August 13 News: Climate Change Will Make Parasites More Virulent, Say Researchers

A round-up of the top climate and energy stories.

Parasites look set to become more virulent because of climate change, according to a study showing that frogs suffer more infections from a fungus when exposed to unexpected swings in temperatures. [Reuters]

Parasites, which include tapeworms, the tiny organisms that cause malaria and funguses, may be more nimble at adapting to climatic shifts than the animals they live on since they are smaller and grow more quickly, scientists said.

“Increases in climate variability are likely to make it easier for parasites to infect their hosts,” Thomas Raffel of Oakland University in the United States told Reuters, based on findings about frogs and a sometimes deadly skin fungus.

President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney clashed last week over a federal tax credit for businesses that produce wind and other alternative energy. [Washington Post]

A summer drought that has destroyed crops, killed livestock and sent feed prices soaring is now extracting a political price from members of Congress, who failed to agree on a comprehensive agriculture bill or even limited emergency relief before leaving Washington for five weeks. [New York Times]

Two young Eugene residents are appealing a local judge’s April dismissal of their lawsuit alleging that the state of Oregon is violating the public trust by failing to take adequate steps to prevent climate change. [The Register Guard]

Armed with the latest monsoon rainfall data, weather experts finally conceded this month that India is facing a drought, confirming what millions of livestock farmers around the country had known for weeks. [Reuters]

Lemons and sweet bamboo may not be associated with frontline efforts to adapt to climate change in most parts of the world, but in Kioutaloun village in northern Laos, rice farmers hit by landslides, land erosion and severe flooding are looking to different crops. [IRIN]

With a giant swathe of the nation’s prime agricultural land affected by drought, the federal government and private forecasters have been projecting a significant drop in corn and soybean production—and a jump in food prices. [The Daily Beast]

Under the most wide-reaching drought since 1956, and torched by the hottest July on record dating from 1895, the United States has been under the kind of weather stress that climatologists say will be more common if the long-standing trend toward higher U.S. temperatures continues. [Washington Post]

Methane is making headlines because of new numbers showing more leakage than previously thought from natural gas wells and pipelines. Some critics say natural gas is a worse climate-change polluter than coal. That’s hotly disputed by energy companies. [New Jersey Star Ledger]

21 Responses to August 13 News: Climate Change Will Make Parasites More Virulent, Say Researchers

  1. catman306 says:

    Joan Savage and Brian Brademeyer: The answer to my question about total worldwide lightning bolt energy per unit of time was answered in detail by Robert Holzworth, head of the World Wide Lightning Location Network University of Washington. His answer is worth a read to anyone interested in super bolts and world wide lightning.

  2. John McCormick says:

    Catman, thank you. Fascinating information.

  3. Zimzone says:

    MN lost a young boy last week from swimming in a lake with very warm water from our extended heat spell.
    It’s an amoebic parasite that only emerges when water hits temps above or around 80F.
    The parasite is encrusted in a shell & usually enters the body through the nose.
    Symptoms are similar to encephalitis & literally attacks brain tissue.

  4. prokaryotes says:

    New satellite data: Arctic ocean losing 50% more summer ice than predicted

  5. prokaryotes says:

    The size of forest fires raging in the Siberian Federal District increased from 3,927 hectares to 4,466 hectares, the forestry department of the Siberian Federal District announced on Monday.

  6. prokaryotes says:

    Extreme Methane Microbes Inhabit Undersea Volcanoes

    By some estimates, a third of Earth’s organisms live in our planet’s rocks and sediments, yet their lives are almost a complete mystery.

    This week, the work of microbiologist James Holden of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and colleagues shines a light into this dark world. In the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they report the first detailed data on methane-exhaling microbes that live deep in the cracks of hot undersea volcanoes.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    Hundreds flee Spain wildfires that killed 2 firefighters, destroyed hundreds of acres in Garajonay National Park
    Massive blaze may have started when a car broke down and caught fire when its hood was lifted, officials say

    800 hectares in the Garajonay National Park, had been destroyed since the fire began Aug. 4. The park contains woodlands that have survived since the Tertiary age, 11 million years ago, and was declared a World Heritage Site by the U.N. cultural agency in 1986.

    800 hectares of total size 4000/40 km2 (according to wikipedia) – 20% have burned so far.

  8. Joan Savage says:

    catman –
    That’s a keeper. Thanks for getting back to us with the response.

    I’m also impressed that Dr. Holzworth addressed your inquiry so thoroughly and promptly.

  9. catman306 says:

    All 92 Indiana counties are now in extreme drought.

    Purdue experts: Crop report dismal, but not unexpected

  10. Joan Savage says:

    The Reuters story on parasites seems confused. For one thing, tapeworms don’t “cause malaria and funguses” and parasites in general don’t “cause” fungi either, though some can be vectors of fungi.

  11. prokaryotes says:

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says the Obama administration has picked the most restrictive management plan possible for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

    The Alaska Republican says putting half of the reserve off limits to petroleum development denies revenue and jobs to taxpayers when the nation faces record debt and unemployment.

    Murkowski issued her statement Monday after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in Anchorage unveiled the preferred management proposal for the 23-million acre reserve on Alaska’s North Slope.

    Salazar says the proposal balances wildlife protection, subsistence requirements of 40 Alaska Native villages and the nation’s need for additional petroleum.

    Salazar says the plan makes the most promising lease areas available for development and includes a route that could be used for a pipeline to move oil from Chukchi (chuk-CHEE’) Sea offshore leases.

  12. prokaryotes says:

    What a great opportunity to hint to climate change and the requirement to stop using fossil. That is if we intend to preserve our current way of life.

  13. Michael T says:

    NASA GISS has released their temperature data for July and it shows the planet had its 11th warmest July on record. The northern hemisphere experience its 2nd warmest July on record:

    Europe, Russia, North America and northern Africa were much warmer than average. Most of Antarctica, part of Australia, and part of South America were colder than average:

  14. prokaryotes says:

    In 1981 the first luggable computer, the Osborne 1, went on sale to become very popular. All was well for Osborne Computer Company until Adam Osborne, in 1983, announced details of the next generation Osborne computers. The resulting sales falloff and eventual demise of OCC created the myth of the Osborne Effect, which is when a company announces a future product and the customers stop buying the current product. What does this have to do with automotive news? Consider thursday’s news that GM’s CEO Dan Akerson is again talking about the electric car with a 200 mile driving range that GM could be building in the next two-to-four years.

    It’s plausible that news of someone like GM’s CEO claiming an electric car with a 200 mile driving range is just around the corner, would make potential electric car buyers go “hmm.. maybe I’ll wait a couple years.”

    This effect may already be happening for the Nissan Leaf. Sales of the Leaf are much lower than in 2011, and there are a pair of attributes of the 2013 model which may be affecting current Leaf sales. One is that the 2013 Leaf will have an option to buy a 6.6 kilowatt on-board charger, which would give the Leaf a better effective driving range. The second is that Nissan is building a new factory in Smyrna TN, that’s slated to increase Nissan Leaf production volume to over 100,000 units a year. The scuttlebutt is that by building the Leaf in the U.S., the domestic MSRP would be lower than currently.

    In the case of GM, Akerson first talked of a 140+ mile driving range electric car in March, shortly after Envia Systems demonstrated the company’s technology at an ARPA-E conference. That company is targeting a dramatic jump in lithium ion energy density, with a dramatic drop in cost, and if the final result turns out as projected it would be a game changer in the electric car industry.

  15. prokaryotes says:

    More than 32,000 Leafs have been sold worldwide by early July 2012

  16. prokaryotes says:

    Fresh water from rivers and rain makes hurricanes, typhoons, tropical cyclones 50 percent more intense

    Read more at:

  17. prokaryotes says:

    “We can now be more confident that the models are correct,” Dai said, “but unfortunately, their predictions are dire.”

    In the United States, the main culprit currently is a cold cycle in the surface temperature of the eastern Pacific Ocean. It decreases precipitation, especially over the western part of the country. “We had a similar situation in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s,” said Dai, who works at the research center’s headquarters in Boulder, Colo.

    While current models cannot predict the severity of a drought in a given year, they can assess its probability. “Considering the current trend, I was not surprised by the 2012 drought,” Dai said.

    The Pacific cycle is expected to last for the next one or two decades, bringing more aridity. On top of that comes climate change. “Global warming has a subtle effect on drought at the moment,” Dai said, “but by the end of the cold cycle, global warming might take over and continue to cause dryness.”

  18. prokaryotes says:

    ‘Severe abnormalities’ found in Fukushima butterflies

    Scientists found an increase in leg, antennae and wing shape mutations among butterflies collected following the 2011 Fukushima accident.

    The link between the mutations and the radioactive material was shown by laboratory experiments, they report.

    The work has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

    Two months after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in March 2011, a team of Japanese researchers collected 144 adult pale grass blue (Zizeeria maha) butterflies from 10 locations in Japan, including the Fukushima area.

    By comparing mutations found on the butterflies collected from the different sites, the team found that areas with greater amounts of radiation in the environment were home to butterflies with much smaller wings and irregularly developed eyes.

    “It has been believed that insects are very resistant to radiation,” said lead researcher Joji Otaki from the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa.

    “In that sense, our results were unexpected,” he told BBC News