Scientists: Please Fund Us (or the microbes get it!)

From the Famous National Lampoon Cover department:

Leaving microbes out of climate change conversation has major consequences, experts warn

From the University of New South Wales (home of the Ship of Fools)

Sea ice in Antarctica showing a brown layer of ice algae. These microbes thrive in sea ice 'houses' and are the beginning of many food webs, which branches out to feed all larger lifeforms. The melting sea ice has a downstream effect on ice algae, which means a diminished food web and greater risk of starving ocean life. Credit Rick Cavicchioli, UNSW Sydney

Sea ice in Antarctica showing a brown layer of ice algae. These microbes thrive in sea ice ‘houses’ and are the beginning of many food webs, which branches out to feed all larger lifeforms. The melting sea ice has a downstream effect on ice algae, which means a diminished food web and greater risk of starving ocean life. Credit Rick Cavicchioli, UNSW Sydney

More than 30 microbiologists from 9 countries have issued a warning to humanity – they are calling for the world to stop ignoring an ‘unseen majority’ in Earth’s biodiversity and ecosystem when addressing climate change.

‘Scientist’s warning to humanity: microorganisms and climate change’ was published today in the journal Nature Reviews Microbiology. Professor Rick Cavicchioli, microbiologist at the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at UNSW Sydney, has led the global effort.

With their statement, the researchers are hoping to raise awareness both for how microbes can influence climate change and how they will be impacted by it – calling for including microbes in climate change research, increasing the use of research involving innovative technologies, and improving education in classrooms.

“Micro-organisms, which include bacteria and viruses, are the lifeforms that you don’t see on the conservation websites,” says Professor Cavicchioli.

“They support the existence of all higher lifeforms and are critically important in regulating climate change.

“However, they are rarely the focus of climate change studies and not considered in policy development.”

Professor Cavicchioli calls microbes the ‘unseen majority’ of lifeforms on earth, playing critical functions in animal and human health, agriculture, the global food web and industry.

For example, the Census of Marine Life estimates that 90% of the ocean’s total biomass is microbial. In our oceans, marine lifeforms called phytoplankton take light energy from the sun and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as much as plants. The tiny phytoplankton form the beginning of the ocean food web, feeding krill populations that then feed fish, sea birds and large mammals such as whales.

Sea ice algae thrive in sea ice ‘houses’. If global warming trends continue, the melting sea ice has a downstream effect on the sea ice algae, which means a diminished ocean food web.

“Climate change is literally starving ocean life,” says Professor Cavicchioli.

Beyond the ocean, microbes are also critical to terrestrial environments, agriculture and disease.

“In terrestrial environments, microbes release a range of important greenhouse gases to the atmosphere (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide), and climate change is causing these emissions to increase,” Professor Cavicchioli says.

“Farming ruminant animals releases vast quantities of methane from the microbes living in their rumen – so decisions about global farming practices need to consider these consequences.

“And lastly, climate change worsens the impact of pathogenic microbes on animals (including humans) and plants – that’s because climate change is stressing native life, making it easier for pathogens to cause disease.

“Climate change also expands the number and geographic range of vectors (such as mosquitos) that carry pathogens. The end result is the increased spread of disease, and serious threats to global food supplies.”

Greater commitment to microbe-based research needed

In their statement, the scientists call on researchers, institutions and governments to commit to greater microbial recognition to mitigate climate change.

“The statement emphasises the need to investigate microbial responses to climate change and to include microbe-based research during the development of policy and management decisions,” says Professor Cavicchioli.

Additionally, climate change research that links biological processes to global geophysical and climate processes should have a much bigger focus on microbial processes.

“This goes to the heart of climate change, so if micro-organisms aren’t considered effectively it means models cannot be generated properly and predictions could be inaccurate,” says Professor Cavicchioli.

“Decisions that are made now impact on humans and other forms of life, so if you don’t take into account the microbial world, you’re missing a very big component of the equation.”

Professor Cavicchioli says that microbiologists are also working on developing resources that will be made available for teachers to educate students on the importance of microbes.

“If that literacy is there, that means people will have a much better capacity to engage with things to do with microbiology and understand the ramifications and importance of microbes.”

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Microbiologists can endorse the researchers’ warning by becoming a signatory here: https://www.babs.unsw.edu.au/research/microbiologists-warning-humanity

From EurekAlert!

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52 thoughts on “Scientists: Please Fund Us (or the microbes get it!)

  1. As if related wee beasties will not take advantage of the changed conditions, and thrive? It has been warmer in the Roman and Minoan Warm periods, and probably the Medieval Warm period, and no great catastrophe occurred.

    • Tom, you nailed it. That the signatories to this statement lament the loss of existing lifeforms in any one niche, while ignoring their likely replacement by better-adapted lifeforms to the changed conditions, shows us that they are only after our money to fund their careers.

    • ‘and probably the Medieval Warm period,’ You mean to say we had a MWP? Don’t tell Mann. He keeps denying it.

    • And don’t forget that there were no permanent polar ice caps for the majority of Earth’s history.

      This is another example of the Arcadian myth in action; these people ignore history and believe that things were perfect before those evil capitalists started their greenhouse-gas factories.

  2. “Famous National Lampoon Cover”

    I’ve got that issue, plus a few others when for a couple of years harvard Nat Lampoon was worth purchasing off the newstands.

  3. . . . capacity to engage with things to do with microbiology

    Perhaps they should explain to the “students ?” the role of CO2 in the life of plants.

    Next: When I read lampoon, and saw the photo, I thought it looked like a bunch of Polar Bears holding an ice flow. I guess I ingested too much CO2 this evening.

  4. I’m not a biologist, but from what I remember of my university days, microbes have very fast life cycles and are very adaptable. If anything can adapt to all the woes of climate change it’s the microbes.

    • Don’t some varieties live in volcanic vents, and others are at home in the cryosphere?
      Sounds like the microbes have this planet figured out quite well.

  5. “Climate change is literally starving ocean life,” says Professor Cavicchioli.”

    I tried thinking of a response to this claim,…… but I got nothing.

    • Phytoplankton are not microbes (bacteria). Either the “scientists” or the press release writer are ignorant of biological taxonomy.

      • Gary, the term “microbe” is a general term referring to almost any unicellular or tiny organism. Phytoplankton certainly could fit under the term since it is much more a layman term than a scientific one.

        These folks just want funding but demonstrate they lost their way scientifically years ago.

    • Riding the Climate Gravy Train…. next stop Green Deal-deVille, the place of endless printed greenbacks for true believers.

    • justice might be this dweeb getting athletes foot n mouth;-)
      once again as an Aussie i am ashamed we have so many nutters geting airtime;-(

  6. Favorites from the old Nat Lamp were “Underwear for the Deaf” and the
    cartoon “Trots and Bonnie”.

    I think the Post Office had a watch on folks who subscribed… as probable
    subversives.

  7. How in the name of time did the wee beasties survive during the 80%+ of the Earth’s history when there were no glaciers or ice caps?

  8. Something that rarely gets discussed is the role that bacteria can and does play in determining the temperature at which water vapor turns to ice — i.e. the temperature at which the latent heat of crystallization is released. In turn, might the ubiquitous antibiotics created by Man be having an impact on that?

  9. “And lastly, climate change worsens the impact of pathogenic microbes on animals (including humans) and plants – that’s because climate change is stressing native life, making it easier for pathogens to cause disease.”

    How could a change in the climate cause these effects? I think what Prof. Caviccioli means is “global warming”. So why doesn’t he say that?

    • “I think what Prof. Caviccioli means is “global warming”. So why doesn’t he say that?”

      He’s probably just as confused about the nomenclature as everyone else. A contrived confusion on the part of the promoters of CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming).

      The reason the alarmists stopped referring to CAGW as Global Warming and started referring to CAGW as Climate Change is because they can connect just about every phenomenon with Climate Change, whereas Global Warming is kind of restricted to things that get hot. So in order to blame heavy snowfall on CO2, for example, they have to refer to CAGW as Climate Change because they would look silly connecting heavy snowfall to Global Warming.

      Their whole little subterfuge looks silly to me. But it’s effective. It has managed to thoroughly confuse the situation in the minds of many of the public.

    • …hmmm….all this time I thought ‘pathogens’ were microbes. We can surely assume if the are increasing disease they must be thriving.

  10. For more than 2 billion years microbes were the only life forms on earth.
    They were formed when carbon dioxide atmospheric levels were very much higher than today and without oxygen.
    Many paleobotanists believe that both anaerobic and aerobic microbial species were instrumental in forming our modern atmosphere. Certainly, photosynthesising microbes in our oceans are much more important than terrestrial plants in determining the air we breath.
    I doubt very much if climate models consider their importance.

  11. Gee, and not one mention of trees and how they should have a seat at the table. They would be firm votes in favor of more CO2

  12. “Climate change is literally starving ocean life,” says Professor Cavicchioli.

    Can this “expert in fundraising” even give us a definition of what he means by “climate change” or is its definition merely based on the fact that all bad things are caused by it ?

    Since the climate was warmer in the Holocene optimum than today, is this “expert” saying that the Neoglacial period that has begun about 5000 years ago is “starving the ocean life” ?

    On the other hand, data analysis shows that cod (which are at the middle of the food chain) fishery yields thrives during the warm phase of the NAO and that after 30 years of a warm phase, we are now entering a cold phase :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eUd6fgMC18&t=1s

    So what “climate change” Professor Cavicchioli is talking about ? Warming ? Cooling ? Global or regional ?Both or neither of the two ?

    It seems that he is just trying a little late to embrace the climate cargo cult because he has to grasp some money … before climate change.

  13. Now there is a challenge for the computer modellers to embrace (pass the grant application book).
    So far the models can’t get anywhere near the real outcome of climate variability just using a few gaseous variables. Can you imagine how wild there predictions, (oops sorry I mean forecasts) would be if they tried to include biological life forms and their impact in their programs. So far the only life form they have factored in is humanity and the results have been completely wrong.
    It just gets dafter and dafter.

  14. “This goes to the heart of climate change, so if micro-organisms aren’t considered effectively it means models cannot be generated properly and predictions could be inaccurate,” says Professor Cavicchioli. “Decisions that are made now impact on humans and other forms of life, so if you don’t take into account the microbial world, you’re missing a very big component of the equation.”
    >>

    Whatever would we have done without computers? Probably some real research.

  15. Now, now, fairs fare, the Metrologists have up till now grabbed the bulk
    of the grant money, but as the little creatures were here first , lets give
    their researchers a bit to keep them happy.

    Take it away from the Met. boys and girls , thy have made so may daft
    predictions, so lets say it for the BUGS. Sark.

    MJE VK5ELL

  16. Pointing out the obvious here: the microbugs were here first and they’ll be here LOOOONNNNGGG after humans have evaporated as a species.

    • Sara,
      The bugs were here before us – for sure.
      were they here before the weather?
      Is it not at least arguable, therefore, that the Met folk ought to get the lion’s share of the cash?

      Assuming we need to give any more tax-payers’ cash to a scam, where, remember, ‘The Science is Settled’?

      Auto

  17. From the article: “Sea ice algae thrive in sea ice ‘houses’. If global warming trends continue, the melting sea ice has a downstream effect on the sea ice algae, which means a diminished ocean food web.

    “Climate change is literally starving ocean life,” says Professor Cavicchioli.”

    That sounds serious.

    I guess it is a good thing the global temperatures have been cooling for the last three years. The globe has cooled about 0.5C since Feb. 2016.

    That factoid should ease Professor Cavicchioli’s mind a little bit. His creatures are living in an environment that is cooler than it was in the 1930’s. And the creatures survived even the extreme temperatures of the 1930’s, so that ought to also ease Professor Cavicchioli’s mind. I think the sea creatures are safe, Professor Cavicchioli.

  18. It is entirely logical from a theory viewpoint to include microbial matter alongside other biota involved in large scale natural processes. Unscientific to leave them out.
    What is less clear is the ability of current researchers to do a proper job of blending the microbe data into the corpus of overall understanding. This can be said with confidence because attempts to date to comprehend the whole global system have been an unholy mess labelled by its makers as “settled science”. Geoff

  19. Oh, all the microbes live on the ice — none in the water ’cause they’d drown.

    /sarc

  20. “Climate change is literally starving ocean life,” says Professor Cavicchioli.
    No, it literally is not. The Alarmist narrative of Climate Change itself is literally, a myth, and the claim that said myth is “literally starving ocean life” is literally moronic.

  21. “…..take action to achieve the survival of all species by averting the continuing environmental and climate change crisis.”

    They forget that we formed schools of medicine, microbiology (bacteriology first) and parasitology to help control the darn things. DNA will take over the universe if we’re not careful.

    • ‘Scientist’s warning to humanity’ sounds like a joke.

      Dr. No: Why have you disobeyed my strictest rule and come in daylight?
      Prof Dent: I came to warn you.
      Dr. No: Warn me?
      Prof Dent: Tell you. Bond has discovered those rock samples of Strangways came from Crab Key. He’s not a fool. He’s sure to come out here.

  22. I guess if you want to ride the funding gravy train, then you’ve got to stoop lower for the cause.

    I’ve got this scar over my right eye that could use some cosmetic surgical reconstruction, but unless I get funding to finance it, climate change will make it worse. I say this with high confidence in this very likely outcome.

    People need to raise their awareness of my scar, because I am one person that could set the precedent for helping other people like me from suffering the ravages of future climate change. [There — I’ve tactfully used the phrase, “climate change”, twice in my appeal.]

  23. So “climate change” causes the bad things to get worse and the good things to go bad–send money!!

    What for? The obvious end to this charade is the destruction of the planet and the way these activists screw things up when they have unlimited money will simply accelerate our demise!!

    Send NO money!!

    • The planet is just a big ol’ dirt ball flying around the sun. It doesn’t care about any of this. It will keep flying around the sun NO MATTER WHAT WE DO.

      As George Carlin pointed out, “Save the planet” is a joke.

  24. “Climate change is starving life”

    That’s total bull crap. A wee bit more heat and a wee bit more CO2 is wildly beneficial to life.

    There is no species alive today that hasn’t lived through a several degree warmer climate in the last 10,000 years…so there are no species vulnerable to warming specifically.

    The next global cooling phase cannot come too soon (due about now – according to a casual reading of Holocene climate cycles…and the AMO is 5-10 past peak already and heading negative).

    When cooling comes, these fraudsters need to pay…on either the basis of outright fraud or on the basis of misusing the institutions of science. Misdirecting a few $Trillion is way beyond simply criminal.

  25. “”When cooling comes””

    Then the present Warmers will just say, “”Look just as we told you our
    preventative measures are working, but its not yet enough, we must keep
    working to decrease the CO2″”.

    Remember the 1970 .The Ice Age is coming. They soon changed to the
    World is overheating.

    Its all a combination of “Fame” , grants, and of course long term by others
    for the Communist World Government.

    Plus of course the Politicians, who will do anything to get re-elected.

    MJE VK5ELL

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