Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science

Archive: Jul 2014

  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

     

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