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back to article Higher ground: plants seeking colder temperatures

A study conducted by the University of Vienna and published in Science has found that all across Europe, plants are moving to higher altitudes. Billed as the first pan-continental study of the impact of climate change on Europe’s flora, the research warns that while the scientists found more species being observed on mountain …

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Unhappy

May I correct the headline, Mr. Chirgwin?

I read the press release. It appears that the plants are not seeking colder temperatures, just higher altitudes but with the same temperature. It's an important distinction. Unfortunately, the plants on the top of mountains have nowhere else to go, so they're being hammered hard. To quote the article:

Harald Pauli added, "The observed species losses were most pronounced on the lower summits, where plants are expected to suffer earlier from water deficiency than on the snowier high peaks. Climate warming and decreasing precipitation in the Mediterranean during the past decades fit well to the pattern of shrinking species occurrences. Additionally, much of the Mediterranean region is projected to become even dryer during the upcoming decades".

It's happening in my state of Queensland as well. There are two mountains in northern Queensland - Bartle Frere and Bellenden Ker - that tower 1.5 km above the surrounding area. The bottom is tropical rainforest; the top is sub-tropical/temperate rainforest. The areas at the summit are going to be changed within the next few decades.

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Re: May I correct the headline, Mr. Chirgwin?

Technically, the title is correct as the plants are seeking colder temperatures compared to the increasing ones at the altitudes they currently live in. But yeah, "plants seeking higher altitudes" would have been better.

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Anonymous Coward

The climate isn't changing,...

... plants have just taken up mountaineering as a hobby. They're just doing it for no reason at all in order to make those of us who don't believe in LOTWTFBBQCAGW look bad, out of spite.

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Anonymous Coward

Never sure

When they talk about climate change, in Biology, I'm never sure if I'm being given some interesting research or a bit of spin for ....... It would be interesting to know about the natural population fluctuations of the species. Perhaps too, the impact of increased leisure use and the trees!

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Trollface

It'll be the black flowers next.

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Silver badge
Thumb Up

Is it...

... the Time of the Preacher? ;-)

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Bronze badge

Reefs

From a Japanese study, there seems to be similair movements of coral to cooler waters.

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Beware of the flowers

Because I'm sure they're gonna get you

Yeah!

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Anonymous Coward

What level of change is actually acceptable to conservationists??

I am a bit uncomfortable with the idea (never explicitly expressed, seemingly inherent in a lot of conservation arguments) that humanity should freeze the current snapshot of life and persist with approx AD 2000 flora and fauna indefinitely, and no species, however unworthy of survival in the Darwinian sense, should be allowed to perish.

Now I'm not naive and I get it that a large percentage of species dying out wouldn't be dying out in the first place if it wasn't for human action, and that the speed of change makes it difficult for most species to adapt in time.

But I'm genuinely curious here, because I think that in an ideal human future when the hydrocarbons have run out and we're running everything off clean fusion power and the world has a stable population and no increasing development, there will still be people wanting to save the <insert species here> even though that species is dying out from pure Darwinian non-survival of the unfit, rather than human intervention.

Or, to put it in simpler words, if pandas are not interesting in f***ing, why should we be interested in saving their species?

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Anonymous Coward

"Never explicitly expressed" because it's a straw man fabricated by you.

The reason they don't say it's their goal to preserve everything exactly as it is now for all time is because it is NOT their goal to preserve everything exactly as it is now for all time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Never explicitly expressed" because it's a straw man fabricated by you.

No, I suspect that it's "never explicitly expressed" because it's not even understood by the environmentalists* themselves. I have NEVER heard ANY environmentalist EVER say that ANY environmental change is good. The logical extension from that sort of reasoning is that things should be kept exactly as they are indefinitely. Can you refer me to any article or statement from, say, Greenpeace** welcoming a recent change in environmental conditions? (ie going to a situation that is markedly different from the original, not returning to the original state). If you can, I would be amazed... and I would stand both corrected and humbled.

* And by the way I'm referring to eco-crusaders who don't have any scientific knowledge or background, I'm sure real scientists have at least thought about the implications.

**Classic example of the category of people referred to in *

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Silver badge

Re: "Never explicitly expressed" because it's a straw man fabricated by you.

> No, I suspect that it's "never explicitly expressed" because it's not even understood by the environmentalists* themselves. I have NEVER heard ANY environmentalist EVER say that ANY environmental change is good

As someone who cares about the environment, here's why: because I'm not trying to snapshot-and-freeze, I'm looking at things like rising CO2 levels, water depletion in aquifers, ballooning human population, peak fossil fuels & related implications, etc. etc. and feel that it needs to be moderated (because I feel it may not be safe, though you may disagree). So it feels more to me like calls to stop a lethally out of control train barrelling along where no-one can see, and no-one really knows if there are even any tracks ahead.

Not "let's stay here motionless" so much as "fergodsake where's sodding brakes on this thing?"

I personally accept change (I know more about mud huts and poverty that you do I suspect) and welcome it , I just don't think it needs to be this damaging. I personally think some extinction caused by humanity is inevitable, just let's not make it a mass wipeout if that's avoidable, mmkay?

I don't speak for greenpeace/wwf/etc and sometimes I agree with you they can be a bit extreme. But it's pretty similar extremism to the kind of people who insist there's no problem and if there is, it's not their problem. Where do you stand?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Never explicitly expressed" because it's a straw man fabricated by you.

@Bluegreen

Actually I stand in pretty similar place to yourself. To use your metaphor, I also believe that we need to put the brakes on what is a development runaway train. I just despair of people who want the train to be stuck in a station and not move at all (and bad luck for those stuck living in mud huts). I believe the way to go is forward at a moderate speed with reasonable confidence that the tracks in front are solid (although I accept that in practice sometimes we can't be 100% sure),

That means we should look at environmental costs when weighing costs and benefits, while keeping to the principle that some environmental damage is acceptable if the damage is great enough. Which comes full circle to me original question, which is based on the suspicion that for some extreme greenies there is no environmental damage that is ever acceptable, whatever the benefit.

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dlr

Re: "Never explicitly expressed" because it's a straw man fabricated by you.

Yes, where are the calls from environmentalists to eliminate the mosquito, the leech, the tick, etc. I really think if someone came up with a sure fire way to exterminate any of them, the environmentalists would be manning the barricades yelling "endangered species", "endangered species", "loss of diversity", "loss of diversity".

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Bronze badge

Botanists part of the AGW conspiracy now?

We'll be rejecting all disciplines before long,

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