Conservation Science News October 26, 2012

Highlight of the Week









Highlight of the Week








Forestry’s waste wood offers habitat for small forest-floor animals
October 24, 2012) — The wood that remains after a tree harvesting operation is often burned to reduce the hazard of fire or is removed for bioenergy production. But another option should be considered—leaving the wood for forest wildlife whose habitat has been disturbed during clear-cut forestry operations. Woody debris on the floor of the forest is essential for maintaining biodiversity and long-term ecosystem productivity. … > full story

Thomas P. Sullivan, Druscilla S. Sullivan, Pontus M. F. Lindgren, and Douglas B. Ransome. If we build habitat, will they come? Woody debris structures and conservation of forest mammals. Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 93, No. 6, 2012 DOI: 10.1644/11-MAMM-A-250.1

Satellite images tell tales of changing biodiversity
(October 24, 2012) — Analysis of texture differences in satellite images may be an effective way to monitor changes in vegetation, soil and water patterns over time, with potential implications for measuring biodiversity as well, according to new research. … > full story


Invasive Grasses as Biofuel? Scientists Protest

By JOANNA M. FOSTER NYTimes October 23, 2012

I.F.A.S., University of FloridaArundo donax, or giant reed, growing near Belle Glade, Fla.


More than 200 scientists from across the country have sent a letter to the Obama administration urging the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider a rule, in the final approval stages, that would allow two invasive grasses, Arundo donax and Pennisetum purpureum, to qualify as advanced biofuel feedstock under the nation’s renewable fuel standard. “As scientists in the fields of ecology, wildlife biology, forestry and natural resources, we are writing to bring your attention to the importance of working proactively to prevent potential ecological and economic damages associated with the potential spread of invasive bioenergy feedstocks,” the scientists write. “While we appreciate the steps that federal agencies have made to identify and promote renewable energy sources and to invest in second- and third-generation sources of bioenergy, we strongly encourage you to consider the invasive potential of all novel feedstock species, cultivars, and hybrids before providing incentives leading to their cultivation.” Invasive species currently cost the nation $120 billion each year…..



Conservation scientists look beyond greenbelts to connect wildlife sanctuaries

Landscape corridors and connectivity in conservation and restoration planning

October 18, 2012 Ecological Society of America

We live in a human-dominated world. For many of our fellow creatures, this means a fragmented world, as human conduits to friends, family, and resources sever corridors that link the natural world. Our expanding web of highways, cities, and intensive agriculture traps many animals and plants in islands and cul-de-sacs of habitat, held back by barriers of geography or architecture from reaching mates, food, and wider resources. A team of researchers, managers, and ecological risk assessors review the current state-of-the-art in landscape connectivity planning, offering models, case studies, and advice for coping with the uncertainty inherent in dynamic, real-world conditions in the Ecological Society of America’s 16th volume of Issues in Ecology. ….


(a) Connectivity models can be combined with least-cost or circuit theory economic models to help conservators make decisions about investment in land acquisition. From figure 5 of the report.

(b) A wildlife overpass on the Trans-Canada Highway helps wildlife and vehicles avoid lethal connections in Banff National Park, British Columbia. The park is a leader in highway mitigation, part of…

The role of landscape connectivity in planning and implementing conservation and restoration priorities.Issues in Ecology 16, Fall 2012. Deborah A Rudnick, Sadie J Ryan, Paul Beier, Samuel A Cushman, Fred Dieffenbach, Clinton W Epps, Leah R Gerber, Joel Hartter, Jeff S Jenness, Julia Kintsch, Adina M Merenlender, Ryan M Perkl, Damian V Preziosi, and Stephen C. Trombulak.


Scientists seek national wildlife conservation network
October 22, 2012) — Wildlife conservation efforts in the United States are facing habitat loss, climate change and major reductions in funding. To address these threats, a group of prominent wildlife biologists and policy experts is recommending the formation of a state-based national conservation-support network. … >


Flycatchers’ genomes explain how one species became two
(October 24, 2012) — Just how new species are established is still one of the most central questions in biology. Biologists now describe how they mapped the genomes of the European pied flycatcher and the collared flycatcher and found that it is disparate chromosome structures rather than separate adaptations in individual genes that underlies the separation of the species. … > full story


Mississippi river diversion helped build Louisiana wetlands, geologists find
(October 21, 2012) — Geologists used the occasion of the Mississippi River flood of the spring of 2011 to observe how floodwaters deposited sediment in the Mississippi Delta. Their findings offer insight into how new diversions in the Mississippi River’s levees may help restore Louisiana’s wetlands. … > full story




Voice software helps study of rare Yosemite owls
TRACIE CONE | October 22, 2012 09:11 AM EST |

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — In the bird world, they make endangered condors seem almost commonplace. The unique Great Gray Owls of Yosemite, left to evolve after glacial ice separated them from their plentiful Canadian brethren 30 millennia ago, are both a mystery and concern to the scientists charged with protecting them. With fewer than 200 in existence in this small pocket of the Sierra Nevada, the slightest disturbances by humans can drive the extremely shy birds from their nests, disrupting sporadic mating cycles that ebb and flow annually depending upon food availability.

So this summer, researchers found a way to abandon their traditional heavy-handed trapping, banding and the blasting of owl calls in favor of the kind of discrete, sophisticated technology used by spies and forensic scientists. They hope to lessen human influence on this subspecies of owls prized for the potential insights their survival offers into habitat-specific evolution.

“Even if it takes only 15 minutes to trap a bird, it’s traumatic for them in the long term,” said Joe Medley, a PhD candidate in ecology at UC Davis who perfected computer voice recognition software to track the largest of North America’s owls. “With a population this small, we want to err on the side of caution in terms of the methods we use to get data.”

Medley placed 40 data-compression digital audio recorders around the mid-elevation meadows typically favored by the owl known as Strix nebulosa Yosemitensis, hoping to identify them by their mating, feeding and territorial calls. He ended up with 50 terabytes of owl calls mixed with airplanes flying overhead, frogs croaking, coyotes yipping, bears growling and even the occasional crunch of fangs on pricy microphones – so much data it would have taken seven years to play back. He then designed algorithms for an existing computer program that would search for the specific frequency and time intervals of the Great Gray Owls’ low-pitched hoot “whooo-ooo-ooo-ooo.” The program could discern males and females from juveniles, and even identify nesting females calling for food to help determine reproduction success. The results are still being analyzed…..



Twitter principles of social networking increase family success in nesting birds
(October 23, 2012) — New research reveals for the first time the importance of social networking in producing a successful family. The study found that, regardless of how big and healthy individual chicks are, what really matters to their chances of surviving and breeding is how siblings in the nest interact with each other, with cooperative families faring best. … > full story

Fossil study helps pinpoint extinction risks for ocean animals: When it comes to ocean extinctions, range size matters most
(October 23, 2012) — What makes some ocean animals more prone to extinction? An analysis of roughly 500 million years of fossil data for marine invertebrates reveals that ocean animals with small ranges have been consistently hard hit, whereas population size has little effect. This means that reductions in range size — such as when a species’ habitat is destroyed or degraded — could mean a big increase in long-term extinction risk, even when remaining populations are large, the authors say. … > full story


Smithsonian launches marine effort with $10M gift



BRETT ZONGKER, Associated Press Associated Press October 25, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Smithsonian is launching a new initiative to study coastal waters and create the first global network monitoring climate change and human impacts on ocean life with a $10 million gift. Los Angeles hedge fund manager Michael Tennenbaum is announcing the donation Thursday. He says long-term data is needed to raise the level of dialogue about climate change and biodiversity.

Biologists record increasing amounts of plastic litter in the Arctic deep sea
(October 23, 2012) — The sea bed in the Arctic deep sea is increasingly strewn with litter and plastic waste, according to researchers. … > full story

California Conservation Investment on Farms and Ranchland Reaches $250 Million in 2012 (source NRCS)
California’s air, water, wetlands and wildlife habitat all received a significant boost in 2012 as private landowners partnered with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to voluntarily invest approximately a quarter billion dollars in protecting and restoring natural resources. “Despite the difficult economic times, California’s farmers, ranchers, non-industrial private forest owners, and conservation partners prioritized conservation in their 2012 operating plans. This commitment made it possible to successfully add more than 7,000 conservation practices across the California landscape and enhance the environment that we all share,” said Jeff Burwell, acting state conservationist for NRCS. Burwell pointed out that most of the Farm Bill programs require a match by the landowner that is typically about half the cost of applying the conservation practice. Additionally two of the conservation programs, the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) and the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI), depend upon partners to partially plan and administer them. California leads the Nation in the number of AWEP projects investing in water conservation and water quality on private lands. Partnerships with California farmers and ranchers are improving resource management and habitat for species such as sage grouse, tri-colored blackbirds and southwest willow flycatcher.  In addition three easement programs provided $41.5 million to landowners who voluntarily elected to protect important landscapes such as farmland, grazing land, and wetlands.


Rainbow trout: Survival of the shyest?
(October 22, 2012) — A fish’s personality can influence how it responds to, and learns from threats, according to a new study. The work, looking at how personality influences a fish’s memory of a predator threat, shows that bold trout forget predator odor, and hence potentially predator threat, quicker than shy trout. … > full story

Saving Coral Reefs, One Fragment at a Time

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 06:30 AM PDT

Coral reefs are among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth, providing a home and nursery for 25% of the world’s marine life. For many coastal areas, healthy coral reefs provide an important barrier against destructive storms.


Speed Limits on Cargo Ships Could Reduce Their Pollutants by More Than Half



October 24, 2012 — Putting a speed limit on cargo ships as they sail near ports and coastlines could cut their emission of air pollutants by up to 70 percent, reducing the impact of marine shipping on Earth’s climate … > full story



NOAA, NASA: Antarctic ozone hole second smallest in 20 years

Warmer air temperatures high above the Antarctic led to the second smallest seasonal ozone hole in 20 years, according to NOAA and NASA satellite measurements. This year, the average size of the ozone hole was 6.9 million square miles (17.9 million square kilometers). The ozone layer helps shield life on Earth from potentially harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can cause skin cancer and damage plants. The Antarctic ozone hole forms in September and October, and this year, the hole reached its maximum size for the season on Sept. 22, stretching to 8.2 million square miles (21.2 million square kilometers), roughly the area of the United States, Canada and Mexico combined. In comparison, the largest ozone hole recorded to date was in 2000 at 11.5 million square miles (29.9 million square kilometers). The Antarctic ozone hole began making a yearly appearance in the early 1980s, caused by chlorine released by manmade chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs. The chlorine can rapidly break apart ozone molecules in certain conditions, and the temperature of the lower stratosphere plays an important role. “It happened to be a bit warmer this year high in the atmosphere above Antarctica, and that meant we didn’t see quite as much ozone depletion as we saw last year, when it was colder,” said Jim Butler with NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo…


Archer fish hunt insects with water jet six times stronger than their muscular power
(October 24, 2012) — Archer fish knock their insect prey out of overhanging vegetation with a jet of water several times more powerful than the fish’s muscles. New research now shows that the fish generate this power externally using water dynamics rather than with any specialized internal organs. The research provides the first explanation for how archer fish can generate such powerful jets to capture their prey. … > full story





Climate-changing methane ‘rapidly destabilizing’ off East Coast, study finds

NOAA–In this visualization, the Gulf Stream is seen as the dark red current coming into the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico.

By Miguel Llanos, NBC News October 25, 2012 A changing Gulf Stream off the East Coast has destabilized frozen methane deposits trapped under nearly 4,000 square miles of seafloor, scientists reported Wednesday. And since methane is even more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas, the researchers said, any large-scale release could have significant climate impacts.

Temperature changes in the Gulf Stream are “rapidly destabilizing methane hydrate along a broad swathe of the North American margin,” the experts said in a study published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.
Using seismic records and ocean models, the team estimated that 2.5 gigatonnes of frozen methane hydrate are being destabilized and could separate into methane gas and water. It is not clear if that is happening yet, but that methane gas would have the potential to rise up through the ocean and into the atmosphere, where it would add to the greenhouse gases warming Earth…. And it’s not just under the seafloor that methane has been locked up. Some Arctic land area are seeing permafrost thaw, which could release methane stored there as well.

An expert who was not part of the study said it suggests that methane could become a bigger climate factor than carbon dioxide. “We may approach a turning point” from a warming driven by man-made carbon dioxide to a warming driven by methane, Jurgen Mienert, the geology department chair at Norway’s University of Tromso, told NBC News. “The interactions between the warming Arctic Ocean and the potentially huge methane-ice reservoirs beneath the Arctic Ocean floor point towards increasing instability,” he added.



Helping North America’s marine protected areas adapt to a changing climate
(October 23, 2012) — T
op marine predators like tuna and sharks are suffering from the effects of climate change as the availability of prey decreases and the spatial distribution of their prey shifts. Countless other marine plants and animals are also affected. One way to adap
t to or mitigate these changes is to design marine protected areas (MPA) and MPA networks that integrate these and other climate-related considerations. Accordingly, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has published Scientific Guidelines for Designing Resilient Marine Protected Area Networks in a Changing Climate
in collaboration with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and based on the work of thirty-three of North America’s top experts. The published guidelines were launched today at the Restore America’s Estuaries Conference in Tampa, Florida. Climate change is affecting Earth’s oceans and many of the species that depend on them. Warmer ocean temperatures are being associated with smaller populations of phytoplankton and zooplankton, an important food source for fish and marine mammals. Rising coastal sea levels may impact nesting sites for turtles and habitat for marine birds. Also, the carbon cycle is being impacted by warmer temperatures and ocean acidification. This bleaches and kills coral reefs, a major undersea habitat and nursery for countless species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans of vital importance to us, and is negatively influencing natural carbon sinks such as mangroves, salt marches, seagrasses, and tidal wetlands, reducing their ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. MPA size, placement, and their respective role in reducing pressures such as fishing and coastal habitat conversion, are just some of the considerations for designing resilient MPAs in light of climate change…. The CEC’s practical set of guidelines will help scientists, MPA planners and managers improve their ability to design, connect, manage, assess and adapt MPAs and MPA networks to potential climate change at national and continental scales. The guidelines are broken down into four sections:

  1. Protect species and habitats with crucial ecosystem roles, or those of special conservation concern
  2. Protect potential carbon sinks
  3. Protect ecological linkages and connectivity pathways for a wide range of species
  4. Protect the full range of biodiversity present in the target biogeographic area

In November 2012 the CEC will be publishing a companion piece — a practical guide for MPA managers and network planners on how to implement these guidelines…..


Climate change may alter amphibian evolution



Phys.Org – ‎October 25, 2012

Justin Touchon, post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, discovered that climate change in Panama may be altering frogs’ course of evolution…. Most of the more than 6,000 species of frogs in the world lay their eggs in water. But many tropical frogs lay their eggs out of water. This behavior protects the eggs from aquatic predators, such as fish and tadpoles, but also increases their risk of drying out. Justin Touchon, post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, discovered that climate change in Panama may be altering frogs’ course of evolution. By analyzing long-term rainfall data collected by the Panama Canal Authority, Touchon discovered that rainfall patterns are changing just as climate-change models predict. Climate change may alter amphibian evolution “Over the past four decades, rainfall has become more sporadic during the wet season,” said Touchon. “The number of rainy days decreased, and the number of gaps between storms increased.” The eggs of the pantless treefrog, Dendropsophus ebraccatus, are extremely susceptible to drying. The embryos die within a day when there is no rain. Heavy rains trigger breeding, so as storms become sporadic, the chance of rain within a day of being laid decrease and so does egg survival. As weather patterns have changed, the advantage of laying eggs out of water has decreased, not only for pantless treefrogs but potentially for many species.
“Pantless treefrogs can switch between laying eggs in water or on leaves, so they may weather the changes we are seeing in rainfall better than other species that have lost the ability to lay eggs in water,” said Touchon. “Being flexible in where they put their eggs gives them more options and allows them to make decisions in a given habitat that will increase the survival of their offspring….


Opposite behaviors? Arctic sea ice shrinks, Antarctic grows
(October 23, 2012) — The steady and dramatic decline in the sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean over the last three decades has become a focus of media and public attention. At the opposite end of Earth, however, something more complex is happening.
A new NASA study shows that from 1978 to 2010 the total extent of sea ice surrounding Antarctica in the Southern Ocean grew by roughly 6,600 square miles every year, an area larger than the state of Connecticut. And previous researc
h by the same authors indicates that this rate of increase has recently accelerated, up from an average rate of almost 4,300 square miles per year from 1978 to 2006. “There’s been an overall increase in the sea ice cover in the Antarctic, which is the opposite of what is happening in the Arctic,” said lead author Claire Parkinson, a climate scientist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. “However, this growth rate is not nearly as large as the decrease in the Arctic.”

Earth’s poles have very different geographies. The Arctic Ocean is surrounded by North America, Greenland and Eurasia. These large landmasses trap most of the sea ice, which builds up and retreats with each yearly freeze-and-melt cycle. But a large fraction of the older, thicker Arctic sea ice has disappeared over the last three decades. The shrinking summer ice cover has exposed dark ocean water that absorbs sunlight and warms up, leading to more ice loss. On the opposite side of the planet, Antarctica is a continent circled by open waters that let sea ice expand during the winter but also offer less shelter during the melt season. Most of the Southern Ocean’s frozen cover grows and retreats every year, leading to little perennial sea ice in Antarctica.

… > full story


New Understanding of Antarctica’s ‘weight loss’: Sea level is rising with little apparent contribution from Antarctica
22, 2012) — Scientists have found that the present sea level rise is happening with apparently very little contribution from Antarctica as a whole. The large amount of water flowing away from West Antarctica through ice-melt has been partly cancelled out by the volume of water falling onto the continent in the form of snow, suggesting some past studies have overestimated Antarctica’s contribution to fast-rising sea levels. … > full story


Seminal Study: Climate Change ‘Footprint’ In North America, ‘The Continent With The Largest Increases in Disasters’

Posted: 21 Oct 2012 09:21 AM PDT

Climate-driven changes are already evident over the last few decades for severe thunderstorms, for heavy precipitation and flash flooding, for hurricane activity, and for heatwave, drought and wild-fire dynamics in parts of North America.” So concludes Munich Re, a top reinsurer, in a major new study that, for the first time, links the rapid rise in North American extreme weather catastrophes to manmade climate change.

At the same time non-climatic events (earthquakes, volcanos, tsunamis) have hardly changed, as the figure shows.

Prof. Peter Höppe, who heads Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research unit, said: “In all likelihood, we have to regard this finding as an initial climate-change footprint in our US loss data from the last four decades. Previously, there had not been such a strong chain of evidence. If the first effects of climate change are already perceptible, all alerts and measures against it have become even more pressing.”

The 274-page study, “Severe weather in North America” draws on “the most comprehensive natural catastrophe database worldwide,” though my favorite part is four words at the bottom of the back jacket:


This study builds on a September 2010 analysis by Munich Re, “Large number of weather extremes as strong indication of climate change,” which concluded:

… it would seem that the only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change. The view that weather extremes are more frequent and intense due to global warming coincides with the current state of scientific knowledge At the time Höppe, explained to me what had persuaded him of the causal link:

For me the most convincing piece of evidence that global warming has been contributing already to more and more intense weather related natural catastrophes is the fact that while we find a steep increase in the number of loss relevant weather events (about tripling in the last 30 years) we only find a slight increase in geophysical (earthquake, volcano, tsunami) events, which should not be affected by global warming. If the whole trend we find in weather related disaster should be caused by reporting bias, or socio-demographic or economic developments we would expect to find it similarly for the geophysical events. And that was before two years of off-the-charts extreme weather catastrophes, particularly in North America (see NOAA Chief 11/11: U.S. Record of a Dozen Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters in One Year Is “a Harbinger of Things to Come”). And that was before multiple studies linking that surge extreme weather to global warming, particularly in North America (see NOAA Bombshell: Warming-Driven Arctic Ice Loss Is Boosting Chance of Extreme U.S. Weather and links therein and below).

The new study finds: Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America. The study shows a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades, compared with an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe and 1.5 in South America. The study draws on a forthcoming journal article on how global warming is driving up “large-scale thunderstorm forcing”: The results of the study indicate that climatic changes have driven up multiyear averages of thunderstorm-related normalized losses since 1970 and that anthropogenic climate change, most likely responsible for increasing levels of humidity over time, is fully consistent with this change….

The scientific literature is also clear that we can expect an increase in thunderstorm intensity and destructiveness as greenhouse gas concentrations rise (see, for instance, here). And so the Munich Re study concludes: Based on studies projecting the number of days with high thunderstorm poten tial to further increase with climate change, it can be expected that the number of large loss events will continue to rise. This translates into an imperative to take account of increasing losses over time in natural hazard risk management.

After all, we have warmed “only” about 1.4° Fahrenheit in the past century. We are poised to warm more than 5 times that this century. And that means — if we are foolish enough to stay anywhere near our current emissions path — we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Related Posts:


Rice agriculture accelerates global warming: More greenhouse gas per grain of rice
October 21, 2012) —
More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and rising temperatures cause rice agriculture to release more of the potent greenhouse gas methane (CH4) for each kilogram of rice it produces, new research published in this week’s online edition of Nature Climate Change reveals.

“Our results show that rice agriculture becomes less climate friendly as our atmosphere continues to change. This is important, because rice paddies are one of the largest human sources of methane, and rice is the world’s second-most produced staple crop,” said Dr Kees Jan van Groenigen, Research Fellow at the Botany Department at the School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, and lead author of the study. Van Groenigen, along with colleagues from Northern Arizona University and the University of California in Davis, gathered all published research to date from 63 different experiments on rice paddies, mostly from Asia and North America. The common theme in the experiments was that they measured how rising temperatures and extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere affect rice yields and the amount of methane that is released by rice paddies. The research team used a technique called meta-analysis, a statistical tool for finding general patterns in a large body of experimental data. “Two strong patterns emerged when we analysed all the data: first, more CO2 boosted emissions of methane from rice paddies, and second, higher temperatures caused a decline in rice yields,” explained Professor Bruce Hungate of Northern Arizona University and co-author of the study.

Methane in rice paddies is produced by microscopic organisms that respire CO2, like humans respire oxygen. More CO2 in the atmosphere makes rice plants grow faster, and the extra plant growth supplies soil microorganisms with extra energy, pumping up their metabolism. Increasing CO2 levels will also boost rice yields, but to a smaller extent then CH4 emissions. As a result, the amount of CH4 emitted per kilogram of rice yield will increase. Rising temperatures were found to have only small effects on CH4 emissions, but because they decrease rice yield, they also increase the amount of CH4 emitted per kilogram of rice. “Together, higher CO2 concentrations and warmer temperatures predicted for the end of this century will about double the amount of CH4 emitted per kilogram of rice produced.,” explained Professor Chris van Kessel of the University of California in Davis and co-author of the study.

“Because global demand for rice will increase further with a growing world population, our results suggest that without additional measures, the total CH4 emissions from rice agriculture will strongly increase…” However, the authors point out that there are several options available to reduce CH4 emissions from rice agriculture. For instance, management practices such as mid-season drainage and using alternative fertilizers have been shown to reduce CH4 emissions from rice paddies. Moreover, by switching to more heat tolerant rice cultivars and by adjusting sowing dates, yield declines due to temperature increases can largely be prevented, thereby reducing the effect of warming on CH4 emissions per yield. “These findings, together with our own results really stress the need for mitigation and adaptation measures to secure global food supply while at the same time keeping greenhouse gas emissions in check.” van Groenigen concluded.

full story

Kees Jan van Groenigen, Chris van Kessel, Bruce A. Hungate. Increased greenhouse-gas intensity of rice production under future atmospheric conditions. Nature Climate Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1712




Food and Climate: A New Warning

October 23, 2012, 7:18 am

As we have noted many times, one of the major questions about climate change is what it will do to the world’s food supply. Competing factors are at work. On the one hand, the rising level of carbon dioxide in the air significantly bolsters the growth of plants, potentially raising yields. Conversely, rising heat and, in some places, additional weather extremes like drought and heavy rains threaten to reduce yields. Climate contrarians like to cite the upside potential of rising carbon dioxide while largely ignoring the risks. And early research, often done under artificial conditions, did indeed suggest the gains were likely to outweigh the losses.
But a growing body of research conducted under more realistic field conditions suggests the opposite may often be the case. Now comes an interesting new entry in the literature. Kees Jan van Groenigen, a scientist at Trinity College in Dublin, and colleagues synthesized the results of 63 studies to determine what would happen to rice cultivation on a warming planet. Their paper was released over the weekend in the journal Nature Climate Change. (A summary is here, the full paper is here for those with access to the journal, and the associated news release is here.) If growing practices and rice varieties remained the same, they found, rising carbon dioxide levels would not entirely offset the effects of heat -– and would, moreover, contribute to increased releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from rice paddies.


The Adaptation for Conservation Targets (ACT) Framework: A Tool for Incorporating Climate Change into Natural Resource Management

Environmental Management, Volume 50, Number 3 (2012), 341-351, July 2012

DOI: 10.1007/s00267-012-9893-7

Molly S. Cross, Erika S. Zavaleta, Dominique Bachelet, Marjorie L. Brooks, Carolyn A. F. Enquist, Erica Fleishman, Lisa J. Graumlich, Craig R. Groves, Lee Hannah and Lara Hansen, et al.

ABSTRACT: As natural resource management agencies and conservation organizations seek guidance on responding to climate change, myriad potential actions and strategies have been proposed for increasing the long-term viability of some attributes of natural systems. Managers need practical tools for selecting among these actions and strategies to develop a tailored management approach for specific targets at a given location. We developed and present one such tool, the participatory Adaptation for Conservation Targets (ACT) framework, which considers the effects of climate change in the development of management actions for particular species, ecosystems and ecological functions. Our framework is based on the premise that effective adaptation of management to climate change can rely on local knowledge of an ecosystem and does not necessarily require detailed projections of climate change or its effects. We illustrate the ACT framework by applying it to an ecological function in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, USA)—water flows in the upper Yellowstone River. We suggest that the ACT framework is a practical tool for initiating adaptation planning, and for generating and communicating specific management interventions given an increasingly altered, yet uncertain, climate.


Oxygen’s ups and downs in early atmosphere and ocean
(October 23, 2012) — Geochemists challenge the simple notion of an up-only trend for early oxygen on Earth, and provides the first compelling direct evidence for a major drop in oxygen after the gas’s first rise. This drop, they say, may have ushered in more than a billion years that were marked by a return to low-oxygen concentrations at Earth’s surface, including the likelihood of an oxygen-free deep ocean. … > full story

Portrait Of A Drought: Finding Water Where It Ain’t

By Peyton Fleming on Oct 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Peyton Fleming, Strategic Communications Director at Ceres, is attending the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) annual conference in Lubbock, Texas. This piece was originally published at Ceres and was reprinted with permission.

Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

I’m on a bus driving across West Texas and all appears well. Miles and miles of white-speckled cotton fields line both sides of the road. Splotches of green grassland are a welcome sign from last year’s devastating drought. Dozens of giant wind turbines churn away far off in the distance. But appearances are deceiving.

West Texas is on the front lines of a changing climate, and scarce water is the most obvious symptom. Everyone – ranchers, farmers, water engineers – is talking about it.

A cyclone of hotter temperatures, more people, water-sapping cotton farming and a devastating 2011 drought have crippled groundwater supplies. And, though the drought has lifted, West Texans are being forced to change their ways like never before. “It’s quite emotional today,” said Jim Conkwright, general manager of the High Plains Underground Conservation Water District #1, headquartered in Lubbock. Conkwright is referring to parched conditions across much of the vast Ogallala Aquifer, which have forced first-ever limits on how much water farmers can pump from their wells. This year’s limit is 21 inches per acre per year; in 2014, it drops to 18 inches. Adding salt to the wound, farmers are being required to install water meters to ensure they don’t exceed  their limits. “These are dirty words,” Conkwright said, of the new rules. “This is a very very hot topic. It may result in board members being unseated.”

Farmers aren’t the only ones being affected by the new norm of drier, hotter weather in this historically arid region. Ranchers at Koch Industries’ Matador Ranch – owned by climate contrarians the Koch Brothers – cut their cattle herd in half and are using a new more resilient grass seed – instead of native grass – on several thousand acres of the 130,000-acre ranch. Ranch managers attribute the changes more to the vicissitudes of changing weather, not to a warming planet……”Water conservation is something we’ll want to stress continuously, not just during droughts,” Spear said.

Conkwright expressed similar disappointment that a two-year moratorium is in place for assessing civil penalties against farmers who don’t install water meters and report their water use. “It sends the wrong signal,” he said. As for West Texas farming in the future, he says, “dry-land farming.”



Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes in September 2012



October 18, 2012

Download the PDF

  • Americans’ belief in the reality of global warming has increased by 13 percentage points over the past two and a half years, from 57 percent in January 2010 to 70 percent in September 2012. At the same time, the number of Americans who say global warming is not happening has declined nearly by half, from 20 percent in January 2010 to only 12 percent today.
  • For the first time since 2008, more than half of Americans (54%) believe global warming is caused mostly by human activities, an increase of 8 points since March 2012. Americans who say it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment have declined to 30 percent (from 37% in March).
  • A growing number of Americans believe global warming is already harming people both at home and abroad…..



Feeling hot, hot, hot: Climate shapes distribution and movement of humans as it does other animals
(October 24, 2012) — Research shows importance of population movement and growth in shaping climate change over the past century in the United States … > full story







Congressmen rip Park Service for huge Calif. blaze

DON THOMPSON, Associated Press Updated 3:46 p.m., Wednesday, October 24, 2012

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Two California congressmen blasted the National Park Service on Wednesday for letting a wildfire burn despite extreme conditions last summer, a decision that conflicted with the practices of other state and federal agencies. U.S. Reps. Wally Herger and Tom McClintock, both Republicans from Northern California, criticized Lassen Volcanic National Park officials for decisions that allowed the Reading fire to eventually erupt into an inferno that scorched more than 42 square miles and cost $15 million to suppress. It destroyed private property, hurt the region’s logging industry and devastated prime tourism destinations in an area known for its remote beauty. Herger said the officials responsible for allowing the fire to burn during “a terrible fire season” should be removed and changes made to the national policy that uses managed wildfires as a tool to clear out forests and improve wildlife habitat. McClintock used the hearing to advocate for a resumption of widespread logging. He said clear-cutting can have the same effect as fires that leave behind a “moonscape” of devastation, though he later said he is not advocating clear-cutting. Massive wildfires cause air pollution, environmental damage and threaten people and wildlife, McClintock said….


Conviction of Italian Scientists May Hinder Open Discussion of Seismic Risk
On 23 October 2012, AGU issued the following statement:

The verdict and prison sentences delivered on 22 October in the trial of six Italian scientists and one government official charged with manslaughter in connection with the L’Aquila earthquake are troubling and could ultimately be harmful to international efforts to understand natural disasters and mitigate associated risk. While the facts of the L’Aquila case are complex, the unfettered exchange of data and information, as well as the freedom and encouragement to participate in open discussions and to communicate results, are essential to the success of any type of scientific research. For scientists to be effective, they must be able to make good faith efforts to present the results of their research without the risk of prosecution. Outcomes such as the one seen in Italy could ultimately discourage scientists from advising their governments, from communicating the results of their research to the public, or even from studying and working in various fields of science. The most appropriate response to natural disasters such as the L’Aquila earthquake is a renewed commitment on the part of scientists, engineers, and government officials to continue working together to more accurately understand and communicate the best available science and information for what can be done to protect the public.
Squeezing Blood From the Desert: The West Grapples With Less Water

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 09:00 AM PDT by Peyton Fleming

No matter the place — California’s Central Valley, southern Nevada, the Colorado River, the Southern Plains — water is harder to find across much of the West. And, with energy demand and populations growing, once-unfathomable choices about water pricing and the future of agriculture are unavoidable.

“Agriculture cannot be sustained in the Southern High Plains,” Judy Reeves, senior hydrogeologist at Texas-based Cirrus Associates said flatly, speaking at the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) conference in water-stressed Lubbock, Texas where drought is still a daily topic. “We really need to start talking about the next economy here.”

“Water from the Colorado River is over-allocated. Legally, there is no water left,” added Kristen Averyt, associate director for science at the University of Colorado. “You really have to ask, ‘Will there be enough water to go around?'”

Chilling words. Reeves noted that the Ogallala Aquifer, the vast groundwater supply for the Southern High Plains, is losing a foot of water each year; during last year’s devastating drought, it lost more than two feet. Even with new first-ever limits on agriculture withdrawals from the aquifer, Reeves believes West Texas farming does not have a long-term future.

But what can water managers in West Texas and elsewhere in the arid West do to navigate these dire water challenges? Some interesting — and surprising — answers were provided at last week’s SEJ workshop, “Squeezing Blood from a Desert.”

Reality-based water pricing is a critical first step. Western water has historically been under priced, in large part because the federal government financed most of the region’s expensive water infrastructure, including pipelines and dams. But, as Sharene Leurig, water program manager at sustainability advocacy group Ceres said, “the era of federal largesse has passed.” That means Western utility water rates and revenues will need to be aligned with short- and long-term expenses. That means higher water rates.

But tools are available to curb water price inflation. Among the most appealing are strong demand management programs. By using carrots and sticks to reduce water use — especially for water-sapping lawns and landscaping — utilities can avoid having to finance expensive new water supplies.

There are many success stories to point to. Lubbock reduced household water use by 25 percent by using drought restrictions and tiered pricing. San Antonio reduced its water use by 100 million gallons a day without having to raise its water rates. These efforts had enormous benefits in helping both cities weather last year’s drought…..


What about climate change?
Baltimore Sun Editorial

Our view: President Obama’s failure to raise an environmental issue of paramount importance may be costing him support from a critical segment of the electorate

October 18, 2012

Last month, a Republican-aligned polling firm called on hunters and fishermen nationwide to get their views. Some of the results were unsurprising: Outdoorsmen regard themselves as politically conservative and register Republican over Democratic by a more than 2-to-1 ratio. But here’s one response that may have caught President Barack Obama and his re-election team by surprise, if they noticed it at all: A majority of these sportsmen believe global warming is the cause of this past summer’s high temperatures and want the White House and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to limit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions….



David Attenborough: US politicians duck climate change because of cost

The naturalist warned it would take a terrible example of extreme weather to wake people up to global warming

Adam Vaughan and Camila Ruz, Thursday 25 October 2012 07.37 EDT

The broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough says scientists and environmentalists have been cautious of overstating the dangers of global warming Link to this video

One of the world’s leading naturalists has accused US politicians of ducking the issue of climate change because of the economic cost of tackling it and warned that it would take a terrible example of extreme weather to wake people up to the dangers of global warming. Speaking just days after the subject of climate change failed to get a mention in the US presidential debates for the first time in 24 years, Sir David Attenborough told the Guardian: “[It] does worry me that most powerful nation in the world, North America, denies what the rest of us can see very clearly [on climate change]. I don’t know what you do about that. It’s easier to deny.” Asked what was needed to wake people up, the veteran broadcaster famous for series such as Life and Planet Earth said: “Disaster. It’s a terrible thing to say, isn’t it? Even disaster doesn’t do it. There have been disasters in North America, with hurricanes and floods, yet still people deny and say ‘oh, it has nothing to do with climate change.’ It visibly has got [something] to do with climate change.” But some US politicians found it easier to deny the science on climate change than take action, he said, because the consequence of recognising the science on man-made climate change “means a huge section from the national budget will be spent in order to deal with it, plenty of politicians will be happy to say ‘don’t worry about that, we’re not going to increase your taxes.'” Neither Barack Obama or Mitt Romney mentioned climate change in three TV debates, despite a summer of record temperatures and historic drought in the US…


Climate change still a no-show at debates

Politico – ‎October 23, 2012‎

“Given that climate change may be the greatest challenge we face in the decades ahead, to be silent on the issue over the course of four debates does a real disservice to the country,” Penn State climate researcher Michael Mann said in an email


Obama, Mitt Romney Largely Leave … Climate Change On Election Sidelines


WASHINGTON — Of the roughly 50,000 words spoken in this month’s three presidential debates, none were “climate change,” “global warming” or “greenhouse gas.”

Housing was discussed in the first debate, but the word “foreclosure” was mentioned in none. Nor was gay marriage. The 2012 presidential campaign, not just the debates, has focused heavily from the start on jobs, pushing other once high-profile issues to the sidelines. It dismays activists who have spent decades promoting environmental issues, gay rights, gun control and other topics, sometimes managing to lift them to the top tiers of national attention and debate. With fewer than half of Americans believing that human activity contributes to global warming, according to Pew Research, President Barack Obama talks far less about climate change than he did four years ago. When he locked up the Democratic nomination in June 2008, he said future generations would recall “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Obama hasn’t come close to making such claims in recent months. Last June, 3,100 U.S. temperature records were broken and much of the nation was in drought, said Daniel Kessler, spokesman for 350 Action Fund, which tries to raise awareness of global warming. And yet the three presidential debates, and the sole vice presidential forum, produced “absolute silence on climate science,” Kessler said…..




TIMELINE: Fox News’ Role In The “Climate Of Doubt”


PBS’ Frontline recently aired a documentary titled “Climate of Doubt,” examining how conservative groups, frequently funded by the fossil fuel industry, have pushed Republicans to reject the scientific consensus on manmade global warming. Here, Media Matters looks back at how Fox News has contributed to that “Climate of Doubt,” often teaming up with industry to misrepresent science and attack all efforts to address this threat.


Levi’s Quietly Announces Climate Change Strategy

Triple Pundit – ‎October 22, 2012‎

So earlier this month, when Levi Strauss & Company (LS&CO) released their 2012 Climate Change Strategy (view announcement or download the PDF), it seems counter-intuitive that so little media fanfare accompanied the launch.



An Answer To ‘Drill, Baby Drill’: Countering The American Petroleum Institute’s Plan For Climate Disaster

By Stephen Lacey on Oct 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm

The American Petroleum Institute’s vision for America. If you’ve turned on the television, walked by a bus stop, or visited a social networking site in the last 10 months, there’s a very good chance you’ve been targeted by the American Petroleum Institute’s “Vote 4 Energy” campaign. It’s one of the most prominent and consistent ad buys amongst the tidal wave of spending from fossil fuel groups this election season. Launched at the beginning of the year, the campaign was rolled out in conjunction with an energy plan that calls for unrestrained oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Outer Continental Shelf, onshore and offshore in the Arctic, and public lands around the country. The plan also calls for developing the Keystone XL pipeline and increasing production of tar sands — one of the most environmentally-destructive and carbon-intensive resources — by 250 percent.


Recession drives down U.S. national park visitation
(October 19, 2012) — A national recession doesn’t just affect Americans’ wallets. It also impacts their travel to national parks, a new study has found. Recent visitation statistics released by the US Department of Interior already noted the significant decrease in national park visitation — dropping nearly 10 million since 1998 to 278 million visitors — but this is the first study to link the drop to a bad economy. … > full story


Addressing Climate Change Is Pro-Business

ThinkProgress – ‎October 21, 2012‎

There is a particular concern among our members about the consequences of human-induced climate change. As the World Bank’s World Development Report 2010 argues, “Economic growth alone is unlikely to be fast or equitable enough to counter threats ..








Terra Global invites you to a webcast entitled “The California Carbon Market and the Role of International Forests: A Primer on the Risks and Opportunities for Institutional Investors” on October 30, at 2pm EST. The webcast is funded by the United States Agency for International Development under the Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities Program implemented by Tetra Tech-ARD and a number of partners including, Terra Global Capital.



Posted: 20 Oct 2012 11:19 AM PDT

Joe Romm–52-minute interview of me on Miami Public Radio’s “Topical Currents” show (audio here).







U.S. Poised To Be World’s Top Oil Producer, Part Of ‘The New Middle East’. The Bad News: We’ll Also Have Their Climate.

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 03:50 PM PDT

This is a good news, bad news story, which the media, characteristically, gets half right. The AP reports today: “U.S. oil output is surging so fast that the United States could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest producer. Driven by high prices and new drilling methods, U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons is on track to rise 7 percent this year to an average of 10.9 million barrels per day. This will be the fourth straight year of crude increases and the biggest single-year gain since 1951…. The increase in production hasn’t translated to cheaper gasoline at the pump, and prices are expected to stay relatively high for the next few years because of growing demand for oil in developing nations and political instability in the Middle East and North Africa.”….


Offsetting global warming: Targeting solar geoengineering to minimize risk and inequality
(October 21, 2012) — By tailoring geoengineering efforts by region and by need, a new model promises to maximize the effectiveness of solar radiation management while mitigating its potential side effects and risks. … > full story

The art of sustainable development
(October 19, 2012) — Einstein said that we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking used when we created them. Wise words, except few people heed them when it comes to sustainable solutions for our ailing planet. Despite decades of scientific research into everything from air pollution to species extinction, individuals are slow to act because their passions are not being ignited. … > full story


Let it snow! Solar panels can take it
(October 24, 2012) — Even if the weather outside is frightful, solar cells can still generate a delightful amount of electricity. … > full story


Large-Scale Production of Biofuels Made from Algae Poses Sustainability Concerns



October 24, 2012 — Scaling up the production of biofuels made from algae to meet at least five percent — approximately 39 billion liters — of US transportation fuel needs would place unsustainable demands on energy, … > full story


Air conditioning consumes one third of peak electric consumption in the summer
(October 22, 2012) — Air conditioning in homes may account for up to one third of electricity use during periods in the summer when the most energy is required in large cities, according to a study carried out in Spain. The research attempts to determine not only the amount of energy that is consumed, but also its environmental impact. … > full story


Americans Use More Efficient and Renewable Energy Technologies



October 24, 2012 — Americans used less energy in 2011 than in the previous year due mainly to a shift to higher-efficiency energy technologies in the transportation and residential sectors. Meanwhile, less coal was … > full story


Greener and quieter tires
(October 22, 2012) — Researchers in Spain have shown that introducing new materials and modifying the manufacturing process of tires, drivers can save fuel and reduce noise generated by their vehicles. … > full story


How one engineer’s birdwatching made Japan’s bullet train better

By Tom McKeag Published October 19, 2012 The Biomimicry Column

What is the connection between an engineer going bird watching and his saving millions of dollars for his company?

Or, what does catching flies have to do with preventing plane crashes? How will locust swarms change the nature of our highways? Can a mold do a better job of plotting our mass transit systems than a team of engineers and planners? The common thread in all these scenarios: Deep observation and analysis of the natural world can lead to amazingly creative innovations. I will write about all these things in this series on transportation, but first let’s take a look at a how a couple of interesting birds inspired a sleek design. Eiji Nakatsu was the general manager of the technical development department for the so-called “bullet” trains of Japan, famed for their speed and safety record. After attending a 1990 lecture on birds by an aviation engineer, Nakatsu, who is also an engineer, realized studying the flight of birds could bring his train, and us, into the future……




Can Cities Be “Resilient” and “Sustainable” at the Same Time?

The urban areas of the next 100 years will have to be both. But that’s tricky.

By David Biello|Posted Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, at 3:08 PM ET

If you’ve successfully flushed a toilet recently, then you appreciate (at least subconsciously) the workings of a good sewer system. Waste disappears, no matter what time of day or night, or what the weather’s like. But weather is actually a challenge for a sewer system, especially precipitation. That New York City’s sewers can handle the waste of more than 8 million residents on a daily basis—plus the occasional downpour or major storm like Hurricane Irene—is a testament to its resilience.

How does New York do it? Simple: combined sewer outflows. When there’s simply too much water in the sewers for the city’s wastewater treatment plants to cope, the proverbial flood gates are opened and rainfall mixed with sewage flows into area waterways, such as Newtown Creek or the Gowanus Canal.

That’s great for keeping sewage from finding other places to go—like back up into your toilet. But it’s less good for places that consistently see such overflows, like the Gowanus Canal. The canal, affectionately called “Lavender Lake” by locals for the multi-hued sheen of its near constant water pollution, carries a raging case of gonorrhea thanks to all that outflow as well as some of the most toxic sludge in the country. In fact, an industrial legacy paired with these “combined sewer outflows” has been enough to turn the canal into a Superfund site—or one of the nation’s most polluted localities.

That isn’t exactly sustainable. Especially once you consider that downpours and the like are predicted to be on the increase as a result of climate change, as are little threats like sea level rise that could turn outflows into inflows.

In fact, though resilience and sustainability—two of the hottest buzzwords in urban planning—are used practically interchangeably, they are in fact in some tension with each other. A resilient system bounces back from challenges, unharmed, and a big part of building in resilience includes building in ways to fail safely, such as the combined sewer outflows. So, for example, the blackout of 2003 showed how the U.S. power grid remains less than resilient to challenges like untrimmed trees and power lines sagging in the heat. An example of a more resilient technological system is the Internet here in America, where if one route for data fails, another is found.

Sustainability, on the other hand, means efficiency, at least in part, as designers strive to strike a balance between human needs and environmental impacts. This century, the world’s megacities will swell to become gigalopolises—vast tracts of urbanized land, like the metropolitan corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C., or the predicted one between Hangzhou and Shenyang. Efficiency in the construction of infrastructure will be vital as the world attempts to build in the next few decades the same amount of urban infrastructure we’ve cobbled together over the last several millennia. Does that mean foregoing a built-in margin of safety? The Internet may be resilient in the United States, but a reliance on single lines of connection to the rest of the world has disconnected countries across Africa, from Egypt to Uganda. Imagine the same thing happening to an “efficient” sewer system.

Some of the most obvious ways to become more resilient are not sustainable….








Herbal and dietary supplements can adversely affect prescribed drugs, says extensive review
(October 24, 2012) — A number of herbs and dietary supplements (HDS) can cause potentially harmful drug interactions, particularly among people receiving medication for problems with their central nervous or cardiovascular systems. Researchers examined 54 review articles and 31 original studies. They found that the greatest problems were caused by interactions between prescribed drugs and HDS that included ingredients such as St John’s Wort, magnesium, calcium, iron or ginkgo. … > full story


American Academy of Pediatrics Weighs in for First Time On Organic Foods for Children

ScienceDaily (Oct. 22, 2012) — Parents know it’s important for children to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains. But it’s less clear whether spending the extra money on organic foods will bring a significant benefit to their children’s health.

To offer guidance to parents — and the pediatricians caring for their children’s health — the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has conducted an extensive analysis of scientific evidence surrounding organic produce, dairy products and meat. The conclusion is mixed: While organic foods have the same vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, lipids and other nutrients as conventional foods, they also have lower pesticide levels, which may be significant for children. Organically raised animals are also less likely to be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria because organic farming rules prohibit the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics. However, in the long term, there is currently no direct evidence that consuming an organic diet leads to improved health or lower risk of disease. No large studies in humans have been performed that specifically address this issue.

“What’s most important is that children eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products, whether those are conventional or organic foods. This type of diet has proven health benefits,” said Janet Silverstein, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition and one of the lead authors of the report. “Many families have a limited food budget, and we do not want families to choose to consume smaller amounts of more expensive organic foods and thus reduce their overall intake of healthy foods like produce….









The Presidential Candidates are Silent on the Essential Facts of Climate Change



Although Barack Obama and Mitt Romney sprinkle their speeches with mentions of energy and climate, they have remained stubbornly silent on the immediate and profound task of phasing out a carbon-based economy. Their failure to connect the dots and do the math imperils our nation and prevents the development of a national and global plan to respond to the most urgent challenge of our era. It’s time for their climate silence to end…..



Conservation Science News October 19, 2012

Highlight of the Week…. Geoengineering….










Highlight of the Week– Geoengineering….


Yellow and brown colours show relatively high concentrations of chlorophyll in August 2012, after iron sulphate was dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of a controversial geoengineering scheme. Photograph: Giovanni/Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center/NASA

World’s biggest geoengineering experiment ‘violates’ UN rules

Controversial US businessman’s iron fertilisation off west coast of Canada contravenes two UN conventions

Martin Lukacs Monday 15 October 2012 06.34 EDT

A controversial American businessman dumped around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean as part of a geoengineering scheme off the west coast of Canada in July, a Guardian investigation can reveal. Lawyers, environmentalists and civil society groups are calling it a “blatant violation” of two international moratoria and the news is likely to spark outrage at a United Nations environmental summit taking place in India this week.


Satellite images appear to confirm the claim by Californian Russ George that the iron has spawned an artificial plankton bloom as large as 10,000 square kilometres. The intention is for the plankton to absorb carbon dioxide and then sink to the ocean bed – a geoengineering technique known as ocean fertilisation that he hopes will net lucrative carbon credits. George is the former chief executive of Planktos Inc, whose previous failed efforts to conduct large-scale commercial dumps near the Galapagos and Canary Islands led to his vessels being barred from ports by the Spanish and Ecuadorean governments. The US Environmental Protection Agency warned him that flying a US flag for his Galapagos project would violate US laws, and his activities are credited in part to the passing of international moratoria at the United Nations limiting ocean fertilisation experiments


Scientists are debating whether iron fertilisation can lock carbon into the deep ocean over the long term, and have raised concerns that it can irreparably harm ocean ecosystems, produce toxic tides and lifeless waters, and worsen ocean acidification and global warming. “It is difficult if not impossible to detect and describe important effects that we know might occur months or years later,” said John Cullen , an oceanographer at Dalhousie University. “Some possible effects, such as deep-water oxygen depletion and alteration of distant food webs, should rule out ocean manipulation. History is full of examples of ecological manipulations that backfired.”….


From NY TIMES Oct 19, 2012:
A California businessman chartered a fishing boat in July, loaded it with 100 tons of iron dust and cruised through Pacific waters off western Canada, spewing his cargo into the sea in an ecological experiment that has outraged scientists and government officials. [New York Times]









Restoring the Narrative of American Environmentalism
Society for Ecological Restoration
The conventional narrative of American environmentalism is no longer very helpful for conservationists and restorationists seeking philosophical justification and guidance for their work. The tradition has often been cropped into a narrower and simplified account of the battle between the philosophies of wise use and preservation, a move bolstered by the turn to historical images of President Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir visiting California’s Yosemite National Park in the early years of the twentieth century. Restoring this lost pragmatism to the environmental tradition will prove vital to recovering the value of environmental history and philosophy for conservation and restoration practice and to reclaiming a more holistic and useful narrative of people, culture, and environment.




Why are U.S. Eastern seaboard salt marshes falling apart?
October 17, 2012) — Salt marshes have been disintegrating and dying over the past two decades along the U.S. Eastern seaboard and other highly developed coastlines, without anyone fully understanding why. Scientists now report that nutrients — such as nitrogen and phosphorus from septic and sewer systems and lawn fertilizers — can cause salt-marsh loss. … > full story


Tenuous water supply shrinks this year at Valley wildlife refuges

By Matt Weiser Published: Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 1A

At the Sutter National Wildlife Refuge near Yuba City, wetlands that should be teeming with mallards, canvasbacks, geese and pelicans are instead parched and barren.
The refuge, established in 1945, is normally able to flood its 21 wetland tracts by early October. They provide food and shelter for millions of birds that migrate across the globe, using California’s Central Valley as a vital stop along the Pacific Flyway.
In addition to their ecological importance, the Sacramento Valley’s public wildlife refuges attract more than 200,000 visitors per year, including hunters, anglers and bird lovers. They are one of the only options for outdoor lovers who can’t afford a pricey duck club membership or an exotic bird-watching safari.
This year, 80 percent of the Sutter refuge remains dry. That means about 2,000 acres of potential habitat is nearly empty of bird life. Ponds normally busy with squawking ducks and geese are dried to a crisp in the October sun.
“The water, come lately, hasn’t been real reliable,” said Dan Frisk, manager of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which includes Sutter….


Central Valley’s wildlife refuges need water, too

By the Editorial Board Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 16A

Congress, along with state and federal water managers, doesn’t have much to brag about in protecting and recovering native fish in California. But they should take some pride in increased waterfowl. Ducks, geese and other birds have rebounded in the Sacramento Valley, partly because of a 1992 law requiring increased deliveries of water to wildlife refuges. That record of success, however, shouldn’t be taken for granted. Over the last five years, water deliveries by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to federal refuges have dipped and spiked. This year is likely to be another bad year. As The Bee’s Matt Weiser reported Monday, 80 percent of the Sutter National Wildlife Refuge is dry this year. “That means about 2,000 acres of potential habitat is nearly empty of bird life,” he reported. “Ponds normally busy with squawking ducks and geese are dried to a crisp in the October sun.”

There is no doubt that the Bureau of Reclamation – the agency that manages water from Lake Shasta and other federal reservoirs – has worked hard to increase water to refuges. Still, it hasn’t come close to meeting the requirements of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act. That law required the bureau to deliver 133,264 acre-feet of water annually to 19 wildlife areas in the Central Valley by 2002. It hasn’t come close. Its best year was in 2011, when it still was about one-fourth short of the requirement. It is too soon to know if these gyrating water deliveries are causing harm to migrating waterfowl. It should be remembered that, in the Sacramento Valley, rice fields are beneficial to birds and there are far more acres in rice than in refuges. Still, there is no denying that a dry refuge is a wasted refuge, a problem the 1992 law sought to correct. The first order of business is to understand the nature of the challenge. The second is avoid making it worse as California considers changes to plumbing in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. One problem for the refuges is the lack of a secure supply. Up until 2005, the Bureau of Reclamation was able to buy water on the spot market, including some from rice farmers in Northern California who choose to fallow their land and sell water on a one-time basis. In recent years, however, prices for rice have been high and rice farmers have been hoarding their water, leaving little for the spot market. Another big challenge is moving water through the Delta to refuges in the San Joaquin Valley. There’s no easy answer here, but there are a lot of stakeholders who have an interest in a healthy Pacific Flyway. Central Valley Joint Venture, a group trying to help the refuges, could use assistance in elevating the issue and securing funds and water for the Valley’s wildlife areas. We hear a lot from Southern California these days about the need for reliable water supplies. Refuges need that, too. © Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.


Great whites’ diets shown to vary widely

Peter Fimrite San Francisco Chronicle October 17, 2012

The study, published recently in the scientific journal PLoS One, showed that the dining habits of the finned creatures vary widely and often include dolphins, squid and a wide variety of fish. The researchers analyzed growth bands in the… more »


San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science October 2012 VOLUME 10, ISSUE 3 available on line

  • Using Conceptual Models and Decision-Supoort Tools to Guide Ecosystem Restoration Planning and Adaptive Management: An Example from the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, California

    Bruce DiGennaro, Denise Reed, Christina Swanson, Lauren Hastings, Zachary Hymanson, Michael Healey, Stuart Siegel, Scott Cantrell, and Bruce Herbold

  • Juvenile Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in and around the San Francisco Estuary

    John G. Williams

  • A Conceptual Model of Sedimentation in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta

    David H. Schoellhamer, Scott A. Wright, and Judith Z. Drexler

  • A Conceptual Model for Floodplains in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta

    Jeffrey J. Opperman


UK: Crossrail Earth To Help Create Biggest Man-Made Nature Reserve In Europe
The first giant scoops of almost 5m tons of earth from deep beneath London were delivered to the Essex coast on Monday, the first step in creating the biggest man-made nature reserve in Europe. The soil, excavated from two new 21km rail tunnels under the capital, will transform the pancake-flat intensive farmland of Wallasea Island into a labyrinth of mudflats, saltmarshes and lagoons last seen on the site 400 years ago.


Restore The California Delta! To What, Exactly? Oct 7 2012
In California, state officials are planning a multibillion-dollar environmental restoration of the inland delta near San Francisco Bay. There’s only one problem: No one knows what the landscape used to look like. Since 97% of the original wetlands are gone, the state is turning to historians for help. Alison Whipple and Robin Grossinger are looking through a pile of maps, trying to piece together the path of William Wright, a man who got hopelessly lost somewhere nearby 160 years ago.


Primates in peril: Conservationists reveal the world’s 25 most endangered primates
(October 15, 2012) — Humankind’s closest living relatives — the world’s apes, monkeys, lemurs and other primates — are on the brink of extinction and in need of urgent conservation measures, according to a report released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The report, announced by some of the world’s leading primate experts every two years, reveals those species most in danger of becoming extinct from destruction of tropical forests, illegal wildlife trade and commercial bush meat hunting. … > full story


Endangered woodpeckers caught, driven to new homes

JANET McCONNAUGHEY, Associated Press Associated Press October 19, 2012

Thursday night, biologists in the forest’s southwestern Calcasieu Ranger District caught seven more pairs of the 5- to 7-inch-long black-and-white birds, which are named for a few tiny red feathers on their heads. More than 80 pairs of juvenile red cockaded woodpeckers are being moved from big groups in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas forests to bolster small groups in those states and in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. At their new homes, males and… more »


Activists say Cayman must stop farming sea turtles



DAVID McFADDEN, Associated Press Associated Press October 19, 2012 KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Wildlife activists urged the Cayman Islands on Thursday to permanently halt the farming of green sea turtles at a popular government-owned tourist attraction that has released thousands of juveniles into the sea and… more »


Shark finning hitting Persian Gulf sharks hard

MICHAEL CASEY, AP Environmental Writer Associated Press October 19, 2012

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Armed with a clip board and wearing bright yellow waders, Rima Jabado looked the part of a government inspector at the Dubai fish market as workers sawed the fins off hundreds of dead sharks from Oman and… more »







September 2012 Tied For The Warmest September Ever Recorded -globally

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 11:25 AM PDT

Last month was tied for the warmest September ever recorded globally, according to new data from the National Climatic Data Center. The average combined land and ocean surface temperature last month was 1.21 degrees F above the 20th century average — rivaling September of 2005 as the warmest on record. In August, the National Climatic Data Center reported that June through August of 2012 was the warmest ever recorded for global land surface temperatures. When factored with ocean surface temperature, the average global temperature between June and August was the third warmest in recorded history. The summer of 2012 was also the third warmest ever recorded for the U.S. — only .2 degrees F lower than the summer of 1936, during the height of the Dust Bowl. In early September, the climate center reported that January through August of this year was the most extreme for weather ever recorded for the U.S.


Global temperature ties with 2005 as record highest for September. Larger size. (Credit: NOAA Visualization Lab)

NOAA: Global temperature ties with 2005 as record highest for September

Arctic sea ice retreats to all-time minimum extent, while Antarctic sea ice records all-time maximum

According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature for September 2012 tied with 2005 as the warmest September since recordkeeping began in 1880. It also marked the 36th consecutive September and 331st consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average September temperature was September 1976, and the last below-average temperature for any month was February 1985.

Most areas of the world experienced higher-than-average monthly temperatures, including central Russia, Japan, western Australia, northern Argentina, Paraguay, western Canada, and southern Greenland. Meanwhile, far eastern Russia, western Alaska, southern Africa, parts of the upper Midwest and southeast United States, and much of China were notably below average.

In the Arctic, sea ice extent averaged 1.39 million square miles for the month, resulting in the lowest monthly sea ice extent on record, and on September 16, the Arctic reached its all-time lowest daily extent on record. More than 4.57 million square miles of ice melted in 2012, the size of the entire United States and Mexico combined. Conversely, on the opposite pole, Antarctic sea ice reached its all-time highest daily extent on record on September 26.

This monthly analysis (summary, full report) from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.


NOAA winter outlook: Big uncertainty due to fickle El Nino

By Jason Samenow Posted at 12:24 PM ET, 10/18/2012


NOAA’s winter oulook for temperature and precipitation. A indicates “above normal”, B indicates “below normal”, whereas EC indicates “equal chances” above or below normal. (NOAA) Since the summer, forecasters have called for El Nino to develop this fall, but so far, it has defied such predictions. El Nino’s baffling behavior has left NOAA forecasters scratching their heads and unable to make a solid call about what kind of winter to expect over large parts of the United States.

El Nino, the episodic warming of ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific, is often linked to certain weather patterns over the U.S. Generally, during El Nino winters, it is cool and wet across the southern U.S. and warm and dry across the northern tier.



As waters warm, predators may go hungry

David Perlman San Francisco Chronicle October 19, 2012

Predators of the North Pacific Ocean – among them many sharks, whales, seals and sea turtles – will be forced to swim farther from their food supplies or go hungry as the world’s warming climate shifts their normal habitats, a marine scientist
has concluded. Yet the changes pushed by ocean warming may benefit some seabirds and fast-swimming tuna, which are built to forage farther than their competitors, according to a study by Elliott Hazen, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries researcher affiliated with Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions. Climate specialists estimate that average sea surface temperatures will rise from 1.8 to 10.8 degrees by the end of this century, and Hazen and his colleagues have calculated how this could affect predators in two great western regions of the world’s oceans…. more »



Ozone affects forest watersheds
(October 18, 2012)
ScienceDaily (Oct. 18, 2012)
— U.S. Forest Service and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) scientists have found that rising levels of ozone, a greenhouse gas, may amplify the impacts of higher temperatures and reduce streamflow from forests to rivers, streams, and other water bodies. Such effects could potentially reduce water supplies available to support forest ecosystems and people in the southeastern United States. Impacts of ozone, a global scale pollutant, on forests are not well understood at a large scale. This modeling study indicates that current and projected increases in ozone in the 21st century will likely enhance the negative effects of warming on watersheds, aggravating drought and altering stream flow. Using data on atmospheric water supply and demand and statistical models, researchers with the Forest Service and ORNL were able to show what effects ozone can have on stream flow in dry seasons. Published in the November issue of the journal Global Change Biology, the study suggests that ozone has amplified the effects of warmer temperatures in reducing streamflow in forested watersheds in the southeastern United States. … > full story

Forest Fires Linked to High Temperatures Two Years Before



October 19, 2012 — A study led by some University of Barcelona researchers analyses the impact of interannual and seasonal climate variability on the fires occurred in Catalonia last summer. The study concludes that summer fires, related to summer climate conditions, are correlated with antecedent climate conditions, especially winter and spring ones with a lag time of two years. The results suggest that precipitation and temperature conditions regulate fuel flammability and fuel structure. According to the correlations observed, the study provides a model to produce long-term predictions. The study, published in the journal Climatic Change, comes out of the doctoral thesis of the researcher Marco Turco, directed by the UB researcher Maria del Carme Llasat, co-author of the article. From 1983 to 2007, period analysed in the study, more than 16000 fires events were recorded and the total burned area was more than 240000 hectares, around 7.5 % of Catalonia. The work develops a statistical analysis of these fires and shows that, from a climate point of view, according to Maria del Carme Llasat, “is possible to develop a model that gives us an estimation of the number of fires and the extension of the burned area related to monthly average temperature and rainfall. We developed a simple regression model which includes the influence of spring-summer climate conditions of the studied year, but specially other variables which are determinant, although they do not seem to.”… > full story


How Climate Change Makes Species Go Extinct

Randy Astaiza | Oct. 16, 2012, 7:11 PM | 291 | 1

A type of frog called Atelopus certus. Many species in the genus Atelopus are threatened or extinct due to a fungus spreading. The fungus is surviving better because of global climate change. As climate changes, so does the way a species uses and interacts with its environment and other species. These changes could be why some species suffer severe declines, or even extinction in local populations a new study suggests. The study published tomorrow, Oct. 17, in the the journal Proceedings of The Royal Society B.

“Currently our knowledge of the ways in which climate change can lead to species extinctions is extremely limited,” study researcher John Wiens, from Stony Brook University, said in a statement from the journal. “Understanding the proximate causes of extinction from climate change should be an urgent priority for future research if we are to develop effective conservation strategies to ameliorate their effects.” This next great extinction, on par with the mass die off that killed the dinosaurs, may actually have already started.

To see how climate is playing a role in local species extinctions, the researchers studied 136 case studies to figure out how climate might have been involved in each. They found seven studies that could be nailed down as climate-related. Although there were only a handful of studies to review, in the ones that were climate related the researchers noticed a pattern: They found that local extinctions happened because of changes in how the animals used and interacted with their environment, not because of temperature changes. For example they found that: Reduced food availability led to local extinctions of three birds — a plover, a jay, and an auklet; A spreading deadly fungus killed off multiple species of tropical frog; drought killed off a local type of aloe tree and four amphibians; and lower oxygen availability in warmer waters killed off a fish. The loss of beneficial species interactions was also a factor in local extinctions. Rapid changes in climate wreaked havoc for figs and their wasps and for algae that live on corals….



Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy is

Illustration by Edel Rodriguez

By Bill McKibben July 19, 2012 9:35 AM ET Rolling Stone Magazine
If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven’t convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe……When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math. For the past year, an easy and powerful bit of arithmetical analysis first published by financial analysts in the U.K. has been making the rounds of environmental conferences and journals, but it hasn’t yet broken through to the larger public. This analysis upends most of the conventional political thinking about climate change. And it allows us to understand our precarious – our almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless – position with three simple numbers…..The First Number: 2° Celsius….The Second Number: 565 Gigatons….The Third Number: 2,795 Gigatons



Climate change: Circulation of Atlantic Ocean was faster during last Ice Age than today
(October 15, 2012) — Heat transport in the Atlantic Ocean during the last Ice Age was not weaker, as long assumed, but in fact stronger than it is today. Scientists used ultra-precise measurements of natural radionuclides in ocean sediments to study the ocean’s strength of circulation and uncovered new information about the past of the “Atlantic heat pump.” … > full story



Fishery collapse near Venezuela linked to climate change
(October 18, 2012)Even small increases in temperature from global warming are causing climatology shifts harmful to ocean life, a new study shows. Modest changes in temperature have significantly altered trade wind intensity in the southern Caribbean, undercutting the supply of key phytoplankton food sources and causing the collapse of some fisheries there. … > full story


Steps in the right direction for conservation
(October 17, 2012) — As the climate changes, conservationists are divided over the most effective way to preserve animal and plant diversity because they cannot simply preserve the status quo. Ensuring species can shift to track the climate to which they are suited is a complex problem, especially when there are competing demands on land use. A simple prediction is that more habitat would help species to shift, but it is not obvious what the best spatial locations for habitat would be. … > full story


Island Wildlife Decline, Linked To Ocean Acidification, ‘Could Prove A Bellwether For Oceanic Change Globally’

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 01:30 PM PDT The NY Times published a sobering piece recently about Tatoosh Island off the coast of Washington state. Tatoosh is a global “warming bellwether”: But for over four decades, with the blessing of Makah leaders, Tatoosh has been the object of intense biological scrutiny, and scientists say they are seeing disturbing declines across species — changes that could prove a bellwether for oceanic change globally. The Makah hold treaty rights to the island. Among the declines the researchers are noticing: historically hardy populations of gulls and murres are only half what they were 10 years ago, and only a few chicks hatched this spring. Mussel shells are notably thinner, and recently the mussels seem to be detaching from rocks more easily and with greater frequency. Goose barnacles are also suffering, and so are the hard, splotchy, wine-colored coralline algae, which appear like graffiti along rocky shorelines. This particular whodunit appears to be largely solved: Humans in the Ecosystem with CO2. Global warming is “capable of wrecking the marine ecosystem and depriving future generations of the harvest of the seas” (see Ocean dead zones to expand, “remain for thousands of years”). In this case, it’s ocean acidification, a subject we have covered extensively — see, for instance, Geological Society study finds acidifying oceans on track for marine biological meltdown “by end of century,” as co-author warns: “Unless we curb carbon emissions we risk mass extinctions, degrading coastal waters and encouraging outbreaks of toxic jellyfish and algae.” The major media haven’t been so focused on this major threat to humanity (see “Kardashians Get 40 Times More News Coverage Than Ocean Acidification“)….”Biologists suspect that the shifts are related to huge declines in the water’s pH, a shift attributed to the absorption of excess carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in ever-greater amounts by the burning of fossil fuels for energy.As the carbon dioxide is absorbed, it alters the oceanic water chemistry, turning it increasingly acidic. Barnacles, oysters and mussels find it more difficult to survive, which can cause chain reactions among the animals that eat those species, like birds and peopled uring a research trip in 2000, Dr. Pfister and Dr. Wootton first began testing the pH of water samples. They found the water around Tatoosh and along nearby coastlines to be 10 times as acidic as what accepted climate change models were predicting. Even after collecting seven years of data, when they published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2008, their data were met with skepticism. “People think we just don’t know how to use the instrument — I still hear that,” Dr. Pfister said. “Luckily for our reputations, I guess, this has been corroborated by a lot of other people.”

Unluckily for humanity, a great many of the impacts of man-made greenhouse gas emissions are worse than what “accepted climate change models were predicting.” It was on Tatoosh and the nearby shore (which you can see in the top photo) that Prof. Robert T. Paine, retired University of Washington zoologist, “developed his keystone species hypothesis, which describes how top predators dominate an ecosystem, often to the benefit of species diversity.” I guess that makes us the anti-keystone species, since humans dominate almost every ecosystem, but invariably to the detriment of species diversity (see Royal Society: “There are very strong indications that the current rate of species extinctions far exceeds anything in the fossil record”). Indeed, we seem to be the species that is especially adept at wiping out keystone species and diversity (see “Global Warming May Cause Far Higher Extinction of Biodiversity Than Previously Thought“). The final word goes to the too-appropriately named professor: “You can predict change,” Dr. Paine said, “and most of the changes are going to be in a direction we don’t want.” So it’s good to see the Times run with this story and explain the climate change angle so clearly:

Related posts:



Long-term observations in the tropics linked to global climate change
(October 16, 2012) — Reports of declining ice coverage and drowning polar bears in the Arctic illustrate dramatic ecosystem responses to global climate change in Earth’s polar regions. But in a first-ever account of a long-term project in the southern Caribbean, researchers report that tropical ecosystems are also affected by global climatic trends — and with accompanying economic impacts. … > full story



Ice sheet retreat controlled by the landscape
(October 16, 2012) — Ice-sheet retreat can halt temporarily during long phases of climate warming, according to scientists. … > full story


Dinosaur-era acoustics: Global warming may give oceans the ‘sound’ of the Cretaceous
(October 18, 2012) — Global temperatures directly affect the acidity of the ocean, which in turn changes the acoustical properties of sea water. New research suggests that global warming may give Earth’s oceans the same hi-fi sound qualities they had more than 100 million years ago, during the Age of the Dinosaurs. … > full story



Tuvalu: A Pacific Landscape Befouled

By MATT SIEGEL (NYT) October 17, 2012

Decades after they were dug to provide material for an airstrip during World War II, “borrow pits” are eroding islanders’ quality of life in Tuvalu.



Prime Hook plan may become a model for dealing with rising seas
By Jon Hurdle June 14, 2012

A plan to save Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge from rising sea levels may do more than just create new habitat for migratory birds, increase opportunities for hunters, and prevent flooding in some coastal communities. The ambitious proposal, released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on May 31, may become a template for how Delaware deals with the coastal flooding that already strikes the state’s many low-lying areas – a challenge that experts say will get far worse in coming decades. The 10,000-acre Prime Hook preserve is one of the areas that state officials say will be virtually wiped out by the one-meter rise in ocean waters projected to happen by the end of the century if current trends continue.

Rising sea level is the main threat to the refuge and the main driver behind the federal agency’s long-awaited Comprehensive Conservation Plan. As salt water from the Delaware Bay inundates some 4,000 acres of what had been freshwater impoundments, those areas no longer attract the migratory birds that they were built to shelter. The surging waters from the bay frequently flood the adjacent community of Prime Hook Beach and damage bordering farmland with salt water. The plan lays out three options for responding to repeated flooding at the refuge. The option favored by the Fish and Wildlife Service would raise the level of at least one of the impoundments by about seven inches by pumping in million of tons of sand and mud from a long-planned dredging project to deepen the Delaware ship channel. The agency hopes the operation will allow the area to revert to salt marsh and drain into the bay rather than drawing waters from it, as it does now. “The bay is rising twice as fast as the marsh is,” said Michael Stroeh, project leader for the Delaware Coastal Refuge Complex that includes Prime Hook and Bombay Hook refuges….



Some climate scientists, in a shift, link weather to global warming

By Monte Morin Los Angeles Times – ‎October 13, 2012‎

The worst drought in half a century has plagued two-thirds of the nation, devastating farms and stoking wildfires that scorched almost 9 million acres this year. Withering heat blanketed the East Coast and Midwest, killing scores of people and making July the hottest month ever recorded in the U.S. And in the Arctic this summer, polar snow and ice melted away to the smallest size ever observed by man.

Extreme events like drought, heat waves, intense rainfall, flooding and fires have prompted many people to reconsider the connection between the weather and the changing climate. Now, a handful of scientists are among them. In a break with the mainstream scientific consensus, a few prominent climate scientists now argue that there have been enough episodes of drought and intense heat in the last 10 years to establish a statistical pattern of extreme weather due to global warming.

One of those scientists is NASA climatologist James Hansen. In a study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he noted that dramatic events like droughts and heat waves affected just 1% of Earth’s surface between 1950 and 1980; in the last 30 years, that figure has jumped to 10%. “We can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies … were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small,” he and his colleagues wrote. Hansen isn’t the only one who suspects that the signature of climate change can be seen in recent weather trends.

Around the world, “the incidence of drought is consistent with what the climate models are predicting,” said John Seinfeld, an atmospheric researcher at Caltech. “It certainly doesn’t appear to be out of line to conclude that this last summer could be statistically attributed to global warming.” In the U.S., the summer ranked as the third-hottest in the nation’s history.

Among laypeople, the perception that extreme weather is getting worse — and that it’s linked to climate change — is increasingly taking hold. Nearly 75% of Americans now say global warming is affecting the weather in the U.S., according to a poll released this week by scientists at Yale University. The poll found that about 60% of Americans reported experiencing an extreme heat wave or drought this year, while an equal percentage said weather had worsened over the last several years. A companion poll reported earlier this year that 8 in 10 Americans had personally experienced at least one extreme weather event in the last year, and more than one-third said they had suffered as a result….

Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that the planet is getting hotter and that mankind’s use of fossil fuels is largely responsible….When fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide is produced and traps heat within the atmosphere. The more that’s added, the hotter it gets. It’s not the only greenhouse gas, but it’s the one many scientists focus on because it stays in the atmosphere for hundreds or thousands of years.

The average global temperature has risen by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century, a period that gave rise to mass-produced automobiles and commercial aviation, among other developments. Altogether, modernization has led to an 800% increase in global fossil fuel consumption since 1900, with a corresponding jump in emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

As the temperature rises, evaporation increases and draws more water from soil. Experts predict that moist areas of the planet will become wetter, while dry areas will become drier……


NASA: climate change leads to enormous ecosystem shifts – 40% of biomes flip this century

Posted on December 20, 2011 by Rolf Schuttenhelm

The results of studies that try to quantify the effects of climate change on biodiversity loss which include damage to the micro scale level of subspecies and genetic variation are perhaps most shocking. When however you focus on the response to climate change at the macro level, the ecosystem level, you get a better understanding of what is one of the major drivers of that biodiversity loss: forced migrations. And even here, the numbers may be larger than one would expect, as a new assessment by NASA and Caltech published in the journal Climatic Change
shows that by 2100 some 40 percent of ´major ecological community types´ – that is biomes like forest, grassland, tundra – will have switched to a different such state. According to the same study most of the land on Earth that is not currently desert or under an icecap will undergo at least a 30 percent change in vegetation cover.
Ecological damage is the real climate problem….While warnings of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other environmental changes are illustrative and important, ultimately, it’s the ecological consequences that matter most,” says John Bergengren from Caltech, who led the study. It is not just species that have slowly evolved around specific climatic values, the same goes for ecosystems. As another study, recently published in Science, shows tropical biomes like rainforest, savanna and desert are tied to specific climate tipping points. When certain climatic thresholds are crossed the one ecosystem can suddenly switch to the other, as intermediate states somehow prove to be non-existent…..

Bergengren, et al Ecological sensitivity: a biospheric view of climate change. Climatic Change
22 July 2011


Scientists uncover diversion of Gulf Stream path in late 2011; Warmer waters flowed to shelfbreak south of New England
(October 12, 2012) — The Gulf Stream made an unusual move well north of its normal path in late October and early November 2011, causing warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures along the New England continental shelf, according to physical oceanographers. … > full story


Tropical cyclones are occurring more frequently than before, study shows
(October 15, 2012) — Are there more tropical cyclones now than in the past — or is it just something we believe because we now hear more about them through media coverage and are better able detect them with satellites? New research shows that there is an increasing tendency for cyclones when the climate is warmer, as it has been in recent years. … > full story


The World’s Most Powerful Climate Change Supercomputer Powers Up



TIME Matt Peckham October 17, 2012 For all the political discord over climate change, one thing everyone can probably agree on is that when you’re throwing computational resources at modeling weather, the more the merrier.

Corn Belt Shifts North With Climate as Kansas Crop Dies

By Alan Bjerga on October 15, 2012 Bloomberg News

Joe Waldman is saying goodbye to corn after yet another hot and dry summer convinced the Kansas farmer that rainfall won’t be there when he needs it anymore. “I finally just said uncle,” said Waldman, 52, surveying his stunted crop about 100 miles north of Dodge City. Instead, he will expand sorghum, which requires less rain, let some fields remain fallow and restrict corn to irrigated fields. While farmers nationwide planted the most corn this year since 1937, growers in Kansas sowed the fewest acres in three years, instead turning to less-thirsty crops such as wheat, sorghum and even triticale, a wheat-rye mix popular in Poland. Meanwhile, corn acreage in Manitoba, a Canadian province about 700 miles north of Kansas, has nearly doubled over the past decade due to weather changes and higher prices.

Shifts such as these reflect a view among food producers that this summer’s drought in the U.S. — the worst in half a century — isn’t a random disaster. It’s a glimpse of a future altered by climate change that will affect worldwide production.

“These changes are happening faster than plants can adapt, so we will see substantial impacts on global growing patterns,” said Axel Schmidt, a former senior scientist for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture now with Catholic Relief Services.

While there is still debate about how human activity is altering the climate, agriculture is already adapting to shifting weather patterns.

Agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. is investing in northern U.S. facilities, anticipating increased grain production in that part of the country, said Greg Page, the chief executive officer of the Minneapolis-based company.

“The number of rail cars, the number of silos, the amount of loading capacity” all change, Page said in an interview in New York. “You can see capital go to where there is ability to produce more tons per acre.”

Losses in some areas will mean gains in others, Page said…..


Calif. expected to lose 100 dairy farms
SF Chronicle Stacy Finz Updated 10:56 p.m., Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ray Souza stands in a pen of some his dairy cows at his dairy farm in Turlock, CA on Tuesday, October 9, 2012. Feed costs have skyrocketed over the past several years and the recent rise in the price of milk isn’t enough for him to stop losing money.Photo: Tomas Ovalle, Special To The Chronicle / SF

The nation’s drought and high corn prices are devastating California’s $8 billion dairy industry to the point where farmers can’t afford to feed their cows – and their professional trade organization has been regularly referring despondent dairymen to suicide hotlines. Experts in the industry estimate that by year’s end California, the largest dairy state in the nation, will have lost more than 100 dairies to bankruptcies, foreclosures and sales. Milk cows are being slaughtered at the fastest rate in more than 25 years because farmers need to save on corn costs. According to the Western United Dairymen, a California trade group, three dairy farmers have committed suicide since 2009, despairing over losing their family’s dairies.

“I’ve never seen it as dire as it is now,” said Frank Mendonsa, a Tulare dairyman who serves on the Western United Dairymen board. “Pride is just eating these guys up. People are calling me and asking me what to do. It becomes like a counseling session to stop people from hurting themselves. But it’s not just losing our jobs that is driving the desperation. We’re losing our houses, in some cases the same houses that our grandparents lived in, and we’re losing our entire identities.”

The problems started in 2009, when milk prices bottomed out and grain prices soared, partly due to the government’s ethanol mandate. Congress is requiring that gasoline producers blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol, made from corn, into the nation’s gas supply by 2015. Dairy farmers were forced to borrow against their land and cows to make their bills.

Then, this year, the worst drought in half a century struck in the Midwest, and corn prices tipped the scale at more than $300 a ton. Historically, the price for corn has averaged $130 a ton. Even though milk prices have slowly come up – in November, it will be at a near record high of $23.17 for 100 pounds of fluid milk – farmers are barely breaking even because of grain and hay costs. Experts predict that consumers will start seeing a price increase for dairy products at the cash register starting in November.

Now, not only can’t farmers pay their feed bills, but they also can’t make their loan payments. As a result, farmers are having to slaughter productive milk cows once worth $2,000 each for meat, and are receiving only $1,200 a head. “I’ve never seen a time where a milk cow is worth more for meat salvage than dairy production,” said Ray Souza, a Turlock dairyman whose grandfather started dairy farming in 1930. …


Corn belt shifts north with climate change

Daily Republic  October 17, 2012‎

The data show a climate in transition, with agriculture needing to adapt, said Wolfram Schlenker, an environmental economist at Columbia University in New York.

Wine experts: worst grape harvest in half century

RAF CASERT, Associated Press Associated Press October 17, 2012

BRUSSELS (AP) — Drought, frost and hail have combined to ravage Europe’s wine grape harvest, which in key regions this year will be the smallest in half a century, vintners say. Thierry Coste, an expert with the European Union farmers’ union,… more »


Ice age polarity reversal was global event: Extremely brief reversal of geomagnetic field, climate variability, and super volcano
(October 16, 2012) — Some 41,000 years ago, a complete and rapid reversal of the geomagnetic field occured. Magnetic studies on sediment cores from the Black Sea show that during this period, during the last ice age, a compass at the Black Sea would have pointed to the south instead of north. Moreover, data obtained by the research team, together with additional data from other studies in the North Atlantic, the South Pacific and Hawaii, prove that this polarity reversal was a global event. … > full story


Tropical collapse in Early Triassic caused by lethal heat: Extreme temperatures blamed for ‘Dead Zone’
(October 18, 2012) — Scientists have discovered why the ‘broken world’ following the worst extinction of all time lasted so long — it was simply too hot to survive. The end-Permian mass extinction, which occurred around 250 million years ago in the pre-dinosaur era, wiped out nearly all the world’s species. Typically, a mass extinction is followed by a ‘dead zone’ during which new species are not seen for tens of thousands of years. In this case, the dead zone, during the Early Triassic period which followed, lasted for a perplexingly long period: five million years. … > full story






Environment: California greenhouse gas rules on shaky ground in appeals court

San Jose Mercury News  October 16, 2012‎

SAN FRANCISCO — California’s unprecedented regulations to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation fuels appears to face a smoggy future in the courts.



US: VCS Approves Wetland Restoration & Conservation for New Carbon Trading Category
A Restore America Estuaries-led (RAE) initiative aimed at creating greenhouse gas offset opportunities for coastal wetlands got final approval under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) today, paving the way for increased private investment in wetland restoration and conservation projects through the issuance of internationally recognized carbon credits. “We hope that by adopting wetlands under the VCS Standard, wetland conservation and restoration activities will be stimulated,” added Stephen Crooks, Climate Change Services Director at ESA PWA, an environmental consulting group.


Hillary Clinton On Energy And Foreign Policy: We Need To ‘Address The Very Real Threat Of Climate Change’

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 08:30 AM PDT by Katie Valentine

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is willing to break the climate silence.

In a speech on energy diplomacy yesterday afternoon at Georgetown University, Clinton talked about the importance of sustainability and climate issues on the international policy agenda.

We…have an interest in promoting new technologies and sources of energy – especially including renewables – to reduce pollution; to diversify the global energy supply; to create jobs; and to address the very real threat of climate change,” said Clinton……


WHY IT MATTERS: The environment

MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press Associated Press October 19 2012

The administration also imposed the first-ever regulations on heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming and tightened standards on toxic mercury pollution from power plants. Obama failed to persuade a Democratic Congress to pass limits he… more »



Interior Dept. creates climate change committee

By: Audrey Hudson 10/19/2012 05:20 AM

The Obama administration is creating an advisory committee on climate change to advise the federal government on future operations. The Interior Department announced the new bureaucracy in a recent federal registry notice along with a call for nominations by Nov. 19 to seat the 25-member board. The notice specifically states membership will be comprised of state and local government employees, non-governmental organizations, Native American tribes, academia, individual landowners and business interests. “In addition, the committee may include scientific experts, and will include rotating representation from one or more of the institutions that host the (Interior Department) Climate Science Centers,” the notice said. The climate centers were created to provide scientific information to help land, water, wildlife and cultural resource managers to monitor and adapt to climate change on regional and local levels…..


Climate change: journalism’s never-ending fight for facts



The Guardian (blog) – ‎4 hours ago‎

The debate about climate changeis dogged – possibly even defined – by its interminable, intractable tug of war over the “facts”. 

Activists want climate change on presidential debate agenda



Lexington Herald Leader – ‎October 19 2012‎

MIAMI – Despite a year that has produced unprecedented ice melts in the Arctic and Greenland, a devastating drought across much of the country and hundreds of record high temperatures around the world, the subject of climate change has managed to


Why the chill on climate change? Washington Post October 19, 2012 EUGENE ROBINSON

Not a word has been said in the presidential debates about what may be the most urgent and consequential issue in the world: climate change. President Obama understands and accepts the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is trapping ..


DOI Secretary Signs Record of Decision for Chokecherry/Sierra Madre Wind Farm

On October 9, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the Record of Decision (ROD) authorizing the largest wind farm in North America to be developed in southeast Wyoming, reports the Wildlife Management Institute.  The project also received approval by the Carbon County Commission on October 2. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project could include as many as 1,000 wind turbines on nearly 220,000 acres of mostly Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land with the potential to produce 3,000 MW of power when fully operational (see story in July Outdoor News Bulletin).  While touted by the Administration as an important project that fulfills their objective to authorize 10,000 MW of renewable energy on federal public lands by the end of the year, several conservation organizations have raised concerns about the potential impacts to Greater Sage-Grouse and Golden Eagles.




Delta farmers to fight tunnel project

Los Angeles Times Published 5:13 p.m., Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sutter Island, Sacramento County — As a child, Brett Baker learned farming fundamentals from his grandfather, who taught him to drive a tractor and gave him some advice about water.

“There may come a time,” his grandfather said, “when you have to grab a shotgun and sit on the pump.” The vast delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, where Baker’s family has lived and farmed since the 1850s, has long been the center of California’s chronic water conflicts. It is the switchyard of the state’s water, the place where the north’s liquid riches are shipped to the irrigation ditches of the San Joaquin Valley and the sinks of Southland suburbs. Now, as if heeding Baker’s grandfather, the delta has become the defiant seat of rebellion against the most ambitious water supply project proposed in California in decades, a multibillion-dollar plan that has the backing of the administrations of Gov. Jerry Brown and President Obama, as well as the state’s most powerful irrigation and urban water districts…..


Federal government to broaden Native Americans’ right to possess eagle feathers

New York Daily News – ‎October 13, 2012 WASHINGTON _ The Department of Justice announced a new policy broadening and clarifying the right of Native Americans to possess eagle feathers and other parts of the birds that they consider sacred but are protected by U.S. law. Federal wildlife laws ..


A Grand Experiment to Rein in Climate Change

By FELICITY BARRINGER New York Times Published: October 13, 2012

….Mr. Hrubes’s task, a far cry from forestry of the past, was to calculate how much carbon could be stored within the tanoak, madrone and redwood trees in that plot. Every year or so, other foresters will return to make sure the trees are still standing and doing their job. Such audits will be crucial as California embarks on its grand experiment in reining in climate change. On Jan. 1, it will become the first state in the nation to charge industries across the economy for the greenhouse gases they emit. Under the system, known as “cap and trade,” the state will set an overall ceiling on those emissions and assign allowable emission amounts for individual polluters. A portion of these so-called allowances will be allocated to utilities, manufacturers and others; the remainder will be auctioned off. Over time, the number of allowances issued by the state will be reduced, which should force a reduction in emissions…..



Tom Brokaw: Why Haven’t Presidential Debates Discussed Climate Change?
Posted: 16 Oct 2012 06:31 AM PDT

by Miles Grant, via National Wildlife Federation

On Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw listed climate change among the topics that neither the first presidential debate nor the vice presidential debate delved into.

There has been no discussion of global warming,” said Brokaw. “I think the American public, as I talk to them, want detailed answers and they want candor and they say, hey, look, don’t try to smoke me this time.



Pew Climate Change Poll Reveals That Less Than Half Of Americans Make Anthropogenic Connection

The Huffington Post  |  By James Gerken Posted: 10/16/2012 2:40 pm EDT Updated: 10/16/2012 3:27 pm EDT

Recent polling conducted by the Pew Research Center suggests that a greater number of people in the U.S. are accepting the reality of climate change. 67 percent of Americans said that there is “solid evidence” that average global temperatures have been rising in recent decades, signaling a gain of four points since last year and 10 points since 2009. Yet only 42 percent say this warming is “mostly caused by human activity,” according to Pew. In a presidential election marked by accusations of “climate silence” and a lack of forthright discussion of what has been called a “planetary emergency,” the Pew polling reveals another stark difference between supporters of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Only 42 percent of Romney supporters say there is strong evidence of global warming and a paltry 18 percent acknowledge its human origin. This 42 percent stands in sharp contrast to the 88 percent of Obama supporters who say that average global temperatures are on the rise and 63 percent who say it is anthropogenic. Among Republicans overall, 48 percent say there is “solid evidence” of global warming, up from 35 percent in 2009.

Despite these numbers, at least 97 percent of the most actively publishing climate scientists and nearly a dozen of the world’s most prominent national science academies acknowledge that the world’s climate is changing as a result of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, mostly from the burning of fossil fuels. According to the Pew poll, 45 percent of Americans — including 58 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans — answered yes to the question “Do scientists agree earth is getting warmer because of human activity?”

NASA scientist James Hansen recently said, “There’s a huge gap between what is understood by the scientific community and what is known by the public.”

Amid a year of record temperatures and severe drought, Hansen and his colleagues released a statistical analysis suggesting that the odds are too great for many of the past decade’s most extreme weather events to have happened by chance. He wrote in the Washington Post, “our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.”…



Koch-Affiliated Group Campaigns To Make Wind Tax Credit ‘So Toxic’ Republicans Won’t Back It

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 06:05 AM PDT The wind energy industry faces a lame duck fight in the House of Representatives over extending the expiring production tax credit. The tax credit has broad bipartisan support, and considering that 81 percent of U.S. wind projects are installed in Republican districts, GOP lawmakers have a good reason to support it.

But with Koch Industries and fossil fuel groups mobilizing to defeat the credit, its future after 2012 is uncertain. The American Energy Alliance, which has Koch ties, told Politico Pro this week that it aims to make the credit a toxic issue for House Republicans: (Article requires subscription access):

Our goal is to make the PTC so toxic that it makes it impossible for John Boehner to sit at a table with Harry Reid and say, ‘Yeah, I can bend on this one,‘” said Benjamin Cole, spokesman for the American Energy Alliance….








Safeguarding Wildlife from Climate Change Web Conference Series (ALC3209) A partnership between the National Wildlife Federation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Novel Climates, No-Analog Communities, and Truncated Niches: Implications for Species Distribution Models” Wednesday, October 24, 2012 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern

Dr. John (Jack) Williams, Professor of Geography, Director, Nelson Center for Climatic Research, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Description: Various factors are creating novel or no-analog ecosystems, composed of species mixtures not historically observed. One key factor expected to drive the formation of no-analog ecosystems this century is the development of ‘novel’, i.e. climates outside the range of climates currently observed. This poses a challenge for predicting and managing species responses to these future novel climates. No-analog communities are also widely observed in the fossil record, and offer a model system for studying a) the climatic and biotic drivers of no-analog community formation and b) assessing the predictive ability of ecological models when making predictions into no-analog climates. Note: YOU MUST REGISTER TO JOIN THIS WEBINAR



“Cartographic Design for GIS, Part 1” is the next workshop in the Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program’s GIS curriculum.

When: November 30th and December 1st, 2012, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Deadline to register is November 2nd, 2012

Where: Center for Integrated Spatial Research, University of California, Santa Cruz

Who: Expert Tim Norris will teach the workshop. Tim Norris is a PhD Candidate in the Environmental Studies Department at UCSC. Prior to graduate studies Tim was a cartography consultant for over 15 years with clients such as the University of California University-Industry Cooperative Research Program, National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration, several Conservation NGOs and several guide books and field guides.

How: Cost is $500; the fee includes refreshments, lunch, and materials.

For more information, to register for the workshop, or to see the agenda, please visit:


Coastal Off-Channel and Tidal Habitat Restoration Symposium, November 15-16, 2012
Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, Eureka, CA.

South Coast Fish Passage Design and Engineering Field School, January 15-17, 2012
Pierpont Inn, Ventura CA


SER2013 First Conference Announcement

The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) is pleased to announce its 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration to be held October 6-11, 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. SER2013 will bring together people from around the world with interests in the science and practice of ecological restoration, large-scale ecosystem restoration, natural resource management, climate change, biodiversity conservation, environmental policy, and sustainable development. Follow the link below to learn more.








Community Choice Aggregation: Giving Consumers Access To Clean Energy

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 12:30 PM PDT by Whitney Allen

With an overwhelming majority of Americans in favor of seeing more energy from wind and solar, individuals and communities are often frustrated by a lack of renewable energy options from their available power company choices. To allow their constituents greater purchasing power, several states have implemented Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) models of buying electricity. This model allows communities to pick from several utility companies in a competitive market to ensure that the energy goals of the customers are met, be they lower rates, local job creation, or increased supply from renewable sources. What separates CCA agreements from the municipal utility model is that CCA’s generally take over the existing utility’s role as provider, while still relying on the previous infrastructure and maintenance of the existing investor owned utility (IOU), keeping costs down and relieving the burden that municipal agreements place on the communities. The agreements typically come in the form of either “opt-in” agreements, where individual energy consumers decide whether or not to participate in an alternative energy program, or “opt-out” agreements where citizens are enrolled in the program collectively as soon as legislation is passed, but are given several opportunities to choose not to participate…..


Solar power is contagious
(October 18, 2012) — People are more likely to install a solar panel on their home if their neighbors have one, according to a new study. The researchers studied clusters of solar installations throughout California from January 2001 to December 2011 and found that residents of a particular zip code are more likely to install solar panels if they already exist in that zip code and on their street. … > full story


Bicycle infrastructure can reduce risk of cycling injuries by half, Canadian study finds
(October 18, 2012) — Certain types of routes carry much lower risk of injury for cyclists, according to a new study. The study analyzed the cause of 690 cycling injuries in Vancouver and Toronto from 2008 to 2009 and various route types and infrastructure. … > full story


For Hybrid Drivers, a Gas Pump Allergy? NY Times October 19, 2012 Although electric vehicles have not taken off as some had hoped, there are now enough of them on the road that some behavioral differences between drivers of all-electric models and plug-in hybrids have become evident, in addition to those between E.V. users and owners of conventional models. [New York Times]



New Solar Energy Program Signals A Paradigm Shift In Our Approach To Energy Development On Public Lands

Posted: 12 Oct 2012 01:00 PM PDT by Jessica Goad

The way that solar energy is sited and built on federal public lands just got simpler. Earlier today, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed into law a new plan outlining the best places for solar to be developed on public lands and incentives for avoiding places that are ecologically sensitive. At the beginning of this administration, there were literally no solar energy projects on public lands, despite hundreds of applications lined up.  Currently one project is operating while five others are under construction. “Energy from sources like wind and solar have doubled since the President took office, and with today’s milestone, we are laying a sustainable foundation to keep expanding our nation’s domestic energy resources,” said Secretary Salazar in a statement. Perhaps the most unique idea in the “Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” announced today is that of zones for solar development.  These areas were screened for their high solar resource potential, transmission capacity, and lack of resource conflicts, the idea being that projects located within them will benefit from faster permitting and easier mitigation.  Altogether, 17 zones covering approximately 285,000 acres were identified in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.  Solar development is also allowable in 19 million acres outside of the zones, but will receive less agency attention and more environmental analyses….


The Promise Of Open Energy Data

Posted: 13 Oct 2012 06:34 AM PDT by David Leipziger, via the Institute For Market Transformation

Last month, New York City became the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to publicly post energy efficiency information for its building stock. The data—a maze of mind-numbing Excel tables—is hard to sort through. But it’s a critical first step to opening up energy transparency in the real estate market. As we’ve noted, benchmarking and disclosing energy efficiency info is a rapidly growing trend among U.S. cities. In Europe, this kind of data is already available on a national scale. Many of the countries that drafted rating policies at the behest of the EPBD Directive also created national databases for Energy Performance Certificates (labels relating a building’s relative efficiency) that are public and web-searchable. As of 2010, the Building Energy Performance Institute Europe reported that the list includes Denmark, Belgium (Flanders region), Ireland, Portugal, and the Netherlands. But the U.S. isn’t far behind, especially given that we have many more buildings to accommodate, diverse local requirements for energy performance reporting, and ambitious open data plans….






New radiation treatment significantly increases survival rate, researchers find
(October 16, 2012) — A novel drug that mimics a naturally occurring molecule found in coffee and blueberries has been developed to treat radiation exposure. Researchers show that application of this drug, starting 24 hours after radiation exposure, increases survival in animal models by three-fold compared to placebo. … > full story


Mechanisms of action for green tea extract in breast cancer prevention identified
(October 18, 2012) — An oral green tea extract, Polyphenon E, appears to inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor and hepatocyte growth factor, both of which promote tumor cell growth, migration and invasion. … > full story


Prehistoric human populations prospered before the agricultural boom, research suggests
(October 18, 2012) — Researchers have found major prehistoric human population expansions may have begun before the Neolithic period, which probably led to the introduction of agriculture. … > full story

John Hoffman, Developer of Energy Star, Dies at 62

By WILLIAM YARDLEY (NYT) October 17, 2012

Mr. Hoffman developed the government’s Energy Star program and helped shape a treaty to protect the ozone layer






Bird of the Week- from American Bird Conservancy:
Big Bird

Big Bird is an eight-foot two-inch-tall bright yellow bird. He can roller skate, ice skate, dance, sing, write poetry, draw, and even ride a unicycle. He lives in a large nest at 123 Sesame Street, and has a teddy bear named Radar. His lovable, innocent, and curious personality has helped endear him to millions of children and adults all over the world.

Big Bird is a flightless bird, of indeterminate species and genus, describing himself at different times as a “Golden Condor”, a lark, or a canary. Regardless of his species, he is a unique and talented creature who has helped educate generations of children, appeared on countless television shows and movies, and even has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Big Bird’s conservation status is perilous. He is likely the last of his species, with no female having been found so far. He is now nearly 43 years old, but it is not known if this is past breeding age, should a mate ever turn up. However, he continues to travel around the world and has been sighted in 140 countries so far, making him perhaps the most migratory bird in history.

Big Bird’s popularity is just another example of the positive impact of birds on society and culture.


































Giant Mobile 3 (Thanks Bruce Riordan!)













Conservation Science News Update October 12, 2012

Highlight of the Week










Highlight of the Week

NOAA Bombshell: Warming-Driven Arctic Ice Loss Is Boosting Chance of Extreme U.S. Weather

Posted: 11 Oct 2012 09:29 AM PDT Joe Romm

Two new studies make a strong case that global warming is driving an intensification of high-pressure anomalies that in turn make North American weather more extreme. They add to a growing body of scientific observation and analysis on the connection between man-made climate change and extreme weather — and disasters. So I can say, not coincidentally, Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance company is releasing a report next week based on its natural catastrophe database — the most comprehensive of its kind in the world — that concludes:

  • Global warming is driving an increase in weather-related disasters
  • North America is the continent with the largest increases in disasters.

And so I can also say, not coincidentally, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported Tuesday in its “State of the Climate” for September that the Climate Extremes Index for the period January-through-September was over the highest ever — and over twice the average value — since record-keeping began in 1910.We appear to have a perfect storm: Detailed observations of more extreme weather in North America in recent years are now coming at the same time as new scientific analyses that can explain why manmade climate change is boosting extreme weather in our continent.The two new studies are “The recent shift in early summer Arctic atmospheric circulation” (subs. req’d, news release here) and “Intensification of Northern Hemisphere subtropical highs in a warming climate” (subs. req’d, news release here). The latter Nature Geoscience study is closely related to a 2010 Journal of Climate study that found “global warming is the main cause of a significant intensification in the North Atlantic Subtropical High (NASH) that in recent decades has more than doubled the frequency of abnormally wet or dry summer weather in the southeastern United States.”…


What’s fascinating about Hanna’s statement that “higher pressure over the North American continent and Greenland is driving these changes in the early summer wind patterns,” is how it might connect to the second study.

As the news release for that study — “Weather-Making High-Pressure Systems Predicted to Intensify” — explains:

High-pressure systems over oceans, which largely determine the tracks of tropical cyclones and hydrological extremes in much of the northern hemisphere, are likely to intensify this century, according to a Duke University-led study published online this week in Nature Geoscience.

The study’s findings suggest that as summertime near-surface high-pressure systems over the northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans strengthen, they could play an increasingly important role in shaping regional climate, particularly the occurrence of drought and extreme summer rainfall, in coming years…. According to the simulations, these high-pressure systems will intensify over the 21st century as a result of increasing greenhouse-gas concentrations. The simulations suggest that an increase in the land-sea thermal contrast – the difference between ocean and land heating, as Earth’s climate warms – will fuel the systems’ intensification.

For more on this study, see Climate Central’s piece, “Global Warming May Shift Summer Weather Patterns.” They quote study coauthor Mingfang Ting of Columbia University, “The intensification and westward movement of the subtropical highs may cause more landfalling hurricanes/typhoons and cause more intense Southeast U.S. rainfall variability, leading to more extreme events in the[se] regions.They also noted, “Recent summers have seen dramatic flips between punishing droughts and severe flooding in states such as Georgia, for example.”

THE BOTTOM LINE: We are playing with the climate system in ways that are already starting to bite us and may until consume us — our at least our food supply — whole (see “Climate Story of the Year: Warming-Driven Drought and Extreme Weather Emerge as Key Threat to Global Food Security“).


The recent shift in early summer Arctic atmospheric circulation

Overland et al GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 39, L19804, 6 PP., 2012 doi:10.1029/2012GL053268

Key Points

  • There is an apparent sustained shift in early summer Arctic winds since 2007
  • Such Arctic changes are linked to increased North American atmospheric blocking
  • Highlights potential connectivity of Arctic climate and mid-latitude weather

The last six years (2007–2012) show a persistent change in early summer Arctic wind patterns relative to previous decades. The persistent pattern, which has been previously recognized as the Arctic Dipole (AD), is characterized by relatively low sea-level pressure over the Siberian Arctic with high pressure over the Beaufort Sea, extending across northern North America and over Greenland. Pressure differences peak in June. In a search for a proximate cause for the newly persistent AD pattern, we note that the composite 700 hPa geopotential height field during June 2007–2012 exhibits a positive anomaly only on the North American side of the Arctic, thus creating the enhanced mean meridional flow across the Arctic. Coupled impacts of the new persistent pattern are increased sea ice loss in summer, long-lived positive temperature anomalies and ice sheet loss in west Greenland, and a possible increase in Arctic-subarctic weather linkages through higher-amplitude upper-level flow.
The North American location of increased 700 hPa positive anomalies suggests that a regional atmospheric blocking mechanism is responsible for the presence of the AD pattern, consistent with observations of unprecedented high pressure anomalies over Greenland since 2007.

Intensification of Northern Hemisphere subtropical highs in a warming climate

Wenhong Li, et al Nature Geoscience Sept 30 2012 doi:10.1038/ngeo1590

Semi-permanent high-pressure systems over the subtropical oceans, known as subtropical highs, influence atmospheric circulation, as well as global climate. For instance, subtropical highs largely determine the location of the world’s subtropical deserts, the zones of Mediterranean climate and the tracks of tropical cyclones. The intensity of two such high-pressure systems, present over the Northern Hemisphere oceans during the summer, has changed in recent years. However, whether such changes are related to climate warming remains unclear. Here, we use climate model simulations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report, reanalysis data from the 40-year European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, and an idealized general circulation model, to assess future changes in the intensity of summertime subtropical highs over the Northern Hemisphere oceans. The simulations suggest that these summertime highs will intensify in the twenty-first century as a result of an increase in atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations. We further show that the intensification of subtropical highs is predominantly caused by an increase in thermal contrast between the land and ocean. We suggest that summertime near-surface subtropical highs could play an increasingly important role in regional climate and hydrological extremes in the future.



Global warming could make washout UK summers the norm, study warns

Scientists have established a clear link between shrinking Arctic ice and extreme weather in lower latitudes

Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent, Wednesday 10 October 2012 07.54 EDT

A repeat of this year’s washout summer is the last thing most people want from the English weather – but more of the same could be on the way, and could become the norm, a new study has warned, thanks to human activities warming the climate.

Ice melting in the Arctic has been linked to duller, wetter English summers in a much-anticipated study published online on Wednesday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Last month, the extent and volume of the ice reached a record low. Experts warned that the Arctic could be free of sea ice in summer within this decade.

Satellite pictures of Greenland, where the ice sheet rests on land, showed more widespread melting than ever recorded.

Scientists from the Universities of Sheffield in the UK and Rutgers and Washington in the US, with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have established what they say is a clear link between the shrinking ice and more extreme weather in lower latitudes, through weather effects such as the “Arctic amplification” and shifting wind patterns. Edward Hanna, co-author of the study at Sheffield University, said the research should alert people in the UK to the reality of global warming: “It really puts global warming in the public eye. It’s virtually impossible to predict the weather for any particular summer but we could have cooler, wetter summers on average in the UK because of this effect. That’s not to say we won’t get hot, dry summers but just that these might not be as frequent as you might expect from a straightforward global warming effect. There seems to have been a new regime in summer 2007 that has more or less stayed in place since.” This year’s weather broke records in England, for a dry spring followed by the wettest ever April to June, and June had the second lowest sunshine on record. For most people, the weather was a disappointment as one dull and rainy day followed another. But for others, the pain was even greater – farmers suffered the worst weather combination, with drought followed by a disastrously damp spell that first withered and then waterlogged crops. Retailers and the leisure industries were also hurt, with people eschewing barbecue food and tourists and holidaymakers avoiding attractions.

Meanwhile, Greenlanders and inhabitants of some of the most northern isles of the UK enjoyed glorious sunshine.

This weather pattern was linked to the position of the jet stream, which normally brings settled weather to the UK in the summer but has been shifting in position for the past several years. The past six summers have been duller and wetter than the long-term average, according to the Met Office.

For the new study, researchers examined data from the past six summers. They found west- to east-flowing winds in high latitudes have been replaced by a wavier pattern in those years, which contributed to the dull weather further south.

Many people in the UK assume that global warming would bring them hotter and drier weather – a “Mediterranean climate”, according to common predictions. This study shows that the reality may be much less pleasant.

Hanna said: “While global warming itself may pass unnoticed by many, its complex interactions with ice and snow in high latitudes are expected to alter atmospheric circulations that contribute to enhanced Arctic warming, further melt, and an increased probability of extreme weather events both in the Arctic and in mid-latitudes.”

One of the factors behind this year’s record ice melt was stronger winds flowing from the Bering Straits in the Arctic, across the north pole and over the Atlantic, transferring heat from the south to further north and pushing sea ice further north across the Arctic, according to the research. Over Greenland, unusually high pressure led to the record melting across nearly the whole of the land ice sheet.

If Arctic ice continues at low levels in future summers, more extreme weather is likely in future, the study found.






A horizon scanning assessment of current and potential future threats to migratory shorebirds

et al Ibis Volume 154, Issue 4, pages 663–679, October 2012 Article first published online: 20 AUG 2012

DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2012.01261.x

Abstract….Maintaining and restoring biodiversity requires targeted responses to major threats. A recurring problem is failing to foresee and address forthcoming issues. …..A sensible starting exercise can be to list all known threats for a particular topic. An inclusive review of threats provides the basis for a comprehensive assessment of possible responses and effective horizon scanning (Sutherland & Woodroof 2009, Sutherland et al. 2012c). In particular, listing currently known issues alongside summaries of forthcoming issues can help to prioritize actions and may highlight the need to develop tools to address future threats. Here we illustrate horizon scanning by examining the natural, anthropogenic and potential future issues facing migratory shorebirds …..


Eliminating sagebrush may hurt rather than help wildlife
(October 10, 2012) — Efforts to enhance wildlife habitat by controlling vegetation could actually cause more harm than good. Wyoming big sagebrush is often manipulated to decrease its density and encourage the growth of herbaceous plants. However, this may bring about declines in the population of birds, elk, and other animals. … > full story

Jeffrey L. Beck, John W. Connelly, Carl L. Wambolt. Consequences of Treating Wyoming Big Sagebrush to Enhance Wildlife Habitats. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 2012; 65 (5): 444 DOI: 10.2111/REM-D-10-00123.1


Developmental biologist proposes new theory of early animal evolution that challenges basic assumption of evolution
(October 11, 2012) — A developmental biologist whose life’s work has supported the theory of evolution has developed a concept that dramatically alters one of its basic assumptions — that survival is based on a change’s functional advantage if it is to persist.
A. Newman, Ph.D., professor of cell biology and anatomy, offers an alternative model in proposing that the origination of the structural motifs of animal form were actually predictable and relatively sudden, with abrupt morphological transformations favored during the early period of animal evolution. Newman’s long view of evolution is fully explained in his perspective article, “Physico-Genetic Determinants in the Evolution of Development,” which is to be published in the October 12 issue of the journal Science, in a special section called Forces in Development. Evolution is commonly thought to take place opportunistically, by small steps, with each change persisting, or not, based on its functional advantage. Newman’s alternative model is based on recent inferences about the genetics of the single-celled ancestors of the animals and, more surprisingly, the physics of “middle-scale” materials.… > full story

Salmon make a comeback in California NBC Nightly News   |  Aired on October 09, 2012

A resurgence of fish in the Klamath River has some locals hoping that the Chinook salmon may be back for good. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.


Wildfire crews face tight funds, longer season

San Francisco Chronicle October 8, 2012

In the worst wildfire season on record, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service ran out of money to pay for firefighters, fire trucks and aircraft that dump retardant on monstrous flames. So officials did about the only thing they could: take money from other forest-management programs. But many of the programs were geared toward preventing giant fires in the first place, and raiding their budgets meant putting off the removal of dried brush and dead wood over vast stretches of land – the things that fuel eye-popping blazes, threatening property and lives. Recently, Congress stepped in and reimbursed the Forest Service and the Interior Department, which plays a much lesser role in fighting fires, with $400 million from the 2013 continuing resolution, allowing fire-prevention work to continue. Forestry experts at state agencies and environmental groups greeted it as good news.

But they also faulted Congress for providing at the start of the fiscal year only about half of the $1 billion it actually cost to fight this year’s fires. They argued that the traditional method that members of an appropriations conference committee use to fund wildfire suppression – averaging the cost of fighting wildfires over the previous 10 years – is inadequate at a time when climate change is causing longer periods of dryness and drought, giving fires more fuel to burn and resulting in longer wildfire seasons. Once running from June to September, the season has expanded over the past 10 years to include May and October. It was once rare to see 5 million cumulative acres burn, agriculture officials said. But some recent seasons have recorded millions more…..



Restore The California Delta! To What, Exactly?

Lauren Sommer October 7, 2012 NPR Listen to this story

Wetlands are returning naturally at Liberty Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California. The state plans to restore more than 100,000 acres of habitat in the area. (for NPR)

In California, state officials are planning a multibillion-dollar environmental restoration of the inland delta near San Francisco Bay. There’s only one problem: No one knows what the landscape used to look like. Ninety-seven percent of the original wetlands are gone, so the state is turning to historians for help. This detective story begins on a sunny day in a dry field of corn, about an hour east of San Francisco. Alison Whipple and Robin Grossinger are looking through a pile of maps, trying to piece together the path of William Wright, a man who got hopelessly lost somewhere nearby.

This happened 160 years ago. Whipple and Grossinger are historians — historical ecologists, more precisely — with the San Francisco Estuary Institute. They dig up old photos and hand-drawn maps that provide clues about what this landscape once looked like….



Explosive growth in sudden oak death

Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Published 11:22 p.m., Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The number of oak trees in California that died from the virulent forest disease known as sudden oak death has increased tenfold in just a year’s time as the pathogen spread into several new parts of the Bay Area, including San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, biologists revealed this week. Aerial and ground surveys conducted by the U.S. Forest Service documented 375,700 new cases of dead live oak and tan oak trees over 54,400 acres of California where the pathogen is known to exist. That’s compared to 38,000 dead trees covering 8,000 acres a year ago. The sudden increase in deaths is believed to have been caused by two years of abnormally high rainfall followed by this year’s dry weather. The pattern is one that scientists at the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory foresaw last year when the deadly microbe was detected in woodlands and residential areas throughout the Bay Area. The area of infection expanded even more this year, said Matteo Garbelotto, the forest pathologist who heads the lab. Sudden oak death, discovered in Mill Valley in 1995, exists in forests and wildlands in 14 California counties and in Curry County, Ore. It kills big oak trees and the smaller understory tan oaks, which have been ravaged in portions of Big Sur, Jack London State Park in Sonoma County, China Camp State Park in Marin County and the Marin Municipal Water District watershed lands near Mount Tamalpais. Scientists fear the pathogen could one day wipe out all of the state’s live and tan oaks…..The disease, known scientifically as Phytophthora ramorum, has 107 susceptible host plants. Infected California bay laurels are the most effective spreaders of the deadly microbe, but such common garden ornamentals as camellias and rhododendrons can also spread the pathogen to oaks….


Natural playgrounds more beneficial to children, inspire more play, study finds
(October 11, 2012) — Children who play on playgrounds that incorporate natural elements like logs and flowers tend to be more active than those who play on traditional playgrounds with metal and brightly colored equipment, according to a recent UT study.
They also appear to use their imagination more, according to the report. The study, which examined changes in physical activity levels and patterns in young children exposed to both traditional and natural playgrounds, is among the first of its kind in the United States, according to Dawn Coe, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies. “Natural playgrounds have been popping up around the country but there was nothing conclusive on if they work,” she said. “Now, we know.” For the study, Coe observed children at UT’s Early Learning Center. She began in June 2011 by observing the children while the center still had traditional wood and plastic equipment. She logged how often they used the slides and other apparatus, studied the intensity of their activity, and how much time they spent in a porch area to get shade from the sun. The Early Learning Center staff then began renovations of the playground and over several months added a gazebo and slides that were built into a hill. They planted dwarf trees, built a creek, and landscaped it with rocks and flowers. They also added logs and tree stumps. They turned it into what Coe called a “natural playscape.” Coe, working with Cary Springer, a statistician with the Office of Information Technology, returned for follow-up observations this year and found significant differences between usage of the traditional and natural playground.

The children more than doubled the time they spent playing, from jumping off the logs to watering the plants around the creek. They were engaging in more aerobic and bone- and muscle-strengthening activities. “This utilized motor skills, too,” Coe said. She also found that the children were less sedentary and used the porch area less after the renovation. Coe is preparing a manuscript of the study to submit for publication. “Natural playscapes appear to be a viable alternative to traditional playgrounds for school and community settings,” Coe said. “Future studies should look at these changes long-term as well as the nature of the children’s play.”


Choreography of submerged whale lunges revealed
(October 11, 2012) — Submerged for tens of minutes at a time, no one knew exactly how foraging whales execute foraging lunges through shoals of krill until a band of pioneers began attaching tags to whales. Now, researchers report how humpback whales throw their jaws wide and continue gliding as they lunge, before filtering away the water and swallowing their prey in one mighty gulp. … > full story

Arctic and Southern Oceans appear to determine the composition of microbial populations
(October 11, 2012) — Differing contributions of freshwater from glaciers and streams to the Arctic and Southern oceans appear to be responsible for the fact that the majority of microbial communities that thrive near the surface at the Poles share few common members, according to an international team of researchers. … > full story

New website on implementing criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management in Europe
(October 8, 2012) — Criteria and indicators have emerged as a powerful tool in promoting sustainable forest management. Since Rio 1992, several international processes and initiatives have developed criteria and indicators as a policy instrument to evaluate and report progress towards sustainable forest management. … > full story

Fisheries benefit from 400-year-old tradition
(October 11, 2012) — Coral reefs in Aceh, Indonesia are benefiting from a decidedly low-tech, traditional management system that dates back to the 17th century, new research shows. Known as “Panglima Laot” — the customary system focuses on social harmony and reducing conflict among communities over marine resources. According to the study, reefs benefitting from Panglima Laot contain as much eight time more fish and hard-coral cover due to mutually agreed upon gear restrictions especially prohibiting the use of nets.

The study, which appears in the October issue of the journal Oryx, is by Stuart Campbell, Rizya Ardiwijaya, Shinta Pardede, Tasrif Kartawijaya, Ahmad Mukmunin, Yudi Herdiana of the Wildlife Conservation Society; and Josh Cinner, Andrew Hoey, Morgan Pratchett, and Andrew Baird of James Cook University.

The authors say Panglima Laot has a number of design principles associated with successful fisheries management institutions. These include clearly defined membership rights, rules that limit resource use, the right of resource users to make, enforce and change the rules, and graduated sanctions and mechanisms for conflict resolution. These principles are the key to the ability of the institution to reduce conflict among communities, provide sustainable access to marine resources, and limit the destruction of marine habitats. “No-take fishing areas can be impractical in regions where people rely heavily on reef fish for food,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Stuart Campbell of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “The guiding principle of Panglima Laot was successful in minimizing habitat degradation and maintaining fish biomass despite ongoing access to the fishery. Such mechanisms to reduce conflict are the key to success of marine resource management, particularly in settings which lack resources for enforcement.” However, the institution has not been uniformly successful.… > full story


Yellowstone wolf study reveals how to raise successful offspring
(October 11, 2012) — What are the key ingredients to raising successful, self-sufficient offspring? A new life sciences study using 14 years of data of wolves in Yellowstone indicates cooperative group behavior is key. … > full story

Oil palm plantations are clearing carbon-rich tropical forests in Borneo, researchers show
(October 7, 2012) — Demand for palm oil is driving deforestation in Borneo, as trees are cleared to make way for the planting of oil farm plantations, which will send carbon dioxide, a global-warming gas, into the atmosphere, new research shows. … > full story

Urban coyotes could be setting the stage for larger carnivores — wolves, bears and mountain lions — to move into cities
(October 5, 2012) — Coyotes are the largest of the mammalian carnivores to have made their way to, and thrived in, urban settings. A researcher estimates that about 2,000 coyotes live in the Chicago metro area. The coyote is “the test case for other animals,” he says, such as wolves, bears and mountain lions. … > full story

Go west, young lion: New study shows mountain lions dispersing from Nevada to California
9, 2012) — A new study has identified two genetically distinct populations of mountain lions in California and Nevada and discovered — to the surprise of scientists — that portions of Nevada’s Great Basin Desert are serving as a “source” for animals moving west to the Sierra Nevada mountains shared with California. … > full story

Vast differences in polar ocean microbial communities
(October 9, 2012) — An international team of scientists has found that a clear difference exists between the marine microbial communities in the Southern and Arctic oceans. Their report contributes to a better understanding of the biodiverisity of marine life at the poles and its biogeography. … > full story


Whooping cranes are on their way to Florida

Associated Press October 12, 2012

The six cranes are the 12th group to take part in a project led by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. The leader of the ultralight team, Joe Duff, says he hopes to arrive in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge by Christmas. more »






PRBO in the News:

Photo by Annie Schmidt./PRBO/USFWS

Climate Change and the Farallones – Bay Nature Magazine, Oct-Dec 2012
Read excellent coverage of PRBO’s long term research and conservation efforts on the Farallon Islands in partnership with the USFWS, highlighting recent climate change observations, the Farallon Patrol, and the author’s moving travelogue.
A Sea Change for Seabirds at the Farallones
Right On Course with John Wade, PRBO Farallon Patrol Skipper

The Farallon Islands: To be there is to understand wildness


Kiwi film-maker hopes work will inspire international delegates to protect Ross Sea

New Zealand Herald Thursday October 11, 2012—see The Last Ocean
video trailer here
Advocates pushing to protect the pristine Ross Sea from commercial fishing hope to drive home their message with a screening of a Kiwi-made documentary for delegates attending an international Antarctic summit this month. A theatre in Hobart is being booked to show The Last Ocean, chronicling the race to stop commercial fishing in the Ross Sea, during a conference of the 25-nation Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Those seeking an end to fishing in the sea – where the toothfish fishery last year had a $20 million export value to New Zealand companies – see the meeting as a crucial opportunity to preserve the sea’s delicate ecology for future generations. It comes as the New Zealand Government horrified conservation groups – and the descendant of the British polar explorer who discovered the sea – by pulling out of a joint proposal with the United States to create a marine reserve that would have offered greater protection than New Zealand wanted for the Antarctic toothfish…..

Climate change impacts Antarctic penguins and their entire ecosystem – ‎ October 11, 2012‎

Penguins are very territorial and can be aggressive if you get too close,” explains Dr. David Ainley, Ph.D. Animal Behavior/Ecology Senior Marine Wildlife Ecologist at H.T. Harvey & Associates Ecological Consultants. “Sitting quietly away from their territories, penguins will come to you. They are very curious.” “Antarctic ecosystems are telling humans that life as we know it, in the face of dramatic climate change, is going to require moving and changes in other sorts of behavior in order to cope.” .. “Antarctic ecosystems are telling humans that life as we know it, in the face of dramatic climate change, is going to require moving and changes in other sorts of behavior in order to cope,” Dr. Ainley states. “Major climate change is underway and very real. This is not debatable.”


January to September 2012 was the warmest and most extreme period ever in the United States View slideshow

The year-to-date period of January – September was the warmest period on record for the contiguous U.S.–a remarkable 1.2°F above the previous record.

  • The October 2011-September 2012 period was the warmest such 12-month period on record for the contiguous U.S., and was the 3rd warmest 12-month period on record.
  • The six warmest 12-month periods since record keeping began in 1895 have all ended during 2012.
  • The contiguous U.S. warm season, defined as the six-month period from April-September, had temperatures that were the warmest ever.
  • As many as 33 states had six-month temperatures among their ten warmest.



A Summer Of Extremes: A Round-Up Of U.S. Records

By Climate Guest Blogger on Sep 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm by Richard Sommerville and Jeff Masters, via Climate Communication

With oppressive heat waves, devastating droughts, ravaging wildfires, and hard-hitting rainstorms, the summer of 2012 has been one for the record books. Thousands of precipitation and temperature records were broken, plaguing almost all of the contiguous United States this season and underscoring the connection between climate change and increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather. With climate change, we’ve set the stage for precisely this kind of extreme weather, and unfortunately, our changing climate threatens to alter summers to come.


America Hit With Record Devastation From Wildfires

—By Julia Whitty Mother Jones

Tue Aug. 21, 2012 3:00 AM PDT The National Interagency Fire Center reports that 2012 just broke the record for most acreage burned by wildfires as of this date (see chart below). The previous record was set in 2006, another mega-drought year…..


A repeat of this year’s washout summer is the last thing most people want from the English weather – but more of the same could be on the way, and could become the norm, a new study has warned, thanks to human activities warming the climate. [Guardian]


Glaciers cracking in the presence of carbon dioxide
(October 10, 2012)
— The well-documented presence of excessive levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is causing global temperatures to rise and glaciers and ice caps to melt. New research has shown that carbon dioxide molecules may be also having a more direct impact on the ice that covers our planet. … Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of Earth — more than Europe and North America combined — and are responsible for reflecting 80-90 per c
ent of the Sun’s light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain Earth’s temperature. They are also a natural carbon sink, capturing a large amount of CO2.”If ice caps and glaciers were to continue to crack and break into pieces, their surface area that is exposed to air would be significantly increased, which could lead to accelerated melting and much reduced coverage area on the Earth. The consequences of these changes remain to be explored by the experts, but they might contribute to changes of the global climate,” said lead author of the study Professor Markus Buehler….full story

As strange as it seems, scientists say increase in Antarctic ice may be sign of climate change



By Associated Press, Published: October 10 2012

WASHINGTON — The ice goes on seemingly forever in a white pancake-flat landscape, stretching farther than ever before. And yet in this confounding region of the world, that spreading ice may be a cockeyed signal of man-made climate change, scientists say.

This is Antarctica, the polar opposite of the Arctic.

While the North Pole has been losing sea ice over the years, the water nearest the South Pole has been gaining it. Antarctic sea ice hit a record 7.51 million square miles in September. That happened just days after reports of the biggest loss of Arctic sea ice on record.

Climate change skeptics have seized on the Antarctic ice to argue that the globe isn’t warming and that scientists are ignoring the southern continent because it’s not convenient. But scientists say the skeptics are misinterpreting what’s happening and why.

Shifts in wind patterns and the giant ozone hole over the Antarctic this time of year — both related to human activity — are probably behind the increase in ice, experts say. This subtle growth in winter sea ice since scientists began measuring it in 1979 was initially surprising, they say, but makes sense the more it is studied. “A warming world can have complex and sometimes surprising consequences,” researcher Ted Maksym said this week from an Australian research vessel surrounded by Antarctic sea ice. He is with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

Many experts agree. Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado adds: “It sounds counterintuitive, but the Antarctic is part of the warming as well.”

And on a third continent, David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey says that yes, what’s happening in Antarctica bears the fingerprints of man-made climate change.

“Scientifically the change is nowhere near as substantial as what we see in the Arctic,” says NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati, an ice expert. “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be paying attention to it and shouldn’t be talking about it.”…


Small fish can play a big role in coastal carbon cycle
(October 10, 2012)Research shows that small forage fish like anchovies can transport carbon into the deep sea through their fecal pellets — where it contributes nothing to current global warming. … > full story

Non-native plants show a greater response than native wildflowers to climate change
(October 5, 2012) — Warming temperatures in Ohio are a key driver behind changes in the state’s landscape, and non-native plant species appear to be responding more strongly than native wildflowers to the changing climate, new research suggests. … > full story

Some plants in arid regions benefit from climate change, study finds

Phys.Org – October 8, 2012‎

Dryland ecosystems cover 41% of the Earth’s land surface. These ecosystems are highly vulnerable to global environmental change and desertification. But climate change seems to have a positive impact on some plants. A study involving the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock has come to this conclusion…..To measure the impact of climate change on the dynamics of plant populations, researchers to date have mostly worked with average values, such as average temperature or average rainfall. “This is a method commonly used, but it cannot be applied to desert plants”, says researcher Roberto Salguero-Gómez of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. Dryland plants cannot really be compared to plant species growing in other latitudes, where weather conditions are fluctuate less. Dryland plants have adapted to the extreme climatic conditions of arid regions in the course of evolution, even under conditions of no climate change, and they benefit from it. Some plants produce dormant seeds in years of heavy rainfall. The seeds of other plant species have something like a sensor to detect the level of rainfall: not enough rain drops falling to secure their life until they reproduce and they will not germinate. A lot of rain after years of drought, and they start to grow. The advantage is that many other plant species – competitors for space – have a low drought tolerance and this has thinned out the total population, freeing up space where individuals, who have waited for the big rain, can spread.

“Using average precipitation values to predict plant population dynamics does not correspond to the physiology of these plants, a physiology that is unique”, sums up Roberto Salguero-Gómez. It is for this reason that he, together with his colleagues Wolfgang Siewert and Katja Tielbörger (University of Tübingen) and Brenda Casper (University of Pennsylvania) have looked anew at two long-term studies that documented the population size of two desert plant species, one each in the USA and Israel, over a number of years. Based on the data of these studies, a climate model and a demographic calculation method, the researchers have developed a new model that provides insights into the future dynamics of plant populations. The results, recently published in the scientific journal Philosophical Transactions B of the Royal Society of London, are astounding: Changing weather conditions do not seem to harm the population of these plants; quite to the contrary, they seem to benefit from it. “The plants adapt quite well”, says Roberto Salguero-Gómez. They seem to have a sizeable buffer to adapt to climate change….

Fernando T. Maestre, Roberto Salguero-Gómez, Impacts of global environmental change on drylands: from ecosystem structure and functioning to poverty alleviation, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,


Climate change to lengthen growing season
(October 10, 2012) — Across much of Norway, the agricultural growing season could become up to two months longer due to climate change. A research project has been studying the potential and challenges inherent in such a scenario. … > full story

Drought, climate change impact salamander survival rates
(October 10, 2012)
On the heels of one the worst U.S. droughts in more than half a century, a new study raises questions about the future of one of the most integral members of stream ecosystems throughout the Southeast – the salamander. Research from Wake Forest University shows how salamanders react to drought, shedding light on the impact of climate change and increased urbanization. … > full story


Cold wind makes Norwegian Sea warmer
(October 11, 2012) — The Gulf Stream and the warm waters it brings are one reason the climate is milder along the Norwegian coastline than other places so far north. Researchers now know that the Gulf Stream is not only driven from the south, but also drawn northward by Arctic winds. Norwegian researchers have discovered a previously unknown climate relationship in the seas off Norway: cold wind from the north makes warm waters from the south flow northward along the Norwegian coastline. … > 


El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion

Issued by Climate Prediction Center/NCEP and Intl Research Inst for Climate and society

October 4 2012 ENSO Alert System Status:
El Niño Watch

Synopsis: Borderline ENSO-neutral/ weak El Niño conditions are expected to continue into Northern Hemisphere winter 2012-13, possibly strengthening during the next few months.


Documented Decrease in Frequency of Hawaii’s Northeast Trade Winds
October 12, 2012 ScienceDaily

Scientists have observed a decrease in the frequency of northeast trade winds and an increase in eastern trade winds over the past nearly four decades, according to a … Persistent northeast trade winds are important to the Hawaiian Islands because they affect wave height, cloud formation, and precipitation over specific areas of the region. When trades fail to develop the air can become dormant and unpleasant weather can develop. Furthermore, Chu explained that the trades are the primary source of moisture for rain, and that a dramatic reduction could fundamentally change Hawai’i’s overall climate….. > full story


Modeling the permafrost carbon feedback

Posted on 4 October 2012 by Andy S

A recent modelling experiment shows that climate change feedbacks from thawing permafrost are likely to increase global temperatures by one-quarter to a full degree Celsius by the end of this century. This extra warming will be in addition to the increase in temperature caused directly by emissions from fossil fuels.  Even in the unlikely event that we were to stop all emissions in the near future, this permafrost climate feedback would likely continue as a self-sustaining process, cancelling out any future natural draw-down in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by the oceans or vegetation. Avoiding dangerous climate change by reducing fossil-fuel emissions becomes more difficult once permafrost emissions are properly considered….


Carbon Feedback From Thawing Permafrost Will Likely Add 0.4°F – 1.5°F To Total Global Warming By 2100

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 12:22 PM PDT

  • Thawing permafrost will release carbon to the atmosphere that will have an appreciable additional effect on climate change, adding at least one quarter of a degree Celsius by the end of the century and perhaps nearly as much as one degree (about 1.5°F).
  • The permafrost feedback response to our historic emissions, even in the absence of future human emissions, is likely to be self-sustaining and will cancel out future natural carbon sinks in the oceans and biosphere over the next two centuries.
  • Unfortunately, there are several good reasons to consider the outlook in this study as rosy — as the authors themselves make clear. However, as bad and inevitable as they are, feedbacks from the permafrost are just the (de-)frosting on the fossil fuel cake that we are busy baking. It is still up to us to influence how severe climate change is going to be.


Report: Climate change behind rise in weather disasters

USA Today October 10, 2012

  • Reinsurer Munich Re reports climate change behind rise in disasters
  • Weather disasters in North America are among the worst
  • Other experts take issue with Munich Re’s findings

The number of natural disasters per year has been rising dramatically on all continents since 1980, but the trend is steepest for North America where countries have been battered by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, searing heat and drought, a new report says. The study being released today by Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance firm, sees climate change driving the increase and predicts those influences will continue in years ahead, though a number of experts question that conclusion. Whatever the causes, the report shows that if you thought the weather has been getting worse, you’re right…..


11 Islands That Will Completely Disappear When Sea Levels Rise



Business Insider – ‎October 11, 2012‎

As the climate warms, sea ice and the ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic continue to melt. These and other factors lead to increases in sea level and further warming of the Earth.


Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington: Past, Present, and Future (2012) – Natl Research Council FINDINGS

Tide gages show that global sea level has risen about 7 inches during the 20th century, and recent satellite data shows that the rate of sea-level rise is accelerating. As Earth warms, sea levels are rising mainly because: (1) ocean water expands as it warms; and (2) water from melting glaciers and ice sheets is flowing into the ocean. Sea-level rise poses enormous risks to the valuable infrastructure, development, and wetlands that line much of the 1,600 mile shoreline of California, Oregon, and Washington. As those states seek to incorporate projections of sea-level rise into coastal planning, they asked the National Research Council to make independent projections of sea-level rise along their coasts for the years 2030, 2050, and 2100, taking into account regional factors that affect sea level.
Sea level along the U.S. west coast is affected by a number of factors, including climate patterns such as the El Niño, effects from the melting of modern and ancient ice sheets, and geologic processes, such as plate tectonics. Regional projections for California, Oregon, and Washington show a sharp distinction at Cape Mendocino in northern California. South of that point, sea-level rise is expected to be very close to global projections. However, projections are lower north of Cape Mendocino because the land is being pushed upward as the ocean plate moves under the continental plate along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. However, an earthquake magnitude 8 or larger, which occurs in the region every few hundred to 1,000 years, would cause the land to drop and sea level to suddenly rise. Key Findings:

  • Melting of land ice is now the largest component of global sea-level rise (about 65%), largely because ice loss rates are increasing.
  • Global sea level is projected to rise 8-23 cm (3-9 in) by 2030, relative to 2000 levels, 18-48 cm (7-19 in) by 2050, and 50–140 cm (20-55 in) by 2100.
  • Vertical land motions caused by plate tectonics and the ongoing response of the Earth to the disappearance of North American ice sheets have a significant impact on sea-level rise along the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts.
  • Sea level along the California coast south of Cape Mendocino is projected to rise 4-30 cm (2-12 in) by 2030, relative to 2000 levels, 12-61 cm (5-24 in) by 2050, and 42-167 cm (17-66 in) by 2100. These projections are close to global sea-level rise projections.
  • For the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts north of Cape Mendocino, sea level is projected to change between -4 cm (-2 in) (sea-level fall) and +23 cm (9 in) by 2030, -3 cm (-1 in) and +48 cm (19 in) by 2050, and 10-143 cm (4-56 in) by 2100. These values are lower than projections further north.
  • An earthquake magnitude 8 or greater along the Cascadia Subduction Zone would suddenly raise sea level along parts of the coast by an additional 1-2 meters (3-7 feet) over projected levels north of Cape Mendocino.
  • Uncertainties grow as the projection period lengthens. Confidence in the projections is high for 2030 and perhaps 2050. By 2100, we are confident only that the value will fall within the uncertainty bounds.
  • Most coastal damage is caused by the confluence of large waves, storm surges, and high astronomical tides during a strong El Niño.
  • Some models predict a northward shift in North Pacific storm tracks, and some observational studies report that largest waves are getting higher and winds are getting stronger. Observational records are not long enough to confirm whether these are long-term trends.
  • Even if storminess does not increase in the future, sea-level rise will magnify the adverse impact of storm surges and high waves on the coast.
  • Storms and sea-level rise are causing coastal cliffs, beaches, and dunes to retreat at rates from a few cm/yr to several m/yr. Cliffs could retreat more than 30 m (about 100 feet) by 2100.
  • Wetlands are likely to keep pace with sea level until 2050. Their survival until 2100 depends on maintaining elevation through high sedimentation, room to move inland, or uplift.



Ship exhaust creates long streaks of clouds across the ocean’s dark surface, making the sky brighter and reducing the amount of heat trapped in the atmosphere. Some researchers are exploring ways to make clouds brighter to reflect more sunlight back into space. (Credit: Photo courtesy of NASA)

Earth sunblock only needed if planet warms easily
(October 11, 2012) — A
n increasing number of scientists are studying ways to temporarily reduce the amount of sunlight reaching Earth to potentially stave off some of the worst effects of climate change. Because thes
e sunlight reduction methods would only temporarily reduce temperatures, do nothing for the health of the oceans and affect different regions unevenly, researchers do not see it as a permanent fix. Most theoretical studies have examined this strategy by itself, in the absence of looking at simultaneous attempts to reduce emissions. Now, a new computer analysis of future climate change that considers emissions reductions together with sunlight reduction shows that such drastic steps to cool Earth would only be necessary if the planet heats up easily with added greenhouse gases. The analysis, reported in the journal Climatic Change, might help future policymakers plan for a changing climate. The study by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory explored sunlight reduction methods, or solar radiation management, in a computer model that followed emissions’ effect on climate. The analysis shows there is a fundamental connection between the need for emissions reductions and the potential need for some sort of solar dimming. “Solar radiation management doesn’t eliminate the need to reduce emissions. We do not want to dim sunlight over the long term — that doesn’t address the root cause of the problem and might also have negative regional effects. This study shows that the same conditions that would call for solar radiation management also require substantial emission reductions in order to meet the climate goals set by the world community,” said Smith.
How much sun blocking might be needed depends on an uncertain factor called climate sensitivity. Much like beachgoers in the summer, Earth might be very sensitive to carbon dioxide, like someone who burns easily and constantly slathers on the sunscreen, or not, like someone who can get away with SPF 5 or 10
….full story


Nate Silver’s Climate Chapter and What We Can Learn From It

Posted on 5 October 2012 by dana1981

In the interest of full disclosure, many Skeptical Science team members are big fans of Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog at The New York Times.  Silver runs a model which uses polling results and various other input factors (such as economic indicators) to predict election outcomes in the USA, with an impressive track record of accuracy. Thus we were intrigued to hear that Silver had included a chapter on climate change in his newly-published book The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t, particularly since we at Skeptical Science are often forced to explain the difference between signal and noise.  Having great respect for the work and climate-related opinions of Michael Mann (who Silver consulted in writing the book), we were also concerned to see his criticisms of Nate Silver’s climate chapter. Nevertheless, Mann recommended that people read the book for themselves, praising much of the content.  So I did just that, and overall I believe that if we take Silver’s analysis a step further, we can learn a lot about the accuracy of climate models.  It’s also important to remember that, as Silver himself notes in the chapter, our basic understanding of how the climate works and how much it will warm in response to our greenhouse gas emissions is not just dependent on models…..



Download the PDF

Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind



Yale Project on Climate Change Communication October 09, 2012


  • A large and growing majority of Americans say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States” (74%, up 5 points since our last national survey in March 2012).
  • Asked about six recent extreme weather events in the United States, including record high summer temperatures, the Midwest drought, and the unusually warm winter and spring of 2011-12, majorities say global warming made each event “worse.”
  • Americans were most likely to connect global warming to the record high temperatures in the summer of 2012 (73%).
  • Americans increasingly say weather in the U.S. has been getting worse over the past several years (61%, up 9 percentage points since March).A majority of Americans (58%) say that heat waves have become more common in their local area over the past few decades, up 5 points since March, with especially large increases in the Northeast and Midwest (+12 and +15 points, respectively).
  • More than twice as many Midwesterners say they personally experienced an extreme heat wave (83%, up 48 points since March) or drought (81%, up 55 points) in the past year.
  • One in five Americans (20%) says they suffered harm to their health, property, and/or finances from an extreme heat wave in the past year, a 6-point increase since March. In addition, 15 percent say they suffered harm from a drought in the past year, up 4 points.


Climate Science and Science Literacy: The Strange Divergence



Huffington Post – October 10, 2012‎

Two studies — one by Lawrence Hamilton of the University of New Hampshire published last week in the journal Weather, Climate and Society and the other by Dan Kahan of Yale University and colleagues published in the journal Nature Climate Change in ..For example, it is well known that the climate-change fault line runs along the political-party divide with Democrats much more likely to accept and Republicans more likely to reject climate science.

  • But Hamilton and Kahan both found that there is also an educational divide, actually a double divide. Hamilton found that the probability of a response that human activities are driving climate change increases with Democrats’ educational background: There is a more than 50 percent probability that a high-school-educated (or less) Democrat will respond positively to the climate change/human activities question, and that probability increases to more than 70 percent for a college-educated Democrat and above 80 percent for a Dem with post-graduate education.
  • For Republicans, in contrast, increasing education makes virtually no difference in their acceptance of anthropogenic climate change. Roughly 70 percent of Republicans with a high school education (or less) reject climate science, and about the same percentage holds for Republicans with a post-graduate education…..







Climate-Proofing The Insurance Industry



Forbes  October 11, 2012‎

“Insurance is the first line of defense against extreme weather losses, but climate change is a game-changer for the models that insurers have long relied on,” Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler told an industry blog on risk and


Supreme Court refuses to block Chevron’s $18.2 billion verdict for pollution in Ecuador
Reuters Posted:   10/09/2012 11:57:40 AM PDT

WASHINGTON — Chevron on Tuesday lost a U.S. Supreme Court bid to block an $18.2 billion judgment against it in Ecuador in a case over pollution in the Amazon jungle. The Supreme Court did not give any explanation for its decision, which rejected Chevron’s appeal of a lower court ruling. The lower court in January had thrown out an injunction blocking enforcement of the Ecuadorean judgment. The decision is the latest in a nearly two-decade conflict between the San Ramon oil company and residents of Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region over claims that Texaco, bought by Chevron in 2001, contaminated the area from 1964 to 1992. The battle has spawned litigation in numerous courts both inside and outside the United States.

Oil companies are watching the case closely because it may affect other cases accusing companies of polluting the areas where they operate…..


Rep. Pearce Promises To ‘Reverse This Trend Of Public Ownership Of Lands’

Posted: 09 Oct 2012 01:02 PM PDT

DENVER, Colorado — A key western congressman declared late last week that Mitt Romney supports his push to “reverse this trend of public ownership of lands.” In a speech to the Colorado Conservative Political Action Conference, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) criticized Teddy Roosevelt’s “big ideas of big forests and big national parks,” which primarily exist in the West. Pearce told the audience that, if elected, Mitt Romney will help turn back public lands to the states or private entities…..


Wolverine trapping challenged in Montana court



MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press October 12, 2012 (AP) — A coalition of groups trying to halt wolverine trapping in Montana filed a lawsuit Thursday that aims to provide new protections for an animal scientists warn will be imperiled by climate change in coming decades. […] eight wildlife… more »


Interior Dept: 10,000 Megawatts Of Renewable Energy Have Been Authorized On Public Lands

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 07:00 AM PDT by Jessica Goad

The Department of the Interior announced yesterday that is has approved 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects on public lands. This meets a goal expressed by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and reiterated by President Obama in this year’s State of the Union address of authorizing 10,000 megawatts of non-hydro renewable energy on public lands by 2015.

From the Interior Department’s announcement: “Since 2009, Interior has authorized 33 renewable energy projects, including 18 utility-scale solar facilities, 7 wind farms and 8 geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure that will enable the projects to connect to established power grids. When built, these projects will provide more than 10,000 megawatts of power, or enough electricity to power more than 3.5 million homes, and would support an estimated 13,000 construction and operations jobs according to project developers”



Coal-Fired Australia, Buffeted by Climate Change, Enacts Carbon Tax

National Geographic – ‎October 5, 2012‎

Facing a future as one of the places on Earth most vulnerable to climate change, and one of the nations with the world’s highest per capita carbon emissions, Australia has taken steps to change its fate.


River Restoration Progress Threatened by Extreme Bill

Huffington Post – October 8, 2012 Wm. Robert Irvin, American Rivers ‎ ‎

A study by NOAA shows habitat restoration creates 17-33 jobs per $1 million invested (as a comparison, the oil and gas sector creates about five jobs per $1 million invested; road infrastructure generates seven jobs per $1 million invested).


Climate sceptics more prominent in UK and US media
(October 4, 2012) — Climate sceptics are being given a more prominent, and sometimes uncontested, voice in UK and US newspapers in contrast to other countries around the world, new research suggests. … > full story

Economic decline reduces carbon emissions slightly

CBS News – October 8, 2012‎

Nations hoping to curb climate change face a quandary: Economic growth means more planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions. On the flip side, economic decline means a drop in greenhouse gas emissions as consumers tighten their belts, factories slow …


Underestimating the dangers of peak oil and climate change

The threats of declining oil production and a changing climate are more serious than we think, Cobb writes.

By Kurt Cobb, Guest blogger / October 8, 2012 Christian Science Monitor



Other news from

  • Norway is to double carbon tax on its North Sea oil industry and set up a £1bn fund to help combat the damaging impacts of climate change in the developing world. [Guardian]
    • In one of the most radical climate programmes yet by an oil-producing nation, the Norwegian government has proposed increasing its carbon tax on offshore oil companies by £21 to £45 (Nkr410) per tonne of CO2 and a £5.50 (Nkr50) per tonne CO2 tax on its fishing industry.
    • Norway will also plough an extra £1bn (Nkr10bn) into its funds for climate change mitigation, renewable energy, food security in developing countries and conversion to low-carbon energy sources, Environmental Finance reported.
  • China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases linked to climate change, may create the impetus for a global carbon market as it begins pilot trading programs, according to the Climate Institute. [Businessweek]
    • The world’s second-biggest economy is scheduled to start emissions trading in seven manufacturing regions next year, and it may introduce a national system by 2015. Shanghai and Guangdong plan to require producers of steel, petrochemicals and electricity and others with annual emissions of more than 20,000 metric tons to buy tradable permits. The other regions in China’s pilot program are Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing, Shenzhen and Hubei….
    • “Though covering a fraction of China’s total emissions, these pilots are expected to cover 700 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2014, compared with 382 million tons in Australia, 165 million tons in California and 2.1 billion tons in Europe,” [Climate Institute CEO John] Connor said.
  • Drought damage to corn and soybean fields in the U.S., the world’s top grower and exporter, is eroding supplies of the nation’s two largest crops to below year-earlier consumption levels for the first time since 1974. [Businessweek]
  • U.S. milk production is headed for the biggest contraction in 12 years as a drought-fueled surge in feed costs drives more cows to slaughter. [Businessweek]
  • NOAA’s latest State of the Climate roundup shows that September marked the 16th month in a row with above-average temperatures for the lower 48 states of the U.S. [Climate Central]
  • A large and growing majority of Americans say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States” (74%, up 5 points since our last national survey in March 2012). [Yale]
  • The number of natural disasters per year has been rising dramatically on all continents since 1980, but the trend is steepest for North America where countries have been battered by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, searing heat and drought, a new report says. [USA Today]
  • Royal Dutch Shell said late Thursday it has applied for a permit from the U.S. Department of Commerce to export crude oil in a sign of how a boom in U.S. oil production from shale rock is reshaping the country’s role in the global energy marketplace. [Wall Street Journal]
  • The recent rash of extreme weather and climate events — droughts, heat waves, extreme precipitation — has provided a greater impetus for taking action to reduce planet warming greenhouse gas emissions. But a lack of political will and the complexities of the climate system pose enormous obstacles, according to international development and climate scientists who spoke at a Columbia University forum on Thursday. [Climate Central]





Climate Change, Wildlife and Wildlands


The U.S. Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry (OCB) program, with support from the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme (UKOA), has updated and expanded a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) developed in 2010 by OCB, the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA), and UKOA. The FAQ is a concise, readable summary of the state of ocean acidification knowledge. In all, 63 scientists from 47 institutions and 12 countries have participated. But this is to be a “living” resource so anyone may seek clarification or send comments to Sarah Cooley ( for inclusion in future revisions. » FAQs about ocean acidification (pdf format)





  • Ocean Acidification Resources for Educators
  • Linking introductory chemistry and the geosciences through ocean acidification–Article in The Earth Scientist (the quarterly publication of the National Earth Science Teachers Association) by S. Cooley and H. Benway, OCB. » Visit Website
  • State of the Science Fact Sheet: Ocean Acidification –NOAA fact sheet » Visit Website
  • Ocean Acidification: The Other Half of the CO2 Problem–EUR-OCEANS fact sheet » Visit Website
  • Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem- National Resources Defense Council fact sheet » Visit Website
  • Acid test for the seas- NOVA fact sheet » Visit Website


Climate Graphics by – getting skeptical about global warming skepticism




iCIVICS WEBSITE, with games—how US Government works—for school children







Greenhouse gas emissions mapped to building, street level for U.S. cities
(October 9, 2012) — Researchers have developed a new software system capable of estimating greenhouse gas emissions across entire urban landscapes, all the way down to roads and individual buildings. Until now, scientists quantified carbon dioxide emissions at a much broader level. “Hestia” combines extensive public database “data-mining” with traffic simulation and building-by-building energy-consumption modeling. … > full story

Bioenergy: The broken promise
(October 9, 2012) — Biofuels are going to save us from climate threats and the oil crisis, while at the same time providing an opportunity to the smallholder farmers of the world. Hopes are high, but completely unrealistic. It is like trying to push a square peg into a round hole, according to new research. … > full story



FTC Issues Revised “Green Guides”

Will Help Marketers Avoid Making Misleading Environmental Claims Oct 1 2012

The Federal Trade Commission issued revised “Green Guides” that are designed to help marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive. The revisions to the FTC’s Green Guides reflect a wide range of public input, including hundreds of consumer and industry comments on previously proposed revisions.  They include updates to the existing Guides, as well as new sections on the use of carbon offsets, “green” certifications and seals, and renewable energy and renewable materials claims. “The introduction of environmentally friendly products into the marketplace is a win for consumers who want to purchase greener products and producers who want to sell them,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “But this win-win can only occur if marketers’ claims are truthful and substantiated.  The FTC’s changes to the Green Guides will level the playing field for honest business people and it is one reason why we had such broad support.” In revising the Green Guides, the FTC modified and clarified sections of the previous Guides and provided new guidance
on environmental claims that were not common when the Guides were last reviewed…..

The Guides also:

  • advise marketers not to make an unqualified degradable claim for a solid waste product unless they can prove that the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature within one year after customary disposal;
  • caution that items destined for landfills, incinerators, or recycling facilities will not degrade within a year, so marketers should not make unqualified degradable claims for these items; and
  • clarify guidance on compostable, ozone, recyclable, recycled content, and source reduction claims.



Key to a Cool City? It’s in the Trees

This week on the NewsHour we have been looking at how the urban heat island effect and climate change turn up the thermostat on U.S. cities, and how places like Chicago are trying to cool off with greener infrastructure.
Peter Calthorpe, urban designer and author of “Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change”, has worked on some of the biggest urban design projects in the United States over the last 20 years, in places including Portland, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and post-hurricane southern Louisiana. He said the best thing cities can do to keep cool is plant trees. “It’s that simple.” Calthorpe said. “Yeah, you can do white roofs and green roofs … but believe me, it’s that street canopy that makes all the difference.” Densely vegetated areas of a city can create cool islands within an urban center. Plus, shady sidewalks encourage people to walk rather than drive. And fewer cars means less spent on costly highways and parking lots, which not only absorb heat but also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, he said. Hari Sreenivasan caught up with Calthorpe at the Aspen Environment Forum. Watch our interview in the video above


Breathing Walls

Green walls can reduce air pollution better than trees Conservation Magazine Aug 2012

Planting trees isn’t always the best way to reduce air pollution on city streets, a new study says. In some cases, more trees could even make the problem worse. Instead, “green walls”—blanketing sides of buildings with grass, ivy, or other plants—might be the most effective solution. In the U.K., 35,000 to 50,000 people die annually from pollution-related causes. Adding plants to city streets can reduce pollutant levels, but researchers have estimated the effect is small. In a new study, a team took a closer look at a common feature of the urban landscape: the street canyon. Street canyons are roads surrounded by tall buildings, where air tends to linger. The researchers ran computer simulations to determine how green walls and roofs might affect pollutant concentrations at street level. Adding plants to walls would cut nitrogen dioxide levels by 15 percent and small particulate matter by 23 percent, the authors estimate. In areas with little wind, those numbers could reach 40 and 60 percent. Green roofs didn’t perform as well because they don’t directly affect the air near the street. Trees also help clean the air, but they can keep street-level air from mixing with the air above. At low-to-medium pollutant levels, planting trees will still reduce air pollution, the team predicts. If a city is very polluted, however, trees could actually increase nitrogen dioxide levels near the street. “By not considering the adverse effects of tree planting on canyon ventilation, urban greening initiatives that concentrate on increasing the number of urban trees, without consideration of location, risk actively worsening street-level air quality,” the authors warn.
–Roberta Kwok

Pugh, T.A.M. et al. 2012. Effectiveness of green infrastructure for improvement of air quality in urban street canyons. Environmental Science & Technology doi:10.1021/es300826w.


Report: ‘The Greener The Industry, The Higher The Job Growth Rate Over The Last Decade’

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 09:36 AM PDT Industries that support a higher number of “green” workers who are making goods and services more environmentally friendly have experienced a higher rate of growth over the last decade than industries with fewer green jobs.
That’s according to a new study from the Economic Policy Institute, which analyzed data on the green workforce from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS data, which was released in March, documented 3.1 million green jobs nation-wide in renewable energy, water management, recycling, and various positions that help improve the efficiency and environmental footprint of a company or institution.
BLS defined green jobs as: Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources; or, jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or ensuring that they use fewer natural resources





Lawmaker Says Evolution Is a Lie “Straight From the Pit of Hell”

By Daniel Politi Posted Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, at 3:56 PM ET

Rep. Paul Broun, who serves on the House Science Committee, told a church-sponsored banquet in his home state of Georgia that the theories of evolution and the big bang are “lies straight from the pit of hell.” Broun has long been known as one of the most conservative members of Congress, and an outspoken conservative Christian. He wanted to declare 2010 “the year of the Bible,” points out NBC News. Still, the comments from the medical doctor who also has a degree in chemistry are getting lots of attention after the Bridge Project, a progressive political watchdog group, began distributing video of the remarks. (Video is after the jump.)

Broun says “all that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang theory” was part of a ploy to hide how old the Earth really is, “to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

The House Science Committee had already come under scrutiny recently after Rep. Todd Akin, another one of its members, made the now-infamous remarks about “legitimate rape,” points out Talking Points Memo. Broun plays off on his qualifications and degrees to add credence to his views:

You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.



State’s outdoors agency gets new name

Tom Stienstra, Chronicle Columnist Updated 11:59 p.m., Saturday, October 6, 2012 New laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week show that environmental groups trump hunters and anglers once again. In the process, they created a new landscape – and name – for the Department of Fish and Game. The next test will be whether the department diverts money from trout hatcheries and fishing and hunting licenses and tags – dedicated user fees – and spends that money instead to pay for environmental programs involving endangered species, bio diversity and studies.

Here are key new laws for the DFG, parks and wildlife, which take effect Jan. 1, plus a proposal to improve fishing that the governor vetoed:

A new DFG: AB2402 will change the name of the Department of Fish and Game to the Department of Fish and Wildlife and create an “environmental crime task force.” Many believe the new name and mission will give environmentalists inside the agency the leverage to use money from dedicated fishing and hunting accounts to pay for their jobs and projects.
…..Global warming: SB1066 requires the State Coastal Conservancy to address global warming. I wonder how they are supposed to do that? Or pay for it? With another study?“Not natural”: SB1447 would have made a priority of building artificial reefs to create more habitat for fish and, in the process, increase recreation opportunities. That could have improved fishing in San Francisco Bay and along the coast. Vetoed…..



British Gardeners Battle Over Peat, for Bogs’ Sake

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL (NYT) October 7, 2012 Compiled: 1:10 AM

While many gardeners regard the partially decomposed plant matter as an elixir, environmentalists say taking peat from centuries-old bogs disturbs vital ecosystems.


BPA’s real threat may be after it has metabolized: Chemical found in many plastics linked to multiple health threats
(October 4, 2012) — Bisphenol A (BPA) is a synthetic chemical widely used in the making of plastic products ranging from bottles and food can linings to toys and water supply lines. When these plastics degrade, BPA is released into the environment and routinely ingested. New research suggests it’s the metabolic changes that take place once BPA is broken down inside the body that pose the greater health threat. … > full story


Christian Science Monitor: Think you know the odd effects of global climate change? Take our quiz.


Can eating tomatoes lower the risk of stroke?
(October 8, 2012) — Eating tomatoes and tomato-based foods is associated with a lower risk of stroke, according to new research. Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant lycopene. … > full story


Vitamin C prevents bone loss in animal models
(October 9, 2012) — Researchers have shown for the first time in an animal model that vitamin C actively protects against osteoporosis, a disease affecting large numbers of elderly women and men in which bones become brittle and can fracture. … > full story









Extent of surface melt over Greenland’s ice sheet on July 8, 2012 (left) and July 12, 2012 (right). Measurements from three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet had undergone thawing at or near the surface. In just a few days, the melting had dramatically accelerated and an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had thawed by July 12. In the image, the areas classified as “probable melt” (light pink) correspond to those sites where at least one satellite detected surface melting. The areas classified as “melt” (dark pink) correspond to sites where two or three satellites detected surface melting. Image credit: Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory and Nicolo E. DiGirolamo, SSAI and Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory › Larger view

Satellites see Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Melt

July 24, 2012 PASADENA, Calif. – For several days this month, Greenland’s surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its 2-mile-thick (3.2-kilometer) center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists.




SET OF THE SHOW-Grand Palais, October 2nd–Photos by Olivier Saillant




Conservation Science News October 5, 2012

Highlight of the Week– Epic “Dust Bowl of 2012” Expands Again









Highlight of the WeekEpic “Dust Bowl of 2012” Expands Again


Epic ‘Dust Bowl Of 2012′ Expands Again

By Joe Romm on Sep 30, 2012 at 11:30 am


The latest weekly Drought Monitor update set another grim record. The brutal U.S. drought expanded to 65.45% of the contiguous U.S. — the highest ever in the Monitor’s 12-year history. The previous record was 64.8% — set just last week.
In the third quarter alone, crop production dropped $12 billion “due to this summer’s severe heat and drought.”  The drop in farm inventories was so sharp in the last quarter that it wiped 0.2% off of U.S. GDP in the latest revision. In Texas, the drought has killed more than 300 million trees. Nearly 98% of Nebraska is in extreme to exceptional drought — 3 months ago, none of it was!

Climate Central explains:

The drought is the worst to strike the U.S. since the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s and lengthy droughts of the 1950s. It came on suddenly and largely without warning, and although the main trigger was most likely the pattern of water temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the drought was exacerbated by extremely hot temperatures during the spring and summer. Climate studies have shown that the odds of severe heat waves are increasing due to manmade climate change.


As I wrote in July, “We’re Already Topping Dust Bowl Temperatures — Imagine What’ll Happen If We Fail To Stop 10°F Warming.”


The WashPost
reported in August:
The United States will suffer a series of severe droughts in the next two decades, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.


Moreover, global warming will play an increasingly important role in their abundance and severity, claims Aiguo Dai, the study’s author. His findings bolster conclusions from climate models used by researchers around the globe that have predicted severe and widespread droughts in coming decades over many land areas…“We can now be more confident that the models are correct,” Dai said, “but unfortunately, their predictions are dire.”


For more on what the models have been saying, see “James Hansen Is Correct About Catastrophic Projections For U.S. Drought If We Don’t Act Now.”

Related Posts:



Increasing drought under global warming in observations and models

Aiguo Dai Nature Climate Change (2012) doi:10.1038/nclimate1633 published Aug 5 2012

ABSTRACT: Historical records of precipitation, streamflow and drought indices all show increased aridity since 1950 over many land areas1, 2. Analyses of model-simulated soil moisture3, 4, drought indices1, 5, 6 and precipitation-minus-evaporation7 suggest increased risk of drought in the twenty-first century. There are, however, large differences in the observed and model-simulated drying patterns1, 2, 6. Reconciling these differences is necessary before the model predictions can be trusted. Previous studies8, 9, 10, 11, 12 show that changes in sea surface temperatures have large influences on land precipitation and the inability of the coupled models to reproduce many observed regional precipitation changes is linked to the lack of the observed, largely natural change patterns in sea surface temperatures in coupled model simulations13. Here I show that the models reproduce not only the influence of El Niño-Southern Oscillation on drought over land, but also the observed global mean aridity trend from 1923 to 2010. Regional differences in observed and model-simulated aridity changes result mainly from natural variations in tropical sea surface temperatures that are often not captured by the coupled models. The unforced natural variations vary among model runs owing to different initial conditions and thus are irreproducible. I conclude that the observed global aridity changes up to 2010 are consistent with model predictions, which suggest severe and widespread droughts in the next 30–90 years over many land areas resulting from either decreased precipitation and/or increased evaporation.



Climate models that predict more droughts win further scientific support

By Hristio Boytchev, Published: August 13 2012 Washington Post

The United States will suffer a series of severe droughts in the next two decades, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Moreover, global warming will play an increasingly important role in their abundance and severity, claims Aiguo Dai, the study’s author. His findings bolster conclusions from climate models used by researchers around the globe that have predicted severe and widespread droughts in coming decades over many land areas. Those models had been questioned because they did not fully reflect actual drought patterns when they were applied to conditions in the past. However, using a statistical method with data about sea surface temperatures, Dai, a climate researcher at the federally funded National Center for Atmospheric Research, found that the model accurately portrayed historic climate events.


“We can now be more confident that the models are correct,” Dai said, “but unfortunately, their predictions are dire.” In the United States, the main culprit currently is a cold cycle in the surface temperature of the eastern Pacific Ocean. It decreases precipitation, especially over the western part of the country. “We had a similar situation in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s,” said Dai, who works at the research center’s headquarters in Boulder, Colo.

While current models cannot predict the severity of a drought in a given year, they can assess its probability. “Considering the current trend, I was not surprised by the 2012 drought,” Dai said.

The Pacific cycle is expected to last for the next one or two decades, bringing more aridity. On top of that comes climate change. “Global warming has a subtle effect on drought at the moment,” Dai said, “but by the end of the cold cycle, global warming might take over and continue to cause dryness.”

While the variations in sea temperatures primarily influence precipitation, global warming is expected to bring droughts by increasing evaporation over land. Additionally, Dai predicts more dryness in South America, Southern Europe and Africa.”The similarity between the observed droughts and the projections from climate models here is striking,” said Peter Cox, a professor of climate system dynamics at Britain’s University of Exeter, who was not involved in Dai’s research. He said he also agrees that the latest models suggest increasing drought to be consistent with man-made climate change.


An ear of corn from Wayne Boschert’s farm from 2011, left, compared to one from this year, amid a widespread drought. Dilip Vishwanat for The New York Times

Drought Leaves Cracks in Way of Life—impacts on farming families

By JOHN ELIGON NY Times Published: October 4, 2012

BUTLER, Mo. — They have canceled vacations. Their children are forgoing out-of-state colleges for cheaper ones close to home. They are delaying doctor’s visits, selling off land handed down through generations and resisting luxuries like new smartphones. And then there is the stress — sleepless nights, grumpiness and, in one extreme case, seizures. Lost amid the withered crops, dehydrated cattle and depleted ponds that have come to symbolize the country’s most widespread drought in decades has been the toll on families whose livelihoods depend on farming. Although most are not in danger of losing their homes or going hungry, the drought is threatening the way of life in rural America. ….A year of drought here and there is sustainable, most farmers said. But multiple years in a row could be devastating, something that Jim Selman, a cattle rancher in south-central Texas, has learned. Last October, Mr. Selman, 80, sold all 300 of his cattle because of a drought that had been going for about five years. He is now living off the money he made, but if that runs out, he will have to sell some of his land. “Ranching’s not just an income, it is a way of life,” Mr. Selman said. “It’s what gives me pleasure, and all of a sudden I don’t have that pleasure anymore.”





Science Friday Sep. 28, 2012

Fires and Invasive Grass Threaten American West

Cheatgrass, an invasive weed, is choking out native sagebrush in the Great Basin — and setting the stage for hotter, more catastrophic fires there. Jen Pierce, an expert on ancient fires, and Mike Pellant of the Great Basin Restoration Initiative, talk about how fires are reshaping landscapes in the American West.



Only healthy groundwater ecosystems provide clean groundwater
(October 1, 2012) — Two thirds of drinking water in Germany is obtained from groundwater. At the same time groundwater is in no way a lifeless resource with at least 2,000 known species and numerous microorganisms mainly helping to clean the groundwater and improve the quality of drinking water. However, the protection of this habitat has not yet been established in law. Researchers have now presented a draft for the geographical classification of groundwater fauna, which could be used as an important step for the evaluation of the environmental status of groundwater. Its aim is the long-overdue establishment of suitable measures for the sustainable, ecologically-oriented management of groundwater. … > full story


California: Restoring the Balona Wetlands (VIDEO)
The Ballona Wetlands stretch from Playa del Rey to Venice. The site is owned by the state and managed by the California Department of Fish and Game as an ecological reserve. The California Coastal Conservancy and the California State Lands Commission are partners in the planning and restoration of the wetlands.


Deforestation in snowy regions causes more floods
(October 3, 2012) — New research suggests that cutting down swaths of forest in snowy regions at least doubles — and potentially quadruples — the number of large floods that occur along the rivers and streams passing through those forests. … > full story

IMAGE: This is the cover of the new UN report: “Science-Policy Bridges over Troubled Waters. ”

Click here for more information.


UN & Experts Warn of ‘Water Bankruptcy’ After Reviewing 200 Major Global Water Projects
Bangkok, 24 September 2012
A study of almost 200 major international water-related projects over the past 20 years has identified a suite of existing and emerging challenges and how science can offer remedies. Insufficient and disjointed management of human demands on water and aquatic systems has led to situations where both social and ecological systems are in jeopardy and have even collapsed, says the report.

…..Insufficient and disjointed management of human demands on water and aquatic systems has led to situations where both social and ecological systems are in jeopardy and have even collapsed, says the report. River basins in particular are set to experience growing pressures due to urbanization, rising water scarcity and poor water quality. Investing in science, in order to identify emerging issues and track trends relating to the use of water resources, can help to reduce such risks, according to the study. Links between science and policymaking also need to be strengthened.
Several success stories of research investments that paid rich dividends are also highlighted in the report.
The new report, Science-Policy Bridges over Troubled Waters, synthesizes findings of over 90 scientists worldwide assigned to five GEF International Water Science (IW:Science) working groups focusing on groundwater, lakes, rivers, land-based pollution sources, and large marine ecosystems and the open ocean…..


New ‘Green List’ shows species on path to conservation success
(September 29, 2012) — The IUCN World Conservation Congress has adopted a motion to create a Green List to assess conservation success. The Green List for Species would include species identified as ‘fully conserved,’ which are those that exist in ecologically significant numbers, interacting fully with other species in their ecosystems. … > full story

Marine plants can flee to avoid predators: First observation of predator avoidance behavior by phytoplankton
(September 29, 2012) — Scientists have made the first observation of a predator avoidance behavior by a species of phytoplankton, a microscopic marine plant. The scientists made the unexpected observation while studying the interactions between phytoplankton and zooplankton. … > full story

White shark diets show surprising variability, vary with age and among individuals
(September 29, 2012) — White sharks, the largest predatory sharks in the ocean, are thought of as apex predators that feed primarily on seals and sea lions. But a new study shows surprising variability in the dietary preferences of individual sharks. … > full story

Trapping weevils and saving monarchs
(October 1, 2012) — Ensuring the monarch butterfly’s survival by saving its milkweed habitat could result from U.S. Department of Agriculture studies initially intended to improve detection of boll weevils with pheromone traps. … > full story


Ecologists start new Antarctic season comparing animals’ handling of adversity
(October 3, 2012) — Ecologists who are about to return to Antarctica have found that Weddell seals were better than Emperor penguins at handling adverse conditions from icebergs. … > full story

Impact of cattle grazing on the occupancy of a cryptic, threatened rail.
Richmond, Orien M. W., Jerry Tecklin, and Steven R. Beissinger. 2012. Ecological Applications 22:1655–1664

Impacts of livestock grazing in arid and semiarid environments are often concentrated in and around wetlands where animals congregate for water, cooler temperatures, and green forage. We assessed the impacts of winter–spring (November–May) cattle grazing on marsh vegetation cover and occupancy of a highly secretive marsh bird that relies on dense vegetation cover, the California Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis coturniculus), in the northern Sierra Nevada foothills of California, USA. Using detection–nondetection data collected during repeated call playback surveys at grazed vs. ungrazed marshes and a “random changes in occupancy” parameterization of a multi-season occupancy model, we examined relationships between occupancy and habitat covariates, while accounting for imperfect detection. Marsh vegetation cover was significantly lower at grazed marshes than at ungrazed marshes during the grazing season in 2007 but not in 2008. Winter–spring grazing had little effect on Black Rail occupancy at irrigated marshes. However, at nonirrigated marshes fed by natural springs and streams, grazed sites had lower occupancy than ungrazed sites. Black Rail occupancy was positively associated with marsh area, irrigation as a water source, and summer vegetation cover, and negatively associated with marsh isolation. Residual dry matter (RDM), a commonly used metric of grazing intensity, was significantly associated with summer marsh vegetation cover at grazed sites but not spring cover. Direct monitoring of marsh vegetation cover, particularly at natural spring- or stream-fed marshes, is recommended to prevent negative impacts to rails from overgrazing.


Study Explains Estuaries Role In Carbon Containment

Although it’s long been known that marshes and wetlands are key to the growth and survival of many marine species, a new study released earlier this month by Duke University and Oregon State University shines light on a lesser-known fact: destroying them releases copious amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. According to a Duke News press release, “The analysis in the study provides the most comprehensive estimate of global carbon emissions from the loss of these coastal habitats to date – 0.15 to 1.2 billion tons – and suggests there is a high value associated with keeping these coastal-marine ecosystems intact, as the release of their stored carbon costs roughly $6-$42 billion annually.


Homolog of mammalian neocortex found in bird brain
(October 1, 2012) — Most higher-order processing by the human and mammalian brain is thought to occur in the neocortex, a structure on the surface of the brain. Now researchers have found cells similar to those of the mammalian neocortex in a vastly different anatomical structure in bird brains. This confirms a 50-year-old hypothesis that provoked decades of debate, sheds light on the evolution of the brain, and suggests new animal models for the neocortex. … > full story


Great Barrier Reef has lost half its corals since 1985, new study says

By Juliet Eilperin, Published: October 1 Washington Post

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985, according to a new study published Monday. The loss has been spurred by a combination of factors including hurricanes, coral-eating starfish and coral bleaching. The paper, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the most comprehensive survey of a reef system over such a long period. The researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science found that reef cover fell from 28 percent to 13.8 percent over the past 27 years, with two-thirds of the decline occurring since 1998. The sobering findings highlighted how even the world’s most protected marine areas are under assault from natural forces and causes linked to the human activity that is resulting in climate change. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, featuring nearly 3,000 individual reefs within 133,205 square miles. A third of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is off-limits to fishing and collecting. “We are basically losing an ecosystem that is so iconic for Australia and the rest of the world,” said institute scientist Katharina E. Fabricius, one of the paper’s authors. Storm damage accounted for 48 percent of the decline, scientists said, while crown-of-horns starfish contributed 42 percent. Coral bleaching, caused by warmer water, accounted for 10 percent of coral loss…..


‘Superweeds’ linked to rising herbicide use in GM crops, study finds
(October 2, 2012) — The use of herbicides in the production of three genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops — cotton, soybeans and corn — has actually increased, according to a new study. This counterintuitive finding is based on an exhaustive analysis of publicly available data. … > full story

Researchers Propose New Way to Save Africa’s Beleaguered Soils
A Washington State University researcher and colleagues make a case in the journal Nature for a new type of agriculture that could restore the beleaguered soils of Africa and help the continent feed itself in the coming decades. Their system, which they call “perenniation,” mixes food crops with trees and perennial plants, which live for two years or more. Thousands of farmers are already trying variations of perenniation, which reduces the need for artificial inputs while improving soil and in some cases dramatically increasing yields.


California: Study Examines Defensible Space and Erosion Control
A three-year study of defensible space and erosion control conducted by a group of local organizations found that tilling aged wood chips into the soil is most effective at minimizing fire risk and preventing erosion. According to a press release from Integrated Environmental Restoration Services Inc., the study aimed to find common ground between landscape treatments effective at preventing erosion and minimizing fire risk


US: Turkey Federation Joins Efforts to Bring Back Bobwhites
The NWTF has agreed to lend its organizational muscle and habitat restoration experience to efforts to bring back the Northern bobwhite, commonly referred to as quail. Both organizations know the restoration of bobwhites will be a multi-year, and perhaps multi-generational project. Brent Lawrence, director of communications for the NWTF, said the number of wild turkeys nationwide dwindled to about 30,000 in the early 1900s. Today, that number has grown to 7 million.


Helping captive birds make babies (blog) – ‎October 4, 2012‎

Academics analysed the reproduction of five critically endangered species of birds in the wild and in breeding programmes and found the wilds birds suffered exceptionally high rates of embryo death because of inbreeding, while in the captive birds


Science Friday Sep. 28, 2012

Ice Age Co-Stars: Horses, Camels, and Cheetahs

Move over mammoths — many lesser-known beasts roamed North America during the Ice Age too.






Arctic sea ice extent for September 2012 was 3.61 million square kilometers (1.39 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. (Credit: NSIDC)

Arctic Sea Ice Shatters Previous Low Records; Antarctic Sea Ice Edges to Record High

ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2012) — This September, sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean fell to the lowest extent in the satellite record, which began in 1979. Satellite data analyzed by NSIDC scientists showed that the sea ice cover reached its lowest extent on September 16. Sea ice extent averaged for the month of September was also the lowest in the satellite record. The near-record ice melt occurred without the unusual weather conditions that contributed to the extreme melt of 2007. In 2007, winds and weather patterns helped melt large expanses of ice. “Atmospheric and oceanic conditions were not as conducive to ice loss this year, but the melt still reached a new record low,” said NSIDC scientist Walt Meier. “This probably reflects loss of multi-year ice in the Arctic, as well as other factors that are making the ice more vulnerable.” Multi-year ice is ice that has survived more than one melt season and is thicker than first-year ice. NSIDC Director Mark Serreze said, “It looks like the spring ice cover is so thin now that large areas melt out in summer, even without persistent extreme weather patterns.” A storm that tracked through the Arctic in August helped break up the weakened ice pack….NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve recently spent three weeks in the Arctic Ocean on an icebreaker ship, and was surprised by how thin the ice was and how much open water existed between the individual ice floes. “According to the satellite data, I expected to be in nearly 90% ice cover, but instead the ice concentrations were typically below 50%,” she said.

As the Arctic was experiencing a record low minimum extent, the Antarctic sea ice was reaching record high levels, culminating in a Southern Hemisphere winter maximum extent of 19.44 million square kilometers (7.51 million square miles) on September 26. The September 2012 monthly average was also a record high, at 19.39 million square kilometers (7.49 million square miles) slightly higher than the previous record in 2006. Temperatures over Antarctica were near average this austral winter. Scientists largely attribute the increase in Antarctic sea ice extent to stronger circumpolar winds, which blow the sea ice outward, increasing extent. NSIDC scientist Ted Scambos said, “Antarctica’s changes — in winter, in the sea ice — are due more to wind than to warmth, because the warming does not take much of the sea ice area above the freezing point during winter. Instead, the winds that blow around the continent, the “westerlies,” have gotten stronger in response to a stubbornly cold continent, and the warming ocean and land to the north.” Further information:


[New York Times]–Climate contrarians tend to point to the Antarctic almost every time Arctic sea ice sets a record or near-record low. In reality, the trends in Antarctic sea ice are pretty small compared to what’s happening in the Arctic.


An Illustrated Guide To 2012 Record Arctic Sea Ice Melt

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 09:30 AM PDT

The Arctic sea ice minimum volume dropped sharply this year. Data from PIOMAS, Graph by L. Hamilton

By Nevin Acropolis via the Arctic Sea Ice Blog We already knew a few weeks ago that the PIOMAS sea ice volume record had been broken, but with the latest data release by the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington we now know the minimum sea ice volume for 2012, as calculated by the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS).


Climate change may force evacuation of vulnerable island states within a decade

The Guardian (blog) – ‎October 4, 2012‎

Suggesting evacuations would accelerate a change in public consciousness around the issue of climate change, he said: “Thousands of years of culture is at risk of disappearing as the populations of vulnerable island states have no place to go.


Climate change could cripple southwestern U.S. forests: Trees face rising drought stress and mortality as climate warms
(September 30, 2012) — Combine the tree-ring growth record with historical information, climate records, and computer-model projections of future climate trends, and you get a grim picture for the future of trees in the southwestern United States, according to a new study. … > full story

Irreversible warming will cause sea levels to rise for thousands of years to come, new research shows
(October 1, 2012) — Greenhouse gas emissions up to now have triggered an irreversible warming of Earth that will cause sea levels to rise for thousands of years to come, new research has shown. … > full story

Experts See Signs of El Niño, but a Weak One

By JOHN H. CUSHMAN Jr. NY Times Published: October 2, 2012 WASHINGTON — A season of warmer ocean waters that has been expected to produce a Niño episode and perhaps bring relief from the continuing drought may turn out to be a bit weaker than advertised, according to climate experts.


Ocean acidification threatens U.S. fisheries: Human-generated carbon emissions are making the ocean more acidic, which has become a cause for concern to the fishing industry and scientists.


Fish getting smaller as the oceans warm
(September 30, 2012) — Changes in ocean and climate systems could lead to smaller fish, according to a new study. … > full story

Fish to shrink as global warming leaves them gasping for oxygen

* Human fish supplies from oceans at risk towards 2050-study

* Average maximum weights for fish to fall by 14-24 percent

By Alister Doyle OSLO, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Fish are likely to get smaller on average by 2050 because global warming will cut the amount of oxygen in the oceans in a shift that may also mean dwindling catches, according to a study on Sunday. Average maximum body weights for 600 types of marine fish, such as cod, plaice, halibut and flounder, would contract by 14-24 percent by 2050 from 2000 under a scenario of a quick rise in greenhouse gas emissions, it said. “The reductions in body size will affect whole ecosystems,” lead author William Cheung of the University of British Columbia in Canada, told Reuters of the findings in the journal Nature Climate Change. His team of scientists said a trend towards smaller sizes was “expected to have large implications” for ocean food webs and for human “fisheries and global protein supply.” “The consequences of failing to curtail greenhouse gas emissions on marine ecosystems are likely to be larger than previously indicated,” the U.S. and Canada-based scientists wrote. They said global warming, blamed on human burning of fossil fuels, will make life harder for fish in the oceans largely because warmer water can hold less dissolved oxygen, vital for respiration and growth….



Climate Change And Seafood Supply: Developing Countries Most Vulnerable To Ocean Acidification

By Climate Guest Blogger on Oct 4, 2012 at 9:30 am

by Tom Wittig

Developing countries that rely on nourishment from the oceans will soon find their sources of food and way of life threatened, according to an Oceana study released last week. The report, Ocean-Based Food Security Threatened in a High CO2 World, ranks the top 50 nations most vulnerable to climate change and ocean acidification in the context of their seafood and fish consumption.

Not surprisingly, those nations topping the list are among the least responsible for historic emissions of carbon dioxide. The Comoros claimed the dubious distinction of most threatened, followed by Togo, the Cook Islands, Kiribati, and Eritrea. Other notable countries in the top fifty include Pakistan (8), North Korea (25), China (35), and South Africa (46). The United States did not make the list.

Just how big is this threat? Over a billion people rely on seafood as their main source of protein. Before mid-century, global population is expected to reach nine billion, creating further demand for ocean-based food. Many nations struggling with nutrition will be further challenged, and citizens of some developing nations will likely turn to inferior foods. The authors elaborate:


Lakes React Differently to Warmer Climate



October 4, 2012 — A future warmer climate will produce different effects in different lakes. Researchers have now been able to explain that the effects of climate change depend on what organisms are dominant in the … > full story


Clam shells yield clues to Atlantic’s climate history
(October 1, 2012) — Researchers are studying the growth increments in clam shells to learn about past ocean conditions. A better understanding of the ocean’s past can help researchers understand today’s climate trends and changes. … > full story


Scientists team with U.S. Coast Guard to explore ice-free Arctic Ocean
(October 2, 2012) — With the melting ice in the Arctic, U.S. Coast Guard crews based in Alaska have taken on a new challenge: carefully deploying scientific equipment through cracks in the ice from an airplane hundreds of feet in the air. It’s all part of a new partnership that has evolved since disappearing Arctic ice has opened vast new frontiers — for the Coast Guard and for University of Washington scientists. This year, the lowest ebb of Arctic sea ice covered less area than at any time since scientists began recording it. From 1979 to 2000, the average low point for the year was 7 million square kilometers, or 2.7 million square miles. This year, it’s less than half as much — 3.4 million square kilometers. … > full story


Southern hemisphere becoming drier: Decline in April-May rainfall over south-east Australia
(October 3, 2012) – The
decline in April-May rainfall over south-east Australia is associated wit
h a southward expansion of the subtropical dry-zone according to research published October 3 in Scientific Reports, a primary research journal from the publishers of Nature. CSIRO scientists Wenju Cai, Tim Cowan and Marcus Thatcher explored why autumn rainfall has been in decline across south-eastern Australia since the 1970s, a period that included the devastating Millennium drought from 1997-2009. Using high-quality observations and an atmospheric model the CSIRO team found that for south-eastern Australia, up to 85 per cent of recent rainfall reduction can be accounted for by replacing south-eastern Australia rainfall with rainfall 400km to the north.
Previous research into what has been driving the decline in autumn rainfall across regions like southern Australia has pointed the finger at a southward shift in the storm tracks and weather systems during the late 20th century. However, the extent to which these regional rainfall reductions are attributable to the poleward expansion of the subtropical dry-zone has not been clarified before now. Mr Cowan said rainfall patterns in the subtropics are known to be influenced by the Hadley cell, the large-scale atmospheric circulation that transports heat from the tropics to the sub-tropics. “There has been a southward expansion of the edge of the Hadley cell — also called subtropical dry-zone — over the past 30 years, with the strongest expansion occurring in mid-late autumn, or April to May, ranging from 200 to 400 kilometres,” Mr Cowan said. The CSIRO researchers found that the autumn southward expansion of the subtropical dry-zone is greatest over south-eastern Australia, and to a lesser extent, over the Southern Ocean to the south of Africa. “The Hadley cell is comprised of a number of individual branches, so the impact of a southward shift of the subtropical dry-zone on rainfall is not the same across the different semi-arid regions of the Southern Hemisphere,” says CSIRO’s Dr Wenju Cai.… > full story


Methane emissions can be traced back to Roman times
(October 3, 2012) — Emissions of the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere can be traced back thousands of years in the Greenland ice sheet. Using special analytical methods, researchers have determined how much methane originates from natural sources and how much is due to human activity. The results go back to Roman times and up to the present, where more than half of the emissions are now human-made.
Methane is an important greenhouse gas, which today is partly emitted from natural sources and partly from human activities. The emissions from natural sources
vary due to the climate variations. For example, bacteria in wetlands release methane and less is emitted in dry periods as the wetlands shrink. Emissions of methane into the atmosphere also come from human actions. For example, methane is emitted from rice fields, which are of course wetlands, and methane is emitted from biomass burning, either from burning of forest areas for cultivation or the use of wood in furnaces. Energy production through coal combustion also produces methane gases. But how can you determine where the methane gas comes from?….

“We have analysed the methane composition more than 2,000 years back in time. We can see that already 2,100 years ago during Roman times, some cultures were spreading out and burning large amounts of wood for fuel in furnaces to work with metals that required intense heat to process. But the level was still low. The next significant increase was during the Middle Ages around 1,000 years ago. It was a warm period and it was dry so there were presumably many forest fires that emitted methane while the wetlands dwindled and reduced methane emissions from that source. We also find emissions from natural forest fires and deforestation during the so-called ‘Little Ice Age’ (between 1350 and 1850), which was a very cold and dry period, Emissions of methane increased dramatically from around 1800, when the industrial revolution took off and where there occurred a large increase in population,” explains Thomas Blunier.

The analyses show that from around the year 1800 there are large increases that are human-made. Approximately half originates from the production of food — especially rice fields and cattle. Then a lot is emitted from the decomposition of organic materials that are deposited and methane is emitted from burning coal for energy.

“The extent to which our ancestors were able to influence the emissions of methane with their activities is surprising. The general trend from 100 BCE to the year 1600 shows a correlation between the increase in the appropriation of land for cultivation and the emission of the biogenic methane. Today, half of the methane emissions stem from human activities,” says Thomas Blunier.… > full story

—Centuries before the Industrial Revolution or the recognition of global warming, the ancient Roman and Chinese empires were already producing powerful greenhouse gases through their daily toil, according to a new study. [Los Angeles Times]



Yearlong MAGIC climate study launches: Climate instruments mounted aboard the Horizon Spirit container ship begin taking data
(October 1, 2012) — A Horizon Lines container ship outfitted with meteorological and atmospheric instruments installed by US Department of Energy scientists from Argonne National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory will begin taking data today for a yearlong mission aimed at improving the representation of clouds in climate models. … > full story


Changes in Atlantic Ocean temperature affects western Amazonia climate
(October 1, 2012) — A new paper reveals that changes in the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean quickly translate into climate change in western Amazonia. … > full story


Atmospheric aerosol climate caution
(October 1, 2012) — Carbon dioxide is not the only problem we must address if we are to understand and solve the problem of climate change. We as yet do not understand adequately the role played by aerosols, clouds and their interaction, experts say, and we must take related processes into account before considering any large-scale geo-engineering. … > full story


Death by Climate Change? Huffington Post September 29, 2012 The recent headline that 100 million people will die by 2030 if climate change is not addressed doubtlessly had people around the world imagining doomsday catastrophes

Venice Lagoon research indicates rapid climate change in coastal regions
(September 28, 2012) — New research has revealed that the sea surface temperature in coastal regions is rising as much as ten times faster than the global average of 0.13 degrees per decade. … > full story



Climate-change denial getting harder to defend

But the skeptics keep shifting their arguments, so it is crucial to continue pursuing scientific data on the issue

Drought-damaged corn plants stand in a field during harvest in Le Roy, Ill. (Daniel Acker / Bloomberg / September 11, 2012)

By Glen M. MacDonald LA TIMES October 4, 2012

It was a long hot summer. The United States experienced the warmest July in its history, with more than 3,000 heat records broken across the country. Overall, the summer was the nation’s third warmest on record and comes in a year that is turning out to be the hottest ever. High temperatures along with low precipitation generated drought conditions across 60% of the Lower 48 states, which affected 70% of the corn and soybean crop and rendered part of the Mississippi River nonnavigable. Arctic Sea ice declined to a record low, and a surface thaw swept across 97% of the Greenland ice cap. Though it’s not possible to definitively link any of these individual events to human-caused climate change, the summer’s extreme weather follows clear longer-term trends and is consistent with climate model projections. This was the 36th consecutive July and 329th consecutive month in which global temperatures have been above the 20th century average. In addition, seven of the 10 hottest summers recorded in the United States have occurred since 2000. Such rising temperatures and climate anomalies have been documented around the world…..






Following California’s Lead: We Need To Fire On All Cylinders To Address The Climate Crisis



By Climate Guest Blogger on Oct 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

by Kate Gordon, via Center for the Next Generation

Lately I’ve been thinking about climate and energy work as a kind of two-cylinder engine.  One cylinder is firing away on energy, working to bring down the cost of alternative energy and fuels and bring them to scale.  The other is working on the bigger problem of what, exactly, we’re going to do to stop the climate crisis that’s set to crash down on us in just 16 years (according to Bill McKibben) or as little as 50 months (according to last week’s letter in the Guardian).

This past week, it seems like both cylinders were in operation.  Some news from the energy side: nationwide, the 1 millionth home was retrofitted under the Weatherization Assistance Program, which received a huge boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  In California alone, state energy efficiency programs administered by the California Public Utilities Commission saved enough energy to power over 600,000 homes – enough, as my friends at NRDC write, to save the state from building two new power plants.  And last Thursday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed 19 bills into law that will help the state stay at the forefront of the advanced energy economy.   These range from a measure to help streamline the permitting process for installing rooftop solar systems – a huge potential market for our sunny state – to one opening the door to a new biogas market in the state.

The two AB32-related bills we’ve been tracking in past weeks, AB1532 and SB535, were also signed by the Governor.  I won’t go into detail on these again (see this past Digest if you’re hungry for more), but the upshot is that we now have a basic framework for how revenues from the state’s cap and trade program will be spent after the Nov. 14 auction – and we know a big chunk of them will be spent on moving renewable and efficient energy programs forward throughout the state, and especially in disadvantaged communities.

And on the climate side, the world seems to be waking up to the reality of the crisis facing us. Earlier this month, Australia joined the European Union’s carbon trading market.  Just today, China and the E.U. announced their own climate deal, which includes China’s commitment to designing a carbon market.  According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, these three regions – the E.U., China, and Australia – account for a staggering 41 percent of global carbon emissions. That’s one big carbon market – and it’s one California is exploring entering as well, as we begin discussions with Australia about potentially linking up those two markets as well, which would of course lead to a link with the E.U. and China too.

Seems like both cylinders of that climate/energy engine are finally firing, at least in California and across the ocean.  Isn’t it about time this country jumped on board?

Kate Gordon is Director of the Advanced Energy and Sustainability Program at the Center for the Next Generation. This piece was cross-posted from the AB32 Digest, the Center for the Next Generation’s weekly roundup of news on California’s landmark climate change law.  To read or subscribe to the AB32 Digest here.


California: Desalination Clears Hurdle

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: September 27, 2012

The San Diego County Water Authority announced a tentative agreement Thursday to buy all of the output of what will be the Western Hemisphere’s largest seawater desalination plant, clearing a major hurdle for construction. The plant in Carlsbad will produce 50 million gallons a day, enough to supply about 7 percent of the San Diego region in 2020. If the deal is approved by the water authority board, the developer, Poseidon Resources, would sell bonds to finance 82 percent of the project, estimated at $900 million. San Diego would pay $2,042 to $2,290 for an acre-foot of water, more than twice what it pays to buy water from outside the region …


Calif. sporting groups leery of dept. name change– CDFG changes name to CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife effective Jan 1 2013

Associated Press Published Tuesday, Oct. 02, 2012 SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After six decades as the California Department of Fish and Game, the agency in charge of the state’s wild animals has a new name – one that has many hunting and fishing organizations leery.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation recently replacing “Game” with “Wildlife,” in a nod to environmentalists and animal-rights activists. Sporting groups fear the legislation signals a change in the department’s traditional focus. “Generally, that means a shift toward butterflies, endangered species and other stuff like that,” said Mike Faw, spokesman for the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, an Ohio-based advocacy group that has seen similar efforts in other states.

Once the name change takes effect Jan. 1, only 12 other states will use the word “game” in the names of their wildlife agencies…..



At High Level Meetings, New Commitments Made For Clean Energy Deployment And Climate Mitigation

By Climate Guest Blogger on Oct 2, 2012 at 9:10 am

Climate and energy initiatives were major topics of discussion at UN headquarters in New York last week, with countries pledging new clean energy commitments and calling for increased global cooperation in developing climate change mitigation goals at the UN General Assembly High Level Debate.

Several new commitments and initiatives were announced September 24 during a high Level Sustainable Energy for All event. Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) is a UN program that aims to bring clean energy to people in developing countries without access to modern electricity and cooking services.

According to the UN, nearly one in five of the world’s population doesn’t have access to modern energy sources, and almost 40 percent relies on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste to cook their food. The SE4ALL program operates on three platforms that aim to address this problem of energy inequality: 1) ensuring universal access to modern energy services; 2) doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and 3) doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. The recent announcements build on SE4ALL’s commitments, and include:



Pentagon Study Cites Climate Change as National Security Threat

Huffington Post – ‎October 4, 2012‎

Even after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released its ICA on Global Water Security in February, 2012 and the ICA and the CNA released its National Security and the Threat of Climate Change in 2007, the current incarnation


California: Court Sides With Forest Service on Disputed Angora Fire Restoration Plan

Backing up an earlier ruling by a Sacramento judge, a federal appellate court has rejected a challenge to the U.S. Forest Service’s effort to reduce the risk of the disastrous 2007 Angora fire near South Lake Tahoe from reoccurring. U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. last year tossed out a lawsuit in which Earth Island Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity claimed the Forest Service ignored the law when it “failed to take a hard look” at the impact of the Angora Fire Restoration Project on a bird species, on future fire behavior and on climate change.


Is Climate Change the Sleeper Issue of the 2012 Election?
Surprising new polling data shows swing voters are going green.

By Climate Desk Oct 3 2012, 12:12 PM The Atlantic

It was quite the messaging turnaround. In his September 6 acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, President Obama — whose reticence about so much as mentioning global warming has flummoxed environmental activists — used the subject to launch an unexpected attack on his opponent. “Climate change is not a hoax,” the president declared. “More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They are a threat to our children’s future.” In the after-speech gabfest, Politico
cited the moment as one of Obama’s top applause lines.

Obama’s shift comes as pollsters and strategists are increasingly saying that Democrats — and even perhaps some Republicans — could be using the climate issue to their political advantage, especially after a summer of drought, wildfires, and record heat. Ever since the collapse of cap and trade, it’s been “strong conventional wisdom, even within major environmental organizations, that it can hurt us to talk about climate change,” explains climate strategist Betsy Taylor, whose consulting firm Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions just released a new report on the subject. “And I think that was a mistake.” Recent polling data make clear, however, that extreme weather is leaving Americans increasingly worried about climate change……


The Climate Silence Continues: Lehrer, Obama, And Romney Ignore Climate Change In First Debate

By Stephen Lacey on Oct 3, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Big Bird might have been one the most popular trends on Twitter during the first presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. But as tonight’s wide ranging discussion on domestic issues unfolded, #climatesilence got some decent play as well. Sadly, not because the candidates broke their silence on the issue.

Here are two tweets that sum up the lack of attention on climate issues:

If you watched the real-time reaction to the debates, the disappointment among folks within the energy and environment community over the lack of attention to climate was palpable. Even with 160,000 signatures delivered to PBS’ Jim Lehrer calling on him to ask the candidates about climate change, the issue was completely ignored during the 90 minute conversation — continuing a long streak of silence throughout the campaign. Apparently, neither of the candidates — particularly Obama — has been watching the polls showing that climate could be a major factor in how undecided and Independent voters cast their ballots….


Romney’s False Claim About Clean Energy Bankruptcies

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 09:36 AM PDT


Near silence on global warming SF Chronicle October 3, 2012

Unlike 2008, when Obama and McCain spoke about greenhouse gases, neither the president nor Romney acknowledge the issue.


  • Global warming was frozen out of the first debate between President Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney Wednesday night. [The Hill]
  • It is the issue most notable by its absence in the 2012 presidential race. But the environment may yet have an impact this election as campaign groups target the vulnerable congressional seats of Republicans who dismiss the dangers of climate change. [Guardian]


Three Climate And Energy Debate Questions For Mitt Romney And Barack Obama
Posted: 01 Oct 2012 05:44 AM PDT by Daniel J. Weiss




American Geophysical Union:

Vote for Science: Upcoming U.S. Presidential Debates Highlight Importance of 2012 Elections

From forecasting extreme weather events, to managing energy resources, to keeping water supplies safe, Americans rely on geoscientists for accurate information and timely innovation. In order to harness science for the country’s benefit, researchers and officials in turn depend on strong presidential and congressional leadership to support basic and applied science research and the inclusion of sound science in the policymaking process. With election season in full swing, how do candidates’ positions on these important science policy issues compare?

For a closer look at the presidential race, tune in this Wednesday, 3 October at 9 p.m. ET, when President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney face off in the first of three presidential debates. The candidates will discuss a range of domestic policy issues, offering voters an opportunity to compare their support for funding scientific research and giving science a voice in policy decisions. Of particular interest to geoscientists are Romney and Obama’s plans for how to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of sequestration this January, which the Office of Management and Budget estimates would cut scientific research funding by 8.2% unless Congress and the President take action.

President Obama and Governor Romney will continue their conversation and provide further insight on their stances in the next two presidential debates on 16 and 22 October, and Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan will meet for the vice presidential debate on 11 October.

Want to learn more about how geoscientists can make informed decisions when voting and get involved to support science this election season? Visit the AGU U.S. Elections website for resources such as the candidates’ positions on key science policy questions, important regional issues to consider during the U.S. election, and how to take action to support scientific research.



How Fox News Smeared A Scientist Over Supposed ‘Polar Bear Fraud’

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 09:30 AM PDT by Shauna Theel, via Media Matters

A scientist that Fox News and the right-wing media charged with “Polar Bear Fraud” has been cleared of scientific misconduct. Will Fox News and other outlets follow up on their smears?

Last July, the Interior Department suspended one of its employees, Arctic biologist Charles Monnett, pending an investigation into allegations of scientific misconduct by an anonymous Interior Department employee. Monnett was best known for co-authoring a peer-reviewed paper on drowned polar bears that was cited in the 2008 decision to list the polar bear as a threatened species, along with many other papers establishing the threat that climate change poses for polar bears. The right-wing media used the investigation not only to reject Monnett’s findings, but also to dismiss all the science on polar bears and global warming. Fox Nation promoted an Investor’s Business Daily editorial claiming the Monnett investigation was exposing “the global warming fraud” with the headline “Global Warming Industry Rocked by Polar Bear Fraud.” Fox Nation also promoted a New York Post op-ed on the Monnett investigation with the headline “Global Warming Theory Faces Sudden Collapse.” But the Interior Department cleared Monnett of all scientific wrongdoing. Monnett was officially reprimanded for an unrelated issue: forwarding government emails to local government and university officials that “ended up being used in litigation against the government.” Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which provided Monnett legal representation, said that Monnett leaked the emails under the Bush administration to expose suppression of scientists’ concerns about the environmental risks of offshore drilling in the Arctic….




Legislative Victory for Community Choice Energy
October 4, 2012 Climate Protection Campaign

…..With the defeat of- Proposition 16 in 2010, passage of SB790 in 2011, and defeat of AB976 in 2012, the coast is getting clearer and clearer for emerging community choice energy programs throughout California to launch. Many thanks to all of you who joined the fight, signed on to opposition letters, and sent your own letters.

To the Members of the California State Assembly:

I am returning Assembly Bill 976 without my signature.

This bill prohibits any company from doing business with a Community Choice Aggregation program if that company advised a local government on establishing the program.

This goes too far —local governments already have plenty of laws on conflicts of interests and transparent decision making. Adding the restriction in this bill would serve only to impede efforts to establish community choice energy programs.


Edmund G. Brown Jr.






Climate Solutions for a Stronger America: A guide for engaging and winning on climate change and clean energy

From Betsy Taylor/Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions, LLC

EXAMPLES of key words to communicate on climate change from the report:


Americans don’t run away from problems. We tackle them. We deliver solutions.

…protect our kids and grandkids from climate disruption.

Denial is not a strategy.

Increasingly Extreme/ Violent/ Severe/ Dangerous/ Destructive Weather–Floods, droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, “derechos,” tornadoes

Just turn on the TV/ Watch the news/ Look Around/ Go Outside

Billions of dollars in damage

Drought turned 1300 US counties into official disaster areas – the largest natural disaster in U.S. history

Climate disruption

2012 on track as the Hottest Year in Recorded History

9 of the 10 Hottest Years on record occurred since 2000.

Confront risk. Face facts. Stand up for solutions.

Building a healthy future for our kids – It’s our job.


Patriotic pride

We already have the technology

Create new jobs, new industries

Our military is moving quickly to renewable energy sources because they know that our reliance on oil makes us vulnerable.

Practical, cost-effective clean energy technologies: Solar mirrors, advanced wind turbines, algae-based biofuels to run jet engines

Americans step up to a challenge and deliver solutions.

Practical, local clean energy solutions keep more money and jobs in our communities.

Take our energy dollars back and invest in our communities, invest in American solutions.



What’s best for the oil companies is not what’s best for the American people.

Stranglehold on Washington / our energy policy/ our political system.

Clean energy needs a level playing field

The same people who told you cigarettes don’t cause cancer are telling you that climate change is not a problem. Who are you going to believe?

Holding us hostage; Holding back American innovation.




The goal of this Chapman Conference is to bring together scholars, social scientists, and journalists to discuss both the history and recent advances in the understanding of climate science and how to communicate that science to policymakers, the media, and society. A research agenda of the conference will focus on the efficacy of scientific communication, with ideas on improved practices arising as an outcome from collaborations spawned at the conference. This exploration will take place through: 1) discussions covering the history of climate science and successes and failures in communicating scientific ideas to the policy makers and public; 2) an assessment of where we are with respect to current knowledge of climate science and its communication and acceptance by society; 3) a comparison with experiences in other areas producing similar difficulties between scientific knowledge dissemination, societal acceptance of that knowledge, and governance…..


Politicizing the Classroom: Challenges to Climate Change Education in America’s Public Schools

Join us for a panel discussion with leaders in the field of climate change education: Oct 17 Berkeley


California: 7th Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference– Oct 16-18


California: Applied Watershed Restoration Course Nov 27-Dec 1


SER2013: 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration– October 6-11, 2013
SER will hold its 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, on October 6-11, 2013. This event marks the 25th Anniversary of SER and will celebrate the conference theme of “Reflections on the Past, Directions for the Future.”


2012 California’s Water Resources and Climate Change: Pacific Coast Institute

Join us as we explore the water resources along the Marin Headlands on October 26-28 and November 9-11. We will focus on the Pacific Ocean and the affect climate change has on the ocean’s ecosystems.


The Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) project – SF Bay

The Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) project is pleased to announce the completion of a sea level rise Vulnerability and Risk Assessment Report that
identifies the underlying causes and components of vulnerability and risk of shoreline and community assets in a portion of the San Francisco Bay Area. Included in the report are methods, data and key findings of the assessment, including the issues of social equity, economy, environment and governance. The assessment chapters can be at found at:
The ART project is a collaborative adaptation planning effort led by the San Francisco Bay Conservati
on and Development Commission (BCDC) in partnership NOAA Coastal Services Center (NOAA CSC) to increase the San Francisco Bay Area’s preparedness and resilience to sea level rise and storm events while protecting critical ecosystem and community services. Working with local jurisdictions from Alameda County, project staff and partners are:

  • Evaluating potential shoreline impacts, vulnerabilities and risks from sea level rise and storm events.
  • Identifying adaptation strategies that will lead to more resilient shoreline communities.
  • Developing and refining tools and resources that will be useful to others interested in adaptation planning.

Make sure to check the ART website in the upcoming months for additional resources, including chapters on cross-cutting vulnerabilities and issue prioritization, and a briefing book on the vulnerability and risk assessment.


A New Blueprint for a Green Economy

Published in 1989, Blueprint for a Green Economy presented, for the first time, practical policy measures for ‘greening’ modern economies and putting them on a path to sustainable development. This new book, written by two of the Blueprint for a Green Economy authors, revisits and updates its main messages by asking, first, what has been achieved in the past twenty years, and second, what more needs to be done to generate a truly ‘green economy’ in the twenty-first century? Over twenty years later, A New Blueprint for a Green Economy once again emphasizes practical policies for greening modern economies, and explains why such an economic roadmap to a greener future is essential, if modern economies are to develop successfully and sustainably…



Seeking Innovative Conservation Ideas in Western North America
A private foundation is looking to support projects in western North America that break new ground, foster innovative conservation thinking, or work in areas that have received little attention. Successful projects would have significant potential impact, either directly by demonstrating important ecological benefits, or indirectly by pioneering new strategies that could be widely applicable in the conservation realm. Projects should be ambitious in scope and vision ($2-8 million), produce tangible, measurable, on-the-ground results within 3-5 years, and focus on key conservation issues. If research or planning is a significant component of the project, these must be supported by other funds. Sell them your idea today by submitting a brief description – (no more than 1 page) to:


NOAA: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant- Closes November 1, 2012
In cooperation with the NOAA Restoration Center, the NOAA Marine Debris Program offers funding that supports locally driven, community-based marine debris prevention and removal projects. These projects benefit coastal habitat, waterways, and wildlife including migratory fish. Projects awarded through this grant competition have strong on-the-ground habitat components involving the removal of marine debris and derelict fishing gear, as well as activities that provide social benefits for people and their communities in addition to long-term ecological habitat improvements for NOAA trust resources.





iCIVICS WEBSITE, with games—how US Government works—for school children






Fourth Largest Publicly Traded Oil Company Calls Arctic Offshore Oil Drilling A Potential ‘Disaster’

By Climate Guest Blogger on Sep 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm by Kiley Kroh

Total SA, the fourth largest publicly traded oil and gas company in the world, has become the first major oil producer to admit that offshore drilling in Arctic waters is a risky idea, telling the Financial Times yesterday that such operations could be a “disaster,” and warning other companies against drilling in the region.



A complete solution for oil-spill cleanup
(October 3, 2012) — Scientists are describing what may be a “complete solution” to cleaning up oil spills — a super-absorbent material that sops up 40 times its own weight in oil and then can be shipped to an oil refinery and processed to recover the oil. … > full story



Poll: 72 Percent Of Swing Voters Say The Federal Government Should Do More To Promote Solar

By Stephen Lacey on Oct 2, 2012 at 10:30 am Americans like solar. They like it a lot. A new poll shows that 92 percent of registered voters feel it is either “very important” or “somewhat important” for the U.S. to develop more solar. Even more striking, the poll shows that 70 percent of voters believe the government should be doing more to help promote the technology through financial incentives — with 72 percent of swing voters saying they support increasing incentives.



Paper or Plastic? Some Communities Say Neither

By MATT RICHTEL 3:56 PM ET September 28, 2012 NY Times

Governments around the country are approving restrictions and fees on paper and plastic shopping bags in an effort to encourage consumers to bring their own.


Eric Hanson

To Encourage Biking, Cities Lose the Helmets



By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL NY Times Published: September 29, 2012

ONE spectacular Sunday in Paris last month, I decided to skip museums and shopping to partake of something even more captivating for an environment reporter: Vélib, arguably the most successful bike-sharing program in the world. In their short lives, Europe’s bike-sharing systems have delivered myriad benefits, notably reducing traffic and its carbon emissions. A number of American cities — including New York, where a bike-sharing program is to open next year — want to replicate that success. So I bought a day pass online for about $2, entered my login information at one of the hundreds of docking stations that are scattered every few blocks around the city and selected one of Vélib’s nearly 20,000 stodgy gray bikes, with their basic gears, upright handlebars and practical baskets. Then I did something extraordinary, something I’ve not done in a quarter-century of regular bike riding in the United States: I rode off without a helmet…..


Restricting nuclear power has little effect on the cost of climate policies
(October 1, 2012) — By applying a global energy-economy computer simulation that fully captures the competition between alternative power supply technologies, a team of scientists analyzed trade-offs between nuclear and climate policies. Strong greenhouse-gas emissions reduction to mitigate global warming shows to have much larger impact on economics than nuclear policy, according to the study. … > full story


More from

New York regulators expect to reopen their rulemaking process for natural gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing, casting doubt on whether a 4-year-old moratorium on development will be lifted before next year. [Associated Press]

Chinese solar companies are being forced to speed up plans to move a big chunk of their manufacturing offshore as Europe looks increasingly likely to join the United States in implementing duties on imports of Chinese-made solar equipment. [Reuters]







Bioengineers have created a biological mechanism to send genetic messages from cell to cell — something they’ve nicknamed the biological Internet, or “Bi-Fi.” (Credit: iStockphoto/VOLODYMYR GRINKO)

Bioengineers Introduce ‘Bi-Fi’ — The Biological ‘Internet’

ScienceDaily (Sep. 27, 2012) — If you were a bacterium, the virus M13 might seem innocuous enough. It insinuates more than it invades, setting up shop like a freeloading houseguest, not a killer. Once inside it makes itself at home, eating your food, texting indiscriminately. Recently, however, bioengineers at Stanford University have given M13 a bit of a makeover. The researchers, Monica Ortiz, a doctoral candidate in bioengineering, and Drew Endy, PhD, an assistant professor of bioengineering, have parasitized the parasite and harnessed M13’s key attributes — its non-lethality and its ability to package and broadcast arbitrary DNA strands — to create what might be termed the biological Internet, or “Bi-Fi.” Their findings were published online Sept. 7 in the Journal of Biological Engineering.


Why climate change doesn’t spark moral outrage, and how it could



By David Roberts

Perhaps the single biggest barrier to action on climate change is the fact that it doesn’t hit us in the gut. We can identify it as a great moral wrong, through a chain of evidence and reasoning, but we do not instinctively feel it as one. It does not trigger our primal moral intuitions or generate spontaneous outrage, anger, and passion. It’s got no emotional heat. (Ironic!) I (and countless others) have tried to explain, address, and overcome this aspect of climate change many times, in many different ways. But the single best thing I’ve read on it is a new paper in Nature Climate Change called “Climate change and moral judgment,” by Ezra Markowitz and Azim Shariff, of the University of Oregon Psychology and Environmental Studies departments respectively. In it, they “review six reasons why climate change poses significant challenges to our moral judgment system and describe six strategies that communicators might use to confront these challenges.”



Our survival depends on fighting climate change



High Country News Op-Ed – September 28, 2012 by Tom Bell

I am 88 and have seen a lot of change over the decades, but I do not think anyone living now has ever faced a more serious threat to life than the threat of global climate change. As President Obama said recently, “More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future.”

I come from a far different time. Born in a coal-mining town, I was raised on a ranch five miles out of Lander, Wyo., just two miles from where my mother was born, in 1901. I went to one-room schools and graduated from Lander High School at 18, just in time to become gun fodder for World War II.

…..Yet Rob Watson, an environmentalist, likes to say:  “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is. You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. … Do not mess with Mother Nature.  But that is   just what we are doing.” You only need a lick of sense to see that something is terribly wrong. Devastating events, attributable to climate change, are destroying people’s livelihoods and taking lives all around the world. Climate scientists tell us it is only going to get worse unless and until we do something about carbon. To do something about carbon means reducing our dependence on coal and oil, and here in Wyoming, even talking about it is heresy. But we must begin to talk about it before it is too late, and then we must act. What can we do? Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy-Progress Energy, the largest electric utility in the United States, said this September: “I believe eventually there will be regulation of carbon in this country.” James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, agrees. In fact, everyone concerned about climate change believes a carbon tax has advantages over every other approach. Still, every single carbon-tax bill introduced in Congress has failed. I believe it is past time for all of us — and especially those of us who live in Wyoming, where so much carbon is produced — to face the hard truth. We don’t have a choice: We have to face this crisis as if we were at war, because, unfortunately, that is the bitter truth. We are in a fight for our very survival – and for the survival of the whole planet.







Irony Alert: Postal Service’s New ‘Forever’ Stamp Is Shrinking Alaskan Glacier!
By Joe Romm on Oct 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm
An eagle-eyed reader directs us to this new ‘Forever’ stamp  from the U.S. Postal Service.
On Sunday, National Parks Traveler online explained:

Come Monday, you can send Kenai Fjords National Park around the country. At least figuratively, thanks to a new stamp from the U.S. Postal Service. On Monday the Postal Service releases its Earthscapes stamp series featuring a new perspective on one of Kenai Fjords’ most photographed locations, Bear Glacier…..



This image compares the sea ice extent minimum on Sept. 16 (in white) to the average minimum during the past 30 years (yellow line). Credit: NASA.

It’s Official: Arctic Sea Ice Shatters Record Low
Last Updated: September 19th, 2012 By Michael D. Lemonick Now it’s official: as of September 16, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean reached a record low minimum extent.

What makes this year unique is that the 2012 minimum is lower than any since modern satellite observations first began in the late 1970’s — and by a wide margin. The 2012 minimum of 1.32 million square miles (3.41 million square kilometers) shatters the previous mark of 1.61 million square miles (4.17 million square kilometers), which was set in 2007, by 18 percent. The difference between the new and old record is about equal to the entire state of Texas, the NSIDC reported. The amount of Arctic sea ice that vanished since March is equivalent to the combined areas of Canada and Texas.