Climate Change Cachets

With demand for coal slumping because of its contribution to global warming, the Appalachian Beekeeping Collective is giving coal miners a way to make a supplemental income as their jobs disappear.

National Public Radio reports the collective trains coal miners and other low-income residents in mining communities to keep bees.

“It wasn’t just the miners that lost their livelihoods when mining jobs disappeared; other industries started to wilt, too, and entire communities were affected,” Appalachian Headwaters master beekeeper Cindy Bee is quoted as saying. “We’re doing something that can boost the town up.”

Participants in free introduction to beekeeping classes receive mentorship and training as well as free or discounted equipment and bees.

Beekeepers maintain their hives and the Appalachian group collects, bottles, and sells their honey.

Each season, beekeepers can earn about $732 a hive. Beekeepers can keep up to 20 hives, meaning they could rake in up to $15,000 in extra cash a season.


Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law allowing the state to take its own action to slow climate change.

The legislation repeals the Kyoto Protocol Act of 1998 that limited state action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. withdrew from Kyoto in 2001 but Illinois had enshrined it into state law.

Legislation sponsor Democratic Sen. Laura Ellman says it sends a message.

“Illinois is ready to get serious about climate change,” she says.


Decreases in sea ice in the Arctic and ice-cold winters in the mid-latitudes, such as the Polar Vortex cold waves in North America, are not connected.

New research indicates relatively cold North American winters and Arctic sea ice decline occur at the same time, but that one does not cause the other.

Both changes appear to be the result of a completely different mechanism –large-scale anomalies in atmospheric circulation.

Prof. Richard Bintanja of the Netherlands’ University of Groningen says the findings show that a further decrease in Arctic sea ice in the near future will most likely not lead to more and intense wintry cold waves. “Episodes with little Arctic sea ice are the result of unusual atmospheric circulation patterns, and not the cause,” he says.


An international team led by Stanford University and the Autonomous University of Barcelona finds trees can only absorb a fraction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and their ability to do so beyond 2100 is unclear.

“Keeping fossil fuels in the ground is the best way to limit further warming,” says lead author César Terrer, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford. “But stopping deforestation and preserving forests so they can grow more is our next-best solution.”

Carbon dioxide – the dominant gas warming the earth – is food for trees and plants. Combined with nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, it helps trees grow and thrive.

The research shows carbon dioxide levels expected by the end of the century should increase plant biomass by 12%, allowing plants and trees to store more carbon dioxide – an amount equivalent to six years of current fossil fuel emissions.


The world’s largest greenhouse gas mitigation project, undertaken by the Australian liquid natural gas industry, has started on Barrow Island, Western Australia.

Once fully operational, the system will inject 3.4 million to four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year into a deep underground reservoir.

This is equivalent of removing 680,000 cars from the roads each year.

“This technology will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the project by roughly 100 million tonnes over the 40-year plus life of the Gorgon project,” Resources Minister Matt Canavan says.


Red meat promoter Beef + Lamb New Zealand says the UN Intergovernmental Panel report on Climate and Land shows New Zealand lamb and beef produced as part of a low emissions farming system can help address climate change.

“The report highlights that agriculture and livestock farming has a role to play in addressing climate change, and identifies sustainably produced livestock products from sustainable, low greenhouse gas emission farming systems as being part of the solution,” says Jeremy Baker, B+LNZ chief insight officer.

Since 1990 the New Zealand sheep and beef sector has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% while maintaining similar levels of production and doubling the value of its exports.


Ass. Prof. Nick Paul of Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast, says a seaweed, Asparagopsis taxiformis, growing on the Queensland coast could cut livestock greenhouse gas emissions by 10% if enough was grown to feed every cow in the country.

A cow produces between 154 and 164 lbs. of methane a year.

Research has shown the metabolites in the seaweed disrupt the enzymes responsible for the production of methane.

“When added to cow feed at less than 2% of the dry matter, this seaweed completely knocks out methane production,” Paul says.


Global change –which includes climate change, pollution and other widespread environmental alterations – is transforming the plant species growing in the world’s grasslands.

Grasslands also can hold up to 30% of the world’s carbon, making them critical allies in the fight against climate change. Changes in the plants that comprise grasslands could put those benefits at risk.

“Is it good rangeland for cattle, or is it good at storing carbon?” asks lead author Kim Komatsu, a grassland ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. “It really matters what the identities of the individual species are. “

The researchers looked at 105 grassland experiments globally and discovered that in general, grasslands resisted the effects of global change for a decade.

Half of the experiments lasting 10 years or more found a change in the total number of plant species, and nearly three-fourths found changes in the types of species.

In half the plots where individual plant species changed, the total number of species remained the same. In some plots, nearly all the species changed.

“Global change is happening on a scale that’s bigger than the experiments we’re doing,” Komatsu says. “The effects we would expect through our experimental results, we’re starting to see those effects occurring naturally.”


Scientists may have uncovered how sea-surface temperature patterns influence the number, strength and distributions of April tornado formation in the south-central region of the U.S. known as Tornado Alley.

The researchers from South Korea’s Pusan National University found no significant connection between May tornado numbers and sea surface temperature patterns. This hints that tornadoes in May are more strongly influenced by internal atmospheric processes. But they discovered that April tornado activity is strongly influenced by large-scale climate patterns. The April tornados were more frequent when equatorial Pacific and eastern North Pacific waters were cooler and subtropical Pacific and western Atlantic waters were warmer.

Chu says shifting weather patterns within seasons, rather than seasonal averages, are important factors in studies that measure the impact of climate change on tornado frequencies.


 El Niño and La Niña could become harder to predict due to a weakening connection with the equatorial Atlantic under climate change.

Researchers from China, Australia, Italy, United States and Norway say this may make it more difficult to prepare for the droughts and floods caused by extreme El Niño events.

Since the 1960s, La Niña-like conditions during summer have often been followed by El Niño in the Pacific the next winter, making a skillful predictor of extreme weather-inducing events.

The new findings suggest the relationship between Atlantic La Niña and Pacific El Niño may substantially weaken under climate change, implying reduced skill in predicting El Niño events.

 Alan Harman