It seems to be my fate to complain about “The intersection”. Now lookit their latest post. The bottom line? global warming results in sea turtle decline (emphasis in the original). Its exciting news: the most dramatic link I’ve seen yet demonstrating how that pesky troublemaker climate change is likely harming endangered sea turtles.
Ah… but… there’s a bit of a giveaway in there: its harming endangered sea turtles? Yes indeed, its the same old story: the biggest problem is current human damage and habitat destruction, GW is only a secondary factor, and a speculative one at that:
Many sea turtle populations are below 10% of their pre-Columbian numbers , ,  and . Though historic and systematic over-exploitation is the principal cause of these declines, sea turtles face similar threats today. Adults and juveniles are actively hunted and commercial fisheries catch them incidentally. Nesting suffers from beach development, egg poaching and the poaching of nesting females. Accompanying these familiar hazards is the largely unknown consequences of recent climate change. Here we report monitoring surveys from the Dry Tortugas National Park (DTNP, 24.64N 82.86W), Florida, and show that hurricanes and other storm events are an additional and increasing threat to loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) nesting. Both species are listed by the US Endangered Species Act and the IUCN considers them ‘endangered’ abstract]
Sadly I don’t have access to the original, because I’d be interested to know how they expand that “and increasing” bit (Nude Scientist provides some info: Nest destruction by storms seems to be getting more frequent. Between 1995 and 2004, the proportion of surviving nests dropped by more than half. In 2004, the final year of the survey, a series of category 3, 4 and 5 storms destroyed three-quarters of loggerhead and green turtle nests)
And if you want a hint as to how humans may be impacting these turtles, then looking at the pic in the post gives an idea: theres an elephant in the picture, oddly enough not arrowed: yes, the topmost island is largely covered by a vast hotel [Upadte: oh no it isn’t; its Fort Jefferson, apparently. Thanks folks! -W]. I imagine that must have distressed some of the turtles and might have affected their reproduction.
OK, onwards. This has obvious connections to the Great Hurricane Debate. As RP Jr has pointed out many a time, most of the increase in damage from storms is due to more building on the beachfront. If you wanted to ameliorate future damage, the cheapest way is to build back from the shoreline a bit, or build sturdier buildings (actually, is that true I wonder? Given how valuable beachfront property is, perhaps reducing CO2 might be cheaper…). Anway, to proceed with the comparison before I get lost: if your goal is to improve turtle numbers, stopping people interferring with them and their habitat is best.
Over-hyping these connections is a bit of a shame because it seems likely that ecological problems are going to be one of the biggest harms from GW, and (barring Hansen’s far-end predictions being about right on SLR, which is unlikely IMHO) about the most likely clear danger to come from a “dangerous” +2 oC within 100 years. Reading around the impacts stuff a little while ago at least half convinced me that was correct, but the impacts were more boring things than turtles.