Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates April 13, 2012

Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates

April 13, 2012


Highlights of the Week  – March is a record-breaker; West coast oysters impacted by acidification
















Have a great weekend-






Highlight of the Week….   March is a record-breaker; west coast oysters and acidification


(Credit: NOAA) Over 15,000 Records Broken as March 2012 Becomes Warmest on Record

NOAA: U.S. records  warmest March; more than 15,000 warm temperature records broken First quarter of 2012 also warmest on record; early March tornado outbreak is year’s first “billion dollar disaster” 

According to NOAA scientists, record and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation and contributed to the warmest March on record for the contiguous United States, a record that dates back to 1895. The average temperature of 51.1 degrees F was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average for March and 0.5 degrees F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months (or more than 116 years) that have passed since the U.S. climate record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012.





New publication — the first clear correlation on the west coast between upwelling and Pacific coast shellfish, specifically Pacific oysters.



Ocean acidification linked to larval oyster failure (April 11, 2012) — Researchers have definitively linked an increase in ocean acidification to the collapse of oyster seed production at a commercial oyster hatchery in Oregon, where larval growth had declined to a level considered by the owners to be “non-economically viable.” … > full story



The Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, shows negative correlation to naturally elevated carbon dioxide levels: Implications for near-term ocean acidification effects

Alan Barton, Burke Hales, George G. Waldbusser, Chris Langdon and Richard A. Feely

Limnol. Oceanogr., 57(3), 2012, 698-710 | DOI:10.4319/lo.2012.57.3.0698

ABSTRACT: We report results from an oyster hatchery on the Oregon coast, where intake waters experienced variable carbonate chemistry (aragonite saturation state < 0.8 to > 3.2; pH < 7.6 to > 8.2) in the early summer of 2009. Both larval production and midstage growth (∼ 120 to ∼ 150 µm) of the oyster Crassostrea gigas were significantly negatively correlated with the aragonite saturation state of waters in which larval oysters were spawned and reared for the first 48 h of life.The effects of the initial spawning conditions did not have a significant effect on early-stage growth (growth from D-hinge stage to ∼120 µm), suggesting a delayed effect of water chemistry on larval development.





  1. 1.    ECOLOGY



Sparrow Migration Tracked for First Time from California to Alaska

ScienceDaily (Apr. 11, 2012) — Using tiny tags to track a bird’s location, biologists from PRBO Conservation Science (PRBO) have unlocked the mystery of where Golden-crowned Sparrows, which overwinter in California, go to breed in the spring. Published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, the study reveals for the first time the exact migration route of this small songbird to its breeding sites in coastal Alaska….



Ironing out the mystery of bird navigation

April 12, 2012 – 9:47AM

While migrating birds are believed to use the earth’s magnetic field to navigate, new research has again baffled scientists as to how they do it. According to an article published in Nature on Wednesday, iron-filled beak cells previously thought to be the centre of the magnetic sense in birds are made up of normal protein-bound iron deposits which are not magnetoreceptive. Scientists who took part in the international study said the finding had taken them back to square one. “The mystery of how animals detect magnetic fields has just got more mysterious,” said David Keays, an Australian who now works at the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, Austria. ….



Water cutoff contributes to Klamath Basin bird deaths, highlights challenge facing crucial wildlife refuges

Published: Thursday, April 05, 2012, 10:00 PM     Updated: Friday, April 06, 2012, 5:58 AM

By Scott Learn, The Oregonian

A cut-off of water supplies to a key Klamath Basin national wildlife refuge contributed to the deaths of 10,000 or more birds this year, the most in a decade, the refuge’s manager says. The Lower Klamath refuge in southern Oregon and northern California is a crucial stop for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway. The refuge and five other refuges in the basin are also last in line for water, behind farmers and endangered fish, in one of the most water-short — and politically fraught — regions in the West. Ron Cole, project leader for the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, estimates 10,000 to 15,000 birds have died from avian cholera this year. From December to mid-March, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation cut off water supplies to the 46,900-acre Lower Klamath refuge, citing light snowfall and projections of dismal inflows to Upper Klamath Lake, which stores water for farmers and three fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act.


Cholera outbreak kills more than 10000 birds in California

New York Daily News – April 9, 2012

The birds are some of the 10000 birds felled by avian cholera this spring on the refuge, a major stop on the Pacific Flyway that attracts some 2 million birds. TULELAKE, Calif. – Dave Mauser walked the edge of a mudflat, peering underneath the dried


Forest insects and diseases arrive in US via imported plants (April 9, 2012) — The importation of plants from around the world has become a major industry in the United States, valued at more than 0 billion. According to a new study that economic boon has also had devastating effects on the environment. Researchers found that almost 70 percent of the most damaging non-native forest insects and diseases currently afflicting US forests arrived via imported live plants. … > full story

American Chestnut returns to New York City (April 12, 2012) — The once-mighty American chestnut tree, which was virtually wiped out by a pathogenic fungus that arrived in New York City more than 100 years ago, will return April 18 to the area where it was first discovered in the Bronx. … > full story

Loss of predators in Northern Hemisphere affecting ecosystem health (April 9, 2012) — A survey done on the loss in the Northern Hemisphere of large predators, particularly wolves, concludes that current populations of moose, deer, and other large herbivores far exceed their historic levels and are contributing to disrupted ecosystems. They are crippling the growth of young trees and reducing biodiversity. This also contributes to deforestation and results in less carbon sequestration, a potential concern with climate change. … > full story

Study: Top deer predator in Michigan isn’t the wolf
The Grand Rapids Press
What researchers found this past winter, the third year of a western upper peninsula deer mortality study, is that coyotes were the No. 1 predator of deer, followed by bobcats. Wolves came in fourth after….


What triggers a mass extinction? Habitat loss and tropical cooling were once to blame (April 10, 2012) — The second-largest mass extinction in Earth’s history coincided with a short but intense ice age. Although it has long been agreed that the so-called Late Ordovician mass extinction was related to climate change, exactly how the change produced the extinction has not been known. Now, scientists have determined that the majority of extinctions were caused by habitat loss due to falling sea levels and cooling of the tropical oceans. … > full story


Fukushima radiation found in California kelp Marla Cone

Sunday, April 8, 2012 (SF Chronicle) Kelp off California was contaminated with short-lived radioisotopes a month after Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant accident, a sign that the spilled radiation reached the state’s coastline, according to a new scientific study. Scientists from CSU Long Beach tested giant kelp collected off Orange County, Santa Cruz and other locations after the March 2011 accident and detected radioactive iodine, which was released from the damaged nuclear reactor. The largest concentration was about 250 times higher than levels found in kelp before the accident….The radioactivity had no known effects on the giant kelp, or on fish and other marine life, and it was undetectable a month later. Iodine 131 “has an eight-day half-life, so it’s pretty much all gone,” Manley said. “But this shows what happens half a world away does effect what happens here. I don’t think these levels are harmful, but it’s better if we don’t have it at all.” Spread in large, dense, brown forests across the ocean off California, giant kelp is the largest of all algae and grows faster than virtually any other life on Earth. It accumulates iodine, making it a useful way to check how far radioactive material spreads.


Higher altitude of islands increases their number of exclusive species (April 9, 2012) — In the ecosystems of islands with high mountains, endemic animal and vegetation species are twice as isolated, making them even more exclusive. This finding adds the factor of altitude to wider biodiversity. … > full story

Texas drought destroys half a billion trees 

Up to half a billion dead or dying trees have been tagged as victims of last year’s Texas drought, which severely scorched wide-open farmland and took a toll on the state’s cities, particularly Houston. The statistical yardstick is staggering, with Texas agriculture officials estimating now that the drought caused record-breaking crop and livestock losses of $7.62 billion and counting. The Texas Forest Service estimates 100 million to 500 million forest trees may have succumbed.


New York: Experts suggest grazing cows, sheep, ducks in forests 

Putting cows, sheep and other livestock into forests to graze could prove to be a valuable tool for New York woodland management, say Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) agriculture educators and colleagues in the Cornell Forestry Program. They are advocating for the return of silvopasturing — managed grazing in woodlands.

ate grant to remove the levees, smooth out the riverbanks and stabilize vegetation in hopes of preventing damage when the Gila floods.


Birds: Divorce and breeding dispersal may support the better option hypothesis (April 11, 2012) — Divorce and breeding dispersal in the dunlin Calidris alpina bird may provide support for the better option hypothesis. … > full story


Baltimore expanding floating Inner Harbor wetlands; manmade marshes clean water

Volunteers plan to add another 2,000 square feet of the manmade marshes in front of the World Trade Center in the Inner Harbor later this monthTwo years ago, students from Baltimore‘s Living Classrooms Foundation made 200 square feet of floating wetlands with empty plastic bottles recovered from the harbor. The National Aquarium also made its own and both were studied by scientists from the aquarium and the University of Maryland. Now, armed with results of those studies and support from the Department of the Environment and the Abell Foundation, the fleet of floating wetlands is growing.

Organizers say the plants improve water quality and provide habitat for birds, fish and other creatures that live in the Inner Harbor.



NASA views our perpetual ocean (April 9, 2012) — The swirling flows of tens of thousands of ocean currents were captured in a scientific visualization created by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. … > full story

Farmers of 800-years-ago could teach us how to protect the Amazon — with raised farming beds (April 9, 2012) — In the face of mass deforestation of the Amazon, recent findings indicate that we could learn from its earliest inhabitants who managed their farmland sustainably. Research shows for the first time that indigenous people, living in the savannas around the Amazonian forest, farmed without using fire. Instead early inhabitants practiced ‘raised-field’ farming, which involved constructing small agricultural mounds with wooden tools. These raised fields provided better drainage, soil aeration and moisture retention: ideal for an environment that experiences both drought and flooding. … > full story


Why Woodpeckers Don’t Get Concussions

Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer Date: 10 April 2012 Time: 06:37 AM ET  For woodpeckers, “thick skull” is no insult. In fact, new research shows that a strong skull saves these birds from serious brain injury. Woodpeckers’ head-pounding pecking against trees and telephone poles subjects them to enormous forces — they can easily slam their beaks against wood with a force 1,000 times that of gravity. (In comparison, Air Force tests in the 1950s pegged the maximum survivable g-force for a human at around 46 times that of gravity….








Environment—Talk of the Nation, NPR

Link Between Extreme Weather And Climate Change

[16 min 50 sec]  April 5, 2012

Transcript  with Kevin Trenberth, distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research…




In latest issue of Global Ecology and Biogeography:

Rise of the generalists: evidence for climate driven homogenization in avian communities (pages 568–578) Catherine M. Davey, Dan E. Chamberlain, Stuart E. Newson, David G. Noble and Alison Johnston
Article first published online: 30 JUN 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2011.00693.x



Evolution at sea: Long-term experiments indicate phytoplankton can adapt to ocean acidification (April 8, 2012) — Fossil fuel derived carbon dioxide has a serious impact on global climate but also a disturbing effect on the oceans, know as the other CO2 problem. When CO2 dissolves in seawater it forms carbonic acid and results in a drop in pH, the oceans acidify. A wealth of short-term experiments has shown that calcifying organisms, such as corals, clams and snails, but also micron size phytoplankton are affected by ocean acidification. The potential for organisms to cope with acidified oceanic conditions via evolutionary adaptations has so far been unresolved. Scientists have now for the first demonstrated the potential of the unicellular algae Emiliania huxleyi to adapt to changing pH conditions and thereby at least partly to mitigate negative effects of ocean acidification. … > full story



Impact of climate change on forest diseases assessed (April 10, 2012) — Climate change is projected to have far-reaching environmental impacts both domestically and abroad. A recently published report examines the impact of climate change on forest diseases and how these pathogens will ultimately affect forest ecosystems in the Western United States and Canada. … > full story



Which plants will survive droughts, climate change? (April 6, 2012) — Biologists aim to predict which plant species will escape extinction from climate change. Droughts are worsening around the world, which poses a great challenge to plants in gardens and forests. Scientists have debated for more than a century how to predict which species are most vulnerable. … The pinpointing of cell saltiness as the main driver of drought tolerance cleared away major controversies, and it opens the way to predictions of which species could escape extinction from climate change, Sack said.”The salt concentrated in cells holds on to water more tightly and directly allows plants to maintain turgor during drought,” said research co-author Christine Scoffoni, a UCLA doctoral student in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology…..> full story


Impact of warming climate doesn’t always translate to streamflow (April 6, 2012) — An analysis of 35 headwater basins in the United States and Canada found that the impact of warmer air temperatures on streamflow rates was less than expected in many locations, suggesting that some ecosystems may be resilient to certain aspects of climate change. … The study was just published in a special issue of the journal BioScience, in which the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network of 26 sites around the country funded by the National Science Foundation is featured. Lead author Julia Jones, an Oregon State University geoscientist, said that air temperatures increased significantly at 17 of the 19 sites that had 20- to 60-year climate records, but streamflow changes correlated with temperature changes in only seven of those study sites. In fact, water flow decreased only at sites with winter snow and ice, and there was less impact in warmer, more arid ecosystems. “It appears that ecosystems may have some capacity for resilience and adapt to changing conditions,” said Jones, a professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. “Various ecosystem processes may contribute to that resilience. In Pacific Northwest forests, for example, one hypothesis is that trees control the stomatal openings on their leaves and adjust their water use in response to the amount of water in the soil. “So when presented with warmer and drier conditions, trees in the Pacific Northwest appear to use less water and therefore the impact on streamflow is reduced,” she added. “In other parts of the country, forest regrowth after past logging and hurricanes thus far has a more definitive signal in streamflow reduction than have warming temperatures.”…> full story




Balmy weather brought out the bugs, but was the frost that followed a factor? (April 10, 2012) — While many enjoyed a mild winter and an early spring with record-breaking temperatures, the warm weather also prompted many bugs to show up earlier than usual. The question is, will bug populations be larger this summer? … > full story


How Climate Change Makes Trees Sick

April 12, 2012

Warmer and wetter weather is good for tree diseases, which is bad news for trees

Susan Frankel/USDA-Forest Service

Climate change is likely to wreak havoc on California’s forests. Extreme weather, wildfires and insect outbreaks will all take a toll. Add to those another looming threat: disease. Forest diseases like Sudden Oak Death, which has infected trees in 14 counties in the state, stand to benefit from the effects of climate change, to the detriment, obviously, of the trees.

Trees are big and long-lived. Tree pathogens, mostly fungi and bacteria, are the opposite. They’re mobile, able to blow around on the wind. And they reproduce and evolve rapidly. That’s the crux of the problem, according to Susan Frankel, a plant pathologist with the Forest Service. “When you look at forest health and the balance between forest trees and the pathogens that attack them, it does seem, given climate change, pathogens get the better end of the deal,” she told me. Frankel is working with a group of ecologists, funded by the Forest Service’s Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, to better understand how climate change will affect tree diseases. In a recent report, they outlined possible impacts….


Rapid climate change threatens Asia’s rice production

Last Updated: Friday, April 13, 2012, 15:29

Washington: Rapid climate change and its potential to intensify droughts and floods could threaten Asia’s rice production and pose a significant threat to millions of people across the region, leading climate specialists and agricultural scientists have warned. South and Southeast Asia are home to more than one-third of the world’s population and half of the world’s poor and malnourished.  Absent new approaches to food production, climate change in this region is expected to reduce agriculture productivity by as much as 50 percent in the next three decades. And with agriculture serving as the backbone of most economies in the region, such plunging yields would shake countries to the core….


Scientists forecast forest carbon loss (April 6, 2012) — For more than 30 years, scientists at the Harvard Forest have scaled towers into the forest canopy and measured the trunks of trees to track how much carbon is stored or lost from the woods each year. … > full story


Climate change boosts then quickly stunts plants, decade-long study shows

Science Codex – ‎April 11, 2012

The findings, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, show that plants may thrive in the early stages of a warming environment but then begin to deteriorate quickly.


Ecosystems dependent on snowy winters most threatened, long term research confirms (April 6, 2012) — As global temperatures rise, the most threatened ecosystems are those that depend on a season of snow and ice, scientists say. In semi-arid regions like the southwestern United States, mountain snowpacks are the dominant source of water for human consumption and irrigation. New research shows that as average temperatures increase in these snowy ecosystems, a significant amount of stream water is lost to the atmosphere. … > full story

Long-term studies detect effects of disappearing snow and ice (April 6, 2012) — Regions of the earth where water is frozen for at least a month each year are shrinking as a result of global warming. Some of the effects on ecosystems are now being revealed through research conducted at affected sites over decades. They include dislocations of the relationships between predators and their prey, as well as changes in the movement through ecosystems of carbon and nutrients. The changes interact in complex ways that are not currently well understood, but effects on human populations are becoming apparent. … > full story


Has the Dead Sea used up its nine lives? Dead Sea almost dried up over 100,000 years ago (April 10, 2012) — Scientists say that recent drilling into the sediment of the Dead Sea indicates that it has recovered from several periods of dryness and very little rainfall in the ancient past, but warns that there’s still cause for concern. … > full story




Climate scientists and smear campaigns

By Michael Mann, Special to CNN

updated 8:36 AM EDT, Wed March 28, 2012

Editor’s note: Michael E. Mann is a member of the Pennsylvania State University faculty, holding joint positions in the Departments of Meteorology and Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with other scientists who participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

(CNN) — Imagine you are sitting in your office simply doing your job and a nasty e-mail pops into your inbox accusing you of being a fraud. You go online and find that some bloggers have written virulent posts about you. That night, you’re at home with your family watching the news and a talking head is lambasting you by name. Later, a powerful politician demands all your e-mails from your former employer. It sounds surreal. But it all happened to me. What was my offense? I worked on climate change research that indicated the world is a lot warmer today than it was in the past. Because that research caught the public’s attention when it was released in 1998, I became one of dozens of climate researchers who have been systematically targeted by a well-funded anti-science campaign….


NASA scientist: climate change is a moral issue on a par with slavery

Prof Jim Hansen to use lecture at Edinburgh International Science Festival to call for worldwide tax on all carbon emissions

Severin Carrell, Friday 6 April 2012 06.00 EDT

Averting the worst consequences of human-induced climate change is a “great moral issue” on a par with slavery, according to the leading Nasa climate scientist Prof Jim Hansen. He argues that storing up expensive and destructive consequences for society in future is an “injustice of one generation to others”.

Hansen, who will next Tuesday be awarded the prestigious Edinburgh Medal for his contribution to science, will also in his acceptance speech call for a worldwide tax on all carbon emissions.

In his lecture, Hansen will argue that the challenge facing future generations from climate change is so urgent that a flat-rate global tax is needed to force immediate cuts in fossil fuel use. Ahead of receiving the award ….Hansen will argue in his lecture that current generations have an over-riding moral duty to their children and grandchildren to take immediate action. Describing this as an issue of inter-generational justice on a par with ending slavery, Hansen said: “Our parents didn’t know that they were causing a problem for future generations but we can only pretend we don’t know because the science is now crystal clear. “We understand the carbon cycle: the CO2 we put in the air will stay in surface reservoirs and won’t go back into the solid earth for millennia. What the Earth’s history tells us is that there’s a limit on how much we can put in the air without guaranteeing disastrous consequences for future generations. We cannot pretend that we did not know.”


Hansen said his proposal for a global carbon tax was based on the latest analysis of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and their impact on global temperatures and weather patterns. He has co-authored a scientific paper with 17 other experts, including climate scientists, biologists and economists, which calls for an immediate 6% annual cut in CO2 emissions, and a substantial growth in global forest cover, to avoid catastrophic climate change by the end of the century. The paper, which has passed peer review and is in the final stages of publication by the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, argues that a global levy on fossil fuels is the strongest tool for forcing energy firms and consumers to switch quickly to zero carbon and green energy sources. In larger countries, that would include nuclear power. Under this proposal, the carbon levy would increase year on year, with the tax income paid directly back to the public as a dividend, shared equally, rather than put into government coffers. Because the tax would greatly increase the cost of fossil fuel energy, consumers relying on green or low carbon sources of power would benefit the most as this dividend would come on top of cheaper fuel bills. It would promote a dramatic increase in the investment and development of low-carbon energy sources and technologies…..



The Other Arab Spring

by THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN  NY Times Opinion

ISN’T it interesting that the Arab awakening began in Tunisia with a fruit vendor who was harassed by police for not having a permit to sell food — just at the moment when world food prices hit record highs? And that it began in Syria with farmers in the southern village of Dara’a, who were demanding the right to buy and sell land near the border, without having to get permission from corrupt security officials? And that it was spurred on in Yemen — the first country in the world expected to run out of water — by a list of grievances against an incompetent government, among the biggest of which was that top officials were digging water wells in their own backyards at a time when the government was supposed to be preventing such water wildcatting? As Abdelsalam Razzaz, the minister of water in Yemen’s new government, told Reuters last week: “The officials themselves have traditionally been the most aggressive well diggers. Nearly every minister had a well dug in his house.”


All these tensions over land, water and food are telling us something: The Arab awakening was driven not only by political and economic stresses, but, less visibly, by environmental, population and climate stresses as well. If we focus only on the former and not the latter, we will never be able to help stabilize these societies. Take Syria. “Syria’s current social unrest is, in the most direct sense, a reaction to a brutal and out-of-touch regime,” write Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell, in a report for their Center for Climate and Security in Washington. “However, that’s not the whole story. The past few years have seen a number of significant social, economic, environmental and climatic changes in Syria that have eroded the social contract between citizen and government. … If the international community and future policy makers in Syria are to address and resolve the drivers of unrest in the country, these changes will have to be better explored.”


From 2006-11, they note, up to 60 percent of Syria’s land experienced one of the worst droughts and most severe set of crop failures in its history. “According to a special case study from last year’s Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, of the most vulnerable Syrians dependent on agriculture, particularly in the northeast governorate of Hassakeh (but also in the south), ‘nearly 75 percent … suffered total crop failure.’ Herders in the northeast lost around 85 percent of their livestock, affecting 1.3 million people.” The United Nations reported that more than 800,000 Syrians had their livelihoods wiped out by these droughts, and many were forced to move to the cities to find work — adding to the burdens of already incompetent government….. If you ask “what are the real threats to our security today,” said Brown, “at the top of the list would be climate change, population growth, water shortages, rising food prices and the number of failing states in the world. As that list grows, how many failed states before we have a failing global civilization, and everything begins to unravel?”  Hopefully, we won’t go there. But, then, we should all remember that quote attributed to Leon Trotsky: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” Well, you may not be interested in climate change, but climate change is interested in you. Folks, this is not a hoax. We and the Arabs need to figure out — and fast — more ways to partner to mitigate the environmental threats where we can and to build greater resiliency against those where we can’t. Twenty years from now, this could be all that we’re talking about.


Op-Ed Contributor

Why Trees Matter

By JIM ROBBINS Helena, Montana  NY Times Opinion Published: April 11, 2012

TREES are on the front lines of our changing climate. And when the oldest trees in the world suddenly start dying, it’s time to pay attention.  North America’s ancient alpine bristlecone forests are falling victim to a voracious beetle and an Asian fungus. In Texas, a prolonged drought killed more than five million urban shade trees last year and an additional half-billion trees in parks and forests. In the Amazon, two severe droughts have killed billions more.

The common factor has been hotter, drier weather. We have underestimated the importance of trees. They are not merely pleasant sources of shade but a potentially major answer to some of our most pressing environmental problems. We take them for granted, but they are a near miracle. In a bit of natural alchemy called photosynthesis, for example, trees turn one of the seemingly most insubstantial things of all — sunlight — into food for insects, wildlife and people, and use it to create shade, beauty and wood for fuel, furniture and homes.  For all of that, the unbroken forest that once covered much of the continent is now shot through with holes. …A big question is, which trees should we be planting? Ten years ago, I met a shade tree farmer named David Milarch, a co-founder of the Champion Tree Project who has been cloning some of the world’s oldest and largest trees to protect their genetics, from California redwoods to the oaks of Ireland. “These are the supertrees, and they have stood the test of time,” he says.  Science doesn’t know if these genes will be important on a warmer planet, but an old proverb seems apt. “When is the best time to plant a tree?” The answer: “Twenty years ago. The second-best time? Today.”










Photos document oil still contaminates ‘cleaned’ Louisiana marshes
The Times-Picayune
Wetland areas in north Barataria Bay and the Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area at the mouth of the Mississippi River continue to show signs of oil that state officials say is from the BP oil spill, according to photos posted on Flickr by the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. More


Shell deploys vessel to investigate oil sheen in Gulf of Mexico

By Steven Mufson, Published: April 11

A one-by-10-mile oil sheen has appeared in the Gulf of Mexico, and Shell Oil, one of several companies operating in the area, said it has “activated” a vessel with skimming and boom capabilities.


3,000 dolphins found dead on Peruvian beaches
Fox News Latino
So far in 2011, some 3,000 dead dolphins have washed up on the beaches in the northern Peruvian region of Lambayaque, supposedly having died from the effects of petroleum exploitation in the area. According to the science director for the Scientific Organization for Conservation of Aquatic Animals, the deaths of the oceanic mammals was due to a “marine bubble,” an acoustic pocket that forms as a result of using equipment to explore for petroleum below the seabed. More



Insurance Giant Lloyd’s of London Warns Of ‘Unique And Hard-To-Manage Risk’ Of Arctic Ocean Oil Drilling

Posted: 12 Apr 2012 08:57 AM PDT by Kiley Kroh and Michael Conathan

….. Lloyd’s of London, a large UK-based insurance pool, issued a report today outlining the severe environmental and economic risk of oil and gas drilling in Arctic waters. The stunning report comes as Royal Dutch Shell prepares for exploratory drilling operations in the Arctic – even while leading experts warn that there’s virtually no infrastructure in place to clean up an oil spill in the fragile region….



Gulf Coast Residents Say BP Oil Spill Changed Their Environmental Views

April 12, 2012 — Researchers have found that residents of Louisiana and Florida most acutely and directly affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster — the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history — said they … > full story






  1. 4.    POLICY


Western states prepare for dangerous fire season

REMA RAHMAN, Associated Press, 04/12/12

(04-12) 13:09 PDT DENVER (AP) — The West’s 2012 wildfire season exploded in earnest last month with a wind-whipped blaze that killed three people in rugged alpine canyon country near Denver. It took a 700-strong federal firefighting team a week of labor…



Push launched to keep Silicon Valley above water

Associated Press, 04/12/12

(04-12) 13:51 PDT San Francisco (AP) — Business leaders and Sen. Dianne Feinstein are launching a $1 billion fundraising effort designed to prevent some of Silicon Valley’s leading technology companies from going underwater — literally. The corporate campuses of Facebook, Google and other high-tech ventures sit on land that once was part of San Francisco Bay.

Planners say those sites and thousands of homes are at risk of catastrophic flooding due to a climate change-fueled sea level rise. For protection, Feinstein is joining a coalition of business groups on Thursday to discuss replacing the century-old levees that contain the bay’s tidal waters with a stronger levee system. Steve McCormick, president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, says the coalition anticipates that half of the money for the project would come from the federal government and another quarter from the state.



Geo-engineering ‘a risk’ in climate change battle

April 10, 2012  ATTEMPTS to slow down climate change by large-scale geo-engineering present ”serious risks” and are unlikely to replace the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Australia’s chief scientist has warned. In an overview of schemes proposed by scientists, researchers at the Office of the Chief Scientist say the main methods of planetary-scale engineering would confront big problems with technical feasibility, political co-operation and cost. But research should be pursued in the hope of developing last-ditch methods to slow climate change. ”Given the difficulty in implementing global action to reduce CO2 emissions from human activities and their continued growth, geo-engineering is one possible approach to combat global warming,” it said. ”Geo-engineering would not moderate all the effects of rising emissions, and will introduce its own risks and uncertainties. ”Humans already play a role in dictating the Earth’s climate by adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere – raising carbon dioxide levels by about 40 per cent since the Industrial Revolution – and by clearing forests to reduce the amount of carbon the land absorbs. But the deliberate management of global climate is still confined to theory, backed by a few small-scale experiments. The report divides geo-engineering solutions to climate change into two basic types – plans to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and plans to block some of the sun’s heat before it gets here. They include fertilising the oceans with iron filings, to stimulate the growth of algae, which absorbs CO2 and then sinks to the ocean floor, and sowing the atmosphere with sulphates, which deflect some of the sun’s rays away from Earth…. The findings of the Australian report are similar to those of recent studies undertaken by Britain’s Royal Society and the US Task Force on Climate Remediation Research.

Arizona: Rural communities criticize cuts to state water grant program
The Gila River usually gurgles peacefully along Larry Barney’s ranch in eastern Arizona. In 2005 floodwaters breached a 10ft levee and gushed over his fields, stripping away topsoil…

India says EU tax a ‘deal breaker’ for climate talks

New York Daily News – ‎April 12 2012‎

India’s environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan said that the European Union tax scheme, which will charge airlines for carbon emissions, was a deal breaker in climate talks.



Tennessee Enacts ‘Monkey Bill’ To Dumb Down Kids In Biology And Physics, Undermine Their Future

By Joe Romm on Apr 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Two years after state hit by warming-enhanced 1000-year deluge, bill to ‘teach the controversy’ on evolution and global warming becomes law. On Tuesday, Tennessee adopted a law “to prevent school administrators from reining in teachers who expound on alternative hypotheses” to the scientific theories of evolution and climate change.

The National Center for Science Education has said of the primary alternative to evolution — creationism — that “students who accept this material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level.” I suppose this is some form of natural selection, then, as Tennessee encourages the disinforming of its kids in two of the most important areas they will need to thrive in the 21st century — thrive economically in a world of  global competitors who don’t teach anti-science disinformation to their kids and, of course, thrive literally in a world where a livable climate is being destroyed by man-made global warming and a man-made disinformation campaign to delay action. Ironically, the bill was enacted two years after one of the epic extreme weather events in U.S. recorded history devastated one of America’s great cities (see “The Tennessee deluge of 2010: Nashville’s ‘Katrina’ and the dawn of the superflood“).The status quo media barely told the story of Nashville’s Katrina (let alone its link to human-caused climate change), so you may not remember this superstorm unless you are a regular Climate Progress reader. But this one was way off the charts.



Pro-Oil Outside Groups Spend More Than $16 Million On Energy Attack Ads Since January Posted: 12 Apr 2012 06:44 AM PDT

A handful of outside groups, fueled by oil and coal dollars, are committing tens of millions to propel Big Oil to the forefront of the 2012 elections — outspending the Obama campaign on political energy ads by an overwhelming amount. In the first three-and-a-half months of 2012, groups including Americans for Prosperity, American Petroleum Institute, Crossroads GPS, and American Energy Alliance have spent $16,750,000 on energy attack ads. The total amounts to more than $56 million, including the American Clean Coal Coalition’s pledge of $40 million on ads promoting coal. According to a Think Progress analysis, there have been at least $16,750,000 worth in dirty energy ad buys since January…


Chu: Climate change evidence mounting

By Ben Geman – 04/11/12 04:04 PM ET  Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Wednesday that scientific evidence of climate change is getting more and more powerful, comments that come as global warming legislation remains moribund in Congress and Environmental Protection regulations are facing ongoing GOP assaults.


April 12, 2012, 12:00 pm

On Astronauts, NASA, and Climate Concerns


….Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle has weighed in with an excellent post on the letter, noting that none of the complainants are climate scientists; that NASA’s position as an agency reflects the brunt of science pointing to a human-heated planet…..


49 former NASA scientists go ballistic over agency’s bias over climate change

Business Insider  Apr 11, 2012 – 11:56 AM ET | Last Updated: Apr 11, 2012 12:29 PM ET

Some prominent voices at NASA are fed up with the agency’s activist stance toward climate change. 49 former NASA scientists and astronauts sent the following letter asking the agency to move away from climate models and to limit its stance to what can be empirically proven. The letter criticizes the Goddard Institute For Space Studies especially, where director Jim Hansen and climatologist Gavin Schmidt have been outspoken advocates for action.

The press release with attached letter is below….



Gallup: Public Understanding Of Climate Science Continues Rebounding

Posted: 12 Apr 2012 09:32 AM PDT





  1. 5.    RESOURCES



Washington Connected Landscapes Project: Analysis of the Columbia Plateau Ecoregion” by the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group (WHCWG) is available at: <>.

We have posted an executive summary and the main document which includes introductory materials, methods, results, an overview of important areas for connectivity, and future work. We are also beginning to post appendices.   We have 11 focal species appendices: Sharp-tailed Grouse, Greater Sage-Grouse, black-tailed jackrabbit, white-tailed jackrabbit, Townsend’s ground squirrel, Washington ground squirrel, least chipmunk, mule deer, Western rattlesnake, beaver, and tiger salamander. … Modeling results within the appendices include a series of maps: (1) species movement resistance across the Columbia Plateau, (2) habitat, (3) habitat concentration areas and cost-weighted distances from these areas, (4) least-cost path, and cost-weighted distance interpretive maps, and (5) linkage zones. Additional appendices will provide modeling values and interpretive data, GIS data layer background, and focal species selection background. GIS data layers resulting from this project will be posted as well by fall 2012.


The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program Office has been working with the University of Washington and the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Regional Association, the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NA-NOOS), to convene two invitational workshops in 2012, one on integrating ocean acidification (OA) data management for the nation, and one on defining a global network for OA monitoring. Libby Jewett (NOAA OA), Dick Feely (NOAA PMEL), and Jan Newton (UW & NANOOS) are working with others to plan and conduct these two workshops.


The OA data management workshop was held March 13-15, 2012 in Seattle, WA, and hosted representatives from NOAA National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), NOAA Fisheries, Observation and Modeling groups, IOOS, the NSF-funded Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office (BCO-DMO), the NSF-funded Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), NASA, the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) USA, USGS, the DOE Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), OceanSITES, and various investigators involved in observations, experiments, modeling, and satellite research. The goal of the workshop was to establish a framework for the handling of ocean acidification data that makes it possible for users to locate, understand and utilize relevant data in support of scientific research and resource management. Outcomes will include a shared vision for integrated OA data management and an initial OA Integrated Data Management Plan with an emphasis on near-term (2-year) goals. The OA monitoring workshop will be held June 26-28, 2012 in Seattle, WA, and will include representatives from around the world. The principal goals of this international workshop are to: (1) design the components and locations of an international ocean acidification observing network that includes repeat hydrographic surveys, underway measurements on volunteer observing ships, moorings, floats, and gliders, leveraging existing networks and programs wherever possible; (2) identify measurement parameters and performance metrics for each major component of the observing system; and (3) develop a strategy for data quality assurance and distribution. The results of both workshops will be summarized in future editions of this newsletter. In the meantime, for more information, please contact Jan Newton.

Jan Newton (University of Washington), OCB NEWS, Winter 2012. Newsletter.



NASA Releases Mesmerizing Animations Of Ocean Currents

By Stephen Lacey on Apr 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm

With some of the best data on natural systems available, NASA has all the right tools to create stunning pieces of educational art — helping us better visualize how earth and the universe function….Animators at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center recently released a couple animations of ocean surface currents that illustrate how heat patterns and carbon flow through the sea…..






Fish thriving around wind farms (April 10, 2012) — The first Danish study into how one of the worlds largest wind farms affects marine life is now completed. It shows that the wind turbines and the fish live quite happily together. Indeed some species of fish have actually increased in number. … > full story

California: Can a Sustainable Town Be Built From Scratch in the Middle of Nowhere? Travertine Point is a proposed new town that aims to house about 37,000 people, their jobs and the commercial activity to sustain their economy on the northwest shores of the deeply troubled Salton Sea in the Colorado Desert of Southern California. Long-simmering restoration plans are now looking toward development – and even controversial projects like Travertine Point – to help generate some of the likely multi-billion dollar cost of bringing this sea back to life.


Renewable-Energy Investment Plunges in Quarter to Three-Year Low

By Alex Morales on April 12, 2012  Global investment in clean energy dropped to its lowest since the depths of the financial crisis three years ago as the U.S. and European nations cut support for wind and solar projects, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said


Farmers Foil Utilities Using Cell Phones to Access Solar

By Ben Sills, Natalie Obiko Pearson and Stefan Nicola – Apr 11, 2012 4:01 PM PT  From the poorest parts of Africa and Asia to the most- developed regions in the U.S. and Europe, solar units, small-scale wind and biomass generators promise to extend access to power to more people than ever before. In the developing world, they’re slashing costs in the process…








The Greatest Challenge of Our Species

By THOMAS LOVEJOY  April 5, 2012  Op-Ed Contributor  NY TIMES

In a cavernous London conference center so devoid of life as to seem a film set for “The Matrix,” 3,000 scientists, officials and members of civil society organizations met in the last week of March to consider the state of the planet and what to do about it.  The Planet Under Pressure conference is intended to feed directly into the “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development this coming June, 20 years after the Earth Summit in Rio convened the largest number ever of heads of state and produced, among other things, two international conventions, one for climate change and the other for biological diversity.  While it is not as if nothing has been achieved in the interim or that scientific understanding has stood still, it is obvious that new science is not needed to conclude that humanity has failed to act at the scale and with the urgency needed. …


Could ‘advanced’ dinosaurs rule other planets? (April 11, 2012) — New scientific research raises the possibility that advanced versions of T. rex and other dinosaurs — monstrous creatures with the intelligence and cunning of humans — may be the life forms that evolved on other planets in the universe. “We would be better off not meeting them,” concludes the study, which appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. … > full story


Matt Damon’s Anti-Fracking Movie, ‘The Promised Land,’ Is Ahead of the Curve

Posted: 11 Apr 2012 10:37 AM PDT

The word’s just come down that Matt Damon’s new movie The Promised Land, which apparently centers around a salesman and a small town, apparently is also about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing, and it’s already become a football in the war over the natural gas extraction process. A pro-fracking group is already trying to raise money for a movie of their own off the existence of The Promised Land. And while Damon is well-known as a committed environmentalist, the movie seems likely to be taken as a referendum for how John Krasinski and Dave Eggers, who wrote the script, and Gus Van Sant, who will direct, feel about fracking. All of which is a distraction from the real issue—a lot of our most critical environmental issues and most invasive energy-extraction processes would make for stellar movies and action sequences, and we ought to have more of them….


Endangered Bats Find Sanctuary in Israeli ‘Ghost Bunkers’


A Baby Quantum Internet Was Born Today

Discovery News – ‎April 12, 2012

Years from now it may be said that the quantum Internet was born today. When the baby system matures, it will be able to process unfathomable amounts of data and never be hacked.


Deep sequencing reveals potentially toxic, trade-restricted ingredients in some traditional Chinese medicines (April 12, 2012) — Researchers have used new DNA sequencing technology to reveal the animal and plant composition of traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs). Some of the TCM samples tested contained potentially toxic plant ingredients, allergens, and traces of endangered animals. … > full story



















Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates April 20, 2012

Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates

April 20, 2012


Highlights of the Week  – Poll- many link extreme weather to climate change















Enjoy your weekend-








Highlight of the Week….  


In Poll, Many Link Weather Extremes to Climate Change


Gene Blevins/Reuters A tornado in Kansas last week. A new poll suggests the public feels that global warming is real.

By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times Published: April 17, 2012

A poll due for release on Wednesday shows that a large majority of Americans believe that this year’s unusually warm winter, last year’s blistering summer and some other weather disasters were probably made worse by global warming. And by a 2-to-1 margin, the public says the weather has been getting worse, rather than better, in recent years.  The survey, the most detailed to date on the public response to weather extremes, comes atop other polling showing a recent uptick in concern about climate change. Read together, the polls suggest that direct experience of erratic weather may be convincing some people that the problem is no longer just a vague and distant threat.  “Most people in the country are looking at everything that’s happened; it just seems to be one disaster after another after another,” said Anthony A. Leiserowitz of Yale University, one of the researchers who commissioned the new poll. “People are starting to connect the dots.” ….



Poll: Large Majority Of Americans Understand Global Warming Made Several Major Extreme Weather Events Worse Posted: 18 Apr 2012 09:24 AM PDT

A new survey finds that by 2-to-1 Americans accurately understand global warming makes a number of extreme weather events worse. This Yale survey matches a recent Brookings poll that found Americans’ understanding of climate change was increasing with more extreme weather and warmer temperatures. It also matches Yale’s earlier November survey finding. This finding matches the results of September polling by ecoAmerica:




  1. 1.    ECOLOGY

Twice as many emperor penguins as thought in Antarctica, first-ever penguin count from space shows (April 13, 2012) — A new study using satellite mapping technology reveals there are twice as many emperor penguins in Antarctica than previously thought. The results provide an important benchmark for monitoring the impact of environmental change on the population of this iconic bird, which breeds in remote areas that are very difficult to study because they often are inaccessible with temperatures as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit. … > full story


DDT linked to long-term decline of insect-eating birds in North America, through analysis of bird droppings (April 18, 2012) — Analysis of 50 years’ bird droppings inside a large decommissioned chimney on a university campus, provided evidence that DDT and bird diet may have played a role, in a long-term decline for populations of insect-eating birds in North America. … > full story


Evolutionary History of What Mammals Eat: Some Groups of Mammals Have Changed Their Feeding Strategies Over Time

ScienceDaily April 16, 2012 — The feeding habits of mammals haven’t always been what they are today, particularly for omnivores, finds a new study. Some groups of mammals almost exclusively eat meat — take lions and tigers and … > full story


Chernobyl radiation fells female birds, making chirping more frequent from lonely males (April 19, 2012) — Birdsong is one of the joys of nature, but higher percentages of birds chirping near Chernobyl are a perverse indication of radiation contamination, according to a new study. … > full story


Evolution: Vangas beat Darwin’s finches in diversity (April 19, 2012) — The diversity of the Madagascan vangas is unique. The bird family only consists of 22 species, but these cover the whole range of body size of the passerines, the bird group vangas belong to (6,000 species). Whereas smaller species use their comparatively small bill to feed by picking up insects, the largest among the vanga species may even catch amphibians with its very large bill. Thus vangas are much more diverse than Darwin’s finches, known to be a model for rapid evolution. Vangidae are the only known birds which experienced two peaks of rapid diversification, new research suggests. For birds, only one such peak is common.  … > full story


Giant jellyfish (Nemopilema nomurai) interfere with fishing in Japan. Jellyfish are increasing in the majority of the worlds coastal ecosystems, according to the first global study of jellyfish abundance by University of British Columbia researchers. Photograph by: Shin-ichi Uye , Shin-ichi Uye

Jellyfish population on the rise, perhaps due to global warming and pollution

By Gerry Bellett, Postmedia News April 19, 2012

VANCOUVER — Global warming, pollution and human activity in marine habitats are not generally regarded as good things — unless you’re a jellyfish. Then — according to a study of the jellyfish population by University of B.C. researchers — they have an upside. Jellyfish, which give many swimmers the creeps, are increasing in the majority of the world’s coastal ecosystems, UBC researchers have found in what is being billed as the first global study of the abundance of jellyfish. The results of the study are published in this month’s edition of the journal Hydrobiologia…..



Jellyfish on the rise in world’s coastal ecosytems (April 18, 2012) — Jellyfish are increasing in the majority of the world’s coastal ecosystems, according to the first global study of jellyfish abundance. … > full story



Fence Is Behind an Explosion of Life in a Wild Corner of Hawaii

New York Times – ‎Apr 16, 2012‎

KAENA POINT, Hawaii – Before Polynesian settlers arrived here hundreds of years ago in their outrigger canoes, Hawaii had more than 120 species of birds – and no mammals to eat them. Land birds flourished in the absence of land predators, and seabirds flew in from all over the world to nest undisturbed on the ground.  All of that changed with the arrival of humans — and the dogs, cats, rats and mongooses that came with them. Hawaii became the extinction capital of the world; all but a few species of land birds disappeared or diminished to tiny numbers, and many seabirds avoided extinction only by flying to other islands.  But here on this wild, windswept point just 30 miles from Waikiki’s crowded beaches, the first predator-proof fence in the United States, built last year by Xcluder, a New Zealand company, is helping to restore the land to a pristine state and proving a boon for scientists and bird-watchers. The fine-mesh green fence zigzags about four-tenths of a mile, from the south coast to the north on Oahu’s westernmost spit of land. It is fitted with an overhang that lets rats climb out but not in. People enter through a two-door chamber, in which one door won’t open unless the other is closed.

What has resulted is a slow-motion explosion of life. ….




Plastic Garbage in Oceans: Understanding Marine Pollution from Microplastic Particles ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2012) Biologists have prepared guidelines for a more precise investigation into marine pollution from microplastic particles. …   Large quantities of globally produced plastics end up in the oceans where they represent a growing risk. Above all very small objects, so-called microplastic particles, are endangering the lives of the many sea creatures. An estimate of how greatly the oceans are polluted with microplastic particles has so far failed in the absence of globally comparable methods of investigation and data. …

Plastic bottles washed on to the beach are as much a part of the coast as the sound of seagulls. What the eye does not see are the innumerable ultra-small plastic objects which float in the water, are washed on to the beach or settle on the sea bed. Scientists refer to these plastic particles as “microplastic particles,” understanding these to mean plastic objects whose diameter is less than five millimetres — whereby the majority of microplastic particles are smaller than a grain of sand or the tip of a needle. It is this property that also makes them so dangerous to the sea dwellers. “Microplastic particles are swallowed by organisms and absorbed via the digestive tract. It has been possible, for example, to detect them in the tissue of mussels or other animals,” says Dr. Lars Gutow, biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association. Toxic substances also attach to the small particles in the sea which then enter the food chain in this way and may therefore ultimately be dangerous to humans…. Based on these findings the international team of researchers has now for the first time prepared guidelines for the recording and characterisation of microplastic particles and has published these in the Environmental Science & Technology journal in which the scientists also explain the possible origins of the plastic waste. > full story



Scientists discover ‘switch’ in plants to create flowers (April 17, 2012) — Flowering is the most crucial act that plants undergo, as the fruits of such labor include crops on which the world depends, and seeds from which the next generation grows. While classic experiments have demonstrated that plants are able to adjust the timing of their flowering in response to environmental conditions, such as light and temperature, until now very little was known about what exactly triggers plants to make flowers instead of leaves. Now, a team of researchers from Singapore has discovered how this happens. … > full story


Ravens remember relationships they had with others (April 19, 2012) — In daily life we remember faces and voices of several known individuals. Similarly, mammals have been shown to remember calls and faces of known individuals after a number of years. Ravens have now been found to differentiate individuals based on familiarity. Additionally, scientists discovered that ravens can remember the closeness they had with others for three years. … > full story


California: Nonprofit Targets Island Invaders to Restore World’s Rare Species  April 10 2012  Santa Cruz Sentinel
150 miles off the coast of Baja California, jagged Guadalupe Island climbs more than 4,000 feet above the Pacific. ….By 2001, when UC-Santa Cruz conservation biologist Don Croll arrived on the island, it was mostly barren. For Croll, Guadalupe Island was an eye-opening project. It showed the power of eradications as a conservation tool; on one side of the fence there were just goats and dirt, while on the other side a rare island community flourished…Croll traveled to the island as part of a collaborative effort between Island Conservation, the Santa Cruz–based organization he co-founded, and the Mexican government. Initially the team constructed fences to stop goats from grazing around a small number of enduring native pine trees. The results were impressive. “A year later there were hundreds of seedlings. We even found species that were thought to be extinct,” says Croll. “We realized that if the goats were removed from the island, the native plant community would explode. We had to make [the eradication] happen.”

And they did. By 2007 the island was goat-free, most of them having been rounded up, shipped to the mainland and sold in butcher shops.

Until Guadalupe Island, Island Conservation had focused on seabird and native vertebrate recovery, not on plants, explains Croll. “With animals, we often wait three to five years before seeing a response to an invasive species removal. But on Guadalupe Island, plants sprang up the next year—it rained and the island came back to life.”

For Croll, Guadalupe Island was an eye-opening project. It showed the power of eradications as a conservation tool; on one side of the fence there were just goats and dirt, while on the other side a rare island community flourished…..


Egg-laying beginning of the end for dinosaurs (April 17, 2012) — Their reproductive strategy spelled the beginning of the end: The fact that dinosaurs laid eggs put them at a considerable disadvantage compared to viviparous mammals. Researchers believe they now know why and how this ultimately led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. … > full story


Understanding of hearing in baleen whales amplified (April 17, 2012) — For decades, scientists have known that dolphins and other toothed whales have specialized fats associated with their jaws, which efficiently convey sound waves from the ocean to their ears. But until now, the hearing systems of their toothless grazing cousins, baleen whales, remained a mystery, largely because specimens to study are hard to get. Now, a new study has shown that some baleen whales also have fats leading to their ears. … > full story


River otters rebounding with hospitable habitat

Carolyn Jones, San Francisco Chronicle, 04/15/12

It’s wild times in the watershed. The most happy-go-lucky denizen of Bay Area creeks is back, after a hiatus of at least three decades: the river otter. “They look like they’re having a wonderful time out there. It’s really exciting to see,” said Steve…


BrightSource officials begin relocation of tortoises Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/17/12
Biologists for a solar project near the Nevada state line this week began relocating desert tortoises displaced by construction and said every possible precaution is being taken to ensure the animals successfully reestablish themselves nearby …. The 52 biologists working for BrightSource are relocating more than 150 tortoises, following strict guidelines established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Desert Tortoise Recovery Office.

Nesting hawks delay power line work  Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/15/12
At least five pairs of red-tailed hawks are nesting in the path of a transmission line upgrade needed to connect a solar energy development in northeast San Bernardino County to the power grid, federal officials said. The presence of the hawks could delay some of the work for months, but a spokesman for BrightSource Energy Co. said the company still plans to begin delivering electricity early next year from the 5.6-square-mile solar plant in the Ivanpah Valley, near Primm, Nev….

Aspirin: New evidence is helping explain additional health benefits and open potential for new uses (April 19, 2012) — Researchers have discovered that salicylate, the active ingredient in aspirin, directly increases the activity of the protein AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase), a key player in regulating cell growth and metabolism. Salicylate, which is derived from willow bark, and is the active ingredient in aspirin, is believed to be one of the oldest drugs in the world with first reports of its use dating back to an Egyptian papyrus in 1543 BC. … > full story











Greenland May Be Slip-Sliding Away Due to Surface Lake Melting

ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2012) — Like snow sliding off a roof on a sunny day, the Greenland Ice Sheet may be sliding faster into the ocean due to massive releases of meltwater from surface lakes, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder-based Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Such lake drainages may affect sea-level rise, with implications for coastal communities, according to the researchers. “This is the first evidence that Greenland’s ‘supraglacial’ lakes have responded to recent increases in surface meltwater production by draining more frequently, as opposed to growing in size,” says CIRES research associate William Colgan, who co-led the new study with CU-Boulder computer science doctoral student Yu-Li Liang. During summer, meltwater pools into lakes on the ice sheet’s surface. When the water pressure gets high enough, the ice fractures beneath the lake, forming a vertical drainpipe, and “a huge burst of water quickly pulses through to the bed of the ice sheet,” Colgan said. The study is being published online April 16 by the journal Remote Sensing of the Environment….



The glaciers are still shrinking – and rapidly

A couple of glaciers shrinking more slowly than expected does not change the irrefutable fact that most are melting rapidly By Jonathan Bamber, Sunday 15 April 2012

Glaciers are one of the natural environments most often used to illustrate the impacts of climate change. It is fairly indisputable that in a warming world, glaciers melt faster. Yet two recent studies published in top scientific journals (more here and here) suggest that in the Himalayas the rate of mass loss has been small and overestimated, and that further west, in the Karakoram range, the glaciers are actually slightly gaining mass. Is there a conflict between these studies and the wider body of research indicating that, worldwide, glaciers have been receding for several decades?….There are more than 160,000 glaciers on the planet, less than 120 of which have continuous, long-term measurements taken. These ground-based measurements have been supplemented by data from airborne and satellite sensors. The combined records indicate that most, but not all, glacier systems have been losing mass for at least the last four decades, and that the rate of loss has been accelerating since the 1990s for key regions including Patagonia, the Canadian Arctic, Alaska and, most important of all for sea-level rise, from the great ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland. These two ice giants contain 99.5% of all land ice on Earth, and store enough ice to raise global sea level by around 64 metres. The evidence that mass loss in Greenland and west Antarctica has been accelerating since the early 1990s is irrefutable….….Most glaciologists believe we are witnessing unprecedented changes to land and sea ice. The burning question is not if, but how fast, land and sea ice will disappear, and what we can do to mitigate and adapt to these changes.


Poor spring rain projected in Africa (April 12, 2012) — Spring rains in the eastern Horn of Africa are projected to begin late this year and be substantially lower than normal. From March to May, the rains are expected to total only 60 to 85 percentage of the average rainfall in this region. This is a significant deterioration compared to earlier forecasts. … > full story


U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Headed Up Again

By JOHN M. BRODER April 16, 2012, 2:55 pm

After dropping for two years during the recession, emissions of the gases blamed for global warming rose in 2010 as the economy heated up, the Environmental Protection Agency reports. Output of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gasses were up 3.2 percent from 2009 as the nation climbed slowly out of the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the E.P.A. said. “The increase from 2009 to 2010 was primarily due to an increase in economic output resulting in an increase in energy consumption across all sectors, and much warmer summer conditions resulting in an increase in electricity demand for air conditioning that was generated primarily by combusting coal and natural gas,” the agency reported in its annual inventory of greenhouse gases. The report, produced for domestic policymakers and for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, covers emissions of the six main greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. It said that emissions of those gases dropped by about 8 percent from 2007 to 2009 after 15 years of fairly steady increases. Total United States emission rose 10.5 percent from 1990 to 2010…..



Climate change ‘impacts Europe’s mountain plants’

Mother Nature Network – ‎April 20, 2012

The acceleration of climate change is stressing mountain plants in Europe and driving them to migrate to higher altitudes. By Agence France-PresseFri, Apr 20 2012 at 1:10 AM EST PLANTS: An increasing number of plant species was found only on mountains



Dangerous tornado outbreak expected Saturday; Gulf of Mexico SSTs warmest on record Dr. Jeff Masters Friday, April 13, 2012

This is the warmest March value on record for the Gulf of Mexico, going back over a century of record keeping. During the first two weeks of April, Gulf of Mexico waters remained about 1.5°C above average, putting April on pace to have the warmest April water temperatures on record… All that record-warm water is capable of putting record amounts of water vapor into the air, since evaporation increases when water is warmer. Because moist air is less dense than dry air, this warm, moist air flowing northwards from the Gulf of Mexico into the developing storm system over the Plains will be highly unstable once it encounters cold, dry air aloft. The record-warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a key reason for the high risk of severe weather over the Plains this weekend….


Weekend tornado outbreak: 1 EF-4, 2 EF-3s, 6 dead, damage near $300 million

Dr. Jeff Masters Friday, April 16, 2012 Damage surveys continue in the Plains in the wake of Saturday’s major tornado outbreak. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center logged 110 preliminary tornado reports, with an additional 10 reports from Sunday. At least one tornado was a violent EF-4, which hit mostly unpopulated areas in Ellsworth County, Kansas. The only fatalities from the outbreak occurred in Woodward, Oklahoma, where an EF-3 tornado hit at night after lightning knocked out the town’s tornado sirens. Six…




NOAA: Global temperatures in March make coolest March since 1999 even with U.S.’ record breaking warmthMonth ranks 16th warmest March for globe; La Niña expected to dissipate by end of April  According to NOAA scientists, the average global temperature for March 2012 makes it the coolest March since 1999, yet the 16th warmest since record keeping began in 1880. Arctic sea ice extent during the month was below average but was the largest extent since 2008 and one of the largest March extents of the past decade. Additionally, La Niña conditions continued to weaken during March as temperatures across the equatorial Pacific Ocean warmed during the last two months. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, La Niña is expected to dissipate by the end of April 2012.This monthly analysis from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.


State of Himalayan glaciers less alarming than feared (April 19, 2012) — Several hundreds of millions of people in Southeast Asia depend, to varying degrees, on the freshwater reservoirs of the Himalayan glaciers. Consequently, it is important to detect the potential impact of climate changes on the Himalayan glaciers at an early stage. Glaciologists now reveal that the glaciers in the Himalayas are declining less rapidly than was previously thought. However, the scientists see major hazard potential from outbursts of glacial lakes. … > full story



Dalai Lama discusses climate change at UCSD

By John Langeler Fox 5 San Diego Reporter April 18, 2012

LA JOLLA, Calif. — Opening his visit to San Diego with good humor and peace, His Holiness the Dalai Lama began two days of discussion at University of California San Diego Wednesday. … The 14th Dalai Lama, named Tenzin Gyatso, needed few notes for a subject he is passionate about; the merging of scientific research into global warming with spiritual practice.  He was joined on stage by two world renowned Scripps Institute of Oceanography researchers to discuss global warming and the need for environmental change….



Republican Meterologist: Climate Change Has Nothing To Do With Al Gore

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 08:30 AM PDT by Paul Douglas, via Bloomberg Businessweek

I’m a moderate Republican — a fan of small government, light regulation and market solutions. A serial entrepreneur, I founded companies that invented 3-D television weather graphics and the first app on a cell phone. I’m a Penn State meteorologist. My day-job since 1979: tracking weather for TV news.







2 years later: What’s latest on Gulf oil spill?

Associated Press, 04/19/12

(04-19) 14:52 PDT New Orleans (AP) — Two years have passed since the April 20, 2010, blowout of BP’s Macondo well triggered an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and spawning the nation’s worst…


Higher concentrations of heavy metals found in post-oil spill oysters from Gulf of Mexico, experts say (April 19, 2012) — Scientists have detected evidence that pollutants from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have entered the ecosystem’s food chain. Preliminary results demonstrate that oysters collected post-spill contain higher concentrations of heavy metals in their shells, gills, and muscle tissue than those collected before the spill. … > full story



Panel Faults Congress for Inaction on Drilling

By JOHN M. BRODER NY Times Published: April 17, 2012

WASHINGTON — Members of the presidential panel that investigated the 2010 BP oil rig explosion and spill sharply criticized Congress on Tuesday for refusing to act on any of its recommendations and gave the Obama administration and the oil industry mixed marks.  Their report said that federal regulators and major oil companies had generally improved the safety and oversight of drilling operations since the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst in the nation’s history. But the group said that Congress, hostile to new regulation and mired in partisan gridlock, had utterly failed.  “Across the board we are disappointed with Congress’s lack of action,” said Bob Graham, a co-chairman of the panel and a former Democratic governor and senator from Florida. “Two years have passed since the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers, and Congress has yet to enact one piece of legislation to make drilling safer….


More on the Link Between Earthquakes and Fracking

By HENRY FOUNTAIN April 15, 2012, 12:00 pm

Scientists from the United States Geological Survey have cautiously weighed in on a subject that has sparked public concern in some parts of the country: spates of small earthquakes in oil- and gas-producing areas. In a report to be presented next week at a meeting of seismologists in San Diego, the scientists say that increases in the number of quakes in Arkansas and Oklahoma in the last few years are “almost certainly” related to oil and gas production. But in a summary of the report, they say they do not know if seismic activity is increasing because companies are taking more oil and gas from underground or because of “changes in extraction methodologies.”….


Texas spends Gulf oil spill cash on conservation
The Associated Press via ABC
Texas is the first state to confirm a deal to spend settlement money from the Gulf oil spill for long-term coastal conservation, working with a private nonprofit to cut through red tape and buy 80 acres of prime habitat for endangered whooping cranes. The arrangement allowed the state agency to bypass cumbersome red tape that often slows down government business and to quickly acquire land that likely would have been sold and subdivided for residential use. More

Sponging up oil spills: Nanosponges soak up oil again and again (April 16, 2012) — Researchers have discovered that adding a dash of boron to carbon while creating nanotubes turns them into solid, spongy, reusable blocks that have an astounding ability to absorb oil spilled in water. … > full story



Grandparents Oppose Tar Sands
James Hansen 17 April 2012

Alberta tar sands are estimated to be 240 GtC (gigatons of carbon); see Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) Working Group 3 report.  That is about seven times greater than the cumulative historical CO2 emissions from oil use by the U.S. (36 GtC).  U.S. oil use was 28% of global oil use for the cumulative amounts over the past 200 years.  So Alberta tar sands contain about twice the total amount of carbon emitted by global oil use in history. ….  Moreover, these numbers do not include the emissions from conventional fossil fuels used to mine and process the tar sands into useable fuel.  Nor do they include the other greenhouse gas emissions produced by the mining and processing. The global stampede to find every possible fossil fuel is not being opposed by governments, no matter how dirty the fuels nor how senseless the energy strategy is from long-term economic and moral perspectives.  Instead governments are forcing the public to subsidize the polluters, as discussed in The Case for Young People and Nature. Fortunately, people are beginning to recognize the situation.  Today the Norwegian Grandparent’s Climate Campaign, supported by 27 other organizations, delivered a demand to Statoil (Norwegian government being 2/3 owner of Statoil), the principal tar sands funder, to withdraw support for tar sands development. ….



International Bird Rescue celebrates 40 years

San Jose Mercury News – ‎April 19, 2012

Holcomb’s wish, of course, is in jest but it illustrates the dichotomy his organization, International Bird Rescue, has worked under for the last 40 years as it flies into action, at least twice a year, to save birds caught up in oil spills.



Fracking data flows from Kern oil fields Bakersfield Californian, 4/16/12
As fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, becomes more common in California and especially Kern County, state lawmakers, regulators and environmentalists are pushing for greater transparency regarding the practice. Already some oil producers are responding by voluntarily posting information about their fracking operations to an online national database,…..





  1. 4.    POLICY


Keystone pipeline “rodeo” rides again in U.S. House

Handout photograph shows the Keystone Oil Pipeline is pictured under construction in North Dakota (Handout . Reuters, Reuters / January 18, 2012)

Roberta Rampton Reuters  11:52 a.m. CDT, April 18, 2012

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Keystone XL project for the fourth time in two years on Wednesday, but the Nebraska Republican who has championed the oil pipeline from Canada knows it well may not be the last. The pipeline, put on hold by President Barack Obama earlier this year, has taken on an outsized political profile heading into the November elections as Republicans use it to attack Obama’s economic and energy policies…



Conservation Compliance: A Key Component of the Farm Bill

As the next Farm Bill is developed, a core issue will be inclusion of conservation compliance language, according to the Wildlife Management institute. First established in the 1980’s, conservation compliance is the application of a set of minimum conservation practices that farmers must implement on sensitive lands in order to participate in some federal farm subsidy programs. Read More >>



EPA Introduces Historic New Standards To Limit Industrial Carbon Pollution

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 12:44 PM PDT

By Jorge Madrid and Celine Ramstein

For the first time in history, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to limit the carbon dioxide pollution from new power plants.  This will slow the growth of the major pollutant responsible for global climate change, which threatens the health and safety of Americans.  This new standard will have far-reaching public health impacts and finally put a limit on emissions from the single largest carbon pollution source in America: burning coal for electricity. The Carbon Pollution Standard directs new power plants that begin construction after the rule is finalized should “meet an output‐based standard of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt‐hour.”  The typical new coal fired power plant would have to reduce their carbon pollution by 40 to 60 percent.  Natural gas power plants should be able to comply with this standard without additional controls.The proposal was published in the Federal Register today. Now an official comment period begins for the next 60 days in which the public is invited to submit comments to the EPA on this proposed rule.   EPA will probably conduct several public meetings in various major cities, too.



New EPA Rules Cut Air Pollution From Oil And Gas Drilling

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 12:30 PM PDT by Tom Kenworthy

The Environmental Protection Agency today took an important step toward reducing the harmful health effects of air pollution from oil and gas drilling operations. The agency issued new rules that will require companies to capture emissions of toxic chemicals, compounds that contribute to smog, and methane, a potent global warming gas. In a significant concession to the oil and gas industry, which has lobbied furiously to water down the requirements, the agency extended the time for full implementation to nearly three years, setting a limit of January 2015. By that final 2015 deadline, companies must have equipment in place to capture emissions through so-called “green completions.” Prior to the deadline companies will be able to flare or burn escaping gas and chemicals….


2 species of Alaska ice seals face endangered listing
The Bristol Bay Times
As many as six species of ice seals could be joining the endangered species list this summer, following final review and decisions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Of the four species of ringed seals and two distinct population segments of bearded seals, only two of them appear in U.S. or Alaskan waters. Those two are the Arctic ringed seal and the Beringia DPS bearded seal. More



Feds omit greenhouse gas from policy on polar bears
The Associated Press via the Anchorage Daily News

Polar bear management policy proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to omit regulation of greenhouse gases blamed for the climate warming that’s reducing the animals’ summer sea ice habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it is proposing a special rule clarifying how the agency will manage polar bears under the Endangered Species Act. The proposed rule, the agency said, will replace a similar special rule issued in 2008, but as before, will not change regulations regarding greenhouse gas emissions. More


Wyoming predicts hunters would kill 52 wolves in initial season
The Associated Press via The Ranger
Wildlife managers estimate hunting and other causes of death should reduce Wyoming’s wolf population outside Yellowstone National Park to roughly 170 wolves by next December. The estimate from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department assumes the predator is removed from Endangered Species Act protection in the state next fall as planned. Wildlife managers say there are currently about 270 wolves in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone. More


How to curb discharge of the most potent greenhouse gas: 50-percent reduction in meat consumption and emissions (April 13, 2012) — A new study found that meat consumption in the developed world would need to be cut by 50 percent per person by 2050, and emissions in all sectors — industrial and agricultural — would need to be reduced by 50 percent if we are to meet the most aggressive strategy set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to reduce the most potent of greenhouse gases, nitrous oxide (N2O). … > full story

A Vote For Hunting And Fishing Should Be A Vote For Conservation

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 08:41 AM PDT by Christy Goldfuss

…. you don’t have to look far to explain why H.R. 4089, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act, introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), is at the top of the to-do list…..Rep. Miller says the bill would open up hunting opportunities. In fact, it would open up protected lands to commercial activities such as road building and off road vehicle use — lands that are open to hunting, but not mechanized activities.  A Congressional Research Services report found that H.R. 4089 would essentially gut the Wilderness Act, which has protected more than 100 million acres in the U.S., much of it prime hunting and fishing lands. That is why some sportsmen actually oppose this package of bills designed to court their political support. The Nevada state coordinator of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers recently said, “sportsmen and women who enjoy the challenge and opportunity of backcountry hunting will lose those experiences if this bill becomes law.” The balance between environmental protection and hunters rights can be tenuous, sometimes creating unexpected political alliances. For example, you can find many sportsmen willing to talk about climate change, when most Republican candidates avoid it. The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 is supported by the National Rifle Association and many off road vehicle groups.  It is even rumored that the NRA will track member’s votes on this bill so they can use it as a political messaging opportunity this election season.  This seemingly puts any member of Congress who supports conservation in a difficult spot. However, some numbers from the State of the Rockies Project poll, show that conservation is extremely important to the hunting and fishing community. In Montana and New Mexico, approximately 70% of sportsmen identify as conservationists…



The new Cold War? As climate change melts polar ice cap, militaries vie for Arctic advantage By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, April 16, 1:44 AM

YOKOSUKA, Japan — To the world’s military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea lanes and a slew of potential conflicts…. None of this means a shooting war is likely at the North Pole any time soon. But as the number of workers and ships increases in the High North to exploit oil and gas reserves, so will the need for policing, border patrols and — if push comes to shove — military muscle to enforce rival claims.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its untapped natural gas is in the Arctic. Shipping lanes could be regularly open across the Arctic by 2030 as rising temperatures continue to melt the sea ice, according to a National Research Council analysis commissioned by the U.S. Navy last year. What countries should do about climate change remains a heated political debate. But that has not stopped north-looking militaries from moving ahead with strategies that assume current trends will continue….



NASA’s James Hansen Reviews Draft American Meteorological Society Climate Statement: Stronger But Still Inadequate

Posted: 19 Apr 2012 07:42 AM PDT by James Hansen

Many television meteorologists question manmade climate change, including ones certified by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The society’s statement on climate change is now more than five years old, overdue for a revision. A few months ago, members of Forecast the Facts called on the AMS to pass a strong, science-based information statement on climate change. After months of delay, the AMS has finally completed a draft statement. The draft is only viewable by AMS members. Climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has read the statement and offers his opinion …..

As a climate scientist, I know that there’s a huge gap between what scientists understand about climate change and what the public knows. And when TV meteorologists get the science wrong, it just furthers public confusion.The American Meteorological Society has an important role to play in clearing up the confusion by giving clear guidance to their members. I’m pleased to say that their new climate change statement is largely in line with current science, but there is an important caveat, as I will explain. Here’s what I saw when I read the statement… Overall, I’m pleased that the AMS is headed toward a strong, science-based statement, which will go a long way toward educating broadcast meteorologists who cover this important topic. I’ll be sending a note to the AMS thanking them for their progress so far, and encouraging them to continue improving upon this draft before the statement is finalized. Can you please join me by doing the same? Click here to send a note to the AMS.

Factually yours,
Dr. James Hansen
Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

P.S. If you’re interested in becoming a member of the AMS, you may do so here. Members are allowed to log in and read draft statements, including the the latest statement on climate change


SoCal’s New Sustainability Strategy Is An Impressive Step Forward

Posted: 14 Apr 2012 07:31 AM PDT by Kaid Benfield, via NRDC’s Switchboard

…  Southern California is a region much better known for environmental problems than solutions, which is precisely why its new, 25-year Sustainable Communities Strategy, adopted unanimously last week by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), is so significant. SCAG is the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization, representing six counties:  Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura and Imperial.  Its planning area covers an astounding 38,000 square miles, including 191 cities and more than 18 million residents.  ….While the environmental facts are daunting, the good news is that the region is doing something about it. …The new plan is impressive, relying on increased investment in public transit and more walkable, transit-accessible land use patterns to reduce pollution while conserving farmland and natural areas…. These are some of its highlights:

  • The new strategy will invest $246 billion in public transportation
  • It will fund 12 major transit expansion projects in Los Angeles over the next 10 years, under LA Mayor Villaraigosa’s 30-10 plan
  • It will increase funding for bicycling and walking over threefold, from $1.8 to $6.7 billion
  • It is projected to reduce traffic congestion 24 percent per capita despite the addition of four million residents
  • It will place 60 percent more housing in transit-accessible locations
  • It will create 4.2 million jobs in the region, and place 87 percent of all jobs within a half mile of transit service
  • It is projected to reduce pollution-caused respiratory problems by 24 percent, resulting in $1.5 billion per year in health care savings
  • It will save over 400 square miles of farmland and other open space from development

For all the details, go here….




Green groups sue to stop California wind project that threatens condor Forbes, 4/13/12 Three national environmental groups today sued the BLM over its approval of the North Sky River project “a planned NextEra Energy Resources wind farm in the Tehachapi region of California that state and federal wildlife officials had warned threatens the critically endangered California condor….


California Solar Energy: Bill Would Provide Renewable Rooftops To Poor Communities  Posted: 04/17/2012 California Watch. By Bernice Yeung

San Diego is home to more than 2,600 solar residential rooftops – more than any other California city – but in the neighboring lower-income community of National City, there are only about a dozen.

A bill [PDF] before the California Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce this month seeks to equalize renewable energy installation in the state by promoting small-scale solar rooftops in the disadvantaged communities. The bill targets neighborhoods with high unemployment rates and those that “bear a disproportionate burden from air pollution, disease, and other impacts from the generation of electricity from the burning of fossil fuels,” the bill said. Bill author Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Mountain View, said the legislation would create jobs and build “cleaner, safer, and healthier neighborhoods.” “Unfortunately, California’s most vulnerable communities – those that have suffered first and worst from pollution – have not benefited much from existing renewable energy policy,” Fong said in a statement provided to California Watch. The legislation would require the state to install enough systems to produce 375 megawatts of renewable energy – or about 1,000 small-scale projects – in disadvantaged communities between 2014 and the end of 2020. Utility companies are required by a 2011 state law to achieve a 33 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2020. The renewable energy systems supported by Fong’s bill would take the form of rooftop solar installations on apartment complexes and commercial buildings, and each project would be limited to producing 500 kilowatts of power, a project the size of a typical Costco rooftop….

Advocates say passage of the bill could improve both the health and economy of these low-income communities.



Mexican senate clears way for climate bill

Reuters – ‎ April 20, 2012‎

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s Senate on Thursday passed a climate change bill aimed at encouraging a voluntary carbon emissions trading market, clearing the way for President Felipe Calderon to sign it, as expected, into law.


Corn Growers: Climate Change Is ‘A Grave Threat To Rural Livelihoods And Quality Of Life’

By Stephen Lacey on Apr 20, 2012 at 9:15 am

Corn farmers concerned about the impact of climate change are speaking out, calling the problem “a grave threat” to the nation’s agricultural sector. Responding to the increase in severe weather — and the prospects for a “quantum jump” in such devastating events — a group of corn farmers is renewing calls for policies to help cut global warming pollution. The American Corn Growers Association is highlighting statements made by its former president, saying that farmers are “at the front lines of global warming”….




Obama and Romney on energy, environmental issues

Associated Press, 04/17/12

(04-17) 11:58 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) — A look at where President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stand on energy and environmental issues: OBAMA: Ordered temporary moratorium on deep-water drilling after the massive BP oil…


  • Ordered temporary moratorium on deep-water drilling after the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico but has pushed for more oil and gas drilling overall. Approved drilling plan in Arctic Ocean opposed by environmentalists. Now proposes that Congress give oil market regulators more power to control price manipulation by speculators and stiffer fines for doing so.
  • Achieved historic increases in fuel economy standards for automobiles that will save money at the pump while raising the cost of new vehicles. Achieved first-ever regulations on heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming and on toxic mercury pollution from power plants. Spent heavily on green energy and has embraced nuclear power as a clean source.
  • Failed to persuade a Democratic Congress to pass limits he promised on carbon emissions. Shelved plan to toughen health standards on lung-damaging smog. Rejected Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada because of environmental concerns but supports fast-track approval of a segment of it. Proposes ending subsidies to oil industry but has failed to persuade Congress to do so.


  • Supports opening the Atlantic and Pacific outer continental shelves to drilling, as well as Western lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore Alaska; and supports exploitation of shale oil deposits. Wants to reduce obstacles to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy development, and accelerate drilling permits in areas where exploration has already been approved for developers with good safety records.
  • Says green power has yet to become viable and the causes of climate change are unknown. Proposes to remove carbon dioxide from list of pollutants controlled by Clean Air Act and amend clean water and air laws to ensure the cost of complying with regulations is balanced against environmental benefit. Says cap and trade would “rocket energy prices.”
  • Blames high gas prices on Obama’s decisions to limit oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas and on overzealous regulation.






  1. 5.    RESOURCES





NEW REPORT: Restore-Adapt-Mitigate: Responding to Climate Change through Coastal Habitat Restoration WASHINGTON–A landmark study released today by Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) for the first time links ecologically important coastal habitat restoration with adaptation and mitigation strategies as a way to reduce the impacts of ongoing global climate change.  The report, “Restore-Adapt-Mitigate: Responding to Climate Change through Coastal Habitat Restoration, demonstrates that large-scale coastal wetland restoration-everything from restoring salt marshes, to protecting mangroves, and creating new coastal wetland habitats-can be an integral part of public and private initiatives to combat climate change.  To download the full report, go to:




Restoration Ecology
This new text by Sigurdur Greipsson, provides a current, comprehensive look at this developing area of study that is ideal for the upper-level undergraduate or graduate level course. Divided into five natural parts, Restoration Ecology opens with a look at ecological perspectives of restoration, including nutrient cycling and factors that regulate ecosystem function.



Invasive plant presentation
Dan Glusenkamp, director of Calflora, will discuss California's first invasive plant early detection and rapid response network at noon (PST) Monday, April 23, 2012. This is one in a series of Bio Brown Bag talks organized by the Region 8 Fish and Wildlife Service Inventory and Monitoring Program. To call in, dial 866-819-2740; code 5368436. For web, visit the required fields, indicate that you have read the Privacy Policy and click on "Proceed." The meeting number is 278442982, the meeting passcode is 07212007 and the meeting host is Giselle Block.


ClimaScope is currently at (it will move sometime this summer). CLIMASCOPE allows you to view and download 21st climate projections of temperature (max, min avg), precipitation, cloud cover, vapour pressure, wet day frequency, sea surface temperature for the new RCP scenarios and SRES scenarios. Featured maps allow you to see the results for a given emissions scenario for all 18 GCMs with clicks of a mouse. Or, for a given GCM you can compare all the emission scenarios. There are also maps showing the world at global temperature rises of 2, 3 and 4C above 1961-1990 normalised across the GCMs. The projections are on a 0.5×0.5 grid and are the outputs of the MAGICC and ClimGEN models coupled together in the CIAS integrated modeling system.From there you can also access (under How to Use and About) a user’s manual, some basic videos on how to use the software, and a link to a Google Groups that has been designed to help share teaching plans, lessons and PowerPoints (none there now, I will be adding some over the next few months but hopefully others will add some as well). With registration, monthly climate change data can be downloaded. ClimaScope was designed as a graphical platform for displaying the results from the Tyndall Centre’s integrated model CIAS (and thus from the climate model Magicc and the downscaler Climgen).



TAKE THIS: Survey on the Concept of ‘Novel Ecosystems’
Got five minutes? Help SER member Matthijs Boeschoten from Utrecht University in the Netherlands with his PhD by completing this anonymous survey designed to assess the familiarity of the concept of ‘Novel Ecosystems’ among scientists and practitioners in the field of ecological restoration.



– A Science Communication Workshop –

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

9:00 am – 3:00 pm 1515 Clay Street, Oakland Ca

This one day workshop will improve your ability to communicate science and resource management messages to a variety of audiences.  Workshop leader Eric Eckl will reconnect you with the perspective that everyday citizens have on climate change and environmental protection, and will share the secret of what motivates them to take action. As you re-learn the language that a majority of people use, you’ll become more confident and successful in your efforts to educate folks about your work managing and protecting vital landscapes and habitat.

To register contact Caroline Warner – Space is limited.  Cost:  $60 (lunch provided)

Click here for more information about the Water Words that Work program.


US: USDA Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program- Closes April 23, 2012
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications from private landowners and tribes for another round of funding for easement and restoration programs offered by the federal agency. Applications for the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) will now run through April 23, 2012.

FishAmerica Foundation Community Habitat Restoration Grants-Due April 30, 2012 FishAmerica, in partnership with the NOAA Restoration Center, awards grants to local communities and government agencies to restore habitat for marine and anadromous fish species. Successful proposals have community-based restoration efforts with outreach to the local communities. 2012 FAF-NOAA Proposals Deadline: April 30, 2012

California: Ecosystem Restoration on Agricultural Lands (ERAL)
 Grant funding applications are accepted on a year-round basis. The WCB meets four times each year, normally in February, May, August, and November to consider approval of funding for projects.


Earth Island Institute: Supporting community-based wetland restoration initiatives
Through the Small Grants Program, Earth Island Institute has been able to support locally based restoration efforts to do just that. Small grassroots efforts to restore the coastal habitats of Southern California, which have been depleted by an astounding 98%, have been slowly working to bring our wetlands back from the brink of extinction. By supporting and empowering the new restoration leaders, we ensure our collective success in restoring some of the earth’s most fragile ecosystems.


California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB)

WCB continues to provide funding for wetland, riparian, oak woodland, and other fish and wildlife habitat improvement projects and land acquisition (easement and fee title) from Propositions 40, 50, and 117.  The WCB’s Riparian, Inland Wetlands, and Oak Woodland programs continue, and are continuously open for proposal submission.

Coastal Program in San Francisco Bay  The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates a partnership program in the Bay, Delta and the estuary’s local watersheds. About $220,000 is available each year to obligate to projects that restore fish and wildlife habitat, provide essential information to decision makers advising them on habitat restoration, or performs habitat-related advocacy and outreach. The emphasis is on estuarine benefits and for “on-the-ground” projects. About 260 wide-ranging projects involving all kinds of partners have been supported since 1992. CFDA Number 15.630. Contact John Klochak, Coastal Program Manager, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, 9500 Thornton Ave. Newark, CA 94560. Phone: 510-792-0717 ext 223, FAX: 510-792-5828 Email:










Nature’s Billion-Year-Old Battery Key to Storing Energy

ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2012) — New research at Concordia University is bringing us one step closer to clean energy. It is possible to extend the length of time a battery-like enzyme can store energy from seconds to hours, a study published in the Journal of The American Chemical Society shows.

Concordia Associate Professor László Kálmán — along with his colleagues in the Department of Physics, graduate students Sasmit Deshmukh and Kai Tang — has been working with an enzyme found in bacteria that is crucial for capturing solar energy. Light induces a charge separation in the enzyme, causing one end to become negatively charged and the other positively charged, much like in a battery. In nature, the energy created is used immediately, but Kálmán says that to store that electrical potential, he and his colleagues had to find a way to keep the enzyme in a charge-separated state for a longer period of time. “We had to create a situation where the charges don’t want to or are not allowed to go back, and that’s what we did in this study,” says Kálmán….

Kálmán and his colleagues showed that by adding different molecules, they were able to alter the shape of the enzyme and, thus, extend the lifespan of its electrical potential….



Secret Ingredient To Making Solar Energy Work: Salt Forbes, 4/5/12 “The solar thermal power plant business is all about big: Square miles of mirrors in the desert that surround 600-foot-tall towers to generate massive megawatts of electricity for multibillion-dollar price tags. Big Solar’s ability to compete against fossil fuels, though, could come down to grains of salt.” Scientists at a startup company “are sifting through thousands of mixtures of molten salt. They’re searching for the right combinations that will allow solar thermal energy to be stored cheaply and efficiently so it can be dispatched to generate electricity after the sun sets. In other words, the 24/7 solar power plant.” ….

Electric cars’ benefit depends on footprint

April 17, 2012 SF Chronicle They are far greener in some parts of the country than in others, scientists say….



Can We Stop The Collapse of Federal Clean Energy Support Without Talking About Climate Change Or A Carbon Price?

Posted: 19 Apr 2012 09:33 AM PDT In the next two years — assuming Congress doesn’t act — the vast majority of federal support in place for clean energy in the U.S. will be gone. As a well-researched but jaw-droppingly incomplete new report published by the Brookings Institution points out, spending levels for deploying clean energy technologies aren’t being gradually phased out; the industry is getting pushed off a cliff wearing cement shoes….



Styrofoam out of Schools  (my sister Debby Lee’s work!)

Cafeteria Culture (CafCu), founded in 2009 as Styrofoam out of Schools, catalyzed Trayless Tuesdays throughout all of NYC’s 1700 public schools eliminating an impressive 40 million styrofoam trays from production, school lunches, incinerators and landfills at no additional cost to the city.

In just one year, this innovative partnership with NYC’s Department of Education SchoolFood and Parsons the New School has achieved so much.  Now the group is working to eliminate all Styrofoam tray use and achieve zero waste cafeteria communities in public schools.  Check out the Kickstarter campaign here, a fabulous opportunity for Cafeteria Culture (CafCu)/SOSnyc to jumpstart their Arts+Advocacy campaign and heighten public awareness of the more than 3 BILLION toxic, polluting styrofoam trays that NYC public schools have thrown away over the past 20 years.


Nanocrystal-coated fibers might reduce wasted energy (April 17, 2012) — Researchers are developing a technique that uses nanotechnology to harvest energy from hot pipes or engine components to potentially recover energy wasted in factories, power plants and cars. … > full story




Ford CEO: Battery Is Third of Electric Car Cost


One of the auto industry’s most closely guarded secrets—the enormous cost of batteries for electric cars—has spilled out. Speaking at a forum on green technology on Monday, Ford Motor Co. F -0.88% Chief Executive Alan Mulally indicated battery packs for the company’s Focus electric car costs between $12,000 and $15,000 apiece. “When you move into an all-electric vehicle, the battery size moves up to around 23 kilowatt hours, [and] it weighs around 600 to 700 pounds,” Mr. Mulally said at Fortune magazine’s Brainstorm Green conference in California.  “They’re around $12,000 to $15,000 [a battery]” for a type of car that normally sells for about $22,000, he continued, referring to the price of a gasoline-powered Focus. “So, you can see why the economics are what they are.” …



Data centers in Va. and elsewhere have major carbon footprint, report says

By Juliet Eilperin, Published: April 17

To most consumers, the cloud is an abstract warehouse in the sky where we store our photos, documents and other key bits of information with a click of a button. But the technology that keeps the cloud running — data centers and mobile telecommunications networks, operating 24 hours a day — requires electricity, making it a target for environmentalists hoping to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

All but one of the nation’s major IT companies still rely on fossil-fuel energy to power more than half their cloud operations, according to a report issued by the advocacy group Greenpeace on Tuesday morning, with firms including Web Services, Apple, Oracle and Salesforce ranking toward the bottom for their carbon footprints. Dell is the only company that relies on fossil fuels for less than half of its electricity demands….








The Greatest Challenge of Our Species

By THOMAS LOVEJOY  April 5, 2012  Op-Ed Contributor  NY TIMES

In a cavernous London conference center so devoid of life as to seem a film set for “The Matrix,” 3,000 scientists, officials and members of civil society organizations met in the last week of March to consider the state of the planet and what to do about it.  The Planet Under Pressure conference is intended to feed directly into the “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development this coming June, 20 years after the Earth Summit in Rio convened the largest number ever of heads of state and produced, among other things, two international conventions, one for climate change and the other for biological diversity.  While it is not as if nothing has been achieved in the interim or that scientific understanding has stood still, it is obvious that new science is not needed to conclude that humanity has failed to act at the scale and with the urgency needed. … But the issue before humanity is, in fact, bigger than fossil fuel combustion, and far bigger than climate change. The Stockholm Environment Institute summed it up nicely in an analysis that identified a planet departing from planetary boundaries in three ways: climate change, nitrogen use and loss of biodiversity.

The use and frequent overuse of nitrogen fertilizer primarily by industrialized agriculture has polluted streams and lakes, and, in turn, coastal waters around the world. The resulting dead zones in coastal waters and estuaries are devoid of oxygen and largely devoid of life. They have doubled in number every decade for four decades — an increase by a factor of 16. The amount of biologically active nitrogen in the world is twice the natural level.  The greatest violation by far of planetary boundaries is in biological diversity. This is because, by definition, all environmental problems affect living systems; biological diversity integrates them all. Running down our biological capital is pure folly.

The planet works as a biophysical system that moderates climate (global, continental and regional) and creates soil and its fertility. Ecosystems provide a variety of services, not the least of which is provision of clean and reliable water. Biological diversity is the essential living library for sustainability. Each species represents a unique set of solutions to a set of biological problems, any one of which can be of critical importance to the advance of medicine, to productive agriculture, to the biology that provides current support for humanity, and, most importantly, will provide solutions to the environmental challenge.

Looking ahead, we not only have to deal with these planetary scale problems but also find ways to feed and produce a decent quality of life for at least two more billion than the seven billion people already here. We need to do this without destroying more ecosystems and losing more biological diversity.

Human ingenuity should be up to the challenge. But it has to recognize the problem and address it with immediacy and at scale. …. An important step, a “Future Earth” organization, was announced at the conference. It will bring all the relevant scientific disciplines together to work on this, the greatest challenge in the history of our species. This is essential because many physical scientists seem blind to the importance of biology in how the living planet works, and how it can provide critical solutions. Economics and social sciences are critical as well….



Protecting environment ‘inextricably linked’ to global growth
It is easy to overlook the environment in a period of financial crisis – but the challenges of using resources sustainably and protecting biodiversity also represent an opportunity to pursue economic growth, writes Janez Potocnik is European Commissioner for the Environment.


Where’s a Yellowstone bear? Look on your phone

MEAD GRUVER, Associated Press, 04/17/12

(04-17) 12:42 PDT Cheyenne, Wyo. (AP) — Pretty soon, the best place to be on the lookout for a wolf, grizzly bear or other wildlife in Yellowstone National Park could be your phone. Just don’t be surprised if lots of other people get the same idea. New…



NASA Climate ‘Skeptics’ Respond With Science! Just Kidding

12 Apr 2012 by Dana Nuccitelli, Skeptical Science

Almost exactly two years ago, John Cook wrote about the 5 characteristics of science denialism.  The second point on the list involved fake experts. “These are individuals purporting to be experts but whose views are inconsistent with established knowledge. Fake experts have been used extensively by the tobacco industry who developed a strategy to recruit scientists who would counteract the growing evidence on the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.” We have seen many examples of climate denialists producing long lists of fake experts, for example the Oregon Petition and the Wall Street Journal 16.  Now we have yet another of these lists of fake experts.  49 former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) employees (led by Harrison Schmitt, who was also one of the Wall Street Journal 16) have registered their objection to mainstream climate science through the most popular medium of expressing climate contrarianism – a letter.  As is usually the case in these climate contrarian letters, this one has no scientific content, and is written by individuals with not an ounce of climate science expertise, but who nevertheless have the audacity to tell climate scientists what they should think about climate science. It’s worth noting that when the signatories Meet The Denominator, as is also always the case, their numbers are revealed as quite unimpressive.  For example, over 18,000 people currently work for NASA.  Without even considering the pool of retired NASA employees (all signatories of this list are former NASA employees), just as with the Oregon Petition, the list accounts for a fraction of a percent of the available pool of people…..


AUDUBON ACTION ALERT We need your help fighting the latest attack that threatens birds, sea turtles, and pedestrians at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. U.S. Representative Walter Jones has introduced legislation aimed at overturning the National Park Service’s balanced, science-based new rules designed to protect nesting and young sea turtles and birds–as well as pedestrians–by managing off-road vehicle traffic. The bill would abolish the plan and allow for off-road vehicle (ORV) use across the entire park, destroying nesting sites and chicks in their wake.

***Take Action***Stop this bad beach driving bill in its tracks. Send a message to your members of Congress to let them know that you support protecting the rare birds and sea turtles of Cape Hatteras National Seashore:



Of Shifting Islands, Cars, and Climate Change  Evan Hirsche National Wildlife Refuge Association  April 18, 2012
It isn’t often that a plan to move a parking lot sparks a major controversy worthy of a Congressional hearing. Surprisingly, this is exactly what transpired in a coastal community over a proposed plan to move the beach parking lot at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. Further south, a different controversy has been brewing for more than a decade in North Carolina’s Outer Banks concerning a deteriorating bridge connecting Nags Head to Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge connects popular beachfront barrier islands that are traversed by a road riddled by washouts and mounting maintenance costs. Read the Full Message.


What You Should Know About Exxon-Mobil’s Science Education Ad Campaign

Posted: 16 Apr 2012 11:03 AM PDT by Dominique Browning, via Time Ideas

If you were watching the Masters golf tournament last weekend, you would have noticed it was laced with ads from Exxon Mobil calling for … better science. That’s right. The very company that funded decades of science denial takes it back. Sort of. ExxonMobil ranks high in a short list of powerful institutions that has done this country an enormous disservice in undermining the overall credibility of the scientific method in general, and climate scientists specifically….


Liquorice root found to contain anti-diabetic substance (April 17, 2012) — It provides the raw material for liquorice candy, calms the stomach and alleviates diseases of the airways: liquorice root. Chosen as the “Medicinal plant 2012,” the root has been treasured in traditional healing since ancient times. Researchers have now discovered that liquorice root also contains substances with an anti-diabetic effect. … > full story



Green-glowing fish provides new insights into health impacts of pollution (April 18, 2012) — Understanding the damage that pollution causes to both wildlife and human health is set to become much easier thanks to a new green-glowing zebrafish. The fish makes it easier than ever before to see where in the body environmental chemicals act and how they affect health. The fluorescent fish has shown that estrogenic chemicals, which are already linked to reproductive problems, impact on more parts of the body than previously thought. … > full story


How social interaction and teamwork led to human intelligence (April 19, 2012) — Scientists have discovered proof that the evolution of intelligence and larger brain sizes can be driven by cooperation and teamwork, shedding new light on the origins of what it means to be human. … > full story


Genetic similarity promotes cooperation: Study of simple organisms reveals preference for those who resemble themselves (April 18, 2012) — In a dog-eat-dog world of ruthless competition and “survival of the fittest,” new research reveals that individuals are genetically programmed to work together and cooperate with those who most resemble themselves. … > full story











The Titanic At 100 Years: We’re Still Ignoring Warnings, This Time It’s Climate Change, Says Director James Cameron Posted: 13 Apr 2012 09:31 AM PDT






A year of ships   youtube video Published on Apr 9, 2012 by BGMSMA

A looped visualization of all the voyages in the Climatological database for the world’s oceans ( as if they occurred in the same year, to show seasonal patterns in ship movements and predominant shipping lanes from 1750 to 1850. More info at





Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates April 27, 2012

Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates

April 27, 2012


Highlights of the Week  –   WATER – Threats and Opportunities





















Highlight of the Week….   WATER- threats and opportunities


Report: Global Warming Threatens US Water Supply Researchers warned that global warming threatens the water supply for urban communities in Arizona, in a new report funded by the Department of Commerce…..

Moving Forward from Vulnerability to Adaptation: Climate Change, Drought, and Water Demand in the Urbanizing Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico
Case Studies in Ambos Nogales, Puerto Peñasco, Tucson, and Hermosillo
A NOAA-SARP Project (2008-2010) See also the project’s next phase (2011-2013), MANAGING DEMAND, RETHINKING SUPPLY.
Edited by Margaret Wilder, Christopher A. Scott, Nicolás Pineda-Pablos, Robert G. Varady, and Gregg M. Garfin   Udall Center Publications, 2012  ISBN 978-1-931143-42-4
– Full Document (pdf 26 MB)
– Chapter 1: Introduction (pdf 0.9 MB)
– Chapter 2: Ambos Nogales Case Study (pdf 5.4 MB)
– Chapter 3: Puerto Peñasco Case Study (pdf 3.0 MB)
– Chapter 4: Tucson Case Study (pdf 4.1 MB)
– Chapter 5: Hermosillo Case Study (pdf 8.3 MB)



And more on water:



Study Indicates a Greater Threat of Extreme Weather

By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times Published: April 26, 2012

New research suggests that global warming is causing the cycle of evaporation and rainfall over the oceans to intensify more than scientists had expected, an ominous finding that may indicate a higher potential for extreme weather in coming decades. By measuring changes in salinity on the ocean’s surface, the researchers inferred that the water cycle had accelerated by about 4 percent over the last half century. That does not sound particularly large, but it is twice the figure generated from computerized analyses of the climate. If the estimate holds up, it implies that the water cycle could quicken by as much as 20 percent later in this century as the planet warms, potentially leading to more droughts and floods. “This provides another piece of independent evidence that we need to start taking the problem of global warming seriously,” said Paul J. Durack, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the lead author of a paper being published Friday in the journal Science.


Australia: Buybacks ‘best way’ to return water
Water buybacks from willing sellers are the most cost-effective and efficient way of returning water to the Murray-Darling Basin system, say experts. The Australian Conservation Foundation has called for the buyback program to be expanded and accelerated to ensure more environmental flows to the Murray, while also saying a minimum of 3200 billion litres needs to be restored to the river.





Study Sheds Light on How Birds Navigate by Magnetic Field

New York Times – ‎April 26, 2012‎

Birds are famously good navigators. Some migrate thousands of miles, flying day and night, even when the stars are obscured.



Migrating waterfowl die from lack of water

Peter Fimrite  SF Chronicle Saturday, April 21, 2012

The deaths of up to 20,000 migrating birds this year in a wildlife refuge near the Oregon border has renewed debate about resource management on the Klamath River, where myriad competing interests are fighting for water rights. The waterfowl began dropping dead from avian cholera in February after a lack of water forced as many as 2 million birds to bunch together in the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, said representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service….


California: Restoration of huge bay wetland near Redwood City nearing completion
Bair Island to environmental groups and biologists, it is a crowning symbol of the ongoing restoration of San Francisco Bay, 2,635 acres that prove not everything has been diked, filled and paved. Now a six-year effort to restore Bair Island in Redwood City to tidal wetlands — bringing back conditions not seen since the late 1800s, along with a wide range of ducks, herons, egrets, salmon, even harbor seals to the heart of Silicon Valley — is reaching its apex.


Wind pushes plastics deeper into oceans, driving trash estimates up (April 25, 2012) — Decades of research into how much plastic litters the ocean, conducted by skimming only the surface, may in some cases vastly underestimate the true amount of plastic debris, according to an oceanographer. … > full story

Small variations in magnetic fields can be environmental stresses (April 23, 2012) — We are surrounded by a constantly changing magnetic field, be it Earth’s or those emanating from devices, such as cell phones. Scientists are interested in understanding how these magnetic-field fluctuations change biochemical reactions inside us. … > full story

Tagged white shark killed by Mexican fishermen

Thursday, April 26, 2012

(04-26) 17:19 PDT Santa Cruz, Calif. (AP) —

A white shark tagged by researchers off the Northern California coast in the late 1990s was killed after getting caught in a fishing net in the Sea of Cortez. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports ( that two fishermen in the Mexican state of Sonora said they accidentally caught the shark in a net cast from a small fishing boat.  Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, said he was contacted by the wife of one of the fishermen, who spotted a white tag that had been attached to the creature’s dorsal fin with the researcher’s contact information.

Van Sommeran estimated the shark was about 20 feet long and 4,000 pounds. He said the female shark could have been in the Sea of Cortez to give birth.



Study: Australia can save birds
Researchers have found that many native birds which were feared headed for extinction have shown remarkable rates of recovery on farms where regrowth and plantings of native trees are flourishing. In a huge field science effort, the team monitored no fewer than 193 sites on 46 farms across southern NSW over ten years, to study the effect on native birds of different ways of managing native vegetation….


Diversity aided mammals’ survival over deep time (April 23, 2012) — The first study of how mammals in North America adapted to climate change in “deep time” found that families with greater diversity were more stable and maintained larger ranges than less diverse families. … > full story

Bark beetle management and ecology in southern pine forests (April 23, 2012) — New research suggests that preventative measures are most effective in minimizing losses to bark beetles, and several factors should be considered in planning bark beetle management programs. … > full story


Fish larvae find the reef by orienting: The earlier the better (April 23, 2012) — For the first time, a numerical study incorporates horizontal larval fish navigation skills into realistic 3D flow fields, creating a powerful tool that spells out how larvae use environmental cues to find their way back to the reef after being out on the open ocean. This model can be used for a wide variety of marine species. … > full story


Selenium impacts honey bee behavior and survival (April 25, 2012) — Entomologists have a “proof of concept” that selenium, a nonmetal chemical element, can disrupt the foraging behavior and survival of honey bees. In controlled greenhouse experiments they found that the bees did not respond to the presence of selenium in plants. The bees fed on food sources, such as flowers that contained selenium at even very high concentrations. Selenium is toxic at high concentrations. In soils, it occurs most often as selenate. … > full story


First fertile, then futile: Ammonites change in reproductive strategy helped them survive three mass extinctions (April 23, 2012) — Ammonites changed their reproductive strategy from initially few and large offspring to numerous and small hatchlings. Thanks to their many offspring, they survived three mass extinctions, a research team has discovered. … > full story



Deadly frog fungus at work in the wild (April 25, 2012) — The fungal infection that has killed a record number of amphibians worldwide leads to deadly dehydration in frogs in the wild, according to a new study. High levels of an aquatic fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) disrupt fluid and electrolyte balance in wild frogs, the scientists say, severely depleting the frogs’ sodium and potassium levels and causing cardiac arrest and death. … > full story


Amazon: 151 Planned Dams Threatens Balance of Andean Amazon
A new study warns that 151 hydroelectric dams planned along six major rivers in the Amazon basin over the next two decades, including dozens of so-called mega-dams, could significantly disrupt the region’s ecological connectivity. Researchers say 60% of the dams currently being planned would cause the first major break in river connectivity between the Andean headwaters and the lowland Amazon, possibly threatening the free flow of several Andean-Amazon rivers.







Wild birds respond differently to the first long days of a year (April 24, 2012) — The lengthening of days in late winter is an important signal that stimulates the reproductive activity of many animals. Animals living in the milder climatic conditions of southern Europe usually begin breeding earlier in spring compared to animals living in colder habitats further north. Scientists have now discovered that day length affects gene activity differentially in the brain of great tit populations from central and North Europe. This is particularly important because climate change has resulted in warmer temperatures in spring, and therefore day length has become a less reliable signal for the coming of spring. Since warmer spring temperatures also cause the insects that the birds need to feed their young to be available sooner, birds will have to change their breeding schedules accordingly. … > full story




‘Warming Hole’ Delayed Climate Change Over Eastern United States  April 27 2012

Climate scientists have discovered that particulate pollution in the late 20th century created a “warming hole” over the eastern United States — that is, a cold patch where the effects of global warming were temporarily obscured. While greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane warm Earth’s surface, tiny particles in the air can have the reverse effect on regional scales. … Sulfates are harmful to human health and can also cause acid rain, which damages ecosystems and erodes buildings. “No one is suggesting that we should stop improving air quality, but it’s important to understand the consequences. Clearing the air could lead to regional warming,” Mickley says.

full story


Warm ocean currents cause majority of ice loss from Antarctica (April 25, 2012) — Warm ocean currents are the dominant cause of recent ice loss from Antarctica, new research shows. New techniques have been used to differentiate, for the first time, between the two known causes of melting ice shelves – warm ocean currents attacking the underside, and warm air melting from above. This finding brings scientists a step closer to providing reliable projections of future sea-level rise. … > full story

Ocean driving Antarctic ice loss

BBC News – ‎April 25, 2012

Previous studies have already indicated that warmer waters are being driven towards the continent by stronger westerly winds in the Southern Ocean. The researchers say the new understanding has major implications for their ability to reliably project ..




Arctic Ocean could be source of greenhouse gas: study

Phys.Org – ‎April 22, 2012 The Arctic Ocean could be a significant contributor of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, scientists reported on Sunday…..


Arctic Methane Leaks Could Be Accelerating Global Warming  April 23 2012  Researchers have uncovered a surprising and potentially important new source of Arctic methane: the ocean itself. The high concentrations of the greenhouse gas recorded in the air above cracks in the ice could be evidence of yet another positive feedback on the warming climate – leading to even faster Arctic warming, the New Scientist reported….



Will Climate Change Increase Hurricane Damage Costs? – April 27, 2012‎

By Meghan Evans, Meteorologist A recent study found that a warming climate may increase the frequency of intense hurricanes, resulting in a rise of hurricane damage costs on the order of tens of billions of dollars a year by 2100.



Proper soil management needed to combat climate change, protect earth

Midwest Producer – ‎April 22, 2012‎  Soils and plants play a significant role in global climate change, said Chuck Rice, K-State university distinguished professor of agronomy….Agricultural practices must be developed to mitigate climate change, adapt cropping systems to expected changes, meet future demands for food, feed, fiber, and bioenergy, and protect natural resources, Rice said. “We will have to find ways to increase production for the purpose of providing food security for nine billion people by the middle of the 21st century, while also protecting the environment and enhancing function of global ecosystems,” he said “The challenge is further compounded by climate change impacts that now require mitigation.”

Many opportunities exist within agriculture to mitigate emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane, and to sequester carbon in the soil and in the biomass of perennial vegetation, Rice explained.


Position Statement on Climate Change: American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America



Climate Change to Affect Corn Prices, Study Says

New York Times – ‎April 22, 2012‎

Researchers have found that climate change is likely to have far greater influence on the volatility of corn prices over the next three decades than factors that recently have been blamed for price swings – like oil prices, trade policies and…



Do urban ‘heat islands’ hint at trees of future? (April 24, 2012) — A new study shows that common native red oak seedlings grow as much as eight times faster in New York’s Central Park than in more rural, cooler settings in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains. Red oaks and their close relatives dominate areas ranging from northern Virginia to southern New England, so the study may have implications for changing climate and forest composition over a wide region. … > full story

Rare UK butterflies ‘bounce back’
Record-breaking temperatures and dry weather in spring last year led to an increase in the numbers of many species of rare butterfly, a study suggests. The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and charity Butterfly Conservation said the weather had provided perfect conditions for “spring specialists”.


Meteorology: Arctic warming favours extremes pp315 – 316
Vladimir A. Semenov
The twenty-first century was marked by a number of extreme weather events over northern continents. Amplified warming in the Arctic region and associated changes in atmospheric dynamics may provide a clue for understanding the origin of these recent extremes.
Full Text | PDF


Increasing Mangrove Resilience to Climate Change

Posted: 23 Apr 2012 09:18 AM PDT

Jonathan Cook, WWF-US Along the west coast of Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island, the communities of Tikina Wai have lived near mangrove forests for many generations. Local people depend on these forests for fish, wood, medicinal plants and other resources; and the mangroves help buffer them from storms and floods. Yet Tikina Wai’s mangrove forests are […]


Climate change is reducing Arctic Ocean biodiversity: $40-M study

Montreal Gazette – ‎april 24, 2012

MONTREAL – A unique, all-season study of the effects of global warming in the Arctic Ocean shows that climate change is reducing biodiversity and posing “significant challenges to the survival of some of the Arctic’s unique marine species….








Marine scientists urge government to reassess oil spill response (April 20, 2012) — On the second anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout, a national panel of researchers is urging the US federal government to reassess how it would respond to similar oil spills that might occur in the future. … > full story

International Bird Rescue celebrates 40 years Carolyn Jones SF Chronicle Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In January 1971, a pair of Standard Oil tankers collided under the Golden Gate Bridge and gushed nearly 1 million gallons of crude into the bay. That calamity might be among the best things that have happened to birds not just in the Bay Area but also around the world. From the toxic, gooey muck arose the modern science of oiled-bird rescue. “There were dying birds everywhere and no one knew what to do. It was as horrible as you can imagine,” said Jay Holcomb, former director of International Bird Rescue. “It was then that we realized there needs to be an organized attempt for their care.”….


Feds Make First Arrest in Connection With BP Spill

A former engineer is charged with destroying evidence, suggesting the company was intentionally underreporting the scope of the disaster. READ FULL STORY


OIL: Utah could see tar sands production by year’s end

At a time when the Keystone XL pipeline has become a hot political topic for national environment groups, politicians and oil industry officials, Utah has been quietly paving the way for U.S. tar sands production on state lands. Indeed, if all goes smoothly in the regulatory process, U.S. Oil Sands could begin construction in the state later this year — a fact that environmental groups are eager to spread.







  1. 4.    POLICY


CA Dept of Water Resources: COMMENT PERIOD ENDS May 3rd on Climate Action Plan

On March 1st 2012, DWR filed its Draft Climate Action Plan Phase 1: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan and associated California Environmental Quality Act Initial Study and Draft Negative Declaration with the California Office of Planning and Research State Clearinghouse. During the period March 5th through May 3rd DWR will accept public comments on the Draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan and associated Initial Study and Draft Negative Declaration.



Poll: 75 Percent of Americans Support Regulating CO2 As A Pollutant, 60 Percent Support Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax By Joe Romm on Apr 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm

A new national survey confirms strong public support for funding renewable energy research, regulating carbon pollution, and signing a global treaty to slash emissions. The study, conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, found a remarkable 75% of Americans support “regulating carbon dioxide (the primary greenhouse gas) as a pollutant.”….



State Opposes Feds on Clearing Levee Trees

Download audio (MP3)

David McNew/Getty Images Trees along 1,600 miles of California levees are at the center of a dispute between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and California lawmakers.

Host: California is getting ready for war with the U.S. Army. A legal war, anyway, between California water and wildlife agencies and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The battleground? 1,600 of California levees that protect the Delta and Central Valley from flooding. The Corps wants the state to cut down most of the trees on those levees for safety’s sake. But state officials want the trees to stay. Not only because they’re valuable for wildlife and as scenery, but because they may actually make the levees stronger….



President Obama Edits Out Climate Change From His Earth Day 2012 Proclamation  Posted: 23 Apr 2012 09:23 AM PDT

You’ll be glad to know that in the last 12 months, that whole climate change problem went away. At least that’s the impression left from comparing President Obama’s 2012 Earth Day proclamation with the 2011 one…..


Climate Change Will Be A Campaign Issue, We Need to Do Much More To Combat It By Joe Romm on Apr 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm

In a Rolling Stone interview published today, President Obama broke out of his self-imposed silence on climate change. He made some remarkable statements, including his belief that the millions of dollars pouring into the anti-science disinformation campaign will drive climate change into the presidential campaign. Earlier this year the President omitted any discussion of climate change from his State of the Union address. And he (or the White House communications team) edited it out of his Earth Day proclamation. But in this interview, Obama was actually the first to bring up climate change, noting it was one of many big issues he’s had to deal with and then slamming the GOP for moving so far to the right on the issue….


Countries Losing Steam On Climate Change Initiatives

NPR – ‎April 26, 2012‎

Nations are nowhere near being on track to avert significant climate change in the coming decades. It turns out that right now, just about everything is conspiring to make it harder to clean up the world’s energy supply….


Bird strikes on airliners targeted in Congress, at airports

Reuters – April 26, 2012

These and other birds have all met their demise crashing into aircraft during takeoff and landing at airports across the United States over the past two years, federal records show.


Senator seeks to allow goose kills near NY airport

KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press, 04/26/12

(04-26) 10:31 PDT New York (AP) — The problem of birds living near some of the nation’s busiest airports is coming under renewed scrutiny after two emergency landings in a week and more than three years after the famous ditching of a jetliner in the…



Ore. asks to kill salmon-eating birds

By JEFF BARNARD  Thursday, April 26, 2012 Seattle AP Environmental Writer GRANTS PASS, Ore. —

Oregon officials were successful in getting permission to kill sea lions that feed on protected salmon trying to swim upriver to spawn. Now they want federal approval to shoot a sea bird that eats millions of baby salmon trying to reach the ocean. In an April 5 letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service obtained by The Associated Press, Oregon Wildlife Chief Ron Anglin says harassment has “proved insufficient” in controlling double-crested cormorants, and officials want the option of killing some of the birds…..Oregon needs federal approval to start shooting double-breasted cormorants because the birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Anglin wrote that the birds are threatening restoration of wild fish protected by the Endangered Species Act, as well as hatchery fish important to sport and commercial fishing……. In recent years, the biggest single nesting colony has settled on East Sand Island at the mouth of the Columbia River. Studies show the estimated 10,500 breeding pairs there ate 22.6 million young salmon and steelhead last year, which amounts to 15 percent of the smolts – hatchery and wild – trying to reach the ocean, Roby said.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has just started working on a plan to reduce the salmon losses to cormorants on the Columbia, and has made no decision on whether to kill any of them.



German Bank Won’t Finance Arctic Ocean Drilling, Saying The ‘Risks And Costs Are Simply Too High’

Posted: 23 Apr 2012 07:33 AM PD by Kiley Kroh

In another stark warning about the dangers of Arctic Ocean drilling, the German bank WestLB announced on Friday that it would not provide financing to any offshore oil or gas drilling in the region. The company’s sustainability manager said the “risks and costs are simply too high.”

The decision was made just a week after insurance giant Lloyd’s of London issued a report concluding that offshore drilling in the Arctic would “constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk” and urged companies to “think carefully about the consequences of action” before exploring for oil in the region….


Where international climate policy has failed, grassroots efforts can succeed …

Phys.Org – ‎  April 27, 2012‎

The world can significantly slow the pace of climate change with practical efforts to control so-called “short-lived climate pollutants” and by bringing successful Western technologies to the developing world, according to three UC San Diego scientists



Peru is latest developing nation to adopt climate change initiative

Chicago Tribune – ‎April 26, 2012‎

LIMA (Reuters) – Peru became the latest developing country to enact a domestic climate change initiative in the absence of a binding global pact, adopting a resolution on Thursday to lower carbon emissions in its fast-growing economy.


UN: We must correct image of desertification and promote practical solutions
Desertification means land degradation in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid areas, commonly referred to as drylands. In no other ecosystem are the interactions between the challenges of climate change and the conservation of biodiversity so closely linked to food security and poverty reduction. Rio+20 provides an important opportunity to increase the political momentum. This target can be achieved by sustaining healthy soil and restoring degraded land…


Emergence of the carbon-market intelligence sector pp300 – 302 Nature Climate Change Mark Maslin and Martyn Poessinouw  Full Text | PDF doi:10.1038/nclimate1492  The newly observed economic phenomenon carbon-market intelligence was worth over £35 billion in 2010–2011 and is forecast to experience annual double-digit growth over the next five years.


Aspen Chamber to Cut Ties  April 24, 2012 Aspen Ties

At their annual retreat Tuesday morning, Aspen Chamber Resort Association board members voted 11-1 to cut ties with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of a disagreement over the national organization’s policy of disregarding man’s effect on climate change….


Mr. Obama Needs to Show He is Serious about Climate Change  Wash Post Editorial April 15, 2012 Climate change is one of the great challenges of this century, and the country needs a big, realistic debate about policy to address the threat. We encourage Mr. Obama to follow through on his words, giving the issue — and truly serious ways to deal with it — the prominence they deserve in this year’s election…..



Offsetting under pressure p307
Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the UK Tyndall Centre and an expert on greenhouse-gas emissions trajectories explains to Nature Climate Change why he believes that carbon offsetting can be worse than useless.
Full Text | PDF


Minnesota: boaters need invasive species sticker before hitting water this year
Minnesota anglers and boaters will have one more item on their checklists this year when they head to the lakes. A law passed last year requires that all watercraft have a sticker on board (seen above) listing the state’s rules about aquatic invasive species.


Climate change may create price volatility in the corn market (April 22, 2012) — Corn, America’s No. 1 crop, could see its prime growing region shift to the Canadian border or its price volatility increase sharply within 30 years. A new study points to climate change as the cause. … > full story



Legal History and Application:  Fish and Game Code 5937

The link above is too the just published article in the UC Davis Law Review on the legal history and application of Fish and Game Code 5937.  For those of you not familiar with “5937”, it was a cornerstone in the legal arguments that led to the Mono lake, Putah Creek accord and San Joaquin restoration decisions.  As such it is an important embodiment of the Public Trust doctrine in CA law which affects most of our work in CA natural resources in some way or other…..






  1. 5.    RESOURCES



Ocean Acification- Podcast

The ocean has absorbed great quantities of the carbon dioxide humans have emitted through the burning of fossil fuels, land use practices, and other human activities. But increased concentrations of CO2 have resulted in the ocean becoming more acidic. Important questions arise from this chemical change to our ocean such as what exactly is this threat and how will it affect our ocean world? What does it mean for organisms such as sea urchins? Dr. Gretchen Hoffman, Professor of Marine Biology at the University of California Santa Barbara, discusses her work on ocean acidification and why we should pay attention. We invite you to listen to this podcast by visiting the Thank You Ocean website. A new Thank You Ocean Report podcast will be posted approximately every two weeks. You can subscribe to the podcast and click on the podcast feed of your choice (e.g., iTunes, Yahoo, Google).



North Coast Forest Conservation Conference – Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities and Healthy Economies Wednesday, June 6 to Friday, June 8, 2012

Registration is open!  To see the agenda, conference details and to register, <

Warren G. Dutton, Jr. Agricultural Pavilion Shone Farm – Santa Rosa Junior College

7450 Steve Olson Lane, Forestville, California  General Attendee – $60 per day or all 3 days for $150 Students (ID required) – $20 per day or all 3 days for $50

Speakers, panels, and field trips will address local and regional forestry issues including forest health, forest management, community forestry, regulatory issues, watershed restoration, fire in the forest, climate change, and more. Join informative and inspiring talks and panels through June 22nd with experts in food, energy, education, activism and more — Free.

The Mediterranean City: A Conference on Climate Change Adaptation

Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, 711 South Hope Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017

The goal of the conference is to initiate an ongoing collaboration of cities working together to share ideas, needs and strategies to realistically adapt to the current and future impacts of climate change as they similarly affect the five Mediterranean-climate regions of the world.  The conference will bring together an international network of experts from the academic, policy, business, public health and government sectors, and will stand as an example for how cities can work together across regional and national boundaries to bring more resources and knowledge to building solutions. Leaders who attend the climate change consortium on June 25 and 26 will be able to provide direct input in the creation of a working document that will be presented at plenary session on June 27th. Single day registration is also available.  For more information, please visit
Spring of Sustainability Saturday, April 28th from 9:00am – 3:00pm PST (12:00-6:00pm EST) Thriving Communities Summit–Panelists will include Sobonfu Some, Carl Anthony, Woody Tasch, Esperide Ananas, Michael Lewis and many other leading designers, activists and educators who are creating and implementing initiatives for thriving communities. Learn more and sign up for the compelling “Spring of Sustainability” program here. (





Being able to visualize potential impacts from sea level rise is a powerful teaching and planning tool, and the Sea Level Rise Viewer brings this capability to coastal communities. A slider bar is used to show how various levels of sea level rise will impact coastal communities. Completed areas include Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, with additional coastal counties to be added in the near future. Visuals and the accompanying data and information cover sea level rise inundation, uncertainty, flood frequency, marsh impacts, and socioeconomics.


Climate Reality Project Speaker TrainingNorthern California

Are you passionate about changing the conversation about the climate crisis? Are you interested in leading the climate movement? …. apply to be one of our esteemed Climate Reality Presenters — impassioned volunteer leaders who bring the reality of climate change to people around the world. We call our grassroots network of Presenters the heart of our Climate Leadership Corps. As we saw on Earth Day, a powerful grassroots movement is building all over the world to solve the climate crisis. This movement is growing louder and stronger every day. But you know as well as anyone that to solve this crisis we need to take action every day — not just once a year. …Learn more:
 California: Ecosystem Restoration on Agricultural Lands (ERAL)
Grant funding applications are accepted on a year-round basis. The WCB meets four times each year, normally in February, May, August, and November to consider approval of funding for projects.

 Tamarisk Related Grant Opportunities
The Tamarisk Coalition has developed a list of available Grant Opportunities to address tamarisk issues and riparian restoration. This list was revised as part of the Colorado River Basin Tamarisk and Russian Olive Assessment.








Maine regulators pave way for US tidal power

The Associated Press – ‎April 24, 2012

The regulators also directed the three utilities to negotiate with Ocean Renewable Power Co. to put electricity onto the grid this summer, the first long-term power purchase agreements for tidal energy in the United States.



Liquid solar cells can be painted onto surfaces (April 25, 2012) — Scientists have developed a potential pathway to cheap, stable solar cells made from nanocrystals so small they can exist as a liquid ink and be painted or printed onto clear surfaces. … > full story


Lawsuit says wind energy industry hurts condors

Sunday, April 22, 2012   (04-22) 12:07 PDT Ventura, Calif. (AP) —

Environmentalists are hoping a court will curb Southern California’s growing wind energy industry, which they believe poses a threat to the endangered condor.

Three environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit this month against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to stop the proposed 100-turbine North Sky River wind project in Kern County’s Tehachapi region, the Ventura County Star reported Saturday (

The Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club said in the filing that a neighboring wind farm, Pine Tree, has killed at least eight golden eagles and that California condors could be at risk from the blades of turbines as well.

“GPS data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggest condors are in the area, which has a lot of grazing and hunting and is a good habitat for these birds,” Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, told the newspaper. “We’re really worried. We don’t think it’s the right place for additional wind farms, and we certainly don’t want to see a wall of wind farms that no bird can outmaneuver.”

Wind-power supporters stress the fact that no condors have been killed, and cite the new jobs, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and clean energy the turbines will bring.

Of the 200 condors in the wild today, 59 live in the Hopper Mountain and Bitter Creek national wildlife refuges in Ventura and Kern counties. Other condors soar through the area on their way to the Sierra Nevada.

The turbines, some as tall as a 30-story building, hold blades that can sweep an area the size of a football field 20 times a minute, with tips spinning as fast as 200 feet per second, according to the Star. Each of these turbines can power about 500 homes.

About 5,000 turbines already are in use in the windy Tehachapi Mountains, generating a total of about 800 megawatts of electricity. In the planning process or under construction are an additional 3,500 megawatts worth of wind turbines — the equivalent of more than five average coal-burning plants. The North Sky River project, proposed by NextEra Energy Resources, would generate 300 megawatts.

Linda Parker, who runs a wind energy advocacy group, told the newspaper “the wind rush will bring billions… in total investment to the Kern County area over the lifetime of these projects.”

Condors, the largest birds in North America, can live for 50 years, but nesting pairs usually produce only one egg every other year, creating a challenge to build up the population that was once down to just 22 birds in the 1980s.



Bioenergy production may reduce biological diversity, but ecological risks can be minimized (April 23, 2012) — For years experts have discussed the ecological impact of the extended cultivation of energy crops. Scientists have now developed a computer model that allows assessing the impacts and comparing the effectiveness of strategies for the reduction of risks for biological diversity. Conclusion: The extension of bioenergy leads to problems with biological diversity in agrarian regions. … > full story






Guilt trip p297
doi:10.1038/nclimate1526   Nature Climate Change
As the evidence for a tight link between greenhouse-gas emissions and climate change accrues, scientists — and editors — should moderate their use of international air travel. Full Text | PDF


Discovery’s ‘Frozen Planet’ Is Silent on Causes of Climate Change

By BRIAN STELTER (NYT)  April 21, 2012 Compiled: 1:32 AM

A Discovery Channel series about changes in polar regions does not mention causes for the thinner ice, avoiding the fury that often accompanies mention of climate change.


Bird researcher Hannahrose Nevins nominated for Red Cross Heroes award

By JOHN SAMMON Posted:   04/21/2012 01:41:24 PM PDT

Bird researcher Hannahrose Nevins will tell you endangered species of birds in Santa Cruz face a “double whammy,” pollution at sea, but also plastics and discarded fishing line on shore that entangles birds or ends up in their stomachs….



Snowy Surprise: Hawk Eggs Hatch as Thousands Watch

Live video streams from 70 feet above Cornell campus  April 24, 2012
Ithaca, New York–On Earth Day this past Sunday, two Red-tailed Hawk eggs began to hatch in a nest 70 feet above the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York. Thousands of viewers from around the world watched a live camera feed from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology online, waiting for the first glimpse of the chicks. Then darkness fell, and snow began to fall. “By morning, snow was piled high in the nest around Big Red, the female hawk,” said Charles Eldermire, who leads the Cornell Lab’s BirdCams project. “For hours we waited, as viewers kept asking questions in the live chat about whether the young would survive.” At 1:53 p.m. on Monday, after most of the snow in the nest had melted, Big Red stood up. The live chat went wild with cheers as she revealed a fuzzy white chick and two eggs, one of them in the process of hatching. Eldermire said the two remaining eggs are due to hatch any day now. To watch the live cam, visit


Avocado oil: The ‘olive oil of the Americas’? (April 22, 2012) — Researchers have found that consuming fruit bolsters cells’ power centers against harmful free radicals. … > full story



Foraging Gannets video

PRBO’s Antarctica program collaborator, Amélie Lescroel, has attached video cameras to foraging Gannets off the coast of France and posted the footage here:



Eagle Owl footage



Health Buzz: Many U.S. Workers Sleep-Deprived

U.S. News & World Report – ‎April 27, 2012

By Angela Haupt Nearly a third of American workers get too little sleep, federal health officials said Thursday. By sleeping fewer than six hours a night, these folks put themselves and their co-workers at risk for serious consequences, according to a


Soft drinks: Public enemy No 1. in obesity fight?

CNN – ‎April 27, 2012

By Caleb Hellerman, CNN This weekend on “Sanjay Gupta MD,” Dr. Gupta takes a critical look at sugar and the impact it has on our bodies.



















The Strip, by Brian McFadden, from the NY Times [click to enlarge]





Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates May 4, 2012


Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates

May 4, 2012


Highlights of the Week   –Ecosystem effects of biodiversity loss and  plant diversity key to productive vegetation













8IMAGES OF THE WEEK and a poem…



Have a great weekend-







Highlight of the Week….    Ecosystem effects of biodiversity loss and  plant diversity key to productive vegetation


Ecosystem effects of biodiversity loss could rival impacts of climate change, pollution  May 02, 2012  Written by Jim Erickson ANN ARBOR, Mich. [see paper abstract below]

Loss of biodiversity appears to impact ecosystems as much as climate change, pollution and other major forms of environmental stress, according to a new study from an international research team. The study is the first comprehensive effort to directly compare the impacts of biological diversity loss to the anticipated effects of a host of other human-caused environmental changes.

The results highlight the need for stronger local, national and international efforts to protect biodiversity and the benefits it provides, according to the researchers, who are based at nine institutions in the United States, Canada and Sweden. “Loss of biological diversity due to species extinctions is going to have major impacts on our planet, and we better prepare ourselves to deal with them,” said University of Michigan ecologist Bradley Cardinale, one of the authors. The study is scheduled for online publication in the journal Nature on May 2 [see below].


“These extinctions may well rank as one of the top five drivers of global change,” said Cardinale, an assistant professor at the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment and an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.


Studies over the last two decades have demonstrated that more biologically diverse ecosystems are more productive. As a result, there has been growing concern that the very high rates of modern extinctions – due to habitat loss, overharvesting and other human-caused environmental changes – could reduce nature’s ability to provide goods and services like food, clean water and a stable climate. But until now, it’s been unclear how biodiversity losses stack up against other human-caused environmental changes that affect ecosystem health and productivity.


“Some people have assumed that biodiversity effects are relatively minor compared to other environmental stressors,” said biologist David Hooper of Western Washington University, the lead author of the Nature paper. “Our new results show that future loss of species has the potential to reduce plant production just as much as global warming and pollution.”


In their study, Hooper and his colleagues used combined data from a large number of published studies to compare how various global environmental stressors affect two processes important in all ecosystems: plant growth and the decomposition of dead plants by bacteria and fungi. The new study involved the construction of a data base drawn from 192 peer-reviewed publications about experiments that manipulated species richness and examined the impact on ecosystem processes….


  • The global synthesis by Hooper and his colleagues found that in areas where local species loss this century falls within the lower range of projections (loss of 1 to 20 percent of plant species), negligible impacts on ecosystem plant growth will result, and changes in species richness will rank low relative to the impacts projected for other environmental changes.


  • In ecosystems where species losses fall within intermediate projections (21 to 40 percent of species), however, species loss is expected to reduce plant growth by 5 to 10 percent, an effect that is comparable in magnitude to the expected impacts of climate warming and increased ultraviolet radiation due to stratospheric ozone loss.


  • At higher levels of extinction (41 to 60 percent of species), the impacts of species loss ranked with those of many other major drivers of environmental change, such as ozone pollution, acid deposition on forests, and nutrient pollution….


Still to be determined is how diversity loss and other large-scale environmental changes will interact to alter ecosystems. “The biggest challenge looking forward is to predict the combined impacts of these environmental challenges to natural ecosystems and to society,” said J. Emmett Duffy of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, a co-author of the paper….



A global synthesis reveals biodiversity loss as a major driver of ecosystem change▶ NATURE (Abstract) David U. Hooper, E. Carol Adair, Bradley J. Cardinale, Jarrett E. K. Byrnes, Bruce A. Hungate et al. Nature (2012) doi:10.1038/nature11118  Received 09 January 2012  Accepted 13 April 2012 Published online 02 May 2012

Evidence is mounting that extinctions are altering key processes important to the productivity and sustainability of Earth’s ecosystems1, 2, 3, 4. Further species loss will accelerate change in ecosystem processes5, 6, 7, 8, but it is unclear how these effects compare to the direct effects of other forms of environmental change that are both driving diversity loss and altering ecosystem function. Here we use a suite of meta-analyses of published data to show that the effects of species loss on productivity and decomposition—two processes important in all ecosystems—are of comparable magnitude to the effects of many other global environmental changes. In experiments, intermediate levels of species loss (21–40%) reduced plant production by 5–10%, comparable to previously documented effects of ultraviolet radiation and climate warming. Higher levels of extinction (41–60%) had effects rivaling those of ozone, acidification, elevated CO2 and nutrient pollution. At intermediate levels, species loss generally had equal or greater effects on decomposition than did elevated CO2 and nitrogen addition. The identity of species lost also had a large effect on changes in productivity and decomposition, generating a wide range of plausible outcomes for extinction. Despite the need for more studies on interactive effects of diversity loss and environmental changes, our analyses clearly show that the ecosystem consequences of local species loss are as quantitatively significant as the direct effects of several global change stressors that have mobilized major international concern and remediation efforts9.




Plant diversity is key to maintaining productive vegetation (May 3, 2012) — Vegetation, such as a patch of prairie or a forest stand, is more productive in the long run when more plant species are present, results of a new study show. The long-term study of plant biodiversity found that each species plays a role in maintaining a productive ecosystem, especially when a long time horizon is considered.

The research found that every additional species in a plot contributed to a gradual increase in both soil fertility and biomass production over a 14-year period. This week’s issue of the journal Science published the results. They highlight the importance of managing for diversity in prairies, forests and crops, according to Peter Reich, lead author of the paper and a forest ecologist at the University of Minnesota. … > full story

P. B. Reich, D. Tilman, F. Isbell, K. Mueller, S. E. Hobbie, D. F. B. Flynn, N. Eisenhauer. Impacts of Biodiversity Loss Escalate Through Time as Redundancy Fades. Science, 2012; 336 (6081): 589 DOI: 10.1126/science.1217909




  1. 1.       ECOLOGY


At an urban L.A. school, nature grows — and test scores too

By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times April 16, 2012

At Leo Politi Elementary, workers ripped out concrete and planted native flora. The plants attracted insects, which attracted birds, which attracted students, who, fascinated by the nature unfolding before them, learned so much that their science test scores rose sixfold….



Ranchers shift from traps to dogs to fight coyotes

Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, 04/27/12

Marcia Barinaga was hustling around making cheese, answering phone calls and handling business at her ranch in Marshall the other day, but the real work was going on in the lush green fields, where most of her 230 sheep were grazing. There, spread out in several pastures among the woolly flock, were four big, white dogs, seemingly lolling about as if they didn’t have a care in the world, but, in rural western Marin County, they are the difference between success or failure, life and death.

The 80- to 115-pound dogs – Oso, Big Otis, Shep and Gordy – are Great Pyrenees, one of the most dedicated livestock guardian breeds in the world.  Their presence reflects a radical change in the livestock industry, which has, for a century, relied almost exclusively on traps, bullets and poison to control canine predators. The practice of using the dogs is not only encouraged in Marin County, in some cases it’s subsidized. “There is no other program like this that we are aware of in the country,” said Camilla Fox, the executive director of Project Coyote, a national nonprofit headquartered in Larkspur. “We believe it sets a model for other communities to emulate and tailor to their needs.”….


Gas Development Linked to Wildlife Habitat Loss

May 2, 2012 — Intense development of the two largest natural gas fields in the continental U.S. are driving away some wildlife from their traditional wintering grounds, new research … > full story


Massachusetts: The Economic Impacts of Ecological Restoration in Massachusetts This report analyzes four ongoing or completed restoration projects (Broad Meadows Restoration, Eel River Headwaters Restoration, Stony Brook Restoration, and North Hoosic River Restoration) using the IMPLAN regional economic impact model as a means to helps the Division on Ecological Restoration (DER) gain an initial sense of the direct and indirect effects of their activities on a “per restoration dollar” basis.


Impaired Recovery of Atlantic Cod: Forage Fish or Other Factors?

April 30, 2012 — Biologists suggest the delay in recovery of Atlantic cod on the eastern Scotian Shelf could be attributed to increased predation by grey seals or other governing factors and not the effect of forage … > full story


The Future of America’s First Fishery: Improving Management Of The New England Groundfishery

Posted: 01 May 2012 07:23 AM PDT by Michael Conathan Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress.  You can download the full report here.

Before Christopher Columbus’s grandparents were born, early European explorers from the Vikings to the Basques had already discovered an untold wealth of fish in the corner of the northwest Atlantic now known as the Gulf of Maine. Here, the proximity of seemingly limitless stocks of cod that could be readily salted, dried, and transported back across the ocean helped establish communities that laid the groundwork for our modern-day society. Today there is no more iconic profession in eastern New England than fishing. From the “Ocean State” of Rhode Island, to the Sacred Cod that has hung in the Massachusetts House of Representatives chamber since 1784, to the lobster that epitomizes coastal Maine, fish are integral to New England’s culture and economy. Today this fishery—which was once so robust, legend says, that fishermen could haul in a healthy catch just by dropping a weighted basket over the side of a skiff— is struggling to recover from decades of overfishing.

… As consumers become ever more educated about their seafood—trying to balance factors such as local sourcing, environmental impacts of different fishing gear, mercury and heavy metal content, and overall sustainability—reestablishing one of the world’s most productive fisheries is of interest to more people than ever before. This report begins by summarizing management of the northeast multispecies fishery, which is more commonly known as the New England groundfishery and whose participants are referred to as groundfishermen. (These terms will be used throughout this report.) The fishery is comprised of 15 bottom-dwelling species of fish such as haddock, flounders, and the iconic cod, which in some cases are further divided into distinct populations known as “stocks.” Atlantic cod, for example, is managed as Gulf of Maine cod, Georges Bank cod, and Georges Bank cod east…..


First-of-Its-Kind Study Reveals Surprising Ecological Effects of Earthquake and Tsunami  ScienceDaily  May 2, 2012  … A new paper appearing today in the journal PLoS ONE elucidates the surprising results … pointing to the potential effects of natural disasters on sandy beaches worldwide. …  Jaramillo elaborated, “This is very important because sandy beaches represent about 80 percent of the open coastlines globally. Also, sandy beaches are very good barriers against the sea level rise we are seeing around the world. It is essential to take care of sandy beaches. They are not only important for recreation, but also for conservation.” The study is said to be the first-ever quantification of earthquake and tsunami effects on sandy beach ecosystems along a tectonically active coastal zone.> full story

Eduardo Jaramillo, Jenifer E. Dugan, David M. Hubbard, Daniel Melnick, Mario Manzano, Cristian Duarte, Cesar Campos, Roland Sanchez. Ecological Implications of Extreme Events: Footprints of the 2010 Earthquake along the Chilean Coast. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (5): e35348 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035348



Scientists provide first large-scale estimate of reef shark losses in the Pacific Ocean (April 27, 2012) — First study to provide estimates of reef shark losses in the Pacific Ocean are sobering. Researchers noted the enormous detrimental effect that humans have on reef sharks. … > full story


Protection sought for rare woodpecker

SCOTT SONNER, Associated Press, 05/02/12

(05-02) 12:54 PDT Reno, Nev. (AP) — Smokey Bear has done such a good job stomping out forest fires the past half-century that a woodpecker that’s survived for millions of years by eating beetle larvae in burned trees is in danger of going extinct in parts of the West, according to conservationists seeking U.S. protection for the bird. Four conservation groups filed a petition with the U.S. Interior Department on Wednesday to list the black-backed woodpecker under the Endangered Species Act in the Sierra Nevada, Oregon’s Eastern Cascades and the Black Hills of eastern Wyoming and western South Dakota.

It is the first federal petition to recognize the ecological significance and seek protection of post-fire habitat, an expert said. In addition to fire suppression, the groups contend post-fire salvage logging combined with commercial thinning of green forests is eliminating what little remains of the bird’s habitat, mostly in national forests where it has no legal protection.



Flooding Spreads Invasive Species In Vermont, Iowa, Louisiana

AP  |  By LISA RATHKE Posted: 04/29/2012 12:01 pm

BETHEL, Vt. (AP) — Last year’s hurricanes and flooding not only engulfed homes and carried away roads and bridges in hard-hit areas of the country, it dispersed aggressive invasive species as well.

In Vermont, the floodwaters from Tropical Storm Irene and work afterward to dredge rivers and remove debris spread fragments of Japanese knotweed, a plant that threatens to take over flood plains wiped clean by the August storm. The overflowing Missouri and Mississippi rivers last year launched Asian carp into lakes and oxbows where the fish had not been seen before, from Iowa to the Iowa Great Lakes. Flooding also increased the population along the Missouri River of purple loosestrife, a plant that suppresses native plants and alters wetlands. “It’s quite an extensive problem around the country and it’s spreading,” said Linda Nelson, aquatic invasive species expert with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agency’s budget for controlling invasive aquatic plants has grown from $124 million in 2008 to $135 million for fiscal year 2012…..


Wildlife Conservation Society and Partners Increase Habitat for Sprague’s Pipit
Released: 4/25/2012 8:00 AM EDT Source: Wildlife Conservation Society

The Wildlife Conservation Society, in partnership with the American Prairie Reserve, World Wildlife Fund-US, Nature Conservancy Canada, and The Nature Conservancy, has been awarded funding by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to maintain and restore critical habitat for the Sprague’s pipit in northern Montana, North Dakota, and southern Saskatchewan. …As a group, grassland birds are the most imperiled in North America, and neotropical grassland birds—those that migrate south of the United States—are at particular risk due to habitat fragmentation, livestock overgrazing, and land conversion of their grassland habitats. Sprague’s pipit was once a common bird within its U.S. historical range but requires large areas of light-to moderately-grazed native grasses to breed. Habitat fragmentation due to tilling of land has greatly reduced the availability of such areas. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that suitable habitat for the species has decreased by more than 97 percent….”Grassland birds in general, and the Sprague’s pipit in particular, are disappearing as large grassland habitats are lost,” said Dr. Steve Zack, Coordinator of Bird Conservation for WCS. “Working with ranchers on managing grazing with wildlife in mind will go a long way toward keeping the Great Plains vibrant with singing birds and many other native species.” In related work, WCS is working with U.S. National Park Service to study migration by the Sprague’s pipit, using tiny archival geolocator tags to record each bird’s location between breeding and wintering areas. The goal is to answer where, when, and how the species migrates and uses wintering areas.



Study: Towers kill 6.8 million birds a year
Collisions with communication towers kill about 6.8 million birds — nearly all of them migratory — each year in Canada and the United States, a new study has calculated. Researchers based their calculation on previous studies of bird victims found around 38 towers, extrapolating the findings to all towers 197 feet or higher in the two countries. The worst offenders are tall towers, some so high they reach into altitudes at which migratory birds travel, and those with steady-burning red lights. More


Mobs rule for Great Tit neighbors (May 1, 2012) — Great tits are more likely to join defensive mobs with birds in nearby nests that are ‘familiar neighbours’ rather than new arrivals, new research has found. … > full story



Wildlife feels the strain of South Florida’s drier-than-usual spring
The Sun-Sentinel
At the peak of South Florida’s winter-to-spring dry season, water levels from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades are receding and drying up marshes relied on for nesting and feeding. Since November, South Florida has gotten about 45 percent of its normal rainfall. Dried-out marshes threaten the foraging grounds of the endangered Everglades snail kite. Alligators are retreating to their self-made watering holes, awaiting relief from summer rains. The number of wood storks and other wading birds is down, blamed on lingering effects from last year’s drought. More




Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press A harvester works through a field of genetically modified corn near Santa Rosa. Approval of a new corn may lead to heavy use of a 1940s-era herbicide.

Genetically modified crops’ results raise concern

Carolyn Lochhead Monday, April 30, 2012 Washington — Biotechnology’s promise to feed the world did not anticipate “Trojan corn,” “super weeds” and the disappearance of monarch butterflies. But in the Midwest and South – blanketed by more than 170 million acres of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton – an experiment begun in 1996 with approval of the first commercial genetically modified organisms is producing questionable results. Those results include vast increases in herbicide use that have created impervious weeds now infesting millions of acres of cropland, while decimating other plants, such as milkweeds that sustain the monarch butterflies. Food manufacturers are worried that a new corn made for ethanol could damage an array of packaged food on supermarket shelves.  Some farm groups have joined environmentalists in an attempt to slow down approvals of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, as a newly engineered corn, resistant to another potent herbicide, stands on the brink of approval….


First of 2 papers on lab-made bird flu published

MALCOLM RITTER, Associated Press, 05/02/12

(05-02) 10:20 PDT NEW YORK, (AP) — Four months ago the U.S. government sought to block publication of two studies about how scientists created an easily spread form of bird flu. Now a revised version of one paper is seeing the light of day with the…


Amazon: Ancient farming method may help conserve savannahs
A fire-free farming method practiced by early inhabitants of the Amazonian savannahs could help inform efforts to conserve and rehabilitate these important ecosystems around the world, a study has found. This latest study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (9 April), found that 800 years ago, prior to European settlement of Latin America, indigenous farmers had developed a technique known as ‘raised-field’ farming to manage land sustainably without using fire.


Scientists discover 24 new lizard species in Caribbean

Christian Science Monitor – ‎May 1, 2012

Two dozen new species of skink, a type of lizard, have been discovered in the Caribbean. But many of them are imperiled by the mongoose, which was introduced to the islands in the 19th century.


Some dinosaurs were declining before asteroid struck, say scientists (+video)

Christian Science Monitor – ‎ May 1, 2012‎

By the time that giant meteor collided with our planet at the end of the Cretaceous, some dinosaur species were already heading toward extinction, new research indicates.


Early North Americans lived with extinct giant beasts, study shows (May 3, 2012) — A new study that determined the age of skeletal remains provides evidence humans reached the Western Hemisphere during the last ice age and lived alongside giant extinct mammals. The study addresses the century-long debate among scientists about whether human and mammal remains found at Vero Beach in the early 1900s date to the same time period. Using rare earth element analysis to measure the concentration of naturally occurring metals absorbed during fossilization, researchers show modern humans in North America co-existed with large extinct mammals about 13,000 years ago, including mammoths, mastodons and giant ground sloths. … > full story






Increasing speed of Greenland glaciers gives new insight for rising sea level (May 3, 2012) — Changes in the speed that ice travels in more than 200 outlet glaciers indicates that Greenland’s contribution to rising sea level in the 21st century might be significantly less than the upper limits some scientists thought possible, a new study shows. … they started with the winter of 2000-01 and then repeated the process for each winter from 2005-06 through 2010-11, and found that the outlet glaciers had not increased in velocity as much as had been speculated. “In some sense, this raises as many questions as it answers. It shows there’s a lot of variability,” said Ian Joughin, a glaciologist in the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory …The scientists saw no clear indication in the new research that the glaciers will stop gaining speed during the rest of the century, and so by 2100 they could reach or exceed the scenario in which they contribute four inches to sea level rise.”There’s the caveat that this 10-year time series is too short to really understand long-term behavior,” Howat said. “So there still may be future events — tipping points — that could cause large increases in glacier speed to continue. Or perhaps some of the big glaciers in the north of Greenland that haven’t yet exhibited any changes may begin to speed up, which would greatly increase the rate of sea level rise.”….> full story

R. B. Alley, I. Joughin. Modeling Ice-Sheet Flow. Science, 2012; 336 (6081): 551 DOI: 10.1126/science.1220530

Antarctic Albatross Displays Shift in Breeding Habits

April 30, 2012 — A new study of the wandering albatross — one of the largest birds on Earth — has shown that some of the birds are breeding earlier in the season compared with 30 years … > full story





Integrating Climate Vulnerability with Lists of At-Risk Species

Posted: 30 Apr 2012 08:13 AM PDT

Tom Gardali and Dr. Nathaniel Seavy, PRBO Conservation Science

As managers struggle to identify actions they can take to prepare for climate change, one approach that appears promising is to modify existing conservation tools by integrating traditional conservation concerns with concerns associated with climate change. To this end, we have worked with the California Department of Fish and Game…


Stream Temperatures Don’t Parallel Warming Climate Trend May 2, 2012 — A new analysis of streams in the western United States with long-term monitoring programs has found that despite a general increase in air temperatures over the past several decades, streams are not … > full story


Marine Food Chain Becomes Clearer With New Revelations About Prey Distribution

May 2, 2012 — A new study has found that each step of the marine food chain is clearly controlled by the trophic level below it — and the driving factor influencing that relationship is not the abundance of prey, … > full story

Pacific islands on equator may become refuge for corals in a warming climate due to changes in ocean currents (April 29, 2012) — Scientists have predicted that ocean temperatures will rise in the equatorial Pacific by the end of the century, wreaking havoc on coral reef ecosystems. But a new study shows that climate change could cause ocean currents to operate in a surprising way and mitigate the warming near a handful of islands right on the equator. As a result these Pacific islands may become isolated refuges for corals and fish. … > full story

Wind farms are numerous in parts of Texas; scientists report new results on their effects. (Credit: U.S. Department of Energy)

Night-Warming Effect Found Over Large Wind Farms in Texas

ScienceDaily (Apr. 30, 2012) — Large wind farms in certain areas in the United States appear to affect local land surface temperatures, according to a paper published April 30 in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study, led by Liming Zhou, an atmospheric scientist at the State University of New York- (SUNY) Albany, provides insights about the possible effects of wind farms. The results could be important for developing efficient adaptation and management strategies to ensure long-term sustainability of wind power. “This study indicates that land surface temperatures have warmed in the vicinity of large wind farms in west-central Texas, especially at night,” says Anjuli Bamzai, program director in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funded the research. “The observations and analyses are for a relatively short period, but raise important issues that deserve attention as we move toward an era of rapid growth in wind farms in our quest for alternate energy sources.”….



Pine beetle damage

Global Warming is Doubling Bark Beetle Mating, Boosting Tree Attacks Up To 60-Fold, Study Finds

By Joe Romm on Apr 30, 2012 at 5:00 pm Long thought to produce only one generation of tree-killing offspring annually, some populations of mountain pine beetles now produce two generations per year, dramatically increasing the potential for the bugs. Because of the extra annual generation of beetles, there could be up to 60 times as many beetles attacking trees in any given year, their study found. And in response to warmer temperatures at high elevations, pine beetles also are better able to survive and attack trees that haven’t previously developed defenses. That’s from the University of Colorado, Boulder news release for a new study in in The American Naturalist. We’ve known that climate change  favors invasive species, but the mountain pine beetle infestation is far worse than anyone had imagined even a decade ago. This new study, “Mountain Pine Beetle Develops an Unprecedented Summer Generation in Response to Climate Warming,” spells out the grim facts…


Experiments Underestimate Plant Responses to Climate Change

ScienceDaily (May 2, 2012) — Experiments may dramatically underestimate how plants will respond to climate change in the future. That’s the conclusion of an analysis of 50 plant studies on four continents, published this week in an advance online issue of the journal Nature, which found that shifts in the timing of flowering and leafing in plants due to global warming appear to be much greater than estimated by warming experiments. “This suggests that predicted ecosystem changes — including continuing advances in the start of spring across much of the globe — may be far greater than current estimates based on data from experiments,” said Elizabeth Wolkovich, an ecologist at the University of British Columbia who led an interdisciplinary team of scientists that conducted the study while she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego. “These findings have extensive consequences for predictions of species diversity, ecosystem services and global models of future change,” said Elsa Cleland, an assistant professor of biology at UC San Diego and senior author of the study, which involved 22 institutions in Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S. “Long-term records appear to be converging on a consistent average response to climate change, but future plant and ecosystem responses to warming may be much higher than previously estimated from experimental data.”


Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change ▶
E. M. Wolkovich, B. I. Cook, J. M. Allen, T. M. Crimmins, J. L. Betancourt et al.
Advances in plant flowering and leafing times in response to warming are underpredicted by experimental warming studies. 

Scientists core into California’s Clear Lake to explore past climate change (May 3, 2012) — One of the oldest lakes in the world, Clear Lake in northern California has deep sediments that contain a record of the climate and local plants and animals going back perhaps 500,000 years. Scientists are drilling cores from the sediments to explore 130,000 years of this history and fine-tune models for predicting the fate of today’s flora and fauna in the face of global warming and pressure from a growing human population. The core drilling is part of a unique, multifaceted effort at UC Berkeley to determine how Earth’s flora and fauna responded to past changes in climate in order to improve models that project how life on Earth will adapt to today’s environmental pressures. What the researchers learn from their look-back in time will be crucial for state or local planners clamoring for better predictive tools to guide policies crucial to saving ecosystems threatened by climate change. …. Using isotope and chemical analysis as well as carbon dating, the researchers will obtain a long series of detailed snapshots — ideally, every 10 years — of the plant and animal communities in the Clear Lake area and how the communities changed in response to “natural” global warming events. The analysis will also provide a measure of the temperature, oxygen content and nutrient levels of the lake, which reflect rainfall and water level…. > full story



Scientists worry that warming seas may be harming the endangered right whale

BILL GREENE/BOSTON GLOBE VIA GETTY IMAGES – A right whale sounds in Cape Cod Bay. Aerial surveys have counted only six new calves this year, down from the average of 20.

By Peter Brannen, Published: April 30 Provincetown, Mass. — Normally for a few days in spring, beachgoers on this hook of land stretching into Cape Cod Bay witness one of the rarest scenes in the animal kingdom: dozens of surface-skimming North Atlantic right whales, lumbering just a few hundred yards from shore. But that rite of spring was upended this year. The critically endangered animals, which usually arrive in late March or early April to graze on shrimplike plankton, began arriving before Christmas, as water temperatures hovered several degrees above normal, dispersing only recently…. Water temperatures in and around Cape Cod Bay were more than 3.5 degrees above average this winter, although scientists say this is probably a short-term anomaly that can’t be directly attributed to climate change. “To me or you 3.5 degrees isn’t a big difference, but in an ocean system it means different oceanography, different currents and different biological processes,” Mayo said. He suspects this could be driving changes in the distribution and timing of plankton blooms, in turn influencing the whales’ odd behavior.  ….According to scientists, the disappointing numbers could be linked to changes in the animals’ northern feeding grounds brought on by water that is warmer but also less salty because of melting Arctic sea ice…..



Zimbabwe: Climate Change – Farming’s Biggest Threat

By Jeffrey Gogo, 30 April 2012

….For the new farmers — both large-scale commercial and small-scale farmers not to mention their subsistence counterparts — their biggest mandate is to provide food for the nation and for export.

But since the start of the fast track land reforms over 10 years ago, that goal is yet to be met.

During this period, Zimbabwe has been forced to import, on average, 50 percent of its annual grain requirements to cover local deficits. The reasons for poor food and agricultural production in a land-reformed Zimbabwe are numerous, key among them lack of funding, inputs shortage and lack of adequate agriculture skills as well as laziness. However, the biggest challenge to farming and food security in the country today is not funding, it is not skills shortage but climate change and global warming. Changing climatic and weather systems pose a serious threat to agriculture, as they have disrupted rains, caused droughts and resulted in higher average temperatures….


Do Lawns Contribute to Climate Change?

Posted: 04/30/2012 3:02 pm

Mark Hostetler, Professor, Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, University of Florida

Do lawns contribute to climate change? … The take home message is that highly maintained lawns and trees sequester much less carbon dioxide than more natural areas with little maintenance. ……. These carbon dioxide emissions are not trivial; for example, a 4-hectare greenspace in Miami-Dade with 85 percent of the land covered in lawn would emit over 11 tons of carbon dioxide per year. … At this stage, natural greenspaces in and around urban areas, with little to no maintenance, seem to be the best option for carbon dioxide sequestration. Natural urban greenspaces also have other benefits, such as biodiversity conservation, reduced stormwater runoff, and reduced fertilizer applications. Overall, the conservation of urban open space could play a role in reducing Florida’s carbon footprint, but highly maintained urban greenspace could be regarded as a source of greenhouse gases….








Two Years After The Deepwater Horizon Disaster, BP Uses Quarterly Profits For Millions In Lobbying Dollars

Posted: 01 May 2012 06:43 AM PDT by Kiley Kroh and Rebecca Leber

Two years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP is reporting profits of $5.9 billion for the first quarter of 2012. That’s an 18.5 percent dip compared to the first quarter of last year; however, it’s a major reversal from 2010. After claiming a loss that year, BP quickly rebounded in 2011, recording a profit of $25.7 billion. Even as the company sells off assets to pay billions in damages for the 2010 disaster, it is already pursuing drilling plans again in the Gulf of Mexico…


Independent Analysis Confirms That Hydraulic Fracturing Caused Drinking Water Contamination In Wyoming  Posted: 01 May 2012 12:11 PM PDT

by Jessica Goad A recent study from the Environmental Protection Agency showing that chemicals from hydraulic fracturing had contaminated groundwater has just been validated by an independent hydrology expert. The impact of natural gas drilling — particularly hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — on drinking water and groundwater has been heavily debated. It has also been one of the most serious PR issues for the oil and gas industry. In December 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency found official evidence that poisonous chemicals from fracking had contaminated water near drill rigs in Pavillion, Wyoming. That study has now been backed up by an independent expert. In a report released today, commissioned by several environmental groups….







  1. 4.    POLICY


Panetta: Climate change hits national security

The Hill (blog) – ‎

By Carlo Munoz – 05/04/12 11:30 AM ET Climate change has had a direct effect on national security, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said this week.


IFC debuts green bond to fight climate change

MarketWatch – May 4, 2012‎

By Thomas Kostigen  SANTA MONICA, Calif. (MarketWatch) – As climate change skeptics’ nakedness is almost shone through, and they reach for the clouds to buttress their loony theory that global warming does not exist, more sober people are getting on  with the business of making the world more climate-friendly. Or to put that another way, a better place. The International Finance Corp., a member of the World Bank Group, is raising $500 million for climate-friendly investments in emerging markets — and it’s turning to the U.S. bond market to do so through a “green bond” offering. This is the first IFC green bond targeting U.S. investors.  Lars Thunell, the IFC’s chief executive says, “This bond will strengthen our ability to invest in innovative energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects that can help these countries confront climate change….




Global warming: New research blames economic growth (May 1, 2012) — It’s a message no one wants to hear: to slow down global warming, we’ll either have to put the brakes on economic growth or transform the way the world’s economies work. That’s the implication of an innovative study examining the evolution of atmospheric CO2, the most likely cause of climate change. .. To break the economic habits contributing to a rise in atmospheric CO2 levels and global warming, Tapia Granados says that societies around the world would need to make enormous changes. “Since the mid 1970s, scientists like James Hansen have been warning us about the effects global warming will have on the Earth,” Tapia Granados said. “One solution that has promise is a carbon tax levied on any activity producing CO2 in order to create incentives to reduce emissions. The money would be returned to individuals so the tax would not burden the population at large. ..What our study makes clear is that climate change will soon have a serious impact on the world, and the time is growing short to take corrective action.“… > full story


José A. Tapia Granados, Edward L. Ionides, Óscar Carpintero. Climate change and the world economy: short-run determinants of atmospheric CO2. Environmental Science & Policy, 2012; 21: 50 DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2012.03.008


Offering a conservative perspective on climate change

Apr. 30, 2012  Iowa  by Bill Ferrel

As a conservative Republican who very much understands the need to reduce and control our spending, it may seem strange that I understand and accept that climate change is impacting my home, state and country.

It is beyond comprehension that my party would so adamantly avoid dealing with the fact that we now are facing historical events on such a regular basis that it is impacting our state and national budgets in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually…..Why is it that we have not connected the dots between climate change and real life events that have occurred in our own backyards? Why do we find it acceptable to have massive damage to our university, and yet sit by and be satisfied with the hundreds of millions of dollars that are being spent locally to repair the damage?…. Come on, people, let’s all grow up just a bit. My grandparents taught me about taking responsibility for my actions. They also taught me about using good judgment and not acting in a selfish way that will cause harm to others. Can we really afford to continue to pay for our lack of action?

Speaking to everyone — but specifically to my Republican friends — it is time that we all act in a manner that asks the tough questions about disasters and the costs. It is time that we ask what part we as humans have in the causes of these events and what we can do about it to mitigate the extreme costs. I am not asking for billions of dollars or hundreds of new regulations. Like most Americans, I do not want to spend excessive amounts of money or be overly regulated. I am asking you to ask the questions and seek reasonable solutions. It is time we unify across this country and provide world leadership. It is time that we connect the dots between our actions and the results of those actions.


Can Nature’s Beauty Lift Citizens From Poverty?
Using nature’s beauty as a tourist draw can boost conservation in China’s valued panda preserves, but it isn’t an automatic ticket out of poverty for the humans who live there, a unique long-term study shows. The truly impoverished have a harder time breaking into the tourism business, according to the paper, “Drivers and Socioeconomic Impacts of Tourism Participation in Protected Areas,” published in the April 25 edition of PLoS One.



Public Opinion Snapshot: The Death Of Public Support For Global Warming Action Is Greatly Exaggerated Posted: 30 Apr 2012 09:25 AM PDT by Ruy Teixeira

…But a just-released poll from the Yale and George Mason climate change communication programs reveals the lie in this claim. 63 percent of respondents said the United States should move forward to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what other countries do, compared to 3 percent who said we should await action by industrialized countries, 8 percent who said we should wait for both industrialized and developing countries to move, and 5 percent who said we shouldn’t bother reducing emissions. In the same poll, the public supported — by a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent — requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, even if that would cost the average household an extra $100 per year….



Commentary: Public must stay involved in Central Valley flood planning

Issue Date: May 2, 2012

By Justin Fredrickson For much of this year, Farm Bureau has been urging the state to change its Draft Central Valley Flood Protection Plan, to minimize its impact on farmland and other agricultural resources. We’ve made progress with state officials and still have hope that the plan will be amended further. But we’ve also made surprising discoveries about the plan that indicate its impact on farmland could be even greater than we first thought. In reviewing the draft plan, we discovered that its major thrust was to increase flood protection in urban areas and increase opportunities for habitat restoration by creating large levee setbacks and additional flood bypass areas on a total of about 40,000 acres, mostly agricultural land, from Butte and Colusa counties in the north, to southern San Joaquin County in the south.


Insurers Prepare for Climate Change…Except in U.S.
Sunday, April 29, 2012 Insurance company executives are aware of the future risks posed by climate change. And yet they have been slow to prepare for the coming wave of weather-related accidents and litigation spawned by global warming changes. In a survey conducted by Ceres, a Boston-based coalition of investors and environmental groups, more than 75% of insurers acknowledged the existence of perils stemming from climate change. “Yet despite widespread recognition of the effects climate change will likely have on extreme events, few insurers were able to articulate a coherent plan to manage the risks and opportunities associated with climate change,” the Ceres report states. The Ceres study found that out of 88 U.S. insurance companies, only 11 had formal climate change risk policies and more than 60% had no dedicated management approach to assessing climate risks. Ben Schiller at Yale’s Environment 360 noted that while American insurance companies have been slow to prepare for global warming’s ramifications, their European counterparts have been getting ready for a potentially costly future. “It is frustrating to see that it’s so extremely difficult to include this huge risk of climate change into current business,” Andreas Spiegel, senior climate change adviser at Swiss Re, a large reinsurance company, told Schiller. “There is a bit of a short-term view on the benefits, risks, and costs.”….




  1. 5.    RESOURCES


Wetlands Restoration and Conservation Requirements – COMMENT PERIOD

The Verified Carbon Standard has posted the Wetlands Restoration and Conservation Requirements for a 60-day public comment period. This is a significant step forward to linking carbon finance with coastal wetlands restoration and conservation activities, as the draft requirements set out rules for crediting a range of wetland activities, adding the eligible activities in the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land-Use sector. The public comment period lasts until June 23, 2012, and the requirements are available at Once public comments are received, the draft WRC requirements will be finalized and submitted to the VCS Board for approval, after which they will be prepared for publication, likely in September. The WRC requirements were developed by the VCS Wetlands Technical Working Group and underwent a rigorous peer review. The Group was coordinated by Restore America’s Estuaries and includes Carolyn Ching (VCSA), Dr. Steve Crooks (ESA PWA), Dr. Igino Emmer (Silvestrum), Dr. Pat Megonigal (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center), Dr. Boone Kauffman (Oregon State University), Dr. Hans Joosten (Greifswald University, Germany), and Steve Emmett-Mattox (RAE).



National Global Change Research Plan 2012-2021: A Strategic Plan for the U. S. Global Change Research Program

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is pleased to release the new National Global Change Research Plan 2012-2021: A Strategic Plan for the U. S. Global Change Research Program. The development of this plan is mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990 (GCRA, P.L.

101-606) and will serve as the guiding document for USGCRP for the next decade…..Please go to  to see the final Plan (here is the direct link to the 31MB file:



App depicts impact of climate change on planet – ‎ April 30, 2012

TORONTO (Reuters) – Whether it is melting glaciers, coastal erosion or drying lakes, a new app displays the impact of climate change on the planet by using before and after satellite images. Called Fragile Earth, the app for iPhone and iPad shows how our planet is impacted by global warming by featuring more than 70 sites such the receding Muir Glacier in Alaska, the impact of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the draining of the Mesopotamia Marshes in Iraq….



New York City

Climate Change Is Real and Here: What To Do NOW To Protect Your Building

By Alice Cook  May 2012  Habitat Magazine

…..Condos and co-ops can do their part to mitigate this by installing green roofs. These structures can absorb and capture the excess rainfall during intense precipitation events, helping to forestall sewage overflows. Additionally, rainfall can be captured and re-appropriated for use in building systems or, in some cases, toilet flushing. Doing this not only saves on water, it also hygienically preserves quality, since the increased flooding makes the water grid susceptible to dirt. In keeping with the “multiplicity of benefits” principle so common to the eco-friendly design world, green roofs also act as natural insulators, protecting against both types of extreme weather: hot summers and cold winters. If your building’s fresh-air intakes are on the roof, a green roof helps modulate temperatures and minimizes the cooling requirements for the air being pulled into the building. Thinking on larger geographies, if the whole city were to implement green roofs, this would curb the “heat island effect” that contributes to cities being a few degrees warmer during summer. In general, the more external foliage you incorporate, the better. Trees and plants provide vital shade in urban places and they release water vapors by their leaf transpiration. Collectively, if the city were to cover itself in green, this would have a huge impact on cooling the entire metropolis in the summer, and modulating temperatures during winter. In fact, vines — so often considered a menace to the integrity of our building’s walls — may actually work to preserve them…..




Monitoring Climate Effects in Temperate Marine Ecosystems: A Test Case Using California’s MPAs

This new report outlines a new and innovative framework for measuring climate change effects and informing adaptive MPA management. The MPA Monitoring Enterprise worked with EcoAdapt to develop an approach to efficiently and effectively track climate change effects that augments ongoing MPA monitoring. This information will not only aid in the interpretation of MPA monitoring results, but also can be designed to inform the management dialogue around potential climate change effects on marine ecosystems and adaptation or mitigation measures. We hope that this can lead to climate-savvy management for better future outcomes. To view the full report go here.


Webinar series
The CA LCC has begun a regular series of webinars highlighting projects supported by the LCC. The next webinar, presented by Steve Schoenig, California Department of Fish and Game, is noon-1 p.m. (PST), May 10. He will discuss “Assessing Species Vulnerability to Climate Change and Mapping Occurrences and Distribution of Those Believed to Be the Most Vulnerable in California.”  To view the webinar, visit The login is CaliforniaLCC and the password is 18*ngAbj.  For information contact Rebecca Fris at
The National Wildlife Federation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are sponsoring the following webinar 10-11:30 a.m. (PST) Wednesday, May 16. You must register to join this webinar. Lines are limited, so please consider viewing in groups.


WEBINAR: Safeguarding Wildlife from Climate Change Web Conference Series (ALC3209) A partnership between the National Wildlife Federation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service :
Conserving wildlife in mountain ecosystems: importance of a broad-scale perspective Wednesday, May 16, 10:00-11:30 PM Pacific  Erik Beever, Ph.D.  Research Ecologist  U.S. Geological Survey Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center

Description:  This presentation will use mountain wildlife to illustrate several phenomena related to contemporary climate change:
a) investigation of body-condition and reproductive-fitness responses to possible phenological mismatches across elevational gradients, involving timing of sagebrush-obligate migratory birds, their insect prey, and plant flowering
b) examples of behavioral plasticity ‘softening’ distributional constraints, illustrating one form of adaptation
c) context-dependent trends and distributional constraints in a broadly distributed species
In the latter case, research on American pikas across 18 years of contemporary data and historical records from 1898-1956 suggest that pace of local extinctions and rate of upslope retraction have been markedly more rapid in the last decade than during the 20th century, and that dynamics governing the extinction process differed greatly between the two periods.  This may mean that understanding even recent dynamics of species losses may not always help us predict the patterns of future loss.   Given the prevalence and importance of clinal variability and ecotypic variation, phenotypic and behavioral plasticity, and variation in climatic conditions, greatest progress in understanding phenomena such as distributional determinants, the local-extinction process, and factors acting as drivers of density and population dynamics will occur with coordinated, landscape-scale research and monitoring.


Once submitted, your name will be added to the registry for the webinar and you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the webinar via WebEx platform.

This webinar will be recorded for later viewing. If you cannot attend the webinar it will be posted approximately 1-2 weeks after the presentation is given and posted on our Climate Change website: If you have any questions regarding the Safeguarding webinars, please contact: Ashley Fortune: 304.876.7361 or

Climate change workshop– conservation management and climate change
The University of California, Riverside Center for Conservation Biology and the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources will hold a one-day workshop on conservation management and climate change, Tuesday, May 22, in Palm Desert, CA. Cost is $55 by May 4 and $75 after.

Land managers are increasingly aware of the potential impacts of climate change on species and ecosystem processes and are asked to develop management plans with a minimum of information to support their plans. Conservation researchers in southern California are studying climate change impacts on biota and ecosystems, but much of this is available either in scientific publications that do not reach managers, or is research in progress. The objectives of this workshop will be to extend scientific information on climate change implications for local conservation to managers and regulators; to learn from regional land managers what their climate change management plans are; to discuss ways that recent scientific findings can be incorporated into monitoring, data management, and land management plans, and to keep current and future managers abreast of recent findings through outreach programs.

To register, visit For additional information, contact Edie Allen at or Chris McDonald at


Restoration 2012: Beyond Borders-May 15-18
Four of the Northwest’s premiere ecological restoration and fisheries organizations are coming together to present Restoration 2012 : Beyond Borders, May 15-18 in Victoria BC.

Sustainability- Special Issue Terrestrial Ecosystem Restoration-Call for Papers- Due Aug 31
Open access journal, Sustainability, is calling for papers to be submitted to a special issue entitled Terrestrial Ecosystem Restoration, due August 31, 2012.

6th Annual Conference on Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration– Oct. 20-24

NOAA Ocean Service (NOS)  Subscribe/Unsubscribe to NOS Email List


Foul Murder on the marshes—birder mystery novel

Retired American detective Patrick McCluskey is a contented man. He aims to live happily ever after in a 300-year-old cottage on England’s wild and windy North Norfolk coast, sharing life with his new partner, Judith, a beautiful and talented illustrator of birds. Then Rev. Richard Rocastle, the vicar for Chesley-Next-The-Sea, arrives with the news that his church roof restoration fund is missing . . . and McCluskey is instantly plunged into a tangled investigation of abduction, incest, dope-dealing, nudity and cold-blooded murder. Another in a series from Bantry Books, Waiting for Godwits is an murder mystery written especially for birders. Free sample chapters of Waiting for Godwits and Digby Maclaughlin’s other mysteries for birders — A Bird of a Different Color and a Bird to Die For –can now be downloaded direct from Amazon to your Kindle, Ipad, I-phone or PC. Simply click Digby at the Kindle Store and Amazon will do the rest. To learn more about the author, why not visit Digby’s web page?



A Book Review Of ‘The Crash Course’: The Unsustainable Future Of Our Economy, Energy and Environment

Posted: 28 Apr 2012 06:59 AM PDTby John Atcheson

The first thing to say about The Crash Course is that it is an impressive work of scholarship.  It is reminiscent of Guns, Germs and Steel in terms of the scope and breadth of knowledge brought to bear by the author in support of his thesis – which is basically that we’re headed for hard times unlike anything humanity has seen. The second is that it contains a few fundamental flaws. The third is that you should read it anyway.  His thesis is more than plausible; his research is meticulous; and no matter how much you think you know about sustainability, you will walk away from The Crash Course wiser, if sadder….








Broken Promises: Ocotillo Wind Project Wins Approval Despite Outcry From Tribes, Residents And Environmentalists East County Magazine, 4/26/12
“Despite the pleas of Native Americans, area residents and environmentalists seeking to stop the Ocotillo Express wind project, Imperial Valley Supervisors approved it by a 4-1 vote late yesterday after a two-day hearing.”

Renewable energy: Group looks for locations that avoid harm Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/24/12
Conflicts with wildlife and Native American artifacts “have slowed progress, added to the costs of renewable energy development and triggered opposition from environmental groups and tribes concerned about wildlife, landscapes, sacred sites and other natural resources. Avoiding such conflicts is a major goal of an interagency group working to develop energy sites throughout Southern California ….. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan would allow for development by 2040 of more than 20,000 megawatts of clean, alternative energy — enough for more than 8 million homes — in ways that minimize conflicts…


Use of public and private dollars for scaling up clean energy needs a reality check, say scholars (May 1, 2012) — In a post-Solyndra, budget-constrained world, the transition to a decarbonized energy system faces great hurdles. Overcoming these hurdles will require smarter and more focused policies. Two writers outline their visions in a pair of high-profile analyses. … > full story


Merkel’s Green Jobs Ambition Stalls With Cuts for Solar

By Stefan Nicola on April 30, 2012

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s effort to create jobs in renewable energy is faltering as subsidy cuts and competition from Chinese manufacturers forces the industry to stop hiring for the first time in eight years.  Employment in Germany’s clean energy industry probably will “stagnate” this year after creating about 31,600 jobs a year since 2004, said Claudia Kemfert, senior energy analyst at the DIW economic institute in Berlin. Four German solar companies filed for protection from creditors since December including Q- Cells SE, once the world’s biggest cell maker…






E.O. Wilson Wants to Know Why You’re Not Protesting in the Streets

Posted: 01 May 2012 09:31 AM PDTby Lisa Hymas, Grist

We had lots of questions for acclaimed biologist and conservationist Edward O. Wilson when he dropped by the Grist office recently while touring to promote his latest book, The Social Conquest of Earth. But Wilson directed the toughest question of the day back at us: Why aren’t you young people out protesting the mess that’s being made of the planet? As we squirmed in our seats, Wilson, 82, continued: “Why are you not repeating what was done in the ‘60s? Why aren’t you in the streets? And what in the world has happened to the green movement that used to be on our minds and accompanied by outrage and high hopes? What went wrong?”….Over the course of his long career as a professor at Harvard, he’s conducted pioneering research on ants, written seminal books on sociobiology and biogeography, published ant-centric fiction in The New Yorker, and led major efforts to preserve global biodiversity. His new book traces human morality, religion, and arts to their biological roots, and turns traditional Darwinism on its head, arguing that social groups and tribes are the primary drivers of natural selection.

Q. The title of your book has the word social in it. Social has become a buzzword for online networking, this new way of forming groups. Are you on Facebook? Are you using the internet to look at the way groups behave?

A. No, others are doing that.

We are entering a new world, but we’re entering it as Paleolithic brains. Here’s my formula for Earth’s civilization: We are a Star Wars civilization. We have Stone Age emotions. We have medieval institutions — most notably, the churches. And we have god-like technology. And this god-like technology is dragging us forward in ways that are totally unpredictable…..



A Critique Of The Broken-Record Counterfactual Message of The New York Times On Environmentalists and Scientists

By Joe Romm on Apr 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm

The New York Times keeps running opinion pieces and analyses that misstate the positions of the major environmental groups and even leading scientists. A classic example is the Dot Earth post from Friday headlined, “A Critique of the Broken-Record Message of ‘Green Traditionalists’.” I will show that this critique is pure bunk. Indeed, this critique isn’t merely untrue, it is the exact opposite of the truth.

Amazingly, we will even see that the critique contains an utterly false attack on “a bunch of scientists” who just published a major report. But people just don’t click on links, I guess….


Clouds’ Effect on Climate Change Is Last Bastion for Dissenters

By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times Published: April 30, 2012

LAMONT, Okla. — For decades, a small group of scientific dissenters has been trying to shoot holes in the prevailing science of climate change, offering one reason after another why the outlook simply must be wrong.  Over time, nearly every one of their arguments has been knocked down by accumulating evidence, and polls say 97 percent of working climate scientists now see global warming as a serious risk.

Yet in recent years, the climate change skeptics have seized on one last argument that cannot be so readily dismissed. Their theory is that clouds will save us.  They acknowledge that the human release of greenhouse gases will cause the planet to warm. But they assert that clouds — which can either warm or cool the earth, depending on the type and location — will shift in such a way as to counter much of the expected temperature rise and preserve the equable climate on which civilization depends.

Their theory exploits the greatest remaining mystery in climate science, the difficulty that researchers have had in predicting how clouds will change. The scientific majority believes that clouds will most likely have a neutral effect or will even amplify the warming, perhaps strongly, but the lack of unambiguous proof has left room for dissent.  “Clouds really are the biggest uncertainty,” said Andrew E. Dessler, a climate researcher at Texas A&M. “If you listen to the credible climate skeptics, they’ve really pushed all their chips onto clouds.”  Richard S. Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the leading proponent of the view that clouds will save the day. His stature in the field — he has been making seminal contributions to climate science since the 1960s — has amplified his influence……


Rare glimpse into great blue heron nest (May 1, 2012) — In a first for technology and for bird watching, thousands of people watched live this weekend as a tiny Great Blue Heron emerged from an egg in between its father’s gigantic feet. Viewers around the world are now able to follow the surprising lives of herons, including rare views still little known to science. … > full story



Tim McCarver Believes Climate Change Has Led To More Home Runs (VIDEO)

By Matt Yoder, Awful Announcing Tim McCarver isn’t just a baseball announcer, no, he’s also evidently an amateur meteorologist. How else would one explain McCarver dropping this wisdom on an unsuspecting nation during Saturday afternoon’s MLB on Fox coverage….


Washington Post backs Tim McCarver climate change-home run connection

Published: 4:57 PM 04/30/2012



Rapid Sierra Nevada uplift tracked by scientists (May 3, 2012) — From the highest peak in the continental United States, Mt. Whitney at 14,000 feet in elevation, to the 10,000-foot-peaks near Lake Tahoe, scientific evidence shows the entire Sierra Nevada mountain range is rising at the relatively fast rate of 1 to 2 millimeters every year. … > full story

Garlic compound fights source of food-borne illness better than antibiotics (May 1, 2012) — A compound in garlic is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics at fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, one of the most common causes of intestinal illness. The discovery opens the door to new treatments for raw and processed meats and food preparation surfaces. … > full story


















And last but  not least—a poem for spring, a metaphor on life:

By John Updike: “Baseball”

It looks easy from a distance,
easy and lazy, even,
until you stand up to the plate
and see the fastball sailing inside,
an inch from your chin,
or circle in the outfield
straining to get a bead
on a small black dot
a city block or more high,
a dark star that could fall
on your head like a leaden meteor.

The grass, the dirt, the deadly hops
between your feet and overeager glove:
football can be learned,
and basketball finessed, but
there is no hiding from baseball
the fact that some are chosen
and some are not—those whose mitts
feel too left-handed,
who are scared at third base
of the pulled line drive,
and at first base are scared
of the shortstop’s wild throw
that stretches you out like a gutted deer.

There is nowhere to hide when the ball’s
spotlight swivels your way,
and the chatter around you falls still,
and the mothers on the sidelines,
your own among them, hold their breaths,
and you whiff on a terrible pitch
or in the infield achieve
something with the ball so
ridiculous you blush for years.
It’s easy to do. Baseball was
invented in America, where beneath
the good cheer and sly jazz the chance
of failure is everybody’s right,
beginning with baseball.

“Baseball” by John Updike, from Endpoint and Other Poems. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2009



Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates May 11 2012

Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates

May 11, 2012


Highlights of the Week  – Groundwater extraction and Sea Level Rise and…















Highlights of the Week….   Groundwater extraction and Sea Level Rise; and…Can Geoengineering Solve Global Warming?; NASA’s James Hanson Op-Ed



Effect of Groundwater Use: Using Water from Wells Leads to Sea Level Rise, Cancels out Effect of Dams  ScienceDaily May 9, 2012

As people pump groundwater for irrigation, drinking water, and industrial uses, the water doesn’t just seep back into the ground As people pump groundwater for irrigation, drinking water, and industrial uses, the water doesn’t just seep back into the ground — it also evaporates into the atmosphere, or runs off into rivers and canals, eventually emptying into the world’s oceans. This water adds up, and a new study calculates that by 2050, groundwater pumping will cause a global sea level rise of about 0.8 millimeters per year.


“Other than ice on land, the excessive groundwater extractions are fast becoming the most important terrestrial water contribution to sea level rise,” said Yoshihide Wada, with Utrecht University in the Netherlands and lead author of the study. In the coming decades, he noted, groundwater contributions to sea level rise are expected to become as significant as those of melting glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and the Antarctic.


Between around 1970 and 1990, sea level rise caused by groundwater pumping was cancelled out as people built dams, trapping water in reservoirs so the water wouldn’t empty into the sea, Wada said. His research shows that starting in the 1990s, that changed as populations started pumping more groundwater and building fewer dams.


The researchers looked not only at the contribution of groundwater pumping, which they had investigated before, but also at other factors that influence the amount of terrestrial water entering the oceans, including marsh drainage, forest clearing, and new reservoirs. Wada and his colleagues calculate that by mid-century, the net effect of these additional factors is an additional 0.05 mm per year of annual sea level rise, on top of the contribution from groundwater pumping alone.


The research team’s article is being published May 9 in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. The last report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 addressed the effect on sea level rise of melting ice on land, including glaciers and ice caps, Wada said. But it didn’t quantify the future contribution from other terrestrial water sources, such as groundwater, reservoirs, wetlands and more, he said, because the report’s authors thought the estimates for those sources were too uncertain.


“They assumed that the positive and negative contribution from the groundwater and the reservoirs would cancel out,” Wada said. “We found that wasn’t the case. The contribution from the groundwater is going to increase further, and outweigh the negative contribution from reservoirs.” In the current study, the researchers estimated the impact of groundwater depletion since 1900 using data from individual countries on groundwater pumping, model simulations of groundwater recharge, and reconstructions of how water demand has changed over the years. They also compared and corrected those estimates with observations from sources such as the GRACE satellite, which uses gravity measurements to determine variations in groundwater storage.


With these groundwater depletion rates, Wada and his colleagues estimate that in 2000, people pumped about 204 cubic kilometers (49 cubic miles) of groundwater, most of which was used for irrigation. Most of this, in turn, evaporates from plants, enters the atmosphere and rains back down. Taking into account the seepage of groundwater back into the aquifers, as well as evaporation and runoff, the researchers estimated that groundwater pumping resulted in sea level rise of about 0.57 mm in 2000 — much greater than the 1900 annual sea level rise of 0.035 mm.


The researchers also projected groundwater depletion, reservoir storage, and other impacts for the rest of the century, using climate models and projected population growth and land use changes. The increase in groundwater depletion between 1900 and 2000 is due mostly to increased water demands, the researchers find. But the increase projected between 2000 and 2050 is mostly due to climate-related factors like decreased surface water availability and irrigated agricultural fields that dry out faster in a warmer climate.


If things continue as projected, Wada estimates that by 2050, the net, cumulative effect of these non-ice, land-based water sources and reservoirs — including groundwater pumping, marsh drainage, dams, and more — will have added 31 mm to sea level rise since 1900. The new study assumes that, where there is groundwater, people will find a way to extract it, Wada said, but some of his colleagues are investigating the limits of groundwater extraction. One way to decrease groundwater’s contribution to sea level rise, he noted, is to improve water efficiency in agriculture — to grow more with less groundwater.


Journal Reference: Yoshihide Wada, Ludovicus P. H. van Beek, Frederiek C. Sperna Weiland, Benjamin F. Chao, Yun-Hao Wu, Marc F. P. Bierkens. Past and future contribution of global groundwater depletion to sea-level rise. Geophysical Research Letters, 2012; 39 (9) DOI: 10.1029/2012GL051230


  • Groundwater Depletion Rate Accelerating Worldwide (Sep. 23, 2010) — In recent decades, the rate at which humans worldwide are pumping dry the vast underground stores of water that billions depend on has more than doubled, say scientists who have conducted an unusual, …  > read more





Can Geoengineering Solve Global Warming? : The New Yorkerby Michael Specter · The Climate Fixers. Is there a technological solution to global warming? by Michael Specter May 14, 2012. Geoengineering holds out the promise of artificially


NASA’s JAMES HANSEN on Climate Change in NY Times Op-ED May 10 2012

Game Over for the Climate.” …….





  1. 1.       ECOLOGY


Less is more, for female cowbirds: Findings contradict sexual selection theory (May 4, 2012) — More modest male displays attract the females when it comes to brown-headed cowbirds, contrary to sexual selection theory, according to new research. While sexual selection theory predicts that females should find more flamboyant displays the most sexually attractive, the opposite holds true for brown-headed cowbirds, a small songbird common in North America. … > full story


Not always safety in numbers when it comes to extinction risk (May 8, 2012) — A basic tenet underpinning scientists’ understanding of extinction is that more abundant species persist longer than their less abundant counterparts. A new study reveals a much more complex relationship. A team of scientists analyzed more than 46,000 fossils from 52 sites and found that greater numbers did indeed help clam-like brachiopods survive the Ordovician extinction. Surprisingly, abundance did not help brachiopod species persist for extended periods outside of the extinction event. … > full story

One-quarter of grouper species being fished to extinction (May 9, 2012) — Groupers, a family of fishes often found in coral reefs and prized for their quality of flesh, are facing critical threats to their survival. Scientists report that 20 species are at risk of extinction if current overfishing trends continue, and an additional 22 species are near “threatened” status. … > full story

Plastic trash altering ocean habitats (May 8, 2012) — A 100-fold upsurge in human-produced plastic garbage in the ocean is altering habitats in the marine environment, according to a new study. … > full story

Bats, whales, and bio-sonar: New findings about whales’ foraging behavior reveal surprising evolutionary convergence (May 8, 2012) — Though they evolved separately over millions of years in different worlds of darkness, bats and toothed whales use surprisingly similar acoustic behavior to locate, track, and capture prey using echolocation, the biological equivalent of sonar. Now researchers have shown that the acoustic behavior of these two types of animals while hunting is eerily similar. … > full story

Built-in ear plugs: Whales may turn down their hearing sensitivity when warned of an impending loud noise (May 8, 2012) — Toothed whales navigate through sometimes dark and murky waters by emitting clicks and then interpreting the pattern of sound that bounces back. The animals’ hearing can pick up faint echoes, but that sensitivity can be a liability around loud noises. Now researchers have discovered that whales may protect their ears by lowering their hearing sensitivity when warned of an imminent loud sound. … > full story


Logging of tropical forests needn’t devastate environment (May 10, 2012) — Harvesting tropical forests for timber may not be the arch-enemy of conservation that it was once assumed to be, according to a new study. … > full story

Beetle-fungus disease threatens crops and landscape trees in Southern California (May 8, 2012) — A plant pathologist has identified a fungus that has been linked to the branch dieback and general decline of several backyard avocado and landscape trees in residential neighborhoods of Los Angeles County. The fungus, which caused avocado dieback in Israel, is a new species of Fusarium and is transmitted by the Tea Shot Hole Borer, a beetle no larger than a sesame seed. … > full story


Gas development pushing pronghorn out of vital wintering grounds

Development of natural gas fields in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is pushing pronghorn out of crucial wintering grounds, a situation that could result in a population decline according to a new study in Biological Conservation. By tracking 125 female pronghorn over five years in Wyoming, researchers found that highest quality habitat had fallen by over 80 percent in two vast gas fields on land owned by the government’s Bureau of Land Management. More


Keep off beaches, Peru warns after pelican deaths

Reuters – ‎ May 7, 2012‎

At least 1200 birds, mostly pelicans, washed up dead along a stretch of Peru’s northern Pacific coastline in recent weeks, health officials said, after an estimated 800 dolphins died in the same area in recent months…. “We’re starting from the hypothesis that it’s because the birds are young and unable to find enough food for themselves, and also because the sea temperature has risen and anchovies have moved elsewhere,” said Deputy Agriculture Minister Juan Rheineck. A mass pelican death along Peru’s northern coast in 1997 was blamed at the time on a shortage of feeder anchovies due to the El Nino weather phenomenon…..


Researchers: Marine insect laying eggs on plastic debris in the ‘Great Pacific …

Washington Post (blog) – ‎May 8, 2012

SAN DIEGO – An increase in plastic debris floating in a zone between Hawaii and California is changing the environment of at least one marine critter, scientists reported. Over the past four decades, the amount of broken-down plastic has grown….


Study: Plastic in ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ increases 100-fold (blog) – ‎May 9, 2012‎

By Ian Johnston, The amount of plastic trash in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” has increased 100-fold during the past 40 years, causing “profound” changes to the marine environment, according to a new study.


Weed-eating fish ‘help protect jobs, livelihoods’ (May 8, 2012) — Jobs, livelihoods and ecotourism industries can benefit from having a diverse supply of weed-eating fish on the world’s coral reefs, marine researchers say. Despite their small size, relative to the sharks, whales, and turtles that often get more attention, herbivorous fish play a vital role in maintaining the health of coral reefs, which support the livelihoods of 500 million people worldwide, say researchers. … > full story


Slaughtering animals without prior stunning should be curbed, if not banned, professor urges (May 5, 2012) — The slaughter of animals for commercial meat supply without stunning them first should at the very least be curbed, if not banned, concludes a former president of the British Veterinary Association in an opinion piece in this week’s Veterinary Record. … > full story


70 percent of beaches eroding on Hawaiian islands Kauai, Oahu, and Maui (May 7, 2012) — An assessment of coastal change over the past century has found 70 percent of beaches on the islands of Kaua»i, O»ahu, and Maui are undergoing long-term erosion, according to new results. … > full story

Taking America’s rarest snake back to the woods (May 7, 2012) — Biologists have released seven young Louisiana pine snakes on a restored longleaf pine stand in the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. The release is the fourth in two years, part of a plan to restore a very rare snake to its range in Louisiana. … > full story


Western states prepare for dangerous fire season Victorville Daily Press, 4/30/12
The West’s 2012 wildfire season exploded in earnest last month with a wind-whipped blaze that killed three people in rugged alpine canyon country near Denver. It took a 700-strong federal firefighting team a week of labor, day and night, to tame the blaze — and other states throughout the West took notice. This year’s drought, low snowpack and record-high temperatures have local fire authorities preparing for another scorching fire season with a combination of education and training …. Nearly all of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah have drought conditions that should persist at least through June….


Dry rivers, vibrant with culture and life (May 7, 2012) — Dry rivers are more than mere desiccated shells of their robustly flowing incarnations, say Australian ecologists. They have qualities and inhabitants distinct from their adjacent riversides wet-phase communities. They are places of isolation and re-connection, and oases for humans and wildlife. … > full story


County outlines groundwater project agreement Riverside Press-Enterprise, 5/1/12
San Bernardino County supervisors advanced “a controversial proposal to draw water from ancient aquifers in the Mojave Desert” including “44 miles of pipeline to move surplus water from the Colorado Aqueduct to an underground basin the size of Rhode Island. The water rights under 34,000 acres belong to Cadiz Inc., which also wants to tap water from beneath nearby dry lake beds that it says would otherwise be lost to evaporation. The Cadiz project has been rejected and reworked since … 1997. Environmentalists say it would deplete ancient groundwater that feeds area springs and sustains local wildlife. One-third of the aquifer sits below the Mojave National Preserve.


Water pipeline dreams revived in the desert San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/29/12
Eager to diversify its water supplies, the San Diego County Water Authority has resurrected a long-shot plan that could top $2 billion to build a pipeline for importing water directly from Imperial County …. Water brought from the desert would involve a combination of tunnels, pipes, canals and pump stations at a cost that was pegged at up to nearly $2 billion a decade ago …. A final report in 2002 noted the difficulty of navigating the extensive federal land holdings and the potential ecological impacts…

Means to detect low-level exposure to seafood toxin in marine animals developed (May 4, 2012) — Scientists have discovered a biological marker in the blood of laboratory zebrafish and marine mammals that shows when they have been repeatedly exposed to low levels of domoic acid, which is potentially toxic at high levels. … > full story


Agricultural bacteria: Blowing in the wind (May 9, 2012) — The 1930s Dust Bowl proved what a disastrous effect wind can have on dry, unprotected topsoil. Now a new study has uncovered a less obvious, but equally troubling, impact of wind: Not only can it carry away soil particles, but also agriculturally important bacteria that build soil and recycle nutrients. … > full story








Early spring means more bat girls (May 4, 2012) — A study on bats suggests that bats produce twice as many female babies as male ones in years when spring comes early. … > full story


Twenty-first-century warming of a large Antarctic ice-shelf cavity by a redirected coastal current ▶
Hartmut H. Hellmer, Frank Kauker, Ralph Timmermann, Jürgen Determann & Jamie Rae
The redirection of warm water under the Filchner–Ronne Ice Shelf during the second half of this century could cause the ice-shelf base to melt at a rate 20 times higher than at present.


Antarctic octopus study shows West Antarctic Ice Sheet may have collapsed 200,000 years ago (May 9, 2012) — Scientists have found that genetic information on the Antarctic octopus supports studies indicating that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could have collapsed during its history, possibly as recently as 200,000 years ago. … > full story

New research brings satellite measurements and global climate models closer (May 7, 2012) — One popular climate record that shows a slower atmospheric warming trend than other studies contains a data calibration problem, and when the problem is corrected the results fall in line with other records and climate models, according to a new study. … > full story

European mountain plant population shows delayed response to climate change (May 7, 2012) — A modeling study from the European Alps suggests that population declines to be observed during the upcoming decades will probably underestimate the long-term effects of recent climate warming on mountain plants. A European team of ecologists has presented a new modeling tool to predict migration of mountain plants which explicitly takes population dynamic processes into account. … > full story


Climate Sensitivity Estimated From Earth’s Climate History – DRAFT

James E. Hansen and Makiko Sato May 2012 DRAFT NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute, New York


Earth’s climate history potentially can yield accurate assessment of climate sensitivity. Imprecise knowledge of glacial-to-interglacial global temperature change is the biggest obstacle to accurate assessment of the fast-feedback climate sensitivity, which is the sensitivity that most immediately affects humanity. Our best estimate for the fast-feedback climate sensitivity from Holocene initial conditions is 3 ± 0.5°C for 4 W/m2 CO2 forcing (68% probability) . Slow feedbacks, including ice sheet disintegration and release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by the climate system, generally amplify total Earth system climate sensitivity. Slow feedbacks make Earth system climate sensitivity highly dependent on the initial climate state and on the magnitude and sign of the climate forcing, because of thresholds (tipping points) in the slow feedbacks. It is difficult to assess the speed at which slow feedbacks will become important in the future, because of the absence in paleoclimate history of any positive (warming) forcing rivaling the speed at which the human-caused forcing is growing.

Summary……We have made a case that the paleoclimate data already restricts the fast-feedback climate sensitivity from Holocene initial conditions to the moderately narrow range 3 ± 0.5°C for a 4 W/m2 CO2 forcing, but this still leaves a large range (2-4°C) for 95 percent confidence. We suggest that the uncertainty could be reduced substantially via appropriate focused efforts to define paleoclimate global temperature change and paleoclimate forcings with the help of the most relevant climate models.

In particular the uncertainty in the magnitude of global cooling during the Last Glacial Maximum is a principle constraint on better assessment of the fast-feedback climate sensitivity. The climate research community, interpreting the large array of data now available for the LGM with the help of the best available global three-dimensional models, should be able to define surface conditions with improved accuracy. The large climate change that occurred at the onset of the prior (Eemian) interglacial period would also be a useful period to study. The potential magnitude of the human-made climate forcing and the fact that fossil fuel carbon dioxide will remain in the surface climate system for millennia make it important that we also understand slow climate feedbacks and Earth system climate sensitivity. Indeed, the paleoclimate record already makes clear that, overall, slow feedbacks considerably amplify climate sensitivity. The human-made climate forcing seems to be unique in its rapidity of growth, which demands a research approach that focuses on understanding the relevant processes and on constructing models or other analysis tools that help predict likely outcomes. A focus on improving the data and modeling of relatively rapid events, such as deglaciation and PETM-like rapid warming events may be especially fruitful.


Lessons From Past Predictions: Hansen 1981

Posted: 08 May 2012 08:30 AM PDT by Dana Nuccitelli, via Skeptical Science

In previous Lessons from Past Predictions entries we examined Hansen et al.’s 1988 global warming projections (here and here).  However, James Hansen was also the lead author on a previous study from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) projecting global warming in 1981, which readers may have surmised from my SkS ID, is as old as I am.  This ancient projection was made back when climate science and global climate models were still in their relative infancy, and before global warming had really begun to kick in (Figure 1)…..



U.S. completes warmest 12-month period in 117 years

By Jason Samenow  Link: State of the Climate, National Overview, April 2012
May 2011 to April 12 ranked as the warmest 12-month stretch over the U.S. since records began in 1895 (NOAA NCDC) As far back as records go (1895), never has the U.S. strung together 12 straight months warmer than May 2011 to April 2012 according to new data released today by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .  The record-setting 12-month period edged out November 1999-October 2000, the 2nd warmest 12-month period, by 0.1°F. The average temperature was 2.8 degrees F above the 20th century average.  In the last year, the U.S. has experienced its second hottest summer, fourth warmest winter (December through February) and warmest March on record. And NCDC announced April 2012 was third warmest on record.



U.S. Experiences Warmest 12-Month Period On Record And Most Extreme January to April  Posted: 08 May 2012 01:16 PM PDT





Climate change poses challenges for Idaho water managers

The Republic – May 8 2012

AP BOISE, Idaho – Scientists say climate change is making it tougher for Idaho reservoir managers to forecast weather, control floods and manage water for farming, recreation and fisheries…



Supporting Canada’s Coasts Can Benefit Climate and Economy

3 May 2012  Montreal/Nairobi — Reversing the degradation of coastal ecosystems in Canada and elsewhere can play an important role in tackling climate change, while bringing additional benefits to biodiversity and the economies of coastal communities. This was the central message delivered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) during an event held by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal. From Canada to Cancun, coastal ecosystems store high levels of carbon in their soil. This so-called “Blue Carbon” is found in tidal salt marshes, grassy meadows subject to the rise and fall of ocean tides, and their tropical cousins, mangrove swamps. … Despite Canada’s cold climate, the country’s salt marshes store as much carbon as in warmer climes, explains Dr. Gail Chmura, a coastal researcher at McGill University, who spoke at the UNEP side event….Reversing the degradation of coastal ecosystems in Canada and elsewhere can play an important role in tackling climate change, while bringing additional benefits to biodiversity and the economies of coastal communities. In fact, Chmura and colleagues have calculated that the restoration of Canada’s drained agricultural marshes will provide ecosystem services worth $14,535 per hectare and a renewed sink for carbon dioxide equivalent to 6 per cent of Canada’s original commitment for reductions under the Kyoto Protocol.



Climate change could affect wheat production: Govt report

Times of India – May 9, 2012

NEW DELHI: A one degree celsius rise in temperature associated with increase in carbondioxide in atmosphere could hit wheat production in India unless “adaptation” strategies are adopted, according to a government report on climate change.

Japan: Fukushima Prefecture to restore destroyed coastal forests
With the help of generous prefectures, Fukushima Prefecture is starting a nine-year plan to restore disaster-prevention coastal forests along a 145-kilometer stretch of the 185-km tsunami-inundated coastline. The prefecture will plant 4.6 million seedlings in an area covering about 460 hectares, or about 700,000 seedlings annually for seven years, starting in fiscal 2014.

Canada: Purple martins come home
The spring return of the purple martin to Victoria marks an environmental success story, a species rebound for a bird whose B.C. numbers were near zero only decades ago. “It’s a good-news story,” said Nightingale. “Because of the nest boxes, we now have about 800 breeding pairs.” As recently as 1985, observers were reporting fewer than 10 breeding pairs of purple martins in all of B.C.

California: Restoring Rare Seabirds at the Channel Islands
Channel Islands National Park and its partners have worked together to restore, monitor, and conserve critical nesting habitat for a variety of key species like Xantus’s murrelet, ashy storm-petrel and Cassin’s auklets. The Channel Islands host half of the world’s population of ashy storm-petrels and 80 percent of the U.S. breeding population of Xantus’s murrelets.


Gaseous emissions from dinosaurs may have warmed prehistoric Earth (May 7, 2012) — Sauropod dinosaurs could in principle have produced enough of the greenhouse gas methane to warm the climate many millions of years ago, at a time when the Earth was warm and wet. That’s according to calculations reported in the May 8 issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. … > full story






acquired July 12, 2008 – April 16, 2012 download animation (13 MB, QuickTime)

After cooling the eastern tropical Pacific for the second winter in a row—and teaming with other large-scale weather patterns to wreak havoc on North American winter—La Niña ended in April 2012. Researchers from the Climate Prediction Center of the U.S. National Weather Service reported on May 3 that the Pacific has transitioned to “neutral conditions, which are expected to continue through northern summer 2012.” La Niña and El Niño are alternating patterns of ocean and atmospheric circulation that have a distinct impact on weather around the Pacific basin. La Niña brings cooler waters and stronger trade winds to the tropical Pacific, boosting precipitation in western Pacific nations like Australia and Indonesia and drying out southern North America. The pattern can alter the path of the jet stream and other atmospheric phenomena….Over yearly scales, the height of the ocean surface is driven by the temperature of the water—warmer water expands to a greater volume than cooler water—and by winds. (Click here to see a map of sea surface temperatures for roughly the same period as the images above.)  Sea surface temperatures (SST) show the surface manifestation of La Niña and El Niño; this is what the atmosphere ‘feels,’” says Bill Patzert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Sea surface height shows how much heat has been redistributed in the equatorial Pacific. These are very complementary. SST shows what the atmosphere is responding to, while SSH shows how intense the event is.”










New Study Predicts Frack Fluids Can Migrate to Aquifers Within Years

by Abrahm Lustgarten
ProPublica, May 1, 2012, 4:29 p.m.

A new study has raised fresh concerns about the safety of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, concluding that fracking chemicals injected into the ground could migrate toward drinking water supplies far more quickly than experts have previously predicted. .. More than 5,000 wells were drilled in the Marcellus between mid-2009 and mid-2010, according to the study, which was published in the journal Ground Water two weeks ago. Operators inject up to 4 million gallons of fluid, under more than 10,000 pounds of pressure, to drill and frack each well…



Shale Energy Boom Puts America In The Top Ten Gas Flaring Countries, Boosting Global Warming Pollution

Posted: 03 May 2012 12:04 PM PDT


Interior releases draft rule requiring public disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on public and Indian lands Department of the Interior, 5/4/12
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the release of a proposed rule to require companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations on public and Indian lands, with appropriate protections for proprietary information. Currently, there is no specific requirement for operators to disclose these chemicals on federal and Indian lands.





  1. 4.    POLICY


Quebec joins California in cap and trade market

David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, 05/10/12

California may not have to go it alone on cap-and-trade after all. Under rules proposed Wednesday by state regulators, the Canadian province of Quebec will link its cap-and-trade system to California’s in November. The joint market will allow businesses in…



Our Government and the Case for Young People From Jim Hanson:A discussion about an important hearing that will be held in Washington, DC at 9:30 AM on Friday, May 11 can also be found on my website.  If you are in the neighborhood, please consider attending.  The science rationale for the plaintiffs happens to be that in our paper The Case for Young People.


FWS and NOAA Fisheries make critical habitat designations clearer
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service have taken a significant step in their effort to make the process of proposing or changing boundaries of critical habitat designations for species protected by the Endangered Species Act, more efficient, less complex and less expensive. By eliminating lengthy textual descriptions and replacing them with maps illustrating critical habitat boundaries, the two agencies will effectively provide landowners and the general public with information that is clearer, while simultaneously reducing costs for the American taxpayer. More


Suggestions in changing Wildlife Services range from new practices to outright bans By Tom Knudson  Sacramento Bee Published: Sunday, May. 6, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 1A Last of three parts

Like many ranchers, Bill Jensen drives a pickup, shoots a high-powered rifle and loves to talk about sheep, cattle and the outdoors. But unlike many ranchers, he no longer relies on the federal government for predator control. Nor does the Marin County rancher have a choice. Ten years ago Marin, known for its environmental activism, halted lethal federal control and launched a program emphasizing nonlethal methods. Jensen, initially skeptical, has turned the program into a success with miles of electric fencing…..


Jobs In Rural Western Counties With More Than 30% Protected Public Lands Increased 300% Over Last 40 Years

Posted: 04 May 2012 06:29 AM PDT by Jessica Goad

A report released yesterday by consulting firm Headwaters Economics continues to shed light on the economic importance of protected public lands to local economies in the American West. It finds that there were more than four times as many jobs created in non-metro counties with protected public lands compared to those without. This data contradicts the ideological rhetoric of many Republicans seeking to throw open more federal acres to mining and drilling. As the report states, over 40 years: Western non-metro counties with more than 30% of lands federally protected increased jobs by 344%….


Private water industry defends ALEC membership

Sarah Pavlus | 05.03.12 | 12:03 pm

An influential trade association representing companies that provide water services to one in four Americans says it will continue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that has worked with the energy industry to create loophole-filled water protections and opposes federal oversight of fracking. The National Association of Water Companies represents the far-reaching privatized water utility industry that serves “nearly 73 million people every day,” according to the association’s website. NAWC represents more than 150 private water companies, each of whom pay an annual fee to the association. Its board of directors is drawn from the leadership of some of the country’s largest water companies. NAWC works with ALEC to persuade state and local officials to adopt policies favorable to the private water industry. NAWC declined to comment on when it first became involved with ALEC and the amount it pays in annual dues. According to The New York Times, ALEC “is primarily financed by more than 200 private-sector members, whose annual dues of $7,000 to $25,000 accounted for most of its $7 million budget in 2010….


Challenges in genetically engineered crop regulatory process (May 8, 2012) — A new innovation can completely reshape an industry — inspiring both optimism and debate. The development of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the 1980’s ignited a buzz in the agricultural community with the potential for higher crop yields and better nutritional content, along with the reduction of herbicide and pesticide use. GE crops grew to play a significant role in the U.S., with more than 160 million acres of farmland used to produce GE crops in 2011. … > full story


National Clean Energy Standard Would Lower Power Sector CO2 Emissions 44% By 2035  Posted: 07 May 2012 01:08 PM PDT

There’s no way around it: we need a price on carbon in order to rapidly reduce emissions. But absent that necessary policy, putting the investment structure in place to promote renewables can also have a substantial impact on lowering emissions. A new analysis from the Energy Information Administration of a Clean Energy Standard (CES) proposed by New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman finds that strong clean energy targets would reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the electricity sector by 44 percent over the next two decades….


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta: ‘Climate Change Has A Dramatic Impact On National Security’

Posted: 07 May 2012 09:25 AM PDT by Arpita Bhattacharyya

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta joined the chorus of academics, policymakers, and security analysts concerned about the “dramatic” impacts of climate change on national security. “Rising sea levels, severe droughts, the melting of the polar caps, the more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” said Panetta at a recent event at the Environmental Defense Fund. While Congress continues to waver on mitigation measures and debate the science, the U.S. defense, development, and diplomacy establishments are already grappling with the impacts of climate change in their work at home and abroad. The latest Quadrennial Defense Review recognized climate change as an “accelerant of instability or conflict” and emphasized the challenges U.S. and partner militaries will face in light of rising sea levels, more frequent extreme weather events, desertification and water scarcity.  USAID is working to integrate climate change into its development efforts, particularly in their agriculture and technology programs. And at the State Department, U.S. negotiators are exploring options to make the Green Climate Fund a reality to support climate change adaptation in vulnerable countries….


Report: U.S. Environmental Satellite System ‘Is At Risk Of Collapse’ And Could Decline 75% By 2020 Posted: 08 May 2012 12:18 PM PDT

The Nation’s leading scientists have issued a stark warning: America’s ability to monitor the environment is rapidly diminishing. And if we don’t properly fund our satellite capabilities, the country could lose three quarters of its Earth observation systems by 2020. That alarming conclusion comes from the National Research Council in a new report assessing the progress of the nation’s Earth observation programs. In short: our leading scientific institutions aren’t actually making much progress….


If the levee breaks …

Expert fears Stockton residents’ lack of flood awareness puts them at risk

STOCKTON – It is this city’s westernmost frontier, an urban finger poking into the Delta.

Spanos Park West is also one of the more educated and affluent parts of town, where families stroll through an expansive green park and signs advertise tryouts for the local swim team. Yet even here, researchers have discovered what they consider to be a startling lack of awareness about the likelihood – sooner or later – of a flood….


Heartland Institute buys Chicago billboards along Eisenhower Expressway

Heartland Institute Compares Climate Science Believers And Reporters To Mass ‘Murderers And Madmen’

Posted: 04 May 2012 07:50 AM PDT The Heartland Institute has launched one of the most offensive billboard campaigns in U.S. history. The Chicago-based anti-science think tank is comparing all those who accept climate science — and the journalists who report on it accurately — to Charles Manson, the Unabomber, and Osama Bin Laden.  This far-beyond-the-pale ad campaign to promote their Chicago conference later this month is a moment of truth for both the think tank and the broader community of disinformers and their enablers.



Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, XL Group Announce Withdrawal from ‘Radical’ Heartland Institute  Posted: 07 May 2012 10:42 AM PDT




  • Environmentalists have filed a lawsuit seeking to derail efforts by the federal government to lease an estimated 2 billion tons of coal near two major Wyoming mines. [Washington Post]


Heartland Institute Pulls Its Global Warming Ad

By RACHEL NUWER (NYT) May 6, 2012

The Heartland Institute ended a billboard campaign that compared those who believe in climate science to what it called “the world’s most notorious killers.”



Connecticut – To Repair the Shore, or Retreat?

By LISA PREVOST (NYT) May 6, 2012

Connecticut state lawmakers have formed a Shoreline Preservation Task Force to grapple with the effects of climate change and rising sea levels.



Thompson bill would add southern Mendocino Coast to national monument Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 4/27/12
Stornetta Public Lands, 1,132 acres located along Mendocino County’s south coast, could receive additional protection” under legislation introduced last week….H.R. 4969 would add the land — overseen by the Bureau of Land Management– to the California Coastal National Monument….



San Anselmo and Fairfax parks slated to become flood ‘detention basins’

By Paul Liberatore Marin Independent Journal Posted:   05/06/2012 07:10:24 AM PDT

Flood waters recede from downtown San Anselmo on Dec. 31, 2005. (IJ photo/Alan Dep) (Alan Dep)

A $71 million flood control project for the Ross Valley that involves building five “detention basins” — including one that would fill Memorial Park in San Anselmo with floodwater — was outlined Saturday at a community meeting in the student union at Sir Francis Drake High School. In addition to the basins, the 10-year work plan includes increasing the capacity of creeks in 180 critical areas, rebuilding bridges and retaining walls and dredging and restoring tidal marshes. As outlined by engineers from the Marin County Department of Works Flood Control staff, the prodigious project is being designed to protect the Ross Valley from the kind of 100-year flood that devastated the towns of Fairfax, San Anselmo and Ross on New Year’s Eve 2005, wreaking $100 million in property damage….





  1. 5.    RESOURCES


California Climate Adaptation Policy Guide – Public Review Phase– COMMENTS DUE BY JUNE 8 2012

The California Natural Resources Agency, in partnership with the California Emergency Management Agency and with support from California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), are developing an Adaptation Policy Guide (APG) to provide a decision‐making framework intended for use by local and regional stakeholders to aid in the interpretation of climate science and to develop a systematic rationale for reducing risks caused, or exacerbated, by climate change. The APG is not intended to provide a prescriptive set of strategies. Instead, it will provide a framework to guide decision makers through the critical considerations necessary for adaptation policy development.

Public comments on the Draft APG are being sought, and the document is now available for public review. To view the Draft APG, please choose the link below: Draft California Climate Adaptation Policy Guide  The public comment period began April 9th, concurrent with the Draft APG’s announcement at the Impacts and Adaptation Local Government Conference. This public review phase has been extended and will close on Friday, June 8th, 2012.


Sustainability– Special Issue Terrestrial Ecosystem Restoration-Call for PapersDue Aug 31

6th Annual Conference on Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration– Oct. 20-24
Publishing Internship at Frontiers – Ecological Society of America

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is looking for an intern, to be based at its Washington, DC, office, to help with the production of its journals, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment ( The internship is a great opportunity to learn about scientific publishing.=  Depending on experience and aptitude, the intern will be involved in many  different aspects of journal production, including editing/proofreading, news writing, podcasting, and image research, as well as other day-to-day activities of the editorial office. The internship includes a small stipend. The successful applicant should be a graduate student with a knowledge of ecology and/or environmental science; an interest in, or experience with, publishing or science writing would be an advantage. Resume and cover letter, together with letters from two referees, should be sent electronically to Dr Sue Silver, Frontiers Editor-in-Chief ( Please specify availability between mid-May and end of August.  Closing date for applications is May 21, 2011. The ESA is a non-partisan, nonprofit professional society, founded in 1915  to promote ecological science. Applicants unfamiliar with the ESA are encouraged to visit and



Webinar: Restore-Adapt-Mitigate: Responding to Climate Change


EPA to Host a webinar on Restore-Adapt-Mitigate: Responding to Climate Change through Coastal Habitat Restoration on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. EDT. Representatives from Restore America’s Estuaries will give an overview of a newly released study linking ecologically important coastal habitat restoration with adaptation and mitigation strategies as a way to reduce the impacts of ongoing global climate change. The report, “Restore-Adapt-Mitigate: Responding to Climate Change through Coastal Habitat Restoration,” demonstrates that large-scale coastal wetland restoration – from restoring salt marshes to protecting mangroves and creating new coastal wetland habitats – can be an integral part of public and private initiatives to combat climate change. The report is a multi-author collaboration bringing together internationally recognized experts in environmental science, policy, and habitat management. For more information, click here. To register, click here.


Wildlife Refuge Manager, GS-0485-15, San Francisco Bay NWR Complex  (OPEN: May 4- 25, 2012) This vacancy announcement provides an opportunity to manage seven National Wildlife Refuges covering 46,000 acres located in 11 counties in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas of California. In addition to the day-to-day management of salt marsh, managed ponds, coastal beach and island habitats, as well as providing recreation opportunities for 800,000 visitors and environmental education programs from around 10,000 school children each year, this refuge complex manager also oversees the largest tidal restoration project along the west coast. All these activities occur within a highly supportive environment of the San Francisco Bay area. This is a high energy, but extremely rewarding job.

PaCOOS (Pacific Coast Ocean Observing System) report, Quarter 1, 2012, of Physical and Ecological Conditions in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem that extends from Vancouver Island, Canada along the West Coast of the U.S. and the Baja Peninsula, Mexico. You can find the report at The material for the report is a combination of summaries from selected government, industry and academic websites as well as emails from researchers along the CA Current.  Please feel free to circulate to other interested parties who can sign up directly by emailing Rosa Runcie <>.



I’m for the River” Campaign! San Joaquin River Partnership — the campaign website, video, and electronic letters of support are ready and available for use at

The California Water Foundation’s (CWF) vision is to sustainably meet California’s 21st century economic and ecological water needs.

CWF supports innovative projects and policies that address water challenges today, while bringing together experts, stakeholders, and the public to achieve long-term, science-based solutions for the future….. 









How BrightSource’s Solar Power Plant Reduces Its Footprint Forbes, 4/30/12
The $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar-power plant is expected to be the largest concentrated-solar plant in the world. It creates electricity … with thousands of mirrors, called heliostats, that bounce the sun’s rays onto a tower.” The need to generate power “while sitting astride fragile tortoise habitat … has provoked a rethinking of what’s needed to make a power plant — or rather what is not needed. Limits imposed by government, environment and environmentalists have pared the plant down to its essentials. The designer, BrightSource Energy, has figured out how to use these limits to its advantage by saving money on construction and maintenance…


Secrets of the first practical artificial leaf (May 9, 2012) — A detailed description of development of the first practical artificial leaf — a milestone in the drive for sustainable energy that mimics the process, photosynthesis, that green plants use to convert water and sunlight into energy — has just been published. The article notes that unlike earlier devices, which used costly ingredients, the new device is made from inexpensive materials and employs low-cost engineering and manufacturing processes. … > full story

Optimal planning of solar power plants (May 10, 2012) — The photovoltaics industry is booming, and the market for solar farms is growing quickly all over the world. Yet, the task of planning PV power plants to make them as effi cient as possible is far from trivial. Researchers have now developed software that simplifies conceptual design. … > full story
T. Boone Pickens: Biggest Deterrent To U.S. Energy Plan Is Koch Industries

By Morgan Korn | Daily Ticker – Wed, May 2, 2012 8:55 AM EDT Investor T. Boone Pickens has made a fortune over the years running an energy-oriented hedge fund, and in recent years he’s been placing big bets on the natural gas and wind industries. The 83-year-old founder and CEO of BP Capital has been one of the most fervent supporters of natural gas, promoting its usage throughout the country and trying to convince lawmakers, including President Obama, that natural gas could be the energy solution that ends the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. The U.S. has an abundance of natural gas, which is found in rock and shale formations. Booming production and growing investment in the field has led to a natural gas supply glut, pushing the price down nearly 50% over the past 12 months. A new government report found that natural gas held in storage is 55.4% above the five-year average. Although natural gas prices have rallied more than 20% in the past week, prices are still down 19% since Jan 1. Pickens predicts that the downward spiral may finally be over. “It’s pitifully low, but we have probably seen the bottom,” he tells Aaron Task at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles…..



First-Ever Solar Project To Generate Electricity On Public Lands Begins Delivering Power

Posted: 08 May 2012 09:25 AM PDT By Jessica Goad Yesterday the Silver State North Solar Project on the California border near Primm, Nevada began generating electricity. It is the first-ever solar project sited on public lands to be completed and produce power. The 50-megawatt project, which was developed by First Solar and owned by Enbridge, will power approximately 9,000 homes. It employed 380 workers at peak construction, just a portion of Nevada’s 17,254 jobs in green goods and services….




Our Massive Marine Energy Potential: Scouring The Tropics For Thermal Energy

Posted: 08 May 2012 07:30 AM PDT by Bruce Dorminey, via Renewable Energy World

The world’s largest untapped source of solar energy doesn’t lie on the vast sands of the Sahara or even atop the high chaparral of the desert Southwest. Instead, it stretches across at least 23 million square miles of earth’s tropical oceans; the uppermost layers of which make a prime natural source of thermal energy. Regardless of time of day or cloud cover, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) promises to harness this thermal sea-based resource year round. OTEC production converts heat energy from seawater into kinetic energy using the ocean’s naturally steep temperature gradient.  It’s this juxtaposition of tropical (and sometimes subtropical) subsurface seawater at temperatures typically above 80 degrees F. and below 40 degrees F. that makes OTEC possible…..



The Battery-Driven Car Just Got a Lot More Normal

Bradley Berman for The New York Times

STAR POWER As handsome as its gasoline-powered siblings, the Ford Focus Electric is identifiable mainly by discreet badges. More Photos »


Published: May 4, 2012


Other news from

  • Solar power became the most-installed energy source in Europe last year for the first time as subsidies drove investment to records, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association said. [Bloomberg]
  • Microsoft has pledged to make all of its data centers, software development labs and any other direct operations carbon neutral, starting in fiscal 2013. [Washington Post]
  •  Major U.S. and German automakers have agreed on a common electric-car charging standard that will speed the recharging of batteries in as little as 20 minutes. [USA Today]
  • Onshore wind farms, recently under attack from leading conservationists for damaging the countryside, can bring significant economic benefits locally and nationally, as well as contributing to the fight against climate change, a new study claims. [The Independent]
  • Free access to emerging renewable energy markets such as Brazil, China and India will be a major factor in helping the European Union maintain its lead in green energy, according to draft documents seen by Reuters. [Reuters]








Clean animals result in fewer E. coli (May 4, 2012) — Following the E. coli case in Norway in 2006, when 17 people fell ill and one child died after eating mutton sausages, the meat industry introduced a number of measures in order to reduce the risk of food poisoning from meat. Clean animals and good hygiene during slaughtering are essential preconditions for food safety. … > full story


Aspen Ski Area hosts ski race without snow to highlight effects of climate change  By Associated Press, Published: May 5 ASPEN, Colo. — Aspen Ski Area hosted a ski race without snow Saturday to highlight the effect climate change has on the outdoor recreation industry.  Auden Schendler, Aspen Skiing Company’s vice president of sustainability, says “climate change is already pounding businesses and communities, whether you’re a ski resort, an insurance agency or a raft business.


Flooding, climate concerns spur demonstrations in Sacramento area

By Edward Ortiz – Updated: 8:56 am Concerns that area rivers will flow high in winter and that extreme weather events will result in floods were on the minds of 50 people who gathered Saturday morning at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area levee as part of a worldwide demonstration


False Balance On Climate Change at PBS NewsHour

Posted: 03 May 2012 02:37 PM PDT

False balance is alive and well even at the so-called liberal media, the PBS NewsHour.

The story in question, which aired Monday, is “Teachers Endure Balancing Act Over Climate Change Curriculum.”  Unfortunately, PBS treats the subject as if they were a teacher straitjacketed by some absurd state law forcing them to maximize confusion: PBS doesn’t actually interview a single climate scientist for the story…. The disinformers are helping to ruin our children’s future and have no place in a story on climate education…..


Birds of a feather talk together (AUSTRALIA)
Pet parrots, such as cockatoos, that are let loose in the wild are teaching native birds to talk.


Hug the Monster’ for Realistic Hope in Global Warming (or How to Transform Your Fearful Inner Climate)  ABC May 8 2012

“Established scientists, community and government leaders and journalists, as they describe the disruptions, suffering and destruction that manmade global warming is already producing, with far worse in the offing if humanity doesn’t somehow control it, are starting to allow themselves publicly to use terms like “calamity,” “catastrophe”, and “risk to the collective civilization.”

“Sooner or later, everyone who learns about the rapid advance of manmade global warming must deal with the question of fear.”

“Careful not to prompt destructive panic, nor to lose credibility, responsible experts have been careful to temper their public depictions of what the world’s climate science has been revealing about the worst effects — if humanity does not handle the problem immediately — of the rapid climatic and oceanic changes already under way. But clearly, with so enormous and inclusive a truth as this one, the proven details of which are widely available to anyone with access to the Internet, “the truth will out, we see it day by day,” as English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote long ago.

And so, inevitably, experts and leaders around the world are beginning to be more open about the frightening prospects. However, in doing so, they are also beginning to demonstrate how to hug this monster — to embrace the fear it instills. They need to have done so to speak with credibility.”



2012 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Finalists The Buckminster Fuller Challenge, named “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award” by Metropolis Magazine, is the annual global competition recognizing bold, visionary, tangible initiatives that take a comprehensive, anticipatory, design science approach to radically advance human well being and the health of our planet’s ecosystems. Among other criteria, entrants are judged on the feasibility of their initiative, whether it is able to withstand rigorous empirical testing, its ability to not only sustain, but enhance the environment, and its ability to scale and adapt to a broad range of conditions.
Finalists Are:

  • Eco-Fuel Africa Limited, a budding enterprise led by a dynamic Ugandan entrepreneur, Sanga Moses, leverages simple technologies to address multiple critical social and environmental problems, boosting rural incomes, combating deforestation, sequestering CO2, reducing indoor air pollution, enhancing the fertility of depleted farming soils, and radically improving overall health and wellbeing of the community.
  • Future of Fish, applies rigorous design thinking with a comprehensive systems view to the massive crisis of over-harvesting that threatens the world’s wild marine fisheries with collapse, and addresses complex systems challenges that have broad applicability.
  • The Living Building Challenge, launched by a pioneer in green architecture, is a philosophy, advocacy tool, and performance standard – setting the highest standard of environmental in buildings, reframing how buildings and infrastructure function within ecosystems.
  • The Water Retention Landscape of Tamera, combines a profound spiritual connection to the land with scientific rigor and a high degree of creativity and innovation to shape a landscape an maximize the retention of rainwater and circulate it in such a way that biodiversity, food production, and human wellbeing are all harmoniously enhanced.


Must-Read: The Powerful Final Words of Ecotopia Author Ernest Callenbach Posted: 07 May 2012 08:26 AM PDT

This document was found on the computer of Ecotopia author Ernest Callenbach (1929-2012) after his death. It was originally published at TomDispatch.

To all brothers and sisters who hold the dream in their hearts of a future world in which humans and all other beings live in harmony and mutual support — a world of sustainability, stability, and confidence. A world something like the one I described, so long ago, in Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging.

As I survey my life, which is coming near its end, I want to set down a few thoughts that might be useful to those coming after. It will soon be time for me to give back to Gaia the nutrients that I have used during a long, busy, and happy life. I am not bitter or resentful at the approaching end; I have been one of the extraordinarily lucky ones. So it behooves me here to gather together some thoughts and attitudes that may prove useful in the dark times we are facing: a century or more of exceedingly difficult times…..


Obesity Rates Keep Soaring, In Part Because Of Car Dependence

Posted: 09 May 2012 06:29 AM PDT

by Kaid Benfield, via NRDC’s Switchboard

The headline in Tuesday’s USA Today was shocking: “Obesity could affect 42% of Americans by 2030.”  That is nearly triple the rate experienced just three decades ago, according to an article written by Nanci Hellmich. At current rates, eleven percent of Americans could be “severely obese, roughly 100 or more pounds over a healthy weight.”…. like global warming, it has become more pronounced gradually and tends not to have sudden and dramatic consequences.  We get used to it.  But, unlike global warming, the environmental factors associated with the rise in obesity have not attracted the attention of the environmental community to any great degree. As Dick Jackson — one of the country’s top environmental health experts — has been telling us for years, this needs to change.  There are all sorts of causes of the obesity epidemic, including of course poor nutrition.  But the downturn in physical activity because of the way we have designed our cities and suburbs — for driving more than walking — is also a significant factor.  There are studies showing that transit use is associated with reduced body weight, as is is the presence of shops and services within walking distance of the home. …  Nate Berg, writing for The Atlantic Cities, reported yesterday that a new study of automobile commuters has found that, the longer the commute, the more likely one is to have reduced fitness, increased weight, high cholesterol, and elevated blood pressure…


Mural found on walls a first for a Maya dwelling; Painted numbers reflect calendar reaching well beyond 2012 (May 10, 2012) — A vast city built by the ancient Maya and discovered nearly a century ago is finally starting to yield its secrets. Excavating for the first time in the sprawling complex of Xultún in Guatemala’s Petén region, archaeologists have uncovered a structure that contains what appears to be a work space for the town’s scribe, its walls adorned with unique paintings — one depicting a lineup of men in black uniforms — and hundreds of scrawled numbers. Many are calculations relating to the Maya calendar. … > full story



FDA Urges Caution Over Long-Term Use of Bone-Density-Building Drugs


Harvard Teams Up With MIT For Free Online Courses

Money Box: It can’t be emphasized enough that the names and brands matter here.









From: Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog
Volunteers in the city of Salvador, Brazil, have connected the dots have and drawn people’s attention to sea level rise and what it impacts in our life…..





Caught on camera: A seagull is snatched and englufed by a Pacific octopus that quickly dropped out of sight. Photograph by: Supplied photo by Ginger Morneau , (May 2012)











Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates May 18, 2012

Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates

May 18, 2012


Highlights of the Week  –





















Highlights of the Week….  


A Tour of Drought as it Unfolds Across the U.S.

Andrew Freedman  ClimateCentral May 15th, 2012

Last year at this time, all eyes were on Texas, where drought conditions were intensifying into what became that state’s worst single year drought on record, causing nearly $8 billion in economic losses. Recently, though, Texas has gone from famine to feast in the precipitation department, and drought concerns for the upcoming summer are focused farther to the west, as drought tightens its grip across a broad swath of the interior West and Southwest In addition to the West, drought conditions are also prevalent in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and parts of the Northeast as well, along with a small pocket in the Upper Midwest. In all, 56 percent of the Lower 48 states were experiencing drought conditions as of May 8, almost twice the area compared to last year at this time, according to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor….


U.S. Drought Monitor issued May 8, 2012. Click on image for a larger version.


Fortunately, much of the West had such bountiful winter precipitation last year that the risk of water supply disruptions are rather low in most areas, but that could change if the current weather pattern lasts much longer. Water officials in Colorado, for example, have begun urging residents to start conserving water in case the dry spell continues…..The Southeast drought is very likely related to the La Niña conditions that existed in the Pacific Ocean last winter. La Niña events, which feature cooler-than-average waters in the equatorial Tropical Pacific, tend to influence weather patterns in such a way that it leads to drier-than-average winter conditions in the southern tier of the U.S. Fortunately, La Niña has diminished, with neither La Niña or El Niño conditions likely for the next few months, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center and forecasters affiliated with Columbia University (some researchers refer to the absence of La Niña and El Niño as “La Nada”)….






  1. 1.       ECOLOGY

Population pressure impacts world wetlands (May 11, 2012) — The area of the globe covered by wetlands (swamps, marshes, lakes, etc.) has dropped by 6% in fifteen years. This decline is particularly severe in tropical and subtropical regions, and in areas that have experienced the largest increases in population in recent decades. … > full story


Map of Life goes live
An interactive resource for global biodiversity analysis ‘Map of Life’ has launched, promising a new era in the visualization of species distributions. Map of Life will soon allow users to add or update species data, thereby becoming the first two-way portal of biodiversity information.

Absence of elephants and rhinoceroses reduces biodiversity in tropical forests (May 11, 2012) — The progressive disappearance of seed-dispersing animals like elephants and rhinoceroses puts the structural integrity and biodiversity of the tropical forest of South-East Asia at risk. Experts have confirmed that not even herbivores like tapirs can replace them. Megaherbivores act as the ‘gardeners’ of humid tropical forests: They are vital to forest regeneration and maintain its structure and biodiversity, researchers say. … > full story

Increasing predator-friendly land can help farmers reduce costs (May 11, 2012) — Having natural habitat in farming areas that supports ladybugs could help increase their abundance in crops where they control pests and help farmers reduce their costs, says a new study. Ladybugs and other predatory insects eat crop pests, saving farmers an estimated $4.6 billion a year on insecticides. Non-crop plants provide these predatory insects with food and shelter, helping them to survive and thrive in areas where they are needed.….Ultimately, natural habitat proved to be more important. The amount of grasslands and forests within 1.5 miles of the soybean fields determined how many ladybugs ended up in the field, she added. Such large areas typically encompass multiple farms, suggesting that rural neighbors may need to work together. In other studies, landscapes with at least 20 percent of non-crop habitat showed good pest control. Providing some habitat on every farm and the properties that surround them would add up to a lot of habitat at the landscape scale — the scale that matters to ladybugs. … > full story


Steelhead Trout Lose out When Water Is Low in Wine Country

May 14, 2012 —The competition between farmers and fish for precious water in California is intensifying in wine country, suggests a new study by biologists at the University of California, Berkeley. The findings, published in the May issue of the journal Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, link higher death rates for threatened juvenile steelhead trout with low water levels in the summer and the amount of vineyard acreage upstream. The researchers found that juvenile steelhead trout are particularly at risk during the dry summer season typical of California’s Mediterranean climate. Of the juvenile steelhead trout present in June, on average only 30 percent survived to the late summer. In years with higher rainfall and in watersheds with less vineyard land use, the survival of juvenile trout over the summer was significantly higher. The researchers pointed out that summer stream flow has been inadequately addressed in salmon and trout conservation efforts. Previous studies have highlighted other limiting factors such as habitat degradation and water quality, but here researchers documented the importance of water quantity for restoring threatened populations. “Nearly all of California’s salmon and trout populations are on the path to extinction and if we’re going to bring these fish back to healthy levels, we have to change the way we manage our water,” said lead author Theodore Grantham, a recent Ph.D. graduate from UC Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM….> full story


Theodore E. Grantham, David A. Newburn, Michael A. McCarthy, Adina M. Merenlender. The Role of Streamflow and Land Use in Limiting Oversummer Survival of Juvenile Steelhead in California Streams. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 2012; 141 (3): 585 DOI: 10.1080/00028487.2012.683472


Color of robins’ eggs determines parental care (May 14, 2012) — A male robin will be more diligent in caring for its young if the eggs its mate lays are a brighter shade of blue. … > full story

Little by little, Hawaii’s iconic beaches are disappearing. Most beaches on the state’s three largest islands are eroding, and the erosion is likely to accelerate as sea levels rise, the United States Geological Survey is reporting. [New York Times]


First satellite tag study for manta rays reveals habits and hidden journeys of ocean giants (May 11, 2012) — Using the latest satellite tracking technology, conservationists have completed a ground-breaking study on a mysterious ocean giant: The manta ray. … > full story


Sulfur finding may hold key to Gaia theory of Earth as living organism (May 15, 2012) — Is Earth really a sort of giant living organism as the Gaia hypothesis predicts? A new discovery may provide a key to answering this question. This key of sulfur could allow scientists to unlock heretofore hidden interactions between ocean organisms, atmosphere, and land — interactions that might provide evidence supporting this famous theory. … > full story

Hidden lives of elephant seals: Record-setting dive more than a mile deep (May 15, 2012) — The same researchers who pioneered the use of satellite tags to monitor the migrations of elephant seals have compiled one of the largest datasets available for any marine mammal species, revealing their movements and diving behavior at sea in unprecedented detail. … > full story



Navy treads fine line when defending US, protecting marine mammals

CNN – ‎May 12 2012

The US Pacific Fleet, in a draft study, said the use of sonar and explosives in those regions from 2014 to 2019 could cause up to 200 deaths and 1600 injuries each year, including hearing loss, among marine mammals. The death estimates are based on the


2300 birds found dead along Chilean beaches

CNN International – ‎May 12 2012

(CNN) — Chilean officials are asking fishermen to help save birds caught in nets


Floating robots use GPS-enabled smartphones to track water flow down Sac River (May 14, 2012) — A fleet of 100 floating robots took a trip down the Sacramento River on May 9, in a field test. The devices, equipped with GPS-enabled smartphones, demonstrated the next generation of water-monitoring technology, promising to transform the way government agencies track one of the state’s most precious resources. … > full story







Nearly One-Tenth of Hemisphere’s Mammals Unlikely to Outrun Climate Change

ScienceDaily  May 14, 2012  A safe haven could be out of reach for 9 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s mammals, and as much as 40 percent in certain regions, because the animals just won’t move swiftly enough to outpace climate change. For the past decade scientists have outlined new areas suitable for mammals likely to be displaced as climate change first makes their current habitat inhospitable, then unlivable. For the first time a new study considers whether mammals will actually be able to move to those new areas before they are overrun by climate change. Carrie Schloss, University of Washington research analyst in environmental and forest sciences, is lead author of the paper out online the week of May 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.We underestimate the vulnerability of mammals to climate change when we look at projections of areas with suitable climate but we don’t also include the ability of mammals to move, or disperse, to the new areas,” Schloss said. Indeed, more than half of the species scientists have in the past projected could expand their ranges in the face of climate change will, instead, see their ranges contract because the animals won’t be able to expand into new areas fast enough, said co-author Joshua Lawler, UW associate professor of environmental and forest sciences…..


Carrie A. Schloss, Tristan A. Nuñez, and Joshua J. Lawler. Dispersal will limit ability of mammals to track climate change in the Western Hemisphere. PNAS, May 14, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1116791109


Two litttle auks enjoying the midnight sun, East Greenland. Credit: David Grémillet

Arctic seabirds buffer impact of current climate change

Phys.Org – ‎May 15, 2012

The planet is warming up, especially at the poles. How do organisms react to this rise in temperatures? An international team led by a CNRS researcher from the Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology has shown that little auks, the most common seabirds in the Arctic, are adapting their fishing behavior to warming surface waters in the Greenland Sea. So far, their reproductive and survival rates have not been affected. However, further warming could threaten the species. For three years, in summer, the researchers studied three colonies of little auks on either side of the Greenland Sea. The difference in surface water temperatures between the warmest and coldest site is 5°C. The warmest site, located in Spitsbergen, reproduces the conditions predicted for the late 21st century in the coldest site (East Greenland). Such temperature differences lead to major changes in the abundance and average size of zooplankton, reducing the quality of little auks’ food resources (copepods).

Surprisingly, the birds have managed to make up for the warming of surface waters in the Greenland Sea by altering their diet and extending the duration of their foraging trips at sea. They travel further and for longer in order to feed in areas where foraging is more successful.

So far, little auks have therefore managed to adapt to the effects of warming surface waters in the Greenland Sea. However, a 5°C temperature rise remains below the maximum temperature increase of 7°C predicted by climate models for the Arctic in 2100. Yet it seems that little auks have reached the limits of their physiological and behavioral capacities. More intense warming could therefore cause their decline as well as a major disruption of marine ecosystems in the Arctic. The scientists are now investigating the impact of global warming on the winter survival of these seabirds.


D. Grémillet, J. Welcker, N.J. Karnovsky, W. Walkusz, M.E. Hall, J. Fort, Z.W. Brown, J.R. Speakman & A.M.A. Harding. Little auks buffer the impact of current Arctic climate change. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 21 May 2012


NASA news release

Study Finds Surprising Arctic Methane Emission Source

The fragile and rapidly changing Arctic is home to large reservoirs of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. As Earth’s climate warms, that methane is vulnerable to possible release into the atmosphere, where it can add to global warming. Researchers have known for years that large amounts of methane are frozen in Arctic tundra soils and in marine sediments (including gas hydrates). But now a multi-institutional study led by Eric Kort of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has uncovered a surprising and potentially important new source of methane: the Arctic Ocean itself…..



Study Shows ‘Clear Indications’ That Climate Change Is Impacting European Fish Stocks Posted: 11 May 2012 11:10 AM PDT

Rising ocean temperatures are driving major changes in fisheries throughout western Europe, bringing warm water species typically seen in the Mediterranean to the coast of the United Kingdom.

A new report card issued by European marine researchers details the ecological and economic impact that climate change is having on fisheries in the UK and Scotland — concluding that there are “clear indications that climate change is affecting fish stocks” in the region. The report card features a map of changes currently underway. ..: Projected global redistributions of fish will affect different parts of the world unequally. By 2050, tropical regions could experience significant declines in landings with gains in some high latitudes. The overall cost of adaptation of the fisheries sector worldwide in response to climate change is predicted to be large and could lead to losses in gross fisheries revenues of $10–31 billion by 2050…


U.S. heat records: Third-warmest April, hottest 12 monthsLos

May 15, 2012  LA Times – Americans just lived through the hottest 12 months ever recorded, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Tuesday….


5th warmest April on record worldwide

Associated Press Wednesday, May 16, 2012 Washington –

Unseasonable weather pushed last month to the fifth warmest April on record worldwide, federal weather statistics show. …Two years ago was the hottest April since record keeping started in 1880. Last month was the third hottest April in the United States and unusually warm in Russia, but cooler than normal in parts of Western Europe. This is despite a now-ended La Niña, which generally lowers global temperatures. …. The last time the globe had a month that averaged below the 20th century normal was February 1985. April makes it 326 months in a row.  Nearly half the population of the world has never seen a month that was cooler than normal, according to U.N. data. “A warmer world is the new normal,” Oppenheimer said. “To me, it’s startling to think that a generation has grown up with global warming defining their world.” The first four months of 2012 rank the 15th warmest on record.


Hawaii’s Beaches Are in Retreat, and Its Way of Life May Follow

Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images   Beaches like Waikiki face accelerating erosion, a new report says.

By CORNELIA DEAN NY Times Published: May 14, 2012

Most beaches on the state’s three largest islands are eroding, and the erosion is likely to accelerate as sea levels rise, the United States Geological Survey is reporting. Though average erosion rates are relatively low — perhaps a few inches per year — they range up to several feet per year and are highly variable from island to island and within each island, agency scientists say. The report says that over the last century, about 9 percent of the sandy coast on the islands of Hawaii, Oahu and Maui has vanished. That’s almost 14 miles of beach. The findings have important implications for public safety, the state’s multibillion-dollar tourism economy and the way of life Hawaiians treasure, said Charles H. Fletcher, who led the work for the agency. ….Sea level does not rise uniformly around the world, and so far, Dr. Fletcher and other geologists said in interviews, Hawaii has escaped some of the rise that has occurred elsewhere as earth’s climate warms. But that situation is unlikely to continue, the report says. …


Drought Hits Spain’s Wheat Crop  NASA Earth Observatory   May 15 2012

Grain crops in Spain are suffering after an unusually dry autumn and winter. The amount of rainfall has been just half of normal in key grain producing regions…..In an analysis released on May 10, 2012, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, projected Spain’s wheat production would drop by 20 percent, oats by 18 percent, and barley by 14 percent in comparison to last year. Overall, the USDA expects Spain will need to import 11 million metric tons of grain from other European countries because of the drought. In late April, increasing rainfall has started to improve the situation, particularly in the northern half of the country. If rain continues to fall regularly throughout May, there’s a chance that barley and wheat yields could rebound.  Spain is not the only European country grappling with a weak wheat crop. Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and other countries will likely see reduced yields as well due to dry weather. A cold spell at the end of February in Poland and Germany has also harmed crops.



Statistical Analysis Projects Future Temperatures in North America

ScienceDaily (May 15, 2012) — For the first time, researchers have been able to combine different climate models using spatial statistics — to project future seasonal temperature changes in regions across North America. They performed advanced statistical analysis on two different North American regional climate models and were able to estimate projections of temperature changes for the years 2041 to 2070, as well as the certainty of those projections. The analysis, developed by statisticians at Ohio State University, examines groups of regional climate models, finds the commonalities between them, and determines how much weight each individual climate projection should get in a consensus climate estimate. Through maps on the statisticians’ website (, people can see how their own region’s temperature will likely change by 2070 — overall, and for individual seasons of the year.

….”One of the criticisms from climate-change skeptics is that different climate models give different results, so they argue that they don’t know what to believe,” he said. “We wanted to develop a way to determine the likelihood of different outcomes, and combine them into a consensus climate projection. We show that there are shared conclusions upon which scientists can agree with some certainty, and we are able to statistically quantify that certainty.”



James Hansen Is Correct About Catastrophic Projections For U.S. Drought If We Don’t Act Now  Joe Romm, PhD Posted: 13 May 2012 09:33 AM PDT The response by NOAA’s Martin Hoerling to James Hansen’s recent op-ed — posted on this blog and DotEarth — does not reflect the scientific literature. …. focus first on Hoerling’s incorrect statements about drought (and I’ll deal with extreme weather later).  As readers know, the journal Nature asked me to write a Comment piece on the threat posed by drought after they read one of my posts examining the latest science on prolonged drought and “Dust-Bowlification.” The Nature article, which is basically a review of recent drought literature, is here (subs. req’d). Most of the text is here. The research I did for that article — and the comments of the expert reviewers I sent it to — is why I know Hoerling is quite wrong when he writes this:

“In his recent New York Times Op-Ed piece, Jim Hansen asserts: ‘Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.’ He doesn’t define “several decades,” but a reasonable assumption is that he refers to a period from today through mid-century. I am unaware of any projection for “semi-permanent” drought in this time frame over the expansive region of the Central Great Plains. He implies the drought will be due to a lack of rain (except for the brief and ineffective downpours)…. But facts should, and do, matter to some. The vision of a Midwest Dustbowl is a scary one, and the author appears intent to instill fear rather than reason.”


The fact is that the recent literature examining warming-driven drought in America could not be clearer in warning about a “semi-permanent” (or worse) drought in both the South West and the Central Great Plains and “More and more of the Midwest.” Here are two studies that lay things out starkly: Aiguo Dai of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Drought under global warming: a review” (2010); Michael Wehner et al., “Projections of Future Drought in the Continental United States and Mexico” (2011). I would also add the 2010, Environmental Research Letters article “Characterizing changes in drought risk for the United States from climate change.” And that’s not even counting the Journal of Geophysical Research study that Hansen himself co-authored in 1990, Potential evapotranspiration and the likelihood of future drought,” which projected that severe to extreme drought in the United States, then occurring every 20 years or so, could become an every-other-year phenomenon by mid-century…..


Australian project simulates effects of runaway climate change

Multimillion-dollar study subjects bushland to heightened CO2 levels and altered rainfall patterns

Oliver Milman, Monday 14 May 2012 06.34 EDT

An Australian university has embarked upon an ambitious project – hailed as the first of its kind in the world – to simulate how the environment would cope with runaway climate change. The decade-long study, at the University of Western Sydney’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, will subject Australian bushland to heightened CO2 levels and altered rainfall patterns consistent with a “business as usual” global increase in greenhouse gases. …. recreate an atmosphere where CO2 is at 550 ppm – about 40% higher than current levels – to see how the environment would change for living things, including humans. This level of CO2 has been chosen to mimic how the environment would react in a world where no significant action is taken to reduce carbon emissions over the next 35 years…..



In addition to the West, drought conditions are also prevalent in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and parts of the Northeast as well, along with a small pocket in the Upper Midwest. [Climate Central]

Global warming could affect everything from national forests and grasslands’ vegetation to their stream flows, and the Forest Service has a comprehensive plan to deal with it. [Herald and News]







North Dakota has passed Alaska to become the No. 2 oil-producing state in the country, reflecting how the embrace of new drilling technology is redrawing the U.S. energy map. [Wall Street Journal]


Dept. Of Interior Finds ‘Nearly Two-Thirds Of Acreage’ Leased By The Oil Industry ‘Lies Idle’  Posted: 15 May 2012 09:23 AM PDT by Daniel J. Weiss

The Department of Interior released an updated analysis of fossil fuel leases today, finding that “nearly two-thirds of acreage leased by [the oil] industry lies idle.” The report, “Oil and Gas Lease Utilization, Onshore and Offshore Updated Report to the President,” explained that oil and gas companies hold thousands of undeveloped leases. Despite holding these inactive leases, the oil industry continues to demand the opening of new, previously protected federal lands and waters areas to drilling. The report found that:

  • More than 70 percent of the tens of millions of offshore acres currently under lease are inactive, neither producing nor currently subject to approved or pending exploration or development plans. Out of nearly 36 million acres leased offshore, only about 10 million acres are active – leaving nearly 72 percent of the offshore leased area idle.
  • There are approximately 26 million leased acres offshore and over 20 million leased acres onshore that are currently idle – that is, not undergoing exploration, development, or production.
  • According to the Energy Information Administration, total federal oil production (offshore and onshore) has increased by 13 percent during the first three years of the Obama administration combined, compared with the last three years of the previous administration. According to independent analysis, the total number of active rigs operating on the U.S. outer continental shelf was higher in January 2012 than any time since May 2010……






  1. 4.    POLICY



Proposed Carbon Limits for New Power Plants Would Avoid 123 Billion Pounds of Pollution Annually

Posted: 16 May 2012 07:25 AM PDT by Daniel J. Weiss, Jackie Weidman, Celine Ramstein

On April 13 the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first-ever rules to limit carbon dioxide pollution from new power plants. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas that significantly contributes to climate change and threatens the health and safety of Americans. Existing power plants are responsible for adding more than 2 billion tons of carbon and other toxic pollutants into the air each year—nearly 13,000 pounds for every man, woman, and child in the United States. The new rules will reduce the pollution added by new power plants by 123 billion pounds annually…. Act now to support this proposal….The public comment period for the carbon pollution rule began on April 13. In the month since then, a broad coalition of public health, clean air, labor, and other progressive organizations have collected nearly a million comments in favor of the proposal to the EPA. These groups, including the Center for American Progress Action Fund, plan to deliver hundreds of thousands more public comments before the 60-day comment period ends on June 25, 2012.



Senate Committee Passes Farm Bill  Wildlife Mgmt Institute

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee approved their version of the 2012 Farm Bill on April 26, according to the Wildlife Management Institute. In an attempt to address federal deficit reduction, a number of changes to current agriculture programs were incorporated in the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 including consolidation of 23 conservation programs into 13. The legislation incorporates the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and continues the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Program. Four easement programs, including the Wetland Reserve Program, are consolidated into one program in the bill. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) would be continued but with a lower acreage cap of 25 million acres from its current 32 million acre cap.  Overall, the bill provides for $23 billion in deficit reduction, with $6 billion coming from the various conservation programs…


Sportsmen’s Bill Stirring Controversy  Wildlife Mgmt Institute

The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act (H.R. 4089) passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 274 to 146 on April 17.  Many groups are now pushing for action in the Senate, however, the bill’s momentum has created a rift among some conservation organizations.  While many sportsmen’s groups are touting the bill’s importance to entrench hunting, fishing and shooting on federal public lands, others claim the bill is unnecessary and could undermine wilderness protection, reports the Wildlife Management Institute… However, the bill has attracted opposition from some groups – ranging from mainstream environmental organizations to the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers – that believe it will open up wilderness areas for motorized recreation and potential industrial development.  A Congressional Research Service memorandum sent prior to the House vote stated the original bill language was “imprecise” and that “The language could be construed as opening wilderness areas to virtually any activity related to hunting and fishing, even if otherwise inconsistent with wilderness values.”  The House agreed to a manager’s amendment to clarify the language stating that the bill is not intended to permit motorized recreation or mineral extraction. Another concern to some groups is that the House approved an amendment offered by Rep. Virginia Foxx that would require monument designations under the Antiquities Act to be approved by state legislatures and governors where the proposed monument is located.  Read More >>


Trayless In New York City

Some schools go trayless to reduce food waste. New York City public schools implemented “Trayless Tuesday” in order to immediately curtail 20 percent of polystyrene trays going to the landfill. While New York City’s 1,700 pubic schools recycle by mandate, most of the approximately 850,000 students participating in the school lunch program are still served on single-serving plastic foam trays. That amounts to about 153 million trays a year, says Debby Lee Cohen, director of Styrofoam Out of Schools/Cafeteria Culture, who participated in a recent webinar entitled “Reducing Waste in Schools” hosted by EPA Region 2. “These trays contain styrene and benzene, kids eat directly off of them, they are only used for 20 or 30 minutes, and then they get exported to out-of-state landfills. That’s inconsistent with the message children are taught in school and at home to reduce waste and recycle.” But the trays are inexpensive, says Stephen O’Brien, Director of Food and Food Support for the New York City Department of Education (DOE), and that is a significant factor when more than 75 percent of participating students are served breakfast and/or lunch at a reduced rate or for free. Cohen and O’Brien got together and began to brainstorm how to make a dent in the problem, eventually involving the New York City Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling. It turned out the DOE already had contracts for the bulk purchase of clay-lined paper boats, which could accommodate meals such as hamburgers, sandwiches and other items that did not contain high amounts of liquids or sauce. The menu was tweaked, and Trayless Tuesday was born. Rollout involved principals in each school explaining the program classroom by classroom, college student volunteers helping with initial implementation and a “flip, tap and stack” campaign to help ensure proper compliance. “If they are clean and dry, they can be recycled,” explains O’Brien.


Least Developed Countries issue bold plan to energize UN climate change talks

GhanaWeb   May 14, 2012

The world’s poorest countries have issued a bold plan to make the UN climate change talks more likely to reach their goal of having an effective and legally binding agreement ready for governments to adopt by 2015.


Peru’s coffee growers turn carbon traders to save their farms from climate change The Guardian – ‎May 12, 2012

In the foothills of the Andes, in the Sierra Piura region of Peru, the problems faced by coffee farmers are clear. Up to 6600 farmers produce here for the Central Piurana de Cafetaleros co-operative (Cepicafe), growing 4000 tonnes a year of the finest ….


Effects of Climate Change on Wildlife and Habitat  Concern Most Visitors to National Wildlife Refuges  May 16, 2012 The survey is available here.

Visitors to national wildlife refuges are concerned about the impact of climate change on America’s fish, wildlife and plants ─ as well as the habitat that supports them, a new survey just released by the U…S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows. The survey also shows strong support for efforts to help native species adapt to changing climate conditions, such as those now being implemented by the Service and its partners.

71% of the more than 10,000 visitors to national wildlife refuges who took part in the survey ─ conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2010 and 2011 ─ believe that climate change poses a serious threat to wildlife and wildlife habitat. About 74 % of the same respondents agree that addressing climate change effects on wildlife and wildlife habitats will benefit future generations. ….

Ashe noted that the Service’s statutory authorities do not give the agency the ability or responsibility to regulate the causative factors of climate change. However, those authorities do require the Service to work with the conservation community to anticipate and manage for the impacts of climate change on fish and wildlife resources ─ as the agency is required to address any other factor affecting the long-term health and abundance of these resources.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is working with its partners to address the impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife and plants and the communities that depend on them. These efforts include:

  • As directed by Congress, leading development of a National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy designed to guide government-wide wildlife adaptation partnerships over the next 50 to100 years.
  • Developing an innovative carbon sequestration program in the Lower Mississippi Valley in partnership with the Conservation Fund, American Electric Power Company, and Entergy Inc., that is also restoring native habitats to bolster populations of wildlife and migratory birds. The project has added more than 40,000 acres of habitat to the National Wildlife Refuge System and reforested more than 80,000 acres, sequestering 30 million metric tons of carbon over the project’s 70-year lifetime.
  • Helping to create a network of locally-driven, solution-oriented Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC) that will allow federal, state and local partners to develop shared science capacity to inform conservation actions that help priority species and habitats withstand the impacts of climate change.

“As we look to the future, the Refuge System will need to prioritize land restoration to effectively sequester carbon and protect wildlife,” said Refuge System Chief Jim Kurth. “That means targeted restoration to bring altered landscapes into balance and to protect habitats that support viable populations of wildlife. Most importantly, we have to work with other government agencies, non-profit organizations and private landowners to face the challenge of climate change.” ….Economic considerations factored into visitors assessments of climate change impacts. More than two-thirds (71 percent) agreed that “it is important to consider the economic costs and benefits to local communities when addressing climate change effects on fish, wildlife and habitats.” USGS social scientist Natalie Sexton was the lead researcher on the report. The USGS designed, conducted, analyzed and reported on the peer-reviewed survey. The survey is available here.

LNG: Floating Texas export terminal could come online in 5 years, officials say

Excelerate Energy has proposed to build the country’s first floating natural gas export facility off the coast of Port Lavaca, Texas, in what the company said could be the second export facility to come online in the United States after Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass plant….



What Makes Koch Industries ‘Big Oil’ And Why You Shouldn’t Believe The Claims Saying It Isn’t  Posted: 14 May 2012 07:30 AM PDT

The Obama campaign and the super PAC Priorities USA recently fired back at Americans for Prosperity, highlighting Mitt Romney’s ties to a funding source of $18.5 million in energy attack ads: Koch Industries. Koch Industries has produced its own video claiming it doesn’t deserve the label of a secretive Big Oil corporation. Shockingly, and the Washington Post have taken up Koch’s argument. wrote that despite Koch’s $100 billion revenue, the corporation’s diverse holdings mean “it is hardly in the league of the truly ‘big oil’companies.” The Washington Post Factchecker took the same angle. While it’s true the most profitable U.S. corporations — ExxonMobil and Chevron — are larger than Koch, using this standard to claim the company isn’t Big Oil is incorrect. Let’s take a look at some key facts:

  • The Koch brothers’ net worth tops $50 billion and they have pledged to spend $60 million to defeat President Barack Obama, according to the Huffington Post.
  • The Koch PAC is the largest oil and gas contributor — donating more than even ExxonMobil — spending over $1 million in each of the last two cycles. This cycle, it has spent almost $750,000. Koch Industries sends 90 percent of these contributions to Republicans.
  • It’s the fourth-largest lobbyist in the oil and gas industry, spending $2,300,000 so far in 2012 and over $8 million in 2011.
  • Koch Industries emits over 300 million tons of greenhouse gases a year, based on the assumption that Koch emits the same amount of greenhouse pollution per billion dollars in revenue as Exxon and Chevron….



Measuring CO2 to fight global warming, enforce future treaty (May 14, 2012) — If the world’s nations ever sign a treaty to limit emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide gas, there may be a way to help verify compliance. Using measurements from only three carbon-dioxide (monitoring stations in the Salt Lake Valley, the method could reliably detect changes in CO2 emissions of 15 percent or more, researchers report. … > full story



An Inconvenient Lawsuit: Teenagers Take Global Warming to the Courts

By Katherine Ellison  May 9 2012, 7:45 AM ET   Industry giants say their case is misguided. But that isn’t stopping a group of high school students from using the legal system to make environmental demands.

Alec Loorz turns 18 at the end of this month. While finishing high school and playing Ultimate Frisbee on weekends, he’s also suing the federal government in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.  The Ventura, California, teen and four other juvenile plaintiffs want government officials to do more to prevent the risks of climate change — the dangerous storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, and food-supply disruptions that scientists warn will threaten their generation absent a major turnabout in global energy policy. Specifically, the students are demanding that the U.S. government start reducing national emissions of carbon dioxide by at least six percent per year beginning in 2013.

…The youth — represented, pro bono, by the Burlingame, California, law firm of former U.S. Republican congressman Paul “Pete” McCloskey, a co-founder of Earth Day — filed the suit, Alec L. et. al vs. Lisa P. Jackson, et. al, in May of last year. Defendants include not only Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson but the heads of the Commerce, Interior, Commerce, Defense, Energy, and Agriculture departments. This Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Wilkins, an Obama appointee, will hear arguments on the defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint.  While skeptics may view the case as little more than a publicity stunt, its implications have been serious enough to attract the time and resources of major industry leaders. Last month, Judge. Wilkins granted a motion to intervene in the case by the National Association of Manufacturers, joined by Delta Construction Company, Dalton Trucking Inc., Southern California Contractors Association, and the California Dump Truck Owners Association. …





  1. 5.    RESOURCES



The Bureau of Reclamation to post two funding opportunities in 2012:

  • Applied Science Grants for the Desert LCC Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)  The FOA is expected to be posted on on Friday, May 18, 2012 Desert LCC Funding Opportunity Number: R12SF80301 Application deadline: Thursday, June 28, 2012
  • Request for Statements of Interest (SOI) for Interagency Agreements The SOI is expected to be posted on Reclamation’s website at on Friday, May 18, 2012 SOI deadline: Friday, June 22, 2012



Addressing Nitrate in California’s Drinking Water

In mid-March, a landmark study by UC Davis researchers on nitrate in California’s groundwater supplies was released. The study prepared for the State Water Resources Control Board to fulfill the requirements of Senate Bill X2.1 concludes that 96% of the nitrate in groundwater is from agricultural fertilizers and animal manure in the Tulare Lake Basin and the Salinas Valley. Many disadvantaged communities in both these regions rely on groundwater as their main drinking water supply, and high nitrate levels are harmful to human health. According to the report, the problem will get worse before it gets better because of the wide range in travel times from applying nitrogen to cropland to its presence in groundwater…. (

Brief (EnglishEspañol) (2 pages)
Executive Summary
 (8 pages)
Main Report (80 pages)

Technical Report 1 – Overview (Version 03/13/2012)
Technical Report 2 – Sources of Nitrate in Groundwater (Version 03/13/2012)
Technical Report 3 – Reducing Sources of Nitrate in Groundwater (Version 03/13/2012)
Technical Report 4 – Nitrate Occurence in Groundwater (Version 03/13/2012)
Technical Report 5 – Remediation of Groundwater Nitrate (Version 03/13/2012)
Technical Report 6 – Treatment of Nitrate in Drinking Water (Version 03/13/2012)
Technical Report 7 – Susceptible Population and Alternative Water Supplies (Version 03/13/2012)
Technical Report 8 – Funding and Policy Options (Version 03/13/2012)



The Future of Conservation: New Strategies for a Changing World California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD)

CARCD is soliciting abstracts for presentations, special sessions, and poster papers for its 2012 CARCD Annual Meeting and Conference to be held at the Paradise Point Resort, San Diego, CA, November 14th-17th, 2012. Requirements: Abstracts must be submitted by June 15th, 2012. ….Send your submission via email to Include on the subject line: 2012 Annual Conference Presenters….. If you have any questions about the conference, please contact CARCD: 801 K Street, 18th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 457-7904




Wildlife Habitat on Private Lands Fund

The Conservation Partners Program has grant money for conserva­tion professionals willing to help improve wildlife habitat conserva­tion on private lands. The program is a partnership that includes the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Grants range from $50,000 to $250,000.


Online Water Quality Portal

The U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have released an online portal that provides water quality data from across the country. It gives the public access to the infor­mation gathered for decades by both agencies. Details are available in this news release.


Hope in a Changing Climate – VIDEO

A Global Dialogue on Ecosystem Restoration

BBC World Programme Highlights: Hope in a Changing Climate

The BBC World broadcasts the film, “Hope in a Changing Climate,” on November 27th, and The World Bank and IUCN screened the film in Copenhagen during COP-15, the climate change summit in December 2009.




New iPhone App—XWEATHER

Xweather and puts NASA extreme weather data on a globe, or Earth Browser as we call it. The intent is to allow anyone to see dramatic extreme weather events in the context of the planet.  Our plans include adding temperature, droughts and “skins” to the globe so that the extreme weather events can be juxtaposed with user-specific perspectives of interest such as global population, food, minerals, shipping routes, energy grids, etc….This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad  By eLoomn LLC  ….Xweather is a dynamic and graphically engaging multimedia tool for putting extreme weather events in context, optimized for both iPhones and iPads. Easily navigate a stunning 3D rendition of the globe and get near real-time information and satellite imagery of hurricanes, cyclones and other severe storm events, floods, volcanic eruptions and dust storms. In addition to current extreme weather, users can also access Xweather’s growing historical archive to explore events that have occurred around the world in the past two record-setting years. In an increasingly interconnected world, Xweather is the first app to provide continuous updates on extreme weather events happening now, whether in your backyard or on the other side of the planet.








Saudi Arabia Unveils $100 Billion Plan To Make Solar ‘A Driver For Domestic Energy For Years To Come’ Posted: 11 May 2012 09:29 AM PDT

Even the world’s largest producer of oil understands the value of developing renewable energy.

A few months after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister called global warming “among humanity’s most pressing concerns,” the country is rolling out an ambitious plan to source 41,000 megawatts of solar projects over the next two decades — scaling up a domestic solar industry to support one third of electricity production by 2032. Solar electricity and petroleum serve completely different markets. However, in this case, solar will be directly replacing the oil that Saudi Arabia uses for desalination plants. Officials are currently rolling out a competitive bidding process for 1,100 megawatts of solar photovoltaics and 900 megawatts of concentrating solar power in the first quarter of 2013. The plan is part of a larger strategy to scale up various sources of renewable energy, build a new domestic industry, and reduce oil consumption. Officials estimate that the solar plan will reduce domestic consumption of oil by 520,000 barrels per day. PV Magazine reported on the news from a solar conference in Saudi Arabia:….



Rainforest microbe can handle ionic liquids: New find could help reduce biofuel production costs (May 14, 2012) — Researchers have identified a tropical rainforest microbe that can endure relatively high concentrations of an ionic liquid used to dissolve cellulosic biomass for the production of advanced biofuels. They’ve also determined how the microbe accomplishes this, a discovery that holds broad implications beyond biofuels. … > full story



Letter to the Editor: Your recent editorials on the federal wind-energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and renewable portfolio standard (RPS) (“Gouged by the Wind,” May 5 and “Windy Republicans,” May 7) are off the mark. The wind-power industry is an American success story that is helping us build our manufacturing base, create jobs, lower energy costs and strengthen our energy security. [Wall Street Journal]








The Ethicist | The Results Are In  New York Times

The Meat You Eat: The Winner of Our Contest on the Ethics of Eating Meat

Russell Bell

By ARIEL KAMINER Published: May 3, 2012

Is it ethical to eat meat? That short question, posed in these pages a few weeks ago, inspired a debate heated enough to roast a fatted calf (or a really enormous zucchini, depending on your dietary orientation). …..Michael Pollan noted how many essays emphasized the role animals play in making a farm sustainable. “This argument gains authority when it is rooted in the practical realities of farming” — rather than academic theorizing — “which it was in several of our entries, and these to me were the most compelling,” he pointed out. “That said, simply stimulating people to think through their eating choices has a value, since our thoughtlessness in these matters has such a high cost.”……


The Winner: Give Thanks for Meat

By JAY BOST NY Times Published: May 3, 2012 Read the Other Finalists’ Essays

As a vegetarian who returned to meat-eating, I find the question “Is meat-eating ethical?” one that is in my head and heart constantly…..What are these “right” and “wrong” ways of producing both meat and plant foods? For me, they are most succinctly summed up in Aldo Leopold’s land ethic: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”…..


Audubon NY creates calling cards for birders to tout business benefits of bird …

Washington Post – ‎May 14, 2012‎

ALBANY, NY – Audubon New York is spreading the word about how birders help local economies. The group has launched a campaign that will distribute calling cards for bird-watchers to hand out at restaurants and other businesses.



Turkey suspects bird of being Israeli spy

Ankara investigating possibility that bee-eater was ‘implanted with Mossad surveillance device’; Israeli wildlife officials say accusation ridiculous

Amir Ben-David

Published: 05.15.12, 13:03 / Israel News

Turkish authorities believe that they have found a bird used for espionage purposes by Israel, the country’s media reported. According to a Tuesday report in Yedioth Ahronoth, an investigation to that effect was launched in Ankara several days ago, after a farmer discovered a dead Merops Apiaster, commonly known as the European Bee-Eater, in his field. The bird had a ring reading “Israel” on one of its legs.  Bird-banding is a common practice in ornithology, meant to help scientists track bird migration routes.  The band, however, was not the most damning piece of evidence against the bee-eater: Its nostrils were.  The bird-beak in question reportedly sported “unusually large nostrils,” which – combined with the identification ring – raised suspicions that the bird was “implanted with a surveillance device” and that it arrived in Turkey as part of an espionage mission. The bird’s remains were originally handed over to the Turkish Agriculture Ministry, which then turned in over to Ankara’s security services. ….


Blowout: A Review Of Senator Byron Dorgan’s New Action-Thriller About The Energy Race To Stop Catastrophic Global Warming Posted: 14 May 2012 09:35 AM PDT


by Richard W. Caperton

Who will take radical steps to stop the transition to clean energy?  That’s the question that underlies “Blowout,” the new book by retired Senator Byron Dorgan and David Hagberg.  Because the answer is so straightforward (hint: it’s the oil companies), Dorgan and Hagberg have taken the unprecedented step of addressing the issue in a blood-soaked action thriller, instead of the typical non-fiction format we’re all so used to. “Blowout” is based around a fictional clean energy research and development facility in North Dakota, which is very close to making a revolutionary technological breakthrough.  Just as the final critical test approaches, the facility is attacked by a relatively incompetent gang of militia members, who have been hired by unknown outside interests.  This attack, the resulting manhunt, and various other criminal hijinks make up the bulk of the plot…..


Prenatal Pesticide Exposure May Harm Kids’ Brains

Common Crop Pesticide Chlorpyrifos May Be Linked With Structural Changes in Developing Brain, Experts Find By Kathleen Doheny WebMD Health News April 30, 2012 — Prenatal exposure to a pesticide used on many crops may be linked with abnormal changes in a child’s developing brain, scientists report.

Compared to children with low prenatal exposure, those with high exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos had abnormalities in the cortex (the outer area of the brain), says Virginia Rauh, ScD, professor and deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. The cortex helps govern intelligence, personality, muscle movement, and other tasks. “In areas of the cortex, we detected both enlarged and reduced volumes that were significantly different from the normal brain,” she tells WebMD. “This suggests the process of normal brain development has been disturbed in some way.” The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ Early Edition. In 2001, the U.S. EPA banned the residential use of chlorpyrifos. It still allows it on crops. It can also be sprayed in public places such as golf courses…..


First gene therapy successful against aging-associated decline: Mouse lifespan extended up to 24% with a single treatment (May 14, 2012) — A new study consisting of inducing cells to express telomerase, the enzyme which — metaphorically — slows down the biological clock — was successful. The research provides a “proof-of-principle” that this “feasible and safe” approach can effectively “improve health span.” … > full story

This is your brain on sugar: Study in rats shows high-fructose diet sabotages learning, memory (May 15, 2012) — A new study is the first to show how a diet steadily high in fructose slows the brain, hampering memory and learning — and how omega-3 fatty acids can minimize the damage. … > full story

A walk in the park gives mental boost to people with depression (May 14, 2012) — In one of the first studies to examine the effect of nature walks on cognition and mood in people with major depression, researchers in Canada and the US have found promising evidence that a walk in the park may provide some cognitive benefits. … > full story












Western streamflow outlook for spring/summer 2012. Credit: Natural Resources Conservation Service. from  Click on image for a larger version.










To celebrate President Obama’s landmark statement that he personally advocates for marriage equality, The New Yorker will for its May 21 addition release a special cover to mark this momentous event. The cover is called “Spectrum of Light” and has been put together by artist Bob Staake. The New Yorker quotes Starke as saying: “I am honored to be doing this cover. It’s a celebratory moment for our country, and that’s what I tried to capture. (I don’t especially like those rainbow colors, but they are what they are–I had to use them.) I wanted to celebrate the bravery of the President’s statement–a statement long overdue–but all the more appreciated in this political year. We are on the right side of history.”