Overcoming The North-South Divide in Climate Change Research and Policy

by Claudia Chandra

Nature Climate Change published a research paper in January 2017 by Malgorzata Blicharska and her associates from countries including Brazil, Kenya, Sweden, South Africa and India. The paper discusses the global North-South divide in climate change research, policy and practice, which originates from the Southern countries’ smaller capacity to undertake research. Countries are categorized into either “Northern” (members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development such as Europe, North America, East Asia and Australasia) or “Southern” (lower income economies such as Asia, Latin America and Africa.) The report highlights how the disparities that exist between Northern and Southern countries, in terms of science and knowledge, will become a greater hindrance to the development and practice of effective climate change reduction actions and policies. The researchers explore the extent of this particular North-South divide, study the underlying issues associated with it, and examine the potential consequences for climate change policy development and implementation. Continue reading

The Climate Change Challenge and Barriers to the Exercise of Foresight Intelligence

by Ellen Broaddus

In Ross et al. (2016), experts from various academic fields assess some of the barriers that aid today’s denial and inaction combating climate change, even with overwhelming evidence from the scientific community. This hesitancy is traced back to a combination of cognitive shortcomings and the difficulty to work collectively on an issue so complex and seemingly indirect. However, the authors provide examples of strategies used to combat said inaction and their efficacy.    Continue reading

Blooms at Lower pH Levels Could Upset Ocean’s Acidification Cycle

by Max Breitbarth

Ocean acidification—the absorption of atmospheric CO2 by the ocean—has increased due to anthropogenic emissions of CO2, resulting in growing concentrations of CO2 in our oceans. Flynn et al. (2015) created models based on projections of increasing ocean acidity to explore the effects of algae blooms at decreasing pH levels and the effects of these blooms on phytoplankton populations that keep the ocean’s acidity within a manageable spectrum. Continue reading

Big Fish With a Bigger Problem: The Yellowtail Tuna Faces Difficulty in More Acidic Oceans

by Max Breitbarth

Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have resulted in increased concentrations of CO2 in ocean waters that subsequently result in ocean acidification. Bromhead et al. (2015) explored the effects of elevated CO2 levels on the development of yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares in their March 2015 Deep-Sea Research article. Tuna represent some of the largest predators in the ocean, and cover vast expanses across several of the earth’s oceans—meaning the effects of ocean acidification could have ramifications for the species and their ecosystems around the world. The researchers found that ocean acidification levels have a strong negative effect on growth, hatch time, and larval survival in the experimental trials. These findings show that future ocean conditions may reduce the survivability of this fish in the future and lead to drastic marine ecosystem changes—as well as affect fishing practices by humans around the world that currently depend on yellowtail as a main source of food. Continue reading

Continuing Ocean Acidification Makes Finding Food Harder For Sharks

by Max Breitbarth

Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have already directly affected corals, algae and other low-trophic level organisms in our oceans through the process of ocean acidification—the absorption of around 25% of atmospheric CO2 by the ocean. The increasing acidity has made forming calcified exoskeletons more difficult for corals, destroying localized ecosystems. The effects of a declining coral population have climbed up the food chain to threaten even predators near the top of the list. But what about the primary predators of the oceans…the feared, fascinating and ferocious sharks that have provided insight on marine feeding patterns, inspired tales like the one shown through the film Jaws, and are recognized by most as the biggest, baddest fish in the sea? Dixson et al. (2016) were interested in observing whether higher levels of ocean acidification sharks and rays, specifically their enhanced olfactory organs. Continue reading

Long Term Effects of Climate Change

by Brina Jablonski

William E. Bradshaw and Christina M. Holzapfel highlighted the unforeseen effects of climate change in an article posted by sciencemag.org. The two authors made a point of telling their audience how organisms are not directly reacting to the increased amount of heat on planet earth, but instead reacting to the resulting seasonal change due to the rising temperature. They also consistently mentioned examples of how organisms are capable of “phenotypic plasticity”, the ability of organisms to alter themselves in response to a change in environment. Continue reading