NewEnergyNews: THE CLIMATE CHANGE COVER GIRL?

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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, October 21-22:

  • Here Comes The EV Invasion
  • EPA Proposes Ratepayer Subsidy For Coal And Nukes
  • Breakthroughs In Climate Change Begin With Communication

    Friday, June 21, 2013

    THE CLIMATE CHANGE COVER GIRL?

    Blind, starving cheetahs: the new symbol of climate change? Thorny plants have begun to smother grasslands, transforming rangeland into impenetrable thicket – bad news for the big cats

    Adam Welz, 21 June 2013 (UK Guardian)

    “The world's fastest land animal is in trouble. The cheetah, formerly found across much of Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, has been extirpated from at least 27 countries and is now on the Red List of threatened species.

    “Namibia holds by far the largest remaining population…Between 3,500 and 5,000 cheetahs roam national parks, communal rangelands and private commercial ranches…[but] multiplying armies of thorny trees and bushes…are spreading across its landscape and smothering its grasslands…So-called bush encroachment…[is] bad news for cheetahs…Low-slung thorns and the locked-open eyes of predators in "kill mode" are a nasty combination. Conservationists have found starving cheetahs that lost their sight after streaking through bush encroached habitats…”

    “Savanna ecosystems, such as those that cover much of Africa, can be seen as battlegrounds between trees and grasses, each trying to take territory…[F]ire kills small trees and therefore helps fire-resilient grasses occupy territory. Trees have to have a long-enough break from fire to grow to a sufficient size…Lab research shows that many savanna trees grow significantly faster as atmospheric CO2 rises, and a new analysis of satellite images indicates that so-called 'CO2 fertilisation' has caused a large increase in plant growth in warm, arid areas worldwide…

    “…If increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is causing climate change and also driving bush encroachment that results in blind cheetahs, should blind, starving cheetahs be a new symbol of climate change, to join polar bears whose Arctic sea ice hunting grounds are melting? …There's no hard proof…But if bush becomes so dense that it's difficult for cheetahs to move through (as happens in severe cases of encroachment) then cheetahs will disappear…Organisations like AfriCat and the Cheetah Conservation Fund are…pioneering methods of dealing with bush encroachment like turning invading trees into biomass fuel blocks, although it remains to be seen if these methods can be economically scaled up to deal with the literally millions of hectares of expanding encroacher bush…”

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