Warming has complex consequences

Liza Gross, who writes for Inside Climate News, covers California climate, agriculture, drought and water news.  Her articles are a good example of how global warming has complex and dangerous consequences that few people are even aware of.

 Lisa is especially good at explaining how small changes, like slight increases in temperature, soon branch out into all kinds of unforeseen consequences that in turn blossom into more and more disasters, all of which soon lead to the destruction and ruin to interlinked and crucial ecosystems. 

Dallas Divide near Telluride Colorado
Dallas Divide near Telluride Colorado

Much of this damage looks like it may be irreversible and all of it is leading to devastated ecosystems and lower agricultural productivity and even worse damage to the fragile world we live in.  Lisa makes it very clear how we are caught in vicious cycles and consequences that very few people even realise are happening and which will be extremely hard to correct.

Global warming is far more dangerous and damaging than almost everyone realises.

Below is the beginning of a recent article by Lisa Gross that illustrates all of this.  The article from which the below excerpt is taken is titled “In California’s Farm Country, Climate Change Is Likely to Trigger More Pesticide Use, Fouling Waterways.”  The article appears in the May 10 issue of Inside Climate news. The theme of the article is that “Warmer temperatures boost pest populations, causing farmers to use more insecticides that, with more frequent and severe storms, turn into toxic runoff.”

Inside Climate News, by the way, is one of the best sources of climate and environmental news out there.  I highly recommend it.

The Amazon rain forest burning in Brazil.  Warming has complex consequences that are often not obvious.
The Amazon rain forest burning in Brazil

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Below are the beginning paragraphs of the May 10 article by Lisa Gross.

“Every spring, California farmers brace themselves for signs of wriggling organisms destined to launch multigenerational attacks on their crops. 

Many insect species survive the winter as eggs or larvae and then emerge in early spring as the first generation to feed and breed on millions of acres of California vineyards, orchards and row crops. Climate change will complicate farmers’ efforts to control these pests in complex and unpredictable ways. 

The most alarming consequence is apt to be ramping up pesticide applications, with broad implications for the safety of California’s waterways—just as the state gears up for a future filled with drought.

Temperature strongly influences insect growth, development and reproduction, while carbon dioxide can affect insect feeding behavior. Higher temperatures will allow some insects to mature faster, helping them fit in extra generations and spend more time flying around fields, reproducing and feeding on crops. They include the moth that can destroy nearly a third of an almond or pistachio crop as larvae. Higher carbon dioxide levels can boost the growth of crops, only to give their primary pests more to eat.

Sunset on the Serengeti plains of Africa
Sunset on the Serengeti plains of Africa

Such climate-driven changes may force farmers, faced with a boom of insects capable of doing more damage throughout the season, to spray more pesticides. And that could trigger a series of events that send more pesticides into sensitive aquatic ecosystems.

California has always cycled through droughts and storms, with both expected to become more frequent and severe under climate change. Heavy rains will saturate soils and aid the flow of sediments and chemicals from fields. 

“Eighty percent of the chemical load that gets into our stream network occurs during the 20 percent highest intensity rain events of the year,” said Linda Lee, an agronomy professor at Purdue University. Yet management practices can’t cope with the heavy downpours that account for most of the runoff, she said.

Moreover, when the ground becomes saturated, carbon dioxide can build up in soil and displace the microbial communities that break down pesticides. “Once you get drainage, everybody’s happy again,” said Lee. “But if climate change is causing more intense and more frequent intense rain events, then we could have a problem.”

Lee, though, is less concerned about carbon dioxide buildup in soil than she is about the effects of heavy storms on agricultural runoff. Most worrying are the storms that happen soon after a pesticide application. “That’s going to shove that pesticide into our aquatic system,” Lee said.

The Vermont Countryside is still healthy in many areas
The Vermont Countryside is still healthy in many areas

California Farmers Are Spraying More Insecticides

A spike in insect populations can lead to a jump in crop diseases, which could also lead to more chemical applications, said Jason Rohr, chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame.

Many infectious plant diseases are spread by insects, he said, raising concerns that as insect populations expand with the changing climate, so will the diseases they spread among crops.

That means climate change could deliver a twofold blow to agricultural ecosystems: first by increasing populations of harmful insects, triggering more pesticide use, and then by enhancing the movement of pesticides through the watershed, exposing threatened native fish and other aquatic species to higher concentrations of toxic agricultural chemicals.

Trucks-hauling-coal-at-a-Chinese-financed-open-pit-mine-in-Pakistans-Sindh-province-in-May-2018.  Coal mines, particularly in China, are spewing the worst pollution into the atmosphere of any fossil fuel.  Warming has complex consequences that are often not obvious.
Trucks-hauling-coal-at-a-Chinese-financed-open-pit-mine-in-Pakistans-Sindh-province-in-May-2018. Coal mines, particularly in China, are spewing the worst pollution into the atmosphere of any fossil fuel.

More reading on the fact that warming has complex consequences

Here are four more articles by Lisa Gross. They all illustrate the fact the even slight increases of temperatures lead to complex and devastating consequences for California agriculture and eventually to all of us humans and to our human societies.

Climate change can have complex consequences

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Here are a few more images of our fragile earth.

Polar bear on an arctic ice flow.  As the arctic warms polar bears are going extinct.  Warming has complex consequences that are often not obvious.
Polar bear on an arctic ice flow. As the arctic warms polar bears are going extinct.
The rapidly warming Arctic is may well the the source of one of the first irreversible tipping points that are now looming.  Warming has complex consequences that are often not obvious.
The rapidly warming Arctic is may well the the source of one of the first irreversible tipping points that are now looming.
Fires in the Amazon Rain Forest may be another source of irreversible tipping points.  Our rain forests are very fragile and it doesn't take much to irreversibly doom them. When they are gone, there is probably  little hope for humans.  Warming has complex consequences that are often not obvious.
Fires in the Amazon Rain Forest may be another source of irreversible tipping points. Our rain forests are very fragile and it doesn’t take much to irreversibly doom them. When they are gone, there is probably little hope for humans.
Mount Delali in Alsaska.
Mount Delali in Alsaska.
A-dried-lake-bed-at-Folsom-Lake-in-Folsom-California-near-Sacramento.  California is currently experiencing the driest year in 40 years.  Warming has complex consequences that are often not obvious.
A-dried-lake-bed-at-Folsom-Lake-in-Folsom-California-near-Sacramento. California is currently experiencing the driest year in 40 years.

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