Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science

Conservation Science News December 7, 2012

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Highlight of the Week

1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

2-CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

3-POLICY

4-RESOURCES and REFERENCES

5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

6-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

7-IMAGES OF THE WEEK

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Highlight of the Week-

 

NOAA ARCTIC REPORT CARD: UPDATE 2012:

New records set for snow extent, sea ice extent and ice sheet surface melting,

despite air temperatures – a key cause of melting – being unremarkable relative to the last decade. Multiple observations provide strong evidence of widespread, sustained change driving Arctic environmental system into new state.

Highlights:

 

Must see NOAA Video summarizing findings—2 minutes

Published on Dec 5, 2012 by NOAAPMEL

Arctic Report Card: Update for 2012 – Tracking recent environmental changes, with 20 essays on different aspects of the environment, by a international team of 141 scientists from 15 different countries, with an independent peer-review organized by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme of the Arctic Council. More information and PDF of entire report at http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard

 

NOAA Press Release:


Arctic continues to break records in 2012: Becoming warmer, greener region with record losses of summer sea ice and late spring snow

 

 

December 5, 2012

 

Climate Progress:

NOAA: Climate Change Driving Arctic Into A ‘New State’ With Rapid Ice Loss And Record Permafrost Warming

Posted: 06 Dec 2012 09:26 AM PST

Arctic sea ice is melting much, much faster than even the best climate models had projected. The reason is most likely unmodeled amplifying feedbacks. Image via Arctic Sea Ice Blog.

“Scary New Report on Arctic Ice” is the Weather Channel’s headline for NOAA’s sobering 2012 Arctic Report Card. Everyone should indeed be scared by what we are doing to the Arctic because it will accelerate global warming, speed up sea level rise, and make deadly superstorms like Sandy more frequent and more destructive (see “NOAA Bombshell: Warming-Driven Arctic Ice Loss Is Boosting Chance of Extreme U.S. Weather“).

This is what’s new up north in 2012:

Here’s a video summary from NOAA:

Two of the most worrisome highlights are:

The record Greenland melt is scary because if the Greenland ice sheet disintegrates, sea levels would rise 20 feet — and the process appears to be accelerating to a critical “tipping point” (see also “Science Stunner: Greenland Ice Melt Up Nearly Five-Fold Since Mid-1990s”). Indeed, polar researcher Jason Box, lead author of the Greenland section of the report, told the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco:

“In 2012 Greenland crossed a threshold where for the first time we saw complete surface melting at the highest elevations in what we used to call the dry snow zone,” he told reporters at the AGU. “As Greenland crosses the threshold and starts really melting in the upper elevations it really won’t recover from that unless the climate cools significantly for an extended period of time which doesn’t seem very likely.”

The tundra warming is scary because it is a frozen locker of carbon whose defrosting will further accelerate warming (see “Carbon Feedback From Thawing Permafrost Will Likely Add 0.4°F – 1.5°F To Total Global Warming By 2100).”

Here is more detail on what’s happening in the tundra: In 2012, new record high temperatures at 20 [meters, 65 feet] depth were measured at most permafrost observatories on the North Slope of Alaska and in the Brooks Range, where measurements began in the late 1970s. Only two coastal sites show exactly the same temperatures as in 2011.

A common feature at Alaskan, Canadian and Russian sites is greater warming in relatively cold permafrost than in warm permafrost in the same geographical area. During the last fifteen years, active-layer thickness [ALT] has increased in the Russian European North, the region north of East Siberia, Chukotka, Svalbard and Greenland. The “ALT is the top layer of soil and/or rock that thaws during the summer and freez[es] again during the fall, i.e., it is not permafrost.” The report makes painfully clear why all of these Arctic trends are going to continue — global warming and amplifying feedbacks:

“Large changes in multiple indicators are affecting climate and ecosystems, and, combined, these changes provide strong evidence of the momentum that has developed in the Arctic environmental system due to the impacts of a persistent warming trend that began over 30 years ago. A major source of this momentum is the fact that changes in the sea ice cover, snow cover, glaciers and Greenland ice sheet all conspire to reduce the overall surface reflectivity of the region in the summer, when the sun is ever-present. In other words, bright, white surfaces that reflect summer sunlight are being replaced by darker surfaces, e.g., ocean and land, which absorb sunlight. These conditions increase the capacity to store heat within the Arctic system, which enables more melting – a positive feedback. Thus, we arrive at the conclusion that it is very likely that major changes will continue to occur in the Arctic in years to come, particularly in the face of projections that indicate continued global warming.”

Anyone who thinks we can delay aggressive deployment of carbon-free technology simply has shut their eyes and ears to the growing scientific evidence.

Related Post:

 

Highly recommended film:
Chasing Ice
www.chasingice.com/ NOW PLAYING- check for local/regional listings

 



Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of climate change. Using time-lapse cameras, his …

A former skeptic about climate change, National Geographic photographer James Balog began to illustrate what could be the biggest story in human history when he started the Extreme Ice Survey. With a band of young adventurers in tow, Balog deployed revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers. His hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate. As the climate-change debate polarizes America and the intensity of natural disasters ramps up globally, Chasing Ice depicts a heroic photojournalist on an urgent mission to deliver irrefutable evidence, as well as hope, to our carbon-powered planet. Winner of the Excellence in Cinematography Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Producer/Director: Jeff Orlowski. (US 2012) 75 min.

SynopsisShowtimesAwardsMedia Reviews

 

 

 

 

 

Mercury in coastal fog linked to upwelling of deep ocean water
(December 4, 2012) — An ongoing investigation of elevated mercury levels in coastal fog in California suggests that upwelling of deep ocean water along the coast brings mercury to the surface, where it enters the atmosphere and is absorbed by fog. Peter Weiss-Penzias, an environmental toxicologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who leads the investigation, emphasized that the amount of mercury in fog is not a health concern. “These are parts-per-trillion levels, so when we say elevated, that’s relative to what was expected in atmospheric water,” he said. “The levels measured in rain have always been fairly low, so the results from our first measurements in fog were surprising.”

Weiss-Penzias and his team collected their first fog samples in the summer of 2011 and published their findings in a paper in Geophysical Research Letters in February 2012. The team, including researchers at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and CSU Monterey Bay, collected additional fog samples in the summer of 2012 and also analyzed water samples collected at different depths in Monterey Bay. Weiss-Penzias presented the latest findings in a talk at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco on December 4.

Mercury is a highly toxic element that is released into the environment through a variety of human activities, including the burning of coal. In California, mercury mines in the coast ranges produced large amounts of elemental mercury for use in gold mining operations, leading to contamination of watersheds throughout the state. Bacteria in soil and sediments transform elemental mercury into methylmercury compounds that are especially toxic and readily absorbed by organisms.

….”Dimethylmercury is more stable in the deep ocean, but we’re not quite sure how it forms or where it’s coming from,” he said. “We found elevated levels in the surface water during upwelling, and it readily evaporates from the surface into the atmosphere, where it decomposes into monomethylmercury and gets into fog droplets.”

When the fog moves onto the land, it collects on the leaves of redwood trees and other vegetation and drips onto the ground, depositing significant amounts of mercury onto the land. “We calculated that more methylmercury is deposited by fog than by rain, but the error bars are large,” Weiss-Penzias said. ….

Methylmercury becomes increasingly concentrated in organisms higher up the food chain, and mercury levels in some predatory fish are high enough to raise health concerns. This contamination of ocean fish is the result of biological sequestering of mercury that has been accumulating in the oceans since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the 19th century. Similarly, the mercury that moves from ocean waters into fog is probably not fresh pollution, but the result of the historical legacy of mercury pollution from coal burning and other sources, Weiss-Penzias said…. > full story

 

 


World’s Big Trees Are Dying: Alarming Increase in Death Rates Among Trees 100-300 Years Old

 

 


The largest living organisms on the planet, the big, old trees that harbor and sustain countless birds and other wildlife, are dying. A report by three of the world’s leading ecologists in today’s issue of the journal Science warns of an alarming increase in deathrates among trees 100-300 years old in many of the world’s forests, woodlands, savannahs, farming areas and even in cities. “It’s a worldwide problem and appears to be happening in most types of forest,” says lead author Professor David Lindenmayer of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and Australian National University.”Large old trees are critical in many natural and human-dominated environments. Studies of ecosystems around the world suggest populations of these trees are declining rapidly,” he and colleagues Professor Bill Laurance of James Cook University, Australia, and Professor Jerry Franklin of Washington University, USA, say in their Science report. “Research is urgently needed to identify the causes of rapid losses of large old trees and strategies for improved management. Without… policy changes, large old trees will diminish or disappear in many ecosystems, leading to losses of their associated biota and ecosystem functions.”…  ”Large old trees play critical ecological roles. They provide nesting or sheltering cavities for up to 30% of all birds and animals in some ecosystems. They store huge amounts of carbon. They recycle soil nutrients, create rich patches for other life to thrive in, and influence the flow of water within landscapes and the local climate. “Big trees supply abundant food for numerous animals in the form of fruits, flowers, foliage and nectar. Their hollows offer nests and shelter for birds and animals like Australia’s endangered Leadbeater’s Possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) — and their loss could mean extinction for such creatures. “In agricultural landscapes, large old trees can be focal points for vegetation restoration; they help connect the landscape by acting as stepping stones for many animals that disperse seeds and pollen,” he says. The alarming decline in old trees in so many types of forest appears to be driven by a combination of forces, including land clearing, agricultural practices, man-made changes in fire regimes, logging and timber gathering, insect attack and rapid climatic changes, says Prof. Jerry Franklin…. full story

 

How native plants and exotics coexist
(November 30, 2012) — Exotic plants in many ecosystems may be better competitors, but biologists have found that exotics can be kept in check by herbivory. … “Basically, we found that exotics plants grow more and can essentially out-compete natives, which normally is a problem. But in these communities there are also insects, which prefer to eat exotic plants instead of natives and can keep their growth in check. As a result, native plants, which are less susceptible to these insects can thrive even when exotic plants that are better competitors are nearby,” said Heard. How long this precarious balance will remain is unknown, but for now it isn’t just the case of exotic species being problematic. Instead it’s the story of how differences between two groups of plants allow them to survive along side each other. > full story

Matthew J. Heard, Dov F. Sax. Coexistence between native and exotic species is facilitated by asymmetries in competitive ability and susceptibility to herbivores. Ecology Letters, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/ele.12030

 

 

Cheatgrass increases fire activity across the arid western U.S.

A study published in Global Change Biology finds an invasive grass species may be one reason fires are bigger and more frequent in certain regions of the western United States. Results demonstrate that cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) invasion has substantially altered the regional fire regime. Although this result has been suspected by managers for decades, this study is the first to document recent cheatgrass-driven fire regimes at a regional scale.

Introduced annual grass increases regional fire activity across the arid western USA (1980–2009)
Jennifer K. Balch, Bethany A. Bradley, Carla M. D’Antonio, and José Gómez-Dans Global Change Biology, December 2012 (online)
UCSB press release: “The Invasive Grass-Fire Cycle in the U.S. Great Basin”, Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology (related educational resource)

Invasive grass fuels increased fire activity in the West
(December 5, 2012) ScienceDaily — An invasive grass species may be one reason fires are bigger and more frequent in certain regions of the western United States, according to a team of researchers. … > full story

 

 

Small patches of native plants help boost pollination services in large farms
(December 5, 2012) — Isolation from natural habitat can lead to productivity losses due to lack of pollinators. Introducing areas of native vegetation within cropland has been proposed as a way to supplement pollinators, but this measure is perceived by farmers to carry costs that outweigh production-benefits. This study shows that small patches of native flowers, that do not compromise production area, increase mango pollination services in South Africa. Such measure allows increases in production without further expanding cropland. … > full story

 

Birds Are Using Cigarette Butts To Stave Off Pests

The Telegraph | Dec. 5, 2012, 6:25 PM | 739 |

Birds are lining their nests with cigarette butts to repel pests and keep themselves warm, according to research. Wild birds have long protected their nests from mite invasion by importing chemical-emitting plants. But now birds living in cities seem to have adapted similar behaviour, filling their nests with up to 48 cigarette buts to make use of the repellent properties of tobacco. The nicotine and other chemicals in discarded filters act as a natural pesticide that repels parasitic mites. At the same time, the cellulose butts provide useful nest insulation. Scientists in Mexico City studied nests of house sparrows and house finches that each contained, on average, about 10 used cigarette butts. Birds who stored larger numbers of butts saw their nests significantly less infested by mites….Dr Constantino Macias Garcia, from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and his team wrote in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters: “We provide evidence that urban birds incorporate cellulose from smoked cigarette butts into the nest and that this behaviour entails a reduction in the number of nest-dwelling ectoparasites. “It appears that this effect may be due to the fact that mites are repelled by nicotine, perhaps in conjunction with other substances, because thermal traps laced with cellulose from smoked butts attracted fewer ectoparasites than traps laced with non-smoked cellulose. “This novel behaviour observed in urban birds fulfils one of the three conditions necessary to be regarded as self-medication: it is detrimental to parasites.”….

 

 

Whale, likely struck by ship, washes ashore dead in Malibu

Los Angeles Times ‎- December 6, 2012

A young 41-foot male Fin Whale that washed onto a Malibu beach was likely struck by a ship, wildlife officials said Wednesday…..

 

 

Migrating Great Lakes salmon carry contaminants upstream
(December 6, 2012) — Salmon, as they travel upstream to spawn and die, carry industrial pollutants into Great Lakes streams and tributaries. … > full story


Hushed Hoarders and Prying Pilferers: Eurasian Jays Change Strategies to Prevent Others from Stealing Food

 

 


December 4, 2012 — In order to prevent other birds from stealing the food they are storing for later, Eurasian jays, a type of corvid, minimizes any auditory hints a potential pilferer may use to steal their cache … > full story

 

 

New Jamaica butterfly species emphasizes need for biodiversity research
(December 3, 2012) — Scientists have described a new Lepidoptera species found in Jamaica’s last remaining wilderness. Belonging to the family of skipper butterflies, the new genus and species is the first butterfly discovered in Jamaica since 1995. Scientists hope the native butterfly will encourage conservation of the country’s last wilderness where it was discovered: the Cockpit Country. The study underscores the need for further biodiversity research and establishing a baseline of organisms as more tropical areas suffer habitat destruction. … > full story

 

Fox invasion threatens wave of extinction in Tasmania
(December 4, 2012) — The effort to stop the irreversible spread of foxes in Tasmania is at a critical stage with many native species at risk of extinction, new research shows. … > full story

 

The next 100 years bring new challenges to rangeland science
(December 4, 2012) — When severe droughts and overgrazing in the late 19th century brought livestock mortality, soil erosion, and loss of native forage plants to the western United States, the profession of rangeland science was born. While the original intention was to create sustainable rangelands for livestock production, today’s world has additional needs. Rangeland science must progress to accommodate increasing demand for ecosystem services in changing environments. A special issue of the journal Rangeland Ecology & Management, commemorating the centennial of the Jornada Experimental Range, looks at the past and the future of rangeland science. The Jornada was established in south-central New Mexico in 1912 to learn how Southwestern ecosystems could be sustainably managed for food and fiber production. Fifty-six rangeland researchers from seven countries have contributed to this special issue, seeking to define the direction for rangeland science and management in the coming century.

A hundred years ago, southwestern rangelands were seen as being suitable for only one purpose — raising livestock. The first task of range science was the classification of rangelands according to appropriate livestock carrying capacities, amount and type of forage available, and climatic and other conditions that affect their value. While these ideas have formed the basis of the questions modern rangeland scientists ask, today’s profession has very different perspectives.

Past science and policy assumed that if livestock were removed, ecosystems would revert to their original condition. This has not proved to be the case — the effects of events and uses of 100 years ago are still evident on the land. Additionally, given the high variability of rangeland systems in terms of rainfall, droughts, and soil, scientists now recognize that a specific set of overarching principles for rangeland management cannot be universally applied.

Not only have the physical landscapes changed, the social landscape of stakeholders, policies, and markets has also changed. Rangelands are no longer viewed only as a source of livestock products. Other services, including wildlife, water, biodiversity, and renewable energy are increasingly important to society. What has become known as “resilience-based management” is now required to ensure the continued supply of different ecosystem services in an era of rapid and uncertain change.

In this special issue, the dominant themes of rangeland research are given new directions. Articles address global changes in climate and land use, international development, species loss and exotic introductions, the integration of new technologies, and the role of educational institutions. Finally, these themes are condensed into a set of challenges now facing the rangeland science profession.

Full text of the article, “Big Questions Emerging from a Century of Rangeland Science and Management,” and other articles in this special issue of Rangeland Ecology & Management, Vol. 65, No. 6, 2012, are available at www.srmjournals.org.

… > full story

 

 

Extinction need not be forever  NATURE December 5, 2012
Biotechnology can help to save endangered species and revive vanished ones. Conservationists should not hesitate to use it, says Subrat Kumar.

 

 

Sierra Nevada Meadows and Lake Saved in Deal

Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Updated 11:29 p.m., Monday, December 3, 2012

Conservationists have saved from development a vast Sierra Nevada meadow, a picturesque lake and a historic hotel built by a colorful pioneer who created what is perhaps California’s first mountain vacation resort. The Truckee Donner Land Trust and Trust for Public Land have closed a deal to buy Webber Lake and Lacey Meadows, a stunning landscape amid glimmering Sierra peaks at the headwaters of the Little Truckee River.

The $8 million deal will preserve 3,000 acres of scenic backcountry north of Truckee and, for the first time since the Gold Rush, open it to the public. It includes the 260-acre lake, the 152-year-old Webber Lake Hotel and a sweeping unspoiled, wildflower-dotted meadow teeming with wildlife.

“This has everything,” said Perry Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust, which, under the purchase agreement, will own and operate the property, including boat docks, cabins and hiking trails. “It is historic, scenic. It has high recreation values and high natural resource values.”

The land, which was on the historic route to California’s gold fields, was sold by Barbara Johnson, whose late husband Clifton used to run sheep and whose family had owned the property for nearly a century. “We were offered lots more money for it from people who wanted to put in houses and hotels and ski runs, but that would have spoiled it,” said Johnson, 86, of Granite Bay. “It is such a wonderful, beautiful place – we wanted it to be preserved for other people. It certainly makes me feel good now that it will be preserved forever


City explores durable shoreline measures

Martin B. Cassidy Updated 6:35 p.m., Monday, December 3, 2012

STAMFORD, CT — After sustaining millions of dollars in damage to local beaches during Hurricane Sandy, a city planner is working to partner with Columbia University graduate students this spring to help determine ways to shield shorelines in city parks from fierce storms. Erin McKenna, an city associate planner, said she is negotiating with George Sarrakinaolou, an administrator at Columbia’s Earth Institute and adjunct lecturer in its sustainability management program, to get students’ help in evaluating how Stamford can enhance natural features, such as salt marshes, to make its beaches less vulnerable to storm surges….

 

 

Bird Stewards Increase the Effectiveness of Protected Beaches

February 20, 2012 — Bird stewards – individuals who police protected beaches and educate the public about the birds who inhabit it – greatly increase the effectiveness of protected beaches, a new survey … > full story

 

 

Britain sees a decline in partridges and turtle doves _ the birds in the 12 …

Washington Post December 7 2012

LONDON – Just try finding a partridge in a pear tree in Britain these days. Britain’s Royal Society for Protection of Birds says the two icons of the Christmas song – grey partridges and turtle doves – are in alarming decline. It said authorities ..

 

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Sir Bob Watson Climate change presentation at AGU Dec 5- scroll to bottom for video–”Climate Change: Let’s have a reality check” – excellent detailed presentation from science to solutions including the need to link biodiversity with climate change (a one hour video)


 


Drought in the Horn of Africa delays migrating birds

 

 


Phys.Org December 6, 2012

The catastrophic drought last year in the Horn of Africa affected millions of people but also caused the extremely late arrival into northern Europe of several migratory songbird species, a study from University of Copenhagen published today in Science. The extensive 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa had significant consequences for European songbirds such as thrush nightingale and red-backed shrike. These birds visit northern Europe every spring to mate and take advantage of ample summer food resources. However, their spring migrating route from southern Africa to northern latitudes passes directly through the Horn of Africa, where the birds stop to feed and refuel for the next stage of their migration. ….These birds visit northern Europe every spring to mate and take advantage of ample summer food resources. However, their spring migrating route from southern Africa to northern latitudes passes directly through the Horn of Africa, where the birds stop …..

 

Plants and Soils Could Accelerate Climate’s Warming, Study Warns

As the climate warms, plants and soils may not absorb more carbon as scientists once thought.

By Robert Krier, InsideClimate News

When climate scientists try to estimate how much the Earth will warm due to increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, a key consideration is the role of plants and soils. The more carbon they absorb, the more they reduce the global warming potential.

But recent studies indicate that assumptions about plants’ and soils’ capacity in the so-called “carbon cycle” may be overly optimistic. If these studies are correct, even bigger cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will be needed to prevent drastic, irreparable climate shifts.

Not only is it possible that plants won’t be able to absorb as much carbon as climate models currently project, but plants’ response to the carbon cycle could actually amplify global warming, Paul Higgins and John Harte write in the November edition of the Journal of Climate.

It all comes down to mobility. Carbon dioxide is recognized as critical for photosynthesis, so the more there is in the atmosphere, the more there is available for plant growth. As Earth’s climate warms, the theory has been that trees and other plant communities would treat the added CO2 as fertilizer and grow bigger and faster. But because climate conditions will be changing, to take advantage of the added CO2 some plant communities will have to migrate to neighboring areas that provide the necessary growing conditions. The speed at which plants can make these moves is the question.

Higgins, associate director of the American Meteorological Society’s Policy Program, said it has been very difficult to build global ecosystem models that are sensitive to the limitations of plant migration.

“If you look at the … models, they had no real constraints on plant mobility,” he said. “They basically assume that any type of plant can grow in any location where the climate is the same.”

But it isn’t quite that simple. Part of the problem is that the scientists who study plant migration and the scientists who build carbon-cycle models have tended to work separately, Higgins said…..

 

‘Come out of the Forest’ to Save the Trees

ScienceDaily (Dec. 2, 2012) — Forestry experts have called for a new approach to managing land and tackling climate change — challenging the ongoing debate that forests have to be sacrificed for the sake of rural development and food security.

Governments, policymakers and scientists worldwide have been experimenting for years with different approaches to managing rural landscapes, from watershed management to habitat restoration, but these efforts are rarely done in concert to address climate change challenges.

“It is time to look at new ways of solving old problems,” said Peter Holmgren, Director General of the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in a keynote speech at Forest Day 6, a daylong event held on the sidelines of the United Nations climate talks in Doha.

“Climate change needs to be dealt with across sector boundaries. Forests and forestry must be looked at through the lenses of agriculture, food security and broader sustainable development. It is time for forestry to come out of the forest and contribute more broadly.”

Andreas Tveteraas, Senior Adviser to Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, supported this view: “The challenge is to do both forest conservation and increased food production [and not at] the expense of forests. No doubt if a government has to choose between them, then the forests will always lose, so the challenge is to promote forest management in a way that goes hand in hand with feeding the population.” A landscape-based approach, which looks at the synergies and trade-offs of managing a broad resource mix, has been hailed as a new way to bring together the agricultural, forestry, energy and fishery sectors to better manage the world’s resources while offering opportunities for climate adaptation and mitigation. “The window to stay in a two-degree world is closing very rapidly,” said Mary Barton-Dock, Director of Climate Policy and Finance at the World Bank. And in the context of a changing climate, she added, “A landscape approach is going to be essential to meet the growing need for food without invading forests.”

 

 

 

An ocean threat worsens another
Global Change Biology Jan 2013
Much of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by human activities finds its way into the oceans. When CO2 dissolves in seawater it causes a phenomenon known as ocean acidification (OA). Dr. David Roberts and his colleagues have shown that when marine organisms are exposed to OA they are much more sensitive to contaminated sediments than under ambient conditions. This demonstrates that OA may interact with other existing stressors and that marine pollution may have greater biological effects in the future. Interactions between multiple stressors such as OA and pollution should be taken into account when determining how to best manage contaminants from human activities.

 

U.S wildfire risk worsening, according to climate projections
(December 4, 2012) — Scientists have projected drier conditions likely will cause increased fire activity across the United States in coming decades. Other findings about U.S. wildfires, including their amount of carbon emissions and how the length and strength of fire seasons are expected to change under future climate conditions, were also researched. …
“Climate models project an increase in fire risk across the U.S. by 2050, based on a trend toward drier conditions that favor fire activity and an increase in the frequency of extreme events,” Morton said.The analysis by Morton and colleagues us
ed climate projections, prepared for the Fifth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to examine how dryness, and therefore fire activity, is expected to change. The researchers calculated results for low and high greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. In both cases, results suggest more fire seasons that are longer and stronger across all regions of the U.S. in the next 30-50 years. Specifically, high fire years like 2012 would likely occur two to four times per decade by mid-century, instead of once per decade under current climate conditions.. Carbon dioxide emissions from wildfires in the western U.S. have more than doubled since the 1980s, according to Chris Williams of Clark University in Worcester, Mass. The satellite-based view allowed Williams and his colleagues to quantify how much carbon has been released from fires in the U.S. West. The team used data on fire extent and severity derived from Landsat satellites to calculate how much biomass is burned and killed, and how quickly the associated carbon was released to the atmosphere. The team found carbon emissions from fires [in the west] have grown from an average of 8 teragrams (8.8 million tons) per year from 1984 to 1995 to an average of 20 teragrams (22 million tons) per year from 1996 to 2008, increasing 2.4 times in the latter period.

“With the climate change forecast for the region, this trend likely will continue as the western U.S. gets warmer and drier on average,” Williams said. “If this comes to pass, we can anticipate increased fire severity and an even greater area burned annually, causing a further rise in the release of carbon dioxide.”

From a fire and emissions management perspective, wildfires are not the entire U.S. fire story, according to research by Hsiao-Wen Lin of the University of California at Irvine. Satellite data show agricultural and prescribed fires are a significant factor and account for 70 percent of the total number of active fires in the continental U.S. Agricultural fires have increased 30 percent in the last decade.

In contrast with wildfires, agricultural and prescribed fires are less affected by climate, especially drought, during the fire season.

“That means there is greater potential to manage fire emissions, even in a future, drier climate with more wildfires. We need to use cost-benefit analysis to assess whether reductions in agricultural fire emissions — which would benefit public health — would significantly impact crop yields or other ecosystem services,” Lin said.

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

 

Potent greenhouse gas: California’s N2O emissions may be nearly triple current estimates
(December 4, 2012) — Using a new method for estimating greenhouse gases that combines atmospheric measurements with model predictions, scientists have found that the level of nitrous oxide in California may be 2.5 to 3 times greater than the current inventory. At that level, total N2O emissions — which are believed to come primarily from nitrogen fertilizers used in agricultural production — would account for about 8 percent of California’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
At that level, total N
2O emissions — which are believed to come primarily from nitrogen fertilizers used in agricultural production — would account for about 8 percent of California’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The findings were recently published in a paper in Geophysical Research Letters. Earlier this year, using the same methodology, the researchers found that levels of methane, another potent greenhouse gas, in California may be up to 1.8 times greater than previous estimates. “If our results are accurate, then it suggests that N2O makes up not 3 percent of California’s total effective greenhouse gases but closer to 10 percent,” said Marc Fischer, lead researcher on both studies. “And taken together with our previous estimates of methane emissions, that suggests those two gases may make up 20 to 25 percent of California’s total emissions. That’s starting to become roughly comparable to emissions from fossil fuel CO2.”

Accurate estimates of the California’s greenhouse gas emissions are important as the state works to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as mandated by a law known as AB 32. The vast majority of the reduction efforts have been focused on CO2. Nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas, is an especially potent greenhouse gas because it traps far more infrared radiation than both carbon dioxide and methane. “It’s present in the atmosphere at tiny concentrations — one-thousandth that of CO2 — but it is very potent,” Fischer said. “It has a global warming potential of approximately 300, meaning it is 300 times more active than CO2 per unit mass. And it’s 10 to 15 times more potent than methane.” Worldwide levels of N2O have been rising rapidly for decades, and the major culprit was recently confirmed to be the heavy use of nitrogen fertilizers to grow the world’s food. Other less significant sources of N2O emissions include wetlands, animal and industrial waste and automobiles. … > full story

 

Seongeun Jeong, Chuanfeng Zhao, Arlyn E. Andrews, Edward J. Dlugokencky, Colm Sweeney, Laura Bianco, James M. Wilczak, Marc L. Fischer. Seasonal variations in N2O emissions from central California. Geophysical Research Letters, 2012; 39 (16) DOI: 10.1029/2012GL052307

http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/docs/vegetable_oil_burning_and_public_health.pdf

Grease Powered Cars:…Grease cars are automobiles with diesel engines which run on oil as well as diesel fuel.  In 1898 German Rudolph Diesel patented his diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. Therefore all diesel fuel vehicles can run on vegetable oil. Also, Vegetable oil straight from the grocer’s shelf can be used.  Using vegetable oil over petroleum reduces all car emissions (except nitrous oxide) by 80%….

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/05/diesel-vs-biodiesel-vs-vegetable-oil/index.htm

 

Canopy structure more important to climate than leaf nitrogen levels, study claims
(December 3, 2012) — Claims that forest leaves rich in nitrogen may aid in reflecting infrared radiation — thereby cooling the atmosphere — have been challenged by new research that shows that the structure of forests’ canopies is a more important factor in infrared reflection. … > full story

 

 

IPCC’s Planned Obsolescence: Fifth Assessment Report Will Ignore Crucial Permafrost Carbon Feedback!

By Joe Romm on Dec 2, 2012 at 12:24 pm

A key reason the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change keeps issuing instantly irrelevant reports is that it keeps ignoring the latest climate science. We have known for years that perhaps the single most important carbon-cycle feedback is the melting of the permafrost.

Yet a must-read new United Nations Environment Programme report, “Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost” reports this jaw-dropping news:

The effect of the permafrost carbon feedback on climate has not been included in the IPCC Assessment Reports. None of the climate projections in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report include the permafrost carbon feedback (IPCC 2007). Participating modeling teams have completed their climate projections in support of the Fifth Assessment Report, but these projections do not include the permafrost carbon feedback. Consequently, the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, due for release in stages between September 2013 and October 2014, will not include the potential effects of the permafrost carbon feedback on global climate…

 

 

Record high for global carbon emissions
(December 2, 2012) — Global carbon dioxide emissions are set to rise again in 2012, reaching a record high of 35.6 billion tonnes – according to new figures from the Global Carbon Project. The 2.6 per cent rise projected for 2012 means global emissions from burning fossil fuel are 58 per cent above 1990 levels, the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol. This latest analysis shows the biggest contributors to global emissions in 2011 were China (28 per cent), the United States (16 per cent), the European Union (11 per cent), and India (7 per cent). … > full story

 

As Global CO2 Emissions Rise, Scientists Warn 2-Degree Target Is Nearly Out Of Reach: ‘We Need A Radical Plan’

By Stephen Lacey on Dec 3, 2012 at 10:00 am

Global carbon dioxide emissions are set to rise again this year, putting the world on a path toward dangerous climate change and making the internationally-accepted warming target of 2 degrees Celsius nearly “unachievable,” say researchers.

According to a new paper published yesterday in the journal Nature Climate Change, carbon dioxide emissions will rise by 2.6 percent this year, fueled by major increases in China and India. This follows a record year in 2011, when countries pumped 3.1 percent more global warming pollution into the atmosphere — making it very likely that the world will blow past the 2 degree C warming threshold that scientists and international negotiators agree is needed to avoid catastrophic consequences.

Some even call global warming of 2 degrees C, which is on the lowest end of projections, a “prescription for disaster.” Here’s how one of the report’s authors characterized the problem when talking to The Guardian:

“I am worried that the risks of dangerous climate change are too high on our current emissions trajectory. We need a radical plan,” said co-author Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Britain and professor at the University of East Anglia.

Current emissions growth is placing the world on a path to warm between 4C and 6C, says the study, with global emissions jumping 58% between 1990 and this year. The study focuses on emissions from burning fossil fuels and cement production. “Unless large and concerted global mitigation efforts are initiated soon, the goal of remaining below 2C will soon become unachievable,” say the authors.

The findings come during the COP18 international climate talks in Doha, Qatar, where observers have low expectations for any agreements to reduce carbon emissions. The world’s two biggest emitters — China and the U.S. — are quietly setting up a framework for a possible international climate treaty after 2015. In the meantime, global warming pollution continues unabated and scientists warn that the window for action is closing fast. “We are losing control of our ability to get a handle on the global warming problem,”
said Canadian Climate Scientist Andrew Weaver, responding to the latest data on carbon emissions. Last week, the World Bank issued a report sumarizing the latest climate science. It concluded that the world is on track for 4 degrees Celsius warming by the end of the century — an extremely dangerous rise in temperature that ensure “extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.”

 

Reaching 2009 international climate change goals will require aggressive measures
(December 2, 2012) — Despite an international consensus reached in 2009 to limit climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, scientists say the likelihood of meeting that goal is diminishing. The Global Carbon Project’s most recent analysis by scientists from the United States, Norway, Australia, France and the United Kingdom shows that a global economy fueled with coal, oil and natural gas is putting increasing pressure on the global climate system. “Limiting global climate change and all of its consequences is going to require aggressive actions to limit the use of the fossil fuels,” according to Gregg Marland, one of the authors of the paper in Nature Climate Change. Marland, a research professor with Appalachian State University’s Research Institute for Environment, Energy and Economics, is part of the international team analyzing carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. The report [is] titled “The challenge to keep global warming below 2 °C“… Global carbon dioxide emissions continue to track the high end of a range of emission scenarios, expanding the gap between current emission trends and the emission pathway required to keep the global-average temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius. It is now likely that in the longer term there will be a need to rely on technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, such as carbon capture and storage connected to bioenergy, if the temperature increase is to be limited to 2 degrees Celsius, according to the GCP report…. > full story

Glen P. Peters, Robbie M. Andrew, Tom Boden, Josep G. Canadell, Philippe Ciais, Corinne Le Quéré, Gregg Marland, Michael R. Raupach, Charlie Wilson. The challenge to keep global warming below 2 °C. Nature Climate Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1783

Long-term research reveals how climate change is playing out in real ecosystems
(
December 1, 2012) — Around the world, the effects of global climate change are increasingly evident and difficult to ignore. However, evaluations of the local effects of climate change are often confounded by natural and human induced factors that overshadow the effects of changes in climate on ecosystems. Now, scientists report a number of surprising results that may shed more light on the complex nature of climate change. … At Hubbard Brook, that interplay has produced surprising effects on hydrologic variables such as evapotranspiration, streamflow, and soil moisture; the importance of changes in periodic biological occurrences on water, carbon, and nitrogen fluxes during critical transition periods; climate change effects on plant and animal community composition and ecosystem services in winter; and the effects of human induced disturbances and land-use history on the composition of plant communities. The report recommends further research on how climate change affects multiple components of ecosystem structure and function at specific sites to investigate what determines the composition of plant and animal communities, the rate of flow of water, and other natural and human elements that impact ecosystems in many areas of the globe. Groffman says the results from these detailed studies should be incorporated into broader approaches that include modeling, experiments and long-term monitoring at multiple scales. The report suggests that coordination of long-term research efforts and development of common approaches will improve the scientific understanding and response to the overarching challenge that climate change presents to science and society. > full story

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of New Mexico, Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network. The original article was written by Thomas McOwiti.

 

2012: Record Arctic Sea Ice Melt, Multiple Extremes and High Temperatures 

GENEVA/DOHA, 28 November 2012 (WMO) – The years 2001–2011 were all among the  warmest on record, and, according to the World Meteorological Organization, the first ten months indicate that 2012 will most likely be no exception despite the cooling influence of La Niña early in the year.

WMO’s provisional annual statement on the state of the global climate also highlighted the unprecedented melt of the Arctic sea ice and multiple weather and climate extremes which affected many parts of the world. It was released today to inform negotiators at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar. January-October 2012 has been the ninth warmest such period since records began in 1850. The global land and ocean surface temperature for the period was about 0.45°C (0.81°F) above the corresponding 1961–1990 average of 14.2°C, according to the statement..The extent of Arctic sea ice reached a new record low. The alarming rate of its melt this year highlighted the far-reaching changes taking place on Earth’s oceans and biosphere.  Climate change is taking place before our eyes
and will continue to do so as a result of the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which have risen constantly and again reached new records
,” added Mr Jarraud…..

 

Fire and ice: Wildfires darkening Greenland snowpack, increasing melting (December 5, 2012) — Satellite observations have revealed the first direct evidence of smoke from Arctic wildfires drifting over the Greenland ice sheet, tarnishing the ice with soot and making it more likely to melt under the sun. At the American Geophysical Union meeting this week, an Ohio State University researcher presented images from NASA’s Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite, which captured smoke from Arctic fires billowing out over Greenland during the summer of 2012.

Jason Box, associate professor of geography at Ohio State, said that researchers have long been concerned with how the Greenland landscape is losing its sparkly reflective quality as temperatures rise. The surface is darkening as ice melts away, and, since dark surfaces are less reflective than light ones, the surface captures more heat, which leads to stronger and more prolonged melting. Researchers previously recorded a 6 percent drop in reflectivity in Greenland over the last decade, which Box calculates will cause enough warming to bring the entire surface of the ice sheet to melting each summer, as it did in 2012. But along with the melting, researchers believe that there is a second environmental effect that is darkening polar ice: soot from wildfires, which may be becoming more common in the Arctic. “Soot is an extremely powerful light absorber,” Box said. “It settles over the ice and captures the sun’s heat. That’s why increasing tundra wildfires have the potential to accelerate the melting in Greenland.” Box was inspired to investigate tundra fires after his home state of Colorado suffered devastating wildfires this past year. According to officials, those fires were driven in part by high temperatures. Meanwhile, in the Arctic, rising temperatures may be causing tundra wildfires to become more common. To find evidence of soot deposition from these fires, Box and his team first used thermal images from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) to identify large fires in the region. Then they used computer models to project possible smoke particle trajectories, which suggested that the smoke from various fires could indeed reach Greenland. … > full story

 


Climate fingerprints

 

 

(subs reqd)

Nature 492, 10–11 (06 December 2012) doi:10.1038/492010d The latest global climate models produce a ‘fingerprint’ that aligns well with actual temperature observations, and underscores the human influence on climate through the release of greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting chemicals. Ben Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, and his group analysed simulations from 20 climate models…

 


‘Atmospheric River’ Piles Up Massive Rain, Snow & Winds

 

 


Climate Central December 3, 2012 By Andrew Freedman

The West is taking a brief break from storms on Monday after a parade of strong weather systems dumped nearly 2 feet of rain, at least 40 inches of snow, and brought strong winds equivalent to a Category 4 strength hurricane to parts of California, Oregon and Washington through Sunday. Although another storm is forecast to affect the region on Tuesday, it is not expected to be as intense. The storms knocked out power for many across the region, caused extensive airport delays, and provided a vivid reminder of what a weather phenomenon known as an “atmospheric river” can do. Fortunately, this round of storms was nowhere near a worst-case scenario, which could cause extensive flooding in vulnerable parts of Central and Northern California, such as the Sacramento area. Atmospheric rivers occur when winds draw moisture together into a narrow region ahead of a cold front, in a region of very strong winds. They can be thought of as tropical connectors that feed tropical moisture into more northern latitudes. In California, one type of atmospheric river is also known as the “Pineapple Express,” since it transports water vapor-laden air from Hawaii into the U.S. mainland…..

 

Megastorms Could Drown Massive Portions of California

Huge flows of vapor in the atmosphere, dubbed “atmospheric rivers,” have unleashed massive floods every 200 years, and climate change could bring more of them

Jan 2013 Scientific American By Michael D. Dettinger and B. Lynn Ingram

Editor’s note (11/30/12): The article will appear in the January 2013 issue of Scientific American. We are making it freely available now because of the flooding underway in California.

DROWNED: A 43-day atmospheric-river storm in 1861 turned California’s Central Valley region into an inland sea, simulated here on a current-day map. Image: Don Foley

In Brief

The intense rainstorms sweeping in from the Pacific Ocean began to pound central California on Christmas Eve in 1861 and continued virtually unabated for 43 days. The deluges quickly transformed rivers running down from the Sierra Nevada mountains along the state’s eastern border into raging torrents that swept away entire communities and mining settlements. The rivers and rains poured into the state’s vast Central Valley, turning it into an inland sea 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. Thousands of people died, and one quarter of the state’s estimated 800,000 cattle drowned. Downtown Sacramento was submerged under 10 feet of brown water filled with debris from countless mudslides on the region’s steep slopes. California’s legislature, unable to function, moved to San Francisco until Sacramento dried out—six months later. By then, the state was bankrupt. A comparable episode today would be incredibly more devastating. The Central Valley is home to more than six million people, 1.4 million of them in Sacramento. The land produces about $20 billion in crops annually, including 70 percent of the world’s almonds—and portions of it have dropped 30 feet in elevation because of extensive groundwater pumping, making those areas even more prone to flooding. Scientists who recently modeled a similarly relentless storm that lasted only 23 days concluded that this smaller visitation would cause $400 billion in property damage and agricultural losses. Thousands of people could die unless preparations and evacuations

….All seven models project that the number of atmospheric rivers arriving at the California coast each year will rise as well, from a historical average of about nine to 11. And all seven climate models predict that occasional atmospheric rivers will develop that are bigger than any of the historic megastorms. Given the remarkable role that atmospheric rivers have played in California flooding, even these modest increases are a cause for concern and need to be investigated further to see if the projections are reliable…..The costs are about three times those estimated by many of the same USGS project members who had worked on another disaster scenario known as ShakeOut: a hypothetical magnitude 7.8 earthquake in southern California. It appears that an atmospheric-river megastorm—California’s “Other Big One”—may pose even greater risks to the Golden State than a large-magnitude earthquake….

 

As Brutal Record Hurricane Season Ends, ABC Says It’s The New Normal Since Climate Change Is ‘Right Here, Right Now’

By Joe Romm on Dec 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm

The 2012 hurricane season, which ended Saturday, is one for the record books. As Climate Central explains: For the third straight season there were 19 named storms in the Atlantic, which is the third-highest level of storm activity observed since 1851…. Since 1851, only two hurricane seasons — 2005 and 1933 — have been busier than 2010, 2011, and 2012. And then there was Sandy, the storm of the decade (so far), which will likely turn out to be the second most costly superstorm to hit the United States, after Katrina. Sandy proved that you don’t have to be a major hurricane (Category Three or greater) to cause unimaginably widespread devastation. We will have to get used to this kind of frankenstorm — see “How Does Climate Change Make Superstorms Like Sandy More Destructive?” ABC News ran an excellent story on this, featuring Climate Central’s Heidi Cullen… And for the extreme weather junkies out there, meteorologist and former hurricane Hunter Dr. Jeff Masters has the stunning numbers:

Hurricane Sandy was truly astounding in its size and power. At its peak size, twenty hours before landfall, Sandy had tropical storm-force winds that covered an area nearly one-fifth the area of the contiguous United States. Since detailed records of hurricane size began in 1988, only one tropical storm (Olga of 2001) has had a larger area of tropical storm-force winds, and no hurricanes has. Sandy’s area of ocean with twelve-foot seas peaked at 1.4 million square miles–nearly one-half the area of the contiguous United States, or 1% of Earth’s total ocean area.

Most incredibly, ten hours before landfall (9:30 am EDT October 30), the total energy of Sandy’s winds of tropical storm-force and higher peaked at 329 terajoules–the highest value for any Atlantic hurricane since at least 1969. This is 2.7 times higher than Katrina’s peak energy, and is equivalent to five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. At landfall, Sandy’s tropical storm-force winds spanned 943 miles of the the U.S. coast. No hurricane on record has been wider; the previous record holder was Hurricane Igor of 2010, which was 863 miles in diameter. Sandy’s huge size prompted high wind warnings to be posted from Chicago to Eastern Maine, and from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Florida’s Lake Okeechobee–an area home to 120 million people. Sandy’s winds simultaneously caused damage to buildings on the shores of Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore, and toppled power lines in Nova Scotia, Canada–locations 1200 miles apart!

Imagine what kind of superstorms we will see when it is 10°F warmer and sea levels are 6+ feet higher. Or, better yet, imagine we are somehow smart enough to deploy low carbon technology fast enough to avert that grim future.

 


Warm Sea Water Is Melting Antarctic Glaciers

 

 


December 6, 2012
— The ice sheet in West Antarctica is melting faster than expected. New observations published by oceanographers from the University of Gothenburg and the US may improve our ability to predict future changes in ice sheet mass. The study was recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience.A reduction of the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland will affect the water levels of the world’s oceans. It is therefore problematic that we currently have insufficient knowledge about the ocean circulation near large glaciers in West Antarctica. This means that researchers cannot predict how water levels will change in the future with any large degree of certainty. “There is a clear reduction in the ice mass in West Antarctica, especially around the glaciers leading into the Amundsen Sea,” says researcher Lars Arneborg from the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Gothenburg. Together with his research colleagues Anna Wåhlin, Göran Björk and Bengt Liljebladh, he has studied the ocean circulation in the Amundsen Sea. One reason why West Antarctica is particularly sensitive is that the majority of the ice rests on areas that are below sea level. Warm sea water penetrates beneath the ice, causing increased melting from underneath. “It is therefore probably a change in the ocean circulation in the Amundsen Sea that has caused this increased melting,” continues Arneborg. … > full story

 


Global Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States National Climate Assessment

NOAA Climate Program Office Published December 6, 2012

Global sea level rise has been a persistent trend for decades. It is expected to continue beyond the end of this century, which will cause significant impacts in the United States. Scientists have very high confidence (greater than 90% chance) that global mean sea level will rise at least 8 inches (0.2 meter) and no more than 6.6 feet (2.0 meters) by 2100.

More than 8 million people live in areas at risk of coastal flooding. Along the U.S. Atlantic Coast alone, almost 60 percent of the land that is within a meter of sea level is planned for further development, with inadequate information on the potential rates and amount of sea level rise. Many of the nation’s assets related to military readiness, energy, commerce, and ecosystems that support resource-dependent economies are already located at or near the ocean, thus exposing them to risks associated with sea level rise.

These are the among the findings presented in this new report, published by NOAA’s Climate Program Office in collaboration with twelve contributing authors from ten different federal and academic science institutions—including NOAA, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Columbia University, the University of Maryland, the University of Florida, and the South Florida Water Management District.

The report was produced in response to a request from the U.S. National Climate Assessment Development and Advisory Committee. It provides a synthesis of the scientific literature on global sea level rise, and a set of four scenarios of future global sea level rise. The report includes input from national experts in climate science, physical coastal processes, and coastal management.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are “scenarios”? The term “scenarios” describes qualitative and quantitative information about different aspects of future environmental change to investigate the potential consequences for society. Scenarios do not predict future changes, but describe future potential conditions in a manner that supports decision-making under conditions of uncertainty.

How do you use scenarios? Scenarios are used to develop and test decisions under a variety of plausible futures. This approach strengthens an organization’s ability to recognize, adapt to, and take advantage of changes over time. This report provides scenarios to help assessment experts and their stakeholders analyze the vulnerabilities and impacts associated with possible, uncertain futures.

Which scenario is most likely? Given the range of uncertainty in future global SLR, using multiple scenarios encourages experts and decision makers to consider multiple future conditions and to develop multiple response options. Scenario planning offers an opportunity to initiate actions now that may reduce future impacts and vulnerabilities. Thus, specific probabilities or likelihoods are not assigned to individual scenarios in this report, and none of these scenarios should be used in isolation.

What is the basis of the range of scenarios for global mean sea level rise? We have very high confidence (greater than 9 in 10 chances) that global mean sea level (based on mean sea level in 1992) will rise at least 8 inches (0.2 meters) and no more than 6.6 feet (2 meters) by 2100. The biggest source of uncertainty within this range is the contribution of water from melting ice sheets and glaciers in Greenland and West Antarctica.

The actual amount of sea level change at any one region and location will vary greatly in response to regional and local vertical land movement and ocean dynamics. Parts of the Gulf Coast and the Chesapeake Bay will continue to experience the most rapid and highest amounts of sea level rise, as the land in some of these areas is subsiding, and adding to the overall “net” sea level rise. Parts of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest may experience much less sea level change or none at all, as the land in some of these areas is still rebounding from the last glaciation at a faster rate than sea level rise. It is certain that higher mean sea levels increase the frequency, magnitude, and duration of flooding associated with a given storm. Flooding has disproportionately high impacts in most coastal regions, particularly in flat, low-lying areas. Regardless of how much warming occurs over the next 100 years, sea level rise is not expected to stop in 2100.

 

More intense North Atlantic tropical storms likely in the future
(November 30, 2012) — Tropical storms that make their way into the North Atlantic, and possibly strike the East Coast of the United States, likely will become more intense during the rest of this century. … > full story

Carbon dioxide could reduce crop yields
(November 30, 2012) — The carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere continues to climb and heat up the climate. The gas is, however, indispensable for plants, as they use the carbon it provides to form glucose and other important substances. Therefore, the more carbon dioxide the better? The equation is unfortunately not as simple as that. The plants, which ensure our basic food supply today, have not been bred for vertical growth but for short stalks and high grain yields. Scientists have now discovered that an increase in carbon dioxide levels could cancel out the beneficial effects of dwarf varieties. … > full story


Removing Sea Defenses May Reduce Impact of Coastal Flooding

 

 


December 3, 2012 ScienceDaily — Ensuring continued flood protection for low lying coastal areas may mean sacrificing cliff top communities to the sea. New research shows that the benefits of protecting the English coastline from … > full story


Go With the Flow in Flood Prediction

 

 


December 3, 2012 — Floods have once again wreaked havoc across the country and climate scientists and meteorologists suggest that the problem is only going to get worse with wetter winters and rivers bursting their … > full story

 

How cold will a winter be in two years? Climate models still struggle with medium-term climate forecasts
(December 6, 2012) — How well are the most important climate models able to predict the weather conditions for the coming year or even the next decade? Scientists have evaluated 23 climate models. Their conclusion: there is still a long way to go before reliable regional predictions can be made on seasonal to decadal time scales. … > full story

 

 

Mangroves in Mozambique: Green Infrastructure for Coastal Protection in an Era of Climate [Change]

Bruce Byers Climate


Cruising through mangrove-lined channel opposite Angoche © Bruce Byers

After wading across the low tide mudflats at the Port of Angoche, and into knee-deep water to climb into the fiberglass boat, the big Yamaha outboard wouldn’t start.  While we bobbed lazily in the hot sun and I fretted about how nothing in Africa ever goes as planned, the boat skipper removed the rusty sparkplugs and cleaned them in the bailing bucket with a little boat gas and an old toothbrush. Ten minutes later we were bouncing through the swell, heading seaward toward the mouth of the Angoche estuary, flying past the flocks of canoes and dhows sailing these waters. Nothing ever goes as planned, but everything works out in the end.

Cremildo Armando, the marine coordinator of the CARE-WWF Primeiras and Segundas Program, was our guide this afternoon, and we were going to Ilha dos Búzios, an island where Cyclone Jokwe, in March 2008, had destroyed a hundred houses in a small coastal village. We didn’t go ashore, but passed slowly up and down the mangroveless beach in front of the former village. This was Lesson #1 of the importance of maintaining the fringe of mangroves that surround and protect all of the shoreline here around Angoche, and the whole coast of Mozambique: “Ten-Thousand Mangroves Could Save A Village!”

Nine species of mangroves grow on Mozambique’s 2,500 kilometer-long coast, which reaches from Tanzania to South Africa.  Mangroves grow on coastal mudflats and sandy shores on all of Earth’s tropical coasts, in intertidal swamp forests that link land and marine ecosystems. These unique salt-tolerant forests provide a range of ecological functions, from trapping sediment and building coastlines seaward to serving as nurseries for the young of a host of marine species.

 

Northeast U.S. sees second driest November in more than a century
(December 5, 2012) — Even though Hurricane Sandy helped create wet start, November 2012 went into the record books as the second-driest November since 1895 in the Northeast. With an average of 1.04 inches or precipitation, the region received only 27 percent of its normal level. The record driest November was 1917 when the Northeast received only 0.88 inches of precipitation. … > full story

Wind speeds in southern New England declining inland, remaining steady on coast: Climate change, urbanization among possible causes
(December 5, 2012) — Oceanographers have analyzed long-term data from several anemometers in southern New England and found that average wind speeds have declined by about 15 percent at inland sites while speeds have remained steady at an offshore site. … > full story

 

UN Summit: Transforming Your Kids into “Climate Change Agents”
Written by  William F. Jasper Thursday, 06 December 2012 14:25

Do your children (or grandchildren) have nightmares about the Earth melting or exploding due to human-caused global warming? Do they believe they have no future because our planet is dying, the icecaps and glaciers are melting, the sea levels are rising, islands and coastal areas are disappearing, polar bears and children are drowning, plant and animal species are rapidly going extinct, and extreme weather will soon make human life unbearable, if not impossible? ….However, many children turn their global-warming angst into activism, becoming little climate warriors who will work tirelessly to convert their peers, their parents, and local and national political leaders into supporters of “sustainable development.” And this, clearly, is what the proponents of “climate change education” intend. Climate change education, they say, must be “transformative” and turn young children and adolescents into “climate change agents.” That is the message being delivered by officials of UNICEF, UNESCO, and other UN agencies and NGOs at the UN Climate Conference currently underway (November 26-December 7) in Doha, Qatar. Stephanie Hodge, education program specialist for UNICEF, was interviewed at Doha by Climate Change TV, a UN-funded television network dedicated exclusively to propaganda about the global warming and the supposed solutions to this “crisis” that can only be attained through UN-directed global action. According to Hodge, our current climate change education is “antiquated” and in dire need of renovation. We should be asking, she said, “What is global citizenship? What are some of the global values that need to be imparted through local content?” Climate change education, says UNICEF’s Hodge, is “really about a process of change, about starting transformation through education.”

To help bring about this change and transformation, UNICEF, with help from its sister agency, UNESCO, has come up with a new curriculum guide, entitled, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in the Education Sector: Resource Manual, which Hodge held up for viewers to see…..

 

Report: Tough Times For U.S. Winter Tourism Industry If Climate Change Goes Unaddressed

$1 Billion Loss Experienced By Winter Sports Industry, Future Impacts Could be Larger; Consequences for CA, CO, ME, MT, NH, NM, NY, OR, PA, UT, VT and WA Highlighted.

By Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C. and Protect Our Winters, Pacific Palisades, CA Published: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 – 10:08 am

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A new economic analysis details how the $12.2 billion winter tourism industry spread out across 38 states has experienced an estimated $1 billion loss and up to 27,000 fewer jobs over the last decade due to diminished snow fall patterns and the resulting changes in the outdoor habits of Americans, according to the new study prepared for the nonprofit groups Protect Our Winters (POW) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Even tougher times could be in store for the industry unless climate change is slowed, stopped and reversed, according to “Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the United State.The new POW-NRDC report by University of New Hampshire researchers Elizabeth Burakowski and Matthew Magnusson, concludes that a failure to address the challenge of climate change will mean even tougher times are ahead for winter tourism. “Surmised from all this data is a portrait of the American winter landscape with more than three-quarters (38) of states benefitting economically from these winter sports and 211,900 jobs either directly or indirectly supported by the industry,” the report says. “… Without intervention, winter temperatures are projected to warm an additional 4 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, with subsequent decreases in snow cover area, snowfall, and shorter snow season. Snow depths could decline in the west by 25 to 100 percent. The length of the snow season in the northeast will be cut in half.” Available online at http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/climate-impacts-winter-tourism.asp, the POW-NRDC report looks at the current snow conditions and projected impact of climate change on skiing, snowboarding, and the snowmobile industry. Shrinking numbers of winter sports tourists also hurts the bottom line of restaurants, lodging, gas stations, grocery stores, and bars, according to the report…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UN climate talks go into overtime in Qatar as rich, poor nations spar over …

Washington Post December 7, 2012

DOHA, Qatar – Nearly 200 countries haggling over how to stop climate change – and how to pay for it – failed to reach a deal on schedule Friday, setting the stage for the wrangling to continue late into the night.

 

Manila links typhoon to climate change

Financial Times  - ‎ December 7, 2012‎

The Philippine government has linked this week’s devastating typhoon, which killed at least 450 people, to climate change, saying richer countries must do more to help poorer ones mitigate the effects of increasingly severe weather patterns. Typhoon

 

 

California faces carbon conundrum

David R. Baker SF Chronicle Published 5:17 p.m., Thursday, December 6, 2012

Left for dead years ago, the idea of taxing greenhouse gases has sprung back to life in Washington, as politicians look for ways to tackle global warming and tame the deficit. It’s welcome news for environmentalists, desperate for federal action on climate change. But the proposed carbon tax could pose a problem for California. The state has taken a different approach to fighting global warming, last month launching a cap-and-trade system in which companies buy and sell the right to pump greenhouse gases into the air. Both approaches – a carbon tax and cap and trade – put a price on the emissions that are heating the planet. But they do it in different ways. Use both systems at once, and companies could end up paying twice for the same pollution. “You either have one or the other – you don’t have them both,” said Jasmin Ansar, climate economist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental group. “You’d have the danger of, in effect, double taxation.” The chance of Congress adopting a carbon tax still seems remote. Many Republicans, doubtful about climate change, remain adamantly opposed to the tax, saying it would do little more than raise gasoline and electricity prices. The conflict with California’s cap-and-trade system may never happen…..Interest in a carbon tax resurfaced this summer as part of the broader debate about taxes triggered by the presidential race and the looming “fiscal cliff.” President Obama has downplayed the idea and said he isn’t pursuing it. But several think tanks and advocacy groups have promoted it as a way to raise new revenue. It could be part of a grand bargain on taxes, providing enough cash to let the government cut other taxes while still addressing the deficit. And while many Republicans reject the idea, that opposition isn’t universal. Arthur Laffer, former economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan, and Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, both support carbon pricing. “There is an impeccable conservative lineage for this thing,” Muro said. His proposal calls for a carbon tax of $20 per ton, rising 4 percent each year. Of the $150 billion raised annually, $30 billion would go toward clean-energy research, while the rest would go to cutting other taxes and reducing the deficit. California officials always hoped their cap-and-trade system would lay the groundwork for a national carbon market. But if the federal government decides on a tax instead, the two approaches could be made to work side-by-side, tax advocates say. “What Congress could do and probably would do, given the strength of California’s delegation, is say, ‘OK, if you’re participating in the (cap-and-trade system), you don’t have to pay the tax,’” said Shi-Ling Hsu, a law professor at Florida State University and author of the book “The Case for a Carbon Tax.” “For sure, they’re not going to make those companies double pay,” he said.

 

NYC Mayor Pledges to Rebuild and Fortify Coast


Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg gave his first major speech on post-hurricane reconstruction Thursday in Lower Manhattan. Al Gore attended.


Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times Before Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg spoke on Thursday, former Vice President Al Gore addressed the meeting and praised the mayor for his work on responding to climate change.

By DAVID W. CHEN and MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM NY TIMES Published: December 6, 2012

New York City, still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, will expand its evacuation zones, tighten building codes and look for ways to fortify critical infrastructure like transportation and electrical networks from future natural disasters, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday. But while the mayor said he would aggressively pursue a rebuilding of the damaged waterfront, he warned that “there are no panaceas or magic bullets” to protect the city fully. And while he did, for the first time, specifically suggest dunes or levees as protective measures worth exploring, he again dismissed the use of expensive experiments like sea gates stretching across New York Harbor. It was Mr. Bloomberg’s first major address on what the city should do in a post-hurricane world that, after the end of 2013, will also be a post-Bloomberg world. And the speech, which was televised live from a Lower Manhattan hotel that had been closed for two weeks because of the storm, had the bearing of a future-oriented State of the City event, with accompanying slides and even a surprise guest: former Vice President Al Gore….Among other ideas, Mr. Bloomberg said the city would consider the construction of dunes, jetties, levees and berms along coastal areas to help reduce damage from future storm surges. He did not specify where any such barriers would be built, much less how much these would cost. But aides to the mayor said that three deputy mayors — Howard Wolfson, Linda I. Gibbs and Robert K. Steel — had recently traveled to New Orleans and met with officials there to discuss recovery, rebuilding and flood protection measures and lessons…..

 

Voters: Cuomo, Obama, Bloomberg, MTA & FEMA Do Good Job Dealing with Sandy
Two-thirds of Voters Say Recent Storms Demonstrate Climate Change
Half of NYers Contribute to Storm Relief; One-quarter Volunteer Time….

Senate Dems push climate change amendment

By Zack Colman – 12/03/12 11:12 PM ET

Senate Democrats are attempting to force a vote on climate change through an amendment to the defense authorization bill.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-R.I.) amendment calls for the U.S. to “assess, plan for, and mitigate the security and strategic implications of climate change” out of concern for national security.

It is unclear whether the amendment will surface on the floor as senators work to complete the sweeping defense policy bill as soon as Tuesday.

But its submission shows that Democrats might be looking for chances to put Republicans on the record on climate change, especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. …

In-Depth Analysis: How A Progressive Carbon Tax Will Fight Climate Change And Stimulate The Economy

By Climate Guest Blogger on Dec 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm by Richard W. Caperton

Superstorm Sandy. Massive droughts. Devastating tornadoes. Horrific wildfires. The United States has certainly seen the dramatic weather-related effects of climate change in 2012, and every American has in some way been negatively impacted. Unfortunately, unless we start taking action now to curb the greenhouse gas pollution that’s causing this extreme weather, things are only going to get worse. Depending on which actions we choose to take, this year will either be the new normal or it will be a glimpse into a future where conditions are much, much worse.

….leaders across the country are beginning to take action and look for ways to fight climate change. President Barack Obama is using provisions of the Clean Air Act to reduce pollution from new power plants. California and some Northeastern states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont—have regional programs that put a price on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollutants in the hope of reducing their usage. These are powerful steps in the right direction, but they alone cannot solve the challenge of climate change. Avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of global warming will require much broader action. There are several ways that the United States could make a significant contribution to the global fight against climate change. We could take President Obama’s action on new power plants to the next level and use the Clean Air Act to reduce pollution from existing power plants and other major sources of emissions. The existing regional programs that charge a fee for pollution could be strengthened and broadened to cover more of the country, or Congress could get involved and put a nationwide price on carbon by creating a carbon tax. Before diving into specifics on a national carbon tax, it’s important to recognize that there are countless ways to put a price on carbon.. Given the track record of climate legislation in Congress—including the failed effort to pass the cap-and-trade bill in 2009—enacting a carbon tax poses more of a challenge than either expanding the regional carbon-pricing actions or using the Clean Air Act to regulate all power plants. While both of these alternatives are steps in the right direction, a national carbon tax would be able to address more than just our environmental concerns. In addition to mitigating the effects of climate change, a carbon tax could help solve our country’s budget crisis and provide revenue for new job-creating investments in clean energy infrastructure. By raising new funds, driving new investments, and reducing the likelihood of the most catastrophic consequences of climate change, a carbon tax is a tool that can take on our country’s three most pressing challenges: the deficit, joblessness, and the climate crisis. In this issue brief we describe some of the key questions Congress needs to answer in designing a carbon tax. We lay out the principles for making sure that a carbon price puts our country on a progressive path to future prosperity and describe why a carbon tax is a desirable way to price carbon. We then turn to the issues in collecting the necessary revenue. Finally, we discuss how to use the revenue to most effectively solve the challenges facing our country…..

 

Study: We Can Cut Carbon Pollution One Third By Closing ‘Carbon Loophole’ Through The Clean Air Act

By Climate Guest Blogger on Dec 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm by Whitney Allen

After four years of congressional stalemate on efforts to slash carbon pollution responsible for climate change, the Natural Resources Defense Council released a road map to cleaner electricity this week that relies on existing executive authority rather than Congress.

NRDC’s new report describes how  the Obama Administration can make substantial cuts in carbon pollution from existing power plants, which are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S.  Its strategy would employ Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, which gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to “set state specific carbon emission rates that reflect the diversity of the nation’s electricity sector and fuel mix.”

This approach differs in a few important ways from earlier pieces of legislation like the 2009 climate bill sponsored by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) during the 111th Congress. The proposal would set the initial pollution reduction standard for power plants by taking their state’s current energy mix taken into account. That is, a state with relatively low pollution would have a different target compared to a state with high emissions.

In addition, states would be allowed to create regional alliances, such as the ten-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), to work together to meet pollution reduction goals. This is crucial because the electricity supply from power plants frequently crosses state boundaries.

Climate Change, Migration, and Conflict in South Asia
Rising Tensions and Policy Options Across the Subcontinent By Arpita Bhattacharyya and Michael Werz December 3, 2012
South Asia will be among the regions hardest hit by climate change. Higher temperatures, more extreme weather, rising sea levels, increasing cyclonic activity in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, as well as floods in the region’s complex river systems will complicate existing development and poverty reduction initiatives. Coupled with high population density levels, these climate shifts have the potential to create complex environmental, humanitarian, and security challenges. India and Bangladesh, in particular, will feel the impacts of climate change acutely.
The consequences of climate change will change conditions and undermine livelihoods in many areas. And extreme events and deteriorating conditions are likely to force many to leave their homes temporarily or even permanently for another village, city, region or country.
In this paper we examine the role of climate change, migration, and security broadly at the national level in India and Bangladesh-and then zero in more closely on northeast India and Bangladesh to demonstrate the interlocking problems faced by the people there and writ larger across all of South Asia.
Read more and download the full report here.

 

Weather and ice data help secure winter shipping in the Arctic
(December 5, 2012) — Climate change brings changes to the Arctic region. The opening of new shipping routes creates needs for weather and marine safety services. Jouni Vainio, Senior Ice Expert at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, explored the practical needs while sailing on the multi-purpose icebreaker Nordica to Europe through the Northeast Passage in the Arctic Ocean. … > full story

 

Hotter, Dryer — Greener? Dryland Farming Confronts Climate Change

Posted: 12/04/2012 11:23 am

I’m in Doha, Qatar, where the global climate change community has gathered to determine how we should address climate change, yet again. In a landscape where glass towers emerge from the desert, and lush golf courses color the terrain, an obvious question is how this country will continue to feed a growing population as the climate changes. I’m here with a consortium of agricultural agencies, farmers, and research groups to highlight the concrete solutions for achieving global food security as the climate changes, while also reducing the emissions that agriculture puts into the atmosphere.

Despite these practical innovations, progress on getting agriculture into the official climate change negotiations has been excruciatingly slow, much slower than the urgent need to achieve food security.

In this regard, the U.N. Climate Change Talks in Doha raise the question of how to achieve food security in the drylands, where droughts are frequent and environmental and soil degradation is widespread. Farmers in these areas already face enormous challenges. Climate change will only compound these problems, bringing new levels of uncertainty and risk.

But drylands are not only sand dunes and deserts; dry areas cover 40 percent of global land mass and are home to 2.5 billion people — one-third of the global population. Beyond the Middle East, dry areas cover the whole of southern Africa, the Sahel in West Africa, vast swaths of the Southern U.S. and Western Canada, large areas of Latin America and nearly all of Australia.
In all of these areas, food production has declined, but populations are growing rapidly. In developing countries, many people, especially the youth, abandon farming for the prospect of better jobs in the cities, which puts further strain on domestic food supply.
Some dryland countries deal with this situation by importing large amounts of food. Qatar imports around 90 percent of its food, according to the Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP). The QNFSP is tasked with reducing the country’s dependence on imports, which makes it vulnerable to food price spikes. As climate changes, food commodity markets will become more volatile. Increased prices affect the ability of households to purchase their food. And while many residents of Qatar may be able to pay higher prices, poorer people in the country, and people living in less-developed dryland countries will be much more vulnerable
If dryland countries are serious about dealing with reducing their vulnerability to climate change, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, then they need to look at how food is grown, distributed and consumed. The good news is many of the solutions for improving agriculture in the dry areas have been developed over the past 40 years by agricultural research groups such as ICARDA The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, which just launched a new research program on Dryland Systems and is working with my group, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. Together we have released a new report outlining some of the tried and tested innovations that are available now. But increased investment and urgent action are needed to bring food security to people in the world’s dry areas….

 

 

Carbon Billionaires Become a Driving Force Behind the UN Deadlock in Doha

New Report Reveals the Role of World’s Wealthiest Individuals at Global Climate Talks.

December 4, 2012 (Doha, Qatar) – A new report was released at 10am today in Press Conference Room 2 at global climate talks in Doha, Qatar by the International Forum on Globalization entitled Faces Behind a Global Crisis: US Carbon Billionaires and the UN Climate Deadlock.  IFG’s report details how Charles and David Koch’s undue influence over United States climate policy has helped to paralyze United Nations climate talks.  Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index recently ranked the oil baron brothers’ combined net worth ($80.2B) as greater than that of the world’s wealthiest man, Carlos Slim ($71.8B).  The Kochs also outspent Exxon to kill US climate legislation. IFG’s new report follows the 2011 report, Outing the Oligarchy: Billionaires Who Benefit from Today’s Climate Crisis, published during COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, which identified the world’s fifty wealthiest individuals most invested in fossil fuels who wield their wealth to prevent the phase out of fossil fuels. Faces Behind A Global Crisis focuses on the top billionaires blocking US climate policies because the US is widely seen as the major obstacle to any meaningful multilateral commitments to cutting dangerous greenhouse gases that cause climate disruptions. The report explains how the Kochs’ campaign contributions, lobbying legislators, funding climate denialists, attacking clean air laws, and stopping the shift in subsidies from fossil fuels has helped to halt any serious progress on climate policy in the US.  The result is a deadlock in addressing the global crisis, as the US is the indispensable nation for action. “As the top spenders to stop climate policy in the planet’s most polluting nation, the two oil barons from Wichita hold hostage any progress in Washington, and hence any meaningful global deal in Doha,” said Victor Menotti, Executive Director of the IFG. “Advancing a UN agreement requires substantial changes in US domestic dynamics to reduce the role of the Kochs, and all private money, corrupting policy outcomes. Setting stronger standards for power plant pollution will be a litmus test.” As cleanup continues in the US after the devastating Superstorm Sandy—which killed 125 Americans, 71 Caribbeans and did $62B in damage—the UN’s Climate Conference in Doha enters its final week with US negotiators still unable to table any ambitious commitments to cut emissions.  Instead, the US insists on a “new paradigm” of voluntary pledges that falls far short of keeping below the agreed 2 C degree increase in global temperatures, and sets the world on course to warm up by 4-6 C degrees. Meena Raman of the Third World Network and an IFG Board Member noted that, “The world cannot expect US negotiators to do anything but lead a race to the bottom toward a total climate crisis as long as they speak for their oil billionaires and not for the American people.  How many more must die from climate disruptions before US negotiators align their position with the scientific reality that says the world needs ambitious actions to cut carbon now?”

The report is available online at http://kochcash.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/ifg_report.pdf

 

 

Analysis: Rich Countries Spend Five Times More On Fossil Fuel Subsidies Than Climate Aid

By Stephen Lacey on Dec 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm

In 2009, world leaders at the G20 summit agreed that phasing out fossil fuel subsidies should be a top priority. Three years later, with very little progress on actually repealing those subsidies, promises for reform ring hollow.

Now, as diplomats gather in Doha, Qatar for an international climate summit — an event that experts say will bring very few meaningful commitments — groups are stepping up the pressure on fossil fuel subsidy reform.

Rich countries spent $58 billion on fossil fuel subsidies in 2011. That’s roughly five times the amount they spent on “fast startfinancing for climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, according to an analysis released today at the Doha climate talks by Oil Change International.

 


Environmental group seeks to curb emissions from existing power plants

Michael S. Williamson/WASHINGTON POST – The Pleasants Power Station operated by Allegheny Energy is one of several coal-fired power plants that operate along the Ohio River. Many of the coal fire plants are facing tougher environmental regulations that will be taking effect in the next couple of years. The Natural Resources Defense Council kicked off an effort Tuesday to press the Obama administration for carbon dioxide emission limits from existing power plants.

By Steven Mufson, Published: December 4 2012. The Natural Resources Defense Council kicked off an effort Tuesday to press the Obama administration to set limits on carbon dioxide emissions for existing power plants, a goal that environmentalists say is their top priority for the president’s second term. The proposal would offer ways to limit the regulation’s economic impact by letting states use different routes to meeting federal standards, including credits for utilities that implement wide-ranging energy efficiency programs. It would also let utilities average their emissions from old plants with the zero emissions from new renewable energy projects to meet guidelines. The old coal plants emit 40 percent of the nation’s total emissions, and while the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed limits on new power plants, it has yet to address CO2 emissions from existing ones. The NRDC said that by 2020 its plan would help slash carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 26 percent, compared to 2005 levels, and by 17 percent from 2011 levels.

“We break the conventional wisdom that great savings can only be achieved at great expense,” said David Doniger, policy director of the climate and clean air program at the NRDC. He said the environmental group’s proposal could generate $25 billion to $60 billion worth of benefits from reductions in sulfur, nitrogen oxide and carbon emissions for as little as $4 billion. He said it would “expand the options of how to comply and reduce the cost of reaching the limit.”

Carbon dioxide is a common greenhouse gas that scientists say contributes to climate change.

The electric power generating industry is already in upheaval. Many utilities are closing down old coal plants and replacing them with new natural gas-fired power plants, taking advantage of cheap, plentiful gas supplies. The new gas plants also have climate benefits because burning natural gas generates only half the emissions as coal, though some experts say that gas leakage offsets some or all of those benefits. Doniger said that the NRDC proposal would still accelerate the closure of old coal plants….

 

 

 

 

 

 


California’s Flood Future Highlights
A new draft of California’s Flood Future Highlights
has been posted on the DWR website. It is a collaborative effort between DWR and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide a look at statewide flood risk, along with recommendations for improving and financing integrated flood management. The highlights will be discussed at the Public Advisory Committee meeting on Dec. 13.

 

Final draft of the Delta Plan
The Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) has released the final draft of the Delta Plan. At the same time, the DSC has also released a Recirculated Draft Delta Plan Programmatic Environmental Impact Report and draft regulations based on policies in the Delta Plan’s final draft. Details are available in a news release from the DSC….

 

 

Climate Change and Birds at American Bird Conservancy Projects

This presentation, developed by Davia Palmeri and David Wiedenfeld of American Bird Conservancy (ABC), reviews the likely effects of climate change on birds and system the reserves ABC and partners have been creating to protect key habitats. See http://youtu.be/tnBiEEn_pAc to view the presentation.

 

 

Forest and Range Assessment Steering Committee Meeting on Climate Change

Help us ring in the New Year with a discussion about climate change! The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP) and the United States Forest Service (USFS), Region 5, in conjunction with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) invite you to a discussion about the effects of climate change on working forest and rangelands
in California on Thursday, January 10, 2013. This is one of a series of meetings of the Forest and Rangelands Assessment Advisory Committee (FRASC) in preparation for the 2015 assessment of forest and rangelands in California. We invite you to participate in a discussion and share with us your ideas and concerns in regard to climate change and forests and rangelands in California.  This discussion will be the start of our revision of the climate change portion of the 2015 assessment of forests and rangelands. We are seeking the participation of local, state and federal agencies, industry experts, non-governmental organizations and private stakeholders. Climate change affects everyone, and we look forward to hearing a variety of perspectives. This meeting will begin with a panel of speakers who will share their experience with assessing and mitigating the effects of climate change in California. The panelists represent a diverse array of experience and interests: Ellie Cohen, President and CEO for PRBO Conservation Science; Dave Graber, Chief Scientist for the National Park Service Pacific South Region; Chrissy Howell, Regional Wildlife Program Leader, US Forest Service Region 5; and Klaus Scott, Forest Sector GHG inventory at the California Air Resources Board. Following the panel presentation, we will open the forum for a group discussion. For a detailed agenda or background about the upcoming meeting, the assessment processes, or FRASC, please see our website: http://frap.fire.ca.gov/frasc.html/ The meeting will be held in Davis, California: 9:00 – 12:00 on Thursday, January 10, 2013 Room #229 (upstairs) USDA Lyng Service Center 430 G Street, Davis, CA

For those unable to attend in person, we are providing access to the meeting via webinar:  https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/913867818 We hope you are able to attend and we look forward to hearing what you have to say. Please suggest this meeting to friends and colleagues you think may be interested. RSVPs to kelly.larvie@fire.ca.gov are greatly appreciated by Thursday, January 5th.

 

 

 

SCENARIO PLANNING TOOLS:

 

Adaptation Resources:


***Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments

This guidebook, published in 2007 by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, presents a detailed, easy-to-understand process for climate change preparedness based on familiar resources and tools. ICLEI’s website also provides links to a number of other free adaptation resources.

***Georgetown Climate Center Adaptation Portal
The nonprofit Georgetown Climate Center has developed a clearinghouse of information on impacts and adaptation for state and local governments, including news and updates, a directory of resources and tools, and state and local adaptation stories. The Georgetown Climate Center has also developed an adaptation toolkit for sea-level rise and coastal land use.

***Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE)
CAKE, a joint project of Island Press and EcoAdapt, aims to build a shared knowledge base for managing natural systems in the face of rapid climate change. The CAKE website provides a virtual library, case studies, a directory of people and organizations, and tools.

***Coastal Climate Adaptation Community of Practice for State and Local Governments
NOAA’s Coastal Climate Adaptation site is a community of practice for state and local officials in coastal areas of the United States. The site includes a searchable online database of adaptation action plans, policies, assessments, case studies, communication and outreach materials, and other resources posted by members, as well as basic climate change information.

 

 

EPA WEBCASTS:

 

December 6, 3:00-4:30 PM (EST) – Energy Efficiency Competitions for Local Governments In this webinar sponsored by EPA’s Local Climate and Energy Program, learn how local governments can plan and run an energy efficiency competition to encourage energy reductions in their communities. Experts from EPA’s ENERGY STAR program will discuss the benefits of a competition, the basic steps involved, common barriers and possible solutions, and free resources to help you put together your own local competition. You’ll also hear speakers from Climate Showcase Community Cary, North Carolina, talk about their efforts to reduce energy use in their fire stations—and get a sneak peek at their upcoming Fire Chief’s Challenge for fire stations nationwide.
Webcast registration

December 7, 1:00-2:00 PM (EST) Global Warming’s Six Americas: Understanding and Communicating with a Diverse Public
Americans differ in their beliefs and concern about climate change. Understanding the differences is vital to effective engagement and to bring about positive behavioral change. Insight into stakeholders’ views can help organizations communicate the importance of using green power and saving energy. In this webinar sponsored by EPA’s Green Power Partnership, Dr. Edward Maibach, professor and director of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, will provide a summary of recent findings from the “Climate Change in the American Mind” and “Global Warming’s Six Americas” audience research studies conducted by George Mason University and Yale University. He will address a range of topics, including recent increases in public engagement in climate change, perceptions about extreme weather and its relationship to climate change, and public policy preferences.
Webcast registration

December 11, 2:00-4:00 PM (EST) – Learn how Tribes are Confronting Climate Change
This webcast, hosted by EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Programs, will showcase tribes that are implementing programs in energy efficiency, materials recycling, and climate change adaptation. Learn how the Gila River Indian Community and Choctaw Nation are reducing greenhouse gas emissions through recycling and energy efficiency audits, and learn how the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin is integrating climate change considerations into its overall decision-making and in its water management programs. Two of these tribes have implemented a variety of clean energy projects under EPA’s Climate Showcase Communities program: Gila River has completed a community-wide greenhouse gas inventory and developed programs for curbside recycling, energy-efficient lighting, and green buildings; Choctaw Nation is implementing a project to improve energy efficiency throughout its hospital system. The webcast will also provide information about resources and funding ideas to help tribal governments design and implement climate change programs. Webcast registration

December 5, 2:00 PM-3:30 PM (EST) – Climate Change Preparedness Planning in the West: Lessons from Local Governments
Sponsored by the Lincoln Land Institute and the Sonoran Institute, this webcast will examine the impacts of climate change on the Southwest and what communities are doing to become more resilient to changes in climate and resource availability. Sustainability specialists from Boulder County, Colorado, and Flagstaff, Arizona, will examine the impacts of climate change on their communities and how they plan to become more resilient.
Webcast registration

 

 

 

Future Earth

Future Earth is a new 10-year international research initiative that will develop the knowledge for responding effectively to the risks and opportunities of global environmental change and for supporting transformation towards global sustainability in the coming decades. Future Earth will mobilize thousands of scientists while strengthening partnerships with policy-makers and other stakeholders to provide sustainability options and solutions in the wake of Rio+20.

Future Earth will be a global platform to deliver:

Integrating existing endeavours

Future Earth will build on the success of existing global environmental change programmes (Diversitas, IGBP, IHDP, WCRP and ESSP), to help develop a stronger and broader community. The Planet Under Pressure conference (London, March 2012) was a step towards this goal, with wide support of Future Earth as one of its major outcomes.

 

 

Biofuel Watch: Biofuelwatch works to raise awareness of the negative impacts of industrial biofuels and bioenergy on biodiversity, human rights, food sovereignty and climate change. Based in UK and US, we work with national and international partners to expose and oppose the social and environmental damages resulting from bioenergy-driven increased demand for industrial agriculture and forestry monocultures.

 

Find out when Bag It is airing next on
The Documentary Channel

Bag It has been garnering awards at film festivals across the nation. What started as a documentary about plastic bags evolved into a wholesale investigation into plastics and their effect on our waterways, oceans, and even our bodies. Join the Bag It movement and decide for yourself how plastic your life will be.

 

 

Schwarzenegger’s new project: Showtime climate change documentary

December 3, 2012 | 
LA Times

The first time Arnold Schwarzenegger teamed up with director James Cameron, it was for the role that defined the future governor’s film career “The Terminator.”

Now the two are teaming up on a very different project. The former California governor and Cameron are teaming up with producer Jerry Weintraub and a pair of producers from “60 Minutes” on a new documentary series for Showtime that will focus on the effects of global climate change. …

 

 

 

 

 

Energy Department pushes for electric car battery research

The US Department of Energy has set a goal to improve battery and energy storage technologies by five times that of today–in the next five years, Ingram writes.

By Antony Ingram, Guest blogger / December 5, 2012


A participant in a Toyota Motor Corp. press event puts a quick charger plug into the newly-developed compact electric vehicle “eQ” in this September 2012 file photo. A new center funded by the US Department of Energy aims to develop better electric car batteries and other energy storage systems.

If you want to know how advanced cars might be in the next hundred years, just take a look at how far the car has come along in the last hundred. Unfortunately, electric cars missed out on decades of development over the last century. Battery technology in particular still suffers many of the issues it always has. In an effort to speed up development, the U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal to improve battery and energy storage technologies by five times that of today–in the next five years…..

 

 

World’s first demonstration of power transfer from wheels to power an electric car
(December 5, 2012) — Electric vehicles (EV) have ten times higher energy performance than automobiles powered by gasoline-based engines. However, they are not yet popular with drivers due to the need to store large batteries onboard. Now, researchers are developing an innovative method for powering EVs that drastically reduces the number of batteries.
Electric vehicles (EV) have ten times higher energy performance than automobiles powered by gasoline-based engines. EVs show tremendous potential as an effective solution to both energy shortages and global warming. However, conventional battery-based EVs are not popular with drivers because of drawbacks including: (1) short cruising range; (2) long time to recharge; and (3) high cost. Now, assuming that these drawbacks stem from the need to store large batteries onboard cars, then there are strong demands for alternatives means of powering electric cars. In a novel approach, Takashi Ohira at Toyohashi University of Technology and colleagues are developing an innovative method for powering EVs that drastically reduces the number of batteries. The approach exploits the steel belt usually embedded in rubber tires. The steel belt collects power excited from a pair of electrodes buried beneath the road surface. And, since the steel belt is electrically insulated by the rubber tread, the researchers used a displacement current at high frequency to penetrate from underground to the steel belt….… > full story

 

Tiny structure gives big boost to solar power
(December 6, 2012) — Researchers have found a simple and economic way to nearly triple the efficiency of organic solar cells, the cheap and flexible plastic devices that many scientists believe could be the future of solar power. … > full story

 

Coal Is Going To Decline. And Frankly It Should.’

By Stephen Lacey on Dec 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm

One of the world’s biggest mining firms says that extreme weather caused by climate change is already impacting some of its assets, thus forcing the company to re-evaluate its investments in the coal sector.

Speaking to investors and analysts on Monday, the Chief Executive of BHP Billiton’s coal division explained how the company is reinforcing infrastructure around its coal export terminal in Queensland, Australia because of increases in extreme weather that threaten the facility.

BHP Billiton is one of the largest producers of aluminum, copper, thermal coal, metallurgical coal, nickel, silver and uranium. The Australian company also owns and operates the Hay Point Services Coal Terminal, a coal facility that makes up a large portion of the biggest coal port in the world.

And now that facility is under threat from intensifying extreme weather, says BHP executive Marcus Randolph. His comments were reported in the Australian Financial Review after the company’s presentation on its sustainability strategy:

“As we see more cyclone-related events . . . the vulnerability of one of these facilities to a cyclone is quite high,” he said. “So we built a model saying this is how we see this impacting what the economics would be and used that with our board of directors to rebuild the facility to be more durable to climate change.” Mr Randolph said the decision was taken after cyclone Yasi hit further north in Queensland in February 2011. “If cyclone Yasi had hit Hay Point, we would have lost that facility,” he said. “So it is a recognition that as these cyclones become more severe, we need to have facilities that are more able to withstand them.” Simply reinforcing a coal export facility with extra jetties to withstand an increase in extreme weather caused by carbon pollution from the coal that the company wants to continue exporting isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for sustainability. But this plain-spoken admission that climate change is having a measurable impact now — without trying muddle the science — is very unique for a coal company.

 

Synthetic fuel could eliminate U.S. need for crude oil, researchers say
(December 5, 2012) — The United States could eliminate the need for crude oil by using a combination of coal, natural gas and non-food crops to make synthetic fuel, a team of researchers has found. Besides economic and national security benefits, the plan has potential environmental advantages. Because plants absorb carbon dioxide to grow, the United States could cut vehicle greenhouse emissions by as much as 50 percent in the next several decades using non-food crops to create liquid fuels, the researchers said. … > full story

 

Mitigating our carbon footprint
(December 5, 2012) — Scientists keep producing increasingly complex modelling tools to evaluate urgently needed mitigating strategies of our carbon footprint. However, it is policy makers who have to decide on measures to curb our CO2 emissions. Therefore the science of carbon emissions needs to be translated into useful information to serve their needs. The problem is that the ongoing scientific debate and the conflicting results of more than 30 scientific models for climate change cannot support rational policy decision making. A unique tool called EUREAPA was therefore developed to help policy makers in their decisions. It resulted from a research project funded by the EU, called OPEN:EU, coordinated by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
This tool models the carbon footprint of human activities. It also provides average consumption at a national level for production sectors such as housing, food and transport. Most importantly, it allows users to develop their own scenarios. Experts welcome this development. “A full integrative approach is required to address the realistic potential and effectiveness of carbon mitigation options,” Josep Canadell said. He is a research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Canberra, Australia. … > full story

 

 

Environment: New study shows dispersant makes oil up to 52 times more toxic to Gulf of Mexico microorganisms

Posted on December 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn Summit Voice

FRISCO — The massive amounts of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded was devastating to marine life, but the dispersant used in the aftermath to try and break down the oil slicks may have been even worse for some species, according to new research done by scientists with the Georgia Institute of Technology and Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Based on laboratory toxicity tests, the study found that the oil-dispersant mix was up to 52 times more toxic to tiny rotifers, microscopic grazers at the base of the Gulf’s food chain.

The researchers tested a mix oil from the spill and Corexit, the dispersant required by the Environmental Protection Agency for clean up, on five strains of rotifers. Rotifers have long been used by ecotoxicologists to assess toxicity in marine waters because of their fast response time, ease of use in tests and sensitivity to toxicants.

Other studies the past two years have shown similar results. Esentially, the mixture of oil and dispersant is more easily absorbed by organisms, raising the question of whether the benefits of using dispersant are enough to offset the negative effects.

One study showed a dramatic change in the composition of microbial communities on some Gulf beaches, while another found traces of a toxic blend of oil and dispersants present in the surf line, where swimmers and surfers could be exposed. Scientists with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found that plumes of the dispersant lingered in deep Gulf waters for many months after the spill.

The Deepwater Horizon spill marked the first time dispersant was used in such massive quantities, being mixed directly with the oil spewing out of the broken well.

The latest research shows the mixture caused mortality in adult rotifers, and as little as 2.6 percent of the oil-dispersant mixture inhibited rotifer egg hatching by 50 percent.  Inhibition of rotifer egg hatching from the sediments is important because these eggs hatch into rotifers each spring, reproduce in the water column, and provide food for baby fish, shrimp and crabs in estuaries….

 

 

 

Shale Shocked: Studies Tie Rise Of Significant Earthquakes In U.S. Midcontinent To Wastewater Injection

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 09:17 AM PST

Two new papers tie a recent increase in significant earthquakes to reinjection of wastewater fluids from unconventional oil and gas drilling. The first study notes “significant earthquakes are increasingly occurring within the United States midcontinent.” In the specific case of Oklahoma, a Magnitude “5.7 earthquake and a prolific sequence of related events … were likely triggered by fluid injection.” The second study, of the Raton Basin of Southern Colorado/Northern New Mexico by a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) team, concludes ”the majority, if not all of the earthquakes since August 2001 have been triggered by the deep injection of wastewater related to the production of natural gas from the coal-bed methane field here.” Both studies are being presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union this week (program with abstracts here)….

 

Gulf oil spill: Oil-dispersing chemicals had little effect on oil surfacing, according to new study
(December 4, 2012) — A new study examined the effects of the use of unprecedented quantities of synthetic dispersants on the distribution of an oil mass in the water column. Scientists developed and tested models to show that the application of oil-dispersing chemicals had little effect on the oil surfacing in the Gulf of Mexico. … > full story

 

Research, response for future oil spills: Lessons learned from Deepwater Horizon
(December 3, 2012) — A special collection of articles about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill provides the first comprehensive analysis and synthesis of the science used in the unprecedented response effort by the government, academia, and industry. Two overview papers and 13 specialty papers constitute a special section of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. … > full story

 

Shell’s Failed Arctic Oil Spill Equipment: ‘Breached Like A Whale’ And ‘Crushed Like A Beer Can’

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 05:56 AM PST by Kiley Kroh

After struggling to get the last of their drilling equipment out of the Beaufort Sea as winter sea ice encroached, it appeared the long list of criticisms and setbacks that marked Shell’s first Arctic Ocean drilling season had come to an end. That respite was very brief. Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW has released internal emails between Interior Department officials, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, detailing Shell’s failed test of underwater oil spill response equipment. Shell and the federal government kept a close hold on the specifics of what exactly went wrong during the test – and now it’s clear why. …..In order to avoid catastrophic warming, the International Energy Agency estimates that we’ll need to leave 2/3rds of global carbon reserves in the ground before 2050.

Continuing on our current path of fossil fuel consumption will drive oil companies into some of the most extreme conditions on the planet, like the fragile Arctic Ocean – a frightening prospect not just for the people and ecosystems that are threatened by their unpreparedness, but also the urgent need to curb our carbon emissions and slow climate change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Hansen Receives the Stephen Schneider Climate Science Communication Award 12/5/2012 – Lucy Sanna
Climate One, The Commonwealth Club HQ, San Francisco (December 4, 2012)

In his 1988 congressional testimony, climatologist James Hansen presented climate models that projected continual global warming, stating that the evidence was strong that the “greenhouse effect” was already here. Since that time he has voiced increasing concern about the risks of climatic tipping points that could bring catastrophic consequences to the planet.

 SPEAKER:
James Hansen, head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; adjunct professor, Columbia University’s Earth Institute; former member of the Climate One Advisory Council; author, Storms of My Grandchildren

 Listen to audio: Climate One Podcast
Watch video clips:   Coming soon…

James Hansen—head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, and author of Storms of My Grandchildren—first met Stephen Schneider when Schneider was still a student. “It’s ironic that I’m getting the Steve Schneider award because we couldn’t have been more opposite,” Hansen recalled, speaking of their personalities. “My girlfriend would talk with him to ward him off.” Despite their differences, they became friends. In fact, following Hansen’s congressional testimony in 1998, when he received requests for interviews, he gave them to Schneider, who “had the gift of gab.” Speaking of Hurricane Sandy, Hansen spoke of the warming in the Atlantic driving cyclonic storms, which, unlike a hurricane, stretch for thousands of miles. “If you get a hurricane embedded in one of those, that’s when you get a higher dose. That’s what we had with Sandy.” He went on to say, “The dice are now loaded. Not only do you get more unusually warm seasons, but those that are most extreme are much more frequent than they used to be.” Is there a human fingerprint on Sandy? “You can’t blame a single event and connect that in a simple way to global warming, but the frequency and extremity of those events you can connect to global warming in a very straightforward way.”

Hansen advocates putting pressure on politicians. As one who has himself been arrested for civil disobedience, he said, “I really object to politicians and others who say that scientists should just stick to the narrow science and not look at the whole problem, because you do have to connect the dots. Scientists are actually trained to be objective and to understand complex problems. This is a complex problem.” And the solution? The incentive to change is carbon tax, collecting from fossil fuel companies at the source—at the mine or the port of entry—and distributing it, 100%, to the public, to every person in the country, he says. “As long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, then people will keep burning them. And they’re cheapest because they are not only subsidized, but they don’t pay their cost to society.” He spoke of the health problems caused by air and water pollution, and the cost of extreme weather—”$50B from Sandy in New York, $50B in New Jersey. The drought last summer took half a point off GDP growth. The public pays the cost.” With a rising price on fossil fuels, the marketplace will make the decisions. What about the increasing use of fossil fuels in other countries, such as China and India? Put a carbon tax on their products when they arrive at the border, he said, saying it would be an enormous incentive for them to reduce their carbon use at home. Looking toward the future, Hansen spoke of the need to help young people better understand nature. With that goal, he is currently writing a book with his fourteen-year-old granddaughter, Sophie. The Stephen Schneider Award is generously underwritten by Tom R. Burns, Uppsala University (Sweden) and Lisbon University Institute, Portugal; Nora Machado, Lisbon University Institute, Portugal; ClimateWorks Foundation; Michael Haas, founder, Alliance for Climate Education.

 

Stephen Maturen for The New York Times

To Stop Climate Change, Students Aim at College Portfolios

By JUSTIN GILLIS December 4, 2012

On dozens of campuses, college students are demanding that their schools combat pollution and climate change by divesting themselves of coal, oil and gas stocks.

SWARTHMORE, Pa. — A group of Swarthmore College students is asking the school administration to take a seemingly simple step to combat pollution and climate change: sell off the endowment’s holdings in large fossil fuel companies. For months, they have been getting a simple answer: no. As they consider how to ratchet up their campaign, the students suddenly find themselves at the vanguard of a national movement. In recent weeks, college students on dozens of campuses have demanded that university endowment funds rid themselves of coal, oil and gas stocks. The students see it as a tactic that could force climate change, barely discussed in the presidential campaign, back onto the national political agenda. “We’ve reached this point of intense urgency that we need to act on climate change now, but the situation is bleaker than it’s ever been from a political perspective,” said William Lawrence, a Swarthmore senior from East Lansing, Mich. Students who have signed on see it as a conscious imitation of the successful effort in the 1980s to pressure colleges and other institutions to divest themselves of the stocks of companies doing business in South Africa under apartheid. A small institution in Maine, Unity College, has already voted to get out of fossil fuels. Another, Hampshire College in Massachusetts, has adopted a broad investment policy that is ridding its portfolio of fossil fuel stocks. …

 


 

Bird counters also keep eye on climate change

Mail Tribune  - ‎December 7, 2012‎

Groups of bird watchers heading out all over the U.S. this month for the 113th annual Christmas BirdCount are helping plot what appear to be significant global trends.

 

Participants wanted for the 114th Annual Christmas Bird Count

Examiner.com December 4, 2012

Second, to minimize the loss of fee income for the Audubon Society, American Birds will no longer be printed on paper and mailed to participants, and Audubon will move to an online delivery of the summary results of the CBC.

 


Bisphenol A: BPA Additive Blocks Cell Function

 

 


December 6, 2012Bisphenol A, a substance found in many synthetic products, is considered to be harmful, particularly, for fetuses and babies. Researchers have now shown in experiments on cells from human and mouse tissue that this environmental chemical blocks calcium channels in cell membranes. Similar effects are elicited by drugs used to treat high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmia. … > full story

Study shows BPA exposure in fetal livers
(December 3, 2012) — New research found BPA, or bisphenol A, in fetal liver tissue, demonstrating that there is considerable exposure to the chemical during pregnancy. … > full story

Moderate coffee consumption may reduce risk of diabetes by up to 25 percent
(December 4, 2012) — New research highlights the potential role of coffee consumption in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. … > full story

 

Clinical trial tests if rice bran can reduce incidence of cancer
(December 5, 2012) — A recent review shows that rice bran offers promising cancer prevention properties. Meanwhile, an ongoing clinical trial is testing the effectiveness of rice bran in preventing the recurrence of colon cancer. … > full story

 

GreenCarReports
The website focuses on the auto industry’s future, the evolution of cars beyond fossil fuels, and the green movement’s relevance to car shoppers today. For more stories on green cars, click here.

Recent posts

 

Excellent leasing available now on electric cars:

2012 Nissan Leaf Lease Now $219 A Month, Incentives Increase

www.greencarreports.com › NewsElectric Cars

by Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield – in 224 Google+ circles – Oct 1, 2012 – Are you tempted by the new, lower lease deals to buy a Nissan Leaf, or are you worried about 2012 Nissan Leaf Gets Even Cheaper: Now, $139/Month Lease …. 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, upstate New York, Dec 2012

November 2012 Lease Deals | Our Nissan Leaf

ournissanleaf.com/?p=48

Nissan LEAF® Electric Car Awards – Nissan USA Official Site

2012 Nissan LEAF Earns Top Safety Pick Rating from IIHS. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2012 Nissan LEAF® a “Top Safety Pick” ..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mysterious Atmospheric River Soaks California, Where Megaflood May Be Overdue

By Mark Fischetti | November 30, 2012 |  12

An atmospheric river (thin yellow band) feeds torrential rain into northern California on Nov. 30. Image courtesy of NOAA

Northern California is experiencing the first days of what weather forecasters are warning will be a long series of torrential rainstorms that could cause serious flooding across the northern one-third of the state. The relentless storms are being driven by a feature in the atmosphere you have probably never heard of: an atmospheric river. Oh, and another atmospheric river created the worst flooding since the 1960s in western England and Wales this past week, where more than 1,000 homes had to be evacuated. An atmospheric river is a narrow conveyor belt of vapor about a mile high that extends thousands of miles from out at sea and can carry as much water as 15 Mississippi Rivers. It strikes as a series of storms that arrive for days or weeks on end. Each storm can dump inches of rain or feet of snow. For more details, see this feature story that Scientific American has just published, written by two experts on these storms…..

 


 

http://www.offthemark.com/receive.php?pdate=2005-12-26


 


 

http://vimeo.com/53745876


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