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気になった一文集(English ver. No. 15)

The important thing is not to stop questioning

Albert Einstein


Many workers at present, he says, could suffer from a form of social jet lag, forced to shuffle sleep patterns between the conflicting time zones of working and work-free days. The solution would be a profound change: restructure work and school schedules to better suit the biological clocks of the majority of the population, once we work out what they are.

People in many countries get as much as two hours less sleep a night than their ancestors did a century or so ago. That must have a consequence.


How do you sleep?」Nature 498 (27 June 2013)


Marine scientists fear that the conditions will disrupt ecosystems by, for example, inhibiting some organisms’ ability to build shells. Yet the effects are unclear: in small-scale laboratory tests, certain species have proved surprisingly resilient, and some even flourish.

Marine biologist Ulf Riebesell says that these results tell only part of the story: scientists need to scale up and examine whole ecosystems. Lab studies of isolated species ignore variables such as competition, predation and disease, he says. Even minor effects of acidification on the fitness of individual species — especially small photosynthetic organisms such as phytoplankton — can upset food chains, eventually harming larger species. “If you only focus on the lab results, you are being misled,” he says.

海洋生物学者のUlf Riebesellは「こうした結果は物語の一部を伝えてくれるに過ぎない」と言う。科学者は全生態系へとスケールアップして調べる必要がある。隔離した生物の室内実験では競合・補食・病気といった要因を無視していると彼は言う。海洋酸性化が個々の種(特に植物プランクトンのような小型の光合成生物)の健康状態にわずかな影響をもたらしただけでも、食物連鎖を混乱させることがあり、最終的には大型生物を害する。”もし室内実験の結果だけに注目していると、勘違いさせられる”と、彼は言う。

Floating tubes test sea-life sensitivity」Nature 498 (27 June 2013)


The combined effects of local variability in acidity, temperature and human-made eutrophication or pollution may be more detrimental than for each factor alone.

To understand what future oceans might look like, marine scientists need to assess how whole ecosystems respond to rising acidity over time frames that are long enough to track generations of organisms to see which ones die or adapt.


Ocean acidification is already affecting marine ecosystems and their services to humankind. In light of the millennia it will take to reverse changes in ocean chemistry, we believe that research should be oriented towards finding solutions, rather than to simply documenting the disaster. Ultimately, only the reduction of atmospheric CO2 levels will alleviate the challenges of ocean acidification. 


We can also buy some time through reducing human pressures such as overfishing, eutrophication and pollution.


Get ready for ocean acidification」Nature 498 (27 June 2013)


In a discussion of the potential for immediate or near-future action to slow the growth of atmospheric CO2, we suggest that consideration of carbon dioxide removal (or other geoengineering) technologies would at best be not very relevant, and at worst could distract from the imperative of decreasing investment in energy technologies that lead to large CO2 emissions.

Reversing Excess Atmospheric CO2—Response」Science 340 (28 June 2013)


But in total, Antarctic ice shelves lost 2,921 trillion pounds (1,325 trillion kilograms) of ice per year in 2003-2008 through basal melt, while iceberg formation accounted for 2,400 trillion pounds (1,089 trillion kilograms) of mass loss each year.

Basal melt can have a greater impact on ocean circulation than glacier calving. Icebergs slowly release melt water as they drift away from the continent. But strong melting near deep grounding lines, where glaciers lose their grip on the seafloor and start floating as ice shelves, discharges large quantities of fresher, lighter water near the Antarctic coast line. This lower-density water does not mix and sink as readily as colder, saltier water, and may be changing the rate of bottom water renewal.

Warm Ocean, Not Icebergs, Causing Most of Antarctic Ice Shelves' Mass Loss」NASA news (June 13, 2013)


Focusing on the average is not always useful. If rainfall comes in a spell and is followed by a drought, this can be devastating even if the average is normal.

Ups-and-downs of Indian Monsoon Rainfall Likely to Increase Under Warming」Science Newsline (June 20, 2013)



Such long-term perspectives are not only scientifically interesting and important, they also raise new ethical questions, simply because human beings are now in the picture. Our carbon emissions will influence countless generations, as well as many species other than our own, in future versions of the world that will differ markedly from the one we know now.

Whichever emissions scenario we choose-be it moderate or extreme-one thing is now clear. Our influence on the climatic future of the world is geological in scope. Little wonder, then, that many scientists are now referring to our chapter of Earth history with a term coined by ecologist Eugene Stoermer-the "Anthropocene Epoch" or the "Age of Humans"

What Happens AFTER Global Warming?」Stager, 2012, Nature Education Knowledge