Conservation Science News September 20, 2013Leave a Comment
Highlight of the Week- NATURE SPECIAL: OUTLOOK FOR EARTH- NEW IPCC REPORT
NOTE: Please feel free to pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
Point Blue Conservation Science
staff. The information contained in this update was drawn from www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restoration, http://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, www.blm.gov/ca/news/newsbytes/2012/529.html and other sources as indicated. This is a compilation of articles and other information available on line, which were not verified and are not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science. Please email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at pointblue.org if you want your name added to or dropped from this list. You can also receive this through the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative ListServe or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium list. Also, we are starting to experiment with blog posting at www.pointblue.org/sciencenews.
We have changed our name to Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO). Our 140 Point Blue
scientists and educators work with hundreds of partners, pointing the way forward to secure a healthy, blue planet well into the future. We work collaboratively to reduce the impacts of climate change, together with other environmental threats, through nature-based solutions that benefit wildlife and people. For more information please see From Point Reyes to Point Blue as well as our first Point Blue Quarterly. You might also enjoy viewing our inspiring ~6 minute video introducing Point Blue that includes partner and staff highlights as well as a brief congratulatory video from Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-2). Our new website, www.pointblue.org, is under construction through mid-September. Until then, our existing website, www.prbo.org, will remain active.
Highlight of the Week-
NATURE SPECIAL: OUTLOOK FOR EARTH
September 19, 2013
This Nature special issue explores the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – an international body of hundreds of scientists and policy experts that regularly assesses the state of knowledge about how climate is changing, what impacts that will have, and how nations can mitigate the problem. ….
The final assessment
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has provided invaluable evidence for policy-makers, but giant reports should give way to nimbler, more relevant research.
….The IPCC’s fifth assessment will provide a comprehensive analysis of policy options and the scientific basis for the next round of climate negotiations, which are scheduled to come to a head in 2015. What is missing from these talks is not science but political ambition, which is ultimately a reflection of public support. The IPCC has a crucial role in this process and must remain the central authority on global warming. It is not clear, however, that to immediately launch into yet another comprehensive assessment — which would consume immeasurable time and energy, and would probably come to the same bottom-line conclusions — represents the best use of our scientific resources. Instead, climate scientists should focus on smaller and more rapid assessments of more pressing questions that have a particular political interest and for which science is evolving quickly.
These reports could look more like the panel’s recent special report on extreme weather; longer and more detailed assessments could be performed as needed, when there is sufficient interest from the governments that the IPCC serves. Such a structure might also help to avoid an unfortunate consequence of the current framework, which ensures that the IPCC’s mega-assessments are out of date by the time they hit the streets…
…..Absent from next week’s report, for instance, is recent and ongoing research on the rate of warming and what is — or is not — behind the plateau in average global temperatures that the world has experienced during the past 15 years. These questions have important policy implications, and the IPCC is the right body to answer them. But it need not wait six years to do so.
Outlook for Earth As the IPCC finalizes its next big climate-science assessment, Nature looks at the past and future of the planet’s watchdog….
In December 1988, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed a call to create a panel to assess “the magnitude, timing and potential environmental and socio-economic impact of climate change and realistic response strategies”. Now in its 25th year, the resulting Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has grown substantially from its early days, when just a few dozen experts convened to write its first scientific assessment report. Next week, the group will publish its fifth such report, which has been crafted by more than 250 lead authors and editors — as well as hundreds more contributors and reviewers — who spent five years on the project and had to deal with a flood of some 52,000 comments submitted in response to early drafts (see page 298)….
- 25 years of the IPCC A graphical tour through the history of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the science that underlies it.
Researchers struggle to project how fast, how high and how far the oceans will rise.
….Stefan Rahmstorf, a physical oceanographer at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, is deeply unsatisfied with the standard tools for forecasting sea-level rise: ‘process’ models that try to represent the physics of every contributing factor. One reason for this discomfort was clear back in 2007. When researchers added up all the individual processes that contributed to rising seas, they could account for only 60% of the observed lift from 1961 to 2003 (see ‘Too much water’- and below). “The whole was bigger than the sum of its parts,” says John Church, co-lead author of the chapter on sea-level rise in the forthcoming IPCC report and an oceanographer at the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Hobart. The two biggest effects — the expansion of water as it warms, and the addition of water to the oceans from melting glaciers — each accounted for about one-quarter of the total. A little extra was added in from the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. That left a gaping hole.
So Rahmstorf decided to pursue an entirely different type of model. He looked at the annual rate of sea-level rise from the 1880s onwards, and then matched it with air temperatures at those times. He found a simple relationship: the warmer it got, the faster the sea level rose. In 2007, too late to be considered by that year’s IPCC assessment, his model predicted3 up to 1.4 metres of sea-level rise by 2100 — more than twice the IPCC number.
‘Semi-empirical’ models such as this have advantages: by definition, they accurately model the rise that has already occurred, and they do not require a full understanding of how and why it is happening. But no one knows how long the relationship at the heart of these models will hold, particularly as melting ice sheets become a bigger factor. The models, says Rahmstorf, “could be good for 50 years, or 100 years. We don’t know.”
….For the past few years, Maureen Raymo, a marine geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, has traipsed around abandoned diamond mines in South Africa, visited quarries in Australia and examined road cuts on the east coast of North America, looking for shells and other remnants of beaches from 3 million years ago. She hopes to reconstruct sea levels from the Pliocene epoch, the last time when carbon dioxide concentrations were as high as they are today: about 400 parts per million of the atmospheric volume. That, in turn, should provide a glimpse of what the world might look like in thousands of years, once the planet has had time to react fully to today’s emissions. Current estimates of sea-level rise in the Pliocene range from very little to 40 metres, says Raymo. “But that’s not very helpful,” she says. The difference between the lower and higher estimates is the difference — crucially — between much of the vast East Antarctic ice sheet melting and staying frozen. Whether or not it melted in the Pliocene, in turn, provides insight for modellers who are trying to work out whether — and how fast — ice sheets might collapse in the next few hundred years.
…..Given the large error bars, the only way to pinpoint Pliocene sea levels is to get data from many sites and to calculate one best-fit answer for global sea level. Raymo and her team have so far surveyed thousands of kilometres of coast, gathering evidence from dozens of beach sites. She says she needs perhaps eight more locations and five years to finish the job.
But, she admits, whatever she finds will not be a worst-case scenario because greenhouse-gas concentrations are already climbing beyond where they were in the Pliocene. “The real worst-case scenario is we don’t limit fossil-fuel combustion,” she says. “Then it’s ‘Hello Eocene’” — returning to a world akin to a warm period 55 million years ago, with maybe just a trace of ice at the poles. Nearly 70 metres of sea-level rise would drown all of Florida and much of Brazil, and swamp the Statue of Liberty up to her waist. But that might not happen until so many thousands of years from now that humanity has time to adapt — even if that means surrendering much of the land to the waves.
The climate chairman Getting hundreds of experts to agree is never easy. Ottmar Edenhofer takes a firm, philosophical approach to the task.
- A patchwork of emissions cuts
Home-made national approaches can be effective for climate-change mitigation if countries agree on rules and build trust, says Elliot Diringer.
Pushing the climate frontier The first large-scale environmental surveys, carried out on the US arid lands, hold scientific lessons for policy-making still relevant today, explains K. John Holmes.
….The public response to Powell’s plan and to the need to address the climate of the arid lands is telling. Opinion swung back and forth over many decades as a multitude of factors intervened, including misinformation campaigns and external events such as economic recessions and unusual weather conditions. In a similar way, the climate-change debate today ebbs and flows. The collapse of Powell’s watershed-based strategy demonstrates the importance of choosing appropriate institutions and economic policies. His call for a class of self-financed regional-management entities, taking responsibility for resource management away from existing federal and state bodies, failed because it was not feasible economically or politically. Similarly, management scale and political realities must be considered when implementing various climate-change-mitigation strategies. For complex issues such as climate change, history reminds us that the first comprehensive policy adopted will not be the last. Policies evolve. The addressing of irrigation needs through the Reclamation Act, although itself the culmination of a lengthy debate, was bolstered three decades later by soil-conservation efforts in response to the extreme Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930s. Sadly, in the end, the motivation to act might come only from rare catastrophic events such as droughts; human cost offers a sharp impetus for politicians. As a US senator noted in a 1935 debate, a Great Plains dust storm that travelled more than 1,600 kilometres to reach the country’s capital was “the most tragic, the most impressive lobbyist” in those earlier deliberations over climatic disaster10.
SOURCE: 2007 BUDGET: IPCC; 2011 BUDGET: J. A. CHURCH ET AL. GEOPHYS. RES. LETT. 38, L18601 (2011); MAP: REF. 7
POINT BLUE PUBLICATION:
Editor: John A. Wiens, Chief Scientist, Point Blue Conservation Science
UnUUniversity of Cambridge Press
August 2013, isbn: 9781107614697.
What light does nearly 25 years of scientific study of the Exxon Valdez oil spill shed on the fate and effects of a spill? How can the results help in assessing future spills? How can ecological risks be assessed and quantified? In this, the first book on the effects of Exxon Valdez in 15 years, scientists directly involved in studying the spill provide a comprehensive perspective on, and synthesis of, scientific information on long-term spill effects. The coverage is multidisciplinary, with chapters discussing a range of issues including effects on biota, successes and failures of post-spill studies and techniques, and areas of continued disagreement. An even-handed and critical examination of more than two decades of scientific study, this is an invaluable guide for studying future oil spills and, more broadly, for unraveling the consequences of any large environmental disruption.
Williams, J.W., Blois, J.L., Gill, J. L., Gonzales, L. Grim, E., Ordonez, A., Shuman, B. and Veloz, S. D. [Point Blue Spatial Ecologist] Model systems for a no-analog future: species associations and climate during the last deglaciation. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Online Early.
ABSTRACT: As the earth system moves to a novel state, model systems (experimental, observational, paleoecological) are needed to assess and improve the predictive accuracy of ecological models under environments with no contemporary analog. …. Steps forward include combining recent and paleoecological data to more fully describe species’ fundamental niches, employing community-level models to model shifts in species interactions under no-analog climates, and assimilating paleoecological data with mechanistic ecosystem models. Accurately modeling species interactions under novel environments remains a fundamental challenge for all forms of ecological models.
POINT BLUE in the news:
By AP / Jason Dearen TIME Sept. 18, 2013 SAN FRANCISCO— Marine scientists looking for new ways to reduce the number of whales struck and killed off California’s coast by massive commercial ships have turned to a familiar tool: mobile devices. An app called “Whale Spotter” uses crowd-sourcing to gather data, allowing sailors, fishermen and marine scientists who spot whales to plot their location on an interactive map. The maps created could then be used by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Coast Guard officials to recommend different vessel routes. The app is the latest development in a collaboration between shipping companies, government officials and scientists to reduce whale strikes. Testing begins this weekend to see how effective it will be…..In June, large vessels traveling to ports on the California coast began using new traffic lanes developed to move ships away from whales. In the busy ports of the San Francisco Bay Area, more than 7,300 large ships head through the Golden Gate each year. Just outside the bay, whales often swim along the continental shelf, where their food supply is plentiful. Several dead whales, including an endangered fin whale, suspected to have been killed by ship strikes have washed ashore this year in the Bay Area. “We are out there on our research cruises only five times a year, if we’re lucky, so we only get three to five snapshots of where whales are, and why they are there,” said Jaime Jahncke, director of Point Blue’s California Current Research Group, which provides whale location data to maritime officials. The idea behind the app is to create a network of whale spotters off California’s coast so the marine mammals can be tracked, in real time, as they migrate. The weeklong tests of the app beginning Saturday will occur in the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries. Marine scientists working on the Farallon Islands off San Francisco’s coast already have been inputting whale sightings from their unique perch, from where the westernmost shipping lanes can be seen. A big hurdle for the app is that cellphone coverage at sea is spotty at best, so data may be delayed to a point where it’s not immediately helpful. But Jahncke said the GPS on phones is being constantly tracked by satellite, so the phone’s location can be determined off of that. Also, information about whale location is stored on the phone’s hard drive, which can be uploaded back at port. Dan Howard, superintendent of the Cordell Bank sanctuary, was hopeful the app will make a difference by bridging a gap in data about whale location. “Having data on whale movement is key to working with the shipping industry and making informed management decisions,” said Howard.
Point Blue Conservation Science Press Release for September 18, 2013
App will be used to record whale sightings in real-time; crowdsourced data may help prevent whales from being struck by ships traveling in and out of San Francisco Bay.
In this summer 2013 photo provided by Point Blue Conservation Science, Point Blue interns Emma Kelsey, using a telescope, and Ryan Potter, using an iPad, record whale sightings at the lighthouse on South East Farallon Island, at the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Calif. (AP Photo/Point Blue, Sammi Ocher)
By JASON DEAREN PRESS DEMOCRAT AP September 18, 2013, 2:03 PM
SAN FRANCISCO — Marine scientists looking for new ways to reduce the number of whales struck and killed off California’s coast by massive commercial ships have turned to a familiar tool: mobile devices.……
“Making the News yesterday, what app is being developed to help prevent ships from colliding with ocean life?
September 19, 2013
A. Dolphin Spotter
B. Reef Spotter
C. Shark Spotter
D. Whale Spotter
Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, “The Million Second Quiz” is a state-of-the-art, electrifying new live competition where contestants test the limits of their knowledge, nerve and endurance as they battle each other in intense head-to-head bouts of trivia for 12 consecutive days and nights. When the million second draw to a close, the champions will compete in a grand finale and the ultimate winner will claim the largest prize in game show history. ”
Today’s worst watershed stresses may become the new normal
(September 18, 2013) — Nearly one in 10 US watersheds is “stressed,” with demand for water exceeding natural supply, according to a new analysis of surface water in the United States. “By midcentury, we expect to see less reliable surface water supplies in several regions of the United States,” said the study’s lead author, Kristen Averyt, associate director for science at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder. “This is likely to create growing challenges for agriculture, electrical suppliers and municipalities, as there may be more demand for water and less to go around.” Averyt and her colleagues evaluated supplies and demands on freshwater resources for each of the 2,103 watersheds in the continental United States, using a large suite of existing data sets. They identified times of extreme water stress between 1999 and 2007, and they estimated future surface water stress — using existing climate projections — for every watershed. In the paper, published online in Environmental Research Letters on Sept. 17, the authors also diagnosed the reasons contributing to stress. Across the United States, the team found that water supplies are already stressed (i.e., demands for water outstrip natural supplies) in 193 of the 2,103 watersheds examined. In addition, the researchers reported:
- The U.S. West is particularly vulnerable to water stress, for two reasons: 1) the differences between average demand and average supply are relatively small, so slight shifts in either supplies or demands can trigger stress, and 2) Western water users have long relied on imported and stored water to supplement natural supplies, in order to meet demands.
- In most parts of the country, agriculture requires the most water, and contributes most to water stress.
- In Southern California, thirsty cities are the greatest stress on the surface water system.
- In scattered locations, the cooling water needs of electric power plants represent the biggest demand on water.
…. The authors deliberately didn’t account for future changes in demand for freshwater. Rather, this analysis was designed to identify the sensitivity of U.S. watersheds to changes in surface water availability. The researchers hope that the analysis will provide useful information for people reliant on surface waters. “We hope research like this helps us understand challenges we might face in building a more resilient future,” Meldrum said.
K Averyt, J Meldrum, P Caldwell, G Sun, S McNulty, A Huber-Lee, N Madden. Sectoral contributions to surface water stress in the coterminous United States. Environmental Research Letters, 2013; 8 (3): 035046 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/035046
Posted: 18 Sep 2013 02:29 PM PDT
….It takes water to generate energy, and energy to move water. The extent of this relationship, and the scale of it, literally pumping water over mountains in some cases, is rarely seriously considered outside of the wonky water-energy nexus circle. But with the demand for both growing while supplies shrink or rise in cost, a reckoning with these two trends is as foreseeable as the reckoning of climate change. In fact, it is exacerbated by climate change, which leads to reduced precipitation and hotter temperatures in many places, elevating demands for water and energy. A new study by Water in the West, a research center at Stanford University, lays this all out in a report called, “Water and Energy Nexus: A Literature Review.” The report finds robust opportunities for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as for the conservation of scarce water resources. A comprehensive survey of publications by academic, government and nonprofit sectors over the last 23 years, it also identifies substantial money- and energy-savings opportunities for water and wastewater managers. …
Sep. 19, 2013 — The explosion of animal life on Earth around 520 million years ago was the result of a combination of interlinked factors rather than a single underlying cause, according to a new study. Dozens of individual theories have been put forward over the past few decades for this rapid diversification of animal species in the early Cambrian period of geological time.
But a paper by Professor Paul Smith of Oxford University and Professor David Harper of Durham University suggests a more holistic approach is required to discover the reasons behind what has become known as the Cambrian Explosion. Theories for the Cambrian Explosion fall into three main categories — geological, geochemical and biological — and most have been claimed as standalone processes that were the main cause of the explosion. Whatever the cause, this major evolutionary event led to a wide range of biological innovation, including the origin of modern ecosystems, a rapid increase in animal diversity, the origin of skeletons and the first appearance of specialist modes of life such as burrowing and swimming…..
Removing nitrogen from the environment “the natural way” by creating a wetland is a long-term, nutrient-removal solution, more cost effective than upgrading a wastewater treatment plant, but it isn’t necessarily socially beneficial to offer landowners multiple payments for the environmental services that flow from such wetlands, according to a new study. …The study analyzed the amount of land needed to reduce nitrogen pollution, data on the costs of actual wetland restorations, and other factors such as the opportunity costs to the landowner from no longer farming the new wetland area. “Wastewater treatment plants can already remove nitrogen, but their current technology is only capable of removing them up to a point,” Ando said. “If they wanted to do more nitrogen removal, they would have to make upgrades. The cost of phosphorus removal isn’t high, but for nitrogen, the upgrades are pretty expensive.” Ando also explained that, depending on how environmental
permit markets are set up, if an area is set aside as a wetland, the landowner could qualify for several incentive programs through pollution trading markets, even if the original purpose of the wetland conversion was only to reduce nitrogen. “This is a big issue in the design of markets for ecosystem services,” Ando said. “A wetland does a lot of things. It will filter out nutrients, but it also creates habitat for waterfowl, and it might sequester carbon. The cost of installing a wetland is large enough that in some cases no single payment might be enough to convince a farmer to do it, but if they get paid for the full value to society of all three benefits, then they might be willing to do it.… > full story
Adam H. Lentz, Amy W. Ando, Nicholas Brozovicć. Water Quality Trading with Lumpy Investments, Credit Stacking, and Ancillary Benefits. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/jawr.12117
Got calcium? Mineral is key to restoring acid rain-damaged forests
(September 19, 2013) — Scientists have reversed the decline of a New Hampshire watershed by gradually adding calcium back into the soil over 15 years. The experimental forest had suffered depletion of key soil nutrients due to acid rain. The study not only illustrates the impact of acid rain, but a potential treatment to help reverse the damage. … > full story
Environmental complexity promotes biodiversity
(September 17, 2013) — A new study helps explain how spatial variation in natural environments helps spur evolution and give rise to biodiversity. The study…suggests that a varied environment spurs the evolution of new species and promotes biodiversity by creating places of refuge — “refugia” — for new organisms to evolve. The model represents asexual organisms that reproduce like plants. To investigate how environmental variation affects evolution, Haller modeled an environment with complex spatial structure. “We wanted to look at more realistic environments, with more random variation in environmental conditions from place to place,” says Haller. While simpler than a real-world environment, the resultant model provides a much more realistic basis for studying biodiversity formation than has been possible before. In addition to the new “refugium effect,” the study shows that too much variation can end up being detrimental for biodiversity. “It’s a little like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” says Haller. “For promoting biodiversity, you can have too little variation, or too much variation, or the variation can be just right.” The study also shows that the scale of landscape variation, in comparison with a species’ dispersal distance, changes how much biodiversity can emerge. The new work provides a better basis for understanding how biodiversity evolves. While many people laud the idea of preserving biodiversity, says Haller, much remains unknown about what an environment needs in order to maintain or produce biodiversity. “It’s very hard to conserve something that you don’t even understand,” says Haller…. > full story
Early-warning system to prevent fishery collapse
(September 16, 2013) — Threats from overfishing can be detected early enough to save fisheries — and livelihoods — with minimal adjustments in harvesting practices, a new study shows. ….Specifically, the work demonstrates how extinction and overfishing threats from multispecies fisheries can be identified decades before valuable species are over-harvested and populations decline. Most of the world’s large fisheries use nets or lines with multiple hooks, which catch multiple species simultaneously and have serious ecological consequences. Past population declines and current increases in harvest rates can be used to assess current threats of overfishing and extinction, but this approach doesn’t apply to future threats. By predicting future threats, the researchers’ new method would enable conservation measures to prevent overfishing and extinction. The “Eventual Threat Index,” presented in the study, uses minimal data to identify the conditions that would eventually cause a species to be harvested at an unsustainable rate. The central premise of the Eventual Threat Index is that because multispecies fisheries impact many species with the same effort, the long-term fates of all species can be predicted if the fate of any one species can be predicted. In any multispecies fishery, there are a few ‘key’ profitable or managed species, which are easy to identify and whose socio-economic importance makes their long-term harvest rate somewhat predictable. Threats to other species are predicted by measuring their harvest rates relative to these key species. … > full story
Matthew G. Burgess, Stephen Polasky, and David Tilman. Predicting overfishing and extinction threats in multispecies fisheries. PNAS, September 16, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1314472110
Plankton Portal uses crowd-sourcing to classify strange oceanic creatures
(September 17, 2013) –
Today, an online citizen-science project “Plankton Portal” launches. Plankton Portal allows you to explore the open ocean from the comfort of your own home. Dive hundreds of feet deep, and observe the unperturbed ocean and the myriad animals that inhabit the earth’s last frontier. … > full story
Study suggests overfishing of sharks is harming coral reefs
(September 18, 2013) — A team of scientists from Canada and Australia have discovered that the decline in shark populations is detrimental to coral reefs. Where shark numbers are reduced due to commercial fishing, there is also a decrease in the herbivorous fishes which play a key role in promoting reef health. … > full story
Algorithm finds missing phytoplankton in Southern Ocean
(September 18, 2013) — NASA satellites may have missed more than 50 percent of the phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean. But now, new research has led to the development of an algorithm that produces substantially more accurate estimates of Southern Ocean phytoplankton populations. … > full story
By Sarah Laskow
For more than a century, ever since humans introduced them to the Galapagos, rats have ruled Pinzón Island. Just one year ago, 180 million rats lived on this island, hardly seven square miles of land. And because the rats were so hungry for turtle eggs and turtle hatchlings, for years the native giant tortoises — a subspecies called Chelonoidis nigra duncanensis — had to breed in captivity and were considered extinct in the wild. But now, John R. Platt reports at Scientific American, 118 juvenile tortoises have been let free on the island. And they may just survive — because the rats are gone. It took, though, more than 44,000 pounds of poison to eradicate them. That’s not as bad as it sounds, Platt says: The poisons, which dissolve after a few days, were specially designed to attract rats but repel birds and other wildlife that might accidentally consume them. The rodents quickly took the bait and Pinzón has now been tentatively declared rat-free. And for the first time, it might be possible for these giant tortoises to live like they did before humans came, in some fashion.
Four new species of ‘legless lizards’ discovered living on the edge
(September 18, 2013) — Legless lizards evolved on five continents to burrow in loose soil and sand, but are rarely seen because they live underground. Hence the surprise when biologists found four new species in California, living in marginal areas like downtown Bakersfield, San Joaquin Valley oil fields and west of the runways at the airport. The discovery, which brings the number of species in the state to five, illustrates the undiscovered biodiversity around us. … > full story
Effects linked to particular PCBs—even at low levels
September 18, 2013 Ithaca, N.Y.—It may not kill them outright, but low-level PCB contamination is disrupting the way some birds sing their songs. So conclude the authors of a seven-year Cornell University study published today in the science journal PLOS ONE. Before the chemicals were banned in the United States in 1979, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, were widely used…
Sara DeLeon, Rayko Halitschke, Ralph S. Hames, André Kessler, Timothy J. DeVoogd, André A. Dhondt. The Effect of Polychlorinated Biphenyls on the Song of Two Passerine Species. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (9): e73471 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073471
A large number of red-eyed vireos were among the estimated 7,500 migrating songbirds killed by the flare at Canaport LNG. (Courtesy of the Migration Research Foundation
Migrating birds, some possible endangered species, flew into
CBC News Posted: Sep 17, 2013 1:24 PM AT Last Updated: Sep 18, 2013 7:48 AM AT
About 7,500 songbirds, possibly including some endangered species, were killed while flying over a gas plant in Saint John late last week, officials have confirmed. It appears the migrating birds flew into the gas flare at Canaport LNG between Friday night and Saturday morning, said Fraser Forsythe, the company’s health, safety, security and environmental manager. The birds were drawn to the flame like moths, an extremely unusual event, according to Don McAlpine, the head of zoology at the New Brunswick Museum. “They would circle in around that and of course with a large flame like that and high temperatures, they wouldn’t need to get terribly close to become singed or burned.” The weather conditions were foggy and overcast at the time, which may have contributed to the incident, said McAlpine. Not much is known about how such birds navigate at night, but officials believe they are attracted to light, particularly red or flashing lights, he said….
Heavily logged forests still valuable for tropical wildlife
(September 17, 2013) — New research has found rainforests that have been logged several times continue to hold substantial value for biodiversity and could have a role in conservation. . The research, which monitored bats as an indicator for environmental change on Borneo, is the first of its kind to have wildlife in forests logged more than two times. The findings are particularly important because across the tropics forest that has been intensively harvested is frequently targeted for conversion to agriculture and is perceived to hold little value for timber, carbon or biodiversity…… > full story
‘Shy’ male birds flock together — and have fewer friends
(September 18, 2013) — Male birds that exhibit “shy” social behavior are much more likely to join flocks of birds with a similar personality than their “bold” male counterparts, a new study has found. But shy birds also have fewer social partners than bold birds. … > full story
How birds got their wings: Fossil data show scaling of limbs altered as birds originated from dinosaurs
(September 17, 2013) — Birds originated from a group of small, meat-eating theropod dinosaurs called maniraptorans sometime around 150 million years ago. Recent findings from around the world show that many maniraptorans were very bird-like, with feathers, hollow bones, small body sizes and high metabolic rates. But the question remains, at what point did forelimbs evolve into wings — making it possible to fly?
Birds appear to lack important anti-inflammatory protein
(September 16, 2013) — Bird diseases can have a vast impact on humans, so understanding their immune systems can be a benefit for people. An important element in the immune system of many animals is the protein TTP, which plays an anti-inflammatory role, yet researchers have been unable to find it in birds. New research suggests birds are an anomaly. … > full story
Ten-year project redraws the map of bird brains
(September 17, 2013) — Pursuing their interests in using the brains of birds as a model for the human brain, neuroscientists have just completed a mapping of the bird brain based on a 10-year exploration of the tiny cerebrums of eight species of birds. … > full story
Earth’s wobble ‘fixes’ dinner for marine organisms
(September 13, 2013) — The cyclic wobble of the Earth on its axis controls the production of a nutrient essential to the health of the ocean, according to a new study. The discovery of factors that control this nutrient, known as “fixed” nitrogen, gives researchers insight into how the ocean regulates its own life-support system, which in turn affects the Earth’s climate and the size of marine fisheries. … > full story
Tuna closely related to some of the strangest fish in the sea
(September 13, 2013) — Some of the strangest fish in the sea are closely related to dinner table favorites the tunas and mackerels, an international team of scientists has found. … > full story
Kevin Fagan and Kurtis Alexander SF Chronicle Updated 8:57 am, Thursday, September 12, 2013
First came the dread and destruction. Now comes the rebirth and wonder. The wildfire that just spent four days rampaging through Mount Diablo’s craggy slopes left behind 3,100 acres of ash where nature lovers once hiked in thick brushland – but it was great news for ravenous predators and wildflower fans. And in the end, the fire is just part of the normal life cycle of a chaparral landscape, where occasional blazes are required to clean out scrubby overgrowth and regenerate environmental diversity, wildland experts said Wednesday. Some pine trees on the mountain even require flames for their cones to pop open. The immediate benefit is clear to the mountain lions, coyotes and red-tailed hawks for which Mount Diablo has suddenly turned into a gigantic, flame-broiled buffet. The thousands of ground squirrels and other lesser critters they victimize for chow are so dazed and displaced that their scurrying little bodies are more available than ever, naturalists say…..
Death and disability from air pollution down 35 percent in the US
(September 17, 2013) — Improvements in US air quality since 1990 have sparked a 35 percent reduction in deaths and disability specifically attributable to air pollution. … > full story
The blue-footed booby, native to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, South America. The bird is rarely seen north of the Salton Sea but in recent weeks has been seen along the Southern California Coast and as far north as Marin County. (Sybil Sassoon/Robert Harding /AP photo) Sybil Sassoon/Robert Harding
By Mark Prado
Marin Independent Journal Posted: 09/19/2013 06:32:21 PM PDT
Rare sightings of dancing, blue-footed birds are being recorded along the Point Reyes Peninsula and other areas of the county’s coast. The arrival of the blue-footed booby along Marin’s coast is part of an invasion of the species into the state as the birds stray far from their normal roaming grounds from the Galapagos Islands to the Sea of Cortez. Birder and Marin Audubon member Len Blumin of Mill Valley saw one of the birds Thursday afternoon at Chimney Rock. “It is a striking bird,” Blumin said. “We were lucky to have seen it.”
There was a report of one off of Rodeo Beach recently and of two at the Point Reyes Lighthouse Thursday morning. Point Blue Conservation Science researchers on the Farallon Islands also reported a sighting of the species Thursday morning.
The blue-footed booby is known for its long, pointed beak, clumsy waddle and unique seafoam-blue webbed feet — a combination that makes the bird look like it walked off a Pixar movie set…..
Tiny plankton could have big impact on climate: CO2–hungry microbes might short-circuit the marine foodweb
(September 13, 2013) — As the climate changes and oceans’ acidity increases, tiny plankton seem set to succeed. Marine scientists have found that the smallest plankton groups thrive under elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. This could cause an imbalance in the food web as well as decrease ocean CO2 uptake, an important regulator of global climate. “If the tiny plankton blooms, it consumes the nutrients that are normally also available to larger plankton species,” explains Ulf Riebesell, a professor of biological oceanography at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany and head of the experimental team. This could mean the larger plankton run short of food.
Large plankton play an important role in carbon export to the deep ocean, but in a system dominated by the so-called pico- and nanoplankton, less carbon is transported out of surface waters. “This may cause the oceans to absorb less CO2 in the future,” says Riebesell.
The potential imbalance in the plankton food web may have an even bigger climate impact. Large plankton are also important producers of a climate-cooling gas called dimethyl sulphide, which stimulates cloud-formation over the oceans. Less dimethyl sulphide means more sunlight reaches Earth’s surface, adding to the greenhouse effect. “These important services of the ocean may thus be significantly affected by acidification.”..… > full story
U. Riebesell, J.-P. Gattuso, T. F. Thingstad, J. J. Middelburg. Preface “Arctic ocean acidification: pelagic ecosystem and biogeochemical responses during a mesocosm study”. Biogeosciences, 2013; 10 (8): 5619 DOI: 10.5194/bg-10-5619-2013
Carbon farming schemes should consider multiple cobenefits
(September 13, 2013) — Carbon farming schemes will have harmful effects, such as impairing ecosystem services, reducing biodiversity, and reducing food supply, unless resulting revegetation decisions take into account the full range of cobenefits and disbenefits expected from various types of planting. In particular, the views of local inhabitants as well as landowners should be considered in order to maximize the probability of long-term success. … > full story
September 17, 2013
According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for August 2013 tied with 2005 as the fourth warmest August since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 35th consecutive August and 342nd consecutive month (more than 28 years) with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average August global temperature was August 1978 and the last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985. Most areas of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, including: New Zealand, Australia, northern South America, western North America, Europe, much of eastern Asia, and most of the global ocean regions. Far eastern China, part of northeastern South America, part of the Barents Sea, sections of the western Pacific Ocean, and part of the south central Indian Ocean were record warm. Meanwhile, the southeastern United States, Far East Russia, northern South Africa, Paraguay, Bolivia, and the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean were cooler than average. No regions of the globe were record cold. This monthly summary from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, the business sector, academia, and the public to support informed decision-making..Some national temperature highlights include:
- South Korea reported its warmest average August temperature since national records began in 1973, at 4.0 F (2.2 C) above the 1981-2010 average.
- New Zealand observed its warmest August since national records began in 1909, at 3.4°F (1.9°C) above the 1971-2000 monthly average.
- Australia reported its second warmest nationally-averaged August temperature since records began in 1910, at 2.88°F (1.60°C) above the 1961-1990 average. With the exception of the southernmost island state of Tasmania, all states and territories had average temperatures that were among their 10 highest for August.
- For the ocean, the August global sea surface temperature was 1.03°F (0.57°C) above the 20th century average of 61.4°F (16.4°C), tying with 1998, 2003, 2005, and 2009 as the record highest for August on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.09°F (0.05°C).
Neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions were present across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during August, with sea surface temperatures below average in the eastern equatorial Pacific. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, neutral conditions are favored through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2013/14. Polar ice highlights: August
- According to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the average August Arctic sea ice extent was 2.35 million square miles, 440,000 square miles (15.65 percent) below the 1981-2010 average of 2.79 million square miles. This was the sixth smallest August Arctic sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979. Arctic sea ice extent during August 2013 was 533,000 square miles larger than the record low August extent of 2012.
- The August Antarctic sea ice extent of 7.31 million square miles was 320,000 square miles (4.47 percent) above the 1981-2010 average of 6.99 million square miles. This was the largest August Antarctic sea ice extent on record, surpassing August 2010 when the sea ice extent was 7.28 million square miles.
- The globally combined Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent during August was 9.66 million square miles, 120,000 square miles (1.26 percent) below the 1981-2010 average of 9.78 million square miles. This marked the 13th smallest August global sea ice extent in the 45-year period of record.
Weather affects crop yield, especially hot days
(September 16, 2013) — A study has determined the relationship between long-term weather and yield of 11 horticultural crops and one field crop in Wisconsin. The number of hot days during the growing season was determined to be the most important factor among the weather conditions examined. Results revealed the importance of the amount and frequency of seasonal precipitation, showed the negative effects of extreme temperatures on vegetable crop yields, and emphasized the importance of breeding vegetables for heat tolerance. … > full story
World’s most vulnerable areas to climate change mapped
(September 16, 2013) — Using data from the world’s ecosystems and predictions of how climate change will impact them, scientists have produced a roadmap that ID’s the world’s most and least vulnerable areas in the Age of Climate Change. … > full story
A Washington family opens a hatchery in Hawaii to escape lethal waters.
Sept 11 2013 Seattle Times Story by Craig Welch HILO, Hawaii — It appears at the end of a palm tree-lined drive, not far from piles of hardened black lava: the newest addition to the Northwest’s famed oyster industry. Half an ocean from Seattle, on a green patch of island below a tropical volcano, a Washington state oyster family built a 20,000-square-foot shellfish hatchery. Ocean acidification left the Nisbet family no choice. Carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel emissions had turned seawater in Willapa Bay along Washington’s coast so lethal that slippery young Pacific oysters stopped growing. The same corrosive ocean water got sucked into an Oregon hatchery and routinely killed larvae the family bought as oyster seed. So the Nisbets became the closest thing the world has seen to ocean-acidification refugees. They took out loans and spent $1 million and moved half their production 3,000 miles away. “I was afraid for everything we’d built,” Goose Point Oyster Co. founder Dave Nisbet said of the hatchery, which opened last year. “We had to do something. We had to figure this thing out, or we’d be out of business.”
Oysters started dying by the billions along the Northwest coast in 2005, and have been struggling ever since. When scientists cautiously linked the deaths to plummeting ocean pH in 2008 and 2009, few outside the West Coast’s $110 million industry believed it…..
18:49 17 September 2013 by Alyssa A. Botelho
A truly ferocious and exceptional event. That is how Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, describes the storm that pummelled his state last week. “This was a once-in-1000-year rainfall,” he says, meaning that the storm was of such an intensity and duration that it had a 1-in-1000 chance of occurring in any given year in Colorado. The rains and subsequent floods have so far killed eight people, displaced 11,750 and destroyed close to 18,000 homes. The city of Boulder received a year’s rainfall in less than a week, says Daniel Leszcynski at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That huge volume was due in part to a lingering heatwave that for months blocked tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico from reaching the Rocky Mountains, he says. When that heatwave began to move east last week, weak winds allowed the growing storm system to sit above the Colorado peaks for days. Once that deluge hit the ground, more trouble awaited. Because of Colorado’s mountainous terrain, the region is flood-prone anyway but recent wildfires exacerbated things near Boulder and Fort Collins, two areas hardest hit by floodwaters. The fires had cleared land of vegetation that would normally absorb rainwater, says Trenberth.
Urban areas were also hit hard because of their abundance of impenetrable surfaces, says Matthew Kelsch from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “Cities have drainage systems designed to move water off streets and into streams as quickly as possible,” he says.
Though natural disasters are difficult to attribute to climate change, Trenberth says that the 1 ˚C rise in ocean temperature since the 1970s accounts for 5 per cent more moisture in today’s atmosphere. That’s enough to invigorate already powerful storms such as last week’s, he says. “There’s natural variability to these events, but maybe there was a little more rain because of climate change,” he says. “With weather, small differences can actually result in big effects in terms of damage done.”
Sept 18 2013
Indeed, according to climate scientist Martin Hoerling of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “this single event has now made the calendar year (2013) the single wettest year on record for Boulder….
Colorado now tracking 10 oil spills in flood zones. September 20, 2013 Denver Post Rushing floodwaters loaded with heavy debris damaged oil and gas pipes and tanks, causing the two large spills that state and federal regulators were tracking Thursday.
Posted: 15 Sep 2013 09:18 AM PDT
CREDIT: AP/Colorado Heli-Ops, Dennis Pierce
Boulder County, Colorado is bracing for up to four more inches of rain Sunday afternoon, a forecast that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says would magnify the problems rescuers are already facing in trying to reach stranded residents. Hickenlooper said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that the forecast of more rain in a region that’s received more than 14 inches in the last week is troubling because the ground is already saturated with water, making it easy for more rain to lead to even more flooding. So far, rescuers have moved 2,000 people out of Boulder, but 500 are still missing and at least four have been killed. This week’s rain has already washed away roads leading into smaller valley regions, Hickenlooper said, and more rainfall would mean rescuers would have a hard time reaching stranded residents by air. “There are many, many homes that have been destroyed,” Hickenlooper said. “A number have been collapsed and we haven’t been in them yet. So we’re still dealing with that. How do we save lives first?”… As Climate Central notes, it will take months of research before climate scientists can determine whether climate change played a role in making the Boulder flood more likely to occur. However, previous research has shown that extreme precipitation events are likely to become more common as the Earth warms, and the draft National Climate Assessment report released in this January found extreme precipitation events have already become more common across the U.S.
Paul Aiken/The Daily Camera, via Associated Press
Residents reinforced a dam in Boulder on Sunday. Many people were reported unaccounted for.
By JACK HEALY Published: September 15, 2013 DENVER — Efforts to reach hundreds of people still stranded in the flooded mountains of Colorado ran headlong into another day of pelting rain on Sunday, the authorities said.
After a week of record-breaking rains, Sunday’s storms were the last thing anyone wanted. They dumped more water into gorged streams, flooded sodden fields and prevented rescue helicopters from reaching residents who are stuck behind shredded roads and walls of debris…..
Posted: 18 Sep 2013 01:01 PM PDT
People stand on the rooftop of a home in a flooded neighborhood in Acapulco. CREDIT: ASSOCIATED PRESS
A so-far-quiet hurricane season took an extreme turn as Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid struck southern and central Mexico on Sunday and Monday, killing at least 57 by the latest count available on Wednesday. The state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast was hardest-hit, closing major roads out of Acapulco and blocking most air traffic, which left tens of thousands stranded.
It was the first time since 1958 that two tropical storms or hurricanes hit both of Mexico’s coasts within 24 hours. And the bad weather may not be over for Mexico yet, as Manuel, downgraded to a tropical depression, began to regain strength in the Pacific Ocean. It promises to dump more rain on the state of Sinaloa, causing more flooding and mudslides, and may make landfall on Baja California as a renewed tropical storm….
By Andrew Breiner on September 20, 2013
Usagi, a super-typhoon, reached category 5 strength Thursday, and continued to grow past category 5.
Concepts for Houston, Texas flood barrier
(September 15, 2013) — This month it will be exactly five years ago that Hurricane Ike caused enormous damage in and around Houston and Galveston in the US state of Texas. With more than billion in damage and over 100 deaths, Ike ranks third in the list of the costliest hurricanes in US history. But it could have been a lot worse. With more than two million inhabitants, Houston is not only the fourth largest city in the United States, it is also the centre of the oil and gas industry. The Port of Houston fulfils a crucial economic role and generates
Texas surge barrier. (Credit: Image courtesy of Delft University of Technology)
Communal watercourses called acequias, some of which date to the 1600s, connect people to their land, neighbors and ancestors. But as the channels dry up, farmers consider more efficient irrigation.
For 200 years, the earthen water canal has nourished the land where Peggy Boney’s farm now sits. It sustains the alfalfa pastures for her cattle and the corn and pumpkins she puts on her kitchen table for supper….
Sep. 17, 2013 — Human influences have directly impacted the latitude/altitude pattern of atmospheric temperature. That is the conclusion of a new report by scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and six other scientific institutions. The research compares multiple satellite records of atmospheric temperature change with results from a large, multi-model archive of simulations.
“Human activity has very different effects on the temperature of the upper and lower atmosphere, and a very different fingerprint from purely natural influences,” said Benjamin Santer, the lead researcher in the paper appearing in the Sept.16 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Our results provide clear evidence for a discernible human influence on the thermal structure of the atmosphere.” Observational satellite data and the computer model-predicted response to human influence have a common latitude/altitude pattern of atmospheric temperature change. The key features of this pattern are global-scale tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling over the 34-year satellite temperature record. (The troposphere is the lowest portion of Earth’s atmosphere. The stratosphere lies above the troposphere.) “Current climate models are highly unlikely to produce this distinctive signal pattern by internal variability alone, or in response to naturally forced changes in solar output and volcanic aerosol loadings,” Santer said. Natural internal fluctuations in climate are generated by complex interactions of the coupled atmosphere-ocean system, such as the well-known El Nino/Southern Oscillation. External influences include human-caused changes in well-mixed greenhouse gases, stratospheric ozone and other radiative forcing agents, as well as purely natural fluctuations in solar irradiance and volcanic aerosols. Each of these external influences has a unique “fingerprint” in the detailed latitude/altitude pattern of atmospheric temperature change.
Fingerprint information has proved particularly useful in separating human, solar and volcanic influences on climate.
“The pattern of temperature change that has been observed vertically in the atmosphere, from ground level to the stratosphere, fits with what is expected from human-caused increases in greenhouse gases. The observed pattern conflicts with what would be expected from an alternative explanation, such as fluctuations in the sun’s output,” Santer said.
Another LLNL co-author of the paper, Celine Bonfils, noted that major volcanic eruptions also can profoundly disturb the vertical structure of atmospheric temperature. “During the recovery from such eruptions, tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling also occur” Bonfils said. “But in contrast to volcanic influences, human-caused atmospheric temperature changes affect all latitudes and last longer. This suggests that the recent changes in temperature are not simply a recovery from past volcanic events.”…
B. D. Santer, J. F. Painter, C. Bonfils, C. A. Mears, S. Solomon, T. M. L. Wigley, P. J. Gleckler, G. A. Schmidt, C. Doutriaux, N. P. Gillett, K. E. Taylor, P. W. Thorne, F. J. Wentz. Human and natural influences on the changing thermal structure of the atmosphere. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1305332110
Stronger winds may explain puzzling growth of sea ice in Antarctica, model shows
(September 18, 2013) — Much attention is paid to melting sea ice in the Arctic. But less clear is the situation on the other side of the planet. Despite warmer air and oceans, there’s more sea ice in Antarctica now than in the 1970s — a fact often pounced on by global warming skeptics. The latest numbers suggest the Antarctic sea ice may be heading toward a record high this year. The reason may lie in the winds. A new modeling study shows that stronger polar winds lead to an increase in Antarctic sea ice, even in a warming climate. … > full story
Undersea mountains provide crucial piece in climate prediction puzzle
(September 18, 2013) — A mystery in the ocean near Antarctica has been solved by researchers who have long puzzled over how deep and mid-depth ocean waters are mixed. They found that sea water mixes dramatically as it rushes over undersea mountains in Drake Passage — the channel between the southern tip of South America and the Antarctic continent. Mixing of water layers in the oceans is crucial in regulating the Earth’s climate and ocean currents. … > full story
Walrus move to shore in northwest Alaska. Sept 18 2013 Associated Press With climate warming, sea ice in recent years has melted far beyond shallow Chukchi Sea waters and over areas where the bottom is 10,000 feet deep or more. Unless there’s remnant ice, many walrus choose to come ashore. This year, an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 walrus have gathered on a beach near Alaska’s Point Lay. …
French islands under threat from rising sea levels
(September 17, 2013) — By the year 2100, global warming will have caused sea levels to rise by 1 to 3 meters. This will strongly affect islands, their flora, fauna and inhabitants. Scientists have studied the impact of rising sea levels on 1,269 French islands throughout the world. Their model shows that between 5% and 12% of these islands could be totally submerged in the future. On a worldwide scale, they predict that about 300 endemic island species are at risk of extinction, while the habitat of thousands of others will be drastically reduced. … > full story
Finding a better message on the risks of climate change. September 12, 2013 Yale Environment 360
It’s a common refrain: If people only knew more about the science, there wouldn’t be so much polarization on the issue of climate change. But Dan M. Kahan’s groundbreaking work has gone a long way to prove that idea wrong. In fact, he’s found, it’s not the lack of scientific understanding that has led to conflict over climate change, but rather the need to adhere to the philosophy and values of one’s “cultural” group. Kahan, a professor of law and psychology at Yale Law School, says “individualists” — those who believe individuals should be responsible for their own well-being and who are wary of regulation or government control – tend to minimize the risk of climate change. On the other side, he notes, those who identify with the “communitarianism” group favor a larger role for government and other collective entities in securing the welfare of individuals and tend to be wary of commercial activity – he sees them as likely to favor restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions…..
Posted: 19 Sep 2013 09:28 AM PDT
….Explicit risk, the study’s author, James Painter, advises, is actually a better way to discuss climate change because it puts it into a quantifiable, actionable perspective for a general public. “One of the arguments in favour of using the language of risk,” Painter writes, “is that it shifts public debate away from the idea that decisions should be delayed until conclusive proof or absolute certainty is obtained (a criterion that may never be satisfied), towards timely action informed by an analysis of the comparative costs and risks of different choices and options (including doing nothing).”
… “Another is that risk is an essential part of everyday experience, including the worlds of insurance, health, and investment. Many people have to deal with it daily and manage it in different ways: most people in the developed world take out house insurance against the low probability, very high impact event of a fire. Patients are increasingly familiar with the concept of the risks and benefits of different health treatments (though they rely on trusted intermediaries to help them to navigate the risk). And some of the risk assessments people make are on the same timescale as possible climate impacts – for example, taking out a pension policy into which they pay for 40 years.“….
September 19, 2013 — Extreme weather may lead people to think more seriously about climate change, according to new research. In the wake of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, New Jersey residents were more likely to show … > full story
US EPA moves to limit emissions of future coal- and gas-fired power plants. By Lenny Bernstein and Juliet Eilperin, Published: September 19 Washington Post The Environmental Protection Agency will move Friday to strictly limit the amount of carbon that future coal- and gas-fired power plants can pour into the atmosphere, the first such restrictions on greenhouse gases imposed by the agency. The Environmental Protection Agency will move Friday to strictly limit the amount of carbon that future coal- and gas-fired power plants can pour into the atmosphere, the first such restrictions on greenhouse gases imposed by the agency. The limits in the proposed rule will be difficult for any new coal plant to meet without incurring the substantial costs of additional technology to limit carbon dioxide output or developing new methods of cleansing emissions. The industry almost certainly will challenge it in court. For the administration, the revised rule is the first major domestic initiative since President Obama laid out his climate action plan in June. Ahead is the EPA’s decision on limiting emissions from existing power plants, which Administrator Gina McCarthy said Thursday will be made in June 2014
By Ryan Koronowski on September 20, 2013
The Obama administration isn’t blinking as it moves to rein in the carbon pollution that causes climate change, all thanks to your friendly neighborhood Clean Air Act.
Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Updated 11:13 am, Monday, September 16, 2013
California condors, like this one wearing a tracking device over Big Sur, are especially susceptible to lead poisoning. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle
California would become the first state in the nation to ban hunting with lead bullets under a bill approved by the Legislature this week that environmentalists hope will inspire the rest of the country to follow suit. AB711, which awaits Gov. Jerry Brown‘s signature, would require all ammunition used for hunting in California to be made out of something other than lead, the primary ingredient in bullets for so long that it is now a part of American lore. Hollywood cowboys and gangsters have a habit of filling or threatening to fill their rivals “full of lead.” The problem, according to the authors of the bill, is that leftover fragments from lead ammunition are extremely harmful, even deadly, to humans and nontarget animals, including the endangered California condor. Toxicologists and other experts say spent ammunition is the largest unregulated source of lead that is knowingly discharged into the environment. “The Centers for Disease Control and leading scientists from around the country agree that there is no safe level of lead exposure for humans,” said Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, the chairman of the Assembly Health Committee and a co-author of the bill. The legislation was overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers at the Capitol despite a fusillade of attacks by gun lobbyists. Dan Taylor, the director of public policy for Audubon California, a backer of the bill, said copper, steel and other metals are already being used by 35 ammunition manufacturers and by the U.S. Army. Lead bullets, which date to the 14th century, were easier to manufacture and did less damage to the barrels of early muskets because lead is softer than iron. “AB711 is a milestone in the effort to protect wildlife,” Taylor said. “We’ve removed lead from gasoline, paint and children’s toys. It’s clear that lead ammunition has no place in hunting when safer and more effective alternatives are available.”…
Linda Adams SF Chronicle Opinion Published 5:50 pm, Tuesday, September 17, 2013
For decades now, “California emissions” has been industry shorthand for low-polluting cars and trucks. Beginning next week, the world will meet to discuss the serious risks of global-warming pollution from airplanes. They should follow California’s lead, too. At the meeting in Montreal, the International Civil Aviation Organization will attempt to adopt a market-based plan next week to help the world’s airlines cut their emissions. As we saw in Detroit, when the auto industry embraced a fuel-efficient future, it suddenly became competitive again after years of decline. If a low carbon economy is going to be our future, then taking a leadership role in the clean energy race now can only advantage our airlines in the long term…. In 2012, airline flights produced 689 million tons of the world’s carbon emissions. That is a little less than all of Germany’s, but more than South Korea’s or the United Kingdom’s total carbon emissions. If airlines were a country, they would be the world’s seventh largest carbon dioxide polluter… President Obama seemed to understand this when he said that he did not want America’s children to live in a world threatened by climate change. Unfortunately, he signed a bill into law that allows the administration to ban U.S. airlines from complying with the European Union‘s Emissions Trading System, a market-based system like the one we have in California. California established a statewide cap on carbon and allocated emissions allowances to more than 350 companies. Emit more than the baseline and you have to buy carbon allowances. Emit less and you can trade your surplus credits on the market. Carbon trading is the most effective tool we have for tackling global warming, with more than 50 markets now up and running (or on the way), from Brussels to Beijing. Acting early gives first movers a business advantage in tomorrow’s low-carbon economy. We need it. The United States is responsible for 40 percent of the world’s aviation emissions, and the numbers are rising fast. A global market-based program to curb aviation emissions could reduce aviation’s climate change impact 30 percent by 2050 as compared to business as usual. If we cannot make the transition to a low-carbon economy, the aviation industry will feel the heat along with the rest of us, as turbulence increases and frequent extreme weather events drive up airline costs…..
Climate change experts under pressure to address slowdown in global warming. September 20, 2013 AP Scientists working on a landmark United Nations report on climate change are struggling to explain why global warming appears to have slowed down in the past 15 years even though greenhouse gas emissions keep rising.
Ahead of IPCC climate report, skeptic groups launch global anti-science campaign.
Inside Climate News Conservative groups at the forefront of global warming skepticism are doubling down on trying to discredit the next big report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Climate Lobby’s answer to global warming? The free market…
Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013 9:00 am by Peter Seidman | 0 comments
….One of the prominent organizations involved in the market-based approach is called the Citizens Climate Lobby. Marshall Saunders, a California resident who made his name in real estate specializing in shopping center development and leasing, founded the organization after becoming aware of climate change in 2006. He began presenting talks about climate to a wide range of groups. During the talks, discussion touched on what actions individuals can take to reduce climate change. According to Saunders’ Climate Lobby mission statement, “I realized that anything my listeners intended to do as individuals was totally swamped by public policy, by what the government did or didn’t do. While I suggested ways for people to reduce their use of carbon, Congress extended a law that gave $18 billion in tax credits to oil and coal companies.” Saunders believed that congressional representatives were ineffectual, missing the mark on energy proposals and ways to reduce pollution. The reasons were obvious to him, as they are to virtually anyone who follows energy policy: The fossil fuel industry exerts inordinate power and has the power to bend potential legislation to its liking…….The keystone (pun intended) idea behind using market forces to bend the climate-change curve involves reducing reliance on specific regulations to cut emissions and moving to what’s called a fee-and-dividend strategy. The idea is to put a Pigouvian charge on emissions at the source. The fee would be based on the amount of carbon in a fossil fuel. The fee would increase progressively. It would start low, say $15 per ton, and gradually increase by, say $10, each year. Congress would set the amount of increase. Producers of emissions could decide how to increase efficiencies and otherwise cut carbon emissions, rather than work to comply with increasingly stringent and complex government regulations. “Efficiency becomes a goal,” says Joseph. The fee-and-dividend strategy would be simpler and more effective than the cap-and-trade strategy now employed in California. In that strategy, a set level of emissions is the cap. Producers who emit anything above the cap can trade on their emissions, essentially paying to produce more pollution. The money can go toward pollution reduction programs. Other advocates of harsh measures to curb emissions call for public and private divestment of investments in the fossil-fuel industry. But, says Joseph, that strategy may succeed in tarnishing a company’s image but it fails in the long run. As divestment causes a company’s stock to decline, other investors will be glad to snap up bargains, and the company continues producing and using fossil fuels that generate emissions which enter the economy. “The best way to achieve divestment,” says Joseph, is a carbon fee. The main advantage of a fee is the price signal it sends to the market, which instantly recognizes that renewable energy is more attractive than fossil fuels.” As the price of fossil fuel and production using fossil fuels increases, industry will search for cost-cutting alternatives. A utility company contemplating building a new generation plan, for instance, would be more inclined to invest in a solar production facility than a fossil-fuel facility if the company knew the price of fossil fuel was on an escalating curve as a result of a fee-and-dividend strategy. It’s the dividend part of the equation that has many people, including industry representatives and legislators, perking their ears. Several permutations of the fee-and-dividend strategy are floating around in their formative stages. In the most progressive version, 100 percent of the fee assessed on carbon would be returned to every American as a regularly disbursed rebate. That’s a plan similar to the oil-income distribution that Alaska residents receive. The rebates would ensure that family budgets could absorb fossil-fuel increases. It makes the proposal revenue neutral. No big infusions of money into government coffers. And that could make the fee-and-dividend proposal attractive, or at least acceptable, to Republicans who disdain any increased taxation. Even fossil-fuel bigwigs like Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, say that a carbon fee is the way to go to enter an age of energy transformation, better than a volatile cap-and-trade strategy. The fee-and-dividend strategy also is attracting a gaggle of conservative economists who recognize the intense need to curb carbon emissions as good business. If there’s a strategy that also can stimulate a new green economy, which proponents of fee-and-dividend say can happen, so much the better. The fee-and-dividend strategy doesn’t seem as kooky as it once did. That alteration is similar to the progression of thinking about environmental issues and organic foods. “What is starting to happen,” says Mark Reynolds, executive director of the Climate Lobby, “is enough political cover has emerged for Republicans” to get on the fee and dividend train.
But Reynolds and other advocates of the new paradigm are under no illusions. While what he calls “conservative thought leaders” are starting to listen to the fee-and-dividend message, legislators who embrace the strategy publicly are in danger of a primary attack from the far right. “It’s a tough political dynamic.” The Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies set what’s called the social cost of carbon to estimate climate-change effects used in crafting legislation. In May, the Obama administration increased the social cost of carbon from $22 to $36 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted. That increase reflects an increase in estimated consequences. Republican legislators almost immediately pushed back on the increase. It’s avoiding that kind of contretemps and using positive market forces to affect change that proponents think the fee-and-dividend strategy can produce. For a time, proponents shied away from even using the word “tax.” They called it a fee. But the nomenclature may have moved to the distinction without a difference territory. “People who are inclined to see it as a tax will see it as a tax,” says Daniel Richter, legislative director for the Climate Lobby. “We’ve given up trying to find a clever word to use instead of calling it a tax.” But one thing remains no matter what anyone calls it, a tax or a fee, it’s still revenue neutral. “We’re seeing more interest in this type of proposal than ever before,” says Richter.
What we’re seeing now: Media digs in, drills down on climate coverage. September 17, 2013 Daily Climate A new effort from Al Jazeera ups environmental coverage in the U.S. as Canadian coverage of tarsands and government cuts shines. But newsrooms keep shrinking, and Al Gore is still the boogey man.
Cattle giant to cash in carbon credits. Sept 20 2013 Australia ABC News The Tipperary Group has become the first beef producer in Australia to earn carbon credits under the savanna-burning carbon farming methodology.
By Daniel Weiss Center for American Progress September 16, 2013
This Wednesday, September 18, the House Energy and Power Subcommittee will conduct a long-overdue hearing on climate change. It is unfortunately not to seek scientific facts from reputable institutions, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, and similar experts, as requested 27 times by Ranking Committee and Subcommittee Members Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Bobby Rush (D-IL). Instead, the hearing is titled “The Obama Administration’s Climate Change Policies and Activities.” The scheduled witnesses are Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. During the hearing, they will probably be subjected to a barrage of phony claims by the 14 climate-science deniers who are serving on the subcommittee in an attempt to discredit President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Instead of these stale attacks on settled climate science, hyperinflated estimates of the cost of cleanup, or denial of executive authority to act, here are 10 truths that should be said at the hearing…..
The future of the f-word.
Chico News & Review California is on the brink of a great experiment in fracking regulation. SB 4 has intensified debate on a fundamental issue—whether fracking can be successfully regulated and safely conducted. The bill, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign readily, will establish some of the nation’s most stringent regulations for fracking and acidizing.
Fracking may not be as bad for the climate as we thought. Sept 18 2013 Washington Post At first glance, the shale-gas boom in the United States looks like good news for efforts to tackle global warming. Cheap natural gas is pushing out dirtier coal in the power sector. But there’s always been a massive caveat to this story — methane.
The Leadership Summit is organized annually by the U.S. Water Alliance’s Urban Water Sustainability Council. Through this Leadership Summit the Council seeks to connect the dots among water, land use, parks, forests, transportation, energy, and other sectors around a goal of revitalizing cities with multi-benefit projects that produce triple bottom-line results.
Join us for a Webinar on September 25. Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/674795351
This webinar will take a detailed look at resilience planning at one of the world’s leading forestry companies. Sara Kendall will discuss Weyerhaeuser’s strategic initiatives, opportunities, and challenges for building resilience to the impacts of a changing climate on forestry and land use.
Union of Concerned Scientists
September 26: Reforming Coastal Insurance
Date: Thursday, September 26
Time: 8:00 p.m. EDT 5 pm PDT
Sea level is rising at an accelerating rate and increasing the risk of destructive flooding events during powerful coastal storms. At the same time, increasing coastal development and a growing population are putting more people and more property in harm’s way. A recent UCS report, Overwhelming Risk: Rethinking Flood Insurance in a World of Rising Seas, points out that this risky pattern of development is being reinforced by the taxpayer-subsidized National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which sets artificially low insurance rates that do not reflect the true risks to coastal properties. Now we invite you to hear more from UCS experts on sea level rise and coastal property insurance, and to ask your own questions.
Working for Conservation Conference-Active Engagement in Forest and Woodland Sustainability
Thursday, October 10, 2013 — Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel, 1230 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 916-341-401
University of California Forestry and Outreach
California’s forests and woodlands provide a tremendous array of values for society, including diverse habitats, water supply, carbon storage, energy, building products, aesthetics, outdoor recreation. With a population approaching 38 million people and 14 million international visitors, there is no area of the state not touched by humans. This conference will focus on what we can learn from innovative and novel strategies that seek to achieve desired outcome in natural systems that have been historically altered and will continue to be altered. We have scores of risk avoidance strategies that these new approaches can be compared to. We will discuss new policies and management strategies that recognize the realities of these impacts, and encourage active approaches to ensure that these values continue into the future. This one day conference will provide a series of presentations illustrating the trajectory of our fingerprints across the state’s 40 million acres of forest and woodlands and consider novel approaches being implemented to get ahead of challenges where ‘no action’ approaches may not work. A series of case studies will be presented on how hybrids of restoration ecology , silviculture, and conservation biology are being combined in innovative conservation strategies. The response panelists will highlight the risks and opportunities of innovative approaches and will also ask questions that are submitted from participants. A wrap-up reception and poster session will be held to encourage discussion of the topics developed in the formal presentations.
Intended Audience: Resource managers, governmental, industry and NGO leaders, the interested general public. A list of useful background reading is provided at this LINK. Registration is $100, and includes breaks, lunch, and a reception. Early registration is due by October 1, 2013. Register by clicking HERE.
The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is excited to announce this upcoming workshop!
Project Design and Evaluation
September 23-24, 2013 9:00am – 5:00pm both days
The Project Design and Evaluation course provides coastal resource management extension and education professionals with the knowledge, skills, and tools to design and implement projects that have measurable impacts on the audience they want to reach. This interactive curriculum can help you increase the effectiveness of your projects by applying valid instructional design theory to their design. For more information or to register, click here. Course Instructed by NOAA Coastal Services Center
October 4, 2013 8:30 – 5:00
Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Including field site training at ALBA’s Triple M Ranch, Las Lomas; Carlie Henneman- POINT BLUE CONSERVATION SCIENCE, Dale Huss, Marc Los Huertos, and Paul Robins, Instructors
This one-day workshop trains participants in how to improve their analyses in consideration of the use of buffers for wetland and riparian areas in agricultural settings. During an in-depth field training session , participants will also have opportunities to discuss farming operations and buffers with Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) affiliated Francisco Serrano (Serrano Organic Farm), Hector Mora (Hector’s Organic Farm), and Guilebaldo Nuñez (Nuñez Farms) as well as Kaley Grimland- ALBA’s Triple M Ranch Wetland Restoration Project Manager. To register and for more information: http://www.elkhornsloughctp.org/training/show_train_detail.php?TRAIN_ID=AnP4EPT
Tuesday Oct. 22, 2013 9am to 5pm Sumner Auditorium, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
8625 Discovery Way, San Diego, CA , 92037 Register Here
FREE! Space is limited Registration is required by October 4, 2013 Dress comfortably for afternoon walking tour This intensive one-day training will introduce the “Roadmap” assessment approach designed to help communities characterize their exposure to current and future hazard and climate threats. This participatory assessment process is designed to:
• Engage key staff members and stakeholders in a comprehensive assessment of local vulnerabilities;
• Evaluate potential hazard and climate impacts using existing information resources;
• Collaborate across disciplines to better understand and plan for impacts; and
• Identify opportunities for improving resilience to current and future hazard risks.
NOAA’s Coastal Services Center expert training staff will lead instruction, with participants spending the morning being trained in the classroom, followed by an afternoon field experience.
Who should attend? Professionals interested in: (1) increasing their understanding of, and skills in, coastal hazard mitigation, and (2) networking among other professionals. Specifically: program administrators, land use planners, public works staff members, floodplain managers, hazard mitigation planners, emergency managers, community groups, and coastal resource managers. For further information contact: John Sandmeyer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Quivira Conference 2013– Inspiring Adaptation Wednesday, November 13 – Friday, November 15, 2013 Registration Deadlines: November 5, 2013
“The Westerner is less a person than a continuing adaptation. The West is less a place than a process.” – Wallace Stegner
From prehistoric times to the present, human societies have successfully adapted to the challenges of a changing West, including periods of severe drought, limitations created by scarce resources and shifting cultural and economic pressures. Now, the American West is entering an era of unprecedented change brought on by new climate realities, which will test our capacity for adaptation as well as challenge the resilience of the region’s native flora and fauna. It is therefore paramount that we find and share inspiring ideas and practical strategies that help all of the region’s inhabitants adapt to a rapidly changing world. We will hear from scientists, ranchers, farmers, conservationists, urban planners and others who have bright ideas and important tools to share from their adaptation toolbox.
Date CHANGED! : Rangeland Coalition Summit 2014 January 21-22, 2014 Oakdale, CA Please note that the dates have been changed for the 9th Annual California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Summit to be hosted at the Oakdale Community Center. Mark your calendar for January 21-22, 2014, more details will be coming soon! The planning committee will have a conference call on September 11 at 9:00 AM to start planning for the event. If you are interested in serving on the planning committee or being a sponsor please contact Pelayo Alvarez: email@example.com.
The Ecological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and US Geological Survey are co-sponsors of the upcoming
Soil Science Society of America ecosystems services conference–abstracts are now being invited and are due by 12/1/2013.
March 6-9, 2014 Sheraton Grand Hotel, Sacramento, CA
Purpose of Conference: Soils provide provisioning and regulating ecosystem services relevant to grand challenge areas of 1) climate change adaptation and mitigation, 2) food and energy security, 3) water protection, 4) biotechnology for human health, 5) ecological sustainability, and 6) slowing of desertification. The purposes of this conference will be to evaluate knowledge strengths and gaps, encourage cross-disciplinary synergies to accelerate new learning, and prioritize research needs.
More info is available here: https://www.soils.org/meetings/specialized/ecosystem-services
99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America
Sacramento, California August 10-15, 2014 http://www.esa.org/sacramento
Call for Proposals– Symposia, Organized Oral Sessions, and Organized Poster Sessions
Deadline for Submission: September 26, 2013
Grants support projects in 4 key categories: Species Research, Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation, Habitat Protection, and Conservation Education. Application deadline is December 1 each year for grants beginning the following year. Past programs have supported projects in the range of 5-25K for a one-year term.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program at San Francisco Bay The program’s focus is on the San Mateo and Marin Counties’ outer Coast and is also available to projects in watersheds draining into San Francisco Bay. The mission of the Coastal Program at San Francisco Bay is to conserve coastal ecosystems by engaging external partners and other Service programs in activities that restore, enhance and protect fish and wildlife habitats and habitat forming processes. Funding Available: about $100,000 to $200,000 annually. There is no rigid application format or deadline to apply. However, our money is available on a Federal fiscal year basis (October 1 to September 30), and we encourage you to contact us as early as possible so that we can explore potential partnership opportunities for your project. We would like to hear from you starting in January each year, cooperative agreements for each year are generally finalized by June.
NOAA Announces Solicitation for the U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observation Network
This funding opportunity invites proposals for projects that demonstrate how an operational Marine Biodiversity Observation Network could be developed for the nation by establishing one or more prototype networks in U.S. coastal waters, the Great Lakes, and the EEZ. Applications are due on December 2, 2013.
For more information, click here
Clean energy least costly to power America’s electricity needs
(September 17, 2013) — Findings show carbon pollution from power plants can be cut cost-effectively by using wind, solar and natural gas. It’s less costly to get electricity from wind turbines and solar panels than coal-fired power plants when climate change costs and other health impacts are factored in, according to a new study. … > full story
Coal’s future darkens around the world.
Associated Press The future of coal is getting darker. Economic forces, pollution concerns and competition from cleaner fuels are slowly nudging nations around the globe away from the fuel that made the industrial revolution possible.
Remote Scottish windfarms to receive guaranteed price for their electricity. September 15, 2013 The Guardian Community-owned windfarms on some of Scotland’s remotest islands are likely to gain from a new deal to buy their electricity at a higher price, Ed Davey, the energy and climate secretary, has said.
Fracking may emit less methane than previous estimates. September 17 2013 Climate Central Fracked natural gas wells leak much less methane — a potent climate change-driving greenhouse gas — at certain points during the production process than previous studies and the Environmental Protection Agency have estimated, according to a University of Texas study released Monday. Methane is one of the chief components of natural gas locked up in underground shale formations — the target of a natural gas drilling boom stretching from Pennsylvania to the Rockies and beyond. Energy companies tap the formations using a method called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a well completion process that requires large volumes of water, sand and chemicals to be injected into the shale at high pressure, cracking the rock and allowing the trapped gas to flow into the well and to the surface.
The natural gas wells and the fracking process are hardly leak-free, however. The EPA estimated in 2011 that natural gas drilling accounts for at least about 1,200 gigagrams — about 2.6 billion pounds — of methane emissions each year from well completions, equipment leaks and pneumatic controllers. The EPA estimated that “flowback,” one of the final stages in the well completion process during which fracking fluids and other materials flow out of the well, emits an average of 81 milligrams of methane per operation. The study, led by University of Texas chemical engineering professor David T. Allen and sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and nine oil and gas companies, found that methane emissions from the natural gas production sites were overall about the same as EPA estimates with some notable exceptions. But if emissions control technology is used, emissions can be drastically reduced during some parts of the gas production process. The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. …
Tidal energy scheme off northern Scotland gets go-ahead. September 16, 2013 The Guardian
Six vast underwater turbines are to be lowered into the tidal currents of the Pentland firth in the first phase of one of the largest tidal energy schemes in Europe. … Installing and running these machines in the harsh north Atlantic waters off northern Scotland is highly challenging because of the extreme weather conditions, strength of the tides and depths of water. The Scottish government’s estimates that the Pentland Firth, where tides race between the Atlantic and North Sea through a narrow eight-mile gap, can support 14GW of installed capacity are disputed by experts.
- OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST
September 19, 2013
In some places, climate change is an explicit factor driving a city’s action; such is the case in Baltimore, Maryland, which has a Climate Action Plan and a recently appointed “Hazard Mitigation and Adaptation Planner” who is trying to build more tree …
- September 19 2013
Female scientists and leaders from more than 35 countries will descend on the small town of Suffern, N.Y., this weekend to discuss issues at the intersection of climate policy and women’s empowerment. The first International Women’s Earth and Climate Change … Among those present will be renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams, noted marine biologist Sylvia Earle, former Brazilian Minister of Environment Marina Silva and leaders from the Global Gender Climate Alliance and the Women’s Environment and Development Organization.
NY Times Says Earth Has Unlimited Carrying Capacity, So Forget Climate Change and Party On, Homo Sapiens!
By ANDREW C. REVKIN NYTIMES September 16 2013
Handy tips for surviving the next mass extinction — even if it’s our own doing.
By Jason Hoppin, Santa Cruz Sentinel Posted: 09/19/2013
The blue-footed booby, native to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, South America, has been spotted at least twice in Santa Cruz County this week. (Sybil Sassoon/Robert Harding /AP Images) (Sybil Sassoon/Robert Harding)
LIVE OAK — On a rocky shelf next to Sunny Cove, UC Santa Cruz student Abe Borker and some friends looked over the water Tuesday, scanning for an impossibility.
Yet there it was: the blue-footed booby, a subtropical seabird famed from the Galapagos Islands to the Sea of Cortez for its long, pointed beak, clumsy waddle and pastel-colored webbed feet, a combination that makes the bird look like it walked off a Pixar movie set….
San Francisco Chronicle - September 17 2013
The link between overuse of antibiotics in livestock and microbial resistance has been suspected since the 1960s, but Congress, at the behest …
Kevin Drum September 15, 2013 MotherJones.com
“Politics makes morons of us all,” said Kevin Drum. That’s the conclusion of a new study carried out by Yale law professor Dan Kahan. He tested the math skills of 1,100 participants, asked for their political orientation, and then asked them to analyze the results of a bogus study on a divisive political issue—whether a gun ban decreased or increased crime. Kahan gave half the participants data indicating the ban cut crime, and the other half data indicating the opposite. A strange thing then happened. Participants who had proven they could do basic mathematical analysis “suddenly got really stupid if they didn’t like the answer they got.” When given data indicating that gun bans don’t work, liberals with good math skills nonetheless said the statistics proved they do work. When given data indicating that gun bans do work, conservatives likewise lost the ability to do math, and wrongly insisted that the data proved otherwise. The depressing conclusion? No matter how intelligent we are, when it comes to politics, “we believe what we want to believe, and neither facts nor evidence ever changes that much.”
Earth expected to be habitable for another 1.75 billion years
(September 18, 2013) — Habitable conditions on Earth will be possible for at least another 1.75 billion years – according to astrobiologists. “If we ever needed to move to another planet, Mars is probably our best bet. It’s very close and will remain in the habitable zone until the end of the Sun’s lifetime — six billion years from now,” one of the researchers said. … > full story
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals pose global health threat, experts say
(September 19, 2013) — Endocrine experts agreed that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) pose a threat to human health and to the ecosystems of Earth. The editorial comes in response to a commentary (Dietrich et al. Chem Biol Interact) signed by a number of editors of toxicology journals that dismisses the state-of-the-science on EDCs and argues for the status quo in the regulation of these hazardous substances. … > full story
Red grapes, blueberries may enhance immune function
(September 17, 2013) — In an analysis of 446 compounds for their the ability to boost the innate immune system in humans, researchers discovered just two that stood out from the crowd — the resveratrol found in red grapes and a compound called pterostilbene from blueberries. … > full story
CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK
What would happen to you if you are bitten by a lyre snake?
CA BLM QUIZ ANSWER:
What would happen to you if you are bitten by a lyre snake? Would you most likely:
(c.) not be severely injured by their venom