The Worldwide Phenomenon That’s Shrinking Animals

The threat of rising temperatures due to global warming will have serious effects on our tiny blue planet. Warming oceans could kill coral reefs, there might be less fresh water, more disease, less polar bears, more bark beetles, the list goes on. But here is one side effect you may not have heard of…smaller horses. That’s right, warmer temperatures could make some animals shrink. About 50 million years ago, after the dinosaurs died off, the Earth went through a series of warming events called hyperthermals, most likely from an increase of carbon. Most notably was what scientists call the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), when temperatures rose between 5 and 8 degrees celsius, and stayed that way for almost 200,000 years. Now, scientists wanted to know how this global warming event affected the creatures living at the time, so they started studying ancient horse teeth.

And they found that, when global temperatures rose, these horses shrank. During the PETM, one ancient horse species called Sifrhippus (siff-RIP-us), shrunk by 30%. But as the Earth cooled back down, it got 76% bigger. During the less drastic Eocene Thermal Maximum 2, another ancient horse, the Arenahippus shrank by 14%, going from about the size of a dog to about the size of a cat. Yeah, ancient horses were smaller than you might have thought. So, why the shrinkage? Well, one explanation might be Bergmann's rule, which states when the climate gets warmer, mammals get smaller so they can cool off more efficiently. Rising temperatures also see an increase in drought and a decrease in plant growth, which basically mean less food and water for the animals, which could result in smaller and smaller offspring. But this is more than a fun fact, because global temperatures are on the rise again and some shrinking has already been documented in modern day animals, like sheep, goats and reindeer. Now, there are other factors that could have been in play and the same dwarfing may not happen the same way it did over 50 million years ago.

But with some climate scientists predicting the earth’s temperature increasing by up to 6 degrees by the year 2100, there may be a lot to learn from studying these shrinking horses. And if history does indeed repeat itself, more tiny horses could be on the horizon. If you’re tired of talking about the tiny, why don’t you go watch this video on some of the largest creatures to ever walk the Earth, dinosaurs. Scientists have completely rewritten how they are categorized and it’s kinda crazy. Don’t forget to subscribe, share and come back for more on Seeker..

Art made of the air we breathe | Emily Parsons-Lord

Translator: Camille Martínez Reviewer: Krystian Aparta If I asked you to picture the air, what do you imagine? Most people think about either empty space or clear blue sky or sometimes trees dancing in the wind. And then I remember my high school chemistry teacher with really long socks at the blackboard, drawing diagrams of bubbles connected to other bubbles, and describing how they vibrate and collide in a kind of frantic soup. But really, we tend not to think about the air that much at all. We notice it mostly when there's some kind of unpleasant sensory intrusion upon it, like a terrible smell or something visible like smoke or mist. But it's always there. It's touching all of us right now. It's even inside us. Our air is immediate, vital and intimate. And yet, it's so easily forgotten. So what is the air? It's the combination of the invisible gases that envelop the Earth, attracted by the Earth's gravitational pull. And even though I'm a visual artist, I'm interested in the invisibility of the air.

I'm interested in how we imagine it, how we experience it and how we all have an innate understanding of its materiality through breathing. All life on Earth changes the air through gas exchange, and we're all doing it right now. Actually, why don't we all right now together take one big, collective, deep breath in. Ready? In. (Inhales) And out. (Exhales) That air that you just exhaled, you enriched a hundred times in carbon dioxide. So roughly five liters of air per breath, 17 breaths per minute of the 525,600 minutes per year, comes to approximately 45 million liters of air, enriched 100 times in carbon dioxide, just for you. Now, that's equivalent to about 18 Olympic-sized swimming pools. For me, air is plural. It's simultaneously as small as our breathing and as big as the planet. And it's kind of hard to picture.

Maybe it's impossible, and maybe it doesn't matter. Through my visual arts practice, I try to make air, not so much picture it, but to make it visceral and tactile and haptic. I try to expand this notion of the aesthetic, how things look, so that it can include things like how it feels on your skin and in your lungs, and how your voice sounds as it passes through it. I explore the weight, density and smell, but most importantly, I think a lot about the stories we attach to different kinds of air. This is a work I made in 2014. It's called "Different Kinds of Air: A Plant's Diary," where I was recreating the air from different eras in Earth's evolution, and inviting the audience to come in and breathe them with me. And it's really surprising, so drastically different.

Now, I'm not a scientist, but atmospheric scientists will look for traces in the air chemistry in geology, a bit like how rocks can oxidize, and they'll extrapolate that information and aggregate it, such that they can pretty much form a recipe for the air at different times. Then I come in as the artist and take that recipe and recreate it using the component gases. I was particularly interested in moments of time that are examples of life changing the air, but also the air that can influence how life will evolve, like Carboniferous air. It's from about 300 to 350 million years ago. It's an era known as the time of the giants. So for the first time in the history of life, lignin evolves. That's the hard stuff that trees are made of. So trees effectively invent their own trunks at this time, and they get really big, bigger and bigger, and pepper the Earth, releasing oxygen, releasing oxygen, releasing oxygen, such that the oxygen levels are about twice as high as what they are today.

And this rich air supports massive insects — huge spiders and dragonflies with a wingspan of about 65 centimeters. To breathe, this air is really clean and really fresh. It doesn't so much have a flavor, but it does give your body a really subtle kind of boost of energy. It's really good for hangovers. (Laughter) Or there's the air of the Great Dying — that's about 252.5 million years ago, just before the dinosaurs evolve. It's a really short time period, geologically speaking, from about 20- to 200,000 years. Really quick. This is the greatest extinction event in Earth's history, even bigger than when the dinosaurs died out. Eighty-five to 95 percent of species at this time die out, and simultaneous to that is a huge, dramatic spike in carbon dioxide, that a lot of scientists agree comes from a simultaneous eruption of volcanoes and a runaway greenhouse effect. Oxygen levels at this time go to below half of what they are today, so about 10 percent.

So this air would definitely not support human life, but it's OK to just have a breath. And to breathe, it's oddly comforting. It's really calming, it's quite warm and it has a flavor a little bit like soda water. It has that kind of spritz, quite pleasant. So with all this thinking about air of the past, it's quite natural to start thinking about the air of the future. And instead of being speculative with air and just making up what I think might be the future air, I discovered this human-synthesized air. That means that it doesn't occur anywhere in nature, but it's made by humans in a laboratory for application in different industrial settings. Why is it future air? Well, this air is a really stable molecule that will literally be part of the air once it's released, for the next 300 to 400 years, before it's broken down. So that's about 12 to 16 generations.

And this future air has some very sensual qualities. It's very heavy. It's about eight times heavier than the air we're used to breathing. It's so heavy, in fact, that when you breathe it in, whatever words you speak are kind of literally heavy as well, so they dribble down your chin and drop to the floor and soak into the cracks. It's an air that operates quite a lot like a liquid. Now, this air comes with an ethical dimension as well. Humans made this air, but it's also the most potent greenhouse gas that has ever been tested. Its warming potential is 24,000 times that of carbon dioxide, and it has that longevity of 12 to 16 generations. So this ethical confrontation is really central to my work. (In a lowered voice) It has another quite surprising quality. It changes the sound of your voice quite dramatically. (Laughter) So when we start to think — ooh! It's still there a bit.

(Laughter) When we think about climate change, we probably don't think about giant insects and erupting volcanoes or funny voices. The images that more readily come to mind are things like retreating glaciers and polar bears adrift on icebergs. We think about pie charts and column graphs and endless politicians talking to scientists wearing cardigans. But perhaps it's time we start thinking about climate change on the same visceral level that we experience the air. Like air, climate change is simultaneously at the scale of the molecule, the breath and the planet. It's immediate, vital and intimate, as well as being amorphous and cumbersome. And yet, it's so easily forgotten. Climate change is the collective self-portrait of humanity. It reflects our decisions as individuals, as governments and as industries. And if there's anything I've learned from looking at air, it's that even though it's changing, it persists.

It may not support the kind of life that we'd recognize, but it will support something. And if we humans are such a vital part of that change, I think it's important that we can feel the discussion. Because even though it's invisible, humans are leaving a very vibrant trace in the air. Thank you. (Applause).

The Greatest Threat to Existence as We Know it

imagine its a beautiful day in April of 2017 three children in different parts of the world are going about their daily lives as they do every day and as their parents have done for countless generations meet Hiro in Japan Hiro wants to be a successful banker one day just like his father but right now he is more interested in spaceships and planets Abasie lives in Kenya with his parents and grandparents one day he wants to travel the world in his own little sailboat akash lives in india with his big happy family when Akash grows up he wants to be the world's greatest chef and so life goes on hiro becomes an astronaut much to his fathers suprise Abasie travels the world in his sailboat and Akash opened his own restaurant in his home town they grow old and pass on having lived fulfilled lifes their children follow and thier children's children until one day in April of 2100 Akoh and his family are crammed with thousands of other people at Haneda Airport hoping it's not too late sadly the people of Tokyo never had a chance the once-proud city is reduced to rubble by tsunami the likes of which has never been seen Anassa lyes in the dark of his quiet home and he knows his time has come it hasn't rained in months all the crops and livestock have died and the well dried up long ago the people of Kenya suffer the slow death of starvation and dehydration oni draws ragged breaths in his hospital bed his body ravaged by disease is the last living member of his family the population of India has fallen drastically these are a few hypothetical scenarios from various parts of the globe while they may seem unrelated they all share a common catalyst climate change as 2017 begins and the United States presidency changes hands it has become increasingly apparent that the new regime is full of climate change deniers and fossil fuel advocates it is more important than ever to spread real information regarding climate change and the catastrophic effects it can produce within the next 100 years let's start with the common misconception when some people hear the term global warming they'll point to an instance of colder than normal weather like the Sahara Desert recently and say that's ridiculous it's snowing here this objection stems from a misunderstanding of how weather differs from climate weather refers to local changes over short periods of time such as minutes hours days or weeks typical examples of whether include rain clouds snow wind and thunderstorms climate refers to longer-term averages and maybe regional or global in scale and can be thought of as weather averaged over an extended period of time typically years or decades an easy way to remember the distinction is weather is what you get climate is what you expect now that we have a good understanding of how climate and weather differ let's look at the scientific consensus over ninety seven percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that climate warming trends over the past 100 years are extremely likely to have been caused largely by human activity that number goes up to over ninety-nine percent if you include climate scientists who have not recently published scholarly articles most of the leading scientific organizations around the world have issued public statements endorsing this position there are too many to list in this video so i put a link in the description of organizations and their statements climate change deniers tend to latch onto studies that disprove the trend but you always notice that the studies are either not peer-reviewed come from a known anti-science publisher or come from a scientist in a completely unrelated filled with an agenda of their own so where does this problem come from the largest contributing factor to climate change is the burning of fossil fuels oil coal and natural gas all release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned carbon dioxide is considered a greenhouse gas which simply means it sticks around in the upper atmosphere and traps heat the more carbon dioxide is released the more the atmosphere heats up this temperature increase then causes other problems such as melting glaciers and polar ice as arctic ice melts it releases co2 and methane a more potent greenhouse gas compounding the problem by making the atmosphere even warmer the smelting morais it's a vicious cycle ok but where do we stand right now what's the damage as of the end of 2016 carbon dioxide levels are up by nearly 405 parts-per-million the highest in 650,000 years global temperatures up by one point seven degrees since eighteen eighty and nine of the last ten hottest years on record happened since 2000 the tenth being 1998 Arctic ice is shrinking at a rate of 13.

3 percent per decade and land ice is disappearing at a rate of 281 gigatons per year Greenland ice loss doubled between 1996 in 2005 and finally the global sea level has risen seven inches in the last 100 you're probably thinking well that doesn't sound too bad let's look at the consequences by category first the melting of polar ice of course we've all heard that global warming affects the poor polar bears but it's true and it's severe at the current rate of melting which is likely to increase the Arctic is projected to see its first ice-free summer by 2050 imagine that all of the ice gone and yes that likely means extinction for the polar bears within a hundred years and it's not just polar bears some species of ice dependent seals will die off if they can't adapt including harp ringed ribbon and bearded seals then there are the ivory goals and ox ivory goals have already suffered a ninety percent population reduction in Canada over the past 20 years then there's the walrus the arctic fox small plant eaters like ground squirrels hairs lemmings involves large planters like moose caribou reindeer and musk ox and meat eaters like weasels wolverines wolves foxes bears and birds of prey the melting ice is likely to cause a domino effect knocking out species that other species depend upon for food melting ice brings us to our next category rising sea level over the past 100 years the global sea level has risen approximately seven inches the more alarming fact is that the rate of rise in the last decade is nearly double the rate of the entire last century at this rate rising sea level puts coastal cities and islands at great risk SC water reaches further inland it can cause destructive erosion flooding of wetlands contamination of aquifers and agricultural soils and lost habitat for fish birds and plants most projections show the sea level will rise between point 8 and 2 meters by 2100 which would be catastrophic for many low-lying islands and much of the eastern coast of the United States more dire predictions based upon the complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet project a rise up to seven meters that's enough to submerge London the third category is the one with which most people are familiar global temperature rise as CO2 accumulates in our atmosphere the temperature creeps steadily upward the annual increase is measured at roughly 1.

7 degrees Fahrenheit this increase in temperature could cause the most drastic immediate effects of all three categories the list is long and distressing so here we go global warming will cause droughts and heat waves which are already responsible for killing more people per year than floods hurricanes lightning and tornadoes combined it will aggravate the spread of disease warmer weather allows disease bears to be active longer and further abroad warmer ocean temperatures will allow pathogens to flourish as we've already seen with the widespread coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef this coral houses twenty-five percent of all marine diversity and the reef is already declined by fifty percent in the last thirty years when the coral goes we'll lose hundreds of thousands of species dependent upon it for shelter which will collapse much of the marine food chain back on land fishing will suffer droughts will destroy crops and livestock and create a water scarcity pushing farmers and people in rural areas into the city this will cause overcrowding and help spark civil wars that killed hundreds of thousands like it did in Syria GDP is expected to plummet by twenty-three percent by 2100 caused by property damage from flooding droughts wildfires storms loss of productivity loss of tourism and illness you can see how quickly the situation can snowball wildly out-of-control it seems very dire but what can we do is it too late to stop the changes we put in motion it's hard to say for sure but the affect humans have had on this earth is severe and the changes have indeed been set in motion even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today global warming would continue for at least several more decades since carbon dioxide can linger in the atmosphere for up to centuries some experts believe we're approaching a tipping point a point at which abrupt perhaps irreversible changes would tip our climate into a new state however it may not be too late to limit some of the worst effects of climate change two important steps are required one mitigation the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and two adaptation learning to cope with and adapt to the climate changes that have already been set in motion recycling and driving fuel-efficient cars are important steps in the right direction but not sufficient on their own it will take a globally coordinated response such as clean energy agreements between nations as well as local efforts on the city and regional level such as sustainable City Planning public transportation upgrades and energy efficiency improvements so yes climate change is the biggest threat to existence as we know it and is deeply troubling that the United States government seeks to normalize ignorance of good science so if you're concerned for the future of the planet and generations to come do your part help spread this information because the earth truly is worth saving if you enjoyed this video please leave a like or a comment and subscribe to keep up with the latest content thanks for watching and we'll see you in the next video.

How climate change is altering the underwater soundscape | Kate Stafford

In 1956, a documentary by Jacques Cousteau won both the Palme d’Or and an Oscar award. This film was called “Le monde du silence,” or “The silent world.” The premise of the title was the underwater world was a quiet world. We now know, 60 years later, that the underwater world is anything but silent. Although the sounds are inaudible above water, depending upon where you are and the time of year, the underwater soundscape can be as noisy as any jungle or rain forest. Invertebrates, like snapping shrimp, fish, and marine mammals all use sound. They use sound to study their habitat, to keep in communication with each other, to navigate, to detect predators and prey. They also use sound by listening to know something about their environment. Take, for an example, the Arctic. It’s considered a vast, inhospitable place, sometimes describes as a desert, because it is so cold, and so remote, and ice-covered for much of the year. Despite this, there is no place on earth that I would rather be than the Arctic. Especially as days lengthen and spring comes.

To me, the Arctic really embodies this disconnect between what we see on the surface, and what’s going on underwater. You can look out across the ice – all white, and blue, and cold – and see nothing. But if you could hear underwater, the sounds you would hear would at first amaze and then delight you. While your eyes are seeing nothing for kilometers but ice, your ears are telling you that out there are bowhead and beluga whales, walruses, and bearded seals. The ice too make sounds. It screeches, and cracks, and pops, and groans as it collides and rubs when temperature, or currents, or winds change. And under 100% sea ice, in the dead of winter, bowhead whales are singing. You would never expect that, because we humans, we tend to be very visual animals. For most of us, but not all, our sense of sight is how we navigate our world. For marine mammals that live underwater, where chemical cues and light transmit poorly, sound is the sense by which they see.

Sound transmits very well underwater, much better than it does in air. So signals can be heard over great distances. In the Arctic, this is especially important because not only do Arctic marine mammals have to hear each other but they also have to listen for cues in the environment that might indicate heavy ice ahead or open water. Remember, although they spend most of their lives underwater, they are mammals, so they have to surface to breathe. They might listen for thin ice or no ice or listen for echoes off nearby ice. Arctic marine mammals live in a rich and varied underwater soundscape. In the spring, it can be a cacophony of sound. (Buzzing, whizzing, squeaking, whistling, wailing sounds) But when the ice is frozen solid, and there’s no big temperature shifts or current changes, the underwater Arctic has some of the lowest ambient noise levels of the world’s oceans.

But this is changing. Climate change and decreases in sea ice are also altering the underwater soundscape of the Arctic, which is a direct result of human greenhouse gas emissions. We are, in effect, with climate change, conducting a completely uncontrolled experiment with our planet. Over the past 30 years, areas of the Arctic have seen decreases in seasonal sea ice from anywhere from six weeks to four months. This decrease in sea ice is sometimes referred to as an increase in the open water season, that is the time of year when the Arctic is navigable to vessels. Not only is the extent of ice changing but the age and the width of ice is too. You may well have heard that a decrease in seasonal sea ice is causing loss of habitat for animals that rely on sea ice such as ice seals, or walruses, or polar bears. Decreasing sea ice is also causing increased erosion along coastal villages and changing prey availability for marine birds and mammals. Climate change and decreases in sea ice are also altering the underwater soundscape of the Arctic.

What do I mean by soundscape? Those of us who eavesdrop on the oceans for a living use instruments called hydrophones, which are underwater microphones. We record ambient noise, the noise all around us. The soundscape describes the different contributors to this noise field. What we are hearing on our hydrophones are the very real sounds of climate change. We are hearing these changes from three fronts: from the air, from the water, and from land. First: air. Wind on water creates waves. These waves make bubbles, the bubbles break. When they do, they make noise, and this noise is like a hiss or a static in the background. In the Arctic, when it’s ice-covered, most of the noise from wind doesn’t make it into the water column because the ice acts as a buffer between the atmosphere and the water. This is one of the reasons that the Arctic can have very low ambient noise levels.

But with decreases in seasonal sea ice, not only is the Arctic now open to this wave noise but the number of storms and the intensity of storms in the Arctic have been increasing. All of this is raising noise levels in a previously quiet ocean. Second: water. With less seasonal sea ice, sub-Arctic species are moving north and taking advantage of new habitat that is created by more open water. Arctic whales, like this bowhead, have no dorsal fin. because they have evolved to live and swim in ice-covered waters. Having something sticking off of your back is not very conducive to migrating through ice, and may, in fact, be excluding animals from the ice. But now, everywhere we’ve listened, we’re hearing the sounds of fin whales, humpback whales, and killer whales, further and further north and later and later in the season. We are hearing, in essence, an invasion of the Arctic by sub-Arctic species, and we don’t know what this means.

Will there be competition for food between Arctic and sub-Arctic animals? Might these sub-Arctic species introduce diseases or parasites into the Arctic? What are the new sounds that they are producing doing to the soundscape underwater? Third: land. By land, I mean people. More open water means increased human use of the Arctic. Just this past summer, a massive cruise ship made its way through The Northwest Passage, the once mythical route between Europe and the Pacific. Decreases in sea ice have allowed humans to occupy the Arctic more often. It has allowed increases in oil and gas exploration and extraction, the potential for commercial shipping, as well as increased tourism. We now know that ship noise increases levels of stress hormones in whales and can disrupt feeding behavior. Air guns, which produce loud, low-frequency ‘whoomps’ every 10 – 20 seconds, change the swimming and vocal behavior of whales.

All of these sound sources are decreasing the acoustic space over which Arctic marine mammals can communicate. Arctic marine mammals are used to very high levels of noise at certain times of the year, but this is primarily from other animals or from sea ice. These are the sounds with which they’ve evolved, and these are sounds that are vital to their very survival. These new sounds are loud, and they are alien. They might impact the environment in ways that we think we understand, but also in ways that we don’t. Remember, sound is the most important sense for these animals; and not only is the physical habitat of the Arctic changing rapidly but the acoustic habitat is, too. It’s as if we plucked these animals up from the quiet countryside and dropped them into a big city in the middle of rush hour. They can’t escape it. So what can we do now? We can’t decrease wind speeds or keep sub-Arctic animals from migrating north, but we can work on local solutions to reducing human-caused underwater noise.

One of these solutions is to slow down ships that traverse the Arctic, because a slower ship is a quieter ship. We can restrict access in seasons and regions that are important for mating, or feeding, or migrating. We can get smarter about quieting ships and find better ways to explore the ocean bottom. The good news is there are people working on this right now. But ultimately, we humans have to do the hard work of reversing, or at the very least, decelerating human-caused atmospheric changes. So let’s return to this idea of a silent world underwater. It’s entirely possible that many of the whales swimming in the Arctic today, especially long-lived species like the bowhead whale – that the Inuit say can live two human lives – it’s possible that these whales were alive in 1956 when Jacques Cousteau made his film.

In retrospect, considering all the noise we are creating in the oceans today, perhaps it really was “The silent world.” Thank you. (Applause).