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Earth Science

Global Warming Spreading Pests Far and Wide According To Study 193

An anonymous reader writes "New research has concluded that global warming is helping pests and diseases that attack crops to spread around the world. 'Researchers from the universities of Exeter and Oxford have found crop pests are moving at an average of two miles (3km) a year. The team said they were heading towards the north and south poles, and were establishing in areas that were once too cold for them to live in. The research is published in the journal Nature Climate Change.'"
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Global Warming Spreading Pests Far and Wide According To Study

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  • Pests (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Yep, them hippie environmentalist pests are especially bad since global warming started.

    • Re:Pests (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lightknight ( 213164 ) on Monday September 02, 2013 @04:46PM (#44740827) Homepage

      Dr Bebber said: "The most convincing hypothesis is that global warming has caused this shift."

      *facepalms* Allow me to translate: "We really like the idea that global warming is responsible for this shift; bear in mind that this is a hypothesis, not a theory, so it has not been tested or validated in even a casual sense."

      Show me group think!

      • Re:Pests (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Genda ( 560240 ) <> on Monday September 02, 2013 @06:33PM (#44741537) Journal

        That's not exactly correct, but it's really poor science to talk about an entire body of work involving thousands of separate research projects and researchers, in overly broad and general ways. Some work certainly has more rigor (and is therefore more authoritative) than others, and this news blurb talks about such a diverse population of pests (virii, viroids, bacteria, fungi, insects, nematodes... ad-infinitum) impacting everything from forest health to the growing occurrence of tropical fungal disease in humans occurring in temperate regions, that the trends spoken of here are a powerful indictment on issues of global climate change.. the average movement for pests (most thrive in warm climates) is about 3 km per years north and south (migration towards the poles.)

        So at one level you're right, this could be gremlins herding trillion of lifeforms from dozens of different classes away from the equator, however watching these creatures move in lockstep with local changes in climate (and even micro climate), and watching what amounts to tropical conditions carry these lifeforms to places they've never been before, suggests that your observation, while humorous lacks a certain intellectual vision.

  • Still want it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gmai l . c om> on Monday September 02, 2013 @01:06PM (#44739465) Journal

    I wonder if the selfish and short-sighted people who want global warming to continue because they live in areas that would benefit are still so enthusiastic...but I guess pests are as at least as easy to ignore as wars, refugees and food shortages.

    • This theory (that pests are moving farther north because it's no longer as cold) ALSO supports the idea that other things, like plants and animals can also be raised farther north because it is warmer.

      If you think that's offset by some parts becoming too warm to support some crops and animals, then you must ALSO weigh that with the aspect that some pests will find it too warm and so there is some benefit. But since jungles grow everything in abundance it's pretty hard to argue that warming is not a net gai

      • by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Monday September 02, 2013 @01:22PM (#44739585)
        You're assuming the warming stops at 'habitable'...
      • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday September 02, 2013 @01:34PM (#44739681) Journal

        The problem here is that it seems rather likely that the habitable zones won't grow in size. Rather they will shift in latitude. There will be very real geopolitical ramifications to the North American and Eurasian growth zones jumping northward. Imagine the North American Grain Belt heading a few degrees north. All of a sudden, large areas currently under cultivation in the United States cease to arable, or at least cheaply arable. At the same time, Canada gains large amounts of arable land much farther north. In a few generations, you could see US food security compromised, with large amounts of the grain it needs suddenly in another sovereign country. The US will almost certainly be able to come to some accord with Canada, but other parts of the world may not be so lucky. A brief survey of historic and prehistoric migrations heavily suggests that people don't just sit on their asses and quietly die out when they can no longer get enough food and water.

        • large areas currently under cultivation in the United States cease to arable, or at least cheaply arable. At the same time, Canada gains large amounts of arable land much farther north.

          There are factors other than mere temperature that go into whether land can be used for growing crops. Much of the soil north of where Canadian farmers currently grow their crops is either very poor or next-to-nonexistent. The Canadian Shield consists largely of volcanic rock. You can't grow a crop in that even if

          • The Canadian Shield is an extension of the Appalachians. The region I'm talking about is the north of the prairie provinces and the Northwest Territories, which are an extension of the Great Plains. There's a helluva lot of territory between the Rockies and the Canadian shield.

            • That's true but the soil in the Canadian prairie provinces still usually isn't as good as that found in the US Midwest. It was scraped pretty thin during the last glaciation while the Midwest continued to build up soil since it wasn't covered by ice all that time.

        • by Burz ( 138833 )

          Its a worse problem than that. The soil in poleward locations may not be suitable, tending to turn into desert instead (at least in the geologic near term). Land area is also less abundant near the poles, especially when you consider that Antarctica will remain ice-covered deep into the arable land crisis. Most plants and animals that help keep a temperate zone healthy probably won't be able to migrate quickly enough to the unprecedented rate of warming we have unleashead.

          Then there is the tiny little quest

        • by 32771 ( 906153 )

          Well fortunately we live on a cylindrical planet where the area higher up is equal to the area towards the middle ...

          No, that was wrong let me have another positive look at this, we applied a step function to the input of a non-linear system with feed-backs and all. If we get
          lucky the temperatures move up so fast the Equatorians won't be able to catch up.

          There is one excited Ph. D. student who is talking about the prospect that it is getting warm in Canada:

          and stay

          • by rts008 ( 812749 )

            Cylindrical planet?

            I was always taught it was spherical, and all of NASA
            has pics to back this up.

            Cylindrical planet? Is it a pipe, or a column? Inquiring minds want to know.

        • by Richy_T ( 111409 )

          It's OK. It's all owned by Monsanto anyway.

      • Never the mod points when I need them.
      • by cusco ( 717999 )
        jungles grow everything in abundance

        Corollary: deserts grow nothing in abundance.

        Actually your statement is quite incorrect anyway. Of all the major food sources used by humans only yucca/cassava grows well under jungle-type conditions, and to a lesser extent rice. Corn, wheat, rye, barley, potatoes, and sweet potatoes all do very poorly if they grow at all, and only a few varieties of yams do well.
    • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Monday September 02, 2013 @01:23PM (#44739589) Journal

      Personally, I'm switching careers from IT to pest control.

      • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Monday September 02, 2013 @01:36PM (#44739695)

        Personally, I'm switching careers from IT to pest control.

        It is an easy career change. You deal with bugs in both professions.

        • Personally, I'm switching careers from IT to pest control.

          It is an easy career change. You deal with bugs in both professions.

          I'm thinking of switching from IT to being a proctologist - years of dealing with assholes should give me ample cross-credits.

          • Being in IT really is already a lot like being a proctologist, except without the high pay and the prestige of being a medical professional.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 02, 2013 @01:44PM (#44739739)

        Personally, I'm switching careers from IT to pest control.

        Future news:

        "The pest control industry is lobbying Congress for an increase in H1-Bs for pest control engineers. Stating ' there isn't enough qualified Americans coming out of school.'"

        On Slashdot we'll see: ' I've been interviewing pest control engineers for years now, and I can tell yo that getting qualified people is really difficult. We get people with years of experience who can't describe how the poisons work on the pest nervous system and they can't even give a balanced equation on the compound's creation!"

        "Same here! Why one guy couldn't use the sprayer properly."

        And there will be ads for:
        'Pest Control Engineer. MUST have 5 years of experience with the Pest Sprayer 2020 v 1.43.233, 5 years experience with the Pest sounder 3.42.11, 5 years of programming experience of the pest control API for Windows, BS/MSPE, Able to program the pest control Robot'

        And there will be the "We are a Silicon Valley start-up with a new and ground breaking company that is a social media pest control company with iPad apps. There's a huge shortage of qualified people here in SF!" on Slashdot.

        • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Monday September 02, 2013 @02:09PM (#44739883) Journal

          ...and then there will be the offshore pest control operators. "You are having receiving the package? Very good. Now kindly open the package and taking out the metal canister. Very good. Now kindly place the metal canister on the floor of your cubical. Very good. Now if you would please pull out the pin being on the top of the canister. Very good. Oh, you should probably run now. Please close the ticket at your earliest convenience, and being sure to fill out our survey. Hello?

    • Re:Still want it? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lightknight ( 213164 ) on Monday September 02, 2013 @05:03PM (#44740937) Homepage

      "The beetle was discovered in 1824 by Thomas Say from specimens collected in the Rocky Mountains on buffalo-bur, Solanum rostratum. The origin of the beetle is somewhat unclear, but it seems that Colorado and Mexico are a part of its native distribution in southwestern North America.[2] In about 1840, the species adopted the cultivated potato into its host range and it rapidly became a most destructive pest of potato crops. The large scale use of insecticides in agricultural crops effectively controlled the pest until it became resistant to DDT in the 1950s. Other pesticides have since been used but the insect has, over time, developed resistance to them all.[3]"

      So, when you stop patting yourself on the back for confirming your bias, you can spare a moment, and read up on one of the pests mentioned in that article. The Colorado Potato Beetle is immune to DDT (an achievement in of itself), as well as a number of other pesticides, which were holding it at bay. In other words, this thing used to destroy potato crops, and only by blanketing crops with pesticides did we slow it down some. It evolved...our pesticides have not; what more, I imagine many of the farmers in the affected areas have decided to ride the 'organic' cash cow, and not use any pesticide on their crops...thus ensuring that this pest won't even be slightly dinged by whatever extra proteins it has to manufacture to get around the poisons we normally spread on those crops; instead, it will grow fast...much faster.

      Global Warming had jack shit to do with this pest's rise...only the laziness of mankind let it reclaim ground. And I imagine that the other pests are, perhaps, due to similar, or other, explainable reasons. But I guess a little fact checking takes too much time these days...

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        What is the point you are trying to make? That mono-culture encourages some pests? That indiscriminate use of insecticides encourage pests to evolve tolerance? That we need to use deadlier pesticides that wipe out many beneficial insects such as bees as well as negatively affecting people?
        Or perhaps that the Colorado potato beetle is a good example where organic methods are the best controls. Things like crop rotations, encouraging ground beetles that eat potato beetles but are perhaps more sensitive to ins

        • You seem to have missed entirely what was written about this beetle: it's essentially a locust. Before DDT, also known as the nuclear weaponry mankind used to tell certain orders of the insect civilizations to stop being dicks, these little pests destroyed, like locusts, potato crops. These pests (notice that they are called the Colorado potato beetle...not the Irish potato beetle) are indigenous lifeforms, that eat the wild *organic* stuff as well as the mono-culture stuff (they didn't eat the mono-culture

          • by dryeo ( 100693 )

            All I know about the Colorado Potato Beetle I got from the wiki link that you posted. I have been certified for pesticide application though in forestry, not farming and have applied quite a few pesticides, mostly herbicides but occasionally insecticides and fungicides so I do know something about pesticides which seems to be more then you do. The wiki article itself says,

            High fecundity usually allows Colorado potato beetle populations to withstand natural enemy pressure. Still, in the absence of insecticides natural enemies can sometimes reach densities capable of reducing Colorado potato beetle numbers below economically damaging levels. A ground beetle, Lebia grandis is a predator of the eggs and larvae and its larvae are parasitoids of the Colorado beetle's pupae. Beauveria bassiana (Hyphomycetes) is a pathogenic fungus that infects a wide range of insect species, including the Colorado potato beetle. It is probably the most widely used natural enemy of the Colorado potato beetle, with readily available commercial formulations that can be applied using a regular pesticide sprayer.

            Which sounds like they are controllable through spraying fungus on them as well as encouraging their natural predators to flourish. As y

  • Pine beetle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blankinthefill ( 665181 ) <blachanc@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday September 02, 2013 @01:25PM (#44739611) Journal
    This is actually believed to be one of the main culprits of the explosion of pine beetle infestations in Colorado, as the beetle is now able to survive at higher altitudes than it was previously able to due to increased warming, which has allowed it to infest species of trees which have no natural defense against the pine beetle. This in turn has driven a huge increase in the amount of standing and fallen deadwood in mountainous forests, and is believed to be one of the reasons behind the dramatic increase in the severity of wildfires in those areas.
    • Re:Pine beetle (Score:4, Interesting)

      by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Monday September 02, 2013 @07:21PM (#44741761)

      One thing that has exacerbated that is the length of the warm season has grown enough in some places that the pine beetles are now able to have two generations in a year which has the effect of increasing their numbers far beyond what was seen in the past.

  • It's not "Global Warming". It's God giving the Earth a dutch oven. That's what my Bible says, and that's that.

    And remember: "If it ain't King James, then it ain't Bible"*.

    (*that last line is an actual bumper sticker seen in the parking lot of the Wal-mart on Route 66 in Rolla, Missouri, March 2013)

    • The really funny thing about posts making fun of religious people is that you end up sounding far more stupid than the people who believe in religion, most of whom are quite practical and intelligent.

      You just come off as ignorant about a gigantic aspect of society.

      • What part of my post was making fun of religious people?

        The only fanciful part was the idea of God giving the world a dutch oven.

        I think you're just being overly defensive. Maybe because you see some of the humorous inconsistencies inherent in all religious belief and it makes you uncomfortable. Maybe if you had more faith, you wouldn't be so touchy.

  • Global warming (climate change) means the water in the air [weather] changes the way it behaves. We're in flux right now so it's pretty impossible to make long-term predictions, but it is safe enough to say that some places will get more rain while other places get less.

    This shift in where water goes will also make a shift in where and how well plants grow. Some plants will die while others will begin to thrive and flourish. The animal life which depend on the water and the plant life will also shift, di

  • So wait, warming is allowing "pests" (ie creatures we don't like) to spread and flourish, while reducing/eliminating the ranges for the "beloved" creatures (like corals and polar bears). Never, apparently, helping the spread of beneficial or favored animals or confining/killing things we don't like?

    That's rather amazing synchronicity, don't you think?

    The only possible conclusion is that there is, in fact, a God and he hates us.... ....or, the mendacious reporting of "Global Warming" news concentrates solel

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )
      Sure - if you don't want to think about it. Or, maybe, the climate change is affecting different species differently. Polar bears are losing their hunting ground due to warmer seas, and corals are dying because of the ocean acidification, just as pests in temperate climates are spreading with their spreading temperate areas. No need for God or assuming climate change doesn't exist - just basic reading comprehension and a willingness to learn.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982