Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science

Author Archives: ecohen

  1. Rethinking the Wildlife: The Wilderness Act is Facing a Midlife Crisis

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    Sunday Review


     | OPINION

     


    Rethinking the Wild: The Wilderness Act Is Facing a Midlife Crisis



    By CHRISTOPHER SOLOMON New York Times JULY 5, 2014

    Photo


    CreditJon McNaught

    YOU won’t hear it on your summer hike above the bird song and the soft applause of aspen leaves, but there’s a heresy echoing through America’s woods and wild places. It’s a debate about how we should think about, and treat, our wilderness in the 21st century, one with real implications for the nearly 110 million acres of wild lands that we’ve set aside across the United States.

    Fifty years ago this September, Congress passed the Wilderness Act, which created a national system of wilderness areas. Wilderness has been called the “hard green line” for the act’s uncompromising language: Man will leave these places alone. As the law’s drafter and spiritual father, Howard Zahniser, put it, “we should be guardians, not gardeners.”

    At 50, however, the Wilderness Act faces a midlife crisis.

    We now know that, thanks to climate change, we’ve left no place unmolested and inadvertently put our fingerprints on even the most unpeopled corners of the planet. This reality has pushed respected scientists to advocate what many wilderness partisans past and present would consider blasphemy: We need to rethink the Wilderness Act. We need to toss out the “hands-off” philosophy that has guided our stewardship for 50 years. We must replace it with a more nuanced, flexible approach — including a willingness to put our hands on America’s wildest places more, not less, if we’re going to help them to adapt and thrive in the diminished future we’ve thrust upon them.

    Photo

    CreditJon McNaught

    A great example is Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, most of which lies within the 595,000-acre Joshua Tree Wilderness. Up to 90 percent of the park’s namesake trees could disappear by century’s end, according to models that factor in expected warming. Should we let that happen as nature’s atonement for our mistake? Or should park managers instead intervene in some way — relocating trees to higher elevations to promote their survival, for instance, or finding or creating a hybrid species that can withstand the hotter temperatures and combating exotic grasses that increase the threat of fires?

    Such questions didn’t exist in 1964 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act. Then, the nemesis of wilderness was America’s unchecked appetite — for land, roads, mines, timber — that gnawed away even at the boundaries of government-sanctioned “primitive areas.” Wilderness advocates craved permanence, in the form of legislation that took decision making away from capricious bureaucrats and political appointees.

    What was at stake was nothing less than the wellspring of the American experiment itself. The historian Frederick Jackson Turner had pinned American democracy to wilderness; hacking a life from the wild made settlers ruggedly individual, self-assured and unwilling to suffer the yoke of any monarch. Wilderness, wrote the naturalist Aldo Leopold, is “the very stuff America is made of.”

    The law’s definition of wilderness (maybe you’ve read it on a trailhead sign as you shouldered an overheavy backpack) reflects the idea of these places as a bulwark against humankind and its thirst for domination: “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” These places of “primeval character” should be maintained, the law says, to preserve their “natural conditions.” For the last half-century that let-it-be philosophy has carried the day, with few exceptions.

    In recent decades, however, several pillars upon which the act was built have eroded. One is the idea of “naturalness,” that nature exists in some unadulterated state apart from humans. Work in paleoecology and other fields has shown that humans have shaped many of the ecosystems on the planet for thousands of years (and not always to their detriment). Research has also dismantled ideas about a stable, primeval world. Nature is always in flux.

    Now comes our jarring latest contribution: climate change, with all its rippling effects, as the planet continues to heat up.

    Faced with such change, “there’s increased recognition that the paradigm has to change,” said Cat Hawkins Hoffman, the national climate change adaptation coordinator for the National Park Service, which manages 40 percent of American’s wilderness acreage.

    “The real conundrum is, how much manipulation in wilderness is acceptable in order to protect the values for which the wilderness was established,” she added.

    In short, we need to accept our role as reluctant gardeners.

    THE 1964 law does provide some exceptions to its prohibitions against human interference, including in instances in which an area’s managers consider intervention necessary to protect the wild lands or its creatures.

    In that context, intervention could take many forms. One strategy is simply to resist or forestall effects of climate change.

    Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park is one of the most arresting places in the West, and it’s important as the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada.

    But as the climate changes, the meadows, some of which lie in the Yosemite Wilderness, are being invaded by lodgepole pine. Keeping the meadows intact will require regular tree-cutting and possibly irrigation for species intolerant of drier conditions, according to David Cole, an emeritus scientist with the Forest Service’s Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute and co-editor of “Beyond Naturalness,” a 2010 book of scholarly essays about wilderness and climate change.

    Another example: watering groves of California’s giant sequoias to keep them alive if a future climate grows too dry for their survival.

    While hardly long-term solutions, “those can help buy us some time, and by buying time they can help us have that broader societal discussion” and form policies so that what land managers do reflects what society wants, said Nate Stephenson, a research ecologist for the United States Geological Survey who works on the future of forests.

    A second approach is to intervene in a way that will make the landscape more resilient.

    At Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, the past century of livestock grazing and fire suppression had turned much of the savanna-like landscape into one crowded with dense juniper and pinyon trees, with bare earth below. “The rates of soil erosion had accelerated to damaging levels,” as rains chewed away at the almost 3,000 archaeological sites that the monument was established to protect, said Craig Allen, a research ecologist with the survey’s Jemez Mountains Field Station.

    After 15 years of study, in 2007 the park started taking chain saws to about 5,000 acres of land — mostly in the monument’s 23,000-acre Bandelier Wilderness — cutting small trees and mulching the ground with their branches. The scale of the action “was and remains unprecedented” in wilderness, where engines aren’t usually permitted, he said.

    It’s worked. Rates of erosion have fallen by at least an order of magnitude, while native grasses and shrubs have increased threefold.

    “I think we improved the resilience of the system going forward,” Brian Jacobs, a Bandelier botanist, said. “The healthier a system is going into these changes, the more likely it is to be able to respond favorably.”

    Thinning select wilderness forests could help in many places around the American Southwest where forest density has increased to more than 1,000 trees per acre from roughly 100 trees, Dr. Allen said. The remaining trees would be more likely to survive the hotter, thirstier future, while thinning could also reduce the likelihood of extremely destructive fires from which these landscapes struggle to recover, he said.

    Yet another approach is to help nature adapt by giving it a hand in this strange new world — accommodating the changes we want more than fighting those we don’t.

    Gnarled by wind and weather, the whitebark pine grips the high slopes of the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies in such locations as the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana. Its fatty pine nuts are a staple of the threatened grizzly bear. Whitebark pine is rapidly declining in many places, however, because of invasive blister rust; the lack of fire in this ecosystem to promote the growth of new trees; and infestations by mountain pine beetles, probably aided by mellower winters. To help both beast and tree, some have proposed planting high slopes in places like “the Bob” with seeds from trees that show a resistance to the rust.

    Still more controversial is assisted migration. Some species like the American pika, a small rodent-like mammal that lives among the rocks on high, cold mountains, can’t do much to escape a warming world. It’s been suggested that pikas — or marmots, or certain butterflies whose narrow habitats are shrinking — could be relocated to a more hospitable setting where they can, with luck, thrive.

    Critics of intervention argue that the best thing we can do for wilderness is leave it alone. Opening up the Wilderness Act, they fear, will invite an attack on wild lands by the usual suspects: mining companies, give-back-the-land groups, Western red-state pols who pander to both. Then there are concerns like those of one Bureau of Land Management wilderness expert, who quoted to me the ecologist Frank Egler: “Ecosystems are not only more complex than we think, they are more complex than we can think.” Or to paraphrase the ecologist Peter Landres: Isn’t it a fool’s errand to try to manage what we don’t fully understand, at a time when the context is changing and the precise future is uncertain?

    I share those concerns. And I cling to the romantic idea that, when I step into wilderness, I’m heading somewhere better than us — that there are some places where we can still walk a few miles into red rock desert and when we get there, we’ll find not a fracking pad or a Burger King but instead (Insert Your Deity Here). And it’s true that if science has taught us one thing it’s how little we know about nature. Yet as Dr. Stephenson counters, “Ecosystems may be more complex than we can understand, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any understanding.”

    Why not intervene — carefully, selectively, with humility — in the places that need help the most, with an eye toward giving nature, and us, options? Perhaps we have different levels of wilderness, with different levels of human involvement, something even the founders of the Wilderness Society discussed, Dr. Cole told me, adding, “What we need is a system with more diverse goals.” Fears that we’ll turn wilderness into a 110-million-acre garden miss the mark. If nothing else, lack of time, money and manpower will always constrain our efforts.

    When it comes to our most precious wild places, we need to flip the conversation from cause, to effect — focusing on whether the change to the ecological system is “acceptable or desirable” and not whether humans helped nudge it there, according to Richard Hobbs, former editor of the journal Restoration Ecology.

    The environmental titans of the 20th century — John Muir, Marshall, Leopold, Zahniser — handed us an awesome responsibility in America’s wilderness legacy. Ironically, it may take us committing a necessary apostasy to show how much we truly revere these wild places.

    Christopher Solomon is a journalist who writes about the outdoors and the environment.

  2. Video of Snakes Caught in the Act!

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    MUST SEE- Video of Snakes Caught in the Act in Petaluma

    by Eric Simons on June 26, 2014 Bay Nature

    Photo by Lishka Arata, Point Blue Conservation Science

    A few months ago, Point Blue Conservation Science staff member Karen Carlson spotted these two happy king snakes on the edge of Shollenberger Marsh in Petaluma. She, as one does, alerted her colleagues, and Brian Huse, Point Blue’s director of strategic program development, took this video. (Lishka Arata, a Point Blue conservation educator, also uploaded an observation to iNaturalist.)

  3. Extreme Heat Events and Cassin’s Auklets

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    San Jose State University and POINT BLUE Graduate Student:
    Extreme Heat Events and Cassin’s Auklets

    Please join us in congratulating Emma Kelsey, a graduate student with Scott Schaffer at San Jose State University, who presented her MS thesis last Friday. She used artificial eggs to study Cassin’s Auklet incubating behavior at the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge.  She found that auklets using unshaded nest boxes work harder than those in natural burrows to keep their eggs cool.  This information is important as we start working on designing new artificial nesting habitat on the Farallon Islands to help mitigate the effects of extreme heat events on these birds. The title of her thesis and abstract can be found below.

    Title: Turn of events: How environmental temperatures and artificial nest habitats influence incubation behaviors of Cassin’s auklets (Ptychoramphus aleuticus)

    Abstract: Nest attendance behaviors, such as egg turning and temperature maintenance, are critical to proper hatching success for most bird species.  The details of avian incubation behaviors are still not well understood, especially for species that nest in burrows and crevices where their nests cannot be observed.  Cassin’s auklet  (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) is a small, burrow-nesting seabird found throughout the northeastern Pacific Ocean.  Artificial nest boxes are used to monitor the Cassin’s auklet population located on Southeast Farallon Island, California.  Higher air temperatures on Southeast Farallon (SEFI) have indicated that extreme heat events can increase temperatures in un-shaded nest boxes to lethal temperatures for the auklet nesting inside.  However, the effects of these elevated temperatures on the incubation behaviors and egg viability are not clear.  In this study, I used egg data loggers, containing an accelerometer, magnetometer, and heat thermistor, to measure the egg temperatures and turning rates of auklet eggs in natural burrows, nest boxes covered with a shade, and un-shaded nest boxes on SEFI during the 2012 and 2013 breeding seasons.  Nest temperatures were highest, and most variable, in un-shaded nest boxes.  Egg temperatures were also highest in un-shaded boxes and lowest in natural burrows.  Average egg turning rates were 2 turns/hour.  Diurnal incubation patterns were seen, with increased egg turning rates and decreased egg temperature during the night.  Egg turning rates were positively correlated with egg temperatures during daytime periods.  These results show that nest habitat can influence auklet incubation behaviors and suggest that auklets may compensate for elevated nest temperatures with their incubation behaviors.  The results indicate that increasing environmental temperatures can affect breeding Cassin’s auklets and ways to further mitigate these effects should be considered.

  4. The Clapper Rail Calls at Dawn

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    The Clapper Rail Calls at Dawn

    A story about weird birds, supersensory perception, existential math, and the quest to make sense of nature

    By Eric Simons July 2014 BAY NATURE | baynature.org

    One hour before sunrise on the fog-shrouded Petaluma River, Julian Wood guides a small Zodiac gently toward a river bank he can’t make out, in scientific pursuit of a rare and elusive bird he doesn’t plan to see. Inky water laps at the side of the boat. Wood peers into the gloom, fighting the dark through bleary eyes. “I figure we’ll just go until we hit the bank,” he says. “Then we’ll be there.” A green-and-red navigation light perched on the bow cuts through wreaths of mist rising off the water’s surface. A black line of pickleweed emerges from the fog as the Zodiac closes in on land. Wood lets the boat glide to the marsh edge and then cuts the engine. At the front of the boat, Wood’s colleague Megan Elrod
    grabs a clipboard and stands up. “Everybody ready?” she says. “I’m gonna start.”…The 18-mile winding path of the Petaluma River supports the largest ancient tidal marsh in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as thousands of acres of restored wetlands.

    The California clapper rail. | Photo by Jerry Ting

    The California clapper rail is a largish, brownish endangered marsh bird with carrot-stick legs and a long, glowing-orange bill. It is a subspecies of the common clapper rail, Rallus longirostris, and to keep it sorted the famed 19th-century Smithsonian ornithologist Robert Ridgway appended the subspecies name obsoletus: the long-nosed, obsolete rail. “Obsolete” makes the clapper rail sound pathetic, or fragile, or obstructionist: an endangered marsh relic from a bygone era forcing us by the nuisance of its continued existence into treading lightly around the edges of the Bay. It is not. The California clapper rail is bold, gregarious, and beloved. When a breeding clapper rail was found at the Heron’s Head Marsh in San Francisco in August 2011, it occasioned news reports. “It was mind blowing,” one birder told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Peter Fimrite. “It was like running into your favorite rock star in a cafe and they are willing to talk to you. I was giddy for days. I’m still giddy.” The clapper rail is generally described by those who know it best as a marsh chicken. Its great tragedy, like the chicken’s, is tastiness: predators, humans in the Gold Rush era included, find the clapper rail delectable. It is also, like the chicken, high in character. “They have a kind of gait that has some, I don’t know, seductiveness — some kind of weird avian seductiveness,” says Erik Grijalva, who spent 10 years working amongst the rails as a field biologist with the Invasive Spartina Project. “They’re furtive. They look like they’re curious on the edge of propriety.” Julian Wood, who leads a clapper rail monitoring program at Point Blue Conservation Science, described also a certain fearlessness in their nature: on one recent trip, he said, he played a recorded rail noise to try and incite them to speak up from their hiding spots, and instead of yelling back at him, two rails suddenly emerged from the marsh, surrounded him and began to advance toward the boat in what, presumably, they found to be a menacing fashion. Wood motored slowly away. “No doubt they felt pretty good about themselves,” he told me.

  5. Conservation Science News July 3 2014

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    Focus of the Week – “Summer reading for the climate crowd”

    1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

    2-CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

    3- ADAPTATION

    4- POLICY

    5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

    6-
    RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    7-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST 

    8-IMAGES OF THE WEEK

    ——————————–

    NOTE: Please pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
    Point Blue Conservation Science
    staff.  You can find these weekly compilations posted on line
    by clicking here.  For more information please see www.pointblue.org.


    The items contained in this update were drawn from www.dailyclimate.org, www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restorationhttp://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, CA BLM NewsBytes and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  
    You can sign up for the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative Newsletter or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium listserve to receive this or you can email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at pointblue.org if you want your name added to or dropped from this list. 

    Founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Point Blue’s 140 scientists advance nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to benefit wildlife and people, through bird and ecosystem science, partnerships and outreach.  We work collaboratively to guide and inspire positive conservation outcomes today — for a healthy, blue planet teeming with life in the future.  Read more about our 5-year strategic approach here.

     

     

    Focus of the Week- “Summer reading for the climate crowd”

     

    Summer reading for the climate crowd

    By Douglas Fischer
    The Daily Climate May 23, 2014

    Need to keep your edge in this summer of sweat and torpor? The Daily Climate’s annual summer reading list can help. Drop the Thomas Piketty. Let’s all admit right now you weren’t going to read that 696-page economics tome anyway.  And set aside Donna Tart’s “Goldfinch,” too. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it won the Pulitzer. Yes, it’s 775 pages. It’s summer, people. Time for a little skin. A bit of fun. Something light and insouciant. Time, in short, for The Daily Climate’s annual summer reading list.

     

    Personal flotation devices sold separately. But we can help you with the reading options. Photo by Arian Zwegers/flickr.

     

    Real blockbusters

    Before we get to books, let’s detour through Hollywood. The budding climate fiction genre – “cli fi” for short – isn’t just for authors and publishers. Movie studios have hopped on this train, and nature bites back in several summer blockbusters set in a post-climate-changed world. “Into the Storm” focuses on how small-town America copes with devastation caused by supertornadoes the likes of which have already flattened towns in Arkansas and Oklahoma. “Noah” puts the topic back in time, a biblical epic not so much about the Bible as it is about how humanity copes with a wrathful environment. Shot in part on Long Island during Hurricane Sandy, Noah has grossed more than $340 million worldwide since opening in late March. Can we throw “Godzilla” into this mix? Why not! Nuclear waste storage is central to the plot; director Gareth Edwards wanted the audience to feel aware “and almost guilty” that we’re polluting the planet, actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson told Time magazine. Godzilla, he said, shows that “nature has a way of fighting back.” 

     

    “Memory of Water,” by Emmi Itaranta

    Blogger and environmentalist Dan Bloom has been tracking the cli fi genre for six years. He calls this futuristic novel, translated from the Finnish, “maybe the best cli fi book for the summer of 2014.” Set in Scandinavia, in a time when wars are fought over water and China rules Europe, the story focuses on a 17-year-old’s quest to become a “tea master,” like her father, and to learn the secret sources of water.

     

    “Instructions for a Heatwave,” By Maggie O’Farrell

    Weather isn’t the only thing that’s oppressing the family in Maggie O’Farrell’s taut, compelling sixth novel. The book is about a husband and devoted father who gets up from the breakfast table during a record-breaking heat wave to buy a newspaper, only to never return. It’s really about grief and family and sibling relations, of course; the heat wave is just background. But still: There’s a climate impact that hits close to home.

     

    “Climate Changed,” by Philippe Squarzoni

    This is no novel. It has an index. It’s 470 pages and includes sentences like this: “Water vapor is one of the forms that water takes in its global cycle, in which it is transformed by the sun and circulates through the different stages of that cycle.”  But all can be forgiven, for this is a graphic novel, an innovative effort by French cartoonist and author Philippe Squarzoni to make climate science accessible. Does he succeed? I tossed my copy to my 12-year-old daughter, who devours graphic novels, and she tried gamely for a half hour before handing it back to me with a shrug. But maybe pre-teens are the wrong market. The book is unquestionably cool – all black and white and cross-hatched. If you’ve been meaning to get up to speed on the carbon cycle and all things climate science this summer, this is the book to be seen at the beach with…

     

    “From Here,” by Daniel Kramb

    Feel the slow burn in this delicious novel from London writer Daniel Kramb.  “My nose is almost close enough to come up against his now,” he writes of his heroine, trying to settle down after 10 years of city-hopping. “If I wanted to, my lips could find out whether he tastes the way he looks.” And that’s just the first chapter, before the dinner dishes have been cleared. Kramb’s 2012 novel hits all the checkboxes for a summer potboiler: Love, quest for place in this world, and, yes, environmental activism.

     

    “Facing the Change,” edited by Steven Pavlos Holmes

    This nifty little book, an anthology of essays, poems and short stories written over the last 10 years, approaches climate change via literary angles. There’s no science, only observations – about missing owls, unused ice skates, the last snow in Abilene. Writers are “our emotional and cultural first responders to climate change,” Steven Pavlos Holmes writes in the introduction. They are “the ones who, with skill and insight, are showing up at this disaster, still in the making; who brave the fear and guilt and confusion to do what they can for people in need. And we are all in need.”

     

    Throwbacks

    “To a God Unknown,” by John Steinbeck

    100 percent of California is in one of the three worst stages of drought the United States’ weather agency recognizes. Ski areas never opened for the season. The nation’s beef herd is the same size it was in 1951.  If ever there was a summer to revisit Steinbeck’s slim, searing novel, written in 1933 and set in 1850s California, it is now. The book, as we perhaps all learned in high school, traces the arc of Joseph Wayne, son of a farmer who leaves his Vermont homestead with his father’s blessing to begin anew in unsettled, empty Monterey County. Wayne hears about the dry years. But that was in the past, he reasons: “I won’t – I can’t see how it can come again.” Sound familiar?

     

    “The Sea and Summer,” by George Turner

    And since we’re back in time, another suggestion from Dan Bloom, the cli fi blogger. This 1987 work by Australian author George Turner, shortlisted for the Nebula Award, takes us to a dark and dreary 2041. Government corruption, myopic leadership and a rising sea threaten to leave Francis Conway’s hometown a watery tomb, dependent on the state’s inadequate help.

    Our hero’s task? To escape this approaching tide of disaster as the gap between the haves and the have-nots grows ever wider. Wait … what year is this set in again?

     

    Youth books “Not a Drop to Drink,” by Mindy McGinnis Let’s not forget the kids. They need to keep sharp over the summer, too. Mindy McGinnis’ opening line is sure to snag your distracted, bored teen: “Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond….” The dystopian drama depicts one girl’s effort to defend her water source against drought, coyotes and, most of all, thirsty strangers looking for a drink.  She’s good at it, too – until those mysterious footprints show up in the mud.

     

    “12 Kinds of Ice,” by Ellen Bryan Obed, with illustrations by Barbara McClintock

    We can’t end a summer reading list on a down note, so I was glad when my daughter came home from the library with a slim little volume by Ellen Bryan Obed. 

    Barbara McClintock’s quiet sketches make this a delightful book for those quiet afternoons when you want to sit with a child and escape to places chilly and distant. Obed’s prose – poetry, really – carries you aloft in a swirl of pirouettes, sharp cracks and ribboning, frozen streams. “Black ice is water shocked still by the cold before the snow,” she writes. “Black ice, black shadows, black shores, black islands. Silver blades, silver speeds, silver sun.” “But black ice did not stay.”…

     

    And a personal favorite this year:

    The Sixth Extinction- An Unnatural History

    Elizabeth Kolbert

    Henry Holt and Co.

    A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes

    Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question … more

     

     

     

     

    All the world’s oceans have plastic debris on their surface

    Posted: 30 Jun 2014 01:42 PM PDT

    The Malaspina Expedition, led by the Spanish National Research Council, has demonstrated that there are five large accumulations of plastic debris in the open ocean that match with the five major twists of oceanic surface water circulation. In addition to the known accumulation of plastic waste in the North Pacific, there are similar accumulations in the central North Atlantic, the South Pacific, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean…

     

    Die-offs of band-tailed pigeons connected to newly discovered parasite

    Posted: 02 Jul 2014 11:06 AM PDT

    A new parasite, along with one possibly found in T-Rex, has been implicated in the recent deaths of thousands of Pacific Coast band-tailed pigeons. Avian trichomonosis is an emerging and potentially fatal disease that creates severe lesions that can block the esophagus, ultimately preventing the bird from eating or drinking, or the trachea, leading to suffocation. The disease may date back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth, as lesions indicative of trichomonosis were found recently in T-Rex skeletons.

    • Yvette A. Girard, Krysta H. Rogers, Richard Gerhold, Kirkwood M. Land, Scott C. Lenaghan, Leslie W. Woods, Nathan Haberkern, Melissa Hopper, Jeff D. Cann, Christine K. Johnson. Trichomonas stableri n. sp., an agent of trichomonosis in Pacific Coast band-tailed pigeons (Patagioenas fasciata monilis). International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife, 2014; 3 (1): 32 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijppaw.2013.12.002
    • Yvette A. Girard, Krysta H. Rogers, Leslie W. Woods, Nadira Chouicha, Woutrina A. Miller, Christine K. Johnson. Dual-pathogen etiology of avian trichomonosis in a declining band-tailed pigeon population. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 2014; 24: 146 DOI: 10.1016/j.meegid.2014.03.002

    Dramatic decline of Caribbean corals can be reversed: Stop killing parrotfish to bring back Caribbean coral reefs

    Posted: 02 Jul 2014 06:36 AM PDT

    With only about one-sixth of the original coral cover left, most Caribbean coral reefs may disappear in the next 20 years, primarily due to the loss of grazers in the region, according to a new report. The results show that the Caribbean corals have declined by more than 50% since the 1970s.

     

    After feeding at depth, sperm whales off the coast of Sri Lanka return to the surface — and poop. This “whale pump” provides many nutrients, in the form of feces, to support plankton growth. It’s one of many examples of how whales maintain the health of oceans described in a new scientific paper by UVM’s Joe Roman and nine other whale biologists from around the globe.

    Whales as Ecosystem Engineers: Recovery from Overhunting Helping to Buffer Marine Ecosystems from Destabilizing Stresses

    July 3, 2014 — A review of research on whales shows that they have more a powerful influence on the function of oceans, global carbon storage, and the health of commercial fisheries than has been commonly assumed. … full story

     

    Plants respond to leaf vibrations caused by insects’ chewing

    Posted: 01 Jul 2014 03:38 PM PDT

    Previous studies have suggested that plant growth can be influenced by sound and that plants respond to wind and touch. Now, researchers, in a collaboration that brings together audio and chemical analysis, have determined that plants respond to the sounds that caterpillars make when eating plants and that the plants respond with more defenses.

     

    Volume 12, Issue 2    |   June 2014                                   

     

     

     

    POINT BLUE in the NEWS:

     

    The Clapper Rail Calls at Dawn

    A story about weird birds, supersensory perception, existential math, and the quest to make sense of nature

    By Eric Simons July 2014 BAY NATURE | baynature.org

    One hour before sunrise on the fog-shrouded Petaluma River, Julian Wood guides a small Zodiac gently toward a river bank he can’t make out, in scientific pursuit of a rare and elusive bird he doesn’t plan to see. Inky water laps at the side of the boat. Wood peers into the gloom, fighting the dark through bleary eyes. “I figure we’ll just go until we hit the bank,” he says. “Then we’ll be there.” A green-and-red navigation light perched on the bow cuts through wreaths of mist rising off the water’s surface. A black line of pickleweed emerges from the fog as the Zodiac closes in on land. Wood lets the boat glide to the marsh edge and then cuts the engine. At the front of the boat, Wood’s colleague Megan Elrod
    grabs a clipboard and stands up. “Everybody ready?” she says. “I’m gonna start.”…The 18-mile winding path of the Petaluma River supports the largest ancient tidal marsh in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as thousands of acres of restored wetlands.

    The California clapper rail. | Photo by Jerry Ting

    The California clapper rail is a largish, brownish endangered marsh bird with carrot-stick legs and a long, glowing-orange bill. It is a subspecies of the common clapper rail, Rallus longirostris, and to keep it sorted the famed 19th-century Smithsonian ornithologist Robert Ridgway appended the subspecies name obsoletus: the long-nosed, obsolete rail. “Obsolete” makes the clapper rail sound pathetic, or fragile, or obstructionist: an endangered marsh relic from a bygone era forcing us by the nuisance of its continued existence into treading lightly around the edges of the Bay. It is not. The California clapper rail is bold, gregarious, and beloved. When a breeding clapper rail was found at the Heron’s Head Marsh in San Francisco in August 2011, it occasioned news reports. “It was mind blowing,” one birder told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Peter Fimrite. “It was like running into your favorite rock star in a cafe and they are willing to talk to you. I was giddy for days. I’m still giddy.” The clapper rail is generally described by those who know it best as a marsh chicken. Its great tragedy, like the chicken’s, is tastiness: predators, humans in the Gold Rush era included, find the clapper rail delectable. It is also, like the chicken, high in character. “They have a kind of gait that has some, I don’t know, seductiveness — some kind of weird avian seductiveness,” says Erik Grijalva, who spent 10 years working amongst the rails as a field biologist with the Invasive Spartina Project. “They’re furtive. They look like they’re curious on the edge of propriety.” Julian Wood, who leads a clapper rail monitoring program at Point Blue Conservation Science, described also a certain fearlessness in their nature: on one recent trip, he said, he played a recorded rail noise to try and incite them to speak up from their hiding spots, and instead of yelling back at him, two rails suddenly emerged from the marsh, surrounded him and began to advance toward the boat in what, presumably, they found to be a menacing fashion. Wood motored slowly away. “No doubt they felt pretty good about themselves,” he told me.

     

    Sonoma County’s Highest Peak Protected Under New $2.3 Million Deal

    July 1, 2014 9:11 AM

    The deal will connect Pole Mountain to two adjacent preserves, Jenner Headlands (pictured) and Little Black Mountain. (Photo by Ryan DiGaudio/PRBO/Creative Commons)

    SANTA ROSA (CBS/AP) Pole Mountain, Sonoma County’s highest peak, will be protected and preserved for public use as part of a $2.3 million sale to the Sonoma Land Trust. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports private owners sold a 238-acre coastal parcel, which includes the 2,200-foot peak, on Monday. The deal also allows the land trust to connect Pole Mountain to two adjacent preserves, Jenner Headlands and Little Black Mountain. The newspaper says that will create more than 6,300 contiguous acres of open space featuring rolling grasslands and ocean views. Pole Mountain is the latest acquisition by the trust [Sonoma Land Trust], which since 1976 has worked with other agencies and nonprofits to preserve nearly 48,000 acres of land.

     

     

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK

     

    What distinction does the White-tailed antelope squirrel hold?
    a. it is the rarest of antelope squirrels
    b. it is the most widespread of antelope squirrels in North America
    c. it is the largest of antelope squirrels
    d. it is the smallest of antelope squirrels
    e. it is the most easily sunburned antelope squirrel

    ——> See answer at end

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    San Jose State University and POINT BLUE Graduate Student:
    Extreme Heat Events and Cassin’s Auklets

    Please join us in congratulating Emma Kelsey, a graduate student with Scott Schaffer at San Jose State University, who presented her MS thesis last Friday. She used artificial eggs to study Cassin’s Auklet incubating behavior at the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge.  She found that auklets using unshaded nest boxes work harder than those in natural burrows to keep their eggs cool.  This information is important as we start working on designing new artificial nesting habitat on the Farallon Islands to help mitigate the effects of extreme heat events on these birds. The title of her thesis and abstract can be found below.

    Title: Turn of events: How environmental temperatures and artificial nest habitats influence incubation behaviors of Cassin’s auklets (Ptychoramphus aleuticus)

    Abstract: Nest attendance behaviors, such as egg turning and temperature maintenance, are critical to proper hatching success for most bird species.  The details of avian incubation behaviors are still not well understood, especially for species that nest in burrows and crevices where their nests cannot be observed.  Cassin’s auklet  (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) is a small, burrow-nesting seabird found throughout the northeastern Pacific Ocean.  Artificial nest boxes are used to monitor the Cassin’s auklet population located on Southeast Farallon Island, California.  Higher air temperatures on Southeast Farallon (SEFI) have indicated that extreme heat events can increase temperatures in un-shaded nest boxes to lethal temperatures for the auklet nesting inside.  However, the effects of these elevated temperatures on the incubation behaviors and egg viability are not clear.  In this study, I used egg data loggers, containing an accelerometer, magnetometer, and heat thermistor, to measure the egg temperatures and turning rates of auklet eggs in natural burrows, nest boxes covered with a shade, and un-shaded nest boxes on SEFI during the 2012 and 2013 breeding seasons.  Nest temperatures were highest, and most variable, in un-shaded nest boxes.  Egg temperatures were also highest in un-shaded boxes and lowest in natural burrows.  Average egg turning rates were 2 turns/hour.  Diurnal incubation patterns were seen, with increased egg turning rates and decreased egg temperature during the night.  Egg turning rates were positively correlated with egg temperatures during daytime periods.  These results show that nest habitat can influence auklet incubation behaviors and suggest that auklets may compensate for elevated nest temperatures with their incubation behaviors.  The results indicate that increasing environmental temperatures can affect breeding Cassin’s auklets and ways to further mitigate these effects should be considered.

     

     

    Heat record for May broken worldwide
    NOAA Global Analysis: www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2014/5

    BY SETH BORENSTEIN AP Science Writer Saturday, June 28, 2014 5:52pm

    WASHINGTON – Driven by exceptionally warm ocean waters, Earth smashed a record for heat in May and is likely to keep on breaking high temperature marks, experts say. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week that May’s average temperature on Earth of 59.93 degrees Fahrenheit beat the old record set four years ago. In April, the globe tied the 2010 record for that month. Records go back to 1880. May was especially hot in parts of Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Spain, South Korea and Australia, while the United States was not close to a record, just 1 degree warmer than the 20th-century average. However, California is having a record hot first five months of the year, a full 5 degrees above normal. Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb and other experts say there’s a good chance global heat records will keep falling, especially next year because an El Niño weather event is brewing on top of human-made global warming. An El Niño is a warming of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean that alters climate worldwide and usually spikes global temperatures. Ocean temperatures in May also set a record for the month. But an El Niño isn’t considered in effect until the warm water changes the air, and that hasn’t happened yet, NOAA said. With the El Niño on top of higher temperatures from heat-trapping greenhouse gases, “we will see temperature records fall all over the world,” wrote Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann in an email. May was 1.33 degrees (0.74 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th-century world average. The last month that was cooler than normal was February 1985, marking 351 hotter-than-average months in a row. This possibly could quiet people claiming global warming has stopped, but more importantly, it “should remind everyone that global warming is a long-term trend,” Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer said. Setting or tying monthly global heat records has happened frequently in recent years. The last global monthly cold record was set in December 1916. Spring, which is March through May, was the second-warmest on record globally, behind only 2010.

     

     

     

    Illustration of the coastal upwelling process, in which winds blowing along the shore cause nutrient-poor surface waters to be replaced with nutrient-rich, cold water from deep in the ocean. (Steve Ravenscraft / The Pew Charitable Trusts)

    Coastal winds intensifying with climate change, study says

    Tony Barboza, LA Times, July 3, 2014

    • Summer winds are intensifying along the west coasts of North and South America and southern Africa and climate change is a likely cause, a new study says. Coastal winds have increased over the last 60 years and climate change is a likely culprit
    • Intensifying winds could affect key coastal ecosystems off California, Peru and South Africa, study says.

    Summer winds are intensifying along the west coasts of North and South America and southern Africa and climate change is a likely cause, a new study says. The winds, which blow parallel to the shore and draw cold, nutrient-rich water from the deep ocean to the surface in a process known as coastal upwelling, have increased over the last 60 years in three out of five regions of the world, according to an analysis published Thursday in the journal Science. The shift could already be having serious effects on some of the world’s most productive marine fisheries and ecosystems off California, Peru and South Africa. Stronger winds have the potential to benefit coastal areas by bringing a surge of nutrients and boosting populations of plankton, fish and other species. But they could also harm marine life by causing turbulence in surface waters, disrupting feeding, worsening ocean acidification and lowering oxygen levels, the study says. ….The windier conditions are occurring in important currents along the eastern edges of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. In those areas, the influx of nutrients from coastal upwelling fuels higher production of phytoplankton, tiny plant-like organisms that are eaten by fish, which in turn feed populations of seabirds, whales and other marine life. Scientists said their results lend support to a hypothesis made more than two decades ago by oceanographer Andrew Bakun. He suggested that rising temperatures from the human-caused buildup of greenhouse gases, by causing steeper atmospheric pressure gradients between oceans and continents, would produce stronger winds during summer and drive more coastal upwelling.

     

     

    Climate change and wind intensification in coastal upwelling ecosystems
    Science 4 July 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6192 pp. 77-80 DOI: 10.1126/science.1251635

    W. J. Sydeman1,*, M. García-Reyes1, D. S. Schoeman2, R. R. Rykaczewski3, S. A. Thompson1,4, B. A. Black5, S. J. Bograd6

    In 1990, Andrew Bakun proposed that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations would force intensification of upwelling-favorable winds in eastern boundary current systems that contribute substantial services to society. Because there is considerable disagreement about whether contemporary wind trends support Bakun’s hypothesis, we performed a meta-analysis of the literature on upwelling-favorable wind intensification. The preponderance of published analyses suggests that winds have intensified in the California, Benguela, and Humboldt upwelling systems and weakened in the Iberian system over time scales ranging up to 60 years; wind change is equivocal in the Canary system. Stronger intensification signals are observed at higher latitudes, consistent with the warming pattern associated with climate change. Overall, reported changes in coastal winds, although subtle and spatially variable, support Bakun’s hypothesis of upwelling intensification in eastern boundary current systems.

     

    Emperor penguin in peril

    Posted: 29 Jun 2014 11:20 AM PDT Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    An international team of scientists studying Emperor penguin populations across Antarctica finds the iconic animals in danger of dramatic declines by the end of the century due to climate change. Their study, published today in Nature Climate Change, finds the Emperor penguin “fully deserving of endangered status due to climate change.” The Emperor penguin is currently under consideration for inclusion under the US Endangered Species Act. Criteria to classify species by their extinction risk are based on the global population dynamics….Emperor penguins are heavily dependent on sea ice for their livelihoods, and, therefore, are sensitive to changes in sea ice concentration (SIC). The researchers’ analysis of the global, continent-wide Emperor penguin population incorporates current and projected future SIC declines, and determined that all of the colonies would be in decline — many by more than 50 percent — by the end of the century, due to future climate change. “If sea ice declines at the rates projected by the IPCC climate models….at least two-thirds of the colonies are projected to have declined by greater than 50 percent from their current size by 2100,” said Jenouvrier. “None of the colonies, even the southern-most locations in the Ross Sea, will provide a viable refuge by the end of 21st century.“… The team’s study acknowledges the special problems of defining conservation criteria for species endangered by future climate change, because the negative effects of climate change may build up over time. “Listing the Emperor penguin as an endangered species would reflect the scientific assessment of the threats facing an important part of the Antarctic ecosystem under climate change,” said Caswell. “When a species is at risk due to one factor — in this case, climate change — it can be helped, sometimes greatly, by amelioration of other factors. That’s why the Endangered Species Act is written to protect an endangered species in a number of ways — exploitation, habitat, disturbance, etc. — even if those factors are not the cause of its current predicament. Listing the emperor penguin will provide some tools to improve fishing practices of US vessels in the Southern Ocean, and gives a potential tool to help reduce CO2 emissions in the US under the Clear Air and Clean Water Acts,” Jenouvrier said.

     

     

    Projected continent-wide declines of the emperor penguin under climate change

    Nature Climate Change (2014) doi:10.1038/nclimate2280 Published online 29 June 2014

    Stéphanie Jenouvrier, Marika Holland, Julienne Stroeve, Mark Serreze, Christophe Barbraud, Henri Weimerskirch & Hal Caswell

    Climate change has been projected to affect species distribution1 and future trends of local populations2, 3, but projections of global population trends are rare. We analyse global population trends of the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri), an iconic Antarctic top predator, under the influence of sea ice conditions projected by coupled climate models assessed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) effort4. We project the dynamics of all 45 known emperor penguin colonies5 by forcing a sea-ice-dependent demographic model6, 7 with local, colony-specific, sea ice conditions projected through to the end of the twenty-first century. Dynamics differ among colonies, but by 2100 all populations are projected to be declining. At least two-thirds are projected to have declined by >50% from their current size. The global population is projected to have declined by at least 19%. Because criteria to classify species by their extinction risk are based on the global population dynamics8, global analyses are critical for conservation9. We discuss uncertainties arising in such global projections and the problems of defining conservation criteria for species endangered by future climate change.

     

    PLOS launches Responding to Climate Change Collection

    By Damian Pattinson Posted: July 2, 2014

    Today PLOS ONE launches the Responding to Climate Change Collection. …..Few areas can benefit as much from the force of Open Access as climate change research: the combination of public, scientific, and governmental interest with the mounting misinformation, unsubstantiated opinions, and unsourced data make public access to original, well-reported, and peer-reviewed climate change research of utmost importance. This collection comprises of climate research highlighting efforts from a range of disciplines (alternative energy production, geoengineering, behavioural psychology and science policy) focused on mitigating and adapting to the effects of the changing climate.

     

    Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change”: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature

    James Hansen, Pushker Kharecha, Makiko Sato, Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Frank Ackerman, David J. Beerling, Paul J. Hearty, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Shi-Ling Hsu, Camille Parmesan, Johan Rockstrom, Eelco J. Rohling, Jeffrey Sachs, Pete Smith, Konrad Steffen, Lise Van Susteren, Karina von Schuckmann, James C. Zachos PLOS ONE: published 03 Dec 2013 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0081648

     

    Climate Exposure of US National Parks in a New Era of Change

    William B. Monahan, Nicholas A. Fisichelli PLOS ONE: published 02 Jul 2014 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0101302

     

     

    High CO2 levels cause warming in tropics

    Posted: 29 Jun 2014 11:20 AM PDT

    Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, CO2, in the atmosphere cause warming not only at high latitudes but also across tropical regions, according to new research. “These results confirm what climate models have long predicted — that although greenhouse gases cause greater warming at the poles they also cause warming in the tropics. Such findings indicate that few places on Earth will be immune to global warming and that the tropics will likely experience associated climate impacts, such as increased tropical storm intensity,” the project leader said…..

     

    Climate change in the North Sea: Long-term studies reveal drastic changes in the marine fauna

    Posted: 30 Jun 2014 06:36 AM PDT

    Long-term studies have revealed obvious changes in the North Sea’s biota. Studies during the past twenty years indicate that southern species increasingly expand northward. The Atlantic cod is drawn to cooler regions, while crustaceans from southern areas spread ever farther into the North Sea. The effects of the climate change can be clearly felt on the German sea coasts, as well.

     

    Whaling logbooks could hold key to retreating Arctic ice fronts

    Posted: 30 Jun 2014 06:46 AM PDT

    Ice fronts from the early 19th century were far more advanced around the Arctic than they are today, researchers analysing whalers’ log books from this time have discovered.

     

    Key to adaptation limits of ocean dwellers: Simpler organisms better suited for climate change

    Posted: 01 Jul 2014 07:15 AM PDT

    The simpler a marine organism is structured, the better it is suited for survival during climate change, researchers have discovered this in a new meta-study. For the first time biologists studied the relationship between the complexity of life forms and the ultimate limits of their adaptation to a warmer climate.

     

    Kudzu can release soil carbon, accelerate global warming

    Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:57 AM PDT

    Scientists are shedding new light on how invasion by exotic plant species affects the ability of soil to store greenhouse gases. The research could have far-reaching implications for how we manage agricultural land and native ecosystems. Since soil stores more carbon than both the atmosphere and terrestrial vegetation combined, the repercussions for how we manage agricultural land and ecosystems to facilitate the storage of carbon could be dramatic.

     

     

    Ocean acidification could be creating friendless fish. CityLab

    Fish seem like chummy enough creatures, often schooling with fish they’re familiar with to avoid predators and increase the chances of finding a mate. But as carbon dioxide levels rise worldwide, they could lose their ability to recognize each other, in effect becoming “friendless” wanderers who will hang out with just about anybody…

     

    At the national parks: Melting glaciers, dying trees

    USA Today

    Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says she sees the impact of climate change at just about every national park she visits.

     

     

    With climate change, heat more than natural disasters will drive people away

    Posted: 30 Jun 2014 01:45 PM PDT

    Increases in the average yearly temperature took a detrimental toll on people’s economic well-being and resulted in permanent migrations, whereas natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes had a much smaller to nonexistent impact on permanent relocations. The results suggest that the consequences of climate change will likely be more subtle and permanent than is popularly believed.

     

     

    NASA launches carbon mission to watch Earth breathe

    Posted: 02 Jul 2014 07:30 AM PDT

    NASA successfully launched its first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide on July 1, 2014. OCO-2 soon will begin a minimum two-year mission to locate Earth’s sources of and storage places for atmospheric carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas responsible for warming our world, and a critical component of the planet’s carbon cycle.

     

    Viewpoints: A win-win solution for water and wildfires in Sierra forests

    By Tom DeVries Special to The Sacramentop Bee Opinion Published: Monday, Jun. 30, 2014 – 12:00 am

    We all know where the water isn’t. It’s missing from streams, lakes, reservoirs and the snowpack. I think I know where the water is, and what to do, plus save money. We need to cut down a lot of trees and plants in the Sierra – half or more. I’ve already started at my place…..The existing Sierra forests are not healthy. Around our place, which is largely surrounded by overgrown, brushy, tangled Sierra National Forest, even the deer have trouble getting around. It’s just too dense. Odd thing is the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which manages the national forest, is helping me fix my private ground. Its Natural Resources Conservation Service is paying me to thin and trim the 40 acres I own, making it into a healthy forest. Tractors and a hand crew – soon to turn to wildfire duty – are tearing up decades of undergrowth, piling it for a masticator, a 30-foot tall beast that reduces brush and trees to a deep mulch. What will remain when they’re done is a mixed forest of pine and oak, the trees 20 feet apart, limbed so a grass fire won’t jump into the branches. Happy deer, happy me. Ironically, the public lands around me will still be an untouched fire hazard. The additional irony is it costs at least three times as much per acre to fight a wildfire as the Department of Agriculture is paying to clean up my place. And here’s the water part. Trees take water; a big one can draw 100 gallons a day out of the ground. All that junk forest in California is sucking up water that should be filling my spring and well and flowing downhill toward the rest of you. Rain and snow that falls on the overly dense canopy of leaves and branches evaporates into the air instead of leaching into the ground.
    At a water problems meeting I went to in Mariposa this spring, a UC Merced professor named Roger Bales said that doing to the Sierra what I’m doing at my place might increase stream flows as much as 30 percent. If this research holds up, it’s like discovering a new California river that’s been here all along…. There is no way to build our way out of a drought, let alone climate change. Build a dam, spend a fortune, buy a few weeks. The Sierra is essentially our largest storage pool and we’re wasting it. California’s water system depends heavily on snow melting slowly over the summer and trickling down into reservoirs. Every year we lose millions of gallons of water to ugly, crowded, unhealthy forests. And we’re spending that billion bucks a year trying to keep fire from burning off the unhealthiness. Lose-lose, seems to me. Instead there should be an army of crews in the Sierra doing what they’re already doing at my house – forest restoration. It’s cheaper than battling wildfires, much less expensive than building new dams and tunnels, prettier, better for growing trees, and a splendid new water source to get us through the coming dry times. Win-win, as they say.

     

     

    DROUGHT:

     

    Global warming makes drought come on earlier, faster, and harder

    A new study tries to separate natural and human influences on drought

    June 30, 2014 The Guardian UK

    Yemenis walk through a drought-affected dam on the outskirts of Sana’a, Yemen. Sana a city is running out of water and many relief agencies feel that it could become the first capital city in the world to run out of a viable water supply. Photograph: Yahya Arhab/EPA

    We all know that some climate change is natural, in fact, even without humans, the Earth’s climate changes. But, as we have added heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, we have seen human influence “emerge” from natural variability. Droughts, one of the most intensely studied climate events, are a perfect example of an effect with both human and natural influences. Separating the relative strengths of the influences is a challenge for scientists. …A very recent study tries to do just this. Published in the Journal of Climate, authors Richard Seager and Martin Hoerling
    cleverly used climate models forced by sea surface temperatures to separate how much of the past century’s North American droughts have been caused by ocean temperatures, natural variability, and humans. What they found was expected (all three of these influence drought), but it’s the details that are exciting. Furthermore, the methodology can be applied to other climate phenomena at other locations around the globe. The very beginning of their paper sets a great framework for the study: “In a nation that has been reeling from one weather or climate disaster to another, with record tornado outbreaks, landfalling tropical storms and superstorms, record winter snowfalls, and severe droughts, persistent droughts appear almost prosaic. Droughts do not cause the mass loss of life and property destruction by floods and storms. They are instead slow-moving disasters whose beginnings and ends are even often hard to identify. However, while the social and financial costs of hurricane, tornado, and flood disasters are, of course, tremendous, droughts are one of the costliest of natural disasters in the United States.”

    Droughts can be caused by a variety of isolated or interacting phenomena. At its root, drought results from lowered precipitation and sometimes higher temperatures (which increase evaporation rates). The onset of drought can often be linked to variations in ocean temperatures. For instance, La Niña events in the Pacific Ocean as well as elevated Atlantic Ocean temperatures have coincided with United States droughts. In fact the authors state that the three mid-to-late 19th century droughts, the Dust Bowl, and the drought in the 1950s all depended on persistent La Niña conditions. Of course, other factors played roles as well and ocean temperatures simply don’t explain everything. Perhaps the best example of multiple drought factors is the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Then, cool Pacific temperatures were not by themselves sufficient. It is likely that land use changes associated with farmland erosion and natural atmospheric variability also played roles.

    ….They found that ocean temperature variations cause up to 40% of the changes to precipitation, depending on location. They also found that the oceans can “nudge” the atmosphere to create conditions that are amenable to drought, and that temperature increases associated with human-driven global warming also play a role. In fact, “… Radiative forcing of the climate system is another source of predictability, although not really a welcome one, and rising greenhouse gases will lead to a steady drying of southwest North America. However this is a change that is only now beginning to emerge and currently is exerting less influence on precipitation variability than ocean variability or internal variability.”
    This conclusion agrees with other researchers who have shown that, while human-emitted greenhouse gas warming may not cause a particular drought, it can make drought come on earlier, faster, and harder than it otherwise would.

     

     

    Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.com An air tanker drops retardant onto the Butts fire Wednesday in Napa County. Cal Fire reported five structures damaged or destroyed, including one home.

    Napa blaze underscores fire danger in drought-stricken California

    By Darrell Smith and Sam Stanton Sacramento Bee Published: Wednesday, Jul. 2, 2014 – 11:39 pm

    POPE VALLEY — In the first six months of the year, Cal Fire has battled more than 2,715 fires – nearly 900 more than the average tally – and the worst is yet to come. With California in the grip of a historic drought, grasslands, shrubs and trees are as dry now as they would be late in the fire season, and even the slightest spark can create an out-of-control blaze. “We have continued all year long to see a significant increase in the number of wildfires that we’ve responded to,” Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said Wednesday. “What we’re experiencing right now are conditions that we would see in late August or early September. And as we go further into summer, conditions are only going to get drier.” The latest evidence of the danger California faces erupted shortly after noon Tuesday in Napa County with the Butts fire, a 3,800-acre blaze that by Wednesday had forced the evacuation of nearly 200 homes and threatened as many as 380 structures….

     


    Essays on the California Drought
    Samuel N. Luoma (Point Blue Science Advisory Committee member) SF Estuary and Watershed Volume 12, Issue 2, June 2014

    Reforming California’s Groundwater Management

    Public Policy Institute of California June 2014

    By Caitrin Chappelle, Ellen Hanak, and Jeffrey Mount

    Groundwater is a vital component of California’s water supply.
    Hidden underground, groundwater typically accounts for about 35% of the water used by California’s farms and cities—in some regions the share is larger. Some communities rely entirely on groundwater for their drinking water. In dry years, groundwater becomes even more important, as pumping increases to make up for the lack of rain.

    • California’s minimal groundwater regulation encourages over-pumping.

      In contrast to surface water, groundwater use is largely unregulated under California law. This regulatory gap has encouraged excessive pumping—or overdraft—in some areas. It also causes problems for users of surface water because groundwater and surface water are often interconnected. Groundwater basins are naturally replenished by rainfall, stream flow, and irrigation water. As pumping causes groundwater levels to drop, basins draw in water from adjacent rivers and streams, reducing river flows and harming aquatic habitat.
    • Many groundwater basins are being used unsustainably.

      In some basins (especially those in major agricultural regions in the southern Central Valley and the Central Coast), groundwater withdrawal exceeds the amount that can be replenished. On average, California’s agricultural and urban sectors use about 42 million acre-feet of water per year, of which one to two million acre-feet comes from excess pumping of groundwater. Declines in groundwater levels have serious repercussions, including higher energy costs to pump water from deeper wells, sinking lands (which can damage vital infrastructure such as canals and roads), and reduced water quality (especially in coastal aquifers, which draw in seawater).
    • Groundwater contamination is a growing problem.

      Groundwater quality is a serious issue in some basins. In many rural areas, nitrate—produced by nitrogen fertilizer and manure—is polluting local drinking water supplies. Salinity is also damaging crops. In some urban areas, basins are contaminated by industrial chemicals. Treatment to remove contaminants from drinking water is costly, especially for small rural systems. Efforts are under way to reduce future contamination by controlling industrial discharges and changing farming practices, but some already-polluted basins need to be cleaned up.
    • Better groundwater management would help California cope with droughts.

      California’s groundwater basins can store large volumes of water, which is especially valuable during droughts. But pumping needs to be limited in normal and wet years so that groundwater levels can recover. Groundwater storage can be increased by spreading water on fields to percolate through the soil or injecting water into wells. To encourage sustainable basin management, some urban areas—including much of Southern California and Silicon Valley—have created local authorities that can charge fees to fund recharge programs and regulate pumping.
    • Promising reforms are now being considered.
      The current drought has highlighted groundwater problems in many of California’s rural regions, and both the Brown administration and local water agencies are proposing comprehensive reforms. These proposals have the common goal of giving local agencies the tools and authority they need to manage groundwater sustainably—and then having the state step in if local agencies fail to act.

     

    A desalination boom in California could help it deal with ‘exceptional’ drought

    Criticised for its high energy use and harm to marine life, new technologies such as reverse osmosis could make desalination a more effective way of extracting freshwater

    Simon Gottelier theguardian.com, Monday 30 June 2014 08.05 EDT

    Adaptation to changing weather patterns is a principal driver that underpins a multi-decade opportunity when considering investments in the water sector. As the increasing unpredictability of weather patterns leads governments and municipalities to look at new water infrastructure investments, drought-ravaged California could be a large potential contributor to the 19% annual growth expectations in global desalination market. With an approximate global capacity of nearly 80m cubic meters per day, about 1% of fresh water consumed globally is derived from desalination. Traditionally this technique has been associated with the oil rich Gulf States such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, where low energy costs have driven thermal desalination which is based on evaporation and the subsequent condensation of the steam as potable water. Energy consumption, traditionally high with desalination, has been significantly reduced in the past two decades, partly due to the widespread uptake of reverse osmosis technology (RO). This process removes the salt by filtration, using membrane technology. RO now accounts for nearly 60% of global desalination capacity….

     

    The Water Crisis in the West

    June 30, 2014 NY Times

    With water increasingly scarce in the drought-ravaged American West, many states could face drastic rationing without rain. Even with more sustainable practices, the future of water in the West is not secure. Population growth, conflicting demands for resources, and the unpredictable nature of a changing climate will all exacerbate the crisis of an already parched landscape. What are the best ways to share the water? And how can we ensure it lasts for the foreseeable future? Read the Discussion »

    • How We Should Pay For Water Robert Glennon, author, “Unquenchable” – We need to price water appropriately: people who use more should pay more.
    • Recycled Water Is Crucial Melissa L. Meeker, WateReuse – Americans have embraced “sustainability” in so many aspects of modern life, but not when it comes to water resources.
    • Allow Water Rights Trading Ellen Hanak, economist – Those with older, more valuable water rights should be able to lease or sell their water to the have-nots.
    • Conserve Energy to Save Water Newsha Ajami, urban water policy expert – Have you ever considered how much water is needed to power your lights, computers and cars?
    • To Save Water, Change Your Diet Arjen Y. Hoekstra, University of Twente, Netherlands – An incredible 40 percent of the water consumed by Americans goes into meat and dairy production.
    • Shared Sacrifices for Cities and Farms Pat Mulroy, University of Nevada’s Brookings Mountain West -Continued cooperation on sharing agreements between the states and with Mexico is essential.

     

     

    L.A. company saving water by offering drought-tolerant lawns for free

    A typical collection of drought tolerant plants which replace a grass yard used by Turf Terminators. The company uses rebates from the water companies to replace the yards. David Crane — Staff photographer

    By Dana Bartholomew, Los Angeles Daily News Posted: 06/29/14, 5:51 PM PDT | Updated: 31 secs ago

    Lorianne and Tibor Baranyai were ready to shell out some serious cash to rip out their thirsty lawn and replace it with low-water landscaping. Then came a better offer. As a result, a new L.A. company hatched by green investors has torn out their yellowing turf and put in a drought-tolerant yard — for free. And the couple walked away with an $850 cash dividend….As water agencies across Southern California boost incentives for homeowners and businesses to swap out their water-guzzling lawns, Wall Street aims to help transform Main Street. In exchange for lawn-removal rebates of up to $3 a square foot from utilities across the state — including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power — a company owned by Parvus Rex Capital of New York that invests in small private “niche” companies is making Angelenos a first-of-its-kind offer.
    By using such incentives, Turf Terminators of Los Angeles says it will rip out grass across the region and replace it with drought-resistant native landscaping at no charge — then hand homeowners 25 cents for each square foot of lawn it yanks out….

     


     

     

     

     

     

     

    Bay Area Climate & Energy Resilience Project — A project of the Joint Policy Committee with funding from the JPC, the Kresge Foundation, and the San Francisco Foundation

    All materials from the big June 3 workshop (155 participants!) are now on the JPC website. This includes links to the 14 spotlight [adaptation] projects, the Health & Climate presentation, and much more.

     

    Hacking the climate: The search for solutions to the world’s greatest challenge

    By John Harte John Harte is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in ecology and climate. He has authored over 200 published research articles and eight books.

     

    Hallie Bateman

    In recent years, weather patterns around the world have grown fiercer than ever. Blizzards paralyze daily life across large areas of the nation, while intense heat waves and enduring droughts cripple food production in the West. Huge storms threaten to sweep away coastal communities. These, and other symptoms of climate disruption, have led to growing recognition that something must be done.

    Yet few know what to do about climate change. Even some who do know don’t act for fear of the consequences of weaning humanity off of fossil fuels. Politicians and vested interests have bombarded the public with the myth that slowing or halting climate change will lead to devastating effects on people, jobs, and nation’s economies. It’s time to bust that myth…..around the world, governments as well as everyday people are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the primary drivers of climate disruption. They’re finding the results of these actions go far beyond curbing global warming: They are also creating jobs, enhancing water quality, increasing crop yields, reducing waste, and improving health. These are the co-benefits of combatting climate change. The public needs to know about these co-benefits. And so, with considerable input from journalism faculty at UC Berkeley, I led a follow-up graduate-level course, entitled “Early Solutions: Stories from the frontlines of the battle against climate change,” focused on the co-benefits of taking steps to deal with climate change. The result is five stories, each exploring the various ways individuals and communities throughout the world are addressing climate change and, in return, enjoying the many co-benefits of their actions. Grist will run one of these stories each day this week. Here is a brief synopsis. We’ll update the links as the stories go up.

    1. A Canadian province started taxing carbon, which not only reduced its greenhouse gas emissions but also helped the economy grow. The revenue goes right back to the people through tax breaks, so both consumers and businesses benefit. Now, several U.S. states are considering similar measures.

    2. A visionary scientist has showed that if we modify the color of the roofs we live under, we can hugely reduce the need for air conditioning and improve air quality. Now, Los Angeles is mandating brighter rooftops to alter the city’s upward temperature trajectory and remedy its age-old smog problem.

    3. A team of ranchers and scientists are proving that something as simple as spreading compost on grasslands can pull carbon out of the air and store it safely in the soil. In addition to the climate benefits, this practice makes pastures more resistant to drought.

    4. Urban pioneers are leading the effort to reduce food waste, which many don’t realize is a large contributor to climate change, by recovering unwanted food and redistributing it to those in need. Such food rescue activities feed hungry people and promote healthy nutrition, all while reconnecting city dwellers with their community.

    5. A rural community in Colombia has entered into an international agreement that pays them to protect their native forest for the carbon in the trees. The added income from this project allows them to improve their livelihoods, while also preserving their unique natural habitat and water resources.

    The scope and scale of these stories range from the local to the international, but all five describe human accomplishment that could be achieved anywhere. In contrast to those who predict doom and gloom if we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, the individuals in these narratives do not forecast the future … they are shaping it.

     

    Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont Take Serious Climate Adaptation Action

    CleanTechnica

     - ‎July 3, 2014‎

           

    Three more American states have joined the growing number of local governments taking climate action into their own hands in lieu of federal leadership.

     

    Marin ‘carbon farming’ project offers hope on global warming

    By Janis Mara
    POSTED:   06/29/2014 05:32:56 PM PDT Marin IJ

    Sprawled on the hillside at Nicasio Native Grass Ranch, Peggy Wick showed off a patch of grass nourished by compost Sunday, an approach some say could help prevent global warming.
    The soil in a 2.5-acre plot of land can remove 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in a year with the application of one-half inch of organic matter, according to Peggy and John Wick, co-owners of the ranch, and some academic experts. ….”We know we can stop and reverse global warming,” said Jeff Creque, a director of the Carbon Cycle Institute with a doctorate in rangeland ecology from Utah State University. “We can increase the rate at which we capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by increasing the fertility and water-holding capacity of our soil.”
    The Wicks have been experimenting with sustainable farming since they took over the Nicasio ranch in 1998. They are now working closely on experiments with Creque and Whendee Silver of UC Berkeley’s Silver Lab of Ecosystem Ecology and Biogeochemistry. Silver, a professor, published a paper on the work in the Journal of Rangeland Management.
    In large-scale field manipulations conducted in 2008 under rigorous conditions by Silver and her associates, the professor first measured the amount of carbon currently in the soil at the ranch and other locations for a baseline reading.
    Next, “we dusted the hills with one-half inch of compost” and after a year, the amount of carbon dioxide had increased to 2,000 pounds, John Wick said. This was a 40 percent increase, he said….

     

     

    Effects of organic matter amendments on net primary productivity and greenhouse gas emissions in annual grasslands (pdf)

    REBECCA R YALS AND WHENDEE L. SILVER January 2013 Ecological Applications, 23(1), 2013, pp. 46–59 2013 by the Ecological Society of America

    Abstract

    Most of the world’s grasslands are managed for livestock production. A critical component of the long-term sustainability and profitability of rangelands (e.g., grazed grassland ecosystems) is the maintenance of plant production. Amending grassland soils with organic waste has been proposed as a means to increase net primary productivity (NPP) and ecosystem carbon (C) storage, while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from waste management. Few studies have evaluated the effects of amendments on the C balance and greenhouse gas dynamics of grasslands. We used field manipulations replicated within and across two rangelands (a valley grassland and a coastal grassland) to determine the effects of a single application of composted green waste amendments on NPP and greenhouse gas emissions over three years. Amendments elevated total soil respiration by 18% +-4%at both sites but had no effect on nitrous oxide or methane emissions. Carbon losses were significantly offset by greater and sustained plant production. Amendments stimulated both above- and belowground NPP by 2.1+-0.8 Mg C/ha to 4.7+-0.7 Mg C/ha (mean+-SE) over the three-year study period. Net ecosystem C storage increased by 25–70% without including the direct addition of compost C. The estimated magnitude of net ecosystem C storage was sensitive to estimates of heterotrophic soil respiration but was greater than controls in five out of six fields that received amendments. The sixth plot was the only one that exhibited lower soil moisture than the control, suggesting an important role of water limitation in these seasonally dry ecosystems. Treatment effects persisted over the course of the study, which were likely derived from increased water-holding capacity in most plots, and slow-release fertilization from compost decomposition. We conclude that a single application of composted organic matter cansignificantly increase grassland C storage, and that effects of a single application are likely to carry over in time.

     

     

     

    Awakening the ‘Dutch Gene’ of Water Survival

    By CHRISTOPHER F. SCHUETZE JUNE 29, 2014

    On a beach in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, students competed to build a sand castle that could withstand the tide the longest. Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times

    NOORDWIJK, the Netherlands — Along a rugged, wide North Sea beach here on a recent day, children formed teams of eight to 10, taking their places beside mounds of sand carefully cordoned by candy-cane striped tape. They had one hour for their sand castle competition. Some built fishlike structures, complete with scales. Others spent their time on elaborate ditch and dike labyrinths. Each castle was adorned on top with a white flag. Then they watched the sea invade and devour their work, seeing whose castle could withstand the tide longest. The last standing flag won. Theirs was no ordinary day at the beach, but a newly minted, state-sanctioned competition for schoolchildren to raise awareness of the dangers of rising sea levels in a country of precarious geography that has provided lessons for the world about water management, but that fears that its next generation will grow complacent. Fifty-five percent of the Netherlands is either below sea level or heavily flood-prone. Yet thanks to its renowned expertise and large water management budget (about 1.25 percent of gross domestic product), the Netherlands has averted catastrophe since a flooding disaster in 1953.

    Experts here say that they now worry that the famed Dutch water management system actually works too well and that citizens will begin to take for granted the nation’s success in staying dry. As global climate change threatens to raise sea levels by as much as four feet by the end of the century, the authorities here are working to make real to children the forecasts that may seem far-off, but that will shape their lives in adulthood and old age…..

     

     

    New Study Adds Up the Benefits of Climate-Smart Development in Lives, Jobs, and GDP

    June 23, 2014 World Bank

    Bus rapid transit systems that shift commuters to faster public systems take cars off the road, create jobs, and reduce pollution that damages health and contributes to climate change. Sam Zimmerman/World Bank

    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • With careful design, the same development projects that improve communities, save lives, and increase GDP can also fight climate change.
    • A new study examines the multiple benefits for a series of policy scenarios addressing transportation and energy efficiency in buildings and industry in five countries and the European Union.
    • It provides concrete data to help policymakers understand the broader potential of climate-smart development investments.

    Modernizing landfills and cleaning up open dumps have obvious benefits for surrounding communities, but the value reaches deeper into the national budget that may be evident at first glance. 

    For a country like Brazil, where waste-to-energy technology is being piloted today, integrated solid waste management practices including building sanitary landfills that capture greenhouse gas emissions to generate electricity can improve human health, add jobs, increase the energy supply, reduce the impact on climate change, and boost national GDP….

     

     

     

    US Supreme Court refuses challenge to California climate rule

    Reuters July 1, 2014 The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge to California’s landmark low-carbon fuel standard, in a blow to out-of-state ethanol and gasoline producers that say the rule unfairly discriminates against their products….

     

    The Energy Department Just Announced $4 Billion For Projects That Fight Global Warming

    By Ari Phillips on July 3, 2014

    The Department of Energy said it’s interested in supporting innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions.

     

    China’s Hurdle to Fast Action on Climate Change

    New York Times

     - ‎Jul 1, 2014‎

           

    In Beijing, He Jiankun, an academic and deputy director of China’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change, told a conference that China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas polluter, would for the first time put “an absolute cap” on its emissions.

     

     

    World Bank: Tackling Climate Will Grow the Economy

    Published: June 28th, 2014 By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian

    Fighting climate change would help grow the world economy, according to the World Bank, adding up to $2.6 trillion a year to global GDP in the coming decades.

    The report advances on the work of economists who have argued that it will be far more costly in the long run to delay action on climate change. Credit: IRRI Images/Flickr

    The findings, made available in a report on Tuesday, offer a sharp contrast with claims by the Australian government that fighting climate change would “clobber” the economy. The report also advances on the work of economists who have argued that it will be far more costly in the long run to delay action on climate change.
    Instead, Tuesday’s report found a number of key policies — none of which included putting an economy-wide price on carbon — would lead to global GDP gains of between $1.8 trillion and $2.6 trillion a year by 2030, in terms of new jobs, increased crop productivity and public health benefits.

     

     

    New York towns can prohibit fracking, state’s top court rules

    July 1, 2014 NY Times

    In a decision with far-reaching implications for the future of natural gas drilling in New York State, its highest court ruled on Monday that towns can use zoning ordinances to ban hydraulic fracturing, the controversial extraction method known as fracking.

     

    The ocean is swallowing up Virginia so rapidly that its leaders are forgetting to bicker about climate change

    Gwynn Guilford Quartz.com July 1, 2014

    The usual US partisan divisions over climate change were absent today in the state of Virginia, where Republican and Democrat officials met to discuss what to do about the threat of rising sea levels to the state…

     

    Press Release_ Senate cuts $3 billion from water bond in response to [CA] Governor’s request

    July 3 2014 from Maven’s Notebook

    The State Senate announced today that it has cut $3 billion from its water bond proposal, Senate Bill 848, responding to requests by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. for a more scaled-down bond. “This revised version of SB 848 responds to the Governor’s desire for a smaller bond while remaining a comprehensive approach to addressing the state’s critical water needs,” said Senator Lois Wolk, the bill’s author. “At $7.5 billion, SB 848 maintains funding for statewide priorities including water quality and supply reliability projects. The Senate bond continues to help communities enhance their water supply and prepare for drought. It funds storage projects at the same level proposed by the Governor. And, critically, it continues to be tunnel neutral.” Previously $10.5 billion, the revised Senate bond includes $7.5 billion in funding for a broad range of projects to address California’s critical water needs. Categories were cut by a proportional amount, with the exception of funding for some high priority areas including groundwater sustainability and recycled water. The revised version of SB 848, which will be in print tomorrow, includes $2 billion for storage, the same figure proposed by the Governor. In total, the Governor’s proposal includes $6 billion in funding. The bill is co-authored by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Senate President pro Tem-elect Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Ben Hueso, (D-San Diego), and Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), as well as Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord) and Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D–Oakley), and would replace the $11.1 billion bond written in 2009 that is scheduled to appear on this November’s statewide ballot.

     

     

    The Politics of Global Warming

    June 30, 2014 Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University

    Today, we are releasing a special report on The Politics of Global Warming, based on our spring 2014 nationally representative survey. We find that registered voters are 2.5 times more likely to vote for a congressional or presidential candidate who supports action to reduce global warming. Further, registered voters are 3 times more likely to vote against a candidate who opposes action to reduce global warming. Many Americans are also willing to act politically:

    • 26% are willing to join or are currently participating in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming;
    • 37% are willing to sign a pledge to vote only for political candidates that share their views on global warming;
    • 13% are willing to personally engage in non-violent civil disobedience against corporate or government activities that make global warming worse.

    The study also finds that while Democrats are more convinced that human-caused global warming is happening and more supportive of climate and energy policies than Republicans, there are deep divisions within the Republican Party. In many respects, liberal/moderate Republicans – about a third of the Republican party – are relatively similar to moderate/conservative Democrats, while conservative Republicans often express views about global warming that are distinctly different than the rest of the American public. For example, among registered voters:

    • 88% of Democrats, 59% of Independents and 61% of liberal/moderate Republicans think global warming is happening, compared to only 28% of conservative Republicans;
    • 81% of Democrats and 51% of liberal/moderate Republicans are worried about global warming, compared to only 19% of conservative Republicans;
    • 82% of Democrats and 65% of liberal/moderate Republicans support strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, compared to only 31% of conservative Republicans…..

     

     

    How Politics Makes Us Stupid

    June 4, 2014 vox.com

    There’s a simple theory underlying much of American politics. It sits hopefully at the base of almost every speech, every op-ed, every article, and every panel discussion. It courses through the Constitution and is a constant in President Obama’s most stirring addresses. It’s what we might call the More Information Hypothesis: the belief that many of our most bitter political battles are mere misunderstandings. The cause of these misunderstandings? Too little information — be it about climate change, or taxes, or Iraq, or the budget deficit. If only the citizenry were more informed, the thinking goes, then there wouldn’t be all this fighting….But the More Information Hypothesis isn’t just wrong. It’s backwards. Cutting-edge research shows that the more information partisans get, the deeper their disagreements become. In April and May of 2013, Yale Law professor Dan Kahan — working with coauthors Ellen Peters, Erica Cantrell Dawson, and Paul Slovic — set out to test a question that continuously puzzles scientists: why isn’t good evidence more effective in resolving political debates? For instance, why doesn’t the mounting proof that climate change is a real threat persuade more skeptics?…

    ….Kahan doesn’t find it strange that we react to threatening information by mobilizing our intellectual artillery to destroy it. He thinks it’s strange that we would expect rational people to do anything else. “Nothing any ordinary member of the public personally believes about the existence, causes, or likely consequences of global warming will affect the risk that climate changes poses to her, or to anyone or anything she cares about,” Kahan writes. “However, if she forms the wrong position on climate change relative to the one that people with whom she has a close affinity — and on whose high regard and support she depends on in myriad ways in her daily life — she could suffer extremely unpleasant consequences, from shunning to the loss of employment.” Kahan’s research tells us we can’t trust our own reason. How do we reason our way out of that? Kahan calls this theory Identity-Protective Cognition: “As a way of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups, individuals subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values.” Elsewhere, he puts it even more pithily: “What we believe about the facts,” he writes, “tells us who we are.” And the most important psychological imperative most of us have in a given day is protecting our idea of who we are, and our relationships with the people we trust and love.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Putting a price tag on the 2 degree Celsius climate target

    Posted: 02 Jul 2014 08:10 AM PDT

    Addressing climate change will require substantial new investment in low-carbon energy and energy efficiency — but no more than what is currently spent on today’s fossil-dominated energy system, according to new research. To limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsius, low-carbon energy options will need additional investments of about US $800 billion a year globally from now to mid-century, according to a new study.

     

    Feds promise $150 million for Cape Wind

    July 1, 2014 Boston Globe

    The US government is promising to back the controversial Cape Wind project with $150 million, federal officials said, signaling a vote of confidence that the offshore wind farm will get built.

     

    Renewable energy set to skyrocket globally, study says, but coal backers push back

    July 1, 2014 Climate Wire

    Global adoption of renewable energy shows no signs of slowing over the next 15 years, with nearly two-thirds of an expected $7.7 trillion in new investment going toward non-fossil power generation, according to new projections by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. ClimateWire

     

     

     
     


    Consensus: 97% of climate scientists agree

    NASA Website

    Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities,1and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources…..

     

    WEBINARS:

    City of Berkeley’s new Hazard Mitigation Plan July 17 2-3 pm PT

    Presented by the Bay Area Climate & Energy Resilience Project — A project of the Joint Policy Committee with funding from the JPC, the Kresge Foundation, and the San Francisco Foundation

    We are running a set of webinars in July and August. The first 60-minute session—July 17, 2-3 pm—will spotlight the City of Berkeley’s new Hazard Mitigation Plan that features climate impacts for the first time. Sarah Lana (Emergency Services) and Timothy Burroughs (Climate/Sustainability) will outline Berkeley’s attempt to “mainstream” adaptation planning and the cross-department partnership that is making it work. ABAG’s staff will also join the webinar to outline the upcoming 2015 Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan process that cities and counties can benefit from. 

    Sign up for the webinar (space is limited) by emailing bruce@bayareajpc.net.

     

    Connecting Farmers & Ranchers to Innovative Technology in Bat Conservation
    NRCS Webinars—July 23- August 27, 2014; Wednesdays, 11 AM Pacific

    Bat Conservation International is pleased to announce the dates for our NRCS Webinar Series entitled “Connecting Farmers & Ranchers to Innovative Technology in Bat Conservation“.    Webinars will be held on Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. Central. 

    Topics include:

    7/23 – Bats and Integrated Pest Management part I

    7/30 – Bats and Integrated Pest Management part II

      8/6 –  Bats, Agriculture, and Water for Wildlife

    8/13 – Bats, Agriculture, and Wildlife Habitat Monitoring

    8/20 – Bats, Agriculture, and Wind Energy Development

    8/27 – Bats, Agriculture, and Mine Closures

    The webinars are open to all NRCS staff and any producers who would like to attend.  Please feel free to forward this information to other interested parties.  Anyone not already on our e-mail list can register for the series at www.batcon.org/NRCSwebinars (if you received this e-mail directly, you do not need to register).

     

    UPCOMING CONFERENCES: 

    North America Congress for Conservation Biology Meeting. July 13-16, Missoula, MT. The biennial NACCB provides a forum for presenting and discussing new research and developments in conservation science and practice for addressing today’s conservation challenges.

    First Stewards
    July 21-23, Washington, DC.

    First Stewards will hold their 2nd annual symposium at the National Museum of the American Indian. This year’s theme is
    United Indigenous Voices Address Sustainability: Climate Change and Traditional Places

    99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America
    Sacramento, California  August 10-15, 2014 
    http://www.esa.org/sacramento

     

    California Adaptation Forum 
    August 19-20, 2014
    . SACRAMENTO, CA

    This two-day forum will build off a successful National Adaptation Forum held in Colorado in 2013. The attendance of many California leaders there underscored the need for a California-focused event, which will be held every other year to complement the biennial national conference.  To register go to:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/886364449

    Ninth International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE) World Congress meeting, July 9th 2015

    Coming to Portland, Oregon July 5-10, 2015! The symposium, which is held every four years, brings scientists and practitioners from around the globe together to discuss and share landscape ecology work and information. The theme of the 2015 meeting is Crossing Scales, Crossing Borders: Global Approaches to Complex Challenges.

     

    ***SAVE THE DATE!!***  Sponsored by the CA LCC and CA Dept. of Water Resources

    Traditional Ecological Knowledge Workshop September 23rd, 2014 @ California State University, Sacramento
     

    Registration will open in June 2014. Check the California LCC website for details: http://californialcc.org/

     

     

    JOBS  (apologies for any duplication; thanks for passing along)

     

     

    Associate Director of Public Policy, California
    Audubon California

    The Associate Director of Public Policy will work to ensure that federal and state policies are created, modified, and managed to benefit birds, other wildlife, and their habitats. This position will work closely with elected officials and their staffs, public agencies, conservation partners, and the Audubon chapter network throughout California…..This position will be an integral member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership between Audubon California, The Nature Conservancy and Point Blue Conservation Science. … This position is based in Sacramento, California.

     

    Project Manager- Capacity Building
    California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD)
    (pdf)

    CARCD is seeking a dynamic, creative conservation professional to assist in leading our capacity building effort to strengthen and support the RCDs in meeting the next generation of conservation challenges. This is an exciting time in the RCD world and we are seeking someone who is up for the challenge. The ideal candidate will have a working knowledge of RCDs and/ or locally led conservation and experience working on political, organizational, and/or training projects. The position is located in Sacramento, Ca. To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to: Emily-sutherland@carcd.org by July 18th. The position is open until filled.

     

    Director, California Terrestrial Conservation Program, TNC
    Job ID 42252

    … a newly created position representing a unique opportunity to shape and lead a strategic vision for global conservation at the helm of the organization’s largest chapter. The Director will develop a compelling and unifying vision for terrestrial conservation in California, leading a team of approximately 30 employees throughout the state responsible for developing and implementing The Conservancy’s strategies to protect and restore priority terrestrial landscapes. The ideal candidate will be an experienced conservation leader with a proven ability to manage and inspire teams and significant experience developing and executing successful strategies in the environmental arena. The location is negotiable within California (San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles or San Diego). Applicants must apply on-line at www.nature.org/careers. To more easily locate the position, enter the job ID 42252 in the keyword search.

     

    Bird and marine mammal observers on board NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center research ships.

     Watershed Stewards Program
    two full-time Americorps member positions for 2014-1015.

    The Watershed Stewards Program’s (WSP) mission is to conserve, restore, and enhance anadromous watersheds for future generations by linking education with high quality scientific practices.   A program of the California Conservation Corps, WSP is one of the most productive programs for future employment in natural resources  Applications are due July 11San Joaquin River Partnership’s Watershed Stewards members will be working with CA Dept of Fish & Wildlife on salmon recovery field work a good percentage of their time as well as habitat restoration, assisting with fishery biology elements of our school field trips, and community events.  The San Joaquin River Partnership organizations will share mentor responsibilities for these Americorps members.  WSP’s experience with their members is that the majority are placed with career positions as a result of their program participation. We’re very excited about the creation of a San Joaquin River unit of WSP and benefits for youth and our community and our expectation is that this unit will grow in subsequent years. Here is a short video about WSP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrTPyXmsRr4

     

     

    FUNDING:

     

    The Kresge Foundation – Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity.  Designed for community-based organizations to help them influence local and regional climate-resilience planning.

    California State Coastal Conservancy has opened a second round of Climate Ready grants for local governments and non-profit organizations. A total of $1.5 million is available with applications due on August 22.

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     


    Physicist Offers $30000 Reward To Anyone Who Can Disprove Climate Change


    CBS Local

     - ‎July 2, 2014‎

           

    Physics professor and climate change expert Dr. Christopher Keating is offering a $30,000 reward to anyone who can disprove that man-made climate change is real.

     

    For cancer patients, sugar-coated cells are deadly

    Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:55 AM PDT

    Every living cell’s surface has a protein-embedded membrane that’s covered in polysaccharide chains – a literal sugar coating. A new study found this coating is especially thick and pronounced on cancer cells – leading to a more lethal cancer. “Changes to the sugar composition on the cell surface could alter physically how receptors are organized,” one researcher said. “That’s really the big thing: coupling the regulation of the sugar coating to these biochemical signaling molecules.”

     

     

     

     

     

    MUST SEE- Video of Snakes Caught in the Act in Petaluma

    by Eric Simons on June 26, 2014 Bay Nature

    Photo by Lishka Arata, Point Blue Conservation Science

    A few months ago, Point Blue Conservation Science staff member Karen Carlson spotted these two happy king snakes on the edge of Shollenberger Marsh in Petaluma. She, as one does, alerted her colleagues, and Brian Huse, Point Blue’s director of strategic program development, took this video. (Lishka Arata, a Point Blue conservation educator, also uploaded an observation to iNaturalist.)

     

     


     

     


     



     

    FREEDOM


     

     

     


     

     

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA ANSWER and Related Information

     

    What distinction does the White-tailed antelope squirrel hold?

    ANWER: b. it is the most widespread of antelope squirrels



    RELATED: “Ammospermophilus leucurus (White-tailed antelope squirrel)” (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
    More information, plus photos. http://ow.ly/yIcAC

     

    ————

    Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

    Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)

    3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954

    707-781-2555 x318

     

    www.pointblue.org  | Follow Point Blue on Facebook!

     

    Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.

     

  6. Earlier snowmelt prompting earlier breeding of Arctic birds

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    Just hatched Arctic shorebirds, like this long-billed dowitcher above, need to feed on abundant insects to grow and get ready for their southward migration in mid-summer. With earlier and earlier springs, shorebirds and other Arctic birds are challenged to adjust the timing of their breeding to insure that young have abundant resources. Credit: Steve Zack

     

    Earlier snowmelt prompting earlier breeding of Arctic birds

    Posted: 25 Jun 2014 12:12 PM PDT

     

    Biologists have found that migratory birds that breed in Arctic Alaska are initiating nests earlier in the spring, and that snowmelt occurring earlier in the season is a big reason why. The report, “Phenological advancement in arctic bird species: relative importance of snow melt and ecological factors,” appears in the current on-line edition of the journal Polar Biology. Lead author Joe Liebezeit (formerly with WCS) and co-author Steve Zack of WCS [and Point Blue research associate) have conducted research on Arctic birds and conservation issues in Alaska for more than a decade…. Researchers looked in nearly 2,500 nests of four shorebird species: semi-palmated sandpiper, red phalarope, red-necked phalarope, and pectoral sandpiper, and one songbird, the lapland longspur, and recorded when the first eggs were laid in each nest. The research occurred across four sites that ranged from the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay to the remote National Petroleum Reserve of western Arctic Alaska. Snow melt was assessed in nesting plots at different intervals in the early spring.

     

    Other variables, like nest predator abundance (which is thought to affect timing of breeding), and satellite measures of “green-up”(the seasonal flush of new growth of vegetation) in the tundra were also assessed as potential drivers of the change in nest timing, but were found to be less important than snow melt. “It seems clear that the timing of the snow melt in Arctic Alaska is the most important mechanism driving the earlier and earlier breeding dates we observed in the Arctic,” said Liebezeit. “The rates of advancement in earlier breeding are higher in Arctic birds than in other temperate bird species, and this accords with the fact that the Arctic climate is changing at twice the rate.”… WCS Coordinator of Bird Conservation Steve Zack said, “Migratory birds are nesting earlier in the changing Arctic, presumably to track the earlier springs and abundance of insect prey. Many of these birds winter in the tropics and might be compromising their complicated calendar of movements to accommodate this change. We’re concerned that there will be a threshold where they will no longer be able to track the emergence of these earlier springs, which may impact breeding success or even population viability.”

     

    J. R. Liebezeit, K. E. B. Gurney, M. Budde, S. Zack, D. Ward. Phenological advancement in arctic bird species: relative importance of snow melt and ecological factors. Polar Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00300-014-1522-x

  7. How a Wavy Jet Stream [from Climate Change] Fuels Cold, Hot Weather Extremes

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    How a Wavy Jet Stream Fuels Cold, Hot Weather Extremes

    Brian Kahn, Climate Central Published: Jun 23, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT weather.com

    Animation of the jet stream as it moves over North America, illustrating its troughs and ridges. (NASA)

    The pattern of a wavy jet stream was a recurring theme in U.S. weather forecasts this winter as a particularly jagged one essentially split the country in two. While there is a debate over whether climate change causes that pattern, new research shows that the waviness does exacerbate extreme weather. The research, published in Nature Climate Change on Sunday, looked at planetary waves on a monthly timescale.
    Waves are essentially the ridges and troughs left as the jet stream, a fast-moving river of air, cuts it way across the middle of the northern hemisphere. The jet stream essentially helps drive weather patterns around the northern half of the globe by pushing around storm systems and sometimes impeding their progress. James Screen, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter who co-authored the study, said he wanted to examine how planetary waves influenced persistent weather patterns, such as drought or extreme heat or cold. He examined the timeframe from 1979-2010, looking for 40 months that exhibited the most extreme precipitation, and for 40 months that showed the most extreme temperature departures from the norm. And the data showed that more wavy waves overwhelmingly accompanied months with temperature or precipitation extremes. Only a small percentage of months with extreme weather corresponded with a more relaxed series of waves…..

    ….Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Corporation for Atmospheric Research, said the study quantified a fairly well known pattern, though one he said climate scientists often take for granted. Climate researchers have started to look at these waves more closely, from how to use them to predict heat waves to how climate change could alter them. commentary in Science last month argued that climate change was at least in part to blame for the pattern that set up over the U.S. this past winter by making waves more common. That commentary is based on research published in 2012 that made the case for why rapid Arctic warming is increasing the odds of wilder planetary waves. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as areas around the equator because of unique feedbacks involving ice cover in the region. The research argues that as the temperature gradient between the poles and the equator decreases, planetary waves are getting out of whack and becoming even more extreme, though other research has challenged those findings…..Jennifer Francis, a researcher at Rutgers University who proposed the hypothesis, said there’s a ways to go toward understanding how climate change could affect planetary waves, and the meanderings of the jet stream. “This is a complicated problem, and finding answers is further challenged by the short time period over which those regional temperature changes have emerged as clear signals from the highly variable atmosphere,” she said in an email. “New approaches to this question are underway, however, and I’m confident that a clearer picture will come to light in the next few years.” Francis also stressed that understanding waves is just one component of understanding the larger category of extreme weather. Natural fluctuations in ocean temperatures, such as El Niño, and human-caused deforestation and air pollution, can all have an impact. Smaller fluctuations in the atmosphere can also lead to sudden, shorter-scale extreme events. Trenberth said that putting aside the impact climate change could have on waves, it can also alter the water cycle because a warmer atmosphere can hold more water, increasing the odds of heavy precipitation and extreme dryness.

  8. Drought, Wet Meadows and Sage Grouse: A Partner Biologist’s Perspective

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    Drought, Wet Meadows and Sage Grouse: A Partner Biologist’s Perspective

    By Tiffany Russell, Northeast California Partner Biologist, Point Blue Conservation Science for the Intermountain West Joint Venture

    Tiffany Russell and Ryan Burnett from Point Blue Conservation Science in the field at Cradle Valley. Photo by Wendell Gilgert

    When people think of California, they often think of palm trees and beaches, the Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood, or maybe Yosemite. What some don’t realize is that our diverse state contains large expanses of sagebrush habitat in its northeastern corner. This area is reminiscent of the old West: vast open landscapes, small mountain towns, sheepherders and cattlemen, and the ever-present scent of sage in the air. Within this region, on the edge of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Cascades, and the Modoc Plateau, the Greater Sage Grouse still survives at the western-most part of its range…..

    Photos by Tiffany Russell, Point Blue Conservation Science

  9. New Climate Change Adaptation Manual—Evidence to support nature conservation in a changing world (UK)

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    New Climate Change Adaptation Manual—Evidence to support nature conservation in a changing world (UK)

     


     

    Science into practice: Helping nature conservationists prepare for climate change

    3 June 2014

    Natural England and the RSPB, in partnership with the Environment Agency’s Climate Ready Support Service and the Forestry Commission have today published a new resource for conservation practitioners: ‘Climate change adaptation manual: evidence to support nature conservation in a changing climate’. There is strong evidence that climate change is already affecting wildlife and habitats; species such as the Dartford warbler and the bee orchid are moving further north and recent storms have highlighted the vulnerability of coastal and wetland habitats. But we can reduce the risks of climate change and, in some cases, make the most of new opportunities for species and habitats.  The Climate Change Adaptation Manual helps land managers and conservationists to plan and take action to limit the impacts of climate change on the natural environment. This is a ground-breaking step forward in responding to the risks recently highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its report ‘Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’. The manual is a hands-on document giving up-to-date, detailed, habitat-specific information for conservation managers to use, to prepare and respond to a changing climate.  It is divided into three sections, focusing on:

    • the key concepts for making decisions about adaptation and the impact of climate change on the natural environment;
    • climate change impacts and potential adaptation responses for 27 of England’s most important habitats; and
    • the relationship between climate change and the delivery of ecosystem services.

    ….Martin Harper, Conservation Director at the RSPB said: “We’re already witnessing the impacts of climate change at RSPB nature reserves across the country – and we’re taking action to ensure we protect wildlife from these changes. If we are going to help threatened species adapt to a warmer climate then we need to act fast. We also need to work together and share knowledge and experience – I hope this manual will help us do just that. Science has given us a clear warning about the future and we have no excuse for not acting now.”……The Climate Change Adaptation Manual can be found on Natural England’s publications catalogue.

    FROM THE MANUAL:

    2. Principles of climate change adaptation

     

    This section introduces climate change adaptation in general terms and provides links to the main evidence and policy documents. Adaptation is about tackling the vulnerabilities and risks climate change brings and making the most of any opportunities. More formally, adaptation can be defined as the adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities, (IPCC 4th Assessment report Working Group 2 Glossary). Adaptation is necessary and relevant to all areas of life. Within the UK, the National

    While the natural environment is the focus of this manual, it cannot be seen in isolation from wider human needs and activities. There is increasing evidence that the natural environment can be managed in ways that will help people adapt to climate change, as well as providing benefits for nature and its conservation. This is sometimes known as ecosystem – based adaptation, and examples include creating wetlands where they can provide a buffer against flooding, and creating green spaces or planting trees in towns to lower the temperature locally (as a result of shading and the cooling effect of water loss from leaves).On the other hand, it is possible for adaptation in one sector to hinder adaptation in others. For example, hard sea defences designed to reduce coastal flooding may prevent the natural readjustment of the shoreline and lead to a loss of coastal habitats. There are circumstances in which this may have to be accepted, for example to protect coastal towns, but often it will be possible to identify alternatives, using coastal habitats as ‘soft’ defences that provide adaptation for both people and nature.

     

    The concept of sustainable adaptation provides a useful way of looking at some of the prerequisites for a long-term, integrated approach to adaptation, including the synergies and trade-offs associated with cross-sectoral adaptation.

     

    Four principles for sustainable adaptation have been proposed (Macgregor and Cowan 2011):

    1. Adaptation should aim to maintain or enhance the environmental, social and economic benefits provided by a system, while accepting and accommodating inevitable changes to it.

    2. Adaptation should not solve one problem while creating or worsening others. Action that has multiple benefits and avoids creating negative effects for other people, places and sectors should be prioritised.

    3. Adaptation should seek to increase resilience to a wide range of future risks and address all aspects of vulnerability, rather than focusing solely on specific projected climate impacts.

    4. Approaches to adaptation should be flexible and not limit future action.

     

    Adaptation options can only be evaluated in this way if the objectives and benefits of conservation action are clearly framed. We need to understand what we are adapting for, as well as the impacts we are adapting to. An important aspect of sustainable adaptation is identifying action that would maintain or enhance the multiple benefits an area provides to society, by reducing vulnerability to a range of possible consequences of climate change. Climate projections necessarily define a range of potential future climates, and there is considerable uncertainty about the cascade of possible consequences for natural systems. It is usually more appropriate to consider a broad range of likely outcomes, as highly detailed or precise projections risk giving a false level of confidence; the UK Climate Projections 2009 facilitate this approach. Adaptive management is a commonly used management concept, not specific to climate change adaptation, and is based on a cycle of action, monitoring, review, and, if necessary, revision of actions. It is especially relevant to climate change adaptation, where the nature of impacts and the effectiveness of adaptation measures will become clearer over time. Effective monitoring of changes in the species, habitats and other features of the site is an essential prerequisitefor this approach. Monitoring of the effectiveness of interventions is also required.

     

    While some adaptation measures, such as changing grassland management, or increasing the capture of winter rain, may take only a few years to implement, others such as creating habitats can take much longer. For example, the RSPB’s Lakenheath Fen project took around ten years from inception to bitterns becoming established. Other habitats, for example woodland, are likely to take much longer to mature and achieve their desired ecological state. With such long lead-in times for some adaptation measures, it is important to start adaption now.

     

    The Government’s National Adaptation Programme sets out 4 focal areas for adaptation in the natural environment.

    ■■ Building ecological resilience to the impacts of climate change;

    ■■ Preparing for and accommodating inevitable change;

    ■■ Valuing the wider adaptation benefits the natural environment can deliver;

    ■■ Improving the evidence base.

     

    The following sections expand on these areas.

     

    And the US Climate-Smart Conservation Guide:

     


     
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The National Wildlife Federation’s Climate Smart Conservation – Putting Adaptation Principles Into Practice looks at how climate change already is affecting the nation’s wildlife and habitats, and addresses how natural resource managers will need to prepare for and adapt to these unprecedented changes. Developed by a broad collaboration of experts from federal, state, and non-governmental institutions, the guide offers practical steps for crafting conservation actions to enhance the resilience of the natural ecosystems on which wildlife and people depend.

  10. Conservation Science News June 27, 2014

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    Focus of the WeekNew Climate Change Adaptation Manual—Evidence to support nature conservation in a changing world (UK)

    1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

    2-CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

    3- ADAPTATION

    4- POLICY

    5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

    6-
    RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    7-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST 

    8-IMAGES OF THE WEEK

    ——————————–

    NOTE: Please pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
    Point Blue Conservation Science
    staff.  You can find these weekly compilations posted on line
    by clicking here.  For more information please see www.pointblue.org.


    The items contained in this update were drawn from www.dailyclimate.org, www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restorationhttp://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, CA BLM NewsBytes and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  
    You can sign up for the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative Newsletter or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium listserve to receive this or you can email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at pointblue.org if you want your name added to or dropped from this list. 

    Founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Point Blue’s 140 scientists advance nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to benefit wildlife and people, through bird and ecosystem science, partnerships and outreach.  We work collaboratively to guide and inspire positive conservation outcomes today — for a healthy, blue planet teeming with life in the future.  Read more about our 5-year strategic approach here.

     

     

    Focus of the Week- New Climate Change Adaptation Manual—Evidence to support nature conservation in a changing world (UK)

     


     

    Science into practice: Helping nature conservationists prepare for climate change

    3 June 2014

    Natural England and the RSPB, in partnership with the Environment Agency’s Climate Ready Support Service and the Forestry Commission have today published a new resource for conservation practitioners: ‘Climate change adaptation manual: evidence to support nature conservation in a changing climate’. There is strong evidence that climate change is already affecting wildlife and habitats; species such as the Dartford warbler and the bee orchid are moving further north and recent storms have highlighted the vulnerability of coastal and wetland habitats. But we can reduce the risks of climate change and, in some cases, make the most of new opportunities for species and habitats.  The Climate Change Adaptation Manual helps land managers and conservationists to plan and take action to limit the impacts of climate change on the natural environment. This is a ground-breaking step forward in responding to the risks recently highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its report ‘Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’. The manual is a hands-on document giving up-to-date, detailed, habitat-specific information for conservation managers to use, to prepare and respond to a changing climate.  It is divided into three sections, focusing on:

    • the key concepts for making decisions about adaptation and the impact of climate change on the natural environment;
    • climate change impacts and potential adaptation responses for 27 of England’s most important habitats; and
    • the relationship between climate change and the delivery of ecosystem services.

    ….Martin Harper, Conservation Director at the RSPB said: “We’re already witnessing the impacts of climate change at RSPB nature reserves across the country – and we’re taking action to ensure we protect wildlife from these changes. If we are going to help threatened species adapt to a warmer climate then we need to act fast. We also need to work together and share knowledge and experience – I hope this manual will help us do just that. Science has given us a clear warning about the future and we have no excuse for not acting now.”……The Climate Change Adaptation Manual can be found on Natural England’s publications catalogue.

    FROM THE MANUAL:

    2. Principles of climate change adaptation

     

    This section introduces climate change adaptation in general terms and provides links to the main evidence and policy documents. Adaptation is about tackling the vulnerabilities and risks climate change brings and making the most of any opportunities. More formally, adaptation can be defined as the adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities, (IPCC 4th Assessment report Working Group 2 Glossary). Adaptation is necessary and relevant to all areas of life. Within the UK, the National

    While the natural environment is the focus of this manual, it cannot be seen in isolation from wider human needs and activities. There is increasing evidence that the natural environment can be managed in ways that will help people adapt to climate change, as well as providing benefits for nature and its conservation. This is sometimes known as ecosystem – based adaptation, and examples include creating wetlands where they can provide a buffer against flooding, and creating green spaces or planting trees in towns to lower the temperature locally (as a result of shading and the cooling effect of water loss from leaves).On the other hand, it is possible for adaptation in one sector to hinder adaptation in others. For example, hard sea defences designed to reduce coastal flooding may prevent the natural readjustment of the shoreline and lead to a loss of coastal habitats. There are circumstances in which this may have to be accepted, for example to protect coastal towns, but often it will be possible to identify alternatives, using coastal habitats as ‘soft’ defences that provide adaptation for both people and nature.

     

    The concept of sustainable adaptation provides a useful way of looking at some of the prerequisites for a long-term, integrated approach to adaptation, including the synergies and trade-offs associated with cross-sectoral adaptation.

     

    Four principles for sustainable adaptation have been proposed (Macgregor and Cowan 2011):

    1. Adaptation should aim to maintain or enhance the environmental, social and economic benefits provided by a system, while accepting and accommodating inevitable changes to it.

    2. Adaptation should not solve one problem while creating or worsening others. Action that has multiple benefits and avoids creating negative effects for other people, places and sectors should be prioritised.

    3. Adaptation should seek to increase resilience to a wide range of future risks and address all aspects of vulnerability, rather than focusing solely on specific projected climate impacts.

    4. Approaches to adaptation should be flexible and not limit future action.

     

    Adaptation options can only be evaluated in this way if the objectives and benefits of conservation action are clearly framed. We need to understand what we are adapting for, as well as the impacts we are adapting to. An important aspect of sustainable adaptation is identifying action that would maintain or enhance the multiple benefits an area provides to society, by reducing vulnerability to a range of possible consequences of climate change. Climate projections necessarily define a range of potential future climates, and there is considerable uncertainty about the cascade of possible consequences for natural systems. It is usually more appropriate to consider a broad range of likely outcomes, as highly detailed or precise projections risk giving a false level of confidence; the UK Climate Projections 2009 facilitate this approach. Adaptive management is a commonly used management concept, not specific to climate change adaptation, and is based on a cycle of action, monitoring, review, and, if necessary, revision of actions. It is especially relevant to climate change adaptation, where the nature of impacts and the effectiveness of adaptation measures will become clearer over time. Effective monitoring of changes in the species, habitats and other features of the site is an essential prerequisitefor this approach. Monitoring of the effectiveness of interventions is also required.

     

    While some adaptation measures, such as changing grassland management, or increasing the capture of winter rain, may take only a few years to implement, others such as creating habitats can take much longer. For example, the RSPB’s Lakenheath Fen project took around ten years from inception to bitterns becoming established. Other habitats, for example woodland, are likely to take much longer to mature and achieve their desired ecological state. With such long lead-in times for some adaptation measures, it is important to start adaption now.

     

    The Government’s National Adaptation Programme sets out 4 focal areas for adaptation in the natural environment.

    ■■ Building ecological resilience to the impacts of climate change;

    ■■ Preparing for and accommodating inevitable change;

    ■■ Valuing the wider adaptation benefits the natural environment can deliver;

    ■■ Improving the evidence base.

     

    The following sections expand on these areas.

     

    And the US Climate-Smart Conservation Guide:

     


     
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The National Wildlife Federation’s Climate Smart Conservation – Putting Adaptation Principles Into Practice looks at how climate change already is affecting the nation’s wildlife and habitats, and addresses how natural resource managers will need to prepare for and adapt to these unprecedented changes. Developed by a broad collaboration of experts from federal, state, and non-governmental institutions, the guide offers practical steps for crafting conservation actions to enhance the resilience of the natural ecosystems on which wildlife and people depend.

     

     

     

     

    Observer aging and long-term avian survey data quality

    Robert G. Farmer1,*,Marty L. Leonard1, Joanna E. Mills Flemming2 and Sean C. Anderson1,3 Article first published online: 26 MAY 2014 DOI: 10.1002/ece3.1101 © 2014 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Ecology and Evolution
    Volume 4, Issue 12, pages 2563–2576, June 2014

    Abstract

    Long-term wildlife monitoring involves collecting time series data, often using the same observers over multiple years. Aging-related changes to these observers may be an important, under-recognized source of error that can bias management decisions. In this study, we used data from two large, independent bird surveys, the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario (“OBBA”) and the North American Breeding Bird Survey (“BBS”), to test for age-related observer effects in long-term time series of avian presence and abundance. We then considered the effect of such aging phenomena on current population trend estimates. We found significantly fewer detections among older versus younger observers for 13 of 43 OBBA species, and declines in detection as an observer ages for 4 of 6 vocalization groups comprising 59 of 64 BBS species. Consistent with hearing loss influencing this pattern, we also found evidence for increasingly severe detection declines with increasing call frequency among nine high-pitched bird species (OBBA); however, there were also detection declines at other frequencies, suggesting important additional effects of aging, independent of hearing loss. We lastly found subtle, significant relationships between some species’ published population trend estimates and (1) their corresponding vocalization frequency (n ≥ 22 species) and (2) their estimated declines in detectability among older observers (n = 9 high-frequency, monotone species), suggesting that
    observer aging can negatively bias long-term monitoring data for some species in part through hearing loss effects. We recommend that survey designers and modelers account for observer age where possible.

     


    Organic Agriculture Boosts Biodiversity on Farmlands


    June 26, 2014 — Organic farming fosters biodiversity. At least that’s the theory. In practice, however, the number of habitats on the land plays an important role alongside the type and intensity of farming practices. These are the findings of an international study that looked at 10 regions in Europe and two in Africa. The study shows that even organic farms have to actively support biodiversity by, for example, conserving different habitats on their holdings….

     

    Land management trumps the effects of climate change and elevated CO2 on grassland functioning

    Aurélie Thébault1,2,3,†, Pierre Mariotte4,†,*, Christopher J. Lortie5 and Andrew S. MacDougall3 Article first published online: 23 JUN 2014 DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12236

    Journal of Ecology
    Volume 102, Issue 4, pages 896–904, July 2014

    Summary

    1. Grasslands cover ˜30% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface and provide many ecosystem services. Many grasslands are heavily managed to maximize these services for human benefit, but the outcome of management is anticipated to be increasingly influenced by various aspects of climate change and elevated atmospheric CO2. The relative importance of global change vs. land management on grasslands is largely unknown.
    2. A meta-analysis is used here to examine drivers at both scales primarily targeting services provided by grasslands relating to plant productivity (above- and below-ground biomass) and soil processes (nutrients and soil respiration) in 38 manipulative experiments published in the last decade. We specifically target effects of (i) single and combined land management practices (LMs), (ii) single and combined factors relating to broad-scale climate change and elevated CO2, and (iii) combined management practices and changes to climate and CO2. Collectively, this examines the general efficacy of global change models in predicting changes to grassland functioning.
    3. We found that combinations of management practices had approximately double the explanatory power for variation in grassland services compared with individual or interactive effects of factors associated with climate change and CO2. These interacting management practices such as nutrient additions and defoliation predominantly influenced functions associated with productivity or biomass both below and above ground. The effects of interacting factors of climate and CO2 influenced a wider range of ecosystem functions, but the magnitude of these effects was relatively smaller.
    4. Interactions between management practices or between climate change/CO2 factors always had higher explanatory power than any factor in isolation indicating that multivariate synergistic models of environmental change can better describe impacts on ecosystem function in plant communities (e.g. relative to univariate climate-based models). Given that the magnitude and direction (positive or negative) of the interactions varied widely, this also implies that the outcomes of these multivariate interactions can vary spatially, temporally or by immediate context (e.g. management prescriptions).
    5. Synthesis. Although our work confirms how climate change and CO2 can affect many ecosystem-based functional attributes, it suggests that combinations of LMs [land management practices] remain the dominant set of factors in determining the performance of grassland plant communities. Land management may thus be critical for influencing projected responses to future climate change and elevated CO2 in models of grassland function at least for factors relating to primary production.

     

    Monarch butterflies employ a magnetic compass during migration

    Posted: 24 Jun 2014 02:23 PM PDT

    Scientists have identified a new component of the complex navigational system that allows monarch butterflies to transverse the 2,000 miles to their overwintering habitat each year. Monarchs use a light-dependent, inclination magnetic compass to help them orient southward during migration.

     

     

    The interactions between the Common Cuckoo and its hosts (like the Reed Warbler shown on the left, caring for a much larger cuckoo chick) provide … Credit: David Kjaer (left) and Mary Caswell Stoddard/Natural History Museum, UK (centre, right)

    Birds evolve ‘signature’ patterns to distinguish cuckoo eggs from their own

    Posted: 18 Jun 2014 04:17 AM PDT

    For some birds, recognizing their own eggs can be a matter of life or death. In a new study, scientists have shown that many birds affected by the parasitic Common Cuckoo — which lays its lethal offspring in other birds’ nests — have evolved distinctive patterns on their eggs in order to distinguish them from those laid by a cuckoo cheat.

     

    Mary Caswell Stoddard, Rebecca M. Kilner, Christopher Town. Pattern recognition algorithm reveals how birds evolve individual egg pattern signatures. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5117

     

     

    POINT BLUE in the news:

     

    Drought, Wet Meadows and Sage Grouse: A Partner Biologist’s Perspective

    By Tiffany Russell, Northeast California Partner Biologist, Point Blue Conservation Science for the Intermountain West Joint Venture

    Tiffany Russell and Ryan Burnett from Point Blue Conservation Science in the field at Cradle Valley. Photo by Wendell Gilgert

    When people think of California, they often think of palm trees and beaches, the Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood, or maybe Yosemite. What some don’t realize is that our diverse state contains large expanses of sagebrush habitat in its northeastern corner. This area is reminiscent of the old West: vast open landscapes, small mountain towns, sheepherders and cattlemen, and the ever-present scent of sage in the air. Within this region, on the edge of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Cascades, and the Modoc Plateau, the Greater Sage Grouse still survives at the western-most part of its range…..

    Photos by Tiffany Russell, Point Blue Conservation Science

     

    Emperor penguins are more willing to relocate than expected

    Posted: 20 Jun 2014 09:04 AM PDT

    The long-term future of emperor penguins is becoming more clear, thanks to new research showing that the penguins may be behaving in ways that allow them to adapt to their changing environment better than expected. Researchers have long thought that emperor penguins were philopatric, which means they would return to the same location to nest each year. The new research study used satellite images to show that penguins may not be faithful to previous nesting locations.

     

    A call to better protect Antarctica: Human activity threatening continent

    Posted: 18 Jun 2014 07:06 AM PDT

    With visitor numbers surging, Antarctica’s ice-free land needs better protection from human activities, leading environmental scientists say. The new study found that all 55 areas designated for protection lie close to sites of human activity. Antarctica has over 40,000 visitors a year, and more and more research facilities are being built in the continent’s tiny ice-free area. Most of the Antarctic wildlife and plants live in the ice-free areas — and this is also where people most visit.

     

    Bees and butterflies get a boost from the feds

    By Nathanael Johnson slate.com June 24, 2014

    After bailing out automakers and Wall Street bankers, the U.S. government has now rolled out a pair of programs to assist a more sympathetic recipient: insects. There’s finally a bailout for the bee and butterfly bankruptcy! U.S. farmers have gotten better and better at controlling weeds in their fields, and that’s been a disaster for monarch butterflies. Monarchs rely on one specific field plant: milkweed. They can’t survive without it. The populations of both milkweed and monarchs have taken a tumble with the rise of effective weed control, via the herbicide glyphosate and GMO crops that tolerate glyphosate. At the same time, honey bees have been dying off because of the mysterious colony collapse disorder, and many native bee populations are foundering. The White House just announced that it is creating a strategy to assist pollinators. The initial memo isn’t exactly revolutionary: It creates a task force and gives it six months to come up with a plan. There’s no new funding or regulation. So, okay, not the actual cash bailout that pollinators might have been hoping for. But there’s some muscle in this memo: It directs the departments in the executive branch to start increasing pollinator habitat. If the Department of Transportation starts planting butterfly gardens along every highway and the Department of Defense does the same on military bases, that’s a lot of real estate. There’s even more real estate under the control of the Department of the Interior. And the Department of Agriculture is also supposed to help out, by planting native seed mixes after forest fires, and helping farmers and ranchers plant for pollinators in their extra space: Hedgerows and fencelines could bloom. Finally, the memo directs the EPA to take a closer look at pesticides that kill pollinators, and, if appropriate, protect habitat from insecticides. These new efforts will contribute to programs that are already up and running. For example, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Xerces Society, a nonprofit for invertebrates, are already working together to produce milkweed seeds. The challenge is to find seeds that will thrive in the different biomes around the country. They’ve already produced over 35 million milkweed seeds and planted 120,000 acres for monarchs and other pollinators. Projects like this are great, though probably not enough on their own. For now, the change from business as usual amounts to just words. We’ll have to check in six months from now and see how the strategy pans out.

     

     

    Presidential Memorandum — Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

    White House MEMORANDUM FOR HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
    DATE: June 20, 2014

    SUBJECT: Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

    Pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment. The problem is serious and requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment…… [read more online]

     

     

    Maybe birds can have it all: Dazzling colors and pretty songs

    Posted: 18 Jun 2014 11:26 AM PDT

    A study of one of the world’s largest and most colorful bird families has dispelled a long-held notion, first proposed by Charles Darwin, that animals are limited in their options to evolve showiness. “Animals have limited resources, and they have to spend those in order to develop showy plumage or precision singing that help them attract mates and defend territories,” said the paper’s lead author. “So it seems to make sense that you can’t have both. But our study took a more detailed look and suggests that actually, some species can.”

     

     

     

    Illegal drone flights over Monterey Bay sanctuary draw warning

    By David Perlman SF Chronicle June 23, 2014 | Updated: June 24, 2014 5:28pm

    Officials at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are reminding the public that flying drones – or even model aircraft – is strictly forbidden over the sanctuary’s sensitive coastal areas.

    The reminder came after sanctuary officials received several complaints this year about drones buzzing over the sanctuary. In one instance, two drones flying over the grounds of Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station near Pacific Grove frightened a rookery of harbor seals – many with newborn pups and others pregnant – from a resting area into the ocean, said Scott Kathey, regulatory coordinator for the sanctuary. Two volunteer guides observed the stampeding seals and asked two men to stop flying their drones over the animals, Kathey said. “The guys just brushed the volunteers off,” he said.

    Since 1992, federal regulations have required aircraft of any kind to fly above 1,000 feet over particularly sensitive coastal areas of the sanctuary, he said. Because the Federal Aviation Administration bans drones and model aircraft from flying above 400 feet anywhere, use of the unmanned craft in these zones is illegal under any circumstance, he said….

     

     


    The waters just offshore from Point Arena support some of the most nutrient dense and productive ecosystems in the world. Image courtesy of Flickr user Iris

    Boundary Expansion for National Marine Sanctuaries in California Will Help Protect Marine Ecosystems, Foster Healthy Fisheries

    Posted by Rietta on Friday, May 30th, 2014

    In the entire United States, we have 14 special areas of the ocean and the Great Lakes that we’ve deemed necessary to protect. California alone is home to four of these National Marine Sanctuaries, with our stretch of Pacific ocean containing some of the most productive and diverse ecosystems of any coastline in the world. Cordell Bank, the Gulf of the Farallones, and Monterey Bay NMS protect these amazing ecosystems and ensure that they will continue to thrive, providing our coastal communities with jobs in fisheries and ecotourism. Now we are in the process of expanding the borders of Cordell Bank and the Gulf of the Farallones with a proposal that would more than double their size if the plan is approved. The proposed sanctuary expansion was initiated by public interest to prevent oil and gas exploration along the north coast, but the plan has been met with resistance from people concerned about commercial and recreational fishing restrictions. In actuality, the boundary expansion would ensure that these extremely productive coastal waters would be protected from harmful human activities, making it beneficial for local fisheries. These protected areas have a trickle-down effect for consumers, allowing them to keep their favorite local seafood items in stock at local markets and restaurants…..

     

    This shrew is more elephant than mouse

    Science AAAS

     - ‎June 27, 2014‎

           

    A cute new species of shrew has been discovered in the desert of Namibia. Though the little guy may look like a mouse, it shares more of its DNA with elephants, The Daily Mail reports.

     

    Obama plans world’s largest ocean preserve in Pacific

    Associated Press June 17, 2014

    Washington — Moving to protect fragile marine life, President Obama announced plans Tuesday to create the largest ocean preserve in the world by banning drilling, fishing and other activities in a massive stretch of the Pacific Ocean.

     

    Plastic Waste Causes $13 Billion In Damages To Marine Ecosystems Each Year

    More than 30 percent of the natural capital costs of plastic are due to greenhouse gas emissions from raw material extraction and processing.

    By Eco Watch | June 24, 2014

    Concern is growing over the threat that widespread plastic waste poses to marine life, with conservative estimates of the overall financial damage of plastics to marine ecosystems standing at $13 billion USD each year, according to two reports released on the opening day of the first UN Environment Assembly. The eleventh edition of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Year Book looks at ten issues flagged as emerging by previous reports over the past decade, including plastic waste in the ocean. The UNEP Year Book 2014 gives an update on each issue and provides options for action. Other areas covered include the environmental impacts of excess nitrogen and marine aquaculture, air pollution’s deadly toll and the potential of citizen science. Plastic, a UNEP-supported report produced by the Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP) and Trucost, makes the business case for managing and disclosing plastic use in the consumer goods industry. It finds that the overall natural capital cost of plastic use in the consumer goods sector each year is $75 billion USD—financial impacts resulting from issues such as pollution of the marine environment or air pollution caused by incinerating plastic. The report says that more than 30 percent of the natural capital costs of plastic are due to greenhouse gas emissions from raw material extraction and processing. However, it notes that marine pollution is the largest downstream cost, and that the figure of $13 billion USD is likely a significant underestimate…

     

     

    Why Are We Importing Our Own Fish?

    By PAUL GREENBERG NY Times Opinion JUNE 20, 2014

    Hundreds of shrimp trawlers setting off from the Shenjiamen fishing port in eastern China in 2010. Credit Hu Sheyou/Xinhua Press, via Corbis

    …..As go scallops, so goes the nation. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, even though the United States controls more ocean than any other country, 86 percent of the seafood we consume is imported. But it’s much fishier than that: While a majority of the seafood Americans eat is foreign, a third of what Americans catch is sold to foreigners….The seafood industry, it turns out, is a great example of the swaps, delete-and-replace maneuvers and other mechanisms that define so much of the outsourced American economy; you can find similar, seemingly inefficient phenomena in everything from textiles to technology. The difference with seafood, though, is that we’re talking about the destruction and outsourcing of the very ecological infrastructure that underpins the health of our coasts. Let’s walk through these illogical arrangements, course by course. ….

    Most seafood eaters know the sad story of the Atlantic cod. The ill effects of the postwar buildup of industrialized American fishing are epitomized by that fish’s overexploitation: Gorton’s fish sticks and McDonald’s Filets-o-Fish all once rode on the backs of billions of cod. The codfish populations of North America plummeted and have yet to return. Just as the North Atlantic was falling as a fish-stick producer, the Pacific rose. …..

    There was a time when “nova lox” was exactly that: wild Atlantic salmon (laks in Norwegian) caught off Nova Scotia or elsewhere in the North Atlantic. But most wild Atlantic salmon populations have been fished to commercial extinction, and today a majority of our lox comes from selectively bred farmed salmon, with Chile our largest supplier. This is curious, given that salmon are not native to the Southern Hemisphere. But after Norwegian aquaculture companies took them there in the ’80s, they became so numerous as to be considered an invasive species…..And I’d suggest that all this fish swapping contributes to an often fraudulent seafood marketplace, where nearly half of the oceanic products sold may be mislabeled. We can have no more intimate relationship with our environment than to eat from it. During the last century that intimacy has been lost, and with it our pathway to one of the most healthful American foods. It is our obligation to reclaim this intimacy. This requires us not just to eat local seafood; it requires the establishment of a working relationship with our marine environment. It means, in short, making seafood not only central to personal health, but critical to the larger health of the nation.

    Paul Greenberg is the author of the forthcoming book “American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood,” from which this essay was adapted.

     

     

    Plastic Stones, Melting Snails: 3 New Ways To Maim a Planet

    Humans to Earth: “Drop dead”

    Keegan Meyer saves equipment from DBE Manufacturing via boat after an area of town flooded in Greeley, Colorado. Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

    By Coco McPherson June 24, 2014 12:20 PM ET Rolling Stone

    …..Many scientists argue we’re in the Anthropocene, defined chiefly by human activity permanently altering the Earth. Three horrifying discoveries support the argument:

    1. PLASTIC STONES

    This month brought news of plastiglomerate formations on beaches. These “stones” are monstrous anthropogenic composites of plastic, sand, wood, rocks, shells, rubber tubing and fishing junk including nets, rope and anything else melted plastic might adhere to. Because plastic degrades so slowly, these plastic stones are now part of the planet’s geological record; a permanent marker of our civilization. Oceanographer Captain Charles Moore, a marine plastic pollution expert who discovered the stones, also identified the hideous North Pacific gyre, a plastic-saturated stretch of ocean that’s one of the most polluted areas in the world. In 1999, plastic pollution in the gyre outweighed zooplankton 6 to 1; now it’s 36 to 1. What’s to be done with the estimated 600 billion pounds of plastic manufactured every year?
    2. MELTING SNAILS

    In April, scientists reported that an acidifying Pacific Ocean had corroded and dissolved the shells of sea snails, a critical food source for fish including herring, mackerel and salmon. Chemical processes triggered by acidification were depleting the carbonate ions needed by corals, mussels and oysters to form their shells and skeletons. Oceans suck up a lot of the carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere; they’ve absorbed more than 560 billion tons of carbon dioxide since the 1850s, a 50 percent faster increase than any known historical change. The result: ocean acidification, the “other CO2 problem.”
    In Maine’s Casco Bay, scientists placed juvenile clams in mudflats bathed by an acidifying Atlantic Ocean — the clams promptly disintegrated. In addition to CO2 pollution, nitrogen runoff sourced to sewage plants and over-fertilized lawns also threatens Maine’s $60 million shellfish industry. “If I try to talk about climate change and ocean acidification, I lose people,” says Casco baykeeper Joe Payne. “I make it very short-term; the next three years. We’re focused on the fertilizer from people’s lawns that comes down the rivers and down the bay. It’s fertilizing microscopic plants in the water; when they die, bacteria breaks them down and takes oxygen out of the water. The byproduct of decomposition is CO2. We’re getting huge coastal acidification. What’s happening to the mud is astounding.”

    3. SPECIES EXTINCTION

    An asteroid caused the Earth’s fifth great species extinction, but humans have launched a sixth that may rival the effects of that deadly event. Last month, Science reported that animal and plant species are being wiped out at 1,000 times the natural rate. “This is a death rate,” explains the study’s lead author, Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation at Duke. Examining the fossil record, scientists determined how long it took a species to die out there and compared. “We read the obituary notices of species — if not exactly the newspapers but in the scientific literature,” Pimm tells Rolling Stone. “And that tells us that species are dying off at a rate of between 100 and 1,000 extinctions per million species per year.” Comparing this as a rate is important. “If somebody comes to me and says 130 extinctions per million species per year, I can name them, I can tell you where they lived and where they died.” Habitat destruction threatens plants and animals around the globe. In The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert writes that human beings have so altered the physical world that species literally cannot survive: “One of the defining features of the Anthropocene is that the world is changing in ways that compel species to move, and another is that it’s changing in ways that create barriers – roads, clear-cuts, cities – that prevent them from doing so.” In Coastal Brazil, where Stuart Pimm works to restore tropical forests, more species are going extinct than anywhere in the Americas. Only patches of forest remain on a landscape that is now highly fragmented. “We’re being enormously poor stewards,” observes Pimm. “The debate about species extinction is we’ve got a few decades to get our act together. Species are going to die, but the question is, ‘Can we postpone that event?’ We’re not going to get biodiversity back within millions of years. As a global community, are we going to do something about this or are we going to go recklessly headlong into one environmental disaster after another? Yes, this is an emergency. If we don’t do something in the next few decades we will lose. The Sixth Extinction hasn’t happened yet. We’ve done a lot of bad things. But we can stop.”

    Can we really stop? McKibben says pessimism’s a waste of time.” ‘No hope’ is both inaccurate and unhelpful. There’s no hope everything is going to be okay, there’s plenty of reason to hope we can keep it from getting worse than it has to. Which may mean lots of human lives, and lots of other DNA, make it through to the future.”

     

    The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate, by Al Gore

     

     

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK

     

    In some areas, bears have become a problem. This is most often because:
    (a.) They leave the remains of their prey lying around and breeding flies.
    (b.) They make dens in abandoned houses and empty garages.
    (c.) They knock over trees and destroy other vegetation while chasing prey.
    (d.) They find food in campsites or garbage cans.
    (e.) Someone starts a wildfire and bear with pants shows up with an attitude.
    (f.) Of resentment over decades of lost teddy bear royalties.

    See answer at bottom.

     

     

     

     

    NOAA: May global temperature reaches record high, driven largely by record warm oceans

    June 23, 2014

    According to NOAA scientists, the globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for May 2014 was the highest for May since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 39th consecutive May and 351st consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average global temperature for May occurred in 1976 and the last below-average temperature for any month occurred in February 1985. The majority of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, with record warmth across eastern Kazakhstan, parts of Indonesia, and central and northwestern Australia. Scattered sections across every major ocean basin were also record warm. Part of the northeastern Atlantic, small sections of the northwestern and southeastern Pacific, and the ocean waters off the southern tip of South America were cooler or much cooler than average…….Extreme wetness was observed during May over parts of central and eastern Europe, along with small sections in both eastern and western equatorial Africa. Extreme dryness was scattered across different parts of the globe, including northern and eastern South America, parts of northern and eastern Australia, and sections of East Asia. Some regions in northern and eastern Austria received record monthly rainfall for May. The region north of Salzburg to Mattersburg observed 230 percent of average May precipitation, the most since records began in 1820. Several individual stations set new May precipitation records….

     

     

    Ancient ocean currents may have changed pacing and intensity of ice ages: Slowing of currents may have flipped switch

    Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

    Researchers have found that the deep ocean currents that move heat around the globe stalled or even stopped about 950,000 years ago, possibly due to expanding ice cover in the north. The slowing currents increased carbon dioxide storage in the ocean, leaving less in the atmosphere, which kept temperatures cold and kicked the climate system into a new phase of colder but less frequent ice ages, they hypothesize.

     


    Just hatched Arctic shorebirds, like this long-billed dowitcher above, need to feed on abundant insects to grow and get ready for their southward migration in mid-summer. With earlier and earlier springs, shorebirds and other Arctic birds are challenged to adjust the timing of their breeding to insure that young have abundant resources. Credit: Steve Zack

    Earlier snowmelt prompting earlier breeding of Arctic birds

    Posted: 25 Jun 2014 12:12 PM PDT

    Biologists have found that migratory birds that breed in Arctic Alaska are initiating nests earlier in the spring, and that snowmelt occurring earlier in the season is a big reason why. The report, “Phenological advancement in arctic bird species: relative importance of snow melt and ecological factors,” appears in the current on-line edition of the journal Polar Biology. Lead author Joe Liebezeit (formerly with WCS) and co-author Steve Zack of WCS [and Point Blue research associate) have conducted research on Arctic birds and conservation issues in Alaska for more than a decade…. Researchers looked in nearly 2,500 nests of four shorebird species: semi-palmated sandpiper, red phalarope, red-necked phalarope, and pectoral sandpiper, and one songbird, the lapland longspur, and recorded when the first eggs were laid in each nest. The research occurred across four sites that ranged from the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay to the remote National Petroleum Reserve of western Arctic Alaska. Snow melt was assessed in nesting plots at different intervals in the early spring. Other variables, like nest predator abundance (which is thought to affect timing of breeding), and satellite measures of "green-up"(the seasonal flush of new growth of vegetation) in the tundra were also assessed as potential drivers of the change in nest timing, but were found to be less important than snow melt. "It seems clear that the timing of the snow melt in Arctic Alaska is the most important mechanism driving the earlier and earlier breeding dates we observed in the Arctic," said Liebezeit. "The rates of advancement in earlier breeding are higher in Arctic birds than in other temperate bird species, and this accords with the fact that the Arctic climate is changing at twice the rate."… WCS Coordinator of Bird Conservation Steve Zack said, "Migratory birds are nesting earlier in the changing Arctic, presumably to track the earlier springs and abundance of insect prey. Many of these birds winter in the tropics and might be compromising their complicated calendar of movements to accommodate this change. We're concerned that there will be a threshold where they will no longer be able to track the emergence of these earlier springs, which may impact breeding success or even population viability."

     

    J. R. Liebezeit, K. E. B. Gurney, M. Budde, S. Zack, D. Ward. Phenological advancement in arctic bird species: relative importance of snow melt and ecological factors. Polar Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00300-014-1522-x

     


    Restricting Competitors Could Help Threatened Species Cope With Climate Change



    June 24, 2014 — Threatened animal species could cope better with the effects of climate change if competition from other animals for the same habitats is restricted, according to new research. Observing the goats in the Italian Alps during the summer, the researchers found that Chamois tended to move to higher altitudes where it is cooler on hotter days and in the middle of the day, but moved much higher when sheep were present. To their surprise, they discovered that competition with sheep had a far greater effect on Chamois than the predicted effects of future climate change… Fellow study co-author Dr Philip Stephens, also in Durham University's Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, added: "We often think of climate as the major determinant of where animals live.

    "However, this study shows that the effects of species interactions could be more important than the predicted impacts of climate change." The study, funded by The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) also revealed that Chamois can alter their behaviour in the face of warmer temperatures, seeking shelter during hot periods rather than moving to higher altitudes. The researchers said that an ability to adjust their behaviours could make some species more adaptable to climate change than previously thought. However, they added that a better understanding of the costs of these behaviours was required.…..full story

     

    Tom H.E. Mason, Philip A. Stephens, Marco Apollonio, Stephen G. Willis. Predicting potential responses to future climate in an alpine ungulate: interspecific interactions exceed climate effects. Global Change Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12641

     

     

     

    New study improves measurements of the warming oceans

    Uncertainties in ocean measurements are crucial to our understanding of human-caused climate change

    John Abraham
    theguardian.com, Friday 20 June 2014 09.00 EDT

    Heating of the oceans is, pardon the pun, a hot subject. There is a broad recognition that the oceans, which absorb approximately 90% of excess greenhouse gas energy, are key not only to how fast the planet will warm, but also how hot it will get in the end. Many recent studies have tried to measure deeper ocean regions or previously uncharted areas in the search for heat. A new study by Lijing Cheng and Jiang Zhu takes a different approach. They ask how large are biases in the estimates of ocean heating from the finite resolution of the devices themselves. Their findings are exciting, but first, let's talk about the details of the study…. Decades ago, insulated buckets, then, bathythermograph devices, and now ARGO floats have been used. While these devices all go down into the ocean depths, they have different depth resolutions. Over the years, we have a large number of measurements near ocean's surfaces but as we measure deeper and deeper, fewer and fewer data points are available. As a result, we cannot construct exact temperature-depth curves. Consequently, our discrete data points give us some error, some bias compared to real ocean temperatures.

    In their paper, Lijing Cheng and Jiang Zhu quantify our ocean errors. They started with a "real" ocean temperature and then they extracted discrete data and asked themselves how their discrete data matched the original temperatures. By discrete data, I mean that they extracted temperatures every 10 meters, 20 meters, 30 meters, and so forth. Somewhat like the science of calculus where smooth curves are approximated by a series of straight-lined segments. What they found was very interesting. In the upper regions of the oceans, the discrete data was colder than the real ocean temperatures. However, deeper in the waters, the trend reversed and the discrete data was warmer. But to make things more complicated, the errors differed depending on location in the oceans. Near the equator (tropics), the discrete data exhibited a warm bias but further from the equator, the bias was cold. Furthermore, the extent of the error changed throughout the year….

     

     

    Understanding the ocean's role in Greenland glacier melt

    June 23, 2014
    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    The Greenland Ice Sheet is a 1.7 million-square-kilometer, 2-mile thick layer of ice that covers Greenland. Its fate is inextricably linked to our global climate system. In the last 40 years, ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet increased four-fold contributing to one-quarter of global sea level rise. Some of the increased melting at the surface of the ice sheet is due to a warmer atmosphere, but the ocean's role in driving ice loss largely remains a mystery. Research by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Univ. of Oregon sheds new light on the connection between the ocean and Greenland's outlet glaciers, and provides important data for future estimates of how fast the ice sheet will melt and how much mass will be lost. The study was published today in Nature Geosciences. … From their analysis of the data, the researchers found rapid fluctuations in ocean temperature near the glaciers, resulting from "surprisingly" fast ocean currents in the fjords. The fjord currents, which reverse every few days, are driven by winds and ocean currents outside the fjord. These findings imply that changes in temperature in the ocean waters outside the fjord can be rapidly communicated to the glacier, through an efficient pumping of new water into the fjord. "We see much more variability in the upper fjord than we would have expected," Jackson said. "Our findings go against the prevailing paradigm that focused on the input of freshwater to the fjord as a driver of new water into the fjord."

    Rebecca H. Jackson, Fiammetta Straneo, David A. Sutherland. Externally forced fluctuations in ocean temperature at Greenland glaciers in non-summer months. Nature Geoscience, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2186

     

    Regional weather extremes linked to atmospheric variations

    Posted: 22 Jun 2014 11:22 AM PDT

    Variations in high-altitude wind patterns expose particular parts of Europe, Asia and the US to different extreme weather conditions, a new study has shown. Changes to air flow patterns around the Northern Hemisphere are a major influence on prolonged bouts of unseasonal weather -- whether it be hot, cold, wet or dry…. Dr James Screen, a Mathematics Research Fellow at the University of Exeter and lead author of the study, said: "The impacts of large and slow moving atmospheric waves are different in different places. In some places amplified waves increase the chance of unusually hot conditions, and in others the risk of cold, wet or dry conditions." The study showed that larger waves can lead to droughts in central North America, Europe and central Asia, and western Asia exposed to prolonged wet spells. It also shows western North America and central Asia are more prone to heat waves, while eastern North America is more likely to experience prolonged outbreaks of cold….

     

    James A. Screen, Ian Simmonds. Amplified mid-latitude planetary waves favour particular regional weather extremes. Nature Climate Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2271

     

    How a Wavy Jet Stream Fuels Cold, Hot Weather Extremes

    Brian Kahn, Climate Central Published: Jun 23, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT weather.com

    Animation of the jet stream as it moves over North America, illustrating its troughs and ridges. (NASA)

    The pattern of a wavy jet stream was a recurring theme in U.S. weather forecasts this winter as a particularly jagged one essentially split the country in two. While there is a debate over whether climate change causes that pattern, new research shows that the waviness does exacerbate extreme weather. The research, published in Nature Climate Change on Sunday, looked at planetary waves on a monthly timescale.
    Waves are essentially the ridges and troughs left as the jet stream, a fast-moving river of air, cuts it way across the middle of the northern hemisphere. The jet stream essentially helps drive weather patterns around the northern half of the globe by pushing around storm systems and sometimes impeding their progress. James Screen, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter who co-authored the study, said he wanted to examine how planetary waves influenced persistent weather patterns, such as drought or extreme heat or cold. He examined the timeframe from 1979-2010, looking for 40 months that exhibited the most extreme precipitation, and for 40 months that showed the most extreme temperature departures from the norm. And the data showed that more wavy waves overwhelmingly accompanied months with temperature or precipitation extremes. Only a small percentage of months with extreme weather corresponded with a more relaxed series of waves…..

    ….Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Corporation for Atmospheric Research, said the study quantified a fairly well known pattern, though one he said climate scientists often take for granted. Climate researchers have started to look at these waves more closely, from how to use them to predict heat waves to how climate change could alter them. commentary in Science last month argued that climate change was at least in part to blame for the pattern that set up over the U.S. this past winter by making waves more common. That commentary is based on research published in 2012 that made the case for why rapid Arctic warming is increasing the odds of wilder planetary waves. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as areas around the equator because of unique feedbacks involving ice cover in the region. The research argues that as the temperature gradient between the poles and the equator decreases, planetary waves are getting out of whack and becoming even more extreme, though other research has challenged those findings…..Jennifer Francis, a researcher at Rutgers University who proposed the hypothesis, said there's a ways to go toward understanding how climate change could affect planetary waves, and the meanderings of the jet stream. "This is a complicated problem, and finding answers is further challenged by the short time period over which those regional temperature changes have emerged as clear signals from the highly variable atmosphere," she said in an email. "New approaches to this question are underway, however, and I'm confident that a clearer picture will come to light in the next few years." Francis also stressed that understanding waves is just one component of understanding the larger category of extreme weather. Natural fluctuations in ocean temperatures, such as El Niño, and human-caused deforestation and air pollution, can all have an impact. Smaller fluctuations in the atmosphere can also lead to sudden, shorter-scale extreme events. Trenberth said that putting aside the impact climate change could have on waves, it can also alter the water cycle because a warmer atmosphere can hold more water, increasing the odds of heavy precipitation and extreme dryness.

     

    Animation of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Credit: NOAA.

    Atmosphere May Be Getting in Gear for El Niño

    June 20th, 2014 By Andrea Thompson climatecentral.org

    The atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean may be getting its act together and finally cooperating with shifting ocean waters to signal that an El Niño has arrived, climate scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in their latest outlook. El Niño watchers have been waiting for the climate phenomenon to show up since an El Niño Watch was issued back in March, meaning that conditions were favorable for one to develop in the next six months. Potential El Niño events are so closely watched because of the influence they can have on the world's weather. Depending on when this El Niño develops, it could also bump up Earth's already warming temperature enough to make 2014 or 2015 a record warm year, scientists have said…..

     


    The Midwest Receives Two Months Of Rainfall In One Week

    By Katie Valentine on June 23, 2014

    The Twin Cities have set records for the wettest year so far since 1871 and one of the wettest Junes ever recorded.

    This concrete post was driven to bedrock in 1924 in the Everglades by University of Florida staff. The soil has subsided more than 6 feet in 90 years. Luckily, the rate of soil loss has been cut in 1/2 due to best management practices.

    Where has all the soil gone? Focusing on soil loss important to researchers

    Posted: 18 Jun 2014 01:39 PM PDT

    During these times of high drought and potential dust storms (or torrential rain and flash flooding), focusing on soil loss is important. Soil erosion is expensive. It costs the United States about $44 billion per year. Preventing erosion means taking care of the soil. That means protecting it with mulch and plants, not plowing on steep slopes, and maximizing the amount of water that enters the soil while minimizing the water that runs over the soil

     

    There may be a bright side to glacier melt

    Release of iron into the ocean may fertilise phytoplankton that can trap carbon dioxide

    By Philip Dooley June 27, 2014

    A melting glacier in Scoresby Sound, Greenland. New findings suggest they may be fertilising the ocean. CREDIT: MINT IMAGES/FRANS LANTING/GETTY IMAGES

    One of the alarming harbingers of global warming has been the melting of glaciers, but it turns out that there may be a silver lining, albeit a small one. The glaciers are releasing iron into the ocean and fertilising microscopic single-celled marine plants known as phytoplankton. Geoengineers have long suggested adding iron to the ocean to fertilise plankton. It seems nature is doing it on its own. Jon Hawkings from Bristol University in the UK led the team studying the melt waters that pool beneath west Greenland's glaciers and found them rich in iron. The researchers calculated the total amount of iron entering the world's oceans this way would average around a million tonnes per year – the weight of 125 Eiffel Towers. Iron is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and plenty accumulates in glaciers as they gouge their way across the landscape. Nevertheless iron is very scarce in the oceans as it reacts with oxygen to form iron oxides. Once fully oxidised, it forms insoluble crystals that sink to the bottom of the ocean, leaving the phytoplankton hungry. However, the iron in the glacial melt water has a different story, says Hawkings. "We think the isolated environment under the glaciers might have no oxygen, it's all been used up by chemical reactions." The result is that iron carried into the sea is only partially oxidised, in a form that phytoplankton can access. Once out in the ocean the iron begins to oxidise further, but not so fast that the phytoplankton can't snack on some first. This surge of nutrients enables them to multiply exponentially, in the process trapping large amounts of carbon dioxide. As the phytoplankton die they carry some of that carbon down to the ocean floor, where it remains. The discovery that the glacial melt water trickling into the ocean carries bioavailable iron solves a previous puzzle. "You can observe large algal blooms in satellite images, sometimes stretching for hundreds of kilometres. People have struggled to explain why they're there," says Hawkings, whose research was published in Nature Communications in May. The iron provides the explanation….

     

     

     

    What does climate change mean for sea turtles?

    Graeme Hays Professor of Marine Science at Deakin University June 23 2014

    Is climate change good or bad news for sea turtles? djblock99/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

    You might have seen in recent news that climate change may increase the size of some sea turtle populations, by increasing the number of female turtles. These studies hinge on an unusual trait of sea turtles: their sex is determined by the temperature in the nest. Turtle eggs incubated above 29C produce mostly females, while temperatures under 29C produce mostly males. Our recent study published in Nature Climate Change found that by altering the sex ratio of turtle populations in favour of females, climate change could lead to a population increase in the short term. But this isn't the whole story….

     

     

    Humans have been changing Chinese environment for 3,000 years: Ancient levee system set stage for massive, dynasty-toppling floods

    Posted: 19 Jun 2014 09:50 AM PDT

    A widespread pattern of human-caused environmental degradation and related flood-mitigation efforts began changing the natural flow of China's Yellow River nearly 3,000 years ago, setting the stage for massive floods that toppled the Western Han Dynasty, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

     

     

    Words Matter When Talking Global Warming: The 'Good Anthropocene' Debate

    By Joe Romm June 19, 2014 at 10:24 am Updated: June 19, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    We spend more of our waking hours communicating than perhaps any other single activity. And while the principles of effective writing and speaking have been understood for centuries if not millennia, they are largely ignored today — sometimes intentionally, as Orwell pointed out nearly seven decades ago. ….. I've been thinking about all this because I was on two recent science communications panels: a "Science & Policy Communications Workshop" this week for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and a Communications Workshop at the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Summer Policy Colloquium last week. Everything I know on the subject can be found in my 2012 book, "Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln and Lady Gaga." For those who want the pithy version, start with the great 20th Century essayist, Orwell, in his greatest essay, "Politics And The English Language" — and the great 20th Century orator, Winston Churchill, in his essay metaphorically titled, "The Scaffolding of Rhetoric." Orwell offers six simple rules for writing with clarity, "rules that one can rely on when instinct fails," when you are "in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase":

    • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
    • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
    • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
    • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
    • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

    What's interesting is that in his essay, Churchill says some very similar things even though he is focused on oratory. "There is no more important element in the technique of rhetoric than the continual employment of the best possible word," he argues. "Whatever part of speech it is it must in each case absolutely express the full meaning of the speaker. It will leave no room for alternatives." So clarity is king, just as it is for Orwell. Churchill then takes on a very common myth about rhetoric… [read on for an excellent essay conclusion!]…


    An externally-valid approach to consensus messaging [on climate change]

    Posted on 21 June 2014 by John Cook skepticalscience.com

    Earlier this week, Dan Kahan published a blog post questioning the value of consensus messaging. He generously allowed me to publish a guest post, An “externally-valid” approach to consensus messaging, responding to his issues. For starters, I examine Dan’s idea that the consensus gap (the gap between public perception and the 97% consensus) is due to cultural cognition. I point out that there is a consensus gap even among liberals:

    • A 2012 Pew surveys of the general public found that even among liberals, there is low perception of the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming. When Democrats are asked “Do scientists agree earth is getting warmer because of human activity?”, only 58% said yes. There’s a significant “consensus gap” even for those whose cultural values predispose them towards accepting the scientific consensus. A “liberal consensus gap”.
    • My own data, measuring climate perceptions amongst US representative samples, confirms the liberal consensus gap. The figure below shows what people said in 2013 when asked how many climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming. The x-axis is a measure of political ideology (specifically, support for free markets). For people on the political right (e.g., more politically conservative), perception of scientific consensus decreases, just as cultural cognition predicts. However, the most relevant feature for this discussion is the perceived consensus on the left…..

     

    Mediterranean region struggles with warming, acidification and jellyfish blooms
    ClimateWire June 27, 2014


    Loss of tourism as a result of degradation to marine ecosystems, such as local jellyfish blooms, was one of the 10 top problems in the Mediterranean announced this month at a conference highlighting the conclusions of a study funded by the European Commission on the health of the sea.

     

     

    DROUGHT:

     

    http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

     

    Satellite data provides picture of underground water

    Posted: 18 Jun 2014 07:06 AM PDT

    Scientists demonstrate that satellite-collected data can accurately measure aquifer levels, a finding with potentially huge implications for management of precious global water sources. Superman isn’t the only one who can see through solid surfaces. In a development that could revolutionize the management of precious groundwater around the world, Stanford researchers have pioneered the use of satellites to accurately measure levels of water stored hundreds of feet below ground. Their findings were published recently in Water Resources Research. Groundwater provides 25 to 40 percent of all drinking water worldwide, and is the primary source of freshwater in many arid countries, according to the National Groundwater Association. About 60 percent of all withdrawn groundwater goes to crop irrigation. In the United States, the number is closer to 70 percent. In much of the world, however, underground reservoirs or aquifers are poorly managed and rapidly depleted due to a lack of water-level data. Developing useful groundwater models, availability predictions and water budgets is very challenging. Study co-author Rosemary Knight, a professor of geophysics and senior fellow, by courtesy, at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, compared groundwater use to a mismanaged bank account: “It’s like me saying I’m going to retire and live off my savings without knowing how much is in the account.” Lead author Jessica Reeves, a postdoctoral scholar in geophysics, extended Knight’s analogy to the connection among farmers who depend on the same groundwater source. “Imagine your account was connected to someone else’s account, and they were withdrawing from it without your knowing.“….

     

    Jessica A. Reeves, Rosemary Knight, Howard A. Zebker, Peter K. Kitanidis, Willem A. Schreüder. Estimating temporal changes in hydraulic head using InSAR data in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Water Resources Research, 2014; 50 (5): 4459 DOI: 10.1002/2013WR014938

     

    Water war bubbling up between California and Arizona

    Michael Hiltzik
    June 20, 2014 LA Times

    Low water levels are plainly visible on Lake Mead, which is fed by the Colorado River. (Michael Robinson Chavez / LA Times)

    Once upon a time, California and Arizona went to war over water. The year was 1934, and Arizona was convinced that the construction of Parker Dam on the lower Colorado River was merely a plot to enable California to steal its water rights. Its governor, Benjamin Moeur, dispatched a squad of National Guardsmen up the river to secure the eastern bank from the decks of the ferryboat Julia B. — derisively dubbed “Arizona’s navy” by a Times war correspondent assigned to cover the skirmish. After the federal government imposed a truce, the guardsmen returned home as “conquering heroes.”

    The next water war between California and Arizona won’t be such an amusing little affair. And it’s coming soon.

    Nineteenth-century water law is meeting 20th-century infrastructure and 21st century climate change, and it leads to a nonsensical outcome.
    - Bradley Udall, a senior fellow at the University of Colorado Law School. The issue still is the Colorado River. Overconsumption and climate change have placed the river in long-term decline. It’s never provided the bounty that was expected in 1922, when the initial allocations among the seven states of the Colorado River basin were penciled out as part of the landmark Colorado River Compact, which enabled Hoover Dam to be built, and the shortfall is growing. The signs of decline are impossible to miss. One is the wide white bathtub ring around Lake Mead, the reservoir behind Hoover Dam, showing the difference between its maximum level and today’s. Lake Mead is currently at 40% of capacity, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dam. At 1084.63 feet on Wednesday, it’s a couple of feet above its lowest water level since it began filling in 1935. But the rules governing appropriations from the river are unforgiving and don’t provide for much shared sacrifice among the states, or among farmers and city dwellers. The developing crisis can’t be caricatured as farmers versus fish, as it is by Central Valley growers irked at environmental diversions of water into the region’s streams. It can’t be addressed by building more dams, because reservoirs can’t be filled with water that doesn’t come. And it can’t be addressed by technological solutions such as desalination, which can provide only marginal supplies of fresh water, and then only at enormous expense….

     

    Sudden oak death drying up with drought

    Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Updated 10:45 pm, Sunday, June 22, 2014

    The California drought is helping save the state’s signature tree – the mighty oak – by slowing down the spread of the plague-like disease scientists call sudden oak death. The exceptionally dry conditions have drastically reduced the number of contagious spores that have killed hundreds of thousands of oak trees and raised havoc among tree lovers and scientists. Preliminary results of surveys taken between April 4 and June 5 this year show an infection rate of between 2 and 10 percent of California bay laurel trees tested in 17 western counties between Fort Bragg and San Luis Obispo. That’s compared with between 20 and 80 percent during a normal year when rainfall is abundant. Pinpointing infected bay laurels is the key to fighting the tree-strangling pathogen because bays are the waylay point for the miscreant microbes before they do their dirty work on oaks. The findings are significant because scientists had predicted that sudden oak death, discovered in Mill Valley in 1995, would kill 90 percent of California’s oaks within 20 years. The drought is giving scientists battling the microscopic malefactor a fighting chance like they’ve never had before…..

     

     

    California Drought: Snowmelt’s path shows impact from Sierra to Pacific- SPECIAL REPORT with VIDEOS

    By Lisa Krieger San Jose Mercury News Posted:   06/21/2014 03:56:24 PM PDT

    When a single snowflake falls peacefully atop a Sierra peak, it begins a turbulent journey to help quench the thirst of a drought-stricken state. In most years, Sierra snow provides a third of California’s water supply. But it is by far the least reliable portion — and now, after three years of historically low snowfall, tensions are soaring over how we share the shrinking bounty of this great frozen reservoir. Today, on the cusp of a long, dry summer, we follow the melting snow — and meet its dependents — along one of its many routes from remote peaks to thriving communities around the Golden State. As our snowmelt travels the 300-mile path from Yosemite’s Mount Dana to the sea, it meanders through the Tuolumne River watershed, past hydropower plants and nurseries, wildlife refuges and chemical plants, vineyards and the San Francisco Bay Area, where it provides water for millions of people…..

    ….The water in Don Pedro Lake was promised long ago to entrepreneurial farmers who built the dam and created the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts. About half of the 1.7 million acre feet of water captured by the Tuolumne River watershed goes to their farms. San Francisco’s PUC gets about 12 percent, and the rest goes downriver.

    In California, we don’t own water. Rather, we just have the right to use it. These mighty districts — whose canals extend for more than 400 miles — sit atop the Tuolumne River’s human pecking order because they made their claim in 1887, under a water rights system that emerged with the early settlement of California known as “first in time, first in right.” Their access to water trumps San Francisco’s. But they rank below the rights of wildlife, which are protected by federal law — a major source of conflict in the region’s age-old fight for water…..    

    Who has water rights? How much water is allotted to each user? To find, go to this interactive map, produced by the New California Water Atlas: http://projects-ca.statewater.org/water-rights.

    • There is a pecking order to these rights, regulated by the State Water Board, which determines who can take water when there’s not enough to go around.
    • Riparian rights: The oldest and most senior of rights, dating back to English common law, given to owners of waterfront property, who must share water with other waterfront owners.
    • Appropriative “senior” rights: Next in line, these are given to users who aren’t connected to waterfront property but who made a claim on a river, stream or lake before 1914 under a long-held Western tradition of “first in time, first in right.” Not subject to permit or license.
    • Appropriative junior” rights: Given to users who aren’t connected to waterfront property and filed after 1914. Must obtain permit and license from state.

     


    California’s record-warmest year worsens exceptional drought; El Niño continues to develop in Pacific


    Filed in Uncategorized by Daniel Swain on June 22, 2014 • CA Weather Blog http://www.weatherwest.com/archives/1569

    The past couple of weeks have been warm and dry across nearly the entire state.

    Persistent high pressure and geopotential height ridging have continued across the North Pacific in recent weeks. (NOAA/ESRL) While no widespread major heat waves occurred, certain regions (particularly in the Sacramento Valley) did set new daily record highs on a couple of occasions since my last post, and most other regions have averaged at least several degrees above normal for this time of year. “June gloom”–or the marine stratus and low clouds that are typically prevalent near the California coastline during early summer–has been less extensive than usual so far this summer. On a possibly related note, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are warmer than normal along the coast of Southern California (by as much as +3-4 F)…. California’s exceptional drought continues to make national and international headlines, and for good reason. 2014 has been (and remains) California’s warmest year to date in at least 118 years of record-keeping (and this follows the superlative warmest winter on record in 2013-2014). While the Water Year totals are not year in, 2013-2014 is destined to be among the top 3 driest Water Years on record, and this follows the all-time driest calendar year on record (by far) in 2013. Parallels have increasingly been drawn between the current event and both the much-remembered mid-1970s drought and the less-remembered but perhaps even more intense 1930s drought (which was associated with a much broader event across much of North America, including the devastating Dust Bowl conditions in the Great Plains). Given the fact that conditions during the present event are occurring in the broader context of record-warm temperatures–with associated record-high evaporation and soil/vegetation dryness–by some measures the hydrological intensity of the current drought is exceeding that of any recorded historical drought in California. And it’s also worth keeping in mind that we don’t yet know when the current drought will end: as many have noted, even a wetter-than-normal winter in 2014-2015 would almost certainly not be able to erase the phenomenal water deficits that currently exist around the state…..

     

     

     

     

     

     

    US mayors give unanimous nod for cities to use nature to fight climate change effects

    Ernest Moniz, right, secretary, United States Department of Energy, discusses climate protection with Gina McCarthy, ledt, United States Environmental Protection Agency, and David Agnew at the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, on June 22, 2014. Attendees of the U.S. Conference of Mayors voted Sunday to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in Dallas, on Sunday, June 22, 2014. The resolution encourages cities to use natural solutions to “protect freshwater supplies, defend the nation’s coastlines, maintain a healthy tree cover and protect air quality,” sometimes by partnering with nonprofit organizations. The resolution only “encourages” steps rather than mandating action. (AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Michael Ainsworth)

    By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI, Associated Press June 23, 2014 | HOUSTON (AP) — A bipartisan group of mayors from across the country unanimously approved a resolution Monday that calls on cities to use natural solutions to fight the effects of climate change. Attendees of the U.S. Conference of Mayors voted in Dallas on the resolution that encourages cities to use nature to “protect freshwater supplies, defend the nation’s coastlines, maintain a healthy tree and green space cover and protect air quality,” sometimes by partnering with nonprofit organizations. The resolution was backed by mayors from GOP-dominated states — Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. It passed easily even though Republicans and Democrats remain deeply divided over how to deal with climate change. Although science shows human industrial activity is contributing to global warming, some conservatives remain skeptical. “What’s so significant is that there was a unanimous vote on an issue that can be so divisive,” said Laura Huffman, director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas. “When you peel away the high-level arguments and deal with the ground-level issues everyone just rolls up their sleeves and gets to work.” Mayors are looking for alternatives to traditional infrastructure projects that will be cost-effective and provide residents with amenities….

     

     

    Scientists create new battery that’s cheap, clean, rechargeable … and organic

    Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:26 AM PDT

    Scientists have developed a rechargeable battery that is all organic and could be scaled up easily for use in power plants where it can make the energy grid more resilient and efficient by creating a large-scale means to store energy for use as needed. The batteries could pave the way for renewable energy sources to make up a greater share of the nation’s energy generation.

     

     

    A Slimmer Meal Tray Will Save Virgin Atlantic Millions Of Gallons Of Fuel

    June 26, 2014

    This design story is a typical example of how complex it can be to make a seemingly simple change–but why they can be necessary. When it’s fully loaded and ready to fly, a 747 jet can weigh as much as 400 metric tons, and airlines obsess over shaving off every possible ounce of weight. Losing even a single pound can save around 14,000 gallons of fuel in a year. Some carriers put in lighter seats and even lighter seatbelts, some strip paint off the outside of the jet (paint alone can weigh hundreds of pounds), and last year, one airline started charging passengers a fat tax. Now, by tweaking the design of meal trays, Virgin Atlantic has lightened the load of their flights by nearly 300 pounds each, enough to save millions of dollars in fuel costs and trim carbon emissions.

     

     

    Longer flights ‘could curb impact of vapour trails’

    By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News June 18, 2014

    Contrails are believed to have a significant impact on global warming

    Large condensation trails in the sky caused by aircraft could be eliminated by re-routing flight paths, say scientists. Researchers are concerned about the climate change potential of these wispy, man-made clouds. But a new study suggests that making changes to existing flight routes could curb their warming impact. Avoiding a major contrail on a flight to New York from London would only add 22km to the journey, experts say. Because of the way the Earth curves you can actually have quite small extra distances added onto the flight to avoid some really large contrails…Contrails are formed when planes fly through very cold, moist air and the exhausts from their engines condense into a visible vapour. …

     

    Re-routing flights could reduce climate impact, research suggests

    Posted: 18 Jun 2014 07:06 PM PDT

    Aircraft can become more environmentally friendly by choosing flight paths that reduce the formation of their distinctive condensation trails, new research suggests

     

     

     

    Can the Port Authority Save the Planet?

    By TED STEINBERG NY Times Op Ed June 16, 2014

    THIS has been a bad year for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, with scandals over a bridge closure and, most recently, a shady real estate deal. But the authority has a chance at redemption, if it is willing to move beyond its traditional mandate. Its model of interstate cooperation could do much more than prevent traffic jams; it could also play the leading role in managing the ecological health of the Hudson River estuary, and serve as an example for other coastal cities around the world facing complex environmental problems in a time of climate change. Estuaries exist where ocean tide meets freshwater from an incoming river. The nutrient-rich environment underwrites an enormous food supply that supports dense animal populations, from seals to frogs to wading birds. They have also long been attractive sites for urban development because of their prolific supply of natural resources, access to navigable water and capacity to absorb the waste produced by masses of people. During the last two centuries, urbanization has increasingly horned in on this territory. In 1800, a little more than 40 percent of the 25 largest cities in the world were situated along estuaries. Today, close to 70 percent of the planet’s largest cities are found there. One of the main ecological impacts has been eutrophication: a decline in water quality caused by an excess of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Often, those nutrients come from synthetic fertilizer, but the human waste discharged from cities, especially developing ones, remains an important factor. In the past, those nutrients found their way back to the land. Even today in the East Kolkata wetlands of India, sewage is recycled into vegetable patches and fish farms. But this kind of “closed-loop” system is rare in modern cities wedded to real estate development rather than agriculture. Instead, nutrients are gushing into estuaries and resulting in harmful algal blooms that rob the water of oxygen, degrade marine habitat and limit the diversity of aquatic life….

     

     

    Cubans find preparing for climate change hard, expensive and essential

    Environment & Energy Publishing 

     - ‎Jun 16, 2014‎ 

           

    Cuba has a long history of climate adaptation measures, even if they weren’t originally conceived as such. For one, the country has a highly organized disaster prevention and management system, called Civil Defense, designed to protect lives in case of …

     

     

     

     

     

    Bipartisan Report Tallies High Toll on Economy From Global Warming

    By JUSTIN GILLISJUNE 24, 2014

    More than a million homes and businesses along the nation’s coasts could flood repeatedly before ultimately being destroyed. Entire states in the Southeast and the Corn Belt may lose much of their agriculture as farming shifts northward in a warming world. Heat and humidity will probably grow so intense that spending time outside will become physically dangerous, throwing industries like construction and tourism into turmoil. That is a picture of what may happen to the United States economy in a world of unchecked global warming, according to a major new report released Tuesday by a coalition of senior political and economic figures from the left, right and center, including three Treasury secretaries stretching back to the Nixon administration. At a time when the issue of climate change has divided the American political landscape, pitting Republicans against Democrats and even fellow party members against one another, the unusual bipartisan alliance of political veterans said that the country — and business leaders in particular — must wake up to the enormous scale of the economic risk. “The big ice sheets are melting; something’s happening,” George P. Shultz, who was Treasury secretary under President Richard M. Nixon and secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, said in an interview. He noted that he had grown concerned enough about global warming to put solar panels on his own California roof and to buy an electric car. “I say we should take out an insurance policy….

     

     

    Climate Campaign Can’t Be Deaf to Economic Worries, Obama Warns

    By CORAL DAVENPORT NY Times JUNE 26, 2014

    WASHINGTON — President Obama acknowledged Wednesday that his efforts to combat climate change — in particular, Environmental Protection Agency regulations to slash carbon pollution from cars and coal-fired power plants — could raise fuel and electricity prices. And he told environmental advocates that in order to make a credible case for such climate policies, officials would need to acknowledge Americans’ worries about the economic effects. “People don’t like gas prices going up; they are concerned about electricity prices going up,” Mr. Obama said in a speech at an annual dinner for the League of Conservation Voters.
    “If we’re blithe about saying, ‘This is the crisis of our time,’ but we don’t acknowledge these legitimate concerns — we’ve got to shape our strategies to address the very real and legitimate concerns of working families.” Climate change remains among the few policy items he can push through without action from Congress, and the issue is likely to define the remainder of his time in office…..

     

    Barack Obama becomes mocker-in-chief on climate change skeptics.
    President Barack Obama is letting his inner Don Rickles run free, mocking climate deniers as the crowd who used to think the moon was made out of cheese or spineless dopes who can’t or won’t listen to science even though the science is all overwhelmingly pointing in one direction. Politico

     

    Supreme Court Reaffirms EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Authority, With Minor Limitation

    By Ari Phillips on June 23, 2014

    On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA had narrowly exceeded its reach under the Clean Air Act in its permitting program to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

     

     

    Democrats use climate change as wedge issue on Republicans

    By Carolyn Lochhead SF Chronicle June 22, 2014

    Washington — When President Obama stood before students in Southern California a week ago ridiculing those who deny climate science, he wasn’t just road testing a new political strategy to a friendly audience. …

     

    Environmentalists sign off on Bay Area growth plan

    Bob Egelko Published 11:50 am, Saturday, June 21, 2014

    (06-21) 11:48 PDT Oakland — Regional agencies that adopted a plan last year to guide Bay Area land use and transportation through 2040 have agreed with environmentalists to study and explain how they would promote public transit and limit greenhouse gases while building more highways. The agreement settled a lawsuit by Communities for a Better Environment and the Sierra Club, who argued that Plan Bay Area would increase climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions and displace low-income communities. The plan also is under a separate legal attack by pro-development forces who claim it is heavy-handed and unnecessary. That lawsuit is before an Alameda County Superior Court judge. Plan Bay Area, approved last July by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, sets guideposts for a 27-year period in which the nine-county population is projected to increase from 7 million to nearly 9 million. It is not legally binding, but designates areas eligible for state funding to encourage housing and jobs in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods near transit lines in order to keep development compact, reduce vehicle use and preserve open space. The agencies have approved 170 “priority development areas,” 100 acres or larger, nominated by local governments….

     

     

    The Coming Climate Crash: Lessons for Climate Change in the 2008 Recession

    By HENRY M. PAULSON Jr. Op-Ed NY Times JUNE 21, 2014

    Carbon dioxide emissions like those from coal-fired power plants should be taxed to spur energy innovation. Credit Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

    THERE is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage. For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do. We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked…..But we must not lose sight of the profound economic risks of doing nothing. The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a carbon tax. Few in the United States now pay to emit this potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere we all share. Putting a price on emissions will create incentives to develop new, cleaner energy technologies…..

    two separate studies discovered that one of the biggest thresholds has already been reached. The West Antarctic ice sheet has begun to melt, a process that scientists estimate may take centuries but that could eventually raise sea levels by as much as 14 feet. Now that this process has begun, there is nothing we can do to undo the underlying dynamics, which scientists say are “baked in.” And 10 years from now, will other thresholds be crossed that scientists are only now contemplating? It is true that there is uncertainty about the timing and magnitude of these risks and many others. But those who claim the science is unsettled or action is too costly are simply trying to ignore the problem. We must see the bigger picture. The nature of a crisis is its unpredictability. And as we all witnessed during the financial crisis, a chain reaction of cascading failures ensued from one intertwined part of the system to the next. It’s easy to see a single part in motion. It’s not so easy to calculate the resulting domino effect. That sort of contagion nearly took down the global financial system. With that experience indelibly affecting my perspective, viewing climate change in terms of risk assessment and risk management makes clear to me that taking a cautiously conservative stance — that is, waiting for more information before acting — is actually taking a very radical risk. We’ll never know enough to resolve all of the uncertainties. But we know enough to recognize that we must act now. I’m a businessman, not a climatologist. But I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with climate scientists and economists who have devoted their careers to this issue. There is virtually no debate among them that the planet is warming and that the burning of fossil fuels is largely responsible.

    Farseeing business leaders are already involved in this issue. It’s time for more to weigh in. To add reliable financial data to the science, I’ve joined with the former mayor of New York City, Michael R. Bloomberg, and the retired hedge fund manager Tom Steyer on an economic analysis of the costs of inaction across key regions and economic sectors. Our goal for the Risky Business project — starting with a new study that will be released this week — is to influence business and investor decision making worldwide.

     

    Former Bush Treasury Secretary: We Can Prevent A ‘Climate Crash’ With A Carbon Tax

    By Joe Romm on June 22, 2014

    Bush’s former Treasury Secretary lays out our choice. Take on the “climate bubble” now and unleash the power of innovation to spur the next industrial revolution. Or keep ignoring science and face an irreversible “carbon crash” more devastating than the recent economic crash…..

     

     

    Risky Business team spreads out in D.C. to spread word on climate costs

    Anne C. Mulkern, E&E reporter ClimateWire: Wednesday, June 25, 2014

    The high-profile team behind the “Risky Business” report on the economic costs of climate change fans out in Washington, D.C., today, spreading its message about what it sees as a looming crisis. Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer and other members of the project’s Risk Committee will review report findings with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and “senior White House leadership,” the Obama administration said. The group will learn this morning whether President Obama or Vice President Joe Biden will visit that meeting, said Matt Lewis, Risky Business’ communications director. Gregory Page, former CEO and current chairman of the board of Cargill Inc. and part of the Risk Committee, planned to confer with U.S. senators and House members. Lewis did not know which lawmakers Page planned to visit. Page also is slated to meet with American Farm Bureau Federation and Corn Growers Association members. Risk Committee member Henry Cisneros, President Clinton’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, planned to talk with Mortgage Bankers Association members. It’s part of a press that will continue this summer, as team members attend business group conferences in several states, Lewis said. Risky Business members “just don’t feel like the business and financial community have got this on their radar,” Lewis said, referencing climate change financial risks. “We want to make sure that the folks who should have this on their radar have this on their radar. That’s our main objective.”….

     

     

    Maybe those EPA rules aren’t quite such a big deal.
    The Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule about carbon pollution from power plants isn’t that stringent. That’s why major environmental groups, though pleased to see the new rule, are quietly pushing the Administration to make it even stronger before it becomes final. The planet, they say, can’t wait for progress. New Republic

     

    Initiative for renewable power in S.F. is stalling

    John Coté and Marisa Lagos Monday, June 23, 2014 SF Chronicle

    In his first month in office, Mayor Ed Lee assembled a team of energy experts to help San Francisco meet its ambitious goal of having all electricity in the city come from renewable sources by the end of 2020. But over the past year, Lee has overseen the evisceration of a renewable power program that clean-energy advocates, analysts and that task force say is critical to San Francisco meeting its goal. ….

     

     

     

     

     

    Oklahoma Has Had More Earthquakes Than California This Year and Drilling Might Be to Blame

    By Ben Mathis-Lilley slate.com June 23, 2014

    ….Between 1978 and 2008, Oklahoma experienced an average of just two quakes of 3.0 magnitude of greater. In 2014, as of Thursday, there have been about 207 such quakes recorded in the state, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The upward trend started in 2009, with 20 quakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater, then 43 the following year, and jumping every year with the exception of 2012.

    California has seen 140 3.0-plus quakes this year to Oklahoma’s 207. Why the sudden increase? Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey believe that the blame may lie with wells that discard wastewater from oil and gas drilling operations by pumping it deep underground: A report issued last year by the U.S. Geological Survey found that most of these new earthquakes have taken place near active injection wells. Geophysicist William Ellsworth, the lead author of the report, wrote that it is completely plausible that the high water pressure often used in wastewater injections could nudge previously dormant faults out of their “locked” positions. The quakes, he wrote, are “almost certainly manmade.” The practice is similar to “fracking,” though the goal of fracking is to release new oil and gas, not discard drilling byproducts. It doesn’t appear that anyone has been killed or seriously injured in any of the state’s recent quakes.

     


    Hormone-Disrupting Activity of Fracking Chemicals Worse Than Initially Found


    June 23, 2014 — Many chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can disrupt not only the human body’s reproductive hormones but also the glucocorticoid and thyroid hormone receptors, which are necessary … full story

     

    SunPower offers batteries to hold homes’ solar power until night.
    SunPower Corp., the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer, is offering energy-storage systems to California homeowners that will power houses at night with electricity generated from sunlight during the day. Bloomberg News

     

    Concentrating solar power: Study shows greater potential

    Posted: 22 Jun 2014 11:22 AM PDT

    Concentrating solar power could supply a large fraction of the power supply in a decarbonized energy system, shows a new study of the technology and its potential practical application.

     

    The Future Of Solar Technology Could Be As Thin And Flexible As A Piece Of Paper

    By Kiley Kroh June 23, 2014 at 10:49 am Updated: June 23, 2014 at 11:19 am

    OPV solar cells are produced in the R&D lab. Just recently, Heliatek set a new world record for OPV with a cell efficiency of 10.7%. CREDIT: Heliatek/Tom Baerwald

    Researchers in Denmark recently claimed a major breakthrough in the production of organic photovoltaic (OPV) solar cells. Unlike traditional silicon solar cells, used in rooftop solar panels and large-scale solar farms, OPVs use organic semiconductors — made from plastics and other flexible materials — and are much lighter, more flexible and less expensive. Because they use environmentally friendly materials and can be produced quickly with lower processing and materials costs, OPVs can be used in much more innovative ways, according to Jade Jones, Solar Analyst with GTM research. …

     

    Harley-Davidson Roars Into Future With First Electric Motorcycle

    By Ari Phillips on June 19, 2014

    The future of Harley-Davidson is not a menacing roar but an explosive whoosh….

     

    Winds of change for the shipping sector

    Posted: 18 Jun 2014 07:06 PM PDT

    Wind propulsion such as kites and Flettner rotors could offer a viable route to help cut carbon dioxide emissions in the shipping sector, according to researchers….

     

     

     

     

     
     

    WEBINARS:

    Sea-level Rise Modeling Handbook: Resource Guide for Coastal Land Managers, Engineers, and Scientists

    Tuesday, July 1, 3:00 PM Eastern; NOON Pacific
    via WebEx (Register at 
    https://nccwsc.usgs.gov/webinar/332

    Thomas W. Doyle, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, LA, will present:

    Description: A sea-level rise modeling handbook has been developed as a natural resource manager’s guide of the science and simulation models for understanding the dynamics and impacts of sea-level rise on our coastal ecosystems.  This webinar introduces the layout and content of the handbook including various methods and models for understanding past and current sea-level change and predicting ecosystem impacts of rising sea level under future climate change.  Basic illustrations of the components of the Earth’s hydrosphere and effects of plate tectonics, planetary orbits, and glaciation are explained to understand the long-term cycles of historical sea-level rise and fall.  Discussion of proper interpretation of contemporary sea-level rates and trends from tide gauge stations and satellite altimetry missions will be presented to show their complementary aspects and value for understanding variability in eustasy and land motion for different coastal reaches of the U.S.  Examples of the different types and classes of hydrology and ecosystem models used to predict potential effects of future sea-level rise at local and regional scale applications will also be presented.  Coastal land managers, engineers, and scientists will benefit from this webinar and handbook illustrating tools and models that have been developed for projecting causes and consequences of sea-level change on the landscape and seascape.

    YOU MUST PRE-REGISTER TO JOIN THIS WEBINAR VIA WEBEX
    TO REGISTER, PLEASE VISIT HERE 

    THIS WEBINAR WILL BE RECORDED: approximately 1-2 weeks after the presentation is given- posted on the NCCWSC website: 

    UPCOMING NCCWSC WEBINARS-For the schedule of upcoming webinars

     

     

    UPCOMING CONFERENCES: 

    North America Congress for Conservation Biology Meeting. July 13-16, Missoula, MT. The biennial NACCB provides a forum for presenting and discussing new research and developments in conservation science and practice for addressing today’s conservation challenges.

    First Stewards
    July 21-23, Washington, DC.

    First Stewards will hold their 2nd annual symposium at the National Museum of the American Indian. This year’s theme is
    United Indigenous Voices Address Sustainability: Climate Change and Traditional Places

    99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America
    Sacramento, California  August 10-15, 2014 
    http://www.esa.org/sacramento

     

    California Adaptation Forum 
    August 19-20, 2014
    . SACRAMENTO, CA

    This two-day forum will build off a successful National Adaptation Forum held in Colorado in 2013. The attendance of many California leaders there underscored the need for a California-focused event, which will be held every other year to complement the biennial national conference.  To register go to:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/886364449

    Ninth International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE) World Congress meeting, July 9th 2015

    Coming to Portland, Oregon July 5-10, 2015! The symposium, which is held every four years, brings scientists and practitioners from around the globe together to discuss and share landscape ecology work and information. The theme of the 2015 meeting is Crossing Scales, Crossing Borders: Global Approaches to Complex Challenges.

     

    ***SAVE THE DATE!!***  Sponsored by the CA LCC and CA Dept. of Water Resources

    Traditional Ecological Knowledge Workshop September 23rd, 2014 @ California State University, Sacramento
     

    Registration will open in June 2014. Check the California LCC website for details: http://californialcc.org/

     

     

    JOBS  (apologies for any duplication; thanks for passing along)

     

     

    Director, California Terrestrial Conservation Program, TNC Job ID 42252

    … a newly created position representing a unique opportunity to shape and lead a strategic vision for global conservation at the helm of the organization’s largest chapter. The Director will develop a compelling and unifying vision for terrestrial conservation in California, leading a team of approximately 30 employees throughout the state responsible for developing and implementing The Conservancy’s strategies to protect and restore priority terrestrial landscapes. The ideal candidate will be an experienced conservation leader with a proven ability to manage and inspire teams and significant experience developing and executing successful strategies in the environmental arena. The location is negotiable within California (San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles or San Diego). Applicants must apply on-line at www.nature.org/careers. To more easily locate the position, enter the job ID 42252 in the keyword search.

     

    Bird and marine mammal observers on board NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center research ships

    Watershed Stewards Program
    two full-time Americorps member positions for 2014-1015.

    The Watershed Stewards Program’s (WSP) mission is to conserve, restore, and enhance anadromous watersheds for future generations by linking education with high quality scientific practices.  A program of the California Conservation Corps, WSP is one of the most productive programs for future employment in natural resources Applications are due July 11. San Joaquin River Partnership’s Watershed Stewards members will be working with CA Dept of Fish & Wildlife on salmon recovery field work a good percentage of their time as well as habitat restoration, assisting with fishery biology elements of our school field trips, and community events. The San Joaquin River Partnership organizations will share mentor responsibilities for these Americorps members. WSP’s experience with their members is that the majority are placed with career positions as a result of their program participation. We’re very excited about the creation of a San Joaquin River unit of WSP and benefits for youth and our community and our expectation is that this unit will grow in subsequent years. Here is a short video about WSP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrTPyXmsRr4

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    Bjorn Lomborg Is Part Of The Koch Network — And Cashing In

    By Joe Romm on June 25, 2014

    DeSmogBlog has done the first comprehensive analysis of where Bjorn Lomborg’s money comes from. You’ll be shocked, shocked to learn that a guy who argues for inaction on climate change and pens pieces like “The Poor Need Cheap Fossil Fuels” is connected to the Kochtopus empire….

     

    Higgs Boson Confirms Reigning Physics Model Yet Again

    LiveScience.com

    June 23, 2014

     
     

    Written by

    Tia Ghose

     
           

    For a subatomic particle that remained hidden for nearly 50 years, the Higgs boson is turning out to be remarkably well behaved. Yet more evidence from the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland, confirms that the …

     


    European Space Agency: Magnetic North wandering south toward Siberia


    Al Jazeera America

     - ‎June 23, 2014‎

           

    Earth’s North Magnetic Pole is drifting south toward Siberia at an accelerating rate, according to recent data from the European Space Agency (ESA), which also showed that the dynamic magnetic field that protects the planet from radiation has weakened.

     

    Conclusive evidence that sunscreen use in childhood prevents development of malignant melanoma in adults

    Posted: 19 Jun 2014 08:14 AM PDT

    Unequivocally, in a natural animal model, researchers have demonstrated that the incidence of malignant melanoma in adulthood can be dramatically reduced by the consistent use of sunscreen in infancy and childhood. The research was driven by the fact that, despite the increasing use of sunscreen in recent decades, the incidence of malignant melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, continues to increase dramatically. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 75,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year.

     

    BPA Substitute as bad as BPA? Exposure to BPA substitute causes hyperactivity and brain changes in fish

    Posted: 23 Jun 2014 07:39 AM PDT A chemical found in many “BPA free” consumer products, known as bisphenol S (BPS), is just as potent as bisphenol A (BPA) in altering brain development and causing hyperactive behavior, an animal study finds.

     

    Association found between maternal exposure to agricultural pesticides and autism

    Posted: 23 Jun 2014 06:29 AM PDT    

    Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay, a study by researchers has found. The study examined associations between specific classes of pesticides, including organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamates, applied during the study participants’ pregnancies and later diagnoses of autism and developmental delay in their offspring.

     

    Watching too much TV may increase risk of early death: Three hours a day linked to premature death from any cause

    Posted: 25 Jun 2014 03:48 PM PDT

    Adults who watch TV three hours or more a day may double their risk of premature death from any cause. Researchers suggest adults should consider getting regular exercise, avoiding long sedentary periods and reducing TV viewing to one to two hours a day….

     

    Going vegetarian halves CO2 emissions from your food
    New Scientist June 26, 2014

    If you stop eating meat, your food-related carbon footprint could plummet to less than half of what it was. That is a much bigger drop than many previous estimates, and it comes from a study of people’s real diets….

    Journal reference: Climatic Change, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-014-1169-1

     

     

     

     


    Author and illustrator Katherine Roy paints a fabulous water color of the Farallones which will be the back page art of her upcoming children’s book on Farallon white sharks: NEIGHBORHOOD SHARKS: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands. This book will come out in the fall.

     

     

     

     


     


     


     

     

     


     


     

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA ANSWER and Related Information

     

    In some areas, bears have become a problem. This is most often because:
    ANSWER: (d.) They find food in campsites or garbage cans.




    SOURCE: “Black Bear – Ursus americanus” (BLM California wildlife database)
    As they find food in urban areas they lose their fear of humans and could become quite aggressive. People who live in areas where bears are present should make their garbage cans bear-proof and keep their land clean. When camping, food should be stored in lockers that are specially designed to keep bears out. If the lockers aren’t available the food should be kept in the trunks of cars. http://ow.ly/yshkt

     

     

    ————

    Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

    Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)

    3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954

    707-781-2555 x318

     

    www.pointblue.org  | Follow Point Blue on Facebook!

     

    Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.