Share

10 Living Things That Are Loving Global Warming

By Terrell Johnson
Published: June 6, 2014

#10: Cockroaches

Future-Proofed for Climate Change

Future-Proofed for Climate Change

Dr. Harley Rose, Australia's leading evolutionary biologist in native cockroaches, admires 'Keith Richards,' one of the world's largest cockroaches, at his laboratory at the University of Sydney. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Future-Proofed for Climate Change
  • Future-Proofed for Climate Change
  • Future-Proofed for Climate Change
  • Future-Proofed for Climate Change
  • Future-Proofed for Climate Change
  • Future-Proofed for Climate Change

Hate them, fear them, loathe them, stomp them with a shoe whenever you see them. But they'll probably continue to thrive on this planet long after humans are gone.

That's because cockroaches – of which there are nearly 5,000 different species – are able to adapt amazingly well to new environments. They reproduce in big numbers — a single female can produce as many as 400 offspring in her lifetime — allowing them to pass on genetic mutations that help them survive whatever humans do to trap and kill them.

How will they adapt to a warmer world? As a 2009 study by scientists at Australia's University of Brisbane discovered, cockroaches breathe through tiny openings in their bodies called spiracles, which they can close for up to 40 minutes to conserve water. And in dry environments, they take shorter breaths to reduce the amount of water lost to respiration.

This will help them colonize warmer, drier climates, University of Oxford entomologist George McGavin told New Scientist. "Living in the humid conditions of a rainforest, where they evolved, might be plain sailing, but cockroaches are adaptable and can cope in a wide range of environmental conditions," he added.

While a warming Earth will make life difficult for many slow-to-adapt human societies, the future looks bright for these insects. "Two hundred and fifty million years of physiological fine tuning has produced a creature that will be around for a long time to come," he added in the interview. "Cockroaches will do well in the face of climate change."


Featured Blogs

Tropical Depression Nine Dissipates

By Dr. Jeff Masters
October 23, 2014

Small and weak Tropical Depression Nine dissipated over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula Wednesday night, shortly after making landfall near 8 pm EDT Wednesday October 22, 2014 on the western shore of the peninsula. By Saturday, some of the spin associated with TD 9 may emerge over the Western Caribbean, and we should carefully watch this area on Sunday and Monday for tropical cyclone development--though none of our reliable models were predicting development in their Thursday morning runs.

September 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By Christopher C. Burt
October 22, 2014

September was globally the warmest such on record according to NASA and NOAA. Deadly flooding affected the Kashmir region of India and Pakistan as well as in southern France, China, and Serbia. Record heat occurred in Jakarta, Indonesia and south-central Canada. It was the driest September on record for the U.K.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.