'Irreversible' global warming claims its first victims of the New Year - Climate Change - Environment - The Independent

'Irreversible' global warming claims its first victims of the New Year

A A A

A birdseed factory in Shropshire, a holy lake in China, Baltic Sea fish and new-born hedgehogs have emerged as the first tangible victims of climate change in the year which forecasters predicted this week would be the warmest on record.

The CJ Wild Bird Foods company near Shrewsbury has announced that the demand for its products has all but disappeared, because the mild winter had maintained an alternative supply of berries for finches, tits and other species. Some species, such as the dunlin and purple sandpiper, are disappearing from Britain as they can find enough warmth in Scandinavia. The company, which said fears of bird flu has also discouraged the public from setting up bird feeders, has laid off 22 workers.

The warmer environment is also contributing to the gradual disappearance of the vast Lake Qinghai, a holy site for Tibetans in the remote western province of Qinghai. Despite a Chinese government pledge of £442m to stop the lake shrinking, it will have vanished in two centuries, according to a report by the China Geological Survey Bureau (CGSB). Glaciers on the nearby Qinghai-Tibet plateau have also shrunk by 131.4 sq km annually in the past 30 years. "What that means is that an area of glacier equivalent to twice the size of the Beijing downtown area disappears every year," said the CGSB. A further 13,000 sq km of glacier - nearly 28 per cent of the total glacier area - will disappear by 2050 if no protective measures are taken.

These disparate indicators of the effects of a changing climate surfaced at the end of a week in which Sir John Houghton, director general of the UK's Met Office, told a farming conference in Oxford that climate change was now irreversible. The Secretary of State for the Environment, David Miliband, said yesterday that Britons would have to change every aspect of their lives if they are to tackle climate change. In an interview with the children's newspaper First News, Mr Miliband admitted that people had been "short-sighted" in tackling environmental problems.

More evidence of the consequences of failure arrived yesterday from conservation groups who reported that climate change was causing the deaths of hundreds of baby hedgehogs, born out of season. Confused by the milder autumn months, the creatures are continuing to breed rather than hibernate. This is causing the death of the young who need to grow before they hibernate. Those born in late autumn are finding less food and, rather than hibernate, find themselves at the mercy of cold weather. More than 70 ailing young have been handed in to a centre at Fife, in eastern Scotland, and the Withington Hedgehog Care Trust in Manchester has had a similar experience.

An indication of the effects of climate change on fish has also arrived this week, from a team of German scientists who warned that rising sea temperatures were killing off the eelpout. The fish, which lives in the North and Baltic seas, has been hit by warmer summers, which have increased its need for oxygen at the same time as the water's oxygen levels have dropped. The researchers' studies of the fish's biology showed the first thing to suffer as temperatures rise beyond 17°C was its oxygen supply.

Australia is engaged in its own climate war, with the pace of global warming faster across the country than in other parts of the world, the country's Bureau of Meteorology said. Half of the country was desperate for water and the other half was awash with a year's rainfall for the entire continent. "Most scientists agree this is part of an enhanced greenhouse effect," said the bureau's senior climatologist, Neil Plummer.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week