Random weirdness for the week of Nov. 13, 2016

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Plenty of folks have suggested Svalbard as an ideal destination for U.S. residents wanting to flee instead of being ruled by The Don, but at least one person is asking Santa to give the gift of a much simpler solution – albeit one that may have people here wishing for a wall. A demonstrator photographed by Thomas Cully is requesting Santa bring Wiggy Trump back to the North Pole while delivering presents. Since Santa’s real workshop is actually in Longyearbyen’s abandoned Mine 2B, his suggestion isn’t getting any support here (“You can keep your garbage to yourself! Time for USA to start handling their own problems,” was one person’s response on Facebook). The sign-waver might also be exposing himself to a bit of ridicule with a second message hanging from his neck reading “Cold today? Trump promises global warming (and dirty air).” East Coast cities are indeed in a deep freeze this week due to an Arctic air blast, but there’s exactly a zero percent chance denialists making fun of the guy will be persuaded that yes, that’s due to climate change

Speaking of Santa, climate change and delivering presents, he might need more than eight tiny reindeer (and even Rudolph) since it turns out Svalbard’s reindeer have gotten even tinier during the past 16 years, with the weight of an average dropping by 12 percent, according to a new study that blames the shrinkage on warming temperatures in the region. Reindeer born in 2010 weighed just over 48 kilograms, compared to 55 kilograms for those born in 1994. “Twelve percent may not sound very much, but given how important body weight is to reproduction and survival, it’s potentially huge,” study leader Steve Albon of the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, told AFP. Scientists say land surface temperatures in the Arctic were about 2.8 degrees Celsius higher last year than when records began a century earlier. Warmer winters mean more rain, which falls on snow and freezes, preventing reindeer from feeding…

A sign of how ominous that might be was revealed Monday by the American Geophysical Union, which states the world’s largest reindeer herd – at the northernmost point of Russia on the Taimyr Peninsula – has decreased from about one million animals in 2000 to 600,000 today, at least in part due to climate change. “There is a substantial decline – and we are also seeing this with other wild reindeer declining rapidly in other parts of the world,” Andrey Petrov, a researcher at the Arctic Center at the University of Northern Iowa, told the BBC. As this article about the study notes, talk about the real war on Christmas…

 

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