Ice melt: ‘invasive species’ or just business as usual for Nature?

From the Smithsonian , something that makes me wonder. When the ice ages lowered sea levels and opened land bridges, and mammals of all sorts made passages, or when a study shows Arctic sea ice extent ~6000 years ago was much less than today, were those migrations then worthy of the label “invasive species”. It seems lame to me, Nature is just doing what Nature does, filling a void with life. It also seems to me that this story is nothing more than a headline generator, for buried within it is the admission that it is mostly a non-problem so far.
Melting Arctic opens new passages for invasive species

Scientists say early action could protect coasts

For the first time in roughly 2 million years, melting Arctic sea ice is connecting the north Pacific and north Atlantic oceans. The newly opened passages leave both coasts and Arctic waters vulnerable to a large wave of invasive species, biologists from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center assert in a commentary published May 28 in Nature Climate Change.

Two new shipping routes have opened in the Arctic: the Northwest Passage through Canada, and the Northern Sea Route, a 3000-mile stretch along the coasts of Russia and Norway connecting the Barents and Bering seas. While new opportunities for tapping Arctic natural resources and interoceanic trade are high, commercial ships often inadvertently carry invasive species. Organisms from previous ports can cling to the undersides of their hulls or be pumped in the enormous tanks of ballast water inside their hulls. Now that climate change has given ships a new, shorter way to cross between oceans, the risks of new invasions are escalating.

“Trans-Arctic shipping is a game changer that will play out on a global scale,” said lead author Whitman Miller. “The economic draw of the Arctic is enormous. Whether it’s greater access to the region’s rich natural resource reserves or cheaper and faster inter-ocean commercial trade, Arctic shipping will reshape world markets. If unchecked, these activities will vastly alter the exchange of invasive species, especially across the Arctic, north Atlantic and north Pacific oceans.”

The first commercial voyage through the Northwest Passage—a carrier from British Columbia loaded with coal bound for Finland—occurred in September 2013. Meanwhile, traffic through the Northern Sea Route has been rising rapidly since 2009. The scientists project that at the current rate, it could continue to rise 20 percent every year for the next quarter century, and this does not take into account ships sailing to the Arctic itself.

For the past 100-plus years, shipping between oceans passed through the Panama or Suez Canals. Both contain warm, tropical water, likely to kill or severely weaken potential invaders from colder regions. In the Panama Canal, species on the hulls of ships also had to cope with a sharp change in salinity, from marine to completely fresh water. The Arctic passages contain only cold, marine water. As long as species are able to endure cold temperatures, their odds of surviving an Arctic voyage are good. That, combined with the shorter length of the voyages, means many more species are likely to remain alive throughout the journey.

Though the routes pose major risks to the north Atlantic and north Pacific coasts, the Arctic is also becoming an attractive destination. Tourism is growing, and it contains vast stores of natural resources. The Arctic holds an estimated 13 percent of the world’s untapped oil and 30 percent of its natural gas. Greenland’s supply of rare earth metals is estimated to be able to fill 20 to 25 percent of global demand for the near future. Until now the Arctic has been largely isolated from intensive shipping, shoreline development and human-induced invasions, but the scientists said that is likely to change drastically in the decades to come.

“The good news is that the Arctic ecosystem is still relatively intact and has had low exposure to invasions until now,” said coauthor Greg Ruiz. “This novel corridor is only just opening. Now is the time to advance effective management options that prevent a boom in invasions and minimize their ecological, economic and health impacts.”

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94 Responses to Ice melt: ‘invasive species’ or just business as usual for Nature?

  1. Latitude says:

    My favorite is invasive species in Florida…..while failing to realize what circum-tropical means

  2. PRD says:

    So, sterilize the ballast tanks in transit and return to copper clad hulls. Or use silver nano particles in the hull paint.

    Non-issue, move along.

  3. SMC says:

    Somebody please remind me what constitutes the North West Passage and the Northern Sea Route.

  4. John says:

    So, if humans were not on this planet, and the passage opened would it still constitute invasive specie? No. It’s Earth just being Earth. A dose of reality please.

  5. Doug Proctor says:

    The invasive species was “man”. The megafaunas were hunted to death, whole eco-systems changed, and Americans building coal plants emerged.

    There is no change that is not Death. God gave us Eden and we made Detroit. It is time to give it back (except for my cabin in the woods).

    Heil Green.

  6. Richard says:

    This has been happening for hundreds of years already.

  7. “The newly opened passages leave both coasts and Arctic waters vulnerable to a large wave of invasive species, …”

    IT’S AN ATTACK! RUN!

    I’ve long had the same questions: What differientiates an “invasive” species from one that is simply migrating? And why is it always bad?
    Personally, I think it’s neat that pythons and iguanas are in Florida now. But I seem to be alone in that. :-)

  8. Richard says:

    If the ships don’t go the northern route they go a southern route to the same destinations.

  9. Tim Folkerts says:

    Anthony says: “It seems lame to me, Nature is just doing what Nature does, filling a void with life.”

    No, the article says clearly:

    While new opportunities for tapping Arctic natural resources and interoceanic trade are high, commercial ships often inadvertently carry invasive species. Organisms from previous ports can cling to the undersides of their hulls or be pumped in the enormous tanks of ballast water inside their hulls.

    “Shipping” is not “nature doing what Nature does”. “Hulls of ships” are not “Earth just being Earth”. If, for example, whales started swimming along the north coast of Canada, that would be “Nature doing what Nature does.”

  10. nottoobrite says:

    Another scary story for the green tree huger”s to feed on, for billions of years mother nature has done a wonderful job so good in fact we still don’t know 99.9% of what lives in our oceans !
    Have a look at ” treasure-island-shipping.com” we get a hundred thousand surprises a day,

  11. JimS says:

    Three million years ago, the isthmus of Panama did not exist and the Pacific and Atlantic oceans were joined together in a tropical zone. What terrible things happened prior to that time with invasive species? I am sure life just went on as usual, but I need some grant money to study it. Got some?

  12. milodonharlani says:

    This is an outrageous, preposterous lie, shown as such not just by some but by all available evidence: “For the first time in roughly 2 million years, melting Arctic sea ice is connecting the north Pacific and north Atlantic oceans.”

    For starters, during thousands of summers in the Holocene, these oceans have been connected.

  13. dbstealey says:

    Tim Folkerts says:

    “Shipping” is not “nature doing what Nature does”. “Hulls of ships” are not “Earth just being Earth”.

    It’s all part of nature, and part of the Earth. So are you.

  14. Latitude says:

    Notice, they didn’t mention one species that might become invasive…
    …that’s because there are none

    They are all circum-polar…………

  15. Curious George says:

    One commercial ship in 2013. The projected rate is of course exponential, in the best traditions of the Club of Rome, 20% a year. That means two ships for 2017.

  16. milodonharlani says:

    Nature will solve this non-problem if, as seems likely IMO, Arctic sea ice returns roughly to its 1953-77 extent during 2013-37.

  17. Les Johnson says:

    Apparently nature is anti-science, and does not believe in evolution, because changing climate and invasive species have never before occured in earth’s history?

  18. Les Johnson says:

    Nature, capital “N”, not nature….

  19. Jimbo Bird says:

    What is baffling is the abundant desire for things to be totally stable. It has never happened, and let us hope it never will. How does evolution work if life is in stasis? Species come and species go, maybe us, too.

  20. “Two new shipping routes have opened in the Arctic: the Northwest Passage through Canada,…”

    Ok, so other than ice breakers, and ships escorted by ice breakers, how many ships have used the Northwest Passage?

  21. Gerry says:

    It seems interesting to me that so many people who praise Gaia and worship the force of Mother Nature want to mitigate “her” effects …..

  22. Paul Coppin says:

    “Invasive species” as it’s popularly used is a geo-political term, not a biological one. Nature knows no distinction. Expanding and contracting niche utilization is the way of all species, conditioned by selection over millennia. Standing back looking at it, the whole earth’s processes pulse and squirm. Because of the short lifespan of humans, the natural world is seen and treated by us more like a museum than a dynamo. This perspective is natural for us – our sensory systems, and the way our nervous system interprets and predicts the nature and future of our survival in our immediate environment, demand a degree of stasis. We naturally (and to an extent intuitively and unconsciously) make efforts to maintain that stasis. We have enough adventuresomeness to push out the boundaries as a species, but we do it from a known fixed base. We are nomadic only as we need to be due to the availability of the local environment to sustain us. “Invasive species” are a threat to our stasis, unless, of course, we can incorporate them into our sustenance base. We are biological wh*res and p*mps after all, like most successful species.

  23. Well, to answer my own question; according to the wikipedia article, it appears that less than 12 ships have ever used the Northwest Passage. Not exactly alarming.

  24. G P Hanner says:

    Articles like that one are the reason why I stopped taking Smithsonian magazine.

  25. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Tim Folkerts says:
    May 28, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Anthony says:

    “It seems lame to me, Nature is just doing what Nature does, filling a void with life.”

    No, the article says clearly:

    While new opportunities for tapping Arctic natural resources and interoceanic trade are high, commercial ships often inadvertently carry invasive species. Organisms from previous ports can cling to the undersides of their hulls or be pumped in the enormous tanks of ballast water inside their hulls.

    “Shipping” is not “nature doing what Nature does”. “Hulls of ships” are not “Earth just being Earth”. If, for example, whales started swimming along the north coast of Canada, that would be “Nature doing what Nature does.”

    Almost all creatures, including human creatures, carry other species around with them. These start with the bacterial, and end up with “hitch-hikers” of all kinds getting a free lift for themselves or their seeds.

    Since almost all creatures carry around other creatures and/or their eggs, seeds, larvae, and since there are many special adaptations to allow such hitch-hiking, your claim is that when human creatures carry other species around with them it is not “what Nature does” … sorry, but that makes no sense. Nature does that constantly.

    So you can certainly argue that humans should be very careful about what we carry around with us and I will agree with you all day long. And it’s not just accidental damage. We’ve caused huge environmental problems through casual, unthinking, yet deliberate and planned introduction of species into new areas. Think rabbits in Australia. The argument that we should take care who goes hitch-hiking with us is one I agree with.

    But you can’t argue that hitch-hiking species are not what Nature does. Nature does it very well. In fact, Nature has evolved hugely complex systems like e.g. black plague, which took up hitch-hiking on fleas specifically so that it could become an “introduced species” where there were new potential hosts. Said fleas, in turn, take up hitch-hiking on rats … and for exactly the same reason, so that they can become an “introduced species” where there are new hosts. But after while the fleas stop hitch-hiking on the rats and take up hitch-hiking on some poor man, who then takes the fleas on board ship with him to some new land …

    … and you blame man for this, saying when Nature does it it’s fine, if it’s just rats and fleas its fine, but when the flea gets on a man and the man gets on a ship, somehow that’s not just Nature at its finest, that’s Homo Misanthropus’s fault? I agree we need to take care, but to say man is somehow separate from nature doesn’t work at all.

    w.

  26. milodonharlani says:

    Paul Coppin says:
    May 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    IMO “invasive” has a valid application, in cases of introduced species which would not naturally be able to invade new habitat, without human transportation. Invasion that occurs naturally, as a result, say, of the opening of new connections between continents, can be invasive, but sometimes bring their predator & parasite species with them, mitigating the effect.

    As I’ve commented here before, I’d like to extirpate starlings in North America, & I’m sure many in the SE US feel the same way about kudzu, to name but two of many unwanted, invasive weed species.

  27. Willis Eschenbach says:

    SMC says:
    May 28, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Somebody please remind me what constitutes the North West Passage and the Northern Sea Route.

    Well, no one has, so I will.

    The Northwest Passage is a sea route that goes through the Arctic Ocean over the top of North America.

    The Northern Sea Route is the corresponding route through the Arctic Ocean over the top of Europe/Asia.

    I was unaware that there had been a commercial use of the NW Passage, although anything’s possible. But unless fuel costs skyrocket, it’s a very close balance between cost and danger. The Arctic Ocean doesn’t screw around. You can find yourself trapped in ice with very little notice. That means there has to be an icebreaker on standby, or you’re taking a huge risk.

    Neither the NW Passage nor the North Sea Route will ever get much use at all, compared to the alternatives. Think about the alternative routes, which are the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal. Boats are lined up there, stem to stern, year-round. Compare that to one or even a dozen trips a year, one per month … meaninglessly small.

    However, yes … we should sterilize ballast water. All kinds of uglies lurk there. Toss an ozonator down in the bilges and pump ozone through the water, it would sterilize it all quite quickly.

    But the barnacles on the outsides of the hulls? Forget it. They or their nauplii hitch-hike, inter alia, on driftwood, seaweed, birds, and whales, so they are pretty ubiquitous in the open ocean, of which the Arctic Ocean is a part.

    w.

  28. agfosterjr says:

    In spite of intense efforts to prevent it, quagga mussels are now in Lake Powell. All it takes is one boat. And that’s all it takes in the Arctic: one sub, one icebreaker, one tour ship relocated through the Panama Canal. Yep, it’s just propaganda…endless propaganda. –AGF

  29. Zeke says:

    There are so many pests, mildews, rusts, pathogens, smut, scab, and black spot on this planet which have been brought under control by some very simple and safe chemical means. Banning fungicides for organic farmers, and allowing these products to be shipped every where – that is spreading invasive species.

    Banning fungicide is the act of opening Pandora’s box all over again. This nit picking at ships (which happen to be carrying fossil fuels) with the right hand, while banning fungicides with the left hand, gives the lie. As usual, progressive scientists are looking you straight in the eye and lying like hell.

  30. JJ says:

    For the first time in roughly 2 million years, melting Arctic sea ice is connecting the north Pacific and north Atlantic oceans.

    WTF does that mean?

    The northwest passage was navigated by Amundsen in 1906. Was that two million years ago?

    Who was piloting the ships roughly 2 million years ago, which was evidently the last time that commercial shipping lanes were open across the arctic?

    I guess they’re just following the rule to always lead with a scary statement, even if you have to make up something that is irretrievably stupid to do it.

  31. milodonharlani says:

    agfosterjr says:
    May 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Lots of hitch-hiking temperate & tropical species, should there be any on or in an Arctic freighter, are not going to survive high latitude conditions.

  32. Rud Istvan says:

    One of the silliest papers ever published. Virtually all the species that can survive year round in the true Arctic are circumpolar. Examples include birds (Larus gull, formerly thought to be one of 4 ring species), land mammals (polar bears, arctic fox), marine mammals (ring seals, bowhead whales), fishes (Arctic cod, arctic char), marine invertebrates (the various Arctic krill), and plants (Arctic willow). To be an invasive species transported by ship (hull attached or in ballast water) means some marine species from somewhere outside the Arctic with otherwise similar ecological ocean water conditions.
    That can only mean from Antarctica. The only realistic possibility (presuming penguins are not) are the several distinct species of circumpolar Antarctic krill. There are just two problems. One, those species would not survive the warming of ballast water whilst necessarily crossing the equator along the way. Two, there is no commercial shipping from pole to pole.

    The paper defines a grass eating snake, a theoretical combination of provably extant possibilities that in reality cannot co-exist. There are animals that crawl, like snakes. There are animals that eat grass, like cows. Nowhere in the world is there a grass eating snake; they are all carnivorous. Worse, the paper calls for additional funding to guard against this phantasmagoria. The authors are also undoubtedly afraid of the bogeymen that lurk under their beds at night, but only when they are asleep.

  33. Bill Illis says:

    The crocodiles will soon be back in the Arctic Ocean for the first time in 75 million years.

    Little doubt about that.

  34. Tim Folkerts:
    ““Shipping” is not “nature doing what Nature does”. “Hulls of ships” are not “Earth just being Earth”. If, for example, whales started swimming along the north coast of Canada, that would be “Nature doing what Nature does.””

    Why the hell not? What aspects of humans and human societies are not natural? And if they are not natural, what are they? Supernatural?

    What difference does it make whether an organism winds up in a new location by floating on a piece of driftwood or hitching a ride on a cargo ship?

  35. JJ says:

    Submarines – which have both hulls and ballast tanks – have been plying the arctic for more than fifty years. USS Seadragon …

  36. Gary Pearse says:

    Return of the invasive species. Crocodile fossils in Svalbard, hippo bones in the Thames valley, elephants and rhinos in continental Europe…

    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/hippos-thames-dung-beetle-fossils-reveal-elephants-rhinoceroses-roamed-prehistoric-europe-1438715

  37. Rud Istvan says:

    AGF, both quagga and zebra mussels are a special case. They originate in the Dneiper river basin, and are estuarine. (They can tolerate extremes of salinity from freshwater to seawater, as well as large seasonal water temperature variation.) They both hitchhiked in ballast water from the Black Sea across the Atlantic into the St. Laurence and the Great Lakes. Undoubtedly some idiot did not wash their boat, or worse moved bait, from Lake Michigan to Lake Powell. Or, worst but most probable planted them deliberately to improve fishing (they are now a favorite food of yellow perch in the Great Lakes). Kudzu, garlic mustard, multiflora rose, melaleucha, and burmese pythons are all serious invasive species problems in regions of the US. And every one was originally deliberately introduced by man, not as a hitchhiking accident.
    Find a possible case surviving the Arctic marine environment that would not come from the Antarctic marine environment before becoming angst filled.

  38. Curt says:

    Let’s not forget the nuclear submarines that have been performing circumpolar navigation for half a century now.

  39. agfosterjr says:

    milodonharlani says:
    May 28, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    agfosterjr says:
    May 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Lots of hitch-hiking temperate & tropical species, should there be any on or in an Arctic freighter, are not going to survive high latitude conditions.
    ==========================================================================
    I don’t know much about bilge water temperature, but my point was, commercial freight is only repeating what nuclear subs have have been doing for decades. Can any temperate species survive an Arctic crossing that can’t survive Panama? Inside or out? Maybe, but if so, it’s only a matter of time that they will. Mediterranean and Red Sea species have been mingling for decades–that’s all or nothing. This Arctic nonsense is a matter of degree. –AGF

  40. Zeke says:

    I found a fairly exhaustive list of invasive, foreign, parasytic species which attack the natives right here:

    BINGO: ‘Business-friendly international NGO’ or ‘Big international NGO’
    TANGO: ‘Technical assistance NGO’
    TSO: ‘Third-sector organization’
    GONGO: ‘Government-operated NGOs’ (set up by governments to look like NGOs in order to qualify for outside aid or promote the interests of government)
    DONGO: ‘Donor organized NGO’
    INGO: ‘International NGO’
    QUANGO….

  41. milodonharlani says:

    Among those you mentioned, like mustard & attendant insects, here in Oregon we’re afflicted with Scotch broom (bad for hay fever sufferers & the timber industry), Scotch thistle, tumbleweed, kochia (bad for agriculture), starlings & nutria, among many others.

  42. milodonharlani says:

    agfosterjr says:
    May 28, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Good point about nuclear subs. For that matter, the Arctic seaways were often open & used in the 1920s to ’40s. Before that, the Arctic, North Pacific & North Atlantic Oceans were visited by whalers, although not so much along the supposedly threatened seaways.

  43. John F. Hultquist says:

    The opening statement about “opened land bridges” and such, and then the label “invasive species” is correctly labeled lame.

    Two terms come to mind, colonizer species and refugium (refugia). A plant, such as Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) is said to be a robust colonizer on newly exposed land.

    http://www.florafinder.com/Species/Chamerion_angustifolium.php

    There is NOT a shortage of studies using these terms rather than invasive prior to CAGW.

  44. agfosterjr says:

    Rud Istvan says:
    May 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm
    ================================
    Actually the mussels have been on downstream lakes for some time. They could have been transported from Lake Meade, or from a few small infested lakes in Utah. The only reservoir left on the Colorado River System is Flaming Gorge (on the Green River). It’s only a matter of time. If we outlawed speed boats and sail boats, canoes and kayaks would do the trick. This is serious trouble for hydroelectric power.

    P.S. I intended no sarcasm. Willis is absolutely correct. –AGF

  45. tjfolkerts says:

    Willis, you make some good points, but I disagree with your conclusion “but to say man is somehow separate from nature doesn’t work at all.”

    It does work in many ways. Humans, as a species, change the earth in ways that no other species can. To argue that we are “just another species” ignores too many facts. Our dominance is illustrated by a great image from XKCD: http://xkcd.com/1338/ . Heck, we tend to intentionally separate ourselves from ‘nature’, walling it out and damming it up and chopping it down and kiiling it off when it gets too close.

    Sure, fleas have hitchhiked on rats for millions of years, but no rat ever decided to carry that flea 2000 km in one month (let alone one day). Migrating birds can and do carry parasites and seeds long distances relatively rapidly, but in more or less the same paths year after year.

  46. Zeke says:

    “Heck, we tend to intentionally separate ourselves from ‘nature’, walling it out and damming it up and chopping it down and kiiling it off when it gets too close.”

    Is he posting in his birthday suit on a log in a forest by rubbing two sticks together?

  47. You can pooh-pooh it all you like, but if the Nomura jellyfish gets into the Atlantic Ocean it’s toast. Say goodbye to seafood.

  48. Stephen Richards says:

    a large wave of invasive species.

    They imagine all these insects, reptiles and mammals waiting on the beaches for the ice to melt. Shields in hands, spears at the ready, SUV filled with deisel.

  49. Curious George says:

    tjf, an interesting reference to xkcd. They are the folks who do not consider rodents land mammals.

  50. philjourdan says:

    But one species that has not been able to migrate are the North passage Yachts! But I understand they are endangered anyway. Climate scientists will keep a few in captivity, but they will make sure none are in the wild as the cost of fighting the unicorns will take care of that.

  51. Robert W Turner says:

    “For the first time in roughly 2 million years, melting Arctic sea ice is connecting the north Pacific and north Atlantic oceans.”

    They’re off to a great start with this big fat lie. There is ample evidence that the Arctic was seasonally ice-free during previous interglacial periods. Are we sure this “research” wasn’t conducted by the K-Mart science team?

  52. David Chappell says:

    Every species must be an invasive species during its development else it will never become established.

  53. sean says:

    Liberal Activist #1 “Damn these invasive mammals. Bring back our dinosaurs overlords”

    Liberal Activist #2: “Damn these invasive dinosaurs. Bring back our reptilian overlords”

    Liberal Activist #3: “Damn these invasive reptiles. Bring back our amphibian overlords”

    Liberal Activist #4: “Damn these invasive amphibians. Bring back our brachiopod overlords”

    Scientist #1: “Damn these Luddite Liberals. Bring back people with brains”

  54. Duster says:

    Tim Folkerts says:
    May 28, 2014 at 11:19 am

    “Shipping” is not “nature doing what Nature does”. “Hulls of ships” are not “Earth just being Earth”. If, for example, whales started swimming along the north coast of Canada, that would be “Nature doing what Nature does.”

    This is misguided. The assumption is that somehow human behaviour is not natural, and, while many religions might agree, as well as “intelligent design” advocates, there is simply no support for the idea that we are special in some fashion and apart from nature, or that our behaviours have qualitatively distinct effects from natural catastrophes. Extinctions tied to “invasive species” predate humanity, not just as modern humans but to well before the hominins split off from the rest of the hominidae. Just one truly spectacular example was the end of the dominance of Marsupials in South America when the Isthmus of Panama opened. Similarly, even after Humans are modern, the extinctions at the end of the Pleistocene are far more likely to have been the result of diseases carried by new arrivals, and new competition (as well as climate changes that erased habitats out from under entire ecosystems) than to be the result of ravening human hordes eating their way across continents. There simply isn’t any evidence for that – just models.

    There are differences. A ship’s hull or ballast tank can carry unwanted passengers like zebra mussels farther and faster than a floating log for instance, but that is a quantitative difference rather than qualititative..

  55. Duster says:

    Arggh. Missing marker in there.

    [Fixed. -w.]

  56. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Alex (@FedFanForever) says:
    May 28, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    You can pooh-pooh it all you like, but if the Nomura jellyfish gets into the Atlantic Ocean it’s toast. Say goodbye to seafood.

    OK. Pooh-pooh. That’s your alarm-du-jour, the attack of the killer jellyfish? I’ve fished where there were so many jellyfish that the seine nets were full of them. You know how fishermen deal with that? Sink the corks and let them out, plus gloves and full face shields. When the jellies come over the power block and drop on deck, they splatter their stinging cells everywhere … so what?

    Plus, nothing ever “takes over” the ocean. Everything in the ocean goes up and down, abundant one year or one decade, scarce the next year or decade.

    Seriously, Alex, if rogue jellyfish terrorizing the Atlantic is your best shot at alarmism, take up another line of work. Until you come up with warnings about rogue jelly sharks, I’m not impressed.

    w.

  57. old44 says:

    As the ice in the Arctic floats I am presuming there are no currents in the Arctic ocean and the invasive species cannot swim.

  58. milodonharlani says:

    Curious George says:
    May 28, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    For ease of comparison, let’s assume 7 billion humans at average mass of 50 kg (maybe light, but precision isn’t needed in this case), for 350 million tonnes.

    For rats, let’s say 300 g & mice 30 g. There are surely more rats than humans, but how much more? No one has a good handle on the number of rodents. Although there is this plague (since from the Guardian, probably caused by global warming):

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/jul/17/naturaldisasters.china

    So approach it a different way. How many rodents would it take to equal the human mass? Ignoring all rodents besides Superfamily Muroidea, which includes rats, lemmings, mice, hamsters & gerbils, etc, let’s guess ten billion rats, ten billion mice & ten billion lemmings, etc, with the later @ 50 g. That would total 5.67 million tonnes, or far short of human biomass. But if there are 1.85 trillion members of this rodent superfamily rather than 30 billion, in the same proportion, then they weigh more than we do.

    My arithmetic & assumptions might be off. A large adult male rat might weigh 500 g (over a pound), ie 1/100 the assumed average human mass, which estimate includes women & children. So as a very rough check, that would mean more than 700 billion such big rats to equal our weight. Call it over a trillion with the smaller male, female & little rats.

  59. Bob Koss says:

    The Northern Sea Route ship transit figures for 2011, 2012, 2013 respectively are 41, 46, 71. Cargo volume was at its greatest in 1987. Last years volume was only half the 1987 season even though rising over the past three years.

    Here is a good site information and a couple graphs..

    http://www.arctic-lio.com/nsr_transits

  60. Curious George says:

    milodon: That’s my point exactly. We are uncertain about rodents, but xkcd is certain: they don’t exist. Trust their numbers or not; I don’t.

  61. milodonharlani says:

    Curious George says:
    May 28, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    The linked chart didn’t label what counted as wild animals, except for elephants. It should have shown the squares that represented rodents, bats, etc., if those groups are in fact represented. Bats are worth billions of dollars to US agriculture, but of course windmill advocates were for the birds & bats before (when enviros) they became against them (now).

  62. G. Karst says:

    “Two new shipping routes have opened in the Arctic: the Northwest Passage through Canada,…”

    Define “opened” please as we would like to agree with you. Are we talking about the area directly behind the ice-breaker… commonly called “the wake”?! GK

  63. Aussiebear says:

    This is stupid. Arctic ice melt, climate change, has nothing to do with it. What they are describing is a Maritime Bio-security issue. Standard procedure dictates a deep, open water exchange of ballast water before entering a port. Crew and cargo areas are inspected for “guests”. Crew food stocks are typically removed and destroyed. If they are not travelling the Northwest Passage, they are using the Panama Canal. Geez…

  64. MarkW says:

    How exactly does sea ice prevent fish from swimming under it?

  65. MarkW says:

    Tim Folkerts says:
    May 28, 2014 at 11:19 am
    —-
    Whales have been swimming along the northern coast of Canada for millions of years. In the past they have been limited to doing it in the summer.
    If the worst case global warming does occur, they will have an extra week in the fall and spring to do it as well.

  66. RACookPE1978 says:

    So, unless something drastically changes, what are we going to do when Cape Horn and the Straits of Magellan are blocked by Antarctic sea ice for weeks (or more!) each year ? At today’s rate of increase, still near-continuously increasing since satellite measurements began in 1979, the Straits could be closed within 8 – 12 years! Oh no’es. The Arctic is not guarantted to be “open” for passage every year, and – certainly, the ships have to leave port on both Pacific and Atlantic/north sea/Sea of Japan sides long before the last ice melts, but they equally MUST get past the islands and restricted waters long before they close again for the summer.

    A 100,000 ton merchant cannot sit waiting like a kayak or yacht just watching the ice melt, dodging between islands and around icebergs willy-nilly. Or watch ice freeze up in front and behind it, waiting for 3x more icebreakers to free it from the sea ice as happened last “summer” in Antarctica.

    /sarchasm. Or maybe not.

  67. Chuck Nolan says:

    I thought all these species were going extinct because they can’t adapt to new their changing environment and now you say they can go anywhere?
    I know they just want to keep me confused.
    cn

  68. José Tomás says:

    Is this a study to prove that dems / libs are more gullible than average?

  69. José Tomás says:

    Again posted in the wrong thread, dang…

  70. Jimbo says:

    For the first time in roughly 2 million years, melting Arctic sea ice is connecting the north Pacific and north Atlantic oceans.

    For the 2nd time today Warmists continue their garbage.

    Abstract
    We therefore conclude that for a priod in the Early Holocene, probably for a millenium or more, the Arctic Ocean was free of sea ice at least for shorter periods in the summer. This may serve as an analogue to the predicted “greenhouse situation” expected to appear within our century.

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2007AGUFMPP11A0203F

    ======================

    Abstract
    Arctic sea ice cover was strongly reduced during most of the early Holocene and there appear to have been periods of ice free summers in the central Arctic Ocean. This has important consequences for our understanding of the recent trend of declining sea ice, and calls for further research on causal links between Arctic climate and sea ice.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379110003185

    ======================

    Abstract
    Calcareous nannofossils from approximately the past 7000 yr of the Holocene and from oxygen isotope stage 5 are present at 39 analyzed sites in the central Arctic Ocean. This indicates partly ice-free conditions during at least some summers. The depth of Holocene sediments in the Nansen basin is about 20 cm, or more where influenced by turbidites.

    http://geology.geoscienceworld.org/content/21/3/227.abstract

    ======================

    Abstract
    ….Nevertheless, episodes of considerably reduced sea ice or even seasonally ice-free conditions occurred during warmer periods linked to orbital variations. The last low-ice event related to orbital forcing (high insolation) was in the early Holocene,…

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.02.010

    And here is a MODEL result for those who insist on models being right and observations being wrong. ;-) Checkmate?

    Abstract – 2013
    “…We show that the increased insolation during EHIM has the potential to push the Arctic Ocean sea ice cover into a regime dominated by seasonal ice, i.e. ice free summers. The strong sea ice thickness response is caused by the positive sea ice albedo feedback….”

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.10.022

  71. Jimbo says:

    For the first time in roughly 2 million years, melting Arctic sea ice is connecting the north Pacific and north Atlantic oceans……

    Two new shipping routes have opened in the Arctic: the Northwest Passage through Canada, and the Northern Sea Route, a 3000-mile stretch along the coasts of Russia and Norway connecting the Barents and Bering seas.

    2 million years! New shipping routes! So I can safely assume that during the following events there was more Arctic sea ice than now. This post belongs to climate craziness of the week.

    Abstract
    ….Here we present palaeoecological evidence for changes in terrestrial vegetation and lake characteristics during an episode of climate warming that occurred between 5,000 and 4,000 years ago at the boreal treeline in central Canada. The initial transformation — from tundra to forest-tundra on land, which coincided with increases in lake productivity, pH and ratio of inflow to evaporation — took only 150 years, which is roughly equivalent to the time period often used in modelling the response of boreal forests to climate warming5,6. The timing of the treeline advance did not coincide with the maximum in high-latitude summer insolation predicted by Milankovitch theory7,….

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v361/n6409/abs/361243a0.html

    Abstract
    ……Tree birches (Betula pubescens Ehrh., B. pendula Roth.) reached the present-day shoreline of Barents Sea in Bolshezemelskaya tundra and 72°N in Taimyr between 8000 and 9000 BP……

    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1552004?uid=2&uid=4&sid=00000000000000

    Abstract
    The palynological record of Late-Quaternary arctic tree-line in northwest Canada
    Open woodlands with black spruce grew as far north as Sleet Lake from 8400 to 3500 yr BP. These woodlands gradually retreated to just south of Reindeer Lake during the late Holocene….

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0034-6667(93)90040-2

    Abstract
    Holocene pollen stratigraphy indicating climatic and tree-line changes derived from a peat section at Ortino, in the Pechora lowland, northern Russia
    ….Trees and a climate warmer than at present persisted until c. 3000 14C yr BP, when forests disappeared and modern dwarf-shrub tundra vegetation developed.

    http://hol.sagepub.com/content/10/5/611.short

  72. Jimbo says:

    Why the icebreakers? What do these gullible fools know? We must warn them that they are making a multi-million dollar mistake. 2012 was the lowest Arctic sea ice extent evaaaaaah. So WU with the Russians? They don’t understand ice. The US understands ice.

    BBC – 12 September 2012
    Russia to build biggest nuclear-powered icebreaker
    …..It will be 173m (568ft) long and 34m (112ft) wide, about 14m longer and 4m wider than the current biggest icebreaker, and will operate on the Northern Sea Route.

    Territorial claims
    “It is the best channel in the Arctic because the transpolar route and the North West Passage aren’t practicable,” said Mr Willis from the Royal United Services Institute.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-19576266

    ================

    Seattle Times – December 4, 2013
    U.S. will lose race across the Arctic Sea without more icebreakers

  73. Mike Borgelt says:

    milodonharlani, I got a similar number. Then I found that 350 million tonnes, is, at the density of water, a volume one kilometer by one kilometer by 0.35 kilometers. Humans are a little less dense than water so lets make it a nice round number 1 x 1 x 0.5 km which all the human flesh in the world can fit in to.
    Surface area of the planet is about 5 E^8 square kilometers so if spread in a thin layer over the Earth we get a thickness of 1 x E-9 kilometers or 1 x E-3 millimeters or a thousandth of a millimeter!
    I doubt the Earth would notice the effect if all humans were turned into a thinly spread layer of fertiliser.
    Total biomass is estimated at 560 billion tonnes, call it 500 billion to round off so all the life on Earth is the equivalent of a thin layer 1mm thick.

  74. Jimbo says:

    Since everyone is worried about invasive species how about they tell Hansen and Gore et al to stop making ANTARCTIC ‘eco’ journeys? The eco-worriers and concerned climate scientists are also spreading disease into the very areas they claim to love.

    Abstract
    Mytilus on the move: transport of an invasive bivalve to the Antarctic.
    Increasing numbers of scientific and tourist vessels are entering the Antarctic region and have the potential to bring with them a range of organisms that are not currently found in the region. Little is known about the frequency of such introductions or the identity and survivorship of the species associated with them. In this study, we report the findings of an inspection of the sea chests of the South African National Antarctic Programme supply vessel, the SA ‘Agulhas’, while the vessel was in dry dock in June 2006. Large populations of a known invasive mussel, Mytilus galloprovincialis (Lamarck), were found. By extrapolating from shell length, the age of individuals was estimated, the results of which suggest that some specimens have survived transportation to the Antarctic region on multiple occasions. These findings are cause for concern and demonstrate that Antarctic research and supply vessels are important vectors for marine non-indigenous species into the region.

    http://www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/20073215871.html;jsessionid=CE7A0DEE031E46E81ED69756D7945513

    You can bet your bottom Dollar they are doing the same in the Arctic. Plus they foul the environment with diesel cans, faeces, urine, and garbage.

  75. Jimbo says:

    Tim Folkerts says:
    May 28, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Anthony says:
    ……………….

    “Shipping” is not “nature doing what Nature does”. “Hulls of ships” are not “Earth just being Earth”. If, for example, whales started swimming along the north coast of Canada, that would be “Nature doing what Nature does.”

    Sea life clamping onto the underside of a metal or wooden ship is nature doing its thing. Ship owners do their best to discourage such things, but nature is a persistent bugger. Everything humans make is nature. Everything we do is natural.

  76. Jimbo says:

    JJ says:
    May 28, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Submarines – which have both hulls and ballast tanks – have been plying the arctic for more than fifty years. USS Seadragon …

    Checkmate?

  77. milodonharlani says:

    Mike Borgelt says:
    May 28, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Our effect on sea level rise wouldn’t be noticeable if we all jumped in the ocean at the same time.

    I’ve seen estimates to the contrary, but the Antarctic krill species Euphausia superba is calculated by some to be more massive than humanity, at perhaps 500 million tonnes.

    However, we do dig up, cut down & otherwise consume a lot of resources & produce a lot of emissions & effluents of various kinds. And then there are our livestock & crops. But as a share of the energy flows of the planet, we’re probably not unprecedented. The organism with the biggest effect was probably the first cyanobacterium, whose descendents caused the Great Oxygen Catastrophe, nearly killing every other living thing but paving the way for animals, the creatures able to take advantage of all that formerly poisonous O2.

  78. Mike T says:

    “I’ve long had the same questions: What differientiates an “invasive” species from one that is simply migrating? And why is it always bad?”

    It’s usually bad because the local biota have evolved in a certain way, and when new species arrive by the hand of man (or by accident, but still by man-made means) they can out-compete native species. This happened with the dingo, or so-called “native dog” which was brought in by indigenous people (in contact with Pacific wanderers the Lapita). This wiped out the marsupial thylacine and the Tasmania devil on the mainland. Placental mammals can do this. Similarly, plants brought into Australia as garden flowers have gone mad, as there are no local insects which eat them (and they can be and often are poisonous, like Patterson’s Curse). Then there is the Cane Toad, imported to control a beetle, now overtaking the country. As they are poisonous, anything that eats them dies, so in parts of the north goannas and marsupial cats (quolls) are totally gone. So to an Australian, “invasive species” are REALLY bad. If, as I’ve seen on offshore islands, native species arrive under their own steam, that’s not “invasive”. I’ve seen this happen with Australian kestrels- the locals wanted to wipe them out, but they flew there themselves, and in any case the locals tolerated starlings, which ARE an invasive species since they’re not native to either Oz or NZ, and the fact they got to the islands under their own steam is immaterial.

  79. milodonharlani says:

    Mike T says:
    May 28, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    How did starlings get to Oz on their own steam? Unless you mean their Asian relatives, mynas.

    My comments so often contain anti-starling tirades lately that it might seem I’ve declared a fatwa against them. I’d like to, but the laws of my small town don’t allow me to wage the kind of jihad against the invasive species that I’d like to unleash. But this is specifically against the European starlings introduced into NYC’s Central Park c. 1890 by a crazed Shakespeare fan whom I hope is roasting in the hottest circle of hell. My yard is now covered with the demonic black creatures, to the detriment if not exclusion of what North American call robins, which aren’t really.

    Correct me if wrong, but IMO northern Australia actually enjoys at least one native species of myna. I knew a myna as a kid & have a high opinion of that species, however closely related to the offensive but remarkably highly reproductive European genus it might be. The myna was not only a remarkably good mimic of human speech but understood English pretty well, too. Maybe not in the African grey parrot realm, but impressive none the less.

  80. Latitude says:
    May 28, 2014 at 11:04 am
    My favorite is invasive species in Florida…..while failing to realize what circum-tropical means
    —————————————————————————————————————————–
    I hate to interrupt the serious discussion here, but from what I have heard, the largest cold climate invasive species in Florida is from Canada and speaks fluent French …

  81. pkatt says:

    They consider wildlife and plant life from Japan, deposited on the Oregon coast as invasive species even though clearly they were deposited there by nature. The climate crowd are anti evolution period. The Earth must conform to their snapshot or it will be corrected. If man is harming this planet it is because we refuse to let it evolve naturally. We fight the rivers in LA, we managed the forests to death. We kill one owl doing well because the owl we picked to survive just isnt. We introduced invasive species in HI to counter the other invasive species we brought over and it goes on and on. I bet nature wishes it could just tell humans to butt the hell out. :)

  82. Willis Eschenbach says:

    agfosterjr says:
    May 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    In spite of intense efforts to prevent it, quagga mussels are now in Lake Powell. All it takes is one boat. And that’s all it takes in the Arctic: one sub, one icebreaker, one tour ship relocated through the Panama Canal. Yep, it’s just propaganda…endless propaganda. –AGF

    If you can’t tell the difference between a lake and it’s particular problems, and an ocean and its particular problems, I fear there’s little I can do to assist you …

    w.

  83. Willis Eschenbach says:

    tjfolkerts says:
    May 28, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Sure, fleas have hitchhiked on rats for millions of years, but no rat ever decided to carry that flea 2000 km in one month (let alone one day).

    Since the black plague can’t spread very far by itself, it has always relied on the double-hitchhike system, hitching a ride on fleas that in turn are hitching a ride on rats. Now, no flea ever decided to carry that plague for miles in one day … it just happened to land on a migrating rat.

    Does that somehow make the rat “not natural” because no flea ever decided to carry a rat more than one flea-walk’s distance?

    Sorry, it’s a false division, man vs. nature. Crows use tools. Indeed, they use tools to get other tools. Since no other animal but man uses tools to obtain other tools … does that mean that along with man, crows are not part of nature either?

    w.

  84. Mike Tremblay says:

    “The first commercial voyage through the Northwest Passage—a carrier from British Columbia loaded with coal bound for Finland—occurred in September 2013. Meanwhile, traffic through the Northern Sea Route has been rising rapidly since 2009.”

    I don’t know who does their historical research, but the quality that they are getting is deplorable.

    The first commercial voyage through the Northwest Passage occurred in 1969 when the SS Manhattan, an oil tanker with an ice strengthened hull, made the passage with the assistance of the USCG cutters Staten Island and Northwind, and the CCG Ship Louis St. Laurent, transporting oil from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to a refinery on the US East Coast. This was done to test the feasibility of using the NW Passage for commercial sea traffic and it was determined that it was far cheaper to build the Alaska pipeline to Valdez.

    The Northeast Passage, known as the Northern Sea Route, has been in continual use since 1935, when the Soviet Union constructed several ports along the route in order to facilitate the transfer of naval vessels from Arkhangelsk to Vladivostok without using foreign ports. It has also been in full commercial use by the Soviets and Russians since then to transport the resources from Siberia and Western Russia to the East and to transport supplies and products from the East to Vladivostok. Regardless of whether or not climate change has had any effect on this route, the Russians have several classes of icebreakers which were designed specifically to take advantage of this route which shortens the shipping distance from eastern to western Russia by several thousand kilometers.

  85. Mike T says:

    “Sorry, it’s a false division, man vs. nature. Crows use tools. Indeed, they use tools to get other tools. Since no other animal but man uses tools to obtain other tools … does that mean that along with man, crows are not part of nature either?” Not false at all, and I fail to see the connection between crows using tools, and people loading cane toads onto a ship in Hawaii and releasing them in Queensland. Obviously, the toads could never get to Queensland under their own steam. Using your logic, why do countries need biosecurity? This country keeps certain plants and animals out of various countries because we don’t have diseases endemic to those places- rabies, Newcastle disease, foot & mouth disease, sikatoka disease of bananas, fire blight etc. so if it was ‘natural” to have an import free for all, Australia would have no food industry.

  86. tty says:

    “Meanwhile, traffic through the Northern Sea Route has been rising rapidly since 2009. The scientists project that at the current rate, it could continue to rise 20 percent every year for the next quarter century”

    Well then by 2025 or so it might even reach the 1987 level of 6.6 million tons of shipping. It was only 1 million tons in 2012 (hint, nothing catastrophic happened in the ´80’s even with soviet environmental standards).
    After the Soviet Union collapsed traffic on the northern sea-route did too, it doesn’t pay except in exceptional cases. You need nuclear icebreakers (yes, you do) as well as ice-reinforced ships and it is only open during the summer and autumn (though I think the western part as far as Noril’sk is kept open for ore-carriers all year – but only by using nuclear icebreakers).

  87. philjourdan says:

    Mammals are the ultimate invasive species. They drove out the dinosaurs.

  88. agfosterjr says:

    Duster says:
    May 28, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Similarly, even after Humans are modern, the extinctions at the end of the Pleistocene are far more likely to have been the result of diseases carried by new arrivals, and new competition (as well as climate changes that erased habitats out from under entire ecosystems) than to be the result of ravening human hordes eating their way across continents. There simply isn’t any evidence for that – just models.
    =======================================================================
    You sure got that backwards. Early man probably brought no disease to the New World. Their arrival there involved a series of isolated bottlenecks that amounted to millennia of quarantine. And hunters and gatherers live in a perpetual state of near quarantine, granting innocuous parasites like head lice. Human pathogenic (and nutritional) disease is largely a result of civilization, and each civilization nurtures its own diseases. Columbus was the first “civilized” Euroasian to arrive in the New World. Animals had crossed back and forth for tens of millions of years, and had plenty of opportunity to transport diseases in both directions. Human hunters on the other hand, wreak ecological havoc everywhere they go, as is repeatedly documented on islands and continents around the globe: humans arrive; megafauna disappear. Some of the earliest big game extinctions coincided with the arrival of humans in Australia, and a more recent example is the Maoris wiping out elephant birds in New Zealand. Disease is hardly more plausible than asteroids as an extinction agent for the big American beasts, else explain why it is the biggest animals that disappear. –AGF

  89. agfosterjr says:

    I guess that’s moas in New Zealand, and elephant birds in Madagascar.

  90. agfosterjr says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 28, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    The trick for a prima donna is to not act like one.

  91. Anthony Watts says:

    Willis says:
    “Seriously, Alex, if rogue jellyfish terrorizing the Atlantic is your best shot at alarmism, take up another line of work. Until you come up with warnings about rogue jelly sharks, I’m not impressed.”

    I’m going to wait for rogue jelly sharks with fricking laser beams on their heads.

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