Escalating Ocean Heat Might Affect Future Ecosystems


In a recent study published in Scientific Reports, it records that baby sharks will find it difficult to survive on the Great Barrier Reef, at least by the end of the century. This surfaced as climate change and warmer oceans led the creatures to be born smaller, exhausted and undernourished.

The latest study from James Cook University’s (JCU) ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies has put the focus on epaulette sharks, which is an egg-laying shark found only on the Great Barrier Reef.

According to the study co-author Jodie Rummer, the epaulette shark was a species that was “really tolerant” even to very challenging and changing conditions, including ocean acidification.

“We started investigating the effects of rising temperatures … and what’s particularly alarming is that temperatures seem to be its kryptonite. Warmer temperatures are really having a negative effect on at least the early development of this particular shark species.” Dr Rummer said.

Along with the JCU team, Dr Rummer, including lead author and PhD candidate Carolyn Wheeler, extensively studied the shark eggs and hatchlings in controlled environments, simulating current reef temperatures and predictions for the middle and the end of the century.

And as per the doctor, temperatures were expected to rise from 2 to 4.5 degrees Celsius by 2100.

Dr Rummer added, “We could control conditions tightly in the laboratory and isolate the effects we were seeing and associate them just with that elevated temperature effect.”

Meanwhile, Ms Wheeler said researchers found the warmer the conditions the faster the embryos developed. “The embryos grew faster and used their yolk sac quicker, which is their only source of food as they develop in the egg cast. This led to them hatching earlier than usual. This meant hatchlings were not only smaller, they needed to feed almost straight away — while lacking significant energy.”

This was a concern for the future of all species of sharks.

As what Dr Rummer asserted “If this shark is having trouble coping with ocean warming conditions, that’s going to be a really big problem for other shark species that are less tolerant and not as robust to changes in their environment.”

Thus, should one species in an ecosystem be impacted; it could cause effects for the flow-on to an entire ecosystem’s health. This emphasizes that our future ecosystems hugely rely on taking urgent actions to mitigate climate change.

Dr Rummer even cited that if ocean warming did not stop, sharks would have to find new cooler habitats to live in or adapt over generations.

“But sharks are at a particular disadvantage for adaption as they can’t change their DNA over generations fast enough to keep up with the changing planet.”

(Image source: ABC News)

Wildfires continue to burn in west as warmer temperatures head east

The Bear Creek Fire temporarily led to mandatory evacuations for 235 homes.

Gusty, warm winds and dry conditions help spread a new wildfire in the West, this time in Colorado Springs.

The Bear Creek Fire temporarily led to mandatory evacuations for 235 homes. According to Colorado Springs Fire, nursing homes near the fire were under pre-evacuation orders.

However, as of Friday morning, the fire is 50% contained thanks to an aggressive aerial attack by firefighters and all evacuations have now been lifted.

Additionally, record to near-record highs have been reported from Colorado to the Texas panhandle.

Some of that warm and dry air will make its way east Friday, with temperatures in the 60s from Detroit to Boston. These temperatures will be up to 20 degrees above normal.

Major cities in the Northeast will enjoy unseasonably warm weather for the next couple of days, with highs near 60 in New York City and Boston and into the middle 60s in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Moving into the holiday week, much of the country will be warmer than normal on Thanksgiving.

While having your holiday dinner outside might be an option for some, much of the East Coast will have unsettled and wet weather for Thanksgiving.

The best weather around the country will be in the central U.S., from the western Great Lakes to the southern Plains and western Texas, where temperatures will be warmer than normal and dry.

Unsettled and chilly weather is expected for the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest, where temperatures will be below normal.

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Buffeted by Trump, China Has Little Hope for Warmer Relations With Biden

All along China’s leaders publicly professed indifference to the American presidential election, having concluded that no matter who won, the United States would remain irreconcilably opposed to the country’s rise.

The country’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has instead been pushing a strategy that would better insulate China from rising international risks, especially the antagonism of President Trump.

China now faces a new administration that has vowed to be equally tough. While many will welcome the expected change in tone from the strident, at times racist statements by Mr. Trump and other officials, few expect President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to quickly reverse the confrontational policies his predecessor has put in place.

Without significant concessions by the Chinese government, which seem unlikely, the fundamental tensions between the two countries will fester. They could even become more pronounced — over trade, tech, Taiwan and other issues.

“Biden’s election will not fundamentally affect the core policies of Beijing’s leaders,” said Carl Minzner, a professor of Chinese law and politics at Fordham University in New York. Those policies, he added, “are being driven by the increasingly hard-line, one-man rule of Xi Jinping, and his desire to reassert party power throughout Chinese society.”

Since Mr. Biden was declared the winner, China’s official reaction has been relatively muted. Neither Mr. Xi nor other officials have extended public congratulations, awaiting Mr. Trump’s official concession, as a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested on Monday.

While some Chinese officials have called on the United States to lower tensions by resuming unspecified negotiations, others are bracing for even greater challenges, particularly on the issues of technology and human rights. They fear that Mr. Biden, working in concert with allies in Europe and elsewhere, could prove more effective in confronting China’s growing economic and military might.

Mr. Biden, whose views on China have hardened since he was vice president in the Obama administration, appears determined to leave in place many of Mr. Trump’s harshest measures, including tariffs and restrictions on Chinese technology. On the campaign trail, he called Mr. Xi “a thug” and vowed he would more forcefully address human rights violations, including mass detentions and forced labor in the western region of Xinjiang.

Yang Yi, a retired Chinese admiral and former director of the Strategic Study Institute at China’s National Defense University whose views reflect the mainstream thinking of the military, warned before the election that “Chinese-American relations are at a very dangerous juncture.” He pointedly cited the complacent view in Europe before World War I that continentwide conflict was unthinkable.

“It is very difficult for both countries to step back from their fixed strategic objectives,” Admiral Yang wrote in The Global Times, the nationalist state-controlled newspaper. “In the post-pandemic era, the structural tensions between China and the United States are even sharper, and it will be very hard for ‘technical measures’ to resolve or ease them.”

Even as the American campaign unfolded, Mr. Xi’s China flexed its military and political muscle across the region, calculating that the United States could or would do little in response.

It clashed with India over their disputed border in the Himalayas, cracked down on promised freedoms in Hong Kong and, most recently, targeted Australia with restrictions on exports of wine, lobster and coal. It has also responded to each punitive step by Mr. Trump with measures of its own, barring travel by administration officials and lawmakers, imposing sanctions on companies and expelling American journalists.

Much remains uncertain, including Mr. Trump’s actions toward China in the remaining weeks of his presidency. Mr. Biden has offered relatively few concrete proposals for dealing with China. In his victory speech, Mr. Biden said little about foreign policy, making clear that his first priority would be fighting the coronavirus pandemic at home. It could be months into 2021 before he turns his full attention to America’s most vexing geopolitical relationship.

Mr. Biden’s victory has raised hopes in some quarters that the two countries could resume cooperation on at least some issues, especially climate change and nuclear proliferation by North Korea and Iran. Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, appealed for exactly that in a congratulatory message to Mr. Biden on Twitter, citing the pandemic and climate change.

He also said Germany would approach the new administration with policy proposals for dealing with “actors like China,” signaling the hardening of views in Europe that have become increasingly worrisome for some in Beijing.

Cliff Kupchan, the chairman of the Eurasia Group in Washington, said the Chinese would welcome the “breathing space” to defuse tensions. That also gives them more time to build their own strength, economically and militarily.

“They are getting more and more concerned about a crisis with America,” he said in a telephone interview. “They still know they are weaker.”

Chinese officials repeatedly claimed they had no favorite in the race, calling the election an internal matter for the Americans to decide. The outcome, though, might be the best thing the Communist Party’s leadership could have wanted.

The election resulted in the defeat of a president who has pushed U.S.-China relations to their lowest point since the 1970s. It also reflected a political process that few anywhere would hold up as a model of effective, democratic leadership in a time of myriad crises.

The American failures in slowing the coronavirus outbreak — as well as the protests this year over police brutality and racism — have been a theme of Chinese propaganda ever since the country brought its own infections under control.

“The unchecked spread of the virus and continuing political tumult in the United States have reinforced Beijing’s view that the United States is in decline,” said Jessica Chen Weiss, a professor of government at Cornell University.

“So even as the Chinese leadership sees abundant domestic and international risks,” she added, “it is becoming more confident in its efforts to resist international pressure on issues that are core to its domestic legitimacy and regime security.”

Mr. Xi has used China’s success in fighting the pandemic to press a political and economic agenda to make the country less dependent on the rest of the world in crucial fields, including technology.

On the eve of the election, the Communist Party’s main journal, Qiushi, or “Seeking Truth,” published a speech Mr. Xi delivered in April outlining his strategy. He said China should enhance its dominance of industrial supply chains as a potential weapon to strike back against protectionist threats from abroad.

As the United States now moves into a likely turbulent transition, Mr. Xi is marching ahead with a new five-year plan that will guide policy starting in 2021. An outline — released, coincidentally, on Election Day in the United States — carries the stamp of Mr. Xi, who reinforced his gloomy prognosis of the global pressures at an important party gathering last month.

At the same meeting, Mr. Xi was hailed as “the core navigator and helmsman,” a title that echoes the one bestowed on Mao Zedong. He showed no sign of designating a successor that could pave the way to his retirement. With a likely third term beginning in 2022, he stands to be in power well past the next presidential election in 2024 — and possibly another after that.

“Right now, China feels like a different planet,” Rodney Jones, an economist at Wigram Capital Advisors who closely tracks China, said by email. “And that is exactly how Xi Jinping wants it.”

The Chinese government seemed eager to play down the election — perhaps to avoid emphasizing the democratic process for a population that has no role in choosing its leaders.

Coverage of the prolonged ballot counting was sparing, with election news relegated to the end of the nightly newscast. As Mr. Biden’s victory was called on Sunday morning, all of China’s state media flashed news alerts — about Mr. Xi’s instructions, issued several days ago, for a railroad connecting Sichuan Province to Tibet.

Propaganda aside, ordinary Chinese were not indifferent to the outcome. Both candidates were among the most searched topics on Chinese social media.

Students who hoped to study in the United States also had a special stake in the race: their visas, which the Trump administration has severely restricted.

“Although Biden will also be tougher toward China when he comes to power, his policy on international students may be relaxed,” said Nathan Cao, a college junior in Shandong Province who hopes to study abroad.

A popular noodle shop in Beijing that Mr. Biden visited as vice president in 2011 was more crowded than usual after his victory.

“I saw news articles saying Biden is a good father and really likes his family,” said Sunny Gao, 55, who went on Sunday and Monday, ordering the same noodles with black soybean paste that Mr. Biden tried. “I hope he will be a little good to China.”

Chris Buckley contributed reporting from Sydney, and Keith Bradsher from Beijing. Claire Fu and Albee Zhang contributed research from Beijing, and Coral Yang from Shanghai.

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Bobtail lizards are coming out in warmer weather, and there are things we can do to care for them

With the weather beginning to warm up, you may notice the odd reptile in your neighbourhood, including bobtail lizards, according to gardening expert Sabrina Hahn.

She says there are things you can do to help them. And good reasons to try.

“You will quite often see bobtails and snakes in the same area,” Ms Hahn told Gillian O’Shaughnessy on ABC Radio Perth.

“Although it’s pretty unlucky if you have bobtails and snakes in your backyard if you live in the urban environment, I think you’re pretty safe.

“Most bobtails you will see are usually solitary, the only time they come together is September and October [to breed].”

Give them water but try to let them find their own food

“If you have bobtails in your garden, always leave out a flat tray of water because in summer they do drink a little bit of water,” Ms Hahn said.

But Healthy Wildlife, Healthy Lives — a website that advises the public on living near native animals — advises against feeding them, because it can risk them becoming over-dependent or eating way more than they can handle.

This chart from Healthy Wildlife, Healthy Lives advises not giving bobtails too much food, if any.(Supplied: Healthy Wildlife, Healthy Lives)

Feeding a bobtail just half an apple is the equivalent to a human eating 37 apples.

Instead, avoid pesticides and let them feast on the cockroaches, beetles and snails in your garden.

“They are not the fastest machines on four legs, which is why snails are so good,” Ms Hahn said.

“They don’t attack the vegie garden,” she added, but will feast on strawberries if they can find them.

“If they have a nice big fat tail when you see them it means they are well fed,” she said.

“If their tail is flat and quite shrunken, they actually haven’t eaten in a long time, so go and get a little snail for them.”

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Play Audio. Duration: 4 minutes 5 seconds

Create a safe space

Ms Hahn said the biggest predators of bobtails were cats and dogs, so she advised keeping them in at night and creating a pet-free area in your garden.

Bobtails also needed plenty of shelter.

“[Leave an area with] at least 10 centimetres of leaf litter, some logs and some rocks they can hide in,” she said.

A healthy bobtail lizard at Greenough Wildlife & Bird Park, south of Geraldton.
Bobtail lizards mate for life and only breed a few times a year.(ABC News: Chris Lewis)

Bobtails mate for life

Healthy Wildlife advises against transporting bobtails from your garden to nearby bushland, as the evidence shows they rarely survive long after such a move.

Ms Hahn advised grabbing a bobtail by the back of the head if you do need to pick one up to move it out of harm’s way.

And do try to avoid accidentally killing one, because they mate for life.

“If you run over one on the road, you’ve just taken out someone’s lifetime partner,” she said.

And if sharing your home with a reptile freaks you out, take heart. Ms Hahn says: “They are the sign of a healthy garden”.

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Goulburn Palliative Care and Oncology Support Group donates blanket warmer to Bourke Street oncology unit | Goulburn Post

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A heart-warming donation has taken the chill off winter for some of Goulburn’s most vulnerable hospital patients. The Goulburn Palliative Care and Oncology Support Group donated a blanket warmer to the oncology clinic at the Bourke Street Health Service. The cabinet gently heats blankets and linen for cancer patients. “This is a really beneficial treatment for patients who are on certain chemotherapies,” nurse unit manager Marissa Blackwell said. “When some chemotherapies come in contact with cold, they can actually cause the patient to have severe pain and bronchospasms. If you are able to heat them quickly, you can reduce those symptoms in an effective way without having to put them into an emergency department, where they could come in contact with other illnesses while the are immunocompromised.” READ ALSO: The oncology unit received the blanket warmer at the end of July – “right in the middle of winter,” Ms Blackwell said – and it has been used very much in the last couple of months. “A lot of patients have opted to have [warmed blankets] on the cold mornings, which has provided extra comfort for them,” Ms Blackwell said. “Other patients required it for those bronchospasms and for the pain associated with some of the other treatments. They found them very beneficial.” The support group raises funds for locals undergoing oncology treatment or receiving palliative care services so they can have their final days at home, president Faye Long said. “People are very generous donating to palliative care,” Ms Long said. “You don’t really have to beg.” Previous donations include televisions for patients and in the waiting lounge, and chairs in the clinic room. “I can’t thank them enough for all their work and all their gifts,” Ms Blackwell said. “We are able to provide better care for our patients by giving them comforts and looking after the whole person, not just the clinical disease.” The support group was set up in 1990; one original committee member, Mrs Sue Hannan, is still with the group. “Goulburn and district are very fortunate to have such a wonderful oncology unit,” Ms Long said. “It means people don’t have to travel away.” The support group normally holds fund-raising functions and raffles throughout the year. This year’s events have been cancelled because of COVID. “We’re still here,” Ms Long said. “When things get back to normal, we will endeavour to put on a function to support our loyal donators.” Until then, donations can be made to: The Secretary of the Goulburn Palliative Care and Oncology Support Group, PO Box 6203, Goulburn North NSW 2580 We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.

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