Highlight of the Week – Ocean Acidification
1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED
2–CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS
5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED
6–OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST
7–IMAGES OF THE WEEK
Highlight of the Week–
What’s eating the sea butterfly? CO2, study says
Phys.org November 25, 2012
Rising acidity is eating away the shells of tiny snails, known as “sea butterflies” that live in the seas around Antarctica, leaving them vulnerable to predators and disease, scientists said Sunday. The study presents rare evidence of living creatures suffering the results of ocean acidification caused by rising carbon dioxide levels from fossil fuel burning, the British Antarctic Survey said in a statement. “The finding supports predictions that the impact of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and food webs may be significant.” The tiny snail, named for two wing-like appendices, does not necessarily die as a result of losing its shell, but it becomes an easier target for fish and bird predators, as well as infection. This may have a follow-through effect on other parts of the food chain, of which they form a core element.
The world’s oceans absorb more than a quarter of man-made carbon dioxide emissions, which lower the sea water pH. Since the beginning of the industrial era, our oceans have become 30 percent more acidic, reaching an acidity peak not seen in at least 55 million years, scientists say. Scientists discovered the effects of acidification on the sea butterflies from samples taken around the Scotia Sea region of the Southern Ocean in February 2008.
Extensive dissolution of live pteropods in the Southern Ocean,
Nature Geoscience (2012) doi:10.1038/ngeo1635
Abstract: The carbonate chemistry of the surface ocean is rapidly changing with ocean acidification, a result of human activities. In the upper layers of the Southern Ocean, aragonite—a metastable form of calcium carbonate with rapid dissolution kinetics—may become undersaturated by 2050. Aragonite undersaturation is likely to affect aragonite-shelled organisms, which can dominate surface water communities in polar regions. Here we present analyses of specimens of the pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica that were extracted live from the Southern Ocean early in 2008. We sampled from the top 200 m of the water column, where aragonite saturation levels were around 1, as upwelled deep water is mixed with surface water containing anthropogenic CO2. Comparing the shell structure with samples from aragonite-supersaturated regions elsewhere under a scanning electron microscope, we found severe levels of shell dissolution in the undersaturated region alone. According to laboratory incubations of intact samples with a range of aragonite saturation levels, eight days of incubation in aragonite saturation levels of 0.94–1.12 produces equivalent levels of dissolution. As deep-water upwelling and CO2 absorption by surface waters is likely to increase as a result of human activities, we conclude that upper ocean regions where aragonite-shelled organisms are affected by dissolution are likely to expand.
Washington state confronts ocean acidification
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
By Juliet Eilperin, Tuesday, November 27, 1:34 PM Washington Post
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) ordered state agencies on Tuesday to take steps to address the ocean’s increasing acidity, making it the first state to adopt a policy to address what scientists describe as a growing environmental concern. Ocean acidification poses a threat to the state’s $270 million shellfish industry, as well as to critical habitat off its shores.
The order signed by Gregoire, whose term will end in January, calls on the state to invest more money in scientific research, curb nutrient runoff from land and push for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions on a regional, national and global scale. It accepts the recommendations that a blue-ribbon panel issued Tuesday on how to assess and limit the effects of ocean acidification. The group was co-chaired by former Environmental Protection Agency administrator William D. Ruckelshaus and former Gregoire chief of staff Jay Manning. “Let’s get to work,” Gregoire told an audience at the Seattle Aquarium, adding that she would propose that the legislature reallocate $3.3 million in state funding to pay for research and other actions. “Let’s lead the world in addressing this global challenge.” Ocean acidification stems from the sea’s absorption of human-generated carbon emissions. The ocean absorbs 30 percent of the carbon dioxide put into the air through fossil fuel burning. This triggers a chemical reaction that produces hydrogen, thereby lowering the water’s pH. The ocean is becoming more acidic worldwide, but certain regions are affected more than others because local factors such as ocean currents or farm runoff can intensify the impact. Washington policymakers have focused on the problem for several years because increasingly corrosive waters off the state’s shores threaten oyster-farming operations. “Washington’s moving not by choice but out of necessity,” Manning said in an interview. “Ocean acidification came and found us.”… California has commissioned a panel on ocean acidification, and officials in states including Alaska, Maryland and Oregon are studying its impact. Scientists are just beginning to document how the change in the ocean’s pH — which is 0.1 lower, or 30 percent more acidic, than pre-industrial levels — is affecting marine organisms worldwide. On Sunday, American and British researchers published a study in the journal Nature Geoscience showing that the shells of snails essential to the marine food web are dissolving off Antarctica because of more corrosive seas….
As part of NRCS’s Conservation Effects Assessment Program, this paper is a collaborative product of PRBO Conservation Science, Humboldt State University, and USGS. PRBO’s primary role was in advising and collecting the avian data used in the analysis. Furthermore, a subset of the data used came from PRBO’s collaborative Avian Monitoring on Private Lands project (a.k.a. AMPL).
Diversity 2012, 4(4), 396-418; doi:10.3390/d4040396
Climate, Management and Habitat Associations of Avian Fauna in Restored Wetlands of California’s Central Valley, USA
Abstract: The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is one of several programs implemented by the United States Department of Agriculture to facilitate natural resource management on private lands. Since the WRP’s inception approximately 29,000 ha in California’s Central Valley (CCV) have been restored. However until now, actual benefits of the program to wildlife have never been evaluated. Hydrology in the CCV has been heavily modified and WRP wetlands are managed primarily to support wintering waterfowl. We surveyed over 60 WRP easements in 2008 and 2009 to quantify avian use and categorized bird species into 11 foraging guilds. We detected over 200 bird species in 2008 and 119 species in 2009, which is similar to or higher than numbers observed on other managed sites in the same area. We found that actively managed WRP wetlands support more waterfowl than sites under low or intermediate management, which is consistent with intended goals. Despite reported water shortages, greater upland and un-restored acreage in the southern CCV, WRP wetlands support large numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds, particularly in the early fall months. This is probably due to the severe lack of alternative habitat such as wildlife friendly crops at appropriate stages of the migration cycle. Improved access to water resources for hydrological management would greatly enhance waterfowl use in the southern CCV.
Does human transformation of land threaten future sustainability?
(November 27, 2012) — Social and physical scientists have long been concerned about the effects of humans on Earth’s surface — in part through deforestation, encroachment of urban areas onto traditionally agricultural lands, and erosion of soils — and the implications these changes have on Earth’s ability to provide for an ever-growing population. A new article presents examples of land transformation by humans and documents some of the effects of these changes. Researchers Roger Hooke of the University of Maine, USA, and José F. Martín-Duque and Javier Pedraza of Complutense University, Spain, examine factors such as available agricultural land area and discuss some of the implications of their findings in light of human population growth and its relationship to planetary resources. Overall, they find that just over 50% of Earth’s total land surface has been modified by human activity. Because many of these modifications also result in reduction of land available for agriculture — either by degradation of land quality by processes such as soil erosion, or by transforming agriculture lands to urban uses — Hooke and colleagues argue that these changes to our planet’s land surface also influence the ability of these same lands to sustain local, regional, and, ultimately, global population.
Comparing projections of future changes in land-use with projections of population growth leads them to also suggest that human population may be entering, or already in, a state of “overshoot” — where the needs of the present population exceed the long-term carrying capacity of a region. Solutions may not be easy to arrive at, but would need to involve a combination of efforts aimed to reduce demand for resources, develop new technical solutions to resource limitations, and to reduce the rate of growth of population.… > full story
Roger LeB et al. Land transformation by humans: A review. GSA Today, 2012 DOI: 10.1130/GSATG151A.1
Human disturbances keep elk on high alert
(November 28, 2012) — Researchers have discovered that elk are more frequently and more easily disturbed by human behavior such as ATV drivers than by their natural predators like bears and wolves. … > full story
Researcher Tests Powerful New Tool to Advance Ecology, Conservation
ScienceDaily (Nov. 28, 2012) — A new University of Florida study shows ecologists may have been missing crucial information from animal bones for more than 150 years.
The study featured on the cover of the November issue of Ecology shows animal bone remains provide high-quality geographical data across an extensive time frame. The research may be used to identify regions of habitat for the conservation of threatened species. Charles Darwin first noted the importance of studying where animal bones lie on the landscape in 1860, but the topic has since become largely lost to scientists trying to protect and conserve native wildlife. By documenting accumulations of elk bones and antlers on the landscape of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, study author Joshua Miller identified areas critical for the species’ survival during spring and winter. “This is fundamental stuff, because for a long time the common knowledge was that bones only lasted a few years on the landscape,” said Miller, an assistant scientist at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus and Fenneman assistant research professor at the University of Cincinnati. “It turns out they last a lot longer and surveys of bones on landscapes offer a new tool for conservation and management — one that allows us to collect decades of biological data in a single field season.”
Walking across Yellowstone Park, Miller documented elk skeletal remains and determined the bones record the same seasonal distributions as aerial surveys of living elk.
Ecologists typically gather information for conservation by monitoring wild animals, a task requiring years of financial support and countless hours of observation by wildlife biologists. A long-term study in ecology consists of at least 10 to 20 years of census data. However, because some bones can survive on some landscapes for hundreds of years, they may include data from time periods beyond the reaches of a traditional ecological study, including historical insight often missing from scientists’ knowledge of ecosystems, Miller said….
Ancient microbes found living beneath the icy surface of Antarctic lake
(November 26, 2012) — A pioneering study reveals, for the first time, a viable community of bacteria that survives and ekes out a living in a dark, salty and subfreezing environment beneath nearly 20 meters of ice in one of Antarctica’s most isolated lakes. … > full story
‘Devil birds’ moving in at Lake Merced
November 26, 2012
A gang of cantankerous flying aliens known to some avian aficionados as “devil birds” have been spotted flitting around San Francisco’s Lake Merced acting like they belong. The crow-sized creatures, which ornithologists know as great-tailed grackles, are native to Latin America and the southern United States, but the aggressive birds have recently been moving west, gobbling up the eggs of other birds and threatening to make a nuisance of themselves…
Today, approximately 70 percent of the world’s ecosystems have been altered to some degree, and the whole Earth may be approaching a tipping point toward an uncertain regime as a consequence of the accelerated global loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functionality. David Moreno-Mateos believes ecosystem restoration and creation is necessary, now more than ever before, to slow and, where possible, reverse that loss. But devising successful restoration strategies can be tricky.
Human-Caused Climate Change Signal Emerges from the Noise
ScienceDaily (Nov. 29, 2012) — By comparing simulations from 20 different computer models to satellite observations, Lawrence Livermore climate scientists and colleagues from 16 other organizations have found that tropospheric and stratospheric temperature changes are clearly related to human activities…The new climate model simulations analyzed by the team will form the scientific backbone of the upcoming 5th assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is due out in 2014. In both satellite observations and the computer model simulations of historical climate change, the lower stratosphere cools markedly over the past 33 years. This cooling is primarily a response to the human-caused depletion of stratospheric ozone. The observations and model simulations also show a common pattern of large-scale warming of the lower troposphere, with largest warming over the Arctic, and muted warming (or even cooling) over Antarctica. Tropospheric warming is mainly driven by human-caused increases in well-mixed greenhouse gases. “It’s very unlikely that purely natural causes can explain these distinctive patterns of temperature change,” said Laboratory atmospheric scientist Benjamin Santer, who is lead author of the paper appearing in the Nov. 29 online edition of the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “No known mode of natural climate variability can cause sustained, global-scale warming of the troposphere and cooling of the lower stratosphere.”….
Benjamin D. Santer, Jeffrey F. Painter, Carl A. Mears, Charles Doutriaux, Peter Caldwell, Julie M. Arblaster, Philip J. Cameron-Smith, Nathan P. Gillett, Peter J. Gleckler, John Lanzante, Judith Perlwitz, Susan Solomon, Peter A. Stott, Karl E. Taylor, Laurent Terray, Peter W. Thorne, Michael F. Wehner, Frank J. Wentz, Tom M. L. Wigley, Laura J. Wilcox, and Cheng-Zhi Zou. Identifying human influences on atmospheric temperature. PNAS, November 29, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1210514109
Is Global Warming Happening Faster Than Expected? [Preview] subs required…
Loss of ice, melting of permafrost and other climate effects are occurring at an alarming pace
By John Carey Scientific American November 30, 2012
Over the past decade scientists thought they had figured out how to protect humanity from the worst dangers of climate change. Keeping planetary warming below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) would, it was thought, avoid such perils as catastrophic sea-level rise and searing droughts. Staying below two degrees C would require limiting the level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million (ppm), up from today’s 395 ppm and the preindustrial era’s 280 ppm. Now it appears that the assessment was too optimistic. The latest data from across the globe show that the planet is changing faster than expected. More sea ice around the Arctic Ocean is disappearing than had been forecast. Regions of permafrost across Alaska and Siberia are spewing out more methane, the potent greenhouse gas, than models had predicted. Ice shelves in West Antarctica are breaking up more quickly than once thought possible, and the glaciers they held back on adjacent land are sliding faster into the sea. Extreme weather events, such as floods and the heat wave that gripped much of the U.S. in the summer of 2012 are on the rise, too. The conclusion? “As scientists, we cannot say that if we stay below two degrees of warming everything will be fine,” says Stefan Rahmstorf, a professor of physics of the oceans at the University of Potsdam in Germany.
Study: Sea Levels Rising 60% Faster Than Projected, Planet Keeps Warming As Expected
Posted: 28 Nov 2012 09:14 AM PST
A new study, “Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011,” confirms that climate change is happening as fast — and in some cases faster — than climate models had projected. The news release explains: The rate of sea-level rise in the past decades is greater than projected by the latest assessments of the IPCC, while global temperature increases in good agreement with its best estimates. This is shown by a study now published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and his colleagues compare climate projections to actual observations from 1990 up to 2011. That sea level is rising faster than expected could mean that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sea-level rise projections for the future may be biased low as well, their results suggest. As Dr. Rahmstorf notes, “the new findings highlight that the IPCC is far from being alarmist and in fact in some cases rather underestimates possible risks.”
The oceans are rising 60 per cent faster than the IPCC’s latest best estimates, according to the new research. The researchers compared those estimates to satellite data of observed sea-level rise. ” Satellites have a much better coverage of the globe than tide gauges and are able to measure much more accurately by using radar waves and their reflection from the sea surface,” explains Anny Cazenave from LEGOS. While the IPCC projected sea-level rise to be at a rate of 2 mm per year, satellite data recorded a rate of 3.2 mm per year…..As sea level rises, storm surges worsen, coastal populations are put at risk, and salt water infiltrates rich deltas. For more on likely future sea level rise, see “New Studies on Sea Level Rise Make Clear We Must Act Now” and “JPL bombshell: Polar ice sheet mass loss is speeding up, on pace for 1 foot sea level rise by 2050.”
On the subject of global warming, the release explains: “Global temperature continues to rise at the rate that was projected in the last two IPCC Reports. This shows again that global warming has not slowed down or is lagging behind the projections,” Rahmstorf says. Five global land and ocean temperature series were averaged and compared to IPCC projections by the scientists from Potsdam, the Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS) in France and the US based Tempo Analytics. To allow for a more accurate comparison with projections, the scientists accounted for short-term temperature variations due to El Niño events, solar variability and volcanic eruptions. The results confirm that global warming, which was predicted by scientists in the 1960s and 1970s as a consequence of increasing greenhouse concentrations, continues unabated at a rate of 0.16 °C per decade and follows IPCC projections closely.
Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011
Stefan Rahmstorf1, Grant Foster2 and Anny Cazenave3
Stefan Rahmstorf et al 2012 Environ. Res. Lett.
7 044035 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/044035 Published 27 November 2012
We analyse global temperature and sea-level data for the past few decades and compare them to projections published in the third and fourth assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The results show that global temperature continues to increase in good agreement with the best estimates of the IPCC, especially if we account for the effects of short-term variability due to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, volcanic activity and solar variability. The rate of sea-level rise of the past few decades, on the other hand, is greater than projected by the IPCC models. This suggests that IPCC sea-level projections for the future may also be biased low.
U.N. Agency Says 2012 Ranks Among Hottest Years
By NICK CUMMING-BRUCE Published: November 28, 2012
GENEVA — This year has ranked among the nine warmest since records began more than 160 years ago, continuing a trend for the planet that is increasing the dangers of extreme weather events, according to United Nations meteorologists. “It confirms the trend towards a warmer planet,” Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organization at the United Nations, said in Geneva on Wednesday as he delivered a provisional assessment intended to inform policy makers and negotiators attending the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar. The final judgment on 2012 will come in March, but Mr. Jarraud said that meteorologists were not observing any major events that would greatly alter the preliminary findings. “Climate change is taking place before our eyes and will continue to do so as a result of concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which have risen constantly and again reached new records,” he added in a prepared statement. Among the most conspicuous evidence of climate change associated with global warming was the “alarming” rate at which Arctic ice had melted during the summer months, he said. The melting this year occurred at a much faster rate than in 2011 and outpaced the predictions of climate experts on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he said.
By September, the level of Arctic ice was the lowest since satellite records began and had shrunk by nearly half — an area nearly the size of India — below the average minimum level in the 20 years before 2000, the organization reported. The ice will reform in the winter but will be thinner than before and more vulnerable to further melting, Mr. Jarraud warned. “The trend is not only continuing but accelerating,” he said. “The more it melts, the faster it will melt.” The ice melt will contribute to rising sea levels that are already 20 centimeters, or nearly 8 inches, higher than a century ago, Mr. Jarraud said, posing added risks in the event of extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy would have had less impact on New York if it had occurred 100 years ago when sea levels were lower, he said. After a chilly start to 2012, average temperatures from January to October were 0.45 degrees Celsius, or 0.81 degrees Fahrenheit, above the average from 1961 to 1990, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s findings. A rise of only one degree Celsius was sufficient to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, Mr. Jarraud said.
Polar Ice Sheets Shrinking Worldwide, Study Confirms
|National Geographic||November 29, 2012||
The polar ice sheets are indeed shrinking—and fast, according to a comprehensive new study on climate change. And the effects, according to an international team, are equally clear—sea levels are rising faster than predicted, which could bring about disastrous effects for people and wildlife. Rising seas would increase the risk of catastrophic flooding like that caused by Hurricane Sandy last month in New York and New Jersey. Environmental damage may include widespread erosion, contamination of aquifers and crops, and harm to marine life. And in the long term, rising seas may force hundreds of millions of people who live along the coast to abandon their homes. By reconciling nearly two decades of often conflicting satellite data into one format—in other words, comparing apples to apples—the new study, published in the journal Science, made a more confident estimate of what’s called ice sheet mass balance…..
By Dr. Jeff Masters Published: 4:13 PM GMT on November 28, 2012
The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season closes this Friday with another top-five tally for named storms–nineteen. This is the third consecutive year with nineteen named storms in the Atlantic, which is a remarkable level of activity for a three-year period. The closest comparable three-year period of activity occurred during 2003 – 2004 – 2005, when each season had fifteen-plus named storms. Since 1851, only two seasons–2005 (28 named storms) and 1933 (20 named storms)–have been busier than 2010, 2011, and 2012…..However, there are no previous occurrences of three consecutive years with at least twelve long-lived tropical storms, so 2010, 2011, and 2012 still represent an unprecedented level of tropical storm activity in the historical record, and we would expect such an event to occur randomly about once every 157 years. That’s a pretty rare event, and it is possible that climate change, combined with the fact we are in an active hurricane period that began in 1995, contributed to this rare event.
‘Exceptional’ Drought Conditions Expand In The U.S., Likely Persisting Through February
By Stephen Lacey on Nov 30, 2012 at 10:16 am
The stubborn U.S. drought that hit the Southeast and Midwest hard this summer isn’t letting up. According to the latest drought monitor, conditions have worsened slightly across the country, with “exceptional drought” conditions expanding from 38 percent of the lower-48 states to 42 percent. Those conditions could last into February.
Published: 5:35 PM GMT on November 23, 2012
Celebrations of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States in 2012 were aided by some of the most tranquil travel weather ever seen on what is America’s busiest travel week. Unusually warm and precipitation-free conditions prevailed over almost the entire nation on Wednesday and Thursday, with many locations in the Midwest reporting their warmest Thanksgiving Day on record. At least three cities set records for their warmest temperature ever recorded so late in the year: Valentine, Nebraska (76° on Wednesday); Rochester, Minnesota (70° on Wednesday); and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (65° on Thursday.) While the quiet weather was a boon for travelers, the lack of rain in the Midwest allowed the nation’s worst drought since 1954 to expand; the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that the area of the contiguous U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought expanded by 1% to 60% this week. This reversed a seven-week trend of slowly decreasing drought that began on September 25 and extended until November 13, when the area covered by drought declined from 65% to 59%. The latest ten-day forecasts from the GFS and ECMWF models show much below average chances of precipitation across more 90% of the U.S., including the drought regions. These dry conditions will allow the drought to expand over the next two weeks, and potentially cover 65% of the contiguous U.S. again by mid-December. The next chance for significant rains in excess of one inch in the Midwest will not occur until December 2, at the earliest. The lack of rain will potentially cause serious trouble for barge traffic on the Mississippi River by December 10, when the river may fall below the level of -5 feet at St. Louis needed to allow barges to not scrape bottom.
Pine beetles contributing to climate change: study
|Vancouver Sun||– November 26, 2012||
Newly published research suggests mountain pine beetles have become so widespread that they’re not just benefiting from global warming, they’re starting to contribute to it. The mountain pine beetle infestation, which has spread over about 20 per cent of the total area of British Columbia, is now contributing to climate change, on study suggests.
Newly published research suggests mountain pine beetles have become so widespread that they’re not just benefiting from global warming, they’re starting to contribute to it.
“The effects of climate change cascade,” said Holly Maness, whose paper was published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience. “Previous studies have shown that climate change allowed the beetle to flourish. But our work shows that beetle infestations in turn feed back into climate.” Scientists have concluded the gradually warming climate has allowed the tree-killing beetle to spread into forests it used to be frozen out of. The report quotes figures suggesting that over the last decade, the bugs have spread over about 20 per cent of the total area of British Columbia, making it one of the largest ecological disturbances ever recorded. The B.C. government has spent $884 million since 2001 attempting to manage the beetle attack and mitigate the economic impact on logging and resource-reliant communities. Maness, an earth scientist working at the University of Toronto, decided to study how turning about 170,000 square kilometres of green forest into grey, leafless stands of dead trees would affect the regional climate. Using temperature data from satellites, she and her team concluded that beetle-ravaged forests were, on average, one degree warmer during the summer than healthy forests.
The reason? Tree sweat, or rather, the lack thereof. “Trees sweat to help cool themselves in the same way that humans do,” said Maness….
How climate change could affect entire forest ecosystems
(November 28, 2012) — The fog comes in, and a drop of water forms on a pine needle, rolls down the needle, and falls to the forest floor. The process is repeated over and over, on each pine needle of every tree in a forest of Bishop pines on Santa Cruz Island, off the coast of Santa Barbara. That fog drip helps the entire forest ecosystem stay alive. Thousands of years ago, in cooler and wetter times, Bishop pine trees are thought to have proliferated along the West Coast of the U.S. and Mexico. Now, stratus clouds — the low-altitude clouds known locally as “June gloom” — help keep the trees growing on Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, and on one island off Baja California. Other than these locations, Bishop pine trees grow only farther north in California where it is cooler and wetter. Mariah S. Carbone, first author of a new paper, titled “Cloud Shading and Fog Drip Influence the Metabolism of a Coastal Pine Ecosystem,” and her co-authors, studied the influence of clouds on the largest Bishop pine forest of Santa Cruz Island. Carbone is a postdoctoral fellow with UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). Their study was published in the journal Global Change Biology. “When people think about climate change, they’re often thinking about temperature and precipitation,” said Carbone. “When you think about precipitation, it’s rain and snow, depending on where you are. What this study showed is that you can have really important water inputs coming from clouds that influence the carbon cycle.”… “The finding that summer fog strongly impacts carbon cycling highlights the need for improved understanding of whether we should expect coastal summer cloud behavior to change in a warmer world,” said second author A. Park Williams, a former graduate student in UCSB’s Geography Department, now at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “A change in summer fogginess could produce temperature, moisture, and carbon feedbacks in coastal ecosystems that easily swamp out the effects expected from increased greenhouse gases alone,” said Williams.> full story
Mariah S. Carbone, A. Park Williams, Anthony R. Ambrose, Claudia M. Boot, Eliza S. Bradley, Todd E. Dawson, Sean M. Schaeffer, Joshua P. Schimel, Christopher J. Still. Cloud shading and fog drip influence the metabolism of a coastal pine ecosystem. Global Change Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12054
Increasing drought stress challenges vulnerable hydraulic system of plants, professor finds
(November 27, 2012) — The hydraulic system of trees is so finely-tuned that predicted increases in drought due to climate change may lead to catastrophic failure in many species. A recent paper finds that those systems in plants around the globe are operating at the top of their safety threshold, making forest ecosystems vulnerable to increasing environmental stress. … > full story
Fish Ear Bones Point to Climate Impacts
CSIRO AUSTRALIA Nov 28 2012
Scientists believe that fish ear bones and their distinctive growth rings can offer clues to the likely impacts of climate change in aquatic environments.
The earbones, or ‘otoliths’, help fish detect movement and orient themselves in the water. Otoliths set down annual growth rings that can be measured and counted to estimate the age and growth rates of fish. “Otoliths can form the basis of new techniques for modelling fish growth, productivity and distribution in future environments,” said Dr John Morrongiello of CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans Flagship, lead author of a paper published online in Nature Climate Change yesterday. “They are widely used to support fishery stock assessments, and are beginning to be used to measure and predict ecological responses to ocean warming and climate change. “Millions of otoliths are archived in research laboratories and museums worldwide, and many fish species live for decades and some, such as orange roughy, live for up to 150 years. “Their otoliths record variations in growth rates that reflect environmental conditions. Longer-lived fish and older samples take us back as far as the 1800s.”
….. “We will use otoliths to investigate the environmental drivers of fish growth for many species around Australia,” Dr Morrongiello said.”This will allow us to generate a continental-scale evaluation of climate change impacts on Australia’s fishes and help to guide the conservation and management of our aquatic environments into the future.” Dr Thresher said there had already been extensive use of hard part archives from corals to reflect on climate variability, such as El Niño events, and to reconstruct environmental histories. “Any change identified in growth and age maturity, especially of commercially-important species, clearly has implications for forecasting future stock states and the sustainable management of fisheries,” Dr Thresher said. “A better ability to predict such change will greatly enhance our ability to forecast, manage and adapt to the impacts of climate change in marine and freshwater systems.”….
Aquatic biochronologies and climate change
John R. Morrongiello, Ronald E. Thresher & David C. Smith Nature Climate Change 2, 849–857 (2012) doi:10.1038/nclimate1616 Published online: 27 November 2012
Historical evidence provides essential context for models predicting the biological impacts of climate change. Such long-term data sets are relatively common for terrestrial taxa and environments, but sparse for aquatic systems. Aquatic biochronologies — generated from information recorded in the hard parts of fish, molluscs and corals that are archived in their millions worldwide — can provide valuable long-term ecological insights into marine and freshwater environments. These resources are, however, at present under-utilized in the measurement and prediction of ecological responses to climate change, despite their potential to provide unprecedented levels of spatial and temporal detail in aquatic environments.
Ecosystem carbon storage: Squeezing the Arctic carbon balloon
pp841 – 842
Evan S. Kane doi:10.1038/nclimate1764 NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE
The advancement of trees into Arctic tundra can increase total aboveground carbon storage. A study now shows, however, that greater plant growth also enhances belowground decomposition, resulting in a net loss of carbon from the ecosystem…..
Embracing data ‘noise’ brings Greenland’s complex ice melt into focus
(November 27, 2012) — Researchers have developed an enhanced approach to capturing changes on the Earth’s surface via satellite could provide a more accurate account of how geographic areas are changing as a result of natural and human factors. In a first application, the technique revealed sharper-than-ever details about Greenland’s massive ice sheet, including that the rate at which it is melting might be accelerating more slowly than predicted. … > full story
Alaska’s Iconic Columbia Glacier Expected to Stop Retreating in 2020
ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2012) — The wild and dramatic cascade of ice into the ocean from Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, an iconic glacier featured in the documentary “Chasing Ice” and one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world, will cease around 2020, according to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder A computer model predicts the retreat of the Columbia Glacier will stop when the glacier reaches a new stable position — roughly 15 miles upstream from the stable position it occupied prior to the 1980s…” The imminent finish of the retreat, or recession of the front of the glacier, has surprised scientists and highlights the difficulties of trying to estimate future rates of sea level rise, Colgan said. “Many people are comfortable thinking of the glacier contribution to sea level rise as this nice predictable curve into the future, where every year there is a little more sea level rise, and we can model it out for 100 or 200 years,” Colgan said. The team’s findings demonstrate otherwise, however. A single glacier’s contribution to sea level rise can “turn on” and “turn off” quite rapidly, over a couple of years, with the precise timing of the life cycle being difficult to forecast, he said. Presently, the majority of sea level rise comes from the global population of glaciers. Many of these glaciers are just starting to retreat, and some will soon cease to retreat. “The variable nature and speed of the life cycle among glaciers highlights difficulties in trying to accurately predict the amount of sea level rise that will occur in the decades to come,” Colgan said.
….The batch of outputs that most accurately reproduced the well-documented history of retreat was run into the future to predict the changes the Columbia Glacier will most likely experience until the year 2100. The researchers found that around 2020 the terminus of the glacier will retreat into water that is sufficiently shallow to provide a stable position through 2100 by slowing the rate of iceberg production. The speediness of the glacier’s retreat is due to the unique nature of tidewater glaciers, Colgan said. When warming temperatures melt the surface of a land glacier, the land glacier only loses its mass by run-off. But in tidewater glaciers, the changes in ice thickness resulting from surface melt can create striking changes in ice flow, triggering an additional dynamic process for retreat….. Colgan next plans to attempt to use similar models to predict when the Greenland glaciers — currently the major contributors to sea level rise — will “turn off” and complete their retreats. The future for the Columbia Glacier, however, looks bleak. “I think the hope was that once we saw climate change happening, we could act to prevent some irreversible consequences,” Colgan said, “but now we are only about eight years out from this retreat finishing — it is really sad. There is virtually no chance of the Columbia Glacier recovering its pre-retreat dimensions on human time-scales.”….
Thawing of Permafrost Expected to Cause Significant Additional Global Warming, Not Yet Accounted for in Climate Predictions
ScienceDaily (Nov. 27, 2012) — Permafrost covering almost a quarter of the northern hemisphere contains 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon, twice that currently in the atmosphere, and could significantly amplify global warming should thawing accelerate as expected, according to a new report
released November 27 by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Warming permafrost can also radically change ecosystems and cause costly infrastructural damage due to increasingly unstable ground, the report says. Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost seeks to highlight the potential hazards of carbon dioxide and methane emissions from warming permafrost, which have not thus far been included in climate-prediction modelling. The science on the potential impacts of warming permafrost has only begun to enter the mainstream in the last few years, and as a truly “emerging issue” could not have been included in climate change modelling to date.
…. “Permafrost is one of the keys to the planet’s future because it contains large stores of frozen organic matter that, if thawed and released into the atmosphere, would amplify current global warming and propel us to a warmer world,” said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Its potential impact on the climate, ecosystems and infrastructure has been neglected for too long,” he added. “This report seeks to communicate to climate-treaty negotiators, policy makers and the general public the implications of continuing to ignore the challenges of warming permafrost.”….
Most of the current permafrost formed during or since the last ice age and extends to depths of more than 700 meters in parts of northern Siberia and Canada. Permafrost consists of an active layer of up to two metres in thickness, which thaws each summer and refreezes each winter, and the permanently frozen soil beneath. Should the active layer increase in thickness due to warming, huge quantities of organic matter stored in the frozen soil would begin to thaw and decay, releasing large amounts of CO₂ and methane into the atmosphere. Once this process begins, it will operate in a feedback loop known as the permafrost carbon feedback, which has the effect of increasing surface temperatures and thus accelerating the further warming of permafrost — a process that would be irreversible on human timescales…..
The report issues the following specific policy recommendations to address the potential economic, social and environmental impacts of permafrost degradation in a warming climate:
- Commission a Special Report on Permafrost Emissions: The IPCC may consider preparing a special assessment report on how carbon dioxide and methane emissions from warming permafrost would influence global climate to support climate change policy discussions and treaty negotiations.
- Create National Permafrost Monitoring Networks: To adequately monitor permafrost, individual countries may consider taking over operation of monitoring sites within their borders, increasing funding, standardizing the measurements and expanding coverage. This applies particularly to countries with the most permafrost: Russia, Canada, China and the United States. The International Permafrost Association should continue to coordinate development and the national networks should remain part of the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost.
- Plan for Adaptation: Nations with substantial permafrost, such as those mentioned above, may consider evaluating the potential risks, damage and costs of permafrost degradation to critical infrastructure. Most nations currently do not have such plans, which will help policy makers, national planners and scientists quantify costs and risks associated with permafrost degradation.
UNEP report: http://www.unep.org/pdf/permafrost.pdf
How Diversity Helps Microbial Communities Respond to Change
ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2012) — Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study how complex microbial systems use their genetic diversity to respond to human-induced change. The work is important because these microbial communities play critical roles in the environment, breaking down pollutants, recycling nutrients — and serving as major sources of nitrogen and carbon.
Rapid changes in climate don’t slow some lizards
(November 26, 2012) — One tropical lizard’s tolerance to cold is stiffer than scientists had suspected. A new study shows that the Puerto Rican lizard Anolis cristatellus has adapted to the cooler winters of Miami. The results also suggest that this lizard may be able to tolerate temperature variations caused by climate change. … > full story
By Dr. Jeff Masters Published: 5:22 PM GMT on November 26, 2012
Perhaps the most stunning images in the wake of Hurricane Sandy were the sight of the roller coaster from the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey lying in the Atlantic Ocean. The images reminded us that hurricane storm surges are capable of causing tremendous destruction along the coast, and one of the main concerns on how global warming might affect hurricanes is the potential for stronger hurricanes to create larger storm surges. We expect that global warming should make the strongest hurricanes stronger, since hurricanes are heat engines that take heat energy out of the ocean and converts it to wind energy. These stronger winds will be capable of piling up higher storm surges. However, it is controversial whether or not we have observed an increase in the strongest hurricanes, since hurricane winds are hard to observe. Our long-term hurricane data base is generally too low in quality and covers too short a period of time to make very good estimates of how climate change may be affecting hurricane winds. However, a new 2012 paper, “Homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923” by Grinsted et al., looked at storm surge data from six tide gauges along the U.S. coast from Texas to New Jersey, and concluded that the number of moderately large hurricane and tropical storm surge events has increased since 1923. Moderately large storm surge events are on pace to nearly double by the year 2100, compared to 20th century levels. Moreover, 1-in-9 year to 1-in-30 year Katrina-level storm surge events are twice as likely to occur in warm years compared to cool years, and thus global warming may be able to dramatically increase the frequency of highly damaging extreme storm surge events. Since sea level is steadily rising due to global warming, these future storm surges will also be riding in on top of an elevated ocean surface, and will thus be able to do even greater damage than in the past. Expect to see many more shocking storm surge damage photos in the coming decades, unless we wise up, retreat from areas highly vulnerable to storm surge, and invest in increased shoreline protection measures….. Take home message: studies showing no increase in normalized damage from storms have high uncertainty, and it is possible that higher economic damages due to stronger hurricanes are indeed occurring.
–Grinsted, A., J. C. Moore, and S. Jevrejeva, 2012, “A homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923,”PNAS 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1209542109
–Pielke et al., 2008, “Normalized Hurricane Damage in the United States: 1900–2005”, Natural Hazards Review, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp. 29-42.
Links— In this remarkable home video, 15-year-old Christofer Sochacki captures the evening high tide on the day Superstorm Sandy struck Union Beach, New Jersey. The later part of the video shows how high waves on top of a 8-foot storm surge can lead to a punishing assault on beach-front structures.
5 Charts About Climate Change That Should Have You Very, Very Worried
By Christopher Mims and Stephanie Gruner Buckley Nov 24 2012, 10:11 AM ET
126 the Atlantic
Two new reports highlight the alarming consequences of staying our current course.
Two major organizations released climate change reports this month warning of doom and gloom if we stick to our current course and fail to take more aggressive measures. A World Bank report imagines a world 4 degrees warmer, the temperature predicted by century’s end barring changes, and says it aims to shock people into action by sharing devastating scenarios of flood, famine, drought and cyclones. Meanwhile, a report from the US National Research Council, commissioned by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other intelligence agencies, says the consequences of climate change–rising sea levels, severe flooding, droughts, fires, and insect infestations–pose threats greater than those from terrorism ranging from massive food shortages to a rise in armed conflicts. Here are some of the more alarming graphic images from the reports:
1. Most of Greenland’s top ice layer melted in four days During a week in the summer of 2012, Greenland’s ice cap went from melting on its periphery to melting over its entire surface (World Bank)These shots published in the World Bank report show an unusually large ice melt over a four-day period, when an estimated 97% of Greenland’s surface ice sheet had thawed by the middle of July 2012. Normally, ice sheets melt around the outer margins first where elevation is lower and allow for warmer temperatures. The event is uncommon, though not unprecedented. A similar event happened in 1889, and before that, several centuries earlier. There are indications, however, that the greatest amount of melting during the past 225 years has occurred in the last decade.
2. America just had its worst drought in over 50 years
Serious drought conditions across the US (World Bank/National Drought Mitigation Center)
This past summer, the US experienced its worst drought in more than a half a century–severely reducing farm yields, livestock production, and raising food prices globally. The World Bank shared this snapshot of drought conditions covering some 63% of the contiguous US on Aug. 28, 2012. Serious droughts have hit the US in the 1950s and the 1930s, with some areas experiencing worse drought than during the dust bowl. (The reason we’re not experiencing Dust Bowl II is thanks to better soil management practices.) Studies suggest we should expect severe and widespread droughts over the next few decades, if not longer, thanks to global warming.
Outlook for coral reefs is bleak (World Bank / Hare et al./Rogelj et al./Schaeffer et al.)
Coral reefs, which protect against coastal flooding, storm surges, wave damage, and also provide homes for lots of fish, are doomed on our current course, says the World Bank. Coral reefs are dissolving because of ocean acidification–the more CO2 in the atmosphere, the more gets dissolved in the oceans. The illustration shows the impact on coral reefs at various CO2 levels. Coral reefs may stop growing as CO2 concentration levels approach 450 ppm, which is expected over the coming decades. By the time the concentration reaches around 550 ppm in the 2060s, coral reefs will start to dissolve.
This map published in the National Research Council report shows how rising temperatures and increased evaporation will cause widespread fires in the western US. Fire damage in the northern Rocky Mountain forests, marked by region B, is expected to more than double annually for each 1.8 degree Fahrenheit increase in average global temperatures. With the same temperature increase, fire damage in the Colorado Rockies (region J) is expected to be more than seven times what it was in the second half of the 20th century.
Armed conflicts spiked in 2011 (Themnér and Wallensteen by Sage Publications/National Academy of Sciences)
In 2011, the world witnessed a spike in the number of active conflicts, rising to 37 from 31 in 2010. It was the largest increase between any two years since 1990–though still below the peak of 53 active conflicts in the early post-Cold War years. The growth was primarily driven by an increase in conflicts in Africa, and also to events tied to the Arab Spring. There’s conflicting evidence about whether climate change causes increasing violence, though one study found that between the years 1000 and 1900, low temperatures in Europe coincided with an elevated risk of interstate war. Over the long term, the theory is that climate-related problems such as water shortages will lead not to wars across borders, but rather to violent conflicts within states….
AP: Drought Worsens For More Than Half Of Country — But Only Because It Didn’t Rain!
Posted: 23 Nov 2012 08:02 AM PST
“The worst U.S. drought in decades has deepened again,” reports the AP. “Scientists struggled for an explanation other than a simple lack of rain.”
Over half of the continguous U.S. has been in a drought since summer. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report showed a rise in the extent and increases in the severity of drought: The report showed that 60.1 percent of the lower 48 states were in some form of drought as of Tuesday, up from 58.8 percent the previous week. The amount of land in extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst classifications — increased from 18.3 percent to 19.04 percent. The AP has a bizarre form of balance in the story, I guess so those suffering in the drought won’t feel as bad: A federal meteorologist cautioned that Wednesday’s numbers shouldn’t be alarming, saying that while drought usually subsides heading into winter, the Drought Monitor report merely reflects a week without rain in a large chunk of the country. Seriously! I feel so much less alarmed knowing that the drought worsened only because we had “a week without rain in a large chunk of the country.” “The places that are getting precipitation, like the Pacific Northwest, are not in drought, while areas that need the rainfall to end the drought aren’t getting it,” added Richard Heim, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. “I would expect the drought area to expand again” by next week since little rain is forecast in the Midwest in coming days. How reassuring!
Mount Shasta: Is U.S. Snowstorm Record in Jeopardy?
Nick Wiltgen Published: Nov 30, 2012, 9:08 AM EST weather.com
USGS/Lyn Topinka A 1984 file photo of Mount Shasta in northern California.
If anyone lived on the summit of California’s Mount Shasta, they’d need a mighty big shovel to dig out of the snowstorm that will bury the mountain in astronomical amounts of snow through the weekend — amounts that could flirt with world records. The Thursday morning National Weather Service summit forecast for Shasta predicted an incredible 33 to 39 inches of snow — just for Thursday alone.
(By comparison, Atlanta, Ga., has reported 38.9 inches of snow since March 1, 1989 — a period of over 23 years.)
But it gets crazier. Add in another 37 to 43 inches of snow Thursday night, and additional amounts ranging from 21 to 35 inches every 12 hours through Saturday night, plus a light dusting of 11 to 17 inches on Sunday… …and you get a storm total of 176 inches. On the low end.
Add up the high end of the numbers and you get a forecast maximum of 218 inches of snow in four days!
How would that kind of four-day snow total stack up? Consider these major all-time snowfall records that would be broken with a 200-inch snowfall:
According to Weather Underground, the world record for a single snowstorm is 189 inches in six days — guess where? Mount Shasta Ski Bowl in February 1959…..
‘We Have To Face The Fact That The Deniers Are Wrong,’ Says Sen. Whitehouse In Climate Hearing
By Stephen Lacey on Nov 30, 2012 at 8:12 am
At a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing featuring sometimes tearful reports from lawmakers representing East Coast states, some panel Democrats suggested putting customary congressional collegiality on the back burner to push more forcefully for mitigating climate change. [Politico]
“There is a new normal of new extremes and we have to be prepared for it,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said. “And the reason we have this new normal of new extremes is because global climate change is happening and is real. And we’ve tolerated the deniers for far too long in this body.”
Whitehouse criticized “a rear-guard action in this building led by polluters” against taking action on climate change.
“But we have to face the fact that the deniers are wrong. They are just plain dead wrong,” he said. “And we have to deal with that, and I think some of the courtesies that we have given to one another collegially really have to yield to the fact that some of the things that are being said in the Senate, and occasionally regrettably in this committee chamber, are just plain wrong.”
2012 UN Climate Talks In Doha, Qatar Face Multiple Challenges
AP | By KARL RITTER Posted: 11/25/2012 10:51 am EST Updated: 11/25/2012 12:06 pm EST
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — As nearly 200 countries meet in oil-and-gas-rich Qatar for annual talks starting Monday on slowing global warming, one of the main challenges will be raising climate aid for poor countries at a time when budgets are strained by financial turmoil. Rich countries have delivered nearly $30 billion in grants and loans promised in 2009, but those commitments expire this year. And a Green Climate Fund designed to channel up to $100 billion annually to poor countries has yet to begin operating.Borrowing a buzzword from the U.S. budget debate, Tim Gore of the British charity Oxfam said developing countries, including island nations for whom rising sea levels pose a threat to their existence, stand before a “climate fiscal cliff.”
Climate talks buffeted by the force of Superstorm Sandy
Carol J. Williams LA TIMES November 28, 2012, 4:00 a.m.
More than 17,000 people have converged on the Qatari capital for the latest U.N. climate talks, but the most influential presence may be Sandy.
The superstorm that ravaged the U.S. Northeast a month ago seared into the American consciousness an apocalyptic vision of what climate change could look like. On the heels of devastating wildfires, droughts and floods this year, Sandy’s destructive power snapped Americans to the reality that rising temperatures are a risk to their own well-being, not just a concern for distant lowlands.
Sandy’s fresh reminder of the potential consequences of global warming has been a dominant theme in the first days of the two-week meeting in Doha of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, delegates report. Still, politicians and environmentalists at the gathering, which began Monday, maintain low expectations for the massive confab to spur swift or dramatic action to combat rising global temperatures. They predict that, at best, the unwieldy forum drawing together 195 countries and nongovernmental parties will bring agreement to formalize plans to negotiate new climate objectives that follow the aims of the 15-year-old Kyoto Protocol, ostensibly to be achieved by 2020. The next pact doesn’t need to be completed until 2015, so the international body is operating without the pressure of a looming deadline, participants said. The U.S. chief delegate, State Department deputy climate envoy Jonathan Pershing, said Washington has acted “with enormous urgency and singular purpose” and is halfway to meeting its goal of a 17% reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by the end of this decade. The United States has invested deeply in renewable energy, reduced coal emissions and doubled automotive fuel efficiency standards, he said, while reiterating that the U.S. climate agenda would be set and monitored nationally, not by an international forum…..
Post-Sandy, Dems push for climate change action Lucy Madison / CBS News/ November 29, 2012, 3:25 PM
In the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, lawmakers from the hardest-hit states continue picking up the pieces of widespread damage left in the wake of the storm, facing billions of dollars worth of infrastructural damage, dozens of civilian casualties, and lingering outages that left millions of Americans without power for days or even weeks. Even as they look to make immediate repairs, however, a number of Democrats are also pushing for reforms that will prevent similar future catastrophes — and are using the moment to renew calls for serious action on climate change.
During a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing today on Sandy and its impacts, a handful of Democrats from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and elsewhere, stressed the need to make strong investments into rebuilding states’ infrastructure in a way that would withstand future storms. At the same time, they argued, climate change must be included in those efforts — or Sandy-type storms will only increase in their frequency.
Reality Trumps Magical Thinking Time to Act on Climate Change
Michael Northrop Program Director, Rockefeller Brothers Fund November 18, 2012
The election was a win for a fact-based approach to reality, and a loss for the magical approach some candidates and their handlers displayed. No, Mr. Akin, women do not have a magical ability to suppress a rapist’s sperm. No, Mr. Rove, Fox News did not miscall the Ohio vote. And no, climate deniers, climate change is real, happening now, and we’ve got to address it, or we are going to have even bigger Superstorm Sandys raining down on us. President Obama, who was helped by Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement for his more realistic approach to climate change, has signaled that he too thinks it’s time to accept the facts and get moving. Recent polls show nearly three quarters of Americans agree with the President that it is time to act on climate change. So what can the President do? Some suggestions:
- Speak out about the urgency of climate change. ….Research at Yale University by Tony Leiserowitz indicates that if the President does speak out forcefully, many Americans will respond affirmatively to the call for action, and they will be more willing to demand action by their elected leaders……
- Continue exercising executive authority to lower emissions and to build clean energy markets…..
- Recognize there is no single silver bullet solution; success will come from hundreds of policies and actions by every level of government and the private sector. In other words, adopt a silver buckshot approach.
- Prioritize actions that reduce emissions and contribute to the creation of the low carbon economy of the future. There is no greater economic opportunity for the U.S. One analysis from the international bank, HSBC, suggests that the low carbon economy today is already worth $500 billion a year, and that it will easily be worth more than $2 trillion a year by 2020….
- … the President should convene a bipartisan national climate action planning council composed of sitting and former governors, mayors, CEOs and civic leaders to explore and then support economically advantageous approaches to climate action…..
- The President must also lead a national conversation about preparing for the inevitable impacts of climate change. This will connect the dots in the heads of Americans….
- ….the President must add a senior advisor in the White House to convene, facilitate, and support this national effort. A coordinated, multi-agency approach like the one President Obama demanded his government take in response to Hurricane Sandy will also help.
- The President should also be honest with Americans about coal. Besides being the biggest contributor to climate change, it is an outdated, unhealthy, and unnecessary energy source. Its economic benefits to the country today are actually modest and shrinking. There are almost as many people employed by the solar industry today in the U.S. as in the coal sector, and while coal use declined by 40 percent in recent years, the solar industry is growing 13 percent a year in the U.S…. There is not such a thing as clean coal anyway…
In a bit of good news, it turns out that the somewhat haphazard approach that the U.S. has mustered to date to lower greenhouse gas emissions is having an impact. A study released Thursday by the Center for Climate Strategies says projected U.S. emissions are currently significantly below expectations from a decade ago. The slowdown in the economy is one important reason, but several other contributing factors have made a difference.
- First, hundreds of successful, locally-driven efforts to shut coal fired power plants have helped shave the share of carbon-intensive coal fired electricity in the U.S. from 50 percent to about 30 percent.
- Second, the vehicle efficiency standards this administration and the auto companies agreed to in 2010 will lead to a sizeable carbon emissions reduction.
- Third, the hundreds of actions already taken by cities, states, and companies over the past decade to become more energy efficient have also contributed to national emissions reductions.
All of these actions are leading to energy savings, new investment, and economic productivity. This hopeful news is an indicator that we can continue to layer in new and deeper actions across the economy and continue to drive a rapid downward trend in emissions with a positive economic result. To get to the even deeper reductions in climate change causing emissions that atmospheric scientists say are required, there will no doubt be substantial public investment required as well, but as Cass Sunstein wrote in the New York Times a week ago, the cost benefit of avoiding additional $50 billion disasters in New York or $150 billion dollar ravages in New Orleans should easily encourage us to move forward boldly. As we do so, the next economy–the clean energy economy–will be so enormous, we will all wonder how we allowed magical thinkers in the climate denier community to keep us from moving forward more quickly.
Hurricane Sandy: New Jersey Rebuilding Ahead Of Thoughtful Decisions?
AP | By GEOFF MULVIHILL Posted: 11/25/2012 10:38 am EST Updated: 11/25/2012 1:25 pm EST
Some advocates fear that rebuilding efforts could take shape on New Jersey’s storm-devastated shore before thoughtful decisions can be made about just how the area should be rebuilt.
The federal government brought thousands of tons of stone, sand and riprap to repair an inlet that the storm ripped open, reconnecting the bay and ocean in a narrow section of barrier island in Mantoloking. The state is repairing Route 35 where it was washed away by that breach and two others nearby. Also, state action has also made it easier to rebuild damaged infrastructure such as roads and water pipes. Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, objects to the state’s decision to allow permanent roads, water pipes and other infrastructure to be built to replace ruined ones. He said it makes sense to allow temporary facilities. “But it shouldn’t be permanent. Now, we’re giving a blanket waiver,” he said. “That’s just throwing money out to sea.”
The state is trying to facilitate necessary repairs, not make hasty long-term development decisions — though that could be a consequence, said Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. “If someone were to build one or two things that were a little more permanent, we’re going to live with that,” he said.
With rising sea levels and more frequent major storms, it’s time to consider whether to rebuild in especially vulnerable areas and to look at further strengthening building codes for places that are rebuilt, scientists and environmentalists say. Similar debates have taken place after major storms on the Gulf Coast, Florida and elsewhere. And they’re going on now on New York’s Long Island….
British MP On Climate Committee Advising On Coal Power For $300 An Hour
Posted: 28 Nov 2012 08:33 AM PST by Graham Readfearn, via DeSmogBlog
A British MP revealed to be holding $400,000 worth of share options in an oil firm while sitting on an influential parliamentary climate change committee is also being paid $300 an hour to advise an Indian company building a coal fired power station, DeSmogBlog has discovered. Veteran Conservative MP Peter Lilley has billed the New Delhi-based Ferro Alloys Corporation Limited (FACOR) for at least 220 hours of consultancy advice and is still working for the group. It emerged in The Guardian last week that self-described “global lukewarmist” Mr Lilley, a director with Tethys Petroleum, was also holding $400,000 worth of share options in the company which is drilling for oil and gas in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. As The Guardian reported, Mr Lilley is also paid by Tethys to attend meetings and provide advice and has received about £47,000 (US$75,000) in the past year…..
How A Cornucopia of Prosperity Can Flow From Carbon Tax
By Climate Guest Blogger on Nov 26, 2012 at 1:15 pm
by Craig A. Severance, via Energy Economy Online
Right now the climate and energy community is stuck. There is a growing consensus, including among conservatives, that it is finally time for a carbon tax. Yet, no politician — especially President Obama — seems ready to advance the proposal. The previous proposal to do something about climate — cap&trade — failed to gain wildly popular public enthusiasm (and we need this level of support). While economists thought cap&trade was the best way to address the carbon pollution that is causing extreme climate disruption, it wasn’t seen as “giving back” enough to the public….
Board of Supervisors to Consider Forming Sonoma Clean Power – Dec 4 www.climateprotection.org
This Tuesday, December 4th at 10:30, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and the Board of the Sonoma County Water Agency will consider forming a joint powers authority to be the new legal entity, Sonoma Clean Power. As envisioned, Sonoma Clean Power will be a local program that buys and generates cleaner, locally-produced electricity at competitive rates. Sonoma Clean Power will offer businesses and residents a choice. Local production of renewable energy will boost the local economy as well as render our energy system more secure. Please join us to show community support for this smart step in the right direction.
Point of Order Derails Sportsmen’s Bill
Nov. 26, 2012 – 7:10 p.m.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) threatened to bring a budget point of order against the Sportsmen’s Act Thursday, unless amendments are made to the bill. Sessions said because the bill raises revenue to pay for itself, it’s a violation of the Budget Control Act, which set spending levels for the government. “Generally I am supportive of the package. I think it has some good qualities to it … but there’s a small problem that needs to be fixed,” Sessions said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. “The majority has brought forward a bill that violates the Budget Control Act.” The Sportsmen’s Act, introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), would increase access to federal land for hunters and fishermen while also supporting conservation through a package that combines nearly 20 bipartisan measures….
San Jose to permit airport bird shooting
|San Jose Mercury News||– November 25, 2012||
SAN JOSE — The holidays are hard on birds, at least those with plump, tasty bodies. Butbird-kind can be hard on us too, and not just in Hitchcock films.
Op-Ed LA TIMES
California confronts a sea change
The state isn’t waiting to plan for rising sea levels. In Superstorm Sandy’s wake, other states should look west for inspiration on how to prepare.
By David Helvarg November 27, 2012
Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey don’t need to wait on gridlocked Washington to confront future risks from climate-change intensified storms. They can instead look at how California is already moving forward on common-sense adaptations, and do it themselves. With 3.5 million Californians living within three feet of sea level, and the best available science projecting a 3- to 5-foot rise in sea level for the state by 2100, doing nothing would be irresponsible. In Northern California, rising sea levels are projected to affect more than a quarter of a million people and threaten more than $60 billion in infrastructure in the San Francisco Bay/Delta region, putting power stations, water-treatment plants, roads, buildings and the San Francisco and Oakland airports (both built on filled wetlands) at risk. In Southern California, scientists point to the loss of 3,000 beachfront homes to major El Niño winter storms in the 1980s as suggestive of what climate change has in store. In fact, for the next few decades it will be extreme storms, with their accompanying waves and king tides, not sea-level rise per se that will have the most impact in the state, according to U.S. Geological Survey testimony last year to the California Ocean Protection Council, the state’s umbrella agency for coordinating its response to rising seas.
For starters, California is ahead of most states in its attempts to address the problem at its source by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Over half of U.S. venture capital investment in clean technology is now taking place in California, and energy conservation and efficiency programs already in place have helped keep the state’s per capita energy consumption steady over 30 years (in the rest of the nation, it has increased 40%). But climate change is happening, so adaptation, as well as prevention, is going to be essential. A number of local and state efforts are underway. This year, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the state’s original coastal protection group, amended its long-standing San Francisco Bay Plan to make sure projected sea-level rise is taken into account by any new project, such as a planned $1.5-billion development on Treasure Island in the middle of the bay. After repeated flooding from winter storms in 2009-10 shut down the Great Highway along the city’s share of the Pacific coast, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed pumping dredged sand onto the beach to shore it up and a city think tank suggested “planned retreat” — shrinking and rerouting the highway at a cost of $343 million — as the best long-term solution. While the options are reviewed, city workers continue armoring the southbound lanes with boulders. Down the peninsula, on the bay side, a major wetlands restoration project now underway is expected to reduce the impact of sea-level rise and flooding on small, low-income towns such as Alviso as well as on low-lying, high-dollar-value corporate campuses, such as those of Yahoo in Sunnyvale and Google in Mountain View.
In Newport Beach in Southern California, city planners are looking into raising sea walls in waterfront neighborhoods like Balboa Island that are prone to flooding. They may also begin requiring that foundations on new beach properties be raised several feet, a modest start but a start nonetheless. Governments in San Diego, Ventura and Humboldt counties are also embarking on multi-stakeholder efforts to adjust their zoning and permit systems to account for storm tides and sea-level rise. The city of Ventura has completed the first phase of a managed retreat at Surfer’s Point, removing a sea-damaged parking lot and moving a bike trail 65 feet inland. About half the towns along California’s coast have begun developing climate adaptation policies.”It’s not uncertainty about the science keeping them from acting,” says Amber Mace, former California Ocean Protection Council executive director. “It’s lack of funding, lack of staff and a lack of support from outside.”
Part of the council’s job is to provide coastal communities with high-resolution seafloor maps and updated intertidal and shoreline maps that are basic to sea-rise and storm-surge planning. The council also provides links to scientists who are working to downscale the projections of climate impacts from the 200-mile grids used by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change so that they can be applied to zoning, beachfront management and other land-use decisions. The council, with strong backing from Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger before him, has worked to persuade other agencies to incorporate sea-level rise and other climate change projections into their work. For example, the California Coastal Commission is expected to require all waterfront communities to include extreme flooding and sea-level-rise planning in their local coastal plans. The state is also considering withholding some funds from communities until they have a comprehensive climate-change adaptation policy in place.
The state Water Resources Control Board is another state agency that is responding to expected flooding due to more extreme weather patterns. It has established tougher standards for storm water runoff, which again will force coastal communities to plan for climate change impacts. It’s worth remembering that after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, California set new standards for fire and building safety, many of which eventually became national standards. Now the state is poised to do the same with its planning for climate change. Certainly if there’s any place on the globe where there’s been the convergence of scientific knowledge and inquiry, entrepreneurial spirit and a public willingness to lead the world in new directions, it’s in California. But the common-sense lessons being learned here about coastal adaptation need to be applied from sea to shining sea.
David Helvarg is executive director of the Blue Frontier Campaign. His next book, “The Golden Shore — California’s Love Affair with the Sea,” will be published in February.
4-GW Tata Mundra Coal Plant Is A Test Of The World Bank’s Stated Commitment To Address Climate
Posted: 28 Nov 2012 06:06 AM PST Nicole Ghio, via the Sierra Club
When Dr. Jim Yong Kim took over as President of the World Bank, there was hope amongst health advocates and environmentalists that, given his background, the Bank would reevaluate its support for deadly fossil fuel projects. Dr. Kim’s assertion that a new World Bank report on global warming should “shock us into action” is a step in the right direction.
Now, however, he has an opportunity to back this rhetoric with concrete action as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) reviews the social and environmental impacts of its $450 million loan for the enormous four-gigawatt Tata Mundra coal plant in Gujarat, India. In response to extensive work by local communities and civil society groups to document and expose the impacts of Tata Mundra (PDF), the IFC’s independent Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) has formally opened an investigation. Last week the CAO released the Terms of Reference for the review which will cover the devastating health, livelihood and environmental impacts of this mammoth coal plant. This review is an important step towards rectifying the impact the project has had on the 10,000 local villagers who rely on the land and water the plant is destroying. Dust and ash from the project is contaminating fish and salt flats, while livestock that used to roam freely can no longer access the commons for grazing. And both villagers and animals are forced to breathe air and drink water contaminated by toxic pollution. All of these are impacts from just Tata Mundra. The sad reality is cumulative impacts are much larger, as it is sited right next to the even bigger 4,620 MW Adani coal plant….
Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Assessments of Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation
December 4, 10 am PDT/ 1 pm EDT
The Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) ToolsNetwork<http://www.ebmtools.org/> is pleased to announce that it will host a presentation on Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Assessments of Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation by Suzanne Langridge of The Natural Capital Project. This presentation will be held on Tuesday,Dec 4. A description of the webinar and information on registering are below. [http://www1.gotomeeting.com/g2w/images/503695537/64177094262759965/embed.jpg]
Webinar participants can use their computer speakers/microphone OR a telephone conference call for audio for the demonstration. The webinar will be enabled an hour prior to the start of the webinar to allow users to test their systems. For those who cannot make the presentation, a recording of this presentation will be made available on the EBM Tools Network website at
www.ebmtools.org/tools_training/presentations.html<http://www.ebmtools.org/tools_training/presentations.html a few days after the presentation.If you have any other questions about the demonstration, please contact email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>. To sign up for announcements of future EBM tool presentations or demonstrations, sign up for EBM Tools Network updates at www.ebmtools.org/contact.html<http://www.ebmtools.org/contact.html>.
Assessing climate change impacts on water resources.
Fri Nov 30 10 AM MST and MON DEC 17 1 PM MST
This pilot effort includes both an online module for self-paced training, and a set of subsequent residence courses building on the online training and respectively focus on assessing impacts on surface water hydrology and crop irrigation requirements. This pilot training program has been developed by the Climate Change and Water Working Group agencies (Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Geological Survey) in cooperation with the The COMET Program (part of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research), the NOAA-RISA Western Water Assessment, and the Water Utilities Climate Alliance. In order to establish expectations for pilot focus groups participating in the residence courses and to provide program information and context for other interested parties, two identical 45-minute introductory webinars will be offered at: 1) 10:00 AM MST on Friday, 30 November, and 2) 1:00 PM MST on Monday, 17 December. —-Introductory webinar 1 at 10:00 AM MST, 30 November 2012. GoToWebinar link: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/114444192 Conference phone line: 877-467-6106 Conference line passcode: 596 6855# —-Introductory webinar 2 at 1:00 PM MST, 17 December 2012. GoToWebinar link: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/417576272 Conference phone line: 877-467-6106 Conference line passcode: 596 6855#
Feel free to let us know if you have any questions. Thank you. Levi Brekke, Reclamation
(LBrekke@usbr.gov) 303.445.2494 Matt Kelsch, UCAR’s COMET Program (email@example.com) 303.497.8309
Chuck Hennig, Reclamation (CHennig@usbr.gov) 303.445.2134
***Call for Presentation Proposals for the National Adaptation Forum (Deadline: November 30, 2012)
The National Adaptation Forum will convene practitioners and innovators who are actively engaged or interested in climate change adaptation on April 2-4, 2013, in Denver, Colorado. Each day of the conference will focus on a different step in the adaptation process. Participants are invited to submit a proposal for a symposium, an oral or a poster presentation, or lead a training event or working group. Conference organizers are particularly interested in proposals that address multiple sectors and present innovative ways to advance climate change adaptation. The deadline to submit proposals is November 30, 2012. For more information about submitting a proposal, visit the call for presentations page.
***Call for Proposals for ICLEI’s Annual Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation – Resilient Cities 2013 (Deadline: November 30, 2012)
The organizers of ICLEI’s Annual Global Forum, “Resilient Cities 2013,” are looking for contributions for the conference, which will be held May 31-June 2, 2013 in Bonn, Germany. Contributions may include ideas for presentations, panels, workshop sessions, poster sessions, and co-events. “Resilience 2013” will offer sessions and events on a wide variety of topics such as urban risk, resilient urban logistics, financing the resilient city, urban agriculture and smart infrastructure. For more information, visit the Resilient Cities website.
***13th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment: Disasters and Environment – Science, Preparedness, and Resilience (Washington, DC, January 15, 2013)
Resilience and sustainability are key considerations in the planning for disasters. This national conference, sponsored by the National Council for Science and the Environment, will explore issues including transportation, land use, infrastructure, energy and water supply, waste management, local commerce, job creation, poverty alleviation, and emergency preparedness. A symposium during the conference will highlight EPA’s unique role in the disaster area, and will focus in part on several EPA research projects aimed at strengthening community resilience. For more information on the conference, visit the conference home page.
Let Dave Roberts explain it [climate change] to your Uncle Charlie
It’s a stale trope that these family holiday gatherings are fraught with political arguments. But .. they often are. We may choose to live in our tribal encalves most of the time but for an awful lot of us, the family that hatched us isn’t all of the same tribe. Anyway, for the climate change argument, get out your nifty IPAD and show this to Uncle Charlie:
**SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATOR for the MURIE SCIENCE AND LEARNING CENTER in Denali National Park. The Murie Science and Learning Center provides a stimulating and nurturing environment that is dedicated to introducing visitors to this fascinating and unique ecosystem. Alaska Geographic is currently seeking experienced educators for a summer of learning, exploration, and sharing. The primary responsibility of instructional staff will be the delivery of science-based programs ranging from one hour to multi-day field courses for all ages. Additional Responsibilities: Work as a guide on multi-day field seminars in the Park. Topics for 2013 include: The World of Wolves, Archaeology Citizen Science, Wildflowers, Glaciology, Storytelling. Host the evening speaker series. Develop and deliver short programs to the public. Assist in the development of program content and hands-on activities. Assist with maintenance of program equipment and field camp. Help with various program and facility projects. Benefits: Pay rate dependent upon experience, starting at $140 per day. Work with a dynamic staff dedicated to science and education. Gain leadership experience in a remote field setting. Learn from and work with researchers in Denali. Flexibility in your schedule, allowing for occasional long weekends. Live, work, learn, and play in a spectacular wilderness setting! Qualifications: Enthusiasm for teaching and life-long learning opportunities. Excellent communication and group management skills along with a team-oriented attitude. Naturalist or Science/Environmental Education experience with youth and adult populations. Minimum of Wilderness First Aid and CPR certifications. Knowledge of wildlife research and natural history of the Sub-Arctic. The season begins May 6 and ends early September. To learn more about the programs and operations, go to www.murieslc.org and www.alaskageographic.org. To Apply Email a letter of interest, a resume, and contact information for three references to firstname.lastname@example.org. The application deadline is January 11,
**EDUCATION INTERNSHIPS for the MURIE SCIENCE & LEARNING CENTER located in Denali National Park for the 2013 Summer Season. Interns are involved in administrative duties, front desk operations, and program logistics for multi-day seminars. As the summer progresses, opportunities for guiding multi-day seminars and presenting educational program may arise. The educational program opportunities include science-based presentations and activities in the MSLC building. On multi-day seminars, interns may serve as ‘guide staff’ and play a lead role in group management, driving, safety, leave-no-trace practices, field camp management, cooking, and logistics. Other summer projects may include development of science information for the public, management of field camp food inventory, vehicle cleaning, maintaining communication devices used in the field, hosting evening lecture/workshops, program/prop development, and field camp maintenance. Interns work with a mentor, have monthly performance reviews, and have opportunities to learn and experience other aspects of Denali National Park & Preserve based on interest. Work a 14-18 week summer season (between early May and early September) with a 40-hours per week schedule. Housing is provided. Internship includes a travel stipend, room and board, and a weekly stipend. To learn more about our programs and operations, go to www.alaskageographic.org and www.murieslc.org. Qualifications: Ability to deal with logistical challenges and to multi-task; Camping and guiding experience; Wilderness First Aid (or higher) and CPR certifications; Excellent communication and group management skills; Being responsive to visitor questions and needs; Public speaking experience; Experience teaching adult and/or kid populations; Naturalist/Environmental Education experience; Knowledge of wildlife research and the natural history of the Sub-Arctic; Computer skills; To Apply Email a letter of interest, a resume, and contact information for three references to email@example.com The application deadline is January 11. Applicants wishing to be considered for both positions, Science Educator (see under “Positions Available) and Education Intern may specify this in one letter of interest. There is no need to send two application packets. Applications will only be accepted after this date if all the positions have not been filled
Milestone along the way to CO2-free power plants
(November 27, 2012) — An innovative method inexpensively and energetically efficiently reduces power-plant carbon dioxide emissions by more than 90 percent. The initial system for utilization on an existing power plant is currently in the planning stage. … > full story
Ground Source Heat Pumps: Good Enough For Queen Elizabeth So Why Not For The Northeast?
By Climate Guest Blogger on Nov 25, 2012 at 11:26 am
by Ryan Matley, via Rocky Mountain Institute
George W. Bush, the Queen of England, Sir Elton John, and Sir Richard Branson probably don’t have much in common, but they all have installed ground source heat pumps. And it’s not just a technology for the rich and famous. Habitat for Humanity installed heat pumps in its Oklahoma City development, Hope Crossing, because the low operating costs would help future residents save on their utility bills.
Kerosene lamps identified as big source of black carbon
(November 28, 2012) — Kerosene lamps, the primary source of light for more than a billion people in developing nations, churns out black carbon at levels previously overlooked in greenhouse gas estimates, according to a new study. The new findings result in a twenty-fold increase to previous estimates of black carbon emissions from kerosene-fueled lighting. The good news is that affordable, cleaner alternatives exist. … > full story
Electricity from the marshes
(November 23, 2012) — An unexpected source of new, clean energy has been found: the Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell that can generate electricity from the natural interaction between living plant roots and soil bacteria. The technique already works on a small scale and will soon be applied in larger marshland areas throughout the world. … > full story
Conservative Groups Team Up To Fight Renewable Energy: ‘We’re Going To See A Knock-Out, Drag-Out Fight’
By Stephen Lacey on Nov 26, 2012 at 11:50 am
Six months after rolling out a disastrous billboard campaign that linked people who care about global warming to the Unabomber, the Heartland Institute is looking for another project to boost its profile.
And what better way for the organization to mend its tarnished image than to go after a policy that Americans overwhelmingly support? The Heartland Institute, known for its campaigns to cast doubt about the science of climate change, is now teaming up with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to craft laws repealing state-level renewable energy targets. ALEC is best known as a “stealth business lobbyist” that helps corporate interests write and pass legislation friendly to their interests. This spring, the organization came under fire for its role in pushing Stand-Your-Ground laws that opponents blamed for the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Both the Heartland Institute and ALEC lost major funders throughout the spring as a result of the separate controversies.
The campaign to dismantle these types of laws isn’t new. Last summer, Bloomberg News
reported on tax documents showing that Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil and other energy companies paid membership fees to ALEC in order to help write legislation repealing carbon pollution reduction programs in states around country….
- OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST
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Deep Green is our heavy-duty, super-green, 100% renewable energy product. Yahoo, Marin! Deep Green renewable energy is purchased entirely from non-polluting, renewable resources. It’s Green-e Energy certified so you know that Deep Green contains only new renewable resources that are independently verified. If you have a commercial building, choosing Deep Green can help you get LEED certified! In 2011, Deep Green power was sourced from wind (29%) and solar (31%) power. In 2012, wind resources from the Western U.S. will be used to supply Deep Green power. We update our Power Content Label periodically to reflect the most current locations of our renewable energy generators. The big difference is in the power you have to create change. Voluntarily signing up for Deep Green is one of the most important actions any of us in Marin can take to curb global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by adding more renewable energy to the grid and shifting away from global reliance on fossil fuels. Deep Green customers also support projects that reinvest in a healthier environment and a clean tech future. The additional cost of Deep Green 100% renewable energy is just a penny more per kilowatt-hour more than our Light Green rates. All Marin Clean Energy customers, whether they choose Light Green or Deep Green, are subject to our standard rates and PG&E charges.For the average Marin residential electric customer, the additional cost for Deep Green is just $5.40 per month. To participate in our Deep Green program simply complete an online request here, or call 1 (888) 632-3674. Make sure and have your PG&E bill handy so that you can provide us with all of the necessary information.
Rising Seas, Vanishing Coastlines
By BENJAMIN STRAUSS and ROBERT KOPP NY TIMES Published: November 24, 2012
THE oceans have risen and fallen throughout Earth’s history, following the planet’s natural temperature cycles. Twenty thousand years ago, what is now New York City was at the edge of a giant ice sheet, and the sea was roughly 400 feet lower. But as the last ice age thawed, the sea rose to where it is today. Now we are in a new warming phase, and the oceans are rising again after thousands of years of stability. As scientists who study sea level change and storm surge, we fear that Hurricane Sandy gave only a modest preview of the dangers to come, as we continue to power our global economy by burning fuels that pollute the air with heat-trapping gases. This past summer, a disconcerting new scientific study by the climate scientist Michiel Schaeffer and colleagues — published in the journal Nature Climate Change — suggested that no matter how quickly we cut this pollution, we are unlikely to keep the seas from climbing less than five feet. ….There are two basic ways to protect ourselves from sea level rise: reduce it by cutting pollution, or prepare for it by defense and retreat. To do the job, we must do both. We have lost our chance for complete prevention; and preparation alone, without slowing emissions, would — sooner or later — turn our coastal cities into so many Atlantises.
Video: Keeping It Cool NY Times November 23, 2012
Inside air conditioners are gases that allow the machine to cool the air, but also deplete the ozone layer and contribute to global warming.
Using biomarkers from prehistoric human feces to track settlement and agriculture
(November 26, 2012) — Geoscientists have used a biomarker from human feces in a new way to establish the first human presence, the arrival of grazing animals and human population dynamics in a landscape. … > full story
BOOK REVIEW: Barbara Kingsolver weaves climate change into new novel …
|Heritage Newspapers||– November 245, 2012||
Climate change is no article of faith in Barbara Kingsolver’s latest work of fiction, “Flight Behavior.” She employs hard science, using it in ways both understandable and personal.
Climate change threatens French truffle: scientists
|AFP||– November 27, 2012||
PARIS – Scientists said on Tuesday they had proof that climate change was hitting the Perigord black truffle, a delight of gourmets around the world.
Cutting real Christmas trees less environmentally harmful than using an artificial one for six years, biologists say
(November 27, 2012) — Given recent extreme weather events – the summer’s brutal heat and subsequent drought, followed by Superstorm Sandy’s disastrous path – newly green-conscious consumers may be wondering how to lessen their carbon footprint this holiday season. Plant biologists says that buying a real Christmas tree may not solve the world’s climate ills, but it is environmentally better than getting an artificial one. … > full story
Via The New Yorker (and www.climateprogress.org)