Skip to content

Time for you and me to have that birds and the bees talk



Climate change is not about your electricity bill. Or your cost of living. Its about life.

This can be the plants and trees that are flowering at unusual times and out of season. This can be life that teems in our oceans, but invisible to us and being affected by the acidification of the oceans. This can be the strange stories of bees that seem to be reacting to a combination of pesticides and fungicides in pollen they collect in a rather nasty way. Those would be the pesticides and fungicides we humans need to use cause plants are flowering at unusual times and therefore being susceptible to insects that normally had little affect on the fruit but do now cause the birds that normally would suppress their populations are migrating earlier and earlier.

Cause. Effect. And life on this planet is so intrinsically linked that the smallest of creatures has such an important role.

Take the case of plankton. Such tiny little things. Unseen with the human eye. Plankton is classified into two distinct types. Phytoplankton and zooplankton. Phytoplankton are classed as ‘plant like’ and the zooplankton classified as the ‘animals’, but in reality they are very similar. It would be easier to divide them into macro and micro planktons. The micro plankton tend to live at the top of the oceans and the macro plankton live in the middle to lower parts. These creatures don’t move on their own. Instead their entire existence depends on them drifting in the oceans and currents. This is important to note as it means they cant MOVE to better locations. Not on their own.

You are probably asking yourself why is he talking about these really small creatures? Who cares? I thought this was a post about the birds and the bees and sex and stuff.

Well as it turns out, these small insignificant creatures are very significant indeed. They provide the food for over 50% of the life in the oceans. As I pointed out, the phytoplankton and zooplankton feed on the same nutrients including CO2. They also produce a by product. A sulfate. Do you remember your high school chemistry? That acid called hydrogen sulphide? Well as it turns out there is heaps of hydrogen and oxygen in water. Funny that. And if you add some sulfate, you get a chemical reaction that creates hydrogen sulphide.

Also turns out that the plankton that resides near the ocean surface are BLOOMING! They have absolutely ideal conditions with the extra CO2. But they are blooming so much, they are absorbing the nutrients needed by all plankton and the macro plankton below them are missing out. In fact, it is now feared that the oceans will start absorbing less CO2 because instead of CO2 absorption happening through the entire volume of the ocean, its only happening at the relatively thin top. And just like trickle down economics, those at the bottom hardly see anything trickle down.

At the same time, the bloom in the surface dwelling micro plankton is changing the acid content of the ocean. The pH level in he last 30 years has dropped by 0.2 points. Oh I can hear the wailing lament of Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt from here. Whoopy do they no doubt will say. A whole 0.2. Well fellas, try this little experiment at home. Get two glasses of water. One at pH 7.0 and drink it. You should be fine. The water should be odourless and taste like fresh water. Now get a glass of water at pH 6.8 and sniff and drink that.

The change in acid content is so widespread, that shells on shellfish is starting to weaken.

A recent study into soil carbon should have Greg Hunt in a panic if only the media could be bothered to ask him about it, but they don’t seem to think climate change matters other than in electricity bills.

Turns out that while extra CO2 and warmth does actually promote more plant life, tiny little microbes that live in the soil reacting TO the extra heat, react with that soil and actually RELEASE the CO2 the plants trap. Yeah. Thats right. Soil carbon, like Greg Hunt, is a joke.

At this stage of this post, I want to get to talking about trees. A certain type of tree. A fir. A very unique fir.

If you were to see the scientific name Abies religiosa, it probably would not mean anything to you. Didn’t mean anything to me. I thought it was a term for a religion. Neither would the more common name of this tree mean anything much to most of us: the oyamel fir.

See? Nothing right? Anyway, these trees grow in high altitude places. And in Northern America, they grow in Mexico and Mexico alone. So what you say? The world is full of high altitude places and low altitude places. Sure. But there is only one place in North America. And this is vitally important for the Monarch butterfly which migrate thousands of kilometers to these fir trees in Mexico. Yet a recent study into the fir tree has offered a grim picture for the monarch.

A study has concluded that this specific fir so vital for the North American Monarch butterfly would be decimated in less than 100 years due to our insistence that we burn fossil fuels. By 2030, 69.2% of the current population will be gone. By 2060 this will be 87.6. And by 2090, it is estimated that 96.5% of the mexico firs will be no more. And with them gone, the Monarch butterfly in North America will cease to exist as the firs are VITAL to them as this is where they go to breed.

And before you all say so what, its only a butterfly, this particular butterfly pollinates so many species of plants on its migration journey its not funny. Lose them, lose the plants it pollinates. See how a small thing can have a huge effect?

Click to access rmrs_2012_saenz_romero_c001.pdf

Climate change clearly does more than affect the price of a electricity bill.

And all the while, reports in the news for so long have warned us all about the effect of climatic changes on bees.

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
― Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee

This above quote has been often misattributed to Albert Einstein. Probably due to a journalist who was to busy to do any fact checking. But it still holds true. Lose the bee and you lose the source of pollination for more species of plant than I care to think about. Lose the plants and you lose the life that clung to these plants as part of their evolutionary processes. Lose that life and you lose others and so on and so on. Life is one big web. Cut one anchor point and this weakens the whole web. And all this because of our desire to have rice maker machines.

I don’t really care about humans. I don’t. Humans are but one species on this planet. One form of life. And yet we are pushing others species by the tens of thousands to their utter limits and species eradication. We can put on a jumper when its too cold or create machines that make ourselves cooler if too hot. Plankton can not. Soil microbes can not. Firs cannot. Bees cannot. Birds cannot.

They say that if a tree falls in a forest and no one sees or hears it did it really fall? Well now we know we would indeed know if a tree fell in a forest. Because the life that used to call it their home will disappear too.




A. Ghebranious (November 2013)

One Comment
  1. Fed up permalink

    I wish that Abbott and his ilk would desist in giving the impression, that it is about making power dearer, so one uses less..

    If this was the case, they are correct, it would ot lead to bringing down the rate of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

    There is a cost put on power, generated by fossil fuels. The idea is to make this generation of power dearer, so one moves to the use of electricity generated by renewals.

    As time goes on, less electricity will be generated by fossil fuel. It does not mean, as the costs put on carbon emissions goes up, electricity will rise in tandem.

    It will lead to a situation where we become less reliant on fossil fuel,. It will lead to cheaper electricity in the long run.

    The expense of moving from fossil to renewals is in the setting up of new renewal methods of generation.

    Once established, the ongoing cost will be small.

    No one has found a way of cornering the market on sun and win, and other methods of renewals.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: