More Hazardous Weather Patterns for World

weather patterns ice cream truck

They say the erratic weather patterns got him. Poor truck never stood a chance in this heat. http://www.mobypicture.com/user/Joseeete/view/12792610

Pollution is affecting our climates, increasing the severity of storms, and causing shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. It has been said time and time again, and yet it continues to be said, with good reason might I add! A recent study published in the scientific journal Nature, conducted by a team headed by Camilo Mora, claims that global temperatures will be drastically climbing within a generation. In less than 50 years we can see historical increases in temperatures, beating all past recorded highs for global temperatures. Imagine unbearable summers, intense heat waves, and dry times causing droughts and famine. At the same time, imagine freezing winter storms, strange weather patterns and unpredictable seasons.  This is all in response to the amount of increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the effect they have on our temperature and weather patterns.

Related Article: Costly Climate Changes

Now you may be wondering what exactly it all means, what a good comparison would be. The world’s hottest day was on July 10, 1913, clocking in at 134 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley, California. With global temperatures on the rise, and with the study predicting a drastic increase of global highs within 50 years, we can expect to see that high of 134 degrees Fahrenheit once again being reached, maybe even surpassed, sometime in the near future. Yikes. It is not only the heat we have to worry abut, but the erratic weather patterns as well, causing melting ice caps, deadly storms, intense rain; just to name a few.

Related Article: The Ugly Face of Overpopulation 

After all, weather patterns are responsible for half of our daily waking lives:

  • It rains, we cancel our sporting activity (some hardcore players may disagree).
  • It snows, well SNOW DAY of course! (Sometimes).
  • Hurricane/Tornado/Typhoon, houses damaged.
  • Humid Hot Days, stay in and blast the A/C

Anyway, you get the point. Whether you agree that weather and weather patterns are intensifying and impacting the world is up to you, but what are our preventative measures against this? Some talk of greener technology, some speak of wind power and solar power, while some encourage changes in car performance and oil usage. Some ideas even recommend taking advantage of the increasingly severe weather patterns to embrace the positive changes and avoid or harness the bad.

None of these ideas are drastic enough to stop pollution all together, nothing drastic enough to clean up more pollution than we are generating. Maybe it is because we believe ourselves to be unbeatable and indestructible, that no matter what we do or destroy, human ingenuity will persevere.

Related Article: A Cheaper Alternative to Pollution

Actually, we humans have always adapted and something like changing weather patterns and rising temperatures would be nothing new for us. In fact, I believe it would call for new crop irrigation techniques, new ideas towards more efficient cooling systems, and maybe even force us to venture out into space to colonize planets for the sake of our survival. An extreme, yes, but with our rate of pollution, and with the way we like to live comfortably and excessively, I would not be surprised if the proposed colonization of Mars is actually a trial for the coming desperate times. Weather patterns may shift, but so will humanity.

Cheers to new methods of preventing pollution!

 

 

Research:

Study Abstract: The Projected Timing of Climate Departure From Recent Variability

Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science

Camilo Mora, Postdoctoral Employee

USA TODAY: World’s hottest day was 100 years ago in Death Valley

 

Wondergressive: I Believe in GMOs

Wondergressive: A Cheaper Alternative to Pollution

Wondergressive: The Ugly Face of Overpopulation

Wondergressive: Costly Climate Changes

Wondergressive: Sign Me up for Mars!

Animals Evolve Too Slowly, Climate Change Too Fast

 

A new study on climate change and evolution shows that climate change is happening so fast that many vertebrate species can’t evolve fast enough to keep up with the pace. They would have to evolve ten thousand times faster than they currently are to keep up with the climate change that is expected for the next hundred years.

The study compared the past rates of adaptation to the modern rates of climate change.  Scientists analyzed 540 vertebrate species and the speed of their adaptation to climate change in the past. This included amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The study concluded that land based vertebrates do not evolve anywhere near fast enough to adapt to the new trends of climate change, resulting in possible extinction if they are not able to migrate, acclimate, and eventually evolve. Each species has their own comfort zone when speaking about temperature, climate and environment, which is why you won’t see penguins in the Amazon or monkeys in Antarctica.

Related Article: Ask an Astrobiologist: Global Warming, and What to Expect

According to Wiens, who conducted the research along with another postgraduate research assistant at Yale University, findings show that on average, species evolve and adapt to climate changes at a rate of about 1 degree Celsius per million years. However, if the International Panel of Climate Change is correct and we should expect a rise of 4 degrees in the next hundred years, a vast number of species won’t be able to evolve quickly enough.

frog evolve climate

This little guy’s species can’t evolve fast enough to stick around. http://cdn.ph.upi.com/

These conclusions came from studying evolutionary family trees of vertebrates that show how species relate to each other through DNA. The data gathered from the trees was then compared with the data on the climatic niche of each species. This allowed the scientists to evaluate at what pace the species changed in their given climatic niche. Most sister species evolved to live in habitats whose temperature difference was just 1-2 degrees Celsius over the course of one to a few million years.

Related Article: Germany Sets Example for Global Climate Battle

Overall, most of the vertebrate groups contain some species that will be potentially endangered. It does’t have to be all that bad though. Species can acclimate but not truly evolve, or they could migrate to their preferred climate. Unfortunately, for some species this is not an option as they move very slowly or are required to go through habitats that are heavily influenced by humans.

It should be noted that most extinction cases are not a direct effect of the physiological burden of climate change, rather the changes in interaction with other species, as well as their food availability. For example, if an area experiences serious droughts and plants cannot grow causing low food availability for those animals, it would ultimately result in their migration or demise.

Although all life can evolve to meet the demands of a new environment, a necessary ingredient to evolution is time, something the world does not have.

Sources:

http://uanews.org/story/ua-study-evolution-too-slow-to-keep-up-with-climate-change

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23800223

http://www.ipcc.ch/

Wondergressive: Ask an Astrobiologist

Wondergressive: Germany Sets Example

DNA Origami: The Art of Folding DNA

DNA origami is a field you’ve probably never heard of, but ask a biologist, and they will probably be able to tell you their favorite artist. A new study has just confirmed that biotechnologists are now able to fold up DNA into various shapes and forms in a matter of mere minutes.

Biotechnologists use short DNA strands to hold a longer, folded strand in place to create different forms like the smiley faces pictured above.  Hendrik Dietz, a biophysicist at the Technical University of Munich in Germany, and his colleagues have folded 19 different DNA shapes, including cylindrical, brick-like and cog-like objects. The DNA takes on its new shape in a matter of minutes by heating the strands to a very specific point somewhere in the range of 45 °C and 60 °C.  Each particular temperature in this range corresponds to a specific shape.

Dietz and his team observed repeatable results with yields that approached 100%.

For future origami projects, Dietz wants to focus on designing nanostructures.

With optimal folding temperatures close to 37 °C, the temperature at which mammalian cell cultures are grown, so that DNA machines could one day be used in biological settings…The results point to similarities with protein folding in spite of chemical and structural differences. The possibility for rapid and high-yield assembly will enable DNA nanotechnology for practical applications.

The art of tomorrow can’t even be seen with the naked eye, which is, in my opinion, preferable to seeing a few lines and a rectangle being sold for millions of dollars. Seems to be the trend nowadays.

 

Sources:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/338/6113/1458

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100310/full/464158a.html