Climate Changes

Several stories on the science and politics of global warming caught our attention this week:

Global warming may be having an adverse effect of hundreds of species of migratory birds in the United States. In the latest version of the annual State of the Birds report, the Interior Department claims that climate change is one of many environmental factors threatening bird populations by destructing natural avian habitats and lessening the availability of wetlands. The report asserts that coastal birds are the most directly threatened due to rising sea levels and rapidly changing marine environments.

Debate over the economic effects of California’s first-in-the-nation global warming law flared this week, as a report was released claiming the law potentially will contribute to short-term job losses. Meantime, Lisa Jackson, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency claims there is a “misconception” in regards to the relationship between economic recovery and protecting the environment – with some people feeling the need to choose one or the other. “This is about rising to meet our most urgent environmental and economic challenges – not shrinking from them with the excuse that it’s just too hard,” Jackson said.

Lower levels of oxygen are being reported in the oceans and scientists are linking the findings to global warming. They warn that the oceans’ complex undersea ecosystems and fragile food chains could be disrupted. In some areas in the Pacific Northwest, the almost complete absence of oxygen has left piles of Dungeness crab carcasses littering the ocean floor and killed off 25-year-old sea stars. In other spots, such as off the Southern California coast, oxygen levels have dropped roughly 20 percent over the past 25 years. Researchers recognize that areas of low oxygen have long existed in the deep ocean but say the depletion of oxygen recently reported is “striking.”

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