it!

The sea is the mechanism that transfers heat round the planet, we know this, the Gulf Stream, El Nino, etc, it is also the place where 75% of the human induced global warming is taken up, but the sea is cooling?

There is a serious scientific debate going on about what this actually means, but your programme and the media mention nothing!

Now some suggest that we are seeing a change in the sea current heat flows and this explains the whole of what we theorised was human induced global warming.

As a theory, I like the elegance and fit of this, as it not only explains the present climate change but also explains all the other climate change events that have occurred before human beings ever existed.It also fits well with understood thermal heat flows in the ocean and how they can and do abruptly change for no apparent reason.

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  • 11.
  • At 11:39 AM on 30 Jan 2007,
  • christine Warner wrote:

Today Tues 30th January 07, a wasp appeared in my bathroom: the window was open. The wasp was so dozy, I was able to easily lift it and remove it through the window.
Shipley W. Yorks

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