Most people upgrade their phones every two years – half the voters in our poll do just that. It makes sense, most carriers lock you into a 2-year contract. And even if you buy a phone SIM-free, most phone makers are on a tick-tock upgrade cycle. You know how it goes – iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 7… well, the iPhone 8 is 7s in all but name. Then there’s the Galaxy S6 – new design but with issues, which the S7 fixed. The Galaxy S8 brought a new design and in a couple of weeks, the S9 will refine it. Then there’s a nearly even split between people who change phones every year and those…
We’ve reported in the past on how climate change is impacting wildlife around the world: from causing the Australian rat to go extinct, to forcing other species to adapt to survive. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we can now add bats to the list of those affected by the ever-changing climate, as they’re creatures that tend to travel to warmer areas when temperatures begin to drop.
When they travel, bats usually do so in a swarm consisting of millions. When Mexican free-tailed bats bats migrate from Mexico to the Bracken Cave in San Antonio, Texas, the size of the swarm is so large it can be tracked using weather radar.
Phillip Stepanian and Charlotte Wainwright, two meteorologists from Rathamsted Research in the United Kingdom, recently studied this bat migration by analyzing years of weather radar data. Their research, now published in the journal Global Change Biology, reveals that these bats have been migrating to Texas much earlier than they did decades prior.
“We found that the bats are migrating to Texas roughly two weeks earlier than they were 22 years ago. They now arrive, on average, in mid March rather than late March,” says Wainwright.
Additionally, as of 2017, roughly 3.5 percent of the bat population is staying through the winter. Speaking with InsideClimateNews, Stepanian posited that climate change is causing spring to begin sooner, in turn prompting insects to move to Texas sooner and giving the bats something to eat without having to migrate.
“To us, that sort of says winter conditions are becoming more tolerable and, rather than just going farther south, the bats are saying: We’re going to just hang out in Texas,” continued Stepanian.
The disrupted cycle is expected to have an impact on the natural pest control service bats offer, via their massive consumption of insects, in other parts of the country. This could cause local crops to fail due to the number of remaining insects in the area, which in term could lead to increased pesticides use and potentially more bee deaths.
Even worse, a change in bat migration patterns could change their ability to reproduce. Female bats typically produce one child at a time, and rely on the the corn-earworm moth to feed them. If climate change alters the moth’s life cycle, bats will have to find another source of food.
“Our initial goal was just to show that the [bat] populations could be monitored remotely without disturbing the colony,” said Stepanian. “We weren’t expecting to see anything particularly noteworthy. The results were surprising.”
When the 911 emergency number was set up in 1968, there was no way to know how cellphones would change the way people use the service. Today, it’s still difficult for operators to pinpoint the exact location of callers to send out help – but Google could change all that.
The search giant has been testing out a way to use the technology that identifies the user’s location in Google Maps to help out the emergency services. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, a sample of 911 calls made using Android phones over the course of December 2017 and January 2018 saw geolocation data sent directly to the operator.
Currently, carriers can detect the location of a device by triangulating their distance from several cell phone towers, but this isn’t particularly accurate. The study found that Google’s data gave an average location estimate radius of 121 feet, whereas carrier data averaged out at 522 feet.
At present, it falls to the operator to find out the exact location emergency responders need to be sent to from the caller. Given that they might be flustered, or potentially in a place they’re not familiar with, this can be a difficult prospect.
In this kind of situation, a slight improvement on the response time can be life-saving. Research published by the Federal Communications Commission suggests that as many as 10,000 lives could be saved annually if emergency response times were improved by just one minute.
Google has had the technology to provide this service for some time – it was rolled out in the U.K. and Estonia in July 2016, according to a report from Ars Technica. Many feel uncomfortable with the idea of allowing their smartphone to track their location, but in emergency circumstances, it’s easy to see the benefits.