Conservation Science News January , 2013

Highlight of the Week Climate Smart Conservation









Highlight of the WeekClimate Smart Conservation


PRBO’s working definition of Climate Smart Conservation:

Climate Smart Conservation strategies and actions specifically address impacts of climate change in concert with other threats and promote nature-based solutions to:
• Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and enhance carbon sinks;
• Reduce climate change impacts on wildlife and people, and enhance ability to adapt; and,
• Sustain vibrant, diverse ecosystems.”

Key principles help all of us apply the climate-smart approach daily (adapted from National Wildlife Foundation—see link below)

  1. FOCUS ON FUTURE CONDITIONS not past (‘stop trying to prevent ecological change’); use range of plausible future scenarios, including extremes, to address uncertainty in near- & long-term time frames.


  2. DESIGN ACTIONS IN ECOSYSTEM CONTEXT prioritizing ecosystem function & ecological diversity, and focused on multiple species benefits in broader geographic scope (e.g., watersheds); think & link beyond current protected areas including private lands.


  1. EMPLOY ADAPTIVE & FLEXIBLE APPROACHES for most timely, effective responses to continual change in climate, ecology and economics; includes adaptive management framework with regular monitoring and reassessments to actively apply learning from what works and what doesn’t.


  2. PRIORITIZE ACTIONS based on best available science and across multiple plausible scenarios including extremes and worst cases, across multiple species to best prepare for ongoing change and to produce greatest benefits to wildlife & people.


  1. COLLABORATE & COMMUNICATE ACROSS SECTORS– establish/ expand non-traditional alliances to accelerate effective problem solving (e.g., between/among public & private resource managers, scientists, decision-makers); share knowledge openly & actively; regularly and clearly communicate to the public on the science as well as range of solutions- convey hope; engage local communities, e.g., youth, to instill conservation ethic for long term success.


  1. PRACTICE THE TEN% RULE: Test and Experiment Now use 10% (or more) of your time every day to develop and try out creative new approaches at every level of natural resource conservation; based on what you already know to address climate change impacts and increasing variability/extremes.


Principles of Climate Smart Conservationvideo, thanks Deanne!

By Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, PRBO Conservation Science. Presentation (15 min) introducing climate smart conservation principles to the BAECCC (Bay Area Ecosystem Climate Change Consortium) Climate Smart Actions for Natural Resource Managers workshop on November 29 2012, derived from the work done by the National Wildlife Federation (see link below) as well as other related efforts.



BAECCC Workshop: Climate Smart Actions for Natural Resource Managers
Natural resource managers in the San Francisco Bay Area are striving to incorporate climate change into their conservation and restoration strategies. Guidance for this process was provided in the Climate Smart Actions for Natural Resource Managers workshop hosted by BAECCC on November 29, 2012 (pdfs or PowerPoints available for each of the presentations below)

Introductory Presentations:

  1. Introduction to the Workshop: Climate Smart Actions for Natural Resource Managers, Andy Gunther, BAECCC Executive Coordinator, Executive Director at Center for Ecosystem Restoration and Management
  2. Projected Climate Change Impacts to the San Francisco Bay Ecosystem and Region Tom Suchanek, Climate Change Coordinator, Western Ecological Research Center, USGS
  3. Principles for Climate Smart Conservation Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, PRBO Conservation Science
  4. Vulnerability Assessment Overview Kirk Klausmeyer, The Nature Conservancy

Case Studies– Examples of Climate Smart Strategies and Actions:

  1. Redwood Creek Restoration at Muir Beach Case Study Carolyn Shoulders, Restoration Ecologist, Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  2. Upper Pajaro River Floodplain Restoration Case Study Sasha Gennet, Central Coast Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy
  3. Sears Point Restoration Case Study Julian Meisler, Baylands Program Manager, Sonoma Land Trust
  4. The STRAW Project Case Study- Climate Smart Restoration John Parodi, STRAW Restoration Manager, PRBO Conservation Science

Additional information and resources on climate smart conservation:








Extinction Rates Not as Bad as Feared … for Now: Scientists Challenge Common Belief

Jan. 24, 2013 Science Daily— Concerns that many animals are becoming extinct, before scientists even have time to identify them, are greatly overstated, according Griffith University researcher, Professor Nigel Stork. Professor Stork has taken part in an international study, the findings of which have been detailed in “Can we name Earth’s species before they go extinct?” published in the journal Science. Deputy Head of the Griffith School of Environment, Professor Stork said a number of misconceptions have fueled these fears, and there is no evidence that extinction rates are as high as some have feared. “Surprisingly, few species have gone extinct, to our knowledge. Of course, there will have been some species which have disappeared without being recorded, but not many we think,” Professor Stork said. Professor Stork said part of the problem is that there is an inflated sense of just how many animals exist and therefore how big the task to record them.

“Modern estimates of the number of eukaryotic species have ranged up to 100 million, but we have estimated that there are around 5 million species on the planet (plus or minus 3 million).”

And there are more scientists than ever working on the task. This contrary to a common belief that we are losing taxonomists, the scientists who identify species…But the reprieve may be short-lived.

“Climate change will dramatically change species survival rates, particularly when you factor in other drivers such as overhunting and habitat loss,” Professor Stork said. At this stage we have no way of knowing by how much extinction rates may escalate. But once global warming exceeds the 2 degree barrier, we can expect to see the scale of loss many people already believe is happening. Higher temperature rises coupled with other environmental impacts will lead to mass extinctions”

M. J. Costello, R. M. May, N. E. Stork. Can We Name Earth’s Species Before They Go Extinct?
Science, 2013; 339 (6118): 413 DOI: 10.1126/science.1230318

Lots of herring hit Bay Area

Peter Fimrite San Francisco Chronicle January 25, 2013

Great swirling schools of herring converged in San Francisco Bay this month, drawing fishermen, sea lions, harbor seals and thousands upon thousands of birds looking to fatten up for the winter. The menagerie of wildlife is a sign that the bay’s once spectacular herring runs, which collapsed four years ago, are returning to their former glory. The San Francisco run is the last urban fishery in the United States in which people can actually sit on shore and watch commercial boats haul in the squiggling fish. As many as 12,000 birds converged on Richardson Bay, in Marin County, this week as the herring arrived en masse to lay and fertilize eggs, or roe, a delicacy for a wide variety of species, including sushi-loving humans. Fishermen scrambled to cast their nets amid the swooping, honking, squawking hordes.

“It is such an inspiration. There is something electric about a herring run,” said Anna Weinstein, the seabird program manager for Audubon California. “To have such an exciting event, especially here in San Francisco, is really cool and exciting.” The herring, which live up to nine years and can grow to more than 12 inches long, spend most of their lives in the open ocean. They come to spawn in the bay and its estuaries in November, where they congregate in masses that, if they were all netted, would weigh more than 50,000 tons, experts calcu The arrival of the herring is a big thing, Bartling said, particularly in the wake of their nearly catastrophic decline. The number of herring seen in the bay dropped steadily starting in the late 1990s and reached a historic low in 2009, forcing the state to close the fishing season for the winter.

Scientists believe warmer water and a lack of krill and other food sources in the ocean caused the decline. The arrival of herring is good for the fishing and sushi industries, but it is a bonanza for the marine ecosystem, where the herring are a crucial cog in the food chain, Weinstein said. Harbor seals, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins, brown pelicans, 11 species of seagulls, cormorants, scaups, scoters and grebes rush from all directions into San Francisco Bay to feast on fish and eggs during the herring run.
“It is the biggest estuarine wildlife event in the winter in California,” Weinstein said. ….

Linking animal-borne video to accelerometers reveals prey capture variability

Yuuki Y. Watanabe1 and Akinori Takahashi National Institute of Polar Research, Tachikawa, Tokyo 190-8518, Japan

January 22, 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1216244110 Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences

Click here for some great: VIDEOS of Adélie penguins!

ABSTRACT: Understanding foraging is important in ecology, as it determines the energy gains and, ultimately, the fitness of animals. However, monitoring prey captures of individual animals is difficult. Direct observations using animal-borne videos have short recording periods, and indirect signals (e.g., stomach temperature) are never validated in the field. We took an integrated approach to monitor prey captures by a predator by deploying a video camera (lasting for 85 min) and two accelerometers (on the head and back, lasting for 50 h) on free-swimming Adélie penguins. The movies showed that penguins moved the heads rapidly to capture krill in midwater and fish (Pagothenia borchgrevinki) underneath the sea ice. Captures were remarkably fast (two krill per second in swarms) and efficient (244 krill or 33 P. borchgrevinki in 78–89 min). Prey captures were detected by the signal of head acceleration relative to body acceleration with high sensitivity and specificity (0.83–0.90), as shown by receiver-operating characteristic analysis. Extension of signal analysis to the entire behavioral records showed that krill captures were spatially and temporally more variable than P. borchgrevinki captures. Notably, the frequency distribution of krill capture rate closely followed a power-law model, indicating that the foraging success of penguins depends on a small number of very successful dives. The three steps illustrated here (i.e., video observations, linking video to behavioral signals, and extension of signal analysis) are unique approaches to understanding the spatial and temporal variability of ecologically important events such as foraging.



Curious interaction in regeneration of oak forests: Voles know which acorns have insect larvae
(January 22, 2013) — Researchers have observed as voles are able to distinguish the acorns containing insect larvae from those that do not. This fact determines the dispersion and germination of acorns, and therefore the regeneration of forests of oaks. … > full story


From Sea to Source: International Guidance for the Restoration or Fish Migration Highways
From Sea To Source is the result of collaborations and partnerships with fisheries professionals all over the world, drawn together to provide a major new text on the theme of fish migration. The underlying concept is the increasingly recognized need for preservation but, more frequently, the restoration of free migration for all species of fish. There has in the past been a central theme of inadequate understanding of fish and fisheries ecology, a naive presumption that whatever we do will have no damaging effect on river ecosystems, and an underlying prioritization of economics above all other factors. Today in the 21st century the tide is changing in most parts of the world and the emphasis is increasingly on the restoration of river basin environments, often because of the significant ecosystem services that, after all, they provide.


Photo by Carl Safina

Insanity Caused By Eating Bluefin Tuna

Posted by Carl Safina of Blue Ocean Institute in Ocean Views on January 10, 2013

Recently, the owner of several sushi restaurants in Japan paid nearly $1.8 million U.S. dollars for a single bluefin tuna.  Last year this same individual paid what was then a record price—about $ 740,000. With this year’s fish the man outdid—not to say outbid—himself. But presumably other bidders were pushing the price into orbit before the auctioneer pronounced, “Sold!” Why would anyone pay that much for one fish, wholesale? Well, first of all, I have no idea if he can retail it at a profit. If he can, the problem is bigger than the fish. There is some of the old supply and demand at work. This year’s fish weighed about 500 pounds; not particularly large for this species, which can reach three times that size. Or could. If they survived that long. Bluefin tuna are everywhere depleted by overfishing, down to single-digit percentages of former abundance in most places where they still swim. Bluefins criss-cross the North Pacific on great migrations, transiting from Japan to Mexico…..


Puzzling Plumage: Fractals Reveal Birds’ Health

Clara Moskowitz, LiveScience Senior Writer Date: 25 January 2013 Time: 12:38 PM E

For birds, fractals are a turn on. A new study found that the complexity of fractal patterns on a bird’s chest communicates the animal’s fitness to potential mates. Scientists studied male and female red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa), which both display complicated black-and-white patterns of plumage on their chests. The size, shape and complexity of these patterns can be quantified by what’s known as fractal dimension (FD). Fractals are self-similar repeating patterns that show the same structure when zoomed in and out. Fractals are found throughout nature, from seashells to mountain ranges to broccoli, and apparently, the plumage of red-legged partridges.



Mother bear knows best place to call home
(January 22, 2013) — Mama bear appears to know best when it comes to selecting a place to call home, according to a new study. The research, which may ultimately help protect Alberta’s dwindling population of grizzly bears, is among the first of its kind to test the nature-versus-nurture debate on how large, free-ranging wildlife select habitat. … > full story


Reviving Europe’s Biodiversity: By Importing Exotic Animals

Scientists are conducting intriguing – and counterintuitive – experiments at several sites in Germany: Bringing back long-lost herbivores, such as water buffalo, to encourage the spread of native plants that have fared poorly in Europe’s human-dominated landscape


Farmers Could Lead Grasslands Conservation & Restoration In Australia
A bold new initiative undertaken by environmental researchers and farmers promises to help restore landscapes lost to human depredation. In one of the world’s largest conservation projects, researchers have developed a new, lost-cost system for monitoring recovery of wildlife and native trees and grasses on 153 farms spread over 172,000 square km of the critically endangered grassy woodlands of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. Under the Environmental Stewardship Program, landowners are contracted to restore grassy woodlands in New South Wales and Queensland farms over a period of 15 years.


Candid Camera For Endangered Birds

Midweekkauai  – ‎January 23, 2013‎

The native birdsof Kaua’i are in grave danger, but they have some dedicated friends in the Kaua’i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP).


New Dinosaur Fossil Challenges Bird Evolution Theory



January 24, 2013 — The discovery of a new bird-like dinosaur from the Jurassic period challenges widely accepted theories on the origin of flight. A new paper describes a new feathered dinosaur about 30 centimeters in … > full story



Some birds cancel their trips south

Marietta Times  – ‎ January 23, 2013‎

A mild winter has provided local bird enthusiasts with opportunities to see certain species of birds that can be rare this time of year.


Better outlook for dwindling black macaque population in Indonesia
(January 23, 2013) — Since at least the 1970s, the population of critically endangered Sulawesi black macaques living in an Indonesian nature reserve has been dropping. But a new study shows that the population has stabilized over the past decade. … > full story







The blue earth gone? From Peter Ward…worth reading/viewing:


Will global warming drive us extinct? A review of Peter Ward’s “Under a Green Sky”
Posted on
October 13, 2011

…..Here is Ward’s description of what “life” was like during the Triassic greenhouse mass extinction [with 1000 ppm CO2] to give you an idea of where Earth is headed for again:

Review: Under a Green Sky

Alex Steffen, 27 Apr 07

Ward takes us into the deep past, to the end of the Triassic, as a guide to what atmospheric carbon of 1,000 ppm (a concentration we will hit within the century if we don’t change our ways) might be like if we believe the paleontological record:

Waves slowly lap on the quiet shore, slow-motion waves with the consistency of gelatin. Most of the shoreline is encrusted with rotting organic matter, silk-like swathes of bacterial slick now putrefying under the blazing sun… [W]e look out on the surface of the great sea itself, and as far as the eye can see there is a mirrored flatness, an ocean without whitecaps. Yet that is not the biggest surprise. From shore to the horizon, there is but an unending purple color — a vast, flat, oily purple. No fish break its surface, no birds or any other kind of flying creatures dip down looking for food. The purple color comes from vast concentrations of floating bacteria, for the oceans of Earth have all become covered with a hundred-foot thick veneer of purple and green bacterial soup. …There is one final surprise. We look upward, to the sky. … We are under a pale green sky, and it has the smell of death and poison. We have gone to Nevada of 200 million years ago only to arrive under the transparent atmospheric glass of a greenhouse extinction event, and it is poison, heat and mass death that are found in this greenhouse.”

….. As Wallace Broecker says, “”The climate is an angry beast, and we are poking it with sticks”
Or, as Ward tells it: “Our world is hurtling toward carbon dioxide levels not seen since the Eocene epoch of 60 million years ago, which, importantly enough, occurred right after a greenhouse extinction.” This could begin to happen as soon as 2100, Ward says. Many babies today will be alive then. This is not some woo-woo future: this is the world we may be cooking up for our children

BIG THINK SMARTER FASTER- PETER WARDshort videosThe Seas Could Turn to Sulfur, Feeling the Heat….

Peter D. Ward, Ph.D., is a paleontologist and professor in the Departments of Geology and Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also serves as an adjunct professor of zoology and astronomy. His research specialties include the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event and mass extinctions generally. His books include the best-selling “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe” (co-author Donald Brownlee, 2000), “Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future” (2007), and “The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?” (2009).

And a fascinating TED talk and other links:

Peter Ward on Earth’s mass extinctions | Video on

TED Talks Asteroid strikes get all the coverage, but “Medea Hypothesis” author Peter Ward argues that most of Earth’s mass extinctions were caused by lowly

Loss of Arctic sea ice speeds domino effect of warming temperatures at high latitudes
(January 23, 2013) — Melting Arctic sea ice is no longer just evidence of a rapidly warming planet —- it’s also part of the problem. … > full story


NOAA: 2012 was the 10th warmest year on record. High resolution. (Credit: NOAA Visualization Lab).

NOAA: 2012 global temperatures 10th highest on record

According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature for 2012 marked the 10th warmest year since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 36th consecutive year with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average annual temperature was 1976. Including 2012, all 12 years to date in the 21st century (2001-2012) rank among the 14 warmest in the 133-year period of record. Only one year during the 20th century–1998–was warmer than 2012.

Most areas of the world experienced higher-than-average annual temperatures, including most of North and South America, most of Europe and Africa, and western, southern, and far northeastern Asia. Meanwhile, most of Alaska, far western Canada, central Asia, parts of the eastern and equatorial Pacific, southern Atlantic, and parts of the Southern Ocean were notably cooler than average. Additionally, the Arctic experienced a record-breaking ice melt season while the Antarctic ice extent was above average. This analysis (summary, full report) from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.



Greenland ice cores reveal warm climate of the past
(January 23, 2013) — Between 130,000 and 115,000 years ago, Earth’s climate was warmer than today. But how much warmer and what did it mean for the sea levels? As we face global warming, the answer to these questions is becoming very important. New research from the NEEM icecore drilling project in Greenland shows that the period was warmer than previously thought. The international project is led by the Niels Bohr Institute and the results are published in Nature. … > full story


Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt
07.24.12 NASA

Extent of surface melt over Greenland’s ice sheet on July 8 (left) and July 12 (right) 2012. Measurements from three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet had undergone thawing at or near the surface. In just a few days, the melting had dramatically accelerated and an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had thawed by July 12. In the image, the areas classified as “probable melt” (light pink) correspond to those sites where at least one satellite detected surface melting. The areas classified as “melt” (dark pink) correspond to sites where two or three satellites detected surface melting. The satellites are measuring different physical properties at different scales and are passing over Greenland at different times. As a whole, they provide a picture of an extreme melt event about which scientists are very confident. Credit: Nicolo E. DiGirolamo, SSAI/NASA GSFC, and Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory

Plant water demands shift with water availability
(January 22, 2013)
Plants can adapt to extreme shifts in water availability, such as drought and flooding, but their ability to withstand these extreme patterns will be tested by future climate change, according to a new study. …
In the United States, much of our agricultural productivity has depended on long-term precipitation regimes. But those patterns are changing and we need information for managing the effects of those shifts,” said ARS Administrator Edward B. Knipling. “These findings can help managers respond to the challenges of global climate change with effective strategies for maintaining agricultural productivity.” The researchers conducted their investigation using measurements made during 2000-2009 at 29 sites in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Australia. This provided data about precipitation patterns in environments ranging from grasslands to forests. Globally, the 2000-2009 decade ranked as the 10 warmest years of the 130-year (1880-2009) record. The team compared these data with measurements taken from 1975 to 1998 at 14 sites in North America, Central America, and South America. To calculate ecosystem water use, the scientists used satellite observations to approximate aboveground net plant productivity at each site. Then they combined these approximations with field data of precipitation and estimates of plant water loss to generate indicators of plant water use efficiency. The researchers observed that ecosystem water-use efficiency increased in the driest years and decreased in the wettest years. This suggests that plant water demand fluctuated in accordance with water availability and that there is a cross-community capacity for tolerating low precipitation and responding to high precipitation during periods of warm drought. However, the team observed that the water-use efficiency data exhibited a trend of “diminishing returns.” This suggests plant communities will eventually approach a water-use efficiency threshold that will disrupt plant water use and severely limit plant production when drought is prolonged. The scientists also used the data to develop predictions about future plant response to climate changes. Their results suggest that ecosystem resilience will decline as regions are subjected to continuing warming and drying trends. They project that this downturn will begin in grassland biomes because these plant communities are particularly sensitive to the hot and dry conditions of prolonged warm droughts. This work can help resource managers develop agricultural production strategies that incorporate changes in water availability linked to changing precipitation patterns….. full story

Guillermo E. Ponce Campos, M. Susan Moran, Alfredo Huete, Yongguang Zhang, Cynthia Bresloff, Travis E. Huxman, Derek Eamus, David D. Bosch, Anthony R. Buda, Stacey A. Gunter, Tamara Heartsill Scalley, Stanley G. Kitchen, Mitchel P. McClaran, W. Henry McNab, Diane S. Montoya, Jack A. Morgan, Debra P. C. Peters, E. John Sadler, Mark S. Seyfried, Patrick J. Starks. Ecosystem resilience despite large-scale altered hydroclimatic conditions. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nature11836


Climate Change Adaptation in Rural India: A Green Infrastructure Approach

Erin Gray on January 24, 2013

Water is a scarce resource in India, especially in the state of Maharashtra, where most rainfall is limited to the monsoon season from June through September. The Government of India has long promoted a Participatory Watershed Development (PWD) approach to deal with this scarcity, focusing on technical and social interventions to restore barren landscapes, boost agricultural production, and improve livelihoods. The PWD approach is now facing a major challenge: climate change. Over the past dozen years, India has experienced four major droughts. This past year, the state of Maharashtra received only 82 percent of its average monsoon rainfall; some districts received only 25-50 percent of average rainfall. For agrarian villages located in arid and semi-arid regions of Maharashtra, any small reduction in rainfall can compromise agricultural yields, drinking water supplies, and, really, the community’s entire existence. In the face of unabated climate change, reductions in monsoon rainfall are likely to become increasingly common. But there are solutions. The Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) is one organization that’s exploring ways to safeguard livelihoods in these regions in the face of changing environmental conditions and increasing water shortages…To address some near-term climate risks—specifically drought and weather fluctuations—WOTR is employing a Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) project. The initiative focuses on both expanding watershed development interventions to promote sustainable land management and providing new resilience-building strategies. WOTR’s CCA project is currently being implemented in 53 villages across three states in India. …

….Climate adaptation interventions include water-budgeting techniques, agro-meteorology installations, livelihood diversification, and biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. CCA interventions include water-budgeting techniques and technologies (like drip irrigation and planning for a variety of water needs), agro-meteorology installations that provide frequent and timely weather reports to villagers, agricultural intervention planning, livelihood diversification, and biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. The organization also promotes the use of solar energy devices for cooking and lighting–the former is particularly effective in conserving trees. In addition to helping villagers contend with an increasingly unpredictable climate, these treatments provide multiple ancillary benefits, such as habitat conservation, carbon sequestration, improvements in air and water quality and human health, and reduced soil erosion.

What Is Participatory Watershed Development?

PWD is a community-based approach that aims to enable rural communities to revitalize their natural resource base and the local economy. PWD treatments or interventions include rainwater capture infrastructure (e.g., farm ponds, check dams), soil erosion control activities (e.g., farm bunds, afforestation), capacity building and education efforts, female empowerment, crop planning, and biodiversity and ecosystem conservation.


Warmer soils release additional CO2 into atmosphere; Effect stabilizes over longer term
(January 20, 2013) — Warmer temperatures due to climate change could cause soils to release additional carbon into the atmosphere, thereby enhancing climate change – but that effect diminishes over the long term, finds a new study. The study sheds new light on how soil microorganisms respond to temperature and could improve predictions of how climate warming will affect the carbon dioxide flux from soils. … > full story



Climate change’s effects on temperate rain forests surprisingly complex
(January 18, 2013) — Longer, warmer growing seasons associated with a changing climate are altering growing conditions in temperate rain forests, but not all plant species will be negatively affected, according to new research. … > full story


CA Landscape Conservation Cooperative- 2012 REPORT -Highlights

2012 report of the CA LCC Highlights is now available on our website. Check out the project results, the new website, the Climate Commons, and more!



Seeking Clues About Sea Level From Fossil Beaches

By JUSTIN GILLIS (NYT) January 22, 2013

In a bid to better project the expected rise in sea level from global warming, a team is studying a past era, the Pliocene, that appears to have experienced a sharp rise, too.



Unprecedented glacier melting in the Andes blamed on climate change
(January 22, 2013) — Glaciers in the tropical Andes have been retreating at increasing rate since the 1970s, scientists write in the most comprehensive review to date of Andean glacier observations. The researchers blame the melting on rising temperatures as the region has warmed about 0.7°C over the past 50 years (1950-1994). This unprecedented retreat could affect water supply to Andean populations in the near future. … Glaciers are retreating everywhere in the tropical Andes, but the melting is more pronounced for small glaciers at low altitudes, the authors report. Glaciers at altitudes below 5,400 metres have lost about 1.35 metres in ice thickness (an average of 1.2 metres of water equivalent [see note]) per year since the late 1970s, twice the rate of the larger, high-altitude glaciers. “Because the maximum thickness of these small, low-altitude glaciers rarely exceeds 40 metres, with such an annual loss they will probably completely disappear within the coming decades,” says Rabatel. The researchers further report that the amount of rainfall in the region did not change much over the past few decades and, therefore, cannot account for changes in glacier retreat. Instead, climate change is to blame for the melting: regional temperatures increased an average of 0.15°C per decade over the 1950-1994 period. > full story


  1. Rabatel, B. Francou, A. Soruco, J. Gomez, B. Cáceres, J. L. Ceballos, R. Basantes, M. Vuille, J.-E. Sicart, C. Huggel, M. Scheel, Y. Lejeune, Y. Arnaud, M. Collet, T. Condom, G. Consoli, V. Favier, V. Jomelli, R. Galarraga, P. Ginot, L. Maisincho, J. Mendoza, M. Ménégoz, E. Ramirez, P. Ribstein, W. Suarez, M. Villacis, P. Wagnon. Current state of glaciers in the tropical Andes: a multi-century perspective on glacier evolution and climate change. The Cryosphere, 2013; 7 (1): 81 DOI: 10.5194/tc-7-81-2013



Study: South American Glaciers In Historic Retreat

By Jeff Spross on Jan 24, 2013 at 5:04 pm

One of the more dramatic effects of global warming is shrinking glaciers around the globe. 10 to 20 percent of glacier ice in the European Alps, for example, has been lost in less than two decades, and half the volume of the mountain range’s glacier ice has melted away since 1850. Thinning and melting rates in Alaskan glaciers more than doubled over the last decade, African glaciers have declined by 60 to 70 percent since the 1900s, and most Pacific glaciers are also receding. Summer ice coverage in the Arctic could disappear entirely within a decade, and Glacier National Park may not have any glaciers by 2030.

This isn’t just destructive to wildlife and ecosystems. Given their locations, glaciers can serve as crucial supplies of fresh water for various human populations — and as they shrink year after year, those supplies tighten. The latest example comes from a new report by The Cryosphere, which documents the shrinkage of glaciers in the Andes mountain range of South America. The glaciers have shrunk by at least a third, and possibly as much as half, since the 1970s alone. And the worst loss has been seen in the smaller, lower altitude glaciers which supply fresh water for many of the continent’s residents, according to a round-up of the report by Reuters:

Climate change has shrunk Andean glaciers between 30 and 50% since the 1970s and could melt many of them away altogether in coming years, according to a study published on Tuesday in the journal Cryosphere [see link above]



New York: ‘Fleeting Paradise’ Shows the Perils of Wetland Restoration
In the Bronx, three acres of newly planted wetlands were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. As New York seeks to fortify its coast, should it rebuild this ‘Paradise in the Bronx’? The vision of developer Steven Smith, who built the three acres of wetlands in exchange for the right to develop the remainder of the 28-acre site in the Bronx, the “verdant slopes and grassy marshes” that resulted from two years of planning, nine months of work, and $1.5 million, were “washed away in a matter of hours by Hurricane Sandy’s 13-foot storm surge.”…



NASA ozone study may benefit air standards, climate
(January 22, 2013) — A new NASA-led study finds that when it comes to combating global warming caused by emissions of ozone-forming chemicals, location matters. … > full story


This is an artist’s reconstruction of Sifrhippus sandrae (right) touching noses with a modern Morgan horse (left) that stands about 5 feet high at the shoulders and weighs about 1,000 pounds. Sifrhippus was the size of a small house cat (about 8.5 pounds) at the beginning of the Eocene (approximately 55.8 million years ago) and is the earliest known horse. (Credit: Danielle Byerley, Florida Museum of Natural History)

Earliest Horses Show Past Global Warming Affected Body Size of Mammals

Feb. 23, 2012 Science Daily — As scientists continue developing climate change projection models, paleontologists studying an extreme short-term global warming event have discovered direct evidence about how mammals respond to rising temperature

In a study appearing in Science Feb. 24, researchers from eight institutions led by scientists from the University of Florida and University of Nebraska found a correlation between temperature and body size in mammals by following the evolution of the earliest horses about 56 million years ago: As temperatures increased, their body size decreased. “Horses started out small, about the size of a small dog like a miniature schnauzer,” said co-author Jonathan Bloch, associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. “What’s surprising is that after they first appeared, they then became even smaller and then dramatically increased in size, and that exactly corresponds to the global warming event, followed by cooling. It had been known that mammals were small during that time and that it was warm, but we hadn’t understood that temperature specifically was driving the evolution of body size.”


Alaska Stream and Lake Temperature Monitoring Workshop Assesses Climate Change Challenges to Fisheries Management

Jan 18 2013 Which streams may become too hot for salmon or whitefish? Can we expect salmon to move north into streams where whitefish or sheefish now dominate? Will there be competition between the species? Which streams will remain colder and perhaps become refugia for the fish species there today? These are some of the questions that people are asking about climate change effects on fisheries. With the information available today in Alaska, it is very difficult to provide more than basic responses to these questions at a landscape scale. For this reason the Western Alaska and Northwest Boreal Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) and the Alaska Climate Science Center teamed together with the Wildlife Management Institute to host a Stream and Lake Temperature Monitoring Workshop in November 2012.   




Outdoor rink climate change project gets hundreds of citizen scientists January 23, 2013

An Ontario university’s research that involves recruiting outdoor rinks to help track climate change has now signed up hundreds of volunteers, in a citizen science-driven project that is far surpassing its creators’ expectations.


Climate change could cause massive losses in Pyrenees ski resorts
(January 23, 2013) — An increase in temperatures due to climate change could mean that the Andorran ski resorts have a shorter season in the future, especially in lower areas. An increase of 4 ºC would stop the artificial snow machines from maintaining the ski season in the lowest areas. … > full story


The Citizen Science of Climate Change: We are not bystanders

By Caren Cooper Posted: January 24, 2013

Superstorm Sandy prior to the 2012 Presidential election put climate change on the mind of many voters. Earlier this month, a Federal Advisory Committee of 13 collaborating agencies released a Draft Climate Assessment Report for public review. The data show the climate is already changing: rising sea-level, ocean acidification, damage to infrastructure, and impacts on human health, water resources, and agriculture. Because the data make it hard to remain optimistic, many were thankful to hear Obama say at his inauguration, “We’ll respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.

One overlooked aspect of the data, however, can also give us reason for optimism. Although credit for the report is given to 240+ scientists and engineers who compiled the evidence about global climate change, the backbone of the knowledge presented arises from efforts of unsung (and unwitting) heroes: people who collect weather data. The coordinated, cross-generational, collective nature of the public data-collection efforts reveals an unexploited strength in our society that should give us hope.




How To Make Gasoline From Tar Sands, In Six Simple Steps

Posted: 24 Jan 2013 08:37 AM PST By Jim Meyer via Grist

Ever wonder about the future of energy? Will it be wind? Solar? Geothermal? No wait, I got it, tar sands! (Let’s try that again — tar sands!) They’ve got everything oil does, but they’re harder to get, crappier when you get them, and leave a much bigger mark on the climate. Sounds like a winner. Let’s look a little closer, shall we? First off, what are tar sands? Tar sands are deposits of about 90 percent sand or sandstone, water, and clay mixed with only about 10 percent high-sulfur bitumen, a viscous black petroleum sludge rich in hydrocarbons, also known as “natural asphalt.” The Athabasca reserves, in Alberta, Canada, estimated to hold about 170 billion barrels, are the site of the only commercial tar-sands operation in the world. (Though, spoiler alert, that’s about to change.) It’s one of the largest industrial programs on the planet and could eventually cover an area larger than the state of Florida — and it’s sprouting an enormous oily ganglion known as the Keystone XL pipeline, which, if completed, would pump 1.1 million barrels of bitumen sludge a day, crisscrossing much of the continent’s freshwater supply, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Sound like a complicated way to create oil, gasoline, and diesel? Naw. Ain’t no thing. Just follow these simple instructions:

1. Change the name from tar sands to oil sands. Even though there’s no actual oil in them, you’re already that much closer to that sweet Texas Tea. I mean, tar is the reason we don’t have mastodons. Nobody wants tar. But everybody wants oil — we put it in our cars and on our salads!

2. Clear-cut all that unsightly boreal forest. This, admittedly, can be a bit of a bear — or, more likely, lots of bears, and lynxes, and trees, and anything else that creeps, crawls, grows, or flies, and, in the name of tar sands, will also need to die.

3. Get yourself some massive excavators, the biggest moveable objects on the planet, each capable of gouging out 10,000 square meters of earth an hour, and set about ripping pits into the planet 15 stories deep. Use the excavators to fill enormous dump trucks, 22 feet high and nearly 50 feet long, and capable of hauling 400 tons a load — which is good, because we’re far from done, and it takes a lot of sand to make a little oil.

4. To extract the bitumen from the sands, you’ll need to crush the sands with enormous machines creatively known as crushers. Mix the crushed sands with hot water to form a slurry, then agitate the slurry (interestingly, also a major step in most British cooking) so the bitumen sludge can be scooped out. The stuff is still too thick to transport, though, so you’ll need to cut it with solvents so it can be shipped via pipeline for processing.

5. Now you’re ready to get started! Of course you’ve got a problem. Somebody added solvents to our tar, so here comes the hydro-treating that removes the solvents, along with as much nitrogen, sulfur, and other metals as we can get out. The process uses a lot of water and energy in the form of natural gas and oil. (Hey, what are we trying to make again?) Next, heat it again to remove carbon and add hydrogen as part of the upgrading process to make this sludge useful.

6. The bitumen still needs to be refined, so it’s off again into another pipeline to an oil refinery, though most of the old refineries aren’t up to the task of handling the filthy bitumen, so you’ll need to build new refineries or upgrade old ones. Presto! You’re cooking with gas!

After all of this, it takes as much as four tons of sand and four barrels of fresh water to make a barrel of synthetic oil, which is good for about 42 gallons of gas, or one fill up in a ’97 Suburban. The good news is about 10 percent of that water is recycled! (On the downside, the other 90 percent is dumped into toxic tailing ponds, which currently cover about 50 square kilometers [19 square miles] along the Athabasca River, and is leaking into the ecosystem at a rate of perhaps 11 million liters a day.)

Sounds great, huh? That’s probably why the state of Utah has given final approval to open the world’s second commercial tar-sands project. The Alberta operation uses more water than a city of a million people each year. Seems like a perfect fit for Utah. I’m sure the 2 million-plus people in the greater Salt Lake City area will switch to (caffeine-free) Pepsi!

Not everyone seems quite as enthused as Utah, however. The E.U. attempted to single out tar sands as “highly polluting,” and Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the British Liberal Dems, compared them to land mines, blood diamonds, and cluster bombs. This side of the pond, James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Space Studies Institute, warned that exploiting all of Canada’s tar sands would bethe final nail in the climate coffin, and that heading down that road will lead to a global game over.

But what do those guys know? Just follow the steps and making oil out of tar sands is as easy as falling out of bed. And besides, tar sands isn’t game over, it’s a new beginning.

– Jim Meyer is a Baltimore-based stand-up comedian, actor, retired roller derby announcer, and freelance writer. Follow his exploits here. Reprinted from Grist with permission.

Click here to join us in DC: Together we’ll send the message loud and clear: ‘If you’re serious about protecting future generations from climate change, stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. If you can do that, Mr. President, we can all work together to help build a climate legacy that will be a credit to your critical eight years in office.’


Expanding Dust Bowls Worsening Food Prospects in China and Africa
When most people hear the term “dust bowl,” they think of the American heartland in the 1930s, when a homesteading wheat bonanza led to the plowing up of the Great Plains’ native grassland, culminating in the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Unfortunately, dust bowls are not just relics of the past. Today two new dust bowls are forming: one in northern China and southern Mongolia and the other in Africa south of the Sahara. Desertification is particularly acute in Burkina Faso, Chad, and Niger, as well as in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, where an estimated 868,000 acres are lost to desert each year. Noting that an extraordinary 90 percent of China’s grasslands are degraded, the Chinese government has embarked on restoration programs, including re-vegetation, grazing bans, and livestock confinement.




Climate change beliefs of independent voters shift with the weather
(January 24, 2013) — There’s a well-known saying in New England that if you don’t like the weather here, wait a minute. When it comes to independent voters, those weather changes can just as quickly shift beliefs about climate change. … > full story








Kerry Pledges To Confront Climate Change: ‘I Will Be A Passionate Advocate’ Of ActionVIDEO

By Rebecca Leber on Jan 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm

At his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) took a strong position on the urgent need for climate action.

Kerry’s likely confirmation is good news for confronting climate change. He has a long career as a climate hawk, taking to the Senate floor to call for action on our “biggest long-term threat” to national security. With the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline in the next Secretary of State’s hands, his remarks may mean some hope for the administration’s decision on the tar sands project. He urged senators to consider the cost of climate inaction, saying “I will spend a lot of time trying to persuade you and other colleagues of this.”

Kerry responded forcefully to Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-WY) concerns over environmental protections hampering the economy:

I would respectfully say to you that climate change is not something to be feared in response to — the steps to respond to — it’s to be feared if we don’t. 3,500 communities in our nation last year broke records for heat … and we had a derailment because of it. We had record fires. We had record levels of damage from sandy, $70 billion. If we can’t see the downside of spending that money and risking lives for all the changes that are taking place, to agriculture, to our communities, the ocean and so forth, we are ignoring what science is telling us. I will be a passionate advocate on this not based on ideology but based on facts and science, and I hope to sit with all of you and convince you that this $6 trillion market is worth millions of American jobs and we better go after it.

Watch it: Kerry also noted the extraordinary success story renewables play in his home state’s economy. “I can tell you, Massachusetts, fastest growing sector of our economy is clean energy and energy efficiency companies. And they’re growing faster than any other sector,” he said…..


Kerry says global climate change is threat to U.S.

By Juliet Eilperin, Published: January 24

Calling himself “a passionate advocate” for energy policy, Sen. John Kerry said Thursday that climate change was among the top international threats facing the United States, cheering environmentalists and disappointing oil industry officials, who have been watching how his confirmation as secretary of state could affect the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline.

In his opening statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry said that American foreign policy “is defined by life-threatening issues like climate change,” along with political unrest in Africa and human trafficking across the globe. Kerry, the panel’s outgoing chairman, has made the issue of global warming central to his career in public service. The Massachusetts Democrat has traveled repeatedly to international climate negotiations and pushed in the Senate — unsuccessfully — for a limit on national greenhouse gas emissions.

Later this year, the State Department must decide whether to grant TransCanada a presidential permit to build the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline extension, which would carry heavy crude oil from Canada’s oil sands to America’s Gulf Coast refineries. Climate activists warn that the project would be devastating to the planet, while proponents say it would boost the nation’s energy security and generate short-term construction jobs.

Referring to the pipeline during the hearing, Kerry said that “it would not be long before it crosses my desk. But he did not offer his opinion on the project. He responded more forcefully, however, when Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) argued that stricter environmental regulations would harm the economy but have little impact on global climate….


Exclusive: Billionaires secretly fund attacks on climate science

Audit trail reveals that donors linked to fossil fuel industry are backing global warming sceptics

Steve Connor Thursday 24 January 2013 Independent UK

A secretive funding organisation in the United States that guarantees anonymity for its billionaire donors has emerged as a major operator in the climate “counter movement” to undermine the science of global warming, The Independent has learnt.

The Donors Trust, along with its sister group Donors Capital Fund, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is funnelling millions of dollars into the effort to cast doubt on climate change without revealing the identities of its wealthy backers or that they have links to the fossil fuel industry. However, an audit trail reveals that Donors is being indirectly supported by the American billionaire Charles Koch who, with his brother David, jointly owns a majority stake in Koch Industries, a large oil, gas and chemicals conglomerate based in Kansas.

Millions of dollars has been paid to Donors through a third-party organisation, called the Knowledge and Progress Fund, with is operated by the Koch family but does not advertise its Koch connections.

Some commentators believe that such convoluted arrangements are becoming increasingly common to shield the identity and backgrounds of the wealthy supporters of climate scepticism – some of whom have vested interests in the fossil-fuel industry.

The Knowledge and Progress Fund, whose directors include Charles Koch and his wife Liz, gave $1.25m to Donors in 2007, a further $1.25m in 2008 and $2m in 2010. It does not appear to have given money to any other group and there is no mention of the fund on the websites of Koch Industries or the Charles Koch Foundation…..


World Bank President On Climate Crisis: ‘If There Is No Action Soon, The Future Will Become Bleak’

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 09:32 AM PST

Jim Yong Kim Promises To Factor In Global Warming “With Every Investment We Make And Every Action We Take.”

You may recall the shocking World Bank Climate Report from November that concluded: “A 4°C [7°F] world can, and must, be avoided” to avert “devastating” impacts. What impacts? The must-read report warns that “we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.” Now World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has a strong WashPost op-ed that warns “we need to get serious fast” to avoid the looming “climate catastrophe.” He explains:

The signs of global warming are becoming more obvious and more frequent. A glut of extreme weather conditions is appearing globally. And the average temperature in the United States last year was the highest ever recorded….

If there is no action soon, the future will become bleak. The World Bank Group released a reportin November that concluded that the world could warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) by the end of this century if concerted action is not taken now.

A world that warm means seas would rise 1.5 to 3 feet, putting at risk hundreds of millions of city dwellers globally. It would mean that storms once dubbed “once in a century” would become common, perhaps occurring every year. And it would mean that much of the United States, from Los Angeles to Kansas to the nation’s capital, would feel like an unbearable oven in the summer.


Climate Change Report Warns of Dramatically Warmer World This Century


  • New World Bank-commissioned report warns the world is on track to a “4°C world” marked by extreme heat-waves and life-threatening sea level rise.
  • Adverse effects of global warming are “tilted against many of the world’s poorest regions” and likely to undermine development efforts and goals.
  • Bank eyes increased support for adaptation, mitigation, inclusive green growth and climate-smart development.

November 18, 2012 – Like summer’s satellite image of the melting Greenland ice sheet, a new report suggests time may be running out to temper the rising risks of climate change.

Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided,” (pdf) (eBook version) warns we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.

Moreover, adverse effects of a warming climate are “tilted against many of the world’s poorest regions” and likely to undermine development efforts and global development goals, says the study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, on behalf of the World Bank. The report, urges “further mitigation action as the best insurance against an uncertain future.” A 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2°C…..

–  Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group

“A 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2°C,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest.”



China and Australia top list of ‘carbon bomb’ projects

Oliver Milman, Tuesday 22 January 2013 08.00 EST

Greenpeace analysis shows 14 planned giant fossil fuel projects will increase global emissions by 20%

The Shengli opencast coal mine in Xilin Hot, Inner Mongolia. China’s five north-western provinces aim to increase coal production by 620m tonnes by 2015. Photograph: Lu Guang/Greenpeace

China and Australia top a global list of planned oil, gas and coal projects that will act as “carbon bombs” and push the planet towards catastrophic climate change, a Greenpeace report warned on Tuesday. The Point of No Return study, by consultancy firm Ecofys for Greenpeace, calculated that the 14 giant fossil fuel projects would produce 6.3 gigatonnes of CO2 a year in 2020 – as much as the entire United States emits annually. The largest contributors will be China’s five north-western provinces, which aim to increase coal production by 620m tonnes by 2015, generating an additional 1.4bn tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. Australia’s burgeoning coal export industry, already the largest in the world, is in second place due to its potential growth to 408m tonnes of shipped resource a year by 2025, resulting in an annual 760m tonnes of CO2. Meanwhile, controversial exploitation of oil and gas reserves in the Arctic could release 520m tonnes of CO2 a year, with further major emissions set to flow from other new fossil fuel frontiers, such as tar sands oil in Canada and shale gas in the US….



Obama Wants To Build On Climate Accomplishments

by Scott Horsley NPR Morning Edition

January 23, 2013

President Obama vowed in this week’s inaugural speech to address climate change. The comments recevied a chilly reception in Congress. There are, however, steps the administration can take on its own.



Climate Change Series: The Governance Challenge

WBUR Wed, Jan 23, 2013 by Bill Moomaw and Sonia Hamel

Climate change is a thorny political issue. But experts say without prompt action, the future is looking hot and dangerous. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, pictured here on Jan. 11, says one of his top priorities for 2013 is to reach a new agreement on climate change.


President Barack Obama pledged in his inaugural address on Monday to respond to the threat of climate change, saying: “The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But Americans cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.” So, why is addressing climate change so ‘difficult’?

A lot of reasons. But perhaps most significantly: It requires fundamental changes to the way we live and power our lives — changes that some key global industries find threatening. It’s also not universally accepted as science. Obama, in his address, acknowledged the skepticism: “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.” Tufts University professor Bill Moomaw and consultant Sonia Hamel weigh in on the political challenges presented by climate change and, the ways in which governments struggle (with some success) to meet them…..



Carney rejects carbon tax proposal

3:40 PM 01/23/2013
White House spokesman Jay Carney Jan. 23 deflated environmentalists’ hope of a major federal program to counter climate change, by declaring that the “we have no intention of proposing a carbon tax.” Carney’s statement is a letdown for progressive climate-control advocates, who say the federal government has the regulatory and taxing power to try to affect the globe’s temperature by curbing the release of carbon dioxide from cars, houses, factories, power plants.

On Jan 9, Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Saunders introduced a bill that would levy a tax on companies that generate carbon dioxide. The bill is unlikely to pass, partly because economists argue it would further burden the nation’s slow growing economy.


Two Hopeful Signs The Obama Administration Will Not Approve Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

Posted: 23 Jan 2013 09:25 AM PST Joe Romm

50-50. Those were the odds you could get in DC for a bet on whether or not Obama would ultimately approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. But this week I think the odds turned against the pipeline, for two reasons:

  1. Obama devoted far more of his second inaugural address to climate change than anybody expected — and framed the issue in stark, moral terms.
  2. The State Department decision won’t come until after March, which means it will almost certainly be made by the new Secretary, climate hawk John Kerry.

Since so much as been written about the first point, let me start with the second. NBC reports: “We don’t anticipate being able to conclude our own review before the end of the first quarter of this year,” said Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman at the State Department, which had previously said it would make a decision by that deadline. The review is followed by a public comment period and then a final decision. That timeline means State’s decision will very likely be made by the man Obama nominated to replace Hillary Clinton.

Recall Kerry’s Senate speech this summer slamming the U.S. political discussion as a “conspiracy of silence … a story of disgraceful denial, back-pedaling, and delay that has brought us perilously close to a climate change catastrophe.” He goes on to say:

“It is a conspiracy that has not just stalled, but demonized any constructive effort to put America in a position to lead the world on this issue….Climate change is one of two or three of the most serious threats our country now faces, if not the most serious, and the silence that has enveloped a once robust debate is staggering for its irresponsibility…. I hope we confront the conspiracy of silence head-on and allow complacence to yield to common sense, and narrow interests to bend to the common good. Future generations are counting on us.”….



Nebraska Governor Approves Keystone XL Route

By JOHN M. BRODER 10:18 PM ET January 22, 2013 NYTIMES Gov. Dave Heineman’s decision puts final approval for the pipeline in the hands of the Obama administration.


53 senators urge approval of Keystone XL pipeline

Posted:  01/23/2013 3:07 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than half the Senate on Wednesday urged quick approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ramping up pressure on President Barack Obama to move ahead with the project just days after he promised in his inaugural address to respond vigorously to the threat of climate change. At a news conference Wednesday, senators said the pipeline should be a key part of Obama’s “all of the above” energy policy, in which he has expressed support for a range of energy sources from oil and natural gas to wind, solar and coal.

Full Story >>




Climate Change Given Prominence in Address


Democrats said the president would start an aggressive campaign to address the issue, using his executive powers to sidestep Congressional opposition. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Mr. Obama said, at the start of eight full sentences on the subject, more than he devoted to any other specific area. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

The central place he gave to the subject seemed to answer the question of whether he considered it a realistic second-term priority. He devoted scant attention to the subject in the campaign and has delivered a mixed message about its importance since the election. Mr. Obama is heading into the effort having extensively studied the lessons from his first term, when he failed to win passage of comprehensive legislation to reduce emissions of the gases that cause global warming. This time, the White House plans to avoid such a fight and instead focus on what it can do administratively to reduce emissions from power plants, increase the efficiency of home appliances and have the federal government itself produce less carbon pollution….. … Despite the renewed attention to climate change following Hurricane Sandy and record-high temperatures in the continental United States last year, there is little sign that the politics of the issue will get any easier for Mr. Obama. But Anthony Leiserowitz, a specialist on climate change communications at Yale University, said a recent survey found that people across party lines, including 52 percent of Republicans, support taking action to reduce global warming. “Obama is not running for election again, and in a sense that frees him,” Mr. Leiserowitz said. “There are a lot of calls for him now to hold that national conversation and say to the American people, ‘We’re seeing these impacts, we’re vulnerable, we need to be taking much more significant action to prepare ourselves and reduce our risks in the future.’ ”



Obama…: Failure To Respond To Threat Of Climate Change, ‘Would Betray Our Children And Future Generations’

Posted: 21 Jan 2013 09:22 AM PST Joe Romm

Obama went all climate hawk on America in his second inaugural address (full text here). These are, I believe, his longest and strongest remarks on the subject in any major national speech, let alone one of this import:

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaksThat is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”

We will soon see if these words have any meaning whatsoever — since approving the Keystone XL pipeline would utterly vitiate them.



Obama Brings God Into the Climate-Change Fight

By Will Oremus Posted Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, at 2:14 PM ET

Climate change and environmental policy have always been on President Obama’s agenda. But rarely have they been so central as they were in his inaugural address on Monday, when the environment was the first issue Obama brought up after his full-throated defense of economic fairness.  As usual, and in keeping with the high-minded tone of his speech, there were few policy specifics. (The Washington Post’s Brad Plumer has a good rundown of what might be feasible in the president’s second term.) What was interesting was how he framed the issue: not just as one of responsibility to future generations, but as one of responsibility to God. Here’s what he said:

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared. “

If Obama were just paying lip service to climate change to please his backers on the left—as he has sometimes been accused of doing—the reference to “science” would have been quite sufficient. By bringing in God, he’s attempting to reframe the issue as one that transcends not only partisanship but the divide between those who believe in science and those who doubt science but believe in God. Left or right, atheist or creationist—either way, Obama is saying, we’ve got to do something.



Northeast Faces Stark Choice on Climate Pollution

By PETER SHATTUCK and DANIEL L. SOSLAND (NYT) January 25, 2013 Compiled: 12:56 AM

The future of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a market-based cap-and-trade system, is in question.



History Shows U.S. Can Tackle Pollution And Climate Change

Posted: 23 Jan 2013 08:05 AM PST

President Nixon signs the 1969 National Environmental Protection Act

By Arpita Bhattacharyya, Center for American Progress

President Obama’s strong remarks on climate change yesterday left the environmental community hopeful that actions will soon follow his words. The Center for American Progress has laid out a blue print for how the President can move forward on climate change and energy, and most of those recommended actions can be taken now through executive orders, including setting carbon-pollution standards for existing power plants, oil refineries, and other major industrial sources under the federal Clean Air Act.



Farm Bill Extension Included in Fiscal Cliff Deal

Jan 18 2013 The “fiscal cliff” package, passed by Congress on New Year’s Day and signed by the President on January 2nd, includes a partial extension of the 2008 Farm Bill until September 30, 2013. The legislation includes provisions to avoid substantial increases in the price of milk and continues direct payments for commodity crops, but failed to fully extend the conservation title, according to the Wildlife Management Institute.



As The Music Stops For Superstorm Sandy Funding, NOAA Left Without A Chair

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 08:55 AM PST By Michael Conathan Next week the Senate is expected to take up and pass the House’s version of a disaster relief package for areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, which passed on January 15. The relief has been a long time coming: It has been nearly three months since the superstorm devastated coastlines from Maryland to Massachusetts….With Senate passage of the House version of this legislation all but assured, it appears the window has closed for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to receive any additional funding for coastal restoration. And that is a financial and environmental disaster adding insult to injury in a region desperate for relief. …



US: Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill Fails to Face Coastal Realities
As part of the sorely-needed aid package to help victims of Hurricane Sandy, Congress is also considering spending billions on ill-advised and environmentally damaging beach and coastal rebuilding projects that ignore the looming threats of rising seas and intensifying storms


A Sweltering Planet’s Agenda: Washington Post Editorial Board Calls For Carbon Tax

Posted: 14 Jan 2013 08:28 AM PST

Okay, a carbon tax is a pretty obvious choice if one cares at all about science, humanity, and the national debt. Still, it’s nice to see even a centrist group like the Washington Post editorial board endorse it. In a piece headlined, “A sweltering planet’s agenda,” they explain that 2012 “offers a vision of what will happen more often on a planet that is heating — slowly and fitfully, not every year warmer than the last, but inexorably.” They note that lack of absolute certainty as to just how bad global warming will be is no excuse for inaction. Quite the reverse…


Reuters AlertNet (blog)  – ‎Jan 16, 2013‎

In response to climate change, two main groups of actions are currently in use: mitigation and adaptation. REDD+ (mitigation) has risen significantly on the agenda amongst countries such as Norway and US states such as California who are willing to







Third National Climate Assessment Report- DRAFT

January 11, 2013 Today, the National Climate Assessment Development and Advisory Committee (NCADAC), the federal advisory committee for the National Climate Assessment, approved their draft of the Third National Climate Assessment Report for release for public comment. The draft report is available for download – both as a single document and by chapter – at . The public comment period for the report will run January 14 – April 12, 2013. All comments must be submitted via the online comment tool that will be available from beginning on January 14. The draft will be undergoing review by the National Research Council at the same time. The draft report is a product of the NCADAC and is not a product of the federal government. The authors of the report will use the comments received during the public comment period to revise the report before submitting it to the government for consideration…..



The National Climate Assessment Report:  A briefing on the Public Review Draft with a focus on Ecosystems and Biodiversity


Wednesday, February 06, 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern

  • Dr. Virginia Burkett, Chief Scientist, Climate and Land Use Change at the U.S. Geological Survey 
  • Dr. Michelle D. Staudinger, Postdoctoral Fellow, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and
    USGS National Climate Change & Wildlife Science Center

Description:  This webinar will provide participants with an overview of 1,100+ page National Climate Assessment report that was posted for 90-day public review on January 14, 2013. The scenarios used for the assessment and the approach for assessing impacts on U.S. sectors and regions will be presented, as well as the mechanism for providing comments. The second part of the webinar will be devoted to a presentation of the key findings of a report by 60 co-authors that was written to underpin the Ecosystems, Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services chapter of the National Climate Assessment.


1)      Before the webinar test your connection at:

a.      Note: You do not have to send your test results

2)      At the start of the webinar please go to:

3)      Click Enter as “Guest”

a.      Note: “Guests are not admitted into this meeting” will appear until the start of the webinar

4)      In the Name box-please enter your “full name” – “your agency” – “# of people watching with you”.

       For example: Ashley Fortune-FWS-1

This webinar will be recorded If you cannot attend the webinar it will be recorded, edited, and posted approximately 2 weeks after the presentation is given and posted on our Climate Change website:

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


Guide for Planners and Managers to Design Resilient Marine Protected Area Networks in a Changing Climate
January 28, 11-12 PT Registration at (more info below).

Jan 28 2:00-3:00 (eastern) webinar on the CEC’s forthcoming “how-to” Guide for Planners and Managers to Design Resilient Marine Protected Area Networks in a Changing Climate and its application to a North American context. Registration at (more info below). The guide is a product of the CEC’s Engaging Communities to Conserve Marine Biodiversity through the North American Marine Protected Areas Network (NAMPAN) project. This project is supported by a trinational network of government agencies, marine protected areas (MPA) managers, and other experts intended to strengthen the conservation of biodiversity in critical marine habitats.  The guide, to be launched on 28 January 2013, is divided into four guidelines that consider methods, practical considerations and resources:

  • Protect Species and Habitats with Crucial Ecosystem Roles or Those of Special Conservation Concern
  • Protect Potential Carbon Sinks
  • Protect Ecological Linkages and Connectivity Pathways for a Wide Range of Species
  • Protect the Full Range of Biodiversity Present in the Target Biogeographic Area

The guide is a practical companion to the CEC’s recently published Scientific Guidelines for Designing Resilient Marine Protected Area Networks in a Changing Climate.


The ecological effects of fuel treatments in US forests and how are we doing in the Sierra Nevada
January 28, 2013
12:10 PM to 1:00 PM

Brown Bag with Forestry:  A Lunch Webinar Series on Current Forest Science Research 
Presented by:
Professor Scott Stephens, UC Berkeley
Registration is required, however there is no cost. If you haven’t registered yet, on-line registration is available here. You can specify which sessions you are interested in. Once you have registered, we will send the link for the webinar to you, as well as other instructions for logging in. We will also send reminders for each session.

NoteAll sessions run from 12:10 PM to 1:00 PM; site will be available for login beginning at 12:00 noon)

  • January 28, 2013Prof. Scott Stephens, UC Berkeley – “The ecological effects of fuel treatments in the US and how we are doing in the Sierra Nevada.
  • February 25, 2013 – Prof. Kevin O’Hara, UC Berkeley – “Advances in Multiaged Silviculture
  • March 25, 2013 – Prof. and CE Specialist Maggi Kelly, UC Berkeley – “Finding the trees in the forest: using light detection and ranging (lidar) for forest science and management.
  • April 22, 2013 – Prof. Rob York, UC Berkeley – “Gap-based silviculture in mixed conifer forests
  • May 20, 2013 – Prof. John Battles, UC Berkeley – “The population dynamics of dead and dying trees: Managing an important habitat element and carbon pool in Sierran conifer forest.
  • June 17, 2013 – Dr. William Stewart, UC Berkeley – “A Carbon Calculator for Sustainable Forestry Operations.


Call for Abstracts: The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER)

The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER), a non-profit professional organization with members in more than 70 countries, is now accepting abstracts for oral and poster presentations at its 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, to be held October 6-11, 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. We welcome abstracts from restoration practitioners, researchers, and advocates addressing any aspect of ecological restoration, especially those that directly relate to the conference theme, Reflections on the Past, Directions for the Future.  The final deadline for abstract submissions is May 1, 2013. Program space is limited, however, and the Scientific Program Committee will review submissions on a rolling basis. We therefore encourage you to submit your abstract as soon as possible.  Please visit the conference website for more information and a link to the online submission form:


Fact Sheet on Local Governments, Extreme Weather and Climate Change 2012



ICLEI has developed a fact sheet detailing how 20 leading cities and counties have experienced extreme weather in 2012—as well as the past several years—and what actions they are taking to protect their community members, infrastructure, and economic assets. Click to view examples from Norfolk and Broward County to Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Eugene, OR.
Get the Fact Sheet (pdf)



31st Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference
The Salmonid Restoration Federation is pleased to host the 31st Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference at the River Lodge in Fortuna, California on March 13-16, 2013. This conference promises to be an exciting one, with some especially interesting field tours and great line-up for our Plenary Session, including Chuck Bonham, Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. SRF would greatly appreciate your help in getting the word out about the conference by including a small blurb (pasted below) about the conference in your event calendar or enewsletter. I am also including a longer article in case you have the space.
The link to the SRF conference information is:



Nevada: Resilient Landscapes: Planning for Floor, Drought & Fire July 21-24, 2013

2013 International Congress for Conservation Biology July 21-25, 2013

5Th National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER)- July 9- Aug 2, 2013

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


Spring 2013 Fungus Fair and Lunchtime Science Talks at Point Reyes National Seashore Sunday, January 27, 2013 10:00 am — 4:00 pm 8th Annual Fungus Fair Point Reyes National Seashore Bear Valley Visitor Center

Special Fungi Talks on January 27th (Bear Valley Visitor Center):

11:00 am Fungi and Sudden Oak Death Syndrome, by Brice McPherson

1:00 pm   Mushrooms for Dyes and Color, by Dorothy Beebee

3:00 pm   Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms, by Debbie Viess More info:




78th Conference Special Session to Look at Landscape Conservation in North America 

Jan 18 2013 The last decade has seen significant advancements in the nature and number of science-management partnerships that address landscape-level conservation throughout North America. Numerous federal and state agencies, as well as conservation NGO’s, have joined forces through these partnerships to advance conservation that is holistic, collaborative, adaptive and grounded in science to ensure the sustainability of our lands, waters, wildlife and cultural resources. Given that landscape-level conservation challenges often overlap and frequently transcend political boundaries, there exists innumerable opportunities for the various initiatives and partnerships to inform, interact and support each other. There is a need for increased communication, coordination and collaboration to avoid redundancy and ensure that these partnerships can help inform and deliver conservation efficiently.





NOAA RISA Federal Funding Opportunity
The NOAA Climate Program Office is pleased to announce that its Federal Funding Opportunity for the RISA program is now available at and directly by this link. On, search for Federal Funding Opportunity NOAA-OAR-CPO-2013-2003599 and download the full FFO and application information from that site.  By doing so, you will receive e-mail notifications of any changes to the FFO.  Please note that the deadlines for LOIs and full proposals are listed in the full FFO. Attached is the information sheet which contains the details of the FY13 priorities. Please review before contacting with questions.

Climate Funding Opportunities
The newest version of the Climate Funding Opportunities document is attached and posted on the Nature Conservancy’s Collaboratory for Adaptation to Climate Change website. Follow the link and click the black “download PDF” box on the right side of the page. This document provides a snapshot of currently available, climate-related funding opportunities (as of January 9th, 2013). We still plan to update this document twice per year, with the next version scheduled to be released in July or August of 2013.


NOAA: Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Funding Opportunities- Due February 19, 2013
NOAA’s Restoration Center recognizes that healthy habitat is critical to recover and sustain fish populations. To that end, NOAA is currently soliciting applications for restoration projects that use a habitat-based approach to foster species recovery and increase fish production. The funding opportunity will focus on projects that will aid in recovering listed species and rebuilding sustainable fish populations or their prey. Awards will likely range from $500,000 to $5 million over three years. NOAA will accept one, two, or three year proposals.









Trillions of dollars worth of oil found in Australian outback

Up to 233 billion barrels of oil has been discovered in the Australian outback that could be worth trillions of dollars, in a find that could turn the region into a new Saudi Arabia.

By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney 2:30PM GMT 24 Jan 2013

The discovery in central Australia was reported by Linc Energy to the stock exchange and was based on two consultants reports, though it is not yet known how commercially viable it will be to access the oil. The reports estimated the company’s 16 million acres of land in the Arckaringa Basin in South Australia contain between 133 billion and 233 billion barrels of shale oil trapped in the region’s rocks. It is likely however that just 3.5 billion barrels, worth almost $359 billion (£227 billion) at today’s oil price, will be able to be recovered.

The find was likened to the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale oil projects in the US, which have resulted in massive outflows and have led to predictions that the US could overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer as soon as this year.


New Paper from Terra Global Capital   Click for “Guidance and Best Practice for REDD+ Transactions pdf

REDD: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

The “Guidance and Best Practices for REDD+ Transactions Paper” was prepared by Terra Global through the FHI 360-managed FIELD-Support LWA and was designed to serve as a readable guide for REDD+ projects seeking guidance and best practices for REDD+ transactions, with a focus on private sources of REDD+ project financing.  While markets have successfully tied carbon finance to other sectors, securing private investment remains a key challenge for REDD+ developers.  In many cases, REDD+ developers lack familiarity with standards and expectations for commercial documents required by investors. This paper is intended to address that gap.



‘Rock dissolving’ method of geoengineering to mitigate climate change would not be easy
(January 21, 2013) — The benefits and side effects of dissolving particles in our ocean’s surfaces to increase the marine uptake of carbon dioxide, and therefore reduce the excess amount of it in the atmosphere, have been analyzed in a new study. Researchers calculate that if three gigatons of olivine were deposited into the oceans each year, it could compensate for only around nine per cent of present day anthropogenic CO2 emissions. … > full story


 The World Wastes As Much As Half Its Food, New Study Finds

Posted: 14 Jan 2013 10:58 AM PST

The world wastes from one-third to one-half of the four billion metric tons of food it produces each year, according to a report
released last week by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Because any item of food also represents an entire chain of production, wasted food also translates into wasted fresh water, wasted energy, wasted cropland, and further contributions to global warming with no discernible counter-balancing benefit.

And even as the world wastes huge amounts of food, its ability to produce that food is being put under added stress by global warming and climate change. Studies by
Oxfam and other research groups show extreme weather, higher temperatures, flooding and pest outbreaks could increasingly destabilize food production, driving prices up by as much as 180 percent by 2030. East Africa has already seen the worst drought in 60 years, decimating its food supply as climate change makes reduced rainfall a “chronic problem.”

The problem is especially unnerving because, as the report notes, the global population is expected to surge another 2.5 billion by 2075, bringing the total well beyond 9 billion. And according to the UN, nearly 870 million people were already chronically malnourished between 2010 and 2012. As societies become more affluent, global meat consumption per capita is expected to rise 40 percent by 2050, which exacerbates the problem as feeding people with meat is far more inefficient in terms of water, land, and energy input.







#ForwardOnClimate Rally on 2/17

At 12 Noon on Sunday, February 17, thousands of Americans will head to Washington, D.C. to make Forward on Climate the largest climate rally in history. Join this historic event to make your voice heard and help the president start his second term with strong climate action.

Crippling drought. Devastating wildfires. Superstorm Sandy. Climate has come home – and the American people get it.

The first step to putting our country on the path to addressing the climate crisis is for President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. His legacy as president will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in solving the climate crisis.


When: February 17th, at 12 Noon

Where: The National Mall, Washington D.C.

Who:, The Sierra Club and the Hip-Hop Caucus

Why: To tell Barack Obama it’s time to lead in the fight against climate change, beginning with the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. For more information about rides, housing and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, visit


Watch a Shroud of Cold Air Descend Across the Country

By Josh Voorhees Posted Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, at 10:53 AM ET

As anyone north of Florida has probably already pieced together for themselves by now, this week has been a bitterly cold one for most of the country. The bad news: The frosty weather is expected to stick around over the next few days for much of the country. The good news: NOAA has this rather awesome-looking video of how the cold air spread. It’s probably not an equal tradeoff for those of you living in Crane Lake, Minn. (where the mercury fell to negative-35 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday), but, hey, at least it’s something.



I Have A Dream

Posted: 21 Jan 2013 05:52 AM PST Joe Romm

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is an opportunity to learn from his strategic thinking and mastery of rhetoric. That is especially true on the day Obama will be delivering his second inaugural address. Consider King’s powerful words about the civil rights struggle, which echo today in the climate battle:

We are faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The ‘tide in the affairs of men’ does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.’

Note how King repeatedly uses key figures of speech — alliteration, metaphor — and extends the metaphor of another master of rhetoric, Shakespeare (Julius Caeser), all of which are classic oratorical strategies (see “How to be as persuasive as Lincoln, Part 1: Study the figures of speech and Shakespeare“). I think science has mostly told us what it can about the fiercely urgent need to act swiftly to avoid adding the bleached bones and jumbled residues of our civilization to the pile (see “A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice“). Our urgent need now is for much more persuasiveness (see Why scientists aren’t more persuasive, Part 1 and Part 2: Why deniers out-debate “smart talkers”). ….




The 5% climate solution
January 12, 2013 LA TIMES

Reader P.J. Gendell of Beverly Hills, in a letter published Thursday posed a question to journalist and climate-change activist Bill McKibben in response to his Jan. 6 Op-Ed article,Climate change won’t wait”:

“McKibben is very adamant that ‘if we’re to slow the pace of climate change, we need to cut emissions globally at a sensational rate, by something like 5% a year.’ Considering what a huge amount that is, it would be helpful for the professor to explain what the result would be if we somehow managed to do it.

“How much would that slow the pace of climate change? Would it make a significant difference, or would it simply be destroying modern economies for the sake of doing something? What will be the result if we don’t do it?”

Bill McKibben responds:

What a good and useful question. The figure of a 5% annual reduction in “carbon intensity” of our planet comes from a source most Angelenos will recognize: the accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Turns out that it does more than tally the votes for the Oscars; it also produces a wide variety of reports for various clients as they try to deal with the future.

In this case, its report, published in November, dealt with the following question: What would we need to do if we wanted to keep the planet’s temperature from increasing more than 2 degrees Celsius, which is the one thing even the planet’s most conservative governments, from China to the U.S. to the United Arab Emirates, have agreed on as a climate goal? (A 2-degree increase, it should be noted, is no picnic. So far we’ve raised the temperature 1 degree, and that’s been enough to melt much of the Arctic ice, so most scientists are horrified by the thought of a 2-degree rise. But on our current path, we’re headed for 6 degrees, which is a planet out of science fiction.)

Cutting emissions by 5% annually will be a very tall task; it’s far faster than we’ve gone in the past. It would require, in essence, putting our economies on a wartime footing, as we make the transition to renewable energy our highest societal priority.

Past wartime experience would indicate that yes, this will cost money. It would also indicate that the newly rebuilt economy will be far more efficient and productive — think back and compare the prewar economy of the 1930s and the postwar one of the 1950s.

As for “destroying modern economies,” the real danger lies in not doing anything about climate change. The most robust attempt to tally the likely damage — from the economist Nicholas Stern, who had been commissioned by the British government — found that the cost of unchecked global warming could pass the combined cost of both world wars and the Depression. To understand how such a thing might happen, consider the costs of this year’s drought and Superstorm Sandy: $100 billion price tags start to add up (and of course the biggest price was born by poor consumers around the world, many of whom saw the price of their daily bread rise painfully out of reach).

Bottom line: not easy or cheap, but easier and cheaper than the alternative of a hopelessly overheating world.


Derek Jeter is concerned about climate change January 23, 2013

“It’s just something that’s gotten so much attention,” Jeter said of climate change. “Regardless of how you feel about it, it’s something that needs to be addressed because we’re seeing more and more natural disasters each year, it seems like


A relative from the Tianyuan Cave: Humans living 40,000 years ago likely related to many present-day Asians and Native Americans
(January 21, 2013) — Ancient DNA has revealed that humans living some 40,000 years ago in the area near Beijing were likely related to many present-day Asians and Native Americans. … > full story

Global gene pool of goat is seriously under threat
(January 23, 2013) — Amongst the range of domestic livestock species, the goat is not just the ‘black sheep’ but a resource of survival in impoverished countries, and many breeds are at great risk of disappearing. … > full story

Residents near Chinese e-waste site face greater cancer risk
(January 23, 2013) — Residents living near an e-waste recycling site in China face elevated risks of lung cancer. … > full story

Memories of Long-Ago Birds

Audubon Magazine  – ‎January 24, 2013‎

In his 1947 classic of nature writing, Spring in Washington, Louis J. Halle described a moment of intense personal experience while watching birds early one March. Halle had arrived at Dyke Marsh, across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital


NZ to eradicate pet cats? Purr-ish the thought!

By NICK PERRY, Associated Press
Updated 7:11 pm, Tuesday, January 22, 2013WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Gareth Morgan has a simple dream: a New Zealand free of pet cats that threaten native birds. But the environmental advocate has triggered a claws-out backlash with his anti-feline campaign.

Morgan called on his countrymen Tuesday to make their current cat their last in order to save the nation’s unique bird species. He set up a website, called Cats To Go, depicting a tiny kitten with red devil’s horns. The opening line: “That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer.”

He doesn’t recommended people euthanize their current cats — “Not necessarily but that is an option” are the site’s exact words — but rather neuter them and not replace them when they die. Morgan, an economist and well-known businessman, also suggests people keep cats indoors and that local governments make registration mandatory. Morgan’s campaign is not sitting well in a country that boasts one of the highest cat ownership rates in the world…..
Health and environment: A closer look at plastics
(January 23, 2013) — Scientists have been following the chemical trail of plastics, quantifying their impact on human health and the environment. In a new overview, researchers detail the risks and societal rewards of plastics and describe strategies to mitigate their negative impacts, through reconsideration of plastic composition, use and disposal. … > full story


Air pollution and unhappiness correlated, study of Europeans shows
(January 18, 2013) — Researchers in Canada have found a correlation between air pollution and people’s happiness. Their deep analysis suggests that air pollution may lead to unhappiness while the converse is also true, the unhappier the citizens of a country the more air pollution. … > full story

BPA substitute could spell trouble: Experiments show bisphenol S also disrupts hormone activity
(January 22, 2013) — Researchers found that like BPA, BPS disrupts cellular responses to the hormone estrogen, changing patterns of cell growth and death and hormone release. Also like BPA, it does so at extremely low levels of exposure. … > full story


Jet fuel, plastics exposures cause disease in later generations; Reproductive diseases, obesity
(January 24, 2013) — Researchers have lengthened their list of environmental toxicants that can negatively affect as many as three generations of an exposed animal’s offspring. Among them: BPA and jet fuel. And they see a new outcome: Obesity. … > full story


Many apples a day keep the blues at bay
(January 23, 2013)
Eating more fruit and vegetables may make young people calmer, happier and more energetic in their daily life, new research suggests. ..
“After further analysis we demonstrated that young people would need to consume approximately seven to eight total servings of fruits and vegetables per day to notice a meaningful positive change. One serving of fruit or vegetables is approximately the size that could fit in your palm, or half a cup. My co-author Bonnie White suggests that this can be done by making half your plate at each meal vegetables and snacking on whole fruit like apples,” says Dr Conner. She adds that while this research shows a promising connection between healthy foods and healthy moods, further research is necessary and the authors recommend the development of randomised control trials evaluating the influence of high fruit and vegetable intake on mood and wellbeing.. > full story


36 Hours in Marin County, Calif.



By FREDA MOON Published: January 24, 2013

Max Whittaker for The New York Times Clockwise from top left: View of San Francisco from Mount Tamalpais, Hog Island Oyster Company, hiking through the Tennessee Valley area, Highway 1 and Falkirk Cultural Center. More Photos »












Can you spot the ‘invisible animal’? Incredible images show nature’s disappearing act when predators are near

By Matt Blake
PUBLISHED: 08:50 EST, 27 December 2012 | UPDATED: 11:18 EST, 28 December 2012

  • These animals are trying their utmost to fool predators by blending into landscapes all over the world
  • They were taken by photographer Art Wolfe over a period of 35 years, for his work ‘Vanishing Act’


Stunning Gigapixel Image Shows Mt Everest In Extreme Detail

Conservation Science News January 18, 2013

Highlight of the Week
Soot (Black Carbon) and Climate Change









Highlight of the WeekSoot (Black Carbon) and Climate Change


Where there’s smoke or smog, there’s climate change
January 15, 2013) — In addition to causing smoggy skies and chronic coughs, soot — or black carbon — turns out to be the number two contributor to global warming. It’s second only to carbon dioxide, according to a four-year assessment by an international panel. The new study concludes that black carbon, the soot particles in smoke and smog, contributes about twice as much to global warming as previously estimated, even by the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“We were surprised at its potential contribution to climate,” said Sarah Doherty, a University of Washington atmospheric scientist and one of four coordinating lead authors. The silver lining may be that controlling these emissions can deliver more immediate climate benefits than trying to control carbon dioxide, she said. … > full story


Black Carbon Larger Cause Of Climate Change Than Previously Assessed

Posted: 16 Jan 2013 06:33 AM PST

Black carbon is the second largest man-made contributor to global warming and its influence on climate has been greatly underestimated, according to the first quantitative and comprehensive analysis of this issue.

Figure 1.1 Schematic overview of the primary black carbon emission sources and the processes that control the distribution of black carbon in the atmosphere and determine its role in the climate system [Bond et al., 2013].

An International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme news release

Key findings

  • Black carbon has a much greater (twice the direct) climate impact than reported in previous assessments.
  • Black carbon ranks “as the second most important individual climate-warming agent after carbon dioxide”.
  • Cleaning up diesel engines and some wood and coal combustion could slow the warming immediately.

The landmark study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres today says the direct influence of black carbon, or soot, on warming the climate could be about twice previous estimates.  Accounting for all of the ways it can affect climate, black carbon is believed to have a warming effect of about 1.1 Watts per square meter (W/m²), approximately two thirds of the effect of the largest man made contributor to global warming, carbon dioxide. Co-lead author David Fahey from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said, “This study confirms and goes beyond other research that suggested black carbon has a strong warming effect on climate, just ahead of methane.”  The study, a four-year, 232-page effort, led by the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry  (IGAC) Project, is likely to guide research efforts, climate modeling, and policy for years to come….

….The results indicate that there may be a greater potential to curb warming by reducing black carbon emissions than previously thought. “There are exciting opportunities to cool climate by reducing soot emissions but it is not straightforward. Reducing emissions from diesel engines and domestic wood and coal fires is a no brainer, as there are tandem health and climate benefits. If we did everything we could to reduce these emissions we could buy ourselves up to half a degree less warming–or a couple of decades of respite,” says co-author Professor Piers Forster from the University of Leeds’s School of Earth and Environment. The international team urges caution because the role of black carbon in climate change is complex.  “Black carbon influences climate in many ways, both directly and indirectly, and all of these effects must be considered jointly”, says co-lead author Sarah Doherty of the University of Washington, an expert in snow measurements. The dark particles absorb incoming and scattered heat from the sun (solar radiation); they can promote the formation of clouds that can have either cooling or warming impact; and black carbon can fall on the surface of snow and ice, promoting warming and increasing melting.  In addition, many sources of black carbon also emit other particles whose effects counteract black carbon, providing a cooling effect….


….the report finds black carbon is a significant cause of the rapid warming in the Northern Hemisphere at mid to high latitudes, including the northern United States, Canada, northern Europe and northern Asia. Its impacts can also be felt farther south, inducing changes in rainfall patterns from the Asian Monsoon.  This demonstrates that curbing black carbon emissions could have significant impact on reducing regional climate change while having a positive impact on human health.

“Policy makers, like the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, are talking about ways to slow global warming by reducing black carbon emissions. This study shows that this is a viable option for some black carbon sources and since black carbon is short lived, the impacts would be noticed immediately.  Mitigating black carbon is good for curbing short-term climate change, but to really solve the long-term climate problem, carbon dioxide emissions must also be reduced,” says co-lead author Tami Bond from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.








Global approach to monitoring biodiversity loss?
(January 17, 2013) — In contrast to climate change, there is no coordinated global system in place for measuring and reporting on biodiversity change or loss. An international team of biologists is now addressing this gap.
Science today, 30 researchers led by Henrique Miguel Pereira, from the Centre for Environmental Biology of the University of Lisbon, proposed a global biodiversity monitoring system based on a set of essential variables. By determining the most essential measurements to accurately and usefully report on biodiversity loss, known as essential biodiversity variables (EBVs), the researchers hope to improve the information feeding into biodiversity policy and stimulate investment in the measurement of global biodiversity change. Examples include the genetic diversity of wild, crop and domestic species, the population abundances of representative groups of species (such as birds, and threatened and problem plants and animals), the cover and three-dimensional structure of habitats, and nutrient use in sensitive ecosystems. Co-author Associate Professor Melodie McGeoch of Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences said that over the past 20 years, biodiversity loss has continued at an alarming rate, but there are critical gaps in scientific knowledge. …Previous research has indicated that biodiversity loss has a significant detrimental effect on the functioning, efficiency and stability of ecosystems and the services that they provide to humanity.The impact of biodiversity change on human well-being and survival is likely to accelerate as human populations grow and the climate warms, as demand for water and other resources increases and as native habitat is converted for development purposes,” Associate Professor McGeoch said. “Informed policy decisions are essential to a sustainable future, and a globally harmonized system for monitoring essential components of biodiversity is needed to achieve this.” Lead author, Dr Pereira said it was essential to discuss the sharing of international responsibilities in the development of a truly global biodiversity monitoring system.… > full story


H. M. Pereira, S. Ferrier, M. Walters, G. N. Geller, R. H. G. Jongman, R. J. Scholes, M. W. Bruford, N. Brummitt, S. H. M. Butchart, A. C. Cardoso, N. C. Coops, E. Dulloo, D. P. Faith, J. Freyhof, R. D. Gregory, C. Heip, R. Hoft, G. Hurtt, W. Jetz, D. S. Karp, M. A. McGeoch, D. Obura, Y. Onoda, N. Pettorelli, B. Reyers, R. Sayre, J. P. W. Scharlemann, S. N. Stuart, E. Turak, M. Walpole, M. Wegmann. Essential Biodiversity Variables. Science, 2013; 339 (6117): 277 DOI: 10.1126/science.1229931

Global plant diversity still hinges on local battles against invasives, study suggests
(January 17, 2013) — Scientists have long suspected that studies of the impact of invasive species on biodiversity sometimes come to different conclusions because the impact depends on the size of the study site. Their field work confirms that the impact of invasive species is different at small scales than at large ones. … > full story


Salmon Runs Boom, Go Bust Over Centuries

Jan. 14, 2013 — Salmon runs are notoriously variable: strong one year, and weak the next. New research shows that the same may be true from one century to the next

Scientists in the past 20 years have recognized that salmon stocks vary not only year to year, but also on decades-long time cycles. One example is the 30-year to 80-year booms and busts in salmon runs in Alaska and on the West Coast driven by the climate pattern known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

Now work led by University of Washington researchers reveals those decadal cycles may overlay even more important, centuries-long conditions, or regimes, that influence fish productivity. Cycles lasting up to 200 years were found while examining 500-year records of salmon abundance in Southwest Alaska. Natural variations in the abundance of spawning salmon are as large those due to human harvest. “We’ve been able to reconstruct what salmon runs looked like before the start of commercial fishing. But rather than finding a flat baseline — some sort of long-term average run size — we’ve found that salmon runs fluctuated hugely, even before commercial fishing started. That these strong or weak periods could persist for sometimes hundreds of years means we need to reconsider what we think of as ‘normal’ for salmon stocks,” said Lauren Rogers, who did this work while earning her doctorate in aquatic and fishery sciences at the UW and is now a post-doctoral researcher with the University of Oslo, Norway. Rogers is the lead author of a paper on the findings in the Jan. 14 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Surprisingly, salmon populations in the same regions do not all show the same changes through time. It is clear that the salmon returning to different rivers march to the beat of a different — slow — drummer,” said Daniel Schindler, UW professor of aquatic and fishery sciences and co-author of the paper.

“The implications for management are profound,” Schindler said. “While it is convenient to assume that ecosystems have a constant static capacity for producing fish, or any natural resource, our data demonstrate clearly that capacity is anything but stationary. Thus, management must be ready to reduce harvesting when ecosystems become unexpectedly less productive and allow increased harvesting when ecosystems shift to more productive regimes.

Management should also allow, and probably even encourage, fishers to move among rivers to exploit salmon populations that are particularly productive. It is not realistic to assume that all rivers in a region will perform equally well or poorly all the time,” he said

…As the paper said, “Interestingly these same fluctuations also highlight that salmon stocks have the capacity to rebuild naturally following prolonged periods with low densities, suggesting a strong resilience of salmon to natural and anthropogenic depletion processes. Indeed, total salmon production (catch plus escapements) has been relatively high in recent years for most sockeye salmon stocks in southwestern Alaska, despite a century of intense harvesting



Pine beetle outbreak buffers watersheds from nitrate pollution
(January 14, 2013) — Scientists have found an unexpected silver lining in the devastating pine beetle outbreaks ravaging the West: Such events do not harm water quality in adjacent streams as scientists had previously believed. … > full story


Novel approach to track migration of arctic-breeding avian species
(January 15, 2013) — A group of scientists have tried to determine how snow bunting populations are linked in space and time. Considering that the snow bunting poses an extra challenge to monitor due to its inaccessible breeding locations, nomadic lifestyle and small body size, they argue, combining multiple sources of data is the most appropriate approach to track patterns of the birds’ migratory connectivity. … > full story

Macdonald, C.A.; Fraser, K.C.; Gilchrist, H.G.; Kyser, T.K.; Fox; Love, O.P. Strong Migratory Connectivity in a Declining Arctic Passerine. Animal Migration, DOI: 10.2478/ami-2012-0003


Mercury emissions threaten ocean, lake food webs



Mother Nature Network Janaury 18, 2013

Thawing permafrost is already releasing significant masses of largely inorganic mercury to lakes and the Arctic Ocean,” wrote the authors of a 2011 study from Canada’s Freshwater Institute.



Fighting Fires: You’re Doing It Wrong

By Becky Oskin, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer | – January 15, 2013

Australia is burning. Extreme heat and drought during the country’s summer wildfire season have helped fierce winds spark about 100 bushfires across southeastern Australia.

Sound familiar? 2012 was America’s hottest year on record. Those soaring temperatures (along with persistent drought) pushed more than 9.2 million acres to burn in the West. The damages will top $1 billion dollars, and fires consumed more than 2,100 homes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Parts of both the United States and Australia share a combustible mix of fire hazards, such as an ecology adapted to fire-prone conditions and a climate conducive to wildfires. And every year, more people choose to live in some of the most beautiful and hazardous country around — the wildland’s edge. The destruction will only escalate, scientists predict, until we stop fighting fires in the forests and brush. Instead, the focus should shift to securing homes and structures, as well as applying new research that overturns long-standing conventional wisdom about fire defense, experts say.

“We’re losing homes in fires because homes are being put into hazardous conditions,” said Jon Keeley, a fire ecologist with the U.S Geological Survey (USGS). “The important thing is not to blame it on the fire event, but instead to think about planning and reduce putting people at risk.”

Thanks to work by Keeley and his colleagues, researchers now know techniques that work for firefighters in the Colorado mountains won’t help Californians battling wind-driven wildfires in the chaparral….



ACES- Aspen Center for Environ. Studies- puts forest health in the spotlight– VIDEO

By Janet Urquhart – ASPEN TIMES · Image by Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service, The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies has developed a four-minute, animated short film, “What’s Happening in Our Forest?” to raise awareness about forest-health issues among the public and policymakers. The film has been submitted to the New York Animated Short Film Festival, and if Chris Lane, CEO at ACES, has anything to say about it, it will log a million views on YouTube.



Two new studies show why biodiversity is important for pollination services in California almond
(January 14, 2013) — Scientist show why biodiversity benefits California almond pollination. The presence of wild bees was found to alter the behavior of honey bees and improve their pollination effectiveness. Furthermore, wild bees buffered pollination under high winds and wild pollinators visited the parts of the almond trees that were less favored by honey bees. These findings help explain why orchards where wild bees are present have greater fruit set. … > full story


Environmental impact of insecticides on water resources: Current methods of measurement and evaluation show shortcomings
(January 14, 2013) — Common practice for the monitoring of insecticides in water resources reveals shortcomings. Until now water samples have mostly been taken on fixed dates, for example once per month. However, insecticides enter water resources very irregularly and, even though their concentrations exceed the threshold levels only for a short time, their harmful effect is present. The consequence: If one bases the evaluation upon the zero values often measured within the scope of regular sampling, the overall evaluation underestimates the actual risks. … > full story

Tree and human health may be linked
(January 16, 2013) — Evidence is increasing from multiple scientific fields that exposure to the natural environment can improve human health. In a new study, the presence of trees was associated with human health. … > full story

New robotic fish glides indefinitely
(January 16, 2013) — A high-tech robotic fish has a new look. A new skill. And a new name. Scientists have made a number of improvements on their fish, including the ability to glide long distances, which is the most important change to date. … > full story

Bugs reveal the richness of species on Earth
(January 11, 2013) — Researchers have carried out a survey of the biological diversity in a tropical rainforest. Their efforts have helped them find the key to one of the existential questions to which people have long sought an answer: how many species exist on Earth? … > full story


Fla python hunt continues with 21 snakes killed

January 18, 2013 MIAMI (AP) — Florida wildlife officials say 21 Burmese pythons have been killed so far in a public hunt for the invasive species in the Everglades. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says more than 1,000 people registered… more »


Salinization of rivers: A global environmental problem
January 11, 2013) — The salinisation of rivers is a global problem that affects to countries all over the world and it causes a high environmental and economic cost, and poses a high risk to global health. Climate change and the increasing water consumption can worsen even more the future scene, according to a new article. … > full story


Bengali forests are fading away
(January 10, 2013) — RAPID deterioration in mangrove health is occurring in the Sundarbans, resulting in as much as 200m of coast disappearing in a single year. … > full story


Clamorous City Blackbirds: Birds Can Sing Louder at Higher Frequencies to …

Science Daily (press release)  – ‎January 11, 2013‎

It is known, for example, that many urban birds sing at a high pitch to differentiate their song from the low-frequency sound of road traffic.


Hawks in danger of extinction in illegal hunting campaign

Tracy McVeigh The Observer, UK, Saturday 5 January 2013

A male hen harrier. Photograph: Alamy

Only one pair of breeding hen harriers remains in England, according to the RSPB, which blames illegal persecution for what it fears is now the near exinction of the bird of prey in the country.

“It will be a tragedy if this bird disappears. It’s a scandal that such a rare and iconic species has been deliberately persecuted to this extent,” said Grahame Madge of the bird conservation charity. He said Yorkshire was now a “black spot” for British birds of prey, dozens of which were being targeted by gamekeepers on the area’s vast shooting estates, who were under pressure to keep grouse and pheasant numbers high for their clients.







Climate Change and Western Public Lands: a Survey of U.S. Federal Land Managers on the Status of Adaptation Efforts

Archie, K. M., L. Dilling, J. B. Milford, and F. C. Pampel. 2012. Climate change and western public lands: a survey of U.S. federal land managers on the status of adaptation efforts. Ecology and Society 17(4): 20.

Abstract: Climate change and its associated consequences pose an increasing risk to public lands in the western United States. High-level mandates currently require federal agencies to begin planning for adaptation, but the extent to which these mandates have resulted in policies being implemented that affect on the ground practices is unclear. To examine the status of adaptation efforts, we conducted an original survey and semistructured interviews with land managers from the four major federal land management agencies in the U.S. states of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. The survey was designed to examine current planning for adaptation on public lands and how it differs from prior planning, the major challenges facing land managers in this region, the major barriers preventing managers from planning for adaptation, and the major hurdles associated with implementing adaptation plans. Our results show that some adaptation planning is currently taking place, but that few adaptation projects have made it to the implementation phase. Overall, respondents considered lack of information at relevant scales, budget constraints, lack of specific agency direction, and lack of useful information to be the most common barriers to adaption planning. Budget constraints, lack of perceived importance to the public, and lack of public awareness or demand to take action were reported to be the biggest hurdles to implementation of adaptation projects. Agencies showed differing levels of adaptation activity, and reported different barriers to adaptation and hurdles to implementation. Reasons for the differences and implications for future research and policy are discussed.


From the report:

…. Our results suggest that adaptation planning by public lands agencies in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming is occurring but that implementation of these plans remains relatively rare. Individual beliefs and attitudes about climate change do not appear to influence responses about adaptation planning in our study. However, the agency for which a respondent works is a statistically significant predictor of respondents’ assessments of current adaptation planning. The FWS may in fact be the farthest along in the process. Prior work suggests that more robust leadership in natural resource management can facilitate improved transitioning to new management styles (Danter et al. 2000, Koontz and Bodine 2008). Danter and others (2000) suggest that successful implementation of ecosystem management in natural resources requires more leadership-oriented agency governance than was required under prior management models. The long-term goals of ecosystem management are similar in scope to those of climate change adaptation efforts, and thus the same type of leadership changes may help to facilitate improved adaptation implementation….. Furthermore, the beliefs held by land managers in our study that public attitudes toward climate change are more dependent on access to information than deeply held values is not consistent with some of the literature (e.g., Leiserowitz 2006). This begs the question as to whether public education is indeed the missing component, or whether there may be other more important obstacles to effective adaptation.



In the eastern U.S., spring flowers keep pace with warming climate, blooming up to a month earlier
(January 16, 2013) — Using the meticulous phenological records of two iconic American naturalists, Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, scientists have demonstrated that native plants in the eastern United States are flowering as much as a month earlier in response to a warming climate. … > full story


Climate events drive High-Arctic vertebrate community into synchrony: Extreme weather potent force for Arctic overwintering populations
(January 17, 2013) — Climate change is known to affect the population dynamics of single species, such as reindeer or caribou, but the effect of climate at the community level has been much more difficult to document. Now, a group of Norwegian scientists has found that extreme climate events cause synchronized population fluctuations among all vertebrate species in a relatively simple high arctic community. …

Previous studies have shown that rain-on-snow and icing can also cause vegetation damage and reduce survival of soil microbiota,” says Hansen. “But more importantly, we suspect that the strong effects of icing on the overwintering vertebrate community have the potential to indirectly influence other species and cascade throughout the food web. The die-offs among resident herbivores shape predator abundance, which could in turn affect the migratory prey that reside in the area in the summer, such as sea birds and barnacle geese.”full story


Global warming has increased monthly heat records worldwide by a factor of five, study finds
(January 14, 2013) — Monthly temperature extremes have become much more frequent, as measurements from around the world indicate. On average, there are now five times as many record-breaking hot months worldwide than could be expected without long-term global warming, shows a new study. In parts of Europe, Africa and southern Asia the number of monthly records has increased even by a factor of ten. 80 percent of observed monthly records would not have occurred without human influence on climate, the authors conclude. … > full story


Third National Climate Assessment Report- DRAFT

January 11, 2013 Today, the National Climate Assessment Development and Advisory Committee (NCADAC), the federal advisory committee for the National Climate Assessment, approved their draft of the Third National Climate Assessment Report for release for public comment. The draft report is available for download – both as a single document and by chapter – at . The public comment period for the report will run January 14 – April 12, 2013. All comments must be submitted via the online comment tool that will be available from beginning on January 14. The draft will be undergoing review by the National Research Council at the same time. The draft report is a product of the NCADAC and is not a product of the federal government. The authors of the report will use the comments received during the public comment period to revise the report before submitting it to the government for consideration.

Click here to view/print a two-page fact sheet about the National Climate Assessment.

The NCA is an important resource for understanding and communicating climate change science and impacts in the United States. It informs the nation about already observed changes, the current status of the climate, and anticipated trends for the future. The NCA report process integrates scientific information from multiple sources and sectors to highlight key findings and significant gaps in our knowledge. The NCA also establishes consistent methods for evaluating climate impacts in the U.S. in the context of broader global change. Finally, findings from the NCA provide input to federal science priorities and are used by U.S. citizens, communities, and businesses as they create more sustainable and environmentally sound plans for the nation’s future…

RELATED WEBINAR: Inside the National Climate Assessment: Communicating Climate Impacts. Find out what Susan Joy Hassol, Susanne Moser and Cara Pike have to say by signing up for a live 90-minute roundtable discussion on Tuesday January 22
from 1-2:30pm EST
 (10-11:30am PST) 

End Climate Silence Now: Draft Climate Assessment Warns Of Devastating 9°-15°F Warming Over Most Of U.S.

By Joe Romm on Jan 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm

The rule in Washington, DC is if you want to bury news, release it late on a Friday afternoon. So one can only assume the climate silence crowd prevailed in the release this afternoon of the draft U.S. Climate Assessment. Perhaps it’s this chart they don’t want folks talking about, from the “Newer Simulations for Projected Temperature” in Chapter 2:

Projected rise in average U.S. surface air temperature 2071-2099 relative to 1971-2000. This is RCP 8.5, “a scenario that assumes continued increases in emissions,” with CO2 levels hitting about 940 parts per million. It is close to the emissions path we are currently on — but not the worst-case scenario and not where still-rising temperatures would end up post-2100.

The Assessment, put together by dozens of the country’s top climate experts, makes clear that if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path, we are headed towards a devastating 9°F to 15°F warming over most of the United States (this century), with ever-worsening extreme weather, heat waves, deluges and droughts. As the report notes “generally, wet [areas] get wetter and dry get drier.” Future generations will be wishing for the boring “moist” and “cool” days of 2012 (when they aren’t cursing our names).

But if the administration were to give this news the attention it is due, then it would have to prioritize climate action above gun-control and immigration and deficit reduction (or, in the latter case, insist upon a carbon tax as part of any comprehensive deficit bill). For the Administration, climate action appears to always be the lowest of top priorities — and when the priorities above it (like health care, economic stimulus) are dealt with, new priorities take their place at the top of the list. In a statement (below), Center for American Progress Distinguished Senior Fellow Carol M. Browner, former EPA administrator and former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, said that the Assessment makes clear “The time to act is now” with “significantly steeper reductions in industrial carbon pollution” than we’ve seen to date — if we are to avoid the worst impacts. She notes the report makes clear, “no part of the nation is safe” from manmande climate change. Here are the key points from the Assessment’s Executive Summary: Read more


Impact of climate change hitting US, congressional report finds

New York Daily News  – ‎January 12, 2013

The consequences of climate change are now hitting the United States on several fronts, including health, infrastructure, water supply, agriculture and especially more frequent severe weather, a congressionally mandated study has concluded.


2012 sustained long-term climate warming trend, NASA finds
(January 15, 2013) — Scientists say 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record. … > full story


NOAA And NASA: 2012 Warmest ‘La Niña Year’ On Record, Sustaining Long-Term Climate Warming Trend

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 02:34 PM PST

NOAA: La Niña, which is defined by cooler-than-normal waters in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean that affect weather patterns around the globe, was present during the first three months of 2012…. It was also the warmest year on record among all La Niña years. The three warmest annual ocean surface temperatures occurred in 2003, 1998, and 2010—all warm phase El Niño years.

Global surface temperature anomalies relative to 1951-1980. The Nino index is based on the temperature in the Nino 3.4 area in the eastern tropical Pacific5. Dark green triangles mark the times of volcanic eruptions that produced an extensive stratospheric aerosol layer. Via NASA.NASA news release.


New Antarctic geological timeline aids future sea-level predictions
(January 16, 2013) — Radiocarbon dates of tiny fossilized marine animals found in Antarctica’s seabed sediments offer new clues about the recent rapid ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and help scientists make better predictions about future sea-level rise. This region of the icy continent is thought to be vulnerable to regional climate warming and changes in ocean circulation. … > full story


Snakerats May Join Bark Beetles, Jellyfish, Tropical Diseases, And Invasive Species As Winners In A Warming World

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 08:21 AM PST

Who says there are no winners from climate change? “Global Warming is Doubling Bark Beetle Mating” and “The decline in creatures with shells could trigger an explosion in jellyfish populations” and “Climate change helps spread dengue fever in 28 states.” And of course “climate change will make invasive plants even more dominant in the landscape.” Here’s another possible winner. — JR

University of Illinois news release

URBANA – Speculation about how animals will respond to climate change due to global warming led University of Illinois researcher Patrick Weatherhead and his students to conduct a study of ratsnakes at three different latitudes—Ontario, Illinois, and Texas. His findings suggest that ratsnakes will be able to adapt to the higher temperatures by becoming more active at night.

“Ratsnakes are a species with a broad geographic range so we could use latitude as a surrogate for climate change,” Weatherhead said. “What are ratsnakes in Illinois going to be dealing with given the projections for how much warmer it will be 50 years from now? Well, go to Texas and find out. That’s what they’re dealing with now. Snakes are ectotherms, that is, they use the environment to regulate their body temperature. We were able to compare ratsnakes’ ability to regulate their temperature in Texas as compared to Illinois and Canada.”

The research showed that ratsnakes in Canada, Illinois, and Texas would all benefit from global warming. “It would actually make the environment thermally better for them,” Weatherhead said. “Texas is already too hot for much of the day so it may cause them to shift to even more nocturnal foraging there and stay active at night for more of the season.”….

Global warming may have severe consequences for rare Haleakal silversword plants
(January 15, 2013) — While the iconic Haleakala silversword plant made a strong recovery from early 20th-century threats, it has now entered a period of substantial climate-related decline. New research warns that global warming may have severe consequences for the silversword in its native habitat. … > full story


Iconic beach resorts may not survive sea level rises
(January 16, 2013) — A leading coastal scientist has warned that some of the world’s best known beach resorts may not survive projected sea level rises and that problems caused by changing sea levels are compounded by a lack of political will and short-term coastal management initiatives. … > full story


Climate change may benefit most mammals that live in northern Europe’s Arctic and Sub-Arctic land areas in short run
January 14, 2013) — The climate changes depicted by climatologists up to the year 2080 will benefit most mammals that live in northern Europe’s Arctic and Sub-Arctic land areas today if they are able to reach their new climatic ranges. … > full story


Climate Change: Going to Extremes

Huffington Post  – ‎January 12, 2013‎

Bill Chameides Dean, Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment

Posted: 01/11/2013 4:15 pm

There are extremes and then there are EXTREMES.

Last year seemed to bring one weather-related disaster after another, including the following:

  • In June an intense linear storm known as a derecho spawned extreme thunderstorms across the eastern United States.
  • In late June record-breaking heat met or exceeded more than 1,900 previous daily high temperature records.
  • Throughout the year dry, hot conditions in the West aggravated wildfires, which burned large swaths of New Mexico, Colorado and Oregon, to name but a few of the most affected states, and set records for average fire size.
  • By September, the high temperatures helped expand the moderate to extreme drought that had plagued the nation all year to cover some 60 percent of the lower 48 states, a mark it remained near through the end of 2012. (See chart.)
  • At the end of October Superstorm Sandy whipped up the East Coast inundating the mid-Atlantic states with rain and snow and devastating New Jersey and New York with record high storm surge and flooding. (See Sandy weather details here.)

But Now It’s a New Year, Clean Slate, Break From the Past, Right? Unfortunately it doesn’t look like it. As a for instance, check out this article from today’s New York Times. Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, the Middle East and Russia are all in the throes of highly unusual and in many cases record-breaking events. In Australia (see dramatic satellite
images and photos) and Brazil it’s drought and heat; in Russia and China it’s cold; in Britain, floods and the Middle East, a snowstorm. Here in the United States, of course, much of the nation remains in the grips of a debilitating drought, and loads of folks in the Northeast are still struggling to dig out from under the destruction wrought by Superstorm Sandy. (More on Sandy recovery here and here.)…



How Climate Change Is Damaging The Great Lakes, With Implications For The Environment And The Economy

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 08:41 AM PST By Matt Kasper, Center for American Progress

Great Lakes Michigan and Huron set a new record low water level for the month of December, and in the coming weeks they could experience their lowest water levels ever. It’s becoming certain that, like the rest of the country, the Great Lakes are feeling the effects of climate change.

Last year was officially the warmest year on record for the lower-48 states. The hot summer air has been causing the surface water of the Great Lakes to increase in temperature. One might think this causes more precipitation around the lakes, but the warmer winter air is causing a shorter duration of ice cover. In fact, the amount of ice covering the lakes has declined about 71 percent over the past 40 years. Last year, only 5 percent of the lakes froze over –- compared to 1979 when ice coverage was as much as 94 percent.

Furthermore, the continuing effect of the historic drought in the Midwest is causing increased levels of evaporation. This combination of climate change side-effects results in low water levels for the Great Lakes.

  • The impact climate change has on the five lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario) will have serious implications for aquatic life, as well as high economic costs for communities.
  • The Great Lakes stretch from Minnesota to New York. They account for over 80 percent of North America’s surface freshwater, and provide drinking water to 40 million U.S. and Canadian citizens.
  • Many industries in the region that depend on trade through the lakes will face navigation challenges, and will have to reduce the amount of cargo carried.
  • Tourism and recreational activities that are vital to coastal communities will surely feel the negative economic effects. Activity associated with recreational fishing alone is estimated to be at least $7 billion annually.
  • Infrastructure investments will need to occur, as the necessity for extending docks and dredging increases.
  • And the habitats of fish, birds, and other mammals will be altered.


Severe Climate Jeopardizing Amazon Forest, Study Finds



January 18, 2013An area of the Amazon rainforest twice the size of California continues to suffer from the effects of a megadrought that began in 2005, finds a new NASA-led study. These results, together with … > full story


What Climate Change Means For Seattle And The Northwest

EarthFix January 15, 2013

A new report suggests that by 2050, waters along sections of Elliott Bay levels could rise as much as 44 inches from current levels during storms….



The Political Benefits to Taking a Pro-Climate Stand in 2013 Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University January 15, 2013

Today we are releasing a short report that draws upon data from our latest national survey (September 2012) to investigate this question: On balance, do political leaders stand to benefit, or not, from talking about and supporting action to address global warming?

In short, we found:

  • Concern about the effects of climate change is high across political groups, with majorities of Democrats and Independents expressing concern about global warming and its potential harm for themselves and future generations.
  • Across party lines, there is support for taking action to reduce global warming, with pluralities of all groups favoring medium-scale efforts. Even among Republicans, a sizeable majority support making some effort to address global warming.
  • Independents more closely resemble Democrats in their attitudes and beliefs about global warming, and like Democrats,most support efforts to address the problem. Thus, the issue of global warming is a political opportunity to connect with most Independents.
  • A majority of registered voters (58%) say they will consider candidates’ position on global warming when deciding how to vote.
  • Policies to promote renewable energy are favored by the majority of voters across party lines. Majorities support eliminating federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, but oppose ending subsidies to the renewable energy industry. Instead, solid majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans support funding more research into renewable energy sources.
  • Registered voters support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. They are also willing to support a candidate who promotes a carbon tax but this depends on how the money is used. Candidates garner greater support when the money is used to create jobs, decrease pollution, or pay down the national debt compared to giving a tax refund to American families.
  • Democratic and Independent majorities want Congress and President Obama to do more to address global warming, as do increasing numbers of Republicans.


Climate Change May Have Confused, Trapped Killer Whales

Voice of America  – ‎January 12, 2013‎

Lyne Morissette, a marine researcher with the St. Lawrence Global Observatory in Quebec, said the 12 orcas may simply have gotten lost while hunting for seals and other food, but it’s more likely they got stuck in the ice because of climate change .










Mobilizing scientists on climate change

By Naomi Oreskes, Published: January 17

Naomi Oreskes is a professor of history and science studies at the University of California at San Diego and co-author of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.”

At the recent annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, scientists presented evidence of climate change proceeding more rapidly than they had imagined 15, 10 or even five years ago. After a brief hiatus due mostly to the economic downturn, they noted, global greenhouse gas emissions are rising again. Arctic sea ice is retreating at an unprecedented rate, sea levels are rising more rapidly than anticipated, and the sea-surface temperatures that drive tropical storms and hurricanes are rising, too. Another topic at last month’s gathering was how the latest climate models do not account for the additional warming caused by methane release from thawing permafrost and the continental shelves. This means that the generally accepted projections for what may happen in the coming decades are almost certainly not the worst-case scenarios. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, political leaders including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) have made the connection between climate change and the costs of inaction. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) acknowledged the reality of climate change in 2011, and his state faces massive costs associated with climate-related damage. Unfortunately, on the congressional level, Republican leaders refuse to address the issue. But President Obama can move independently of Congress to address this critical issue: He can mobilize scientists through the U.S. national laboratory system.

There is a powerful precedent for the president to take this route. The core of the national laboratory system was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of the Manhattan Project to address an earlier threat to American safety and security: the possibility that German scientists were going to build an atomic bomb that could have been decisive in World War II. Scientists brought the issue to the president’s attention and then did what he asked: They built a deliverable weapon in time for use in the war.

While historians have long argued about the seriousness of the threat of a Nazi atomic bomb, there is no question that at the time it was viewed as imminent. Today we face a threat that is somewhat less immediate but far less speculative. An obvious response is to engage the national laboratory system to study options to reduce or alleviate climate change, which the president could do by executive order. Progress in many areas of research and development could greatly reduce the problem in the next few decades. Most are already areas of active research that could easily be ramped up.

Alternative energy. The climate problem is fundamentally an energy problem. While strides have been made — by both industry and government — in developing alternative energy sources, renewables still provide only a sliver of the U.S. energy profile. The scale of renewable energy research and development needs to be radically increased.

Carbon capture and storage. Shale gas development in the United States and Canada is generating jobs and revenue and could substantially decrease our reliance on petroleum. But shale gas is still gas — methane: a fossil fuel that when burned produces carbon dioxide. Large-scale development may exacerbate the climate problem if inexpensive gas undercuts the market for renewables. If, however, shale gas development could be coupled with carbon capture and storage, trapping the carbon dioxide produced, then this resource might be usable without worsening climate change.

Energy storage. Wind and solar are real sources of energy, but only when the wind blows or the sun shines. Yet many wind and solar projects produce excess capacity that could be used later or elsewhere if it could be stored. Ideas for renewable-energy storage need to be developed and expanded.

Social obstacles to energy efficiency. Numerous studies show that Americans could cut energy use by 30 percent or more through efficiency measures and save money at the same time. Yet most of us don’t. This is a bit of a mystery for economists; social science research in the laboratory system should be mobilized to figure out why we don’t save energy and money even when we could.

Climate engineering. Deliberate alteration of the climate to compensate for inadvertent modification is a technically and ethically troubling concept, but it may be one of the only available means to slow climate warming and buy time while other solutions are implemented. Physical scientists should expand their work in this area, and social scientists and humanists should be enlisted to address the ethical dimensions and governance issues.

Curiosity-driven science has not yet provided the solutions to global warming, and universities are not well situated to address a single, overarching problem. Moreover, the president does not have authority over our nation’s universities. But he does have authority over our national laboratory system. The labs have been mobilized before; the time has come to mobilize them again.




MUST READ—reprinted from last week:

Rethinking Wedges: We Need A Lot of Clean Energy To Stabilize Near 2°C Warming So We Better Start Deployment ASAP

By Joe Romm on Jan 8, 2013 at 8:49 pm


DEFINITION: “Stabilization wedges” — strategies and/or technologies that over a period of a few decades each ultimately reduce projected global carbon emissions by one billion metric tons per year (see technical paper here, less technical one here).


A new study underscores the point that we need to start deploying every last bit of carbon-free energy starting ASAP to have a reasonable chance of avoiding catastrophic levels of carbon pollution. But the paper, “Rethinking wedges,” suffers from two flaws. First while it asserts “Current climate targets of 500 ppm and  2°C of warming” require “deploying tens of terawatts of carbon-free energy in the next few decades,” it seems to use this to argue for more research and development, rather than massive deployment. In fact, while everyone agrees we need to spend more on R&D, it’s our much vaster underspending on deployment that is launching us headlong toward catastrophe. And, of course, deployment is the best driver of innovation (as I discuss here). Second, the paper appears to confuse what a wedge is and then compounds that confusion by introducing the concept of “hidden wedges,” which I don’t believe is a meaningful concept (if you understand what a wedge really is). The fact is that we probably need 1o to 20 terawatts of carbon-free energy over the next 50 years to have a shot at 450 ppm or lower — but a fair chunk of that can be efficiency and conservation (as I discuss here).


How the world can stabilize at 350 to 450 ppm: The full global warming solution

By Joe Romm on Mar 26, 2009 at 5:40 pm

In this post I will lay out “the solution” to global warming.

I have argued that stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide at 450 ppm or lower is not politically possible today, but that it is certainly achievable from an economic and technological perspective (see Part 1). I do, however, believe humanity will do it since the alternative is Hell and High Water.

It would require some 12-14 of Princeton’s “stabilization wedges” — strategies and/or technologies that over a period of a few decades each ultimately reduce projected global carbon emissions by one billion metric tons per year (see technical paper here, less technical one here).  These 12-14 wedges are my focus here.

…..I do believe only “one” solution exists in this sense — We must deploy every conceivable energy-efficient and low carbon technology that we have today as fast as we can. Princeton’s Pacala and Socolow proposed that this could be done over 50 years, but that is almost certainly too slow.

…..That’s why a sober guy like IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri, said in November 2007: “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. ….. If we could do the 12-14 wedges in four decades, we should be able to keep CO2 concentrations to under 450 ppm. If we could do them faster, concentrations could stay even lower. We’d probably need to do this by 2040 if not sooner to have a shot at getting back to 350 this century. [And yes, like Princeton, I agree we need to do some R&D now to ensure a steady flow of technologies to make the even deeper emissions reductions needed in the second half of the century.]

….Also, I tend to view the crucial next four decades in two phases. In phase 1, 2010 to 2030, the world finally gets serious about avoiding catastrophic global warming impacts (i.e. Hell and High Water). We increasingly embrace a serious price for carbon dioxide and a very aggressive technology deployment effort. In phase 2, 2030 to 2050, after multiple climate Pearl Harbors and the inevitable collapse of the Ponzi scheme we call the global economy, the world gets truly desperate, and actions that are not plausible today — including widespread conservation — become commonplace (see here for a description of what that collapse might look like). In the basic solution, I have thrown in a some extra wedges since I have no doubt that everybody will find something objectionable in at least 2 of them. But unlike the first time I ran this exercise, I have blogged on most of the solutions at length. This is what the entire planet must achieve:

Here are additional wedges that require some major advances in applied research to be practical and scalable, but are considered plausible by serious analysts, especially post-2030:

  • 1 of geothermal plus other ocean-based renewables (i.e. tidal, wave, and/or ocean thermal)
  • 1 of coal with biomass cofiring plus carbon capture and storage — 400 GW of coal plus 200 GW biomass with CCS
  • 1/2 wedge of next generation nuclear power — 350 GW
  • 1/2 wedge of cellulosic biofuels for long-distance transport and what little aviation remains in 2050 — using 8% of the world’s cropland [or less land if yields significantly increase or algae-to-biofuels proves commercial at large scale].
  • 1 of soils and/or biochar– Apply improved agricultural practices to all existing croplands and/or “charcoal created by pyrolysis of biomass.” Both are controversial today, but may prove scalable strategies.

That should do the trick. And yes, the scale is staggering…


Politics: Obama’s Climate Challenge

BY JEFF GOODELL JANUARY 17, 2013 | 7:00AM EST (thanks Michael Dietrick)
….Among all the tests President Obama faced in his first term, his biggest failure was climate change. After promising in 2008 that his presidency would be “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” President Obama went silent on the most crucial issue of our time….Obama isn’t blind to the threat. “He understands this is the central problem his administration has to deal with in the second term,” says John Po-desta, who headed up Obama’s transition team in 2008. “He knows the judgment of history is riding on this.” At a press conference shortly after his re-election, Obama admitted that “we hadn’t done as much as we need to” to address climate change, and promised a “wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers and elected officials” to make sure that global warming is “not a problem we’re passing on to future generations that’s going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with.. But if the president is planning any bold action during his second term to combat global warming, there’s little evidence of it. “I want to do something on climate,” he told a friend and former White House staffer after the election, “but I don’t know what.”….I think the president understands the climate crisis intellectually, but he has not had the ‘holy shit’ moment you arrive at when you think about this deeply enough,” says a leading climate advocate who has had private conversations with Obama about global warming. Instead of talking about the risks of climate change during the campaign, Obama touted an “all of the above” energy plan that was a soft-porn version of “drill, baby, drill.” Under Obama, in fact, oil and gas production have soared: Last year, U.S. oil production grew by 766,000 barrels a day, the largest jump ever, and domestic oil production is at its highest level in 15 years.”….Another indicator of Obama’s commitment on climate will be the “conversation” about global warming he wants to have with scientists, politicians and the American public. “He needs to educate the public about what is going on with the climate and what we can do about it,” says Podesta. That means Obama must drop all the talk about “clean coal” and “energy independence” – code words for more mining and drilling – and articulate the hard truths about global warming: that we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels as quickly as possible, that we’ll have to prepare ourselves for life on a hotter, less hospitable planet, and that our suburban paradise of shopping malls, big backyards and SUVs is a relic of an earlier era. And he’ll have to do it in a way that stresses the opportunities and upsides of what will amount to a sweeping change in the American way of life: the lives saved and environmental devastation avoided- by getting off coal, and the economic rewards of becoming a leader in the global push for renewable energy.”


Obama to confront oil pipeline, climate change

MATTHEW DALY | January 17, 2013 03:27 PM EST |

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s second-term energy agenda is taking shape and, despite the departure of key Cabinet officials, it looks a lot like the first: more reliance on renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and expanded production of oil and natural gas. Obama also is promising to address climate change, an issue he has acknowledged was sometimes overlooked during his first term.

“The president has been clear that tackling climate change and enhancing energy security will be among his top priorities in his second term,” said Clark Stevens, a White House spokesman.

While the administration has made progress in developing renewable energy and improving fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles, “we know there is more work to do,” Stevens said.

He’ll have to do that work with new heads of the agencies responsible for the environment. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Environmental Protection chief Lisa Jackson and Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have announced they are leaving. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is expected to follow his colleagues out the door in coming weeks.

The White House says no decisions have been made on replacements for any of the environment and energy jobs but says Obama’s priorities will remain unchanged.

One of the first challenges Obama will face is an old problem: whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas. Obama blocked the pipeline last year, citing uncertainty over the conduit’s route through environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska. Gov. Dave Heineman is considering a new route; he is expected to make a decision next month.

The State Department has federal jurisdiction because the $7 billion pipeline begins in Canada…


Domestic laws, not a global treaty, are the way to fight global warming

The Economist January 17, 2013

But with measures to deal with climate change, the opposite prevails. Each round of intergovernmental talks on cutting emissions and compensating victims seems to achieve less than the one before


New EU fish quota deal bodes well for fishermen



BRUSSELS (AP) January 18, 2013 — The European Union and fisheries nations say a deal with Norway on fish quotas in the North Sea is further proof of a move toward more efficient and sustainable fishing. European Commission spokesman Oliver Drewes said the… more »



NY storm commission urges flood walls for subways

Seattle Post Intelligencer January 13, 2013

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – A commission formed to examine ways to guard against storms like Sandy released a report Friday that calls for flood walls in subways, water pumps at airports and sea barriers along the coast.



Will 2013 Continue The 7-Year Downward Trend In American Driving?

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 06:05 AM PST

by Justin Horner, via NRDC’s Switchboard
Predictions and prognostications are the stuff of the New Year–and why should driving trends be any different?  Will 2013 see a continuation of what has now been a nearly 90 month drop in population-adjusted Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT)? The safe answer, of course, is “well, we just don’t know” (or, “we just don’t know until Nate Silver takes the questions on”).  In fact, the most recent data from the Federal Highway Administration’s Traffic Volume Trends Report (October 2012) shows an uptick in total VMT of about 0.6% over October 2011, with small increases in every region of the country, save the Hurricane Sandy-impacted Northeast. Yet, it is unlikely that many of the broader factors that have led to VMT declines stark enough to give birth to the notion of “peak car” will be changing in any significant way in 2013.   In November of last year, the International Transport Forum of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development held a round-table on Long-Run Trends in Travel Demand.   The panelists focused on just these demographic, behavioral and long-run economic factors, the trends that have the greatest impact on driving demand in the coming years….


Beef industry, consumers to be affected by cattle production decreases in 2013
(January 11, 2013) — Beef production in the United States is expected to decrease 4.8 percent in 2013, the second largest year-over-year decrease in 35 years. Many analysts expect the 2013 numbers to be followed by a 2014 decrease of 4.5 percent or more. … > full story



What Theda Skocpol Gets Wrong About The Climate Bill Fight

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 09:34 AM PST Joe Romm

Who Is To Blame For Failure Of Climate Bill? Hint: The People Who Opposed It, Ignored It Or Undersold It!

A lengthy new study opinion piece aims to pin the blame for the failure of the climate bill on the environmental community. It has already resulted in head-exploding headlines like this one in the Guardian

Why Climate Change Legislation Failed — And What to Do About It
—By Kevin Drum| Thu Jan. 17, 2013 9:15 AM PST

Theda Skocpol has written an immense study of why the 2010 climate bill failed. I haven’t read it yet, but Brad Plumer talked to her yesterday and got the nutshell version: climate hawks had a really bad legislative strategy:







Farming for the Future: California Climate & Agriculture Summit February 21, 2013  8:00am — 6:30pm
UC Davis Conference Center

Space is limited. Register now at The Summit includes presentations, a poster session, wine & cheese reception and an optional farm tour
on Feb. 20th. It brings together farmers and ranchers, agency staff, farm advisors, policymakers and advocates concerned with climate change challenges and opportunities for California agriculture.

SUMMIT PROGRAM Feb. 21st, 8:00am – 6:30pm (schedule subject to change)


Grassland Bird Conservation Plan Seeks Input
California Partners in Flight (CalPIF) is initiating the process of updating the Grassland Bird Conservation Plan, one of seven valuable habitat-based guides to conserving California’s birds). PRBO Conservation Science, The US Fish and Wildlife Service, Central Valley Joint Venture,  UC Berkeley and Western Field Ornithologists are convening  a meeting from 0900-1200 on Friday, February 1, 2013, in association with the Western Section of The Wildlife Society meeting in Sacramento. The objectives of the meeting include:  defining the scope of the plan, defining grassland; consensus on a suite of focal or surrogate bird species to form the bases of this multi-species plan, and to form a voluntary technical advisory committee to guide the process and content.  For more information click here.  Please RSVP to ( or feel free to drop in the day of the meeting.     


American Carbon Registry Announces Open Public Comment Period for the Grazing Land & Livestock Management Carbon Offset Methodology
American Carbon Registry, a non-profit enterprise of Winrock International, welcomes feedback on a new voluntary greenhouse gas offset methodology for Grazing Land and Livestock Management (GLLM). The methodology is applicable to beef and dairy production worldwide. It is designed to ensure the complete, consistent, transparent, accurate and conservative quantification of emission reductions associated with a GLLM project. It focuses on five primary greenhouse gas sources, sinks and reservoirs affected by beef and dairy production – enteric methane, manure methane, nitrous oxide from fertilizer use, fossil fuel emissions, and biotic sequestration in above- and below-ground biomass and soils – and provides accounting modules for each of these. The GLLM Methodology was developed by Winrock International with generous support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and advice from a livestock Technical Advisory Committee. Winrock believes there are significant opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, contributing to climate change mitigation, water and air quality improvement, while maintaining or improving the profitability of livestock operations. To download the methodology click here. For more information about the American Carbon Registry click here. Please send all comments by close of business January 31, 2013 to



Register Now for January 28 Webcast on EPA’s Climate Change Indicators Report

On Monday, January 28, 2013, from 2:00-3:30 PM (EST), EPA’s State & Local Climate and Energy program will host a webinar on the newly released Climate Change Indicators in the United States, 2012 report. Available on EPA’s climate change website, the report brings together data from multiple public datasets to show observed changes over time in 26 indicators of climate change – including measures of high and low temperatures, rainfall, snowfall, pollen season and sea level rise. These indicators present compelling evidence that our climate is changing now and is already affecting society and ecosystems. EPA staff will discuss how the report was developed, highlighting key points of the report and how information was gathered and synthesized. A brief demonstration of the climate indicators website and a question-and-answer session will follow. Webinar registration








Alliance of big city school districts aims for more healthful meals

L.A. Unified and five others are striving to make wholesome food a national standard. They’re working on biodegradable trays and utensils as well. Each district has been assigned a specific project.

By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times January 17, 2013, 5:00 a.m.

Fatty corn dogs and sugary coffee cake may become extinct in thousands of school cafeterias nationwide under a landmark new alliance among Los Angeles Unified and five other major urban school districts to leverage their vast purchasing power for healthier fare and lower prices.

School districts in L.A., New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Orlando, Fla., plan to announce Thursday efforts to use their collective clout — 2.5 million daily meals served and $530 million annually spent — to make wholesome food a national standard. The districts are also aiming for more eco-friendly practices — replacing polystyrene and plasticwith biodegradable trays and flatware, for instance. As such diet-related maladies as diabetes and obesity increase among children, the quest to reduce fat, sugar and sodium in school meals has gained new urgency among districts. L.A. Unified has overhauled its menu with whole grains and fresh produce; New York offers a salad bar at every school; and Chicago has swapped cupcakes for fruit at school celebrations. Now, by joining forces, the alliance members hope to move the market and eventually enlist other school districts in the crusade. Already, San Diego, Oakland and Houston have expressed interest. “As the great cities of the nation, we want to lead the way,” said Eric Goldstein of the New York City school district, which serves 860,000 meals daily at 1,700 campuses.

Each alliance member has been assigned to a specific project. New York, for example, is working on lowering prices for organic, free-range chicken. Chicago currently serves such meat but can only afford to do so once a month — one organic chicken leg costs 40 cents while a non-organic leg-thigh combo is just 23 cents, according to Leslie Fowler of the Chicago Public Schools. Likewise, environmentally sound trays and utensils are relatively expensive. Fowler said a biodegradable tray costs 12 cents while a polystyrene one is a third that price. Miami is working on trays while Orlando is researching better flatware than the plastic “spork.” Los Angeles is heading up communications efforts. David Binkle, L.A. Unified’s food services director, said the alliance marks the biggest step yet to transform school meals. In the last few years, the nation’s second-largest district has banned flavored milk and overhauled the menu — dropping such crowd favorites as nachos and chicken nuggets for dishes like whole-grain spaghetti….


Success! Styrofoam trays to be eliminated from all NYC public schools thanks to parent-led efforts

January 17, 2013 New York, NYThanks to the efforts of concerned parents, New York City’s Department of Education (DoE), along with 5 other city school districts nationally, will entirely eliminate toxic and polluting Styrofoam trays. The parent group, Cafeteria Culture (CafCu- founded as Styrofoam Out of Schools) catalyzed the remarkable launch of Trayless Tuesdays in 2010 in of New York City’s 1700 public schools, through an innovative partnership with DoE. To date, an impressive 70 million Styrofoam trays have been eliminated from production, school lunches, incinerators, landfills and the environment at no additional cost to the city. No student should be eating off a tray which is likely carcinogenic, which bursts landfills and contributes to climate change, and which pollutes our environment threatening marine wildlife,” says Debby Lee Cohen, director and founder of Cafeteria Culture. “We are thrilled to see NYC DoE Office of School Food take the lead in collaborating with other cities to find affordable, sustainable solutions.” Cafeteria Culture has worked collaboratively with DoE, in lieu of the “old fight,” working to find affordable solutions to rid NYC schools of Styrofoam and achieve zero-waste cafeterias. By sharing in-the-cafeteria experience, innovating design-strategies, and conducting small-scale pilots, Cafeteria Culture is catalyzing positive changes to benefit student and community well-being citywide….

Cafeteria Culture has worked collaboratively with DoE since 2009, in lieu of the “old fight,” working to find affordable solutions to rid NYC schools of Styrofoam and achieve zero-waste cafeterias. By sharing in-the-cafeteria experience, innovating design-strategies, and conducting small-scale pilots,

Cafeteria Culture is catalyzing positive changes to benefit student and community well-being citywide.
Cafeteria Culture’s ARTS+ACTION Cafeteria Waste Reduction curriculum has increased school cafeteria garbage diversion rates from 3% to over 80%, by teaching students to be “Cafeteria Rangers.” The organization is also piloting composting of all school food scraps locally, and leading an “Alternative Messaging” campaign to engage the public on the typically unappealing topic of school garbage. Their next goal is to complete a multi-media toolkit, sharing their successful waste reduction methods and curriculum with all schools.

This morning, School Food Directors from New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Orlando announced a game-changing partnership to collectively purchase sustainable lunch trays to drive down what would otherwise be prohibitively high costs. Meals will be served on recyclable or compostable lunch trays, providing millions of students with the same message taught in their classroom: reduce and recycle!
In 2009, after learning that NYC DoE served 860,000 meals per day on Styrofoam trays (over 4 million trays per week), a concerned group of parents founded the organization Styrofoam Out of Schools (SOSnyc) which later became Cafeteria Culture. Styrofoam trays are used for only 20-30 minutes each yet more than 3 BILLION have been
used over the past 20 years in NYC. After use, the trays are exported by carbon spewing trucks to out-of-state landfills and incinerators, significantly contributing to climate change and environmental pollution.

Cafeteria Culture has made measurable progress to date on a shoestring budget with only a handful of volunteers. Cafeteria Culture relies entirely on donations to achieve its ambitious, urgently needed goals. For more information and to make a donation, please visit:


Doubling down on energy efficiency
(January 17, 2013) — Spending on energy efficiency programs funded by electric and natural gas utility customers will double by 2025 to about .5 billion per year, according to new projections. According to the report, energy efficiency programs funded by utility customers are projected to continue expanding beyond the traditional bastions of energy efficiency in the Northeast and West. … > full story


Thin Film Solar Cells: New World Record for Solar Cell Efficiency



January 18, 2013 — In a remarkable feat, scientists have developed thin film solar cells on flexible polymer foils with a new record efficiency of 20.4% for converting sunlight into electricity. The cells are based on … > full story

Breakthrough for solar cell research



EurekAlert (press release)  – ‎January 18, 2013‎

“Our findings are the first to show that it really is possible to use nanowires to manufacture solar cells”, says Magnus Borgström, a researcher in semiconductor physics and the principal author.



A new leaf in climate change

SF Chronicle January 13, 2013 Scientists are working on artificial leaves that convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into chemical fuel.

They’re designing artificial leaves that can convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into chemical fuel, much like the photosynthesis of flowers and trees. The team has already built a crude prototype from silicon, polymers and platinum that can create a simple and clean hydrogen fuel. If the scientists figure out how to cheaply produce more complicated energy sources, it would enable mass production of “drop-in” fuels that could power automobiles, trucks, planes and ships without pumping more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. In other words, it could provide a viable alternative to digging up more petroleum, coal and other traditional energy sources widely blamed for global warming. “We have no other option than getting off fossil fuels,” said Heinz Frei, acting director of the lab, the north site of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis. “The research into artificial photosynthesis provides society with an option.”

Without drastic changes to global energy systems, studies show that rising fossil fuel emissions could push global temperatures up as much as 3 degrees Celsius by 2050 and 6 degrees Celsius by 2100, unleashing a series of dangerous ecological consequences.

Researchers are investigating an array of possibilities for preventing or offsetting certain effects of a warming world, from sucking carbon out of the atmosphere to increasing the reflectivity of clouds. But even those exploring such options say the only way to address the full scale of global warming is to attack the root cause: cutting greenhouse gas emissions as much and as quickly as possible. “The energy sources we use can’t be fossil fuels,” said Jane Long, former associate director for energy and environment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “It’s just that simple and just that hard.”…

JCAP’s researchers would leave the commercialization of the technology they are developing to others, but the ultimate idea is to cover millions of acres of land with artificial leaves. They probably would be made of a polymer-like material roughly an inch thick that could be rolled out like a blanket. A key advantage over biofuels is that artificial leaves could be installed on nonarable land, reserving limited fertile acres for food production. If man-made leaves covering 60 million acres converted just 1 percent of the energy in the sunlight that touches them into energy in the resulting fuel, Frei estimates they could produce all the energy now consumed by U.S. transportation. At 7 percent efficiency, they could produce all the energy used in the nation each year. To be sure, 60 million acres is a lot of land, roughly the size of Oregon. But as Frei points out, there are more than 40 million acres of land devoted to the nation’s interstate highways. His analogy is a deliberate one. It’s the space the country dedicated to an earlier national priority – transportation – that has contributed heavily to the problem at hand.Another comparison: The nation leased more than 38 million acres of federal property to oil and gas companies at the end of fiscal year 2011, according to the latest data available from the Bureau of Land Management, and well above 60 million acres as recently as 1990.

“What it says is that society has already given away that kind of land, so it means it might be a socially acceptable level,” Frei said….

As environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben stressed in a recent Rolling Stone article, there are 2,795 gigatons of carbon in the proven coal, oil and gas reserves of fossil fuel companies. That’s five times more than climate scientists say the world could burn with some hope of staying below a 2-degree-Celsius rise in average temperatures, the threshold widely viewed as a dangerous tipping point for the globe. But research firm Capital Institute estimates those reserves are worth about $27 trillion. They’re the primary asset justifying the multibillion-dollar market caps of energy giants. Those companies’ stock prices reflect the clear assumption that these fossil fuels will be pulled out of the Earth, whatever the environmental cost.

A growing chorus of experts argues the only way to correct for this economic “externality” – a real cost that isn’t accounted for in actual prices – is for government to step in with aggressive public policy, including incentives and penalties to move companies, researchers and citizens in the right direction.

“We need to leave that fossil fuel in the ground, and the only way that will happen is if they’re honestly priced,” James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an address at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco last month. “Right now, they’re heavily subsidized by you, the public.”

But even if officials manage to enact effective policies, the world still faces a serious technical challenge. Studies show that the renewable energy options available to date can’t get the world to a sustainable level of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, aggressively deploying existing technologies wouldn’t be enough for California to reach its own legally mandated goal of making greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent lower than 1990 levels by 2050, according to a 2011 report by the California Council on Science and Technology. Achieving that aim will require “intensive and sustained investment in new technologies,” the study concluded. “You could get about halfway there,” said Long, co-chair of the committee that produced the report. “The rest of the reduction will require innovation.”

About the series

Inside cutting-edge Bay Area research focused on containing climate change.

Today: Creating artificial leaves for clean fuel.

Previously: Brightening the clouds to reflect away heat.

— To see other stories and videos in this series, please visit


To learn more about these issues

— Living With a Rising Bay:

— California Climate Change Adaptation Policy Guide:

— Ten Things You Can Do to Help Curb Climate Disruption:

James Temple is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:



Scientist sees the light on solar energy
SF Chronicle January 13, 2013


California solar energy systems top 1 gigawatt

San Francisco Chronicle  – ‎Jan 11, 2013‎

But the number of applications received each year continues to rise as solar power’s popularity spreads. As a result, state officials say the program should reach its goal of funding enough installations to … initiative accounts for roughly half of …






Time to Vote on the International Migratory Bird Day 2013 Poster

Get ready for IMBD 2013!  Every year, you have the chance to make the final decisions about IMBD materials, and we look forward to your suggestions. Take 1 minute to place your vote for the final design of the 2013 poster.
Place Your Vote!

The International Migratory Bird Day 2013 theme is Life Cycles of Migratory Birds: Conservation Across the Americas. Learn more about the theme and watch for updates on how to incorporate it into your IMBD program. Have questions? Call us at 866-334-3330.

IMBD 2013





It’s Suddenly in Fashion to Make Chic Clothes That Don’t Hurt the Earth



By Amy DuFault January 14, 2013 From waterless dyeing technologies to aggressive campaigns, these 10 companies and individuals are making clean waves.


Año Nuevo to offer guided seal walks

Christine Delsol Published 11:11 am, Friday, January 11, 2013

Elephant seals are in residence at Año Nuevo State Park. Photo: Courtesy San Mateo Co. CVB

While elephant seals are in residence at Año Nuevo State Park during the cold months of December through March, the hottest tickets around are guided seal walks. This year, the Coastside State Parks Association is offering special extended tours to a limited number of visitors for one weekend, allowing a full morning or afternoon to hike over bluff trails and sand dunes, lingering to watch bulls warring, newborns nursing and pups practicing their battle skills. Volunteer naturalists and park staff will be on hand to answer questions about the seals. Advance reservations only for this certain sellout.

Vitals: Jan. 26-27, 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. $50. Año Nuevo State Park, New Year’s Creek Road, Pescadero. (650) 879-2025,



Whole Foods CEO: ‘climate change is not necessarily bad’

‘Ethical vegan’ John Mackey claims he is not a climate change sceptic but says global warming is ‘perfectly natural’

Josh Harkinson for Mother Jones, part of the Guardian Environment Network, Friday 18 January 2013 10.43 EST



Facebook concept used by 16th century scholars
(January 15, 2013) — Our obsession with social networking is not exclusive to the 21st century, according to researchers. … > full story

Herbal treatments for postmenopausal symptoms may be recommended as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy
(January 10, 2013) — Herbal and complementary treatments could be recommended as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for treating postmenopausal symptoms says a new review. … > full story











New Western governor sets his sights on climate change solutions

By David Horsey January 18, 2013, 5:00 a.m. LA TIMES

When we were classmates at Ingraham High School in Seattle, Jay Inslee was quarterback of the football team and a key player on the state champion basketball squad. I was a fledgling cartoonist and editorial writer on the student newspaper. On Wednesday afternoon, as I watched Inslee shoot hoops with his buddies under the new backboard he had just put up on his garage, it struck me that some things have not changed. It was still basketballs for him, cartoons for me.

But, in truth, the change is rather dramatic. My bio now starts with the phrase “two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner.” Inslee, as a congressman, threw elbows and blocked shots on the White House basketball court with President Obama. And now, that hoop and net he just installed is attached to the garage outside the governor’s mansion in Olympia, Wash. As of Wednesday, his bio has a new top line: 23rd governor of the state of Washington…..




Tom Toles goes green: A collection of cartoons about the environment and global warming.





Conservation Science News January 11 , 2013

Highlight of the Week2012 Hottest Year – and New Energy ‘Wedges’









Highlight of the Week2012 Hottest Year – and New Energy ‘Wedges’



By The Numbers: Breaking Down America’s Hottest Year On Record

Posted: 11 Jan 2013 05:54 AM PST

by James Bradbury and Sarah Parsons, via the World Resources Institute According to new data, 2012 was a chart-topping year for the United States – but not in a good way.


Difference from average annual temperature in 2012 compared to the 1981-2010 average. Map by NOAA team. Large versions of annual and monthly maps are available for re-use. (Credit: NOAA

NOAA: 2012 was warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous U.S.

2012 was a historic year for extreme weather that included drought, wildfires, hurricanes and storms; however, tornado activity was below average 

According to NOAA scientists, 2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year…..



Not Even Close: 2012 Was Hottest Ever in U.S.


Published: January 8, 2013 837 Comments

How hot was it? The temperature differences between years are usually measured in fractions of a degree, but last year’s 55.3 degree average demolished the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree Fahrenheit. If that does not sound sufficiently impressive, consider that 34,008 daily high records were set at weather stations across the country, compared with only 6,664 record lows, according to a count maintained by the Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton, using federal temperature records. That ratio, which was roughly in balance as recently as the 1970s, has been out of whack for decades as the country has warmed, but never by as much as it was last year. “The heat was remarkable,” said Jake Crouch, a scientist with the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., which released the official climate compilation on Tuesday. “It was prolonged. That we beat the record by one degree is quite a big deal.” ….


Major cuts to surging carbon dioxide emissions are needed now, not down the road, study finds
(January 7, 2013)
Halting climate change will require “a fundamental and disruptive overhaul of the global energy system” to eradicate harmful carbon dioxide emissions, not just stabilize them, according to new findings by UC Irvine and oth
er scientists. In a Jan. 9 paper in Environmental Research Letters, UC Irvine Earth system scientist Steve Davis and others take a fresh look at the popular “wedge” approach to tackling climate change outlined in a 2004 study by Princeton scientists Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow. They had argued that the rise of dangerous CO2 could be stopped — using existing technologies — by dividing the task into seven huge but manageable “slices.” Davis and his co-authors conclude that while the approach has great merit, it’s not working, and it’s not enough. “We have enormous respect for that earlier work,” he said. “But almost a decade after ‘wedges’ made a solution to climate change seem doable, we now know that holding emissions steady, difficult as it would be, is literally a half-measure — and one that we have yet to take. Our emissions are not being held constant or even slowing; they’re growing faster than ever.” …However, Davis and fellow authors of the new paper calculated that as many as 31 wedges could be required to stabilize Earth’s climate at safe CO2 levels and that sharp reductions in total emissions would have to begin much sooner than half a century from now. “We need new ways to generate the vast quantities of power that we now use worldwide,” he said. “Current technologies and systems cannot provide this much carbon-free power quickly enough or affordably enough. We urgently need policies and programs that support the research, development, demonstration and commercialization of new energy.” full story



Rethinking Wedges: We Need A Lot of Clean Energy To Stabilize Near 2°C Warming So We Better Start Deployment ASAP

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 05:49 PM PST Joe Romm

A new study underscores the point that we need to start deploying every last bit of carbon-free energy starting ASAP to have a reasonable chance of avoiding catastrophic levels of carbon pollution. But the paper, “Rethinking wedges,” suffers from two flaws.

First while it asserts “Current climate targets of 500 ppm and  2°C of warming” require “deploying tens of terawatts of carbon-free energy in the next few decades,” it seems to use this to argue for more research and development, rather than massive deployment. In fact, while everyone agrees we need to spend more on R&D, it’s our much vaster underspending on deployment that is launching us headlong toward catastrophe. And, of course, deployment is the best driver of innovation (as I discuss here).

Second, the paper appears to confuse what a wedge is and then compounds that confusion by introducing the concept of “hidden wedges,” which I don’t believe is a meaningful concept (if you understand what a wedge really is). The fact is that we probably need 1o to 20 terawatts of carbon-free energy over the next 50 years to have a shot at 450 ppm or lower — but a fair chunk of that can be efficiency and conservation (as I discuss here).

In any case, the need for massive deployment of carbon-free energy starting now is one that has been made by countless independent analyses. Even the traditionally staid and conservative the International Energy Agency explained three years ago that “The world will have to spend an extra $500 billion to cut carbon emissions for each year it delays implementing a major assault on global warming.” A 2011 report found that “California can achieve emissions roughly 60% below 1990 levels with technology we largely know about today if such technology is rapidly deployed at rates that are aggressive but feasible.” A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers finds we’re headed to 11°F warming and even 7°F requires “Nearly Quadrupling The Current Rate Of Decarbonisation.”

The abstract of this new study by Davis, Cao, Caldeira, and Hoffert, to be published Wednesday in Environmental Research Letters asserts:….. ….This notion of needing 19 wedges to go to zero emissions in 50 years is very compatible with my analysis a few years ago that we need 12-14 wedges squeezed into four decades to take emissions down some 50% by 2050. But of course I conclude, as do the original inventers of the wedge concept, that any hope for deploying so many wedges so rapidly depends crucially upon … rapid deployment, rather than R&D! See also “The breakthrough technology illusion.”….






Drainage ditches can help clean up field runoff
(January 4, 2013)
Vegetated drainage ditches can help capture pesticide and nutrient loads in field runoff, U.S. Departmen
t of Agriculture (USDA) scientists report. These ditches — as common in the country as the fields they drain — give farmers a low-cost alternative for managing agricultural pollutants and protecting natural resources.
….. Many farmers controlled ditch vegetation with trimming or dredging to eliminate plant barriers that could impede the flow of runoff. But in one of Moore’s first studies, he evaluated the transport and capture of the herbicide atrazine and the insecticide lambda-cyhalothrin for 28 days in a 160-foot section of a vegetated agricultural drainage ditch in Mississippi. One hour after he started a simulated runoff event, 61 percent of the atrazine and 87 percent of the lambda-cyhalothrin had transferred from the water to the ditch vegetation. At the end of the ditch, runoff pesticide concentrations had decreased to levels that were generally non-toxic to downstream aquatic fauna. Moore also conducted work in California and determined that vegetated drainage ditches helped mitigate pesticide runoff from tomato and alfalfa fields. As a result, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state office in California included vegetated agricultural drainage in their Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This meant farmers who installed the ditches could be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the cost. Moore’s research also contributed to the decision by NRCS managers in Mississippi to include vegetated agricultural drainage ditches in the state’s EQIP.… > full story


Robert Kröger, Matthew T. Moore. Phosphorus dynamics within agricultural drainage ditches in the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Ecological Engineering, 2011; 37 (11): 1905 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2011.06.042


Invading species can extinguish native plants despite recent reports to the contrary
(January 9, 2013) — Evolutionary biologists have found that, given time, invading exotic plants will likely eliminate native plants growing in the wild despite recent reports to the contrary. A new study reports that recent statements that invasive plants are not problematic are often based on incomplete info
rmation, with insufficient time having passed to observe the full effect of invasions on native biodiversity. …
“The impacts of exotic plant invasions often take much longer to become evident than previously thought,” says Benjamin Gilbert of U of T’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB) and lead author of the study. “This delay can create an ‘extinction debt‘ in native plant species, meaning that these species are slowly going extinct but the actual extinction event occurs hundreds of years after the initial invasion.” Much of the debate surrounding the threat posed to biodiversity by the invasions of non-native species is fueled by recent findings that competition from introduced plants has driven remarkably few plant species to extinction. Instead, native plant species in invaded ecosystems are often relegated to patchy, marginal habitats unsuitable to their nonnative competitors. “Our research also allows us to identify how new habitats for native flora could be created that would prevent extinction from happening. These habitats would still be too marginal for invaders, but placed in such a way as to create ‘bridges’ to other habitat patches,” says Gilbert….full story

B. Gilbert, J. M. Levine. Plant invasions and extinction debts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1212375110


Global Mercury Pollution In Oceans Top Layer Doubled In Last Century, Says U.N. Environment Agency

AP  |  By By JOHN HEILPRIN Posted: 01/10/2013 6:25 am EST  |  Updated: 01/10/2013 9:19 am EST

GENEVA (AP) — Mercury pollution in the top layer of the world’s oceans has doubled in the past century, part of a man-made problem that will require international cooperation to fix, the U.N.’s environment agency said Thursday.

The report by the U.N. Environment Program showed for the first time that hundreds of tons of mercury have leaked from the soil into rivers and lakes around the world.

As a result of rising emissions, communities in developing countries face increasing health and environmental risks linked to exposure to mercury, the U.N. agency says.

Mercury, a toxic metal, is widely used in chemical production and small-scale mining, particularly gold. It is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil, and it cannot be created or destroyed.


STATE: Thousands of dead birds are showing up on northern Michigan’s shorelines

Published: Friday, January 11, 2013 By Don Gardner @skeeoos Journal Register News Service

A common loon travelling with a juvenile on its back.

The rapidly changing ecology of the Great Lakes Basin, brought on in large part by non-native, invasive species, is causing devastation among Michigan’s waterfowl, especially common loons. The common loon, a beloved, iconic bird known for its eerily lonely, two-note call and its beautiful markings, suffered devastating losses along Lake Michigan’s northern shoreline this fall. Thousands of dead birds, mainly loons, washed ashore — from the Upper Peninsula, down to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. A large percentage of the dead loons had just entered their first year of breeding maturity.
The reason for the die-off, which follows similar incidents in 2006 and 2007, isn’t fully understood. But it is suspected that it is driven by the food chain linking the loon to invasive species, specifically, the quagga mussel, the zebra mussel and the round goby. Since 1988, when the first zebra mussels in Michigan were found in Lake St. Clair, the invasive mussels have been clearing and “cleaning” Great Lakes water columns by consuming plankton. While the end result is a more aesthetically pleasing water column, the clearer water has allowed the sun’s rays to penetrate deeper, causing larger and larger algae mats to flourish on the bottom. As the algae mat builds upon itself and dies, it becomes anaerobic — depleted of oxygen — and type-E botulism bacteria develops. Gobies living in that environment at the bottom of the lake pick up the toxin produced by the bacteria. The gobies are then preyed upon by the loons and other fish-eating waterfowl, which become infected by the botulism. The toxin affects the bird’s nervous system and musculature, leaving it unable to fly. Soon, it can no longer keep its head aloft, and it drowns…..



Scientists use marine robots to detect endangered whales
(January 9, 2013) — Two robots equipped with instruments designed to “listen” for the calls of baleen whales detected nine endangered North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of Maine last month. The robots reported the detections to shore-based researchers within hours of hearing the whales, demonstrating a new and powerful tool for managing interactions between whales and human activities. … > full story

Whales’ foraging strategies revealed by new technology
(January 9, 2013) — Despite the many logistical difficulties of studying large whales, multisensor tags attached to the animals with suction cups are revealing their varied foraging techniques in unprecedented detail. These can be related to the animals’ anatomy and to the distribution and behavior of their prey. … > full story


Baby sharks stay still to avoid being detected by predators
(January 9, 2013) — Baby sharks still developing in their egg cases can sense when predators are near, and keep very still to avoid being detected, according to new research. … > full story

Genetic matchmaking saves endangered frogs
January 8, 2013) — What if Noah got it wrong? What if he paired a male and a female animal thinking they were the same species, and then discovered they were not the same and could not produce offspring? As researchers from the Smithsonian’s Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project race to save frogs from a devastating disease by breeding them in captivity, a genetic test averts mating mix-ups. … > full story



Impact of Land-Use Activity in the Amazon Basin
January 19, 2012 (Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– A … paper published … in the journal Nature reveals that human land-use activity has begun to change the regional water and energy cycles –– the interplay of air coming in from the Atlantic Ocean, water transpiration by the forest, and solar radiation –– of parts of the Amazon basin. In addition, it shows that ongoing interactions of deforestation, fire, and climate change have the potential to alter carbon storage, rainfall patterns and river discharge on an even larger basinwide scale.

…… Humans have been part of the Amazon basin forest-river system for thousands of years, but the expansion and intensification of agriculture, logging, and urban development –– and their synergistic impacts –– are beginning to stress the natural integrity of the ecosystem. Since the Amazon River produces about 20 percent of the world’s fresh water discharge, and the Amazon forest holds about 100 billion metric tons of carbon (10 years’ worth of global fossil fuel emissions), it is important that economic development in the region proceed along sustainable paths that do not degrade the ecosystem services provided to local, regional and global communities by the forests and rivers of the region.


From the Amazon rainforest to human body cells: Quantifying stability
(January 6, 2013) — The Amazon rainforest, energy grids, and cells in the human body share a troublesome property: They possess multiple stable states. When the world’s largest tropical forest suddenly starts retreating in a warming climate, energy supply blacks out, or cells turn carcinogenic, complex-systems science understands this as a transition between two such states. These transitions are obviously unwanted. … > full story

Dinosaur shook tail feathers for mating show
(January 4, 2013) — A researcher’s examination of fossilized dinosaur tail bones has led to a breakthrough finding: some feathered dinosaurs used tail plumage to attract mates, much like modern-day peacocks and turkeys. … > full story


Live giant squid! Discovery Channel says it’s got first videos 
The famed and often maligned giant squid has for millennia kept its quiet life in the depths of the ocean private, but now the Discovery Channel and Japan’s national museum say they’ve Paparazzied the sucker.

The duo is claiming to have the “very first ever footage of a live giant squid in its natural habitat,” according to its joint press release. The squid, said to have razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner plates, was encountered in the “abyss” after more than 285 hours and 55 submarine dives, some as deep as 3,000 feet below the surface, the team said.


Waterfall-climbing fish use same mechanism to climb waterfalls and eat algae
(January 4, 2013) — Going against the flow is always a challenge, but some waterfall-climbing fish have adapted to their extreme lifestyle by using the same set of muscles for both climbing and eating, according to new research. … > full story

Giant fossil predator provides insights into the rise of modern marine ecosystem structures
(January 7, 2013) — An international team of scientists has described a fossil marine predator measuring 8.6 meters in length (about 28 feet) recovered from the Nevada desert in 2010 as representing the first top predator in marine food chains feeding on prey similar to its own size. … > full story


How do songbirds sing? In 3-D!
(January 7, 2013) — Like humans, songbirds learn their vocalizations by imitation. Since their songs are used for finding a mate and retaining territories, birdsong is very important for reproductive success. High-field magnetic resonance imaging and micro-computed tomography have been used to construct stunning high resolution, 3-D, images, as well as a data set “morphome” of the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) vocal organ, the syrinx. … > full story







Heat, Flood or Icy Cold, Extreme Weather Rages Worldwide

Snow blanketed Jerusalem on Thursday, an example of weather extremes that are growing more frequent and intense.
More Photos » Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By SARAH LYALL Published: January 10, 2013 138 Comments WORCESTER, England — Britons may remember 2012 as the year the weather spun off its rails in a chaotic concoction of drought, deluge and flooding, but the unpredictability of it all turns out to have been all too predictable: Around the world, extreme has become the new commonplace. Especially lately. China is enduring its coldest winter in nearly 30 years. Brazil is in the grip of a dreadful heat spell. Eastern Russia is so freezing — minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and counting — that the traffic lights recently stopped working in the city of Yakutsk. Bush fires are raging across Australia, fueled by a record-shattering heat wave. Pakistan was inundated by unexpected flooding in September. A vicious storm bringing rain, snow and floods just struck the Middle East. And in the United States, scientists confirmed this week what people could have figured out simply by going outside: last year was the hottest since records began.


U.S. Effort on Ocean Acidification Needs Focus on Human Impacts

A new report urges that federal efforts to combat rising ocean acidity must focus on effects on people and the economy

By Brian Bienkowski and Scientific American Jan 1 2013

A federal plan to tackle ocean acidification must focus more on how the changes will affect people and the economy, according to a review of the effort by a panel of the National Research Council.

“Social issues clearly can’t drive everything but when it’s possible they should,” said George Somero, chair of the committee that wrote the report and associate director at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. “If you’re setting up a monitoring station, it should be where there’s a shellfish industry, for example.” Acidification is one of the larger problems associated with greenhouse gas emissions, as oceans serve as a giant sponge for carbon dioxide. When carbon dioxide is dissolved in seawater, water chemistry changes and acidity increases. More acidic seawater can hurt ocean creatures, especially corals and shellfish, because it prevents them from properly developing their skeletons and shells. Shrinking coral reefs could dent eco-tourism revenue in some coastal areas. It also could trigger a decline in fish populations dependent on those reefs.

Decreasing shellfish populations would harm the entire ocean food chain, researchers say, particularly affecting people who get their protein or paycheck from the sea. Globally, fish represent about 6 percent of the protein people eat.

The acidification blueprint was drafted by nine federal agencies in March 2012. It establishes guidelines for federal research, monitoring and mitigation of ocean acidification. In reviewing the plan, the research council, which advises the government on science policy, recommended that federal rese


Climate change looms large as Australia swelters

New Scientist  – ‎Jan 7 2013‎

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in the fourth and most recent of its assessments of the effects of climate change, predicted that in south-eastern Australia, the frequency of days when extreme fire danger threatens will increase by up to …


The Australian government’s new forecasting map now has colors that go up to 54°C [129°F].

Off-The-Charts Heat Wave Brings Australia Its Hottest Average Temperature And New Map Colors For Temps Above 122°F!

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 08:44 AM PST

Global warming has given new meaning to “off-the-charts” heat wave in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald
reports: The Bureau of Meteorology’s interactive weather forecasting chart has added new colours – deep purple and pink – to extend its previous temperature range that had been capped at 50 degrees [122°F]. Many parts of the country have already set local records with temperatures as high as 118°F. It remains to be seen whether temperatures blow past 122°F [50C] – or already have (“large parts of central Australia have limited monitoring”).

How unprecedented is the Australian heat wave? As meteorologist Jeff Masters explains, it is both deep and widespread:

It’s been a summer like no other in the history of Australia, where a sprawling heat wave of historical proportions is entering its second week. Monday, January 7, was the hottest day in Australian history, averaged over the entire country, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The high temperature averaged over Australia was 105°F (40.3°C), eclipsing the previous record of 104°F (40.2°C) set on 21 December 1972. Never before in 103 years of record keeping has a heat wave this intense, wide-spread, and long-lasting affected Australia. The nation’s average high temperature exceeded 102°F (39°C) for five consecutive days January 2 – 6, 2013–the first time that has happened since record keeping began in 1910. Monday’s temperatures extended that string by another day, to six. To put this remarkable streak in perspective, the previous record of four consecutive days with a national average high temperature in excess of 102°F (39°C) has occurred once only (1973), and only two other years have had three such days in a row–1972 and 2002 (thanks go to climate blogger Greg Laden for these stats.) Another brutally hot day is in store for Wednesday, as the high pressure region responsible for the heat wave, centered just south of the coast, will bring clear skies and a northerly flow of air over most of the country.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology doesn’t pull punches on what is driving this astounding heat:

The current heatwave – in terms of its duration, its intensity and its extent – is now unprecedented in our records,”  the Bureau of Meteorology’s manager of climate monitoring and prediction, David Jones, said.

Clearly, the climate system is responding to the background warming trend. Everything that happens in the climate system now is taking place on a planet which is a degree hotter than it used to be.”

As the warming trend increases over coming years, record-breaking heat will become more and more common, Dr Jones said.

”We know that global climate doesn’t respond monotonically – it does go up and down with natural variation. That’s why some years are hotter than others because of a range of factors. But we’re getting many more hot records than we’re getting cold records. That’s not an issue that is explained away by natural variation.”….


Bushfires in Tasmania – in pictures Saturday January 5, 2013

More than 100 homes destroyed and thousands of people displaced on Australian island state of Tasmania due to dozens of wildfires sparked by record high temperatures

Global warming to shift timing of North American monsoon

The North American monsoon will dry up in June and July and become wetter in September and October.

Posted on January 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn SUMMIT COUNTY —Global warming result in a significant shift of the North American monsoon, with less rain during the early part of the season, in June and July, and more rain later in the summer and early autumn. The trend toward a later start to summer precipitation has already started, but will become more pronounced — and easier to distinguish from the background “noise” of natural variability — during the next few decades, according to researchers with NASA and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

“We expect that increased greenhouse gases will make the atmosphere more stable and more difficult for precipitation to occur … When the warming is strong enough, it effectively delays the start of the monsoon,” said NASA researcher Benjamin Cook. “One way to overcome that is when the air near the surface is really moist. That’s what happens at the end of the monsoon season. At that point, it leads to an increase in rainfall,” Cook said, explaining that the study points to big change in the total amount of monsoon precipitation, but that the change in timing is still likely to have significant ecological societal impacts. A second factor driving the change in timing is less surface moisture at the local level resulting from reduced evapotranspiration. The North American monsoon may not be as pronounced as its famed Asian cousin, but it still dominates the seasonal cycle of precipitation over northwestern Mexico, southern Arizona and large parts of New Mexico and Texas, accounting for up to 70 percent of the annual precipitation in the core of the region.


Future sea level rise from melting ice sheets may be substantially greater than IPCC estimates
(January 6, 2013)
Future sea level rise due to the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could be substantially larger than estimated in Climate Change 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC, according to new research from the University of Bristol.
The ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland contain about 99.5 per cent of Earth’s glacier ice which would raise global sea level by some 63m if it were to melt completely. The ice sheets are the largest potential source of future sea level rise — and they also possess the largest uncertainty over their future behaviour. They present some unique challenges for predicting their future response using numerical modelling and, as a consequence, alternative approaches have been explored. The study, published January 6 in Nature Climate Change, is the first of its kind on ice sheet melting to use structured expert elicitation (EE) together with an approach which mathematically pools experts’ opinions. EE is already used in a number of other scientific fields such as forecasting volcanic eruptions. The ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland contain about 99.5 per cent of Earth’s glacier ice which would raise global sea level by some 63m if it were to melt completely. The ice sheets are the largest potential source of future sea level rise — and they also possess the largest uncertainty over their future behaviour. They present some unique challenges for predicting their future response using numerical modelling and, as a consequence, alternative approaches have been explored.full story

J. L. Bamber, W. P. Aspinall. An expert judgement assessment of future sea level rise from the ice sheets. Nature Climate Change, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1778

16  ^  more years of global warming

Posted on 10 January 2013 by Kevin C

Human greenhouse gas emissions have continued to warm the planet over the past 16 years. However, a persistent myth has emerged in the mainstream media challenging this.  Denial of this fact may have been the favorite climate contrarian myth of 2012, first invented by David Rose at The Mail on Sunday with an assist from Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry, both of whom later doubled-down on the myth after we debunked
it.  Despite these repeated debunkings, the myth spread throughout the media in various opinion
editorials and stunts throughout 2012. The latest incarnations include this article at the Daily Mail, and a misleadingly headlined piece at the Telegraph. As a simple illustration of where the myth goes wrong, the following video clarifies how the interplay of natural and human factors have affected the short-term temperature trends, and demonstrates that underneath the short-term noise, the long-term human-caused global warming trend remains as strong as ever.

Read more…

New way to study permafrost soil, above and below ground
(January 4, 2013) — Scientists have developed a new way to explore the little-known world of permafrost soils, which store almost as much carbon as the rest of the world’s soils and about twice as much as is in the atmosphere. The new approach combines several remote-sensing tools to study the Arctic landscape, above and below ground, in high resolution and over large spatial scales. … > full story


Information required for short-term water management decisions outlined
(January 9, 2013) — Adapting to future climate change impacts requires capabilities in hydroclimate monitoring, short-term prediction and application of such information to support contemporary water management decisions.
These needs were identified in a
report, “Short-Term Water Management Decisions: User Needs for Improved Climate, Weather, and Hydrologic Information,” published by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report identifies how Federal agencies, along with state, local, tribal and non-governmental organizations and agencies are working together to identify and respond to the needs of water resource managers in the face of a changing climate. The report is broken into four categories: Monitoring Product Needs, Forecasting Product Needs, Understanding and Using Information Products in Water Management, and Information Services Enterprise. “Climate change is adding to the challenges we face in managing a multitude of issues, including water supply, water quality, flood risk, wastewater, aquatic ecosystems, and energy production,” Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said. “Meeting these challenges requires close collaboration among water resource management agencies, operational information service providers, stakeholders and the scientific community.”. … > full story
Further information:


Drought-damaged states face poor outlook as dry weather persists

Obama administration declares large areas of mid-west a natural disaster area due to long-lasting drought conditions, Thursday 10 January 2013 16.25 EST A persistent drought held its grip on America’s bread basket on Thursday, with no sign of relief for the four main wheat-growing states.

The poor outlook for winter wheat, which accounts for about 70% of the US crop, has raised fears about further food prices shocks, after widespread failure of last year’s corn and soybean crops.


  • GEOENGINEERING: Looking to the sky

    SF Chronicle January 6, 2013 Could the solution to global warming be in the clouds?


    • SF Bay area Impact of Climate Change


    Hacking The Planet: World Economic Forum Raises Concerns About ‘Rogue’ Geoengineering

    Posted: 09 Jan 2013 01:00 PM PST

    A commercial airline? Or a rogue geoengineering experiment? The World Economic Forum has put out a new report on global risks for 2013, and the report’s chapter on “X factors” — concerns more remote than the report’s primary risks, but still worthy of note — includes a section on rogue “geoengineering” experiments…..


    Climate Change Could Destroy San Francisco’s Marshes

    Tim McDonnell January 11, 2013 By now, we’re used to hearing about the threats sea level rise poses to human society: It can wash away urban areas, give a boost to storms, and swallow island nations. But new research from a team at the US Geological Survey shows that rising seas can also devastate fragile ecosystems. Using a custom-built sea level modeling tool, USGS’s Western Ecological Research Center forecast the future for a dozen salt marshes in the San Francisco Bay Area, home to several species of federally protected birds and other animals. The predictions are grim: 95 percent of the marsh area could become mudflats by 2100, the effect of four feet of sea level rise (a level projected by previous studies). That’s a problem for marsh-loving endangered species like the salt marsh harvest mouse (left) and the California black rail bird, both found only in the Bay Area, and for other beach-dwelling birds that count on solid ground to lay their nests.Take a look at the video below, which shows the projection for a marsh in San Pablo Bay; yellow is land, light blue is average sea level, and dark blue is high water level….



    – IIASA News Release

    Nature: Limiting Climate Change Will Become Much Harder ‘And More Expensive If Action Is Not Taken Soon’

    Posted: 06 Jan 2013 07:52 AM PST Limiting climate change to target levels will become much more difficult to achieve, and more expensive, if action is not taken soon, according to a new analysis from IIASA, ETH Zurich, and NCAR.

    The new study, published this week in the journal Nature, examined the probability of keeping average global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above preindustrial levels under varying levels of climate policy stringency, and thus mitigation costs. In addition, the study for the first time quantified and ranked the uncertainties associated with efforts to mitigate climate change, including questions about the climate itself, uncertainties related to future technologies and energy demand, and political uncertainties as to when action will be taken.


    Under the weather, literally: More rainfall and bigger storms may lead to more stomach upsets
    (January 4, 2013) — We can blame all sorts of things on the weather. But a stomach bug? It seems unlikely. Yet, scientists say greater quantities of rainfall and bigger storms will lead to more stomach upsets in parts of Europe. … > full story


    Mountains are only minor contributors to erosion and climate regulation
    (January 7, 2013) — For years, geologists believed that mountains, due to their steep slopes and high rates of erosion, were large contributors to the trapping of carbon in ocean sediment. But a new study suggests that mountains do not play a significant role in this activity, turning a geological paradigm on its head. … > full story


    Who deforested Central Africa: Humans or climate?
    (January 7, 2013) — It is a much debated question: why did Central African forests become partially fragmented between 2,500 and 2,000 years ago, leaving room for more open forest landscapes and savannah? Recently, researchers attempted to explain that it was the farming Bantu peoples who were responsible for this, through the large-scale clearing that they undertook. … > full story



    More Rinks in Far North Find Need for Cooling Systems

    By JEFF Z. KLEIN (NYT) January 5, 2013 Compiled: 12:51 AM

    Climate change has forced arena managers in the northernmost reaches of Canada to forgo relying on natural ice for the entire skating season.



    Video: 2012 Was The Year Climate Change Got Real

    Posted: 08 Jan 2013 06:09 AM PST

    It’s official: 2012 was one of the most extreme year ever recorded for weather in the U.S. As a devastating drought, destructive wildfires, multiple severe heat waves, and destructive storms pounded the country last year, more Americans woke up to the reality of our changing climate.

    You look out the window and you see climate change in action,” said Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research this summer. “This is the way it gets manifested.”

    Indeed, as the ever-talented Peter Sinclair documents in his latest video compilation, 2012 was the “year climate change got real” for Americans and many others around the world:




    • POLICY



    The best solution for climate change is a carbon tax

    By Ralph Nader January 4, 2013

    With Lisa Jackson, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, stepping down, President Barack Obama is losing one of the few people left in Washington who was willing to speak up about global warming and to push for significant measures to curb its impact. During her tenure, Ms. Jackson was frequently denounced by GOP members of Congress and all too often reined in by Obama. Despite his and Congress’ failure to pass legislation addressing global warming, Ms. Jackson advanced a regulatory agenda to pick up some of the slack.

    She managed to see that fuel efficiency standards will increase by 2025, enact stricter pollution controls that must be met before any construction of new coal-fired power plants, and established EPA’s “endangerment finding,” bringing carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act. Her departure, however, highlights the failings of the Obama administration to address global warming in a significant way. In his second term, the president can change that by pushing to enact a carbon tax…..



    The Market and Mother Nature

    By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN (NYT) January 9, 2013 Why the United States needs to cut both debt and carbon emissions.



    How American Cities Are Adapting To Climate Change

    By Jeff Spross on Jan 11, 2013 at 10:12 am A new report by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives highlights twenty local government across the country that are taking the initiative to combat global warming. The report follows up an earlier survey ICLEI did of 298 American cities, which found that 74 percent had perceived changes in the climate — including increased storm intensity, higher temperatures, and more precipitation. Almost two-thirds are pursuing adaptation planning for climate change, compared to 68 percent globally, and virtually all U.S. cities report difficulties acquiring funding for adaptation efforts. (Only Latin American cities reported similar levels of difficulty.) And over one-third of U.S. cities said the federal government does not understand the realities of climate change adaptation.

    Several examples from ICLEI’s new report on local adaptation efforts include….



    Sen. Boxer adds climate change post to environment committee staff

    The Hill (blog) January 10, 2013

    Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has added a climate change counsel to her committee staff.



    World Bank Focuses on Climate Change in Hunt For Fresh Strategy

    By Sandrine Rastello – Jan 9, 2013 9:00 PM PT

    The bank is already helping countries assess and manage risks from climate change.

    The World Bank can make a difference in areas such as climate change, education and health, President Jim Yong Kim said, as he crafts a strategy for the poverty- fighting lender.

    Having spent his first six months in the job listening to the staff and board of directors, Kim said he is taking steps to make the bank less bureaucratic. Asked by the organization‘s 188-member countries to be more selective on the projects it undertakes, Kim now has to prioritize its efforts and make “tough choices,” he said. “We can’t be all things to all people,” Kim, 53, said in an interview at the bank’s headquarters in Washington yesterday. “The questions we have to ask are ‘where are the areas in which we can add the most value, where are the areas in which we can’t add value.'”

    A physician by training and the former president of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, Kim in July took over an institution created at the end of World War II to help rebuild ravaged Europe. Now focused on developing countries, it committed $53 billion last year on projects from building roads to supporting education policies, and has expanded its scope to taking equity stakes in companies and guaranteeing investments.




    Andrew Burton/Getty Images–State panels were asked to determine how to prevent damage like that at the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel in Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy.

    Storm Panel Recommends Major Changes in New York

    By MATTHEW L. WALD and DANNY HAKIM NY Times Published: January 6, 2013

    A new commission formed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, charged with figuring out how New York should adapt in the long term to cope with worsening storms amid climate change and population growth, has recommended an extensive menu of programs: it includes turning some of the state’s industrial shoreline back into oyster beds, hardening the electric and natural gas systems, and improving the scope and availability of insurance coverage, according to a draft version obtained by The New York Times.



    [69 Signatory Groups] Tell President Obama To Back Away From The Climate Cliff

    Posted: 07 Jan 2013 11:00 AM PST by Dan Lashof, via NRDC’s Switchboard

    ….today, NRDC and a broad coalition of environmental, civic, labor and healthcare groups urged the president to take bold and decisive action to help protect the nation against climate change’s ravages. “Dear Mr. President,” we wrote in a letter, representing the millions of Americans who are members of the 69 signatory groups. “Thank you for repeatedly raising the threat of climate change as you have outlined your priorities for your second term…. It is the great challenge of our time and our response will leave an historic legacy.”…..

    1. Raise your voice. Elevate the issue of climate disruption and climate solutions in the public discourse. Connect the dots between carbon pollution and extreme weather, and lead the public discussion of what we need to do as a nation to both prepare for the changes in climate that are no longer avoidable and avoid changes in climate that are unacceptable.

    2. Use your executive authority. You have the authority under existing law to achieve urgently needed reductions in the carbon pollution that is disrupting our climate and damaging our health. Most significantly, you can set standards that cut carbon pollution from America’s aging power plant fleet at least 25 percent by 2020 while boosting energy efficiency and shifting to clean energy sources. Power plants are our largest source of carbon pollution and you have the authority and responsibility to clean them up under the Clean Air Act. This will create tens of thousands of clean energy jobs, meet the pollution targets you set for the country, and restore U.S. international leadership.

    3. Reject dirty fuels. We should not pursue dirty fuels like tar sands when climate science tells us that 80 percent of existing fossil fuel reserves need to be kept in the ground. More specifically, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in our national interest because it would unlock vast amounts of additional carbon that we can’t afford to burn, extend our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels, endanger health and safety, and put critical water resources at risk. ….


    Lubchenco Has Championed Science and Ocean Restoration at NOAA

    Frances Beinecke’s Blog NRDC Posted January 7, 2013

    The United States used to be a laggard in managing ocean fisheries. Popular and valuable fish got pushed to the brink of collapse and others seemed poised to follow. But this year, the US established itself as a global leader in the effort to restore healthy fish populations: It became the first nation in the world to set annual catch limits for every federally managed fish species—more than 500 kinds of fish. Now many of our nation’s ocean fish are on a path to recovery. After decades of dire reports and downward trends, America finally has a good fish tale to tell. NOAA Administrator Dr Jane Lubchenco is one of the driving forces behind this turnaround. Throughout her time at NOAA, she has emphasized that fisheries management must be based on the best available science. Lubchenco has announced that she will soon be leaving her post as head of NOAA after four years of commendable service.  I hope her tenure will remind our leaders that science can help tackle some of our toughest challenges. Surely in 21st Century America we deserve nothing less….


    Chart: Obama Has Protected Fewer Public Lands Than Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, And George W. Bush

    Posted: 10 Jan 2013 08:30 AM PST



    Montana Judge Orders Wolf Killing to Resume Near Yellowstone

    Judge sides with handful of trophy hunting groups despite a heavy hunting season and repeated killing of research animals

    Jan 3, 2013- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

    Wolf hunting and trapping will resume near Yellowstone National Park after a Montana judge blocked the state from shutting down the practice after a brutal hunting season that saw the death of several wolves collared for research.

    Wildlife advocates are decrying Wednesday’s move by Judge Swandal, calling uproar by anti-wolf groups “vindictive.” (Photo: Fremlin via Flickr) State officials closed the gray wolf season on Dec. 10 after wildlife advocates raised alarm in response to the killing of at least eight wolves being tracked for scientific research, including the well known alpha wolf 832F (known as ’06 by her admirers).

    Wednesday’s restraining order from (the soon to be retired) Judge Nels Swandal allows hunting and trapping to resume immediately in areas on either side of Gardiner, Mt., which sits right on the boundary of the national park. According to Wildlife News, the majority of the park’s rapidly shrinking wolf population lives in the northern section, only a few miles from the boundary….


    A sparrow perches across the street from the Metrodome at the intersection of Fifth Street and Kirby Puckett Place. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)

    DNR hopes new Vikings stadium is for the birds

    Posted: 2:42 pm Tue, December 11, 2012
    The new Minnesota Vikings stadium may be a hostile environment for visiting teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals, but Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials hope the stadium will take it easy on real feathered creatures. In an email to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, a state DNR official urged project designers to consider “bird-friendly designs that would help reduce the potential for a bird collision to occur.”….










    Sacramento River Watershed Program Watershed Management Technical Assistance– WORKSHOPS

    Workshop Series May, 2012 — August, 2013 Held in seven regions across California Register Here!
    for all Workshops

    The Sacramento River Watershed Program seeks applications to attend the Workshops. Regional registrations are due 7 days before the first scheduled Workshop in each region.


    NOAA Seeks Public Comment on Expanding Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Off Northern California

    For more information also see:

    NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries announced today it will begin a public process to review the boundaries for its Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries off northern California. The agency is soliciting public comments on this boundary review through March 1.

    The sanctuaries, established by Congress in the 1980s, together protect nearly 2,000 square miles of ocean near the coast of San Francisco. The proposed expansion area is north of the existing sanctuaries and extends from Bodega Bay in Sonoma County to Alder Creek in Mendocino County. This area encompasses Point Arena-North America’s most intense “upwelling” site-which is home to diverse species and a productive ecosystem.

    NOAA will review these comments to determine if an expansion is beneficial, and if so, will prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) to assess expansion alternatives. Any draft EIS will be subsequently prepared through a public process under the National Environmental Policy Act. Once a draft EIS is completed, it will be opened for public comment again before final action is taken. This process will not revisit or amend the regulations for the current sanctuaries.

    “The waters off the northern California coast are incredibly nutrient-rich and drive the entire natural system and, for almost a decade, local communities have been petitioning their elected officials to expand sanctuary protection to these areas,” said Daniel J. Basta, director of the NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.






    Downscaling Climate Change Models to Local Site Conditions: Effects of Sea-Level Rise and Extreme Events on Coastal Habitats and Their Wildlife

    Wednesday, January 16, 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern

    Dr. John Y. Takekawa
    Research Wildlife Biologist, USGS Western Ecological Research Center

    Description: Coastal land managers are faced with many challenges and uncertainties in planning adaptive strategies for conserving coastal habitats at the land-sea interface under future climate change scenarios. As transitional ecotones between the marine and terrestrial environment, intertidal to shallow subtidal habitats along the Pacific coast are particularly sensitive to change. Projected climate change effects on coastal environments include sea-level rise, increased storm magnitude and frequency, salt water intrusion, accelerated erosion, shifting mud flat profiles, and increased water temperature and acidity. The subtidal and intertidal zones of shallow bays, mud flats, and salt marshes are a linked continuum, and thus, understanding the complex relationships between them is critical to project the effect of climate change stressors. This project takes a detailed bottom-up approach to assess vulnerability of Pacific coast habitats and their dependent wildlife at selected sites along a latitudinal gradient. It examines the potential climate change effects on transitional coastal habitats with high-quality local habitat data, downscaled climate models, and projected storm effects, and links habitat responses to wildlife using vulnerability assessments.

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

    THIS WEBINAR WILL BE RECORDED If you cannot attend the webinar it will be posted approximately 1-2 weeks after the presentation is given and posted on our Climate Change website.



    Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options
    (TACCIMO) Tuesday January 22 from 11:00am-12:00pm PST

    TACCIMO is a web-based tool developed by the USDA Forest Service that connects forest planning to current climate change science. TACCIMO delivers access to the most current climate change projections and science, including the likely range of projected future climate for any state, county, or National Forest and dynamically linked peer-reviewed scientific statements describing effects and management adaption options. For Forest Service users, TACCIMO additionally connects climate change science with relevant planning language. This webinar will cover this sythensizing tool with a overview presentation and demo by TACCIMO team members. Information specific to California is currently being developed.
    To join the teleconference only –Provide your phone number when you join the meeting to receive a call back. Alternatively, you can call:  Call-in toll-free number (Verizon): 1-866-737-4154  (US)  Call-in number (Verizon): 1-866-737-4154  (US)
    Show global numbers:
    Attendee access code: 287 267 0




    Climate Science Center Request for Proposals
    …. Funding Opportunity Announcement  for the eight Department of Interior Climate Science Centers (CSC) for Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014. Principal investigators for this proposal call must be from either a USGS entity or a member of a CSC/university consortium. The Announcement calls for statements of interest to be submitted by February 1, and includes separate sections for the science needs and proposal rankings for each CSC.  The document contains contact info, and dates and times for webinars and conference calls for proposers to ask questions.
    Please distribute this announcement to USGS centers, programs, offices, etc. The document is also available via the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center website (Click “Apply For Research Funds”).

    Southwest Climate Assessment– Webinars and Summary for Decision Makers

    Authors of the Southwest Climate Assessment have developed a series of webinars as well as a Summary for Decision Makers (attached), outlining the science, vulnerbilities, impacts, mitigation and adaptation related to climate change in the southwest region. This effort is part of the National Climate Assessment. 
    For more information, visit the Southwest Climate Center website


    Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy

    “US-Australian Dialogue on Carbon Pricing”  (pdf) Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 UC Davis Conference Center, Davis, CA.

    The conference will include a welcome from UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and many high-level speakers including:

    • The Hon. Kim Beazley, Australian Ambassador to the USA
    • The Hon. Mark Dreyfus, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change & Energy Efficiency
    • John Pérez, Speaker, California Assembly
    • Fran Pavley, Californian Senator and co-author of AB 32
    • Matthew Rodriquez, Secretary, California Environmental Protection Agency
    • Mary Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board
    • James Goldstene, Executive Officer, ARB
    • Karen Lanyon, Australian Consul- General
    • Justin Johnson, Deputy Commissioner, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation

    And many more… If you would like to view the agenda for this event please, click here.
    Space is limited for this event so please, REGISTER HERE, today! For travel and logistical information please, click here.

    This event is part of Australia’s 10th annual G’Day USA program of events. For more information please, click here.



    Igniting the Green Fire: Finding Hope in Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic

    March, 15, 16 & 17, 2013
    The Father of the Modern Conservation Movement Inspires Weekend Gathering in West Marin

    Point Reyes Books presents the 2013 Geography of Hope Conference, “Igniting the Green Fire: Finding Hope in Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic,” on March 15, 16, and 17, 2013, in Point Reyes Station. It is the first West Coast gathering of the world’s foremost Aldo Leopold experts and the only opportunity to meet and hear from the creators and stars of Green Fire, the 2012 Emmy Award-winning film about Aldo Leopold‘s life and conservation legacy which will be screened at the conference.

    In the tradition of past Geography of Hope conferences, the weekend features spirited conversations and presentations by prominent authors, naturalists, and conservation leaders, including: Aldo Leopold biographer Curt Meine; Aldo Leopold Foundation director Buddy Huffaker; former Natural Resources Conservation Service chief Paul Johnson; Center for Humans and Nature president Brooke Hecht; Quivira Coalition executive director Courtney White; Leopold scholars Susan Flader and J. Baird Callicott; geologist and author Lauret Savoy; U.S. Forest Service Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon; poet Robert Hass; author Gary Nabhan and “Planet Walker” John Francis; and Center for Whole Communities founder Peter Forbes (partial list).

    They’ll examine Leopold’s legacy as a foundation for hope and for future conservation ideas and action. Naturalist-led field trips to Point Reyes National Seashore will allow participants to experience Leopold’s land ethic firsthand on some of the 71,000 acres of wilderness and ranchlands that comprise the park. Additional field trips go to privately owned farms and ranches in West Marin. Meals served during the weekend will feature food from Marin’s farms and ranches.



    Fifth International Partners in Flight Meeting Set for Utah, August 25 – 28



    American Geophysical Union Chapman Conference

    Communicating Climate Science: A Historic Look to the Future June 8-13, 2013, Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby, CO, USA

    The AGU Chapman Conference (AGUCC) will focus on communication about climate science to all sectors of society. The Climate Change Community must move forward on multiple pathways to convey climate change research, mitigation and adaptation plans and policies and technologies to policy makers, planners, and society at all levels. As climate science has developed over time, there has been a significant shift in relations between the science and political aspects thereof; where previously the development of the science was exclusively prioritized, now the focus lies in communicating the science to society. It is imperative that we determine an appropriate balance between these two elements, ensuring that neither is too shallow or deep.

    ….The abstract submission deadline is February 5, 2013. To submit an abstract and/or register please visit the conference website:



    NEW WEBSITE: Bay Area Watershed Network

    Welcome to the Bay Area Watershed Network

    The Bay Area Watershed Network (BAWN) is a network of natural resource professionals and community members who work locally to protect watersheds, from headlands to the Bay, throughout our region. The BAWN provides opportunities to share information and coordinate ideas, proposals, and activities.

    • The website includes an interactive map of citizen-based watershed groups. See who is doing what where, explore the groups through website links, and help us update the site with more groups!

    • The water cooler of the watershed stewardship world! This is the place where you can share ideas, ask questions, and forge new partnerships! Register, log in and join the conversations!

    • Links to regional efforts, tools for starting a watershed group, information on trainings and workshops.



    Be a Part of Congress: Apply to AGU Congressional Science Fellowship
    Applications are currently open and are due by February 1st, 2013

    to work on problems of public importance while utilizing your science expertise?  It’s not too late; apply for an AGU Congressional Science Fellowship today! The fellowship is an opportunity to directly influence high priority public policy issues such as natural hazards mitigation, mineral and energy resources, air and water quality, and federal support for basic research. Because fellows work on a wide range of issues with people from diverse professional backgrounds, applicants should have a broad scientific background and excellent communication skills. Training or experience in public policy is not necessary, but prospective fellows should have a demonstrated interest in applying science to solve problems confronting the United States. The fellowship has no absolute restriction on age, education or career level, or specific scientific background. Following an intensive two week course on politics and the legislative process run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Congressional Science Fellows will work as a staff member in the offices of a senator, representative, or congressional committee. As a staff member, a fellow’s duties may include writing legislation, advising on votes, organizing congressional hearings, meeting with lobbyists and constituents, and conducting legislative research, among other tasks.
    Interested or know someone who may be? Visit AGU’s Congressional Science Fellowship page and learn more about the program, previous fellows, and how to apply.


    Photographing Climate Change

    New Yorker (blog)  – ‎Jan 7 2013‎

    Climate change is not only a major issue for scientists and politicians but for artists as well. Here are ten examples of photographers and other visual artists who are challenging viewers to consider the dangers of inaction by capturing the effects of



    The Butterfly Effect‘Flight Behavior,’ by Barbara Kingsolver

    By DOMINIQUE BROWNING Published: November 9, 2012

    Dellarobia Turnbow is about to fling herself into a love affair that will wreak havoc on her placid life, and she’s worried about what she’s wearing. She’s frantic with desire, frantic with passion, also frantic for a cigarette. Her boots, bought secondhand, “so beautiful she’d nearly cried when she found them,” are killing her. It’s the wettest fall on record in southern Appalachia, and she has to be hiking in pointed-toe calfskin on a steep, muddy trail to a deserted cabin for an illicit rendezvous…..


    Youth Winter Bird Count in Marin Saturday, January 12th, 2013 from 8:30am -12:30pm

    With: Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary, WildCare and PRBO Conservation Science

    Families with children of all ages; Groups lead in both English and Spanish; Participants must register but participation is FREE!

    Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary, Point Reyes Bird Observatory, and WildCare are co-hosting our third Youth Winter Bird Count (YWBC). This event will give aspiring young birders and outdoor enthusiasts an opportunity to contribute to conservation while they learn in both Spanish and English aided by WildCare’s bilingual naturalists and volunteer birders. Participants will work in small teams with experienced birders. Bird data collected during the YWBC will ultimately be entered into eBird, an international database of bird sightings. Students of all ages and their families are invited to participate in this fun and educational event. Participants will meet at the Albert J. Boro Community Center in Pickleweed Park, San Rafael, CA. Event space has generously been donated by the Community Center to support this program. Participants will learn to use binoculars and scopes, record scientific data and, with the help of expert birders, become familiar with and identify a variety of local birds. Participants will also work with their teams to enter their data into a shared database and present it to the other participating teams as part of a celebration at the end of the event.

    Spread the word! Registration forms are available on our website at or For more information about this event, contact Wendy Dalia at (415) 388-2524 x111 or








    A drilling dilemma on fracking– California

    Updated 12:21 am, Saturday, January 5, 2013 By federal estimate, California may be sitting atop one of the nation’s largest oil deposits, buried in rock formations beneath the Central Valley and elsewhere.
    But tapping this pool will take a largely unregulated and potentially dangerous technique known as fracking that injects chemicals, water and sand to release the oil.
    The known risks of fracking have churned up a cross-coun
    try debate that has arrived in full force here. California may have ambitious clean-energy goals, but it will still need oil and gas for many years, making fracking attractive. Formally known as hydraulic fracturing, it’s credited with creating jobs, low n
    atural gas prices and even future energy independence. An official policy is overdue, and California should be in no mood to unleash fracking without a public examination of the risks and role of public oversight.

    New York Governor Announces $1 Billion Green Bank And $1.5 Billion Solar Program

    Posted: 10 Jan 2013 06:53 AM PST

    New York City officials are thinking more about climate resiliency in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. But adaptation — making the city more resilient to intensifying extreme weather — is only one part of an effective strategy. Mitigating climate change through clean energy and other carbon reduction efforts is just as important. And New York Governor Andrew Cuomo seems to understand that.

    In his State of the State address yesterday, Cuomo outlined plans for a new billion-dollar  “green bank” to leverage private funds for deploying clean energy technologies, announced a 10-year expansion of the state’s solar program by increasing funds $150 million per year, and named a new cleantech czar to oversee the efforts. The cumulative impact could be a massive expansion of renewables and efficiency in New York….


    Coast Guard Conducts Investigation Of Arctic Drilling Ship Contracted By Shell

    Posted: 07 Jan 2013 07:24 AM PST

    The problems continue for Shell’s Arctic offshore drilling operations. After getting its Kulluk drilling rig stranded off the coast of Alaska on New Year’s Eve — capping off a series of operational mishaps throughout 2012 — Shell’s other Arctic drilling ship is being investigated by the Coast Guard for pollution violations. According to CBS, criminal investigators boarded the Noble Discoverer last November to look into safety and pollution problems, eventually grounding the ship for violations. The Noble Discoverer is a 572-foot drilling ship owned by the Noble Corporation and contracted by Shell for Arctic offshore drilling exploration:….


    As Biofuel Demand Grows, So Do Guatemala’s Hunger Pangs

    By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL NY TIMES Published: January 5, 2013

    GUATEMALA CITY — In the tiny tortillerias of this city, people complain ceaselessly about the high price of corn. Just three years ago, one quetzal — about 15 cents — bought eight tortillas; today it buys only four. And eggs have tripled in price because chickens eat corn feed.


    How U.S. Biofuel Policy Is Destroying Guatemala’s Food Supply

    Posted: 07 Jan 2013 01:04 PM PST

    A new report in The New York Times highlights how biofuel policy in the United States and Europe has produced a rolling food catastrophe in Guatemala.

    The country once enjoyed a nearly self-sufficient level of corn production, but domestic producers were undercut by American corn exports subsidized by U.S. agricultural policy. Guatemala’s domestic corn supplies dropped nearly 30 percent per capita between 1995 and 2005.

    In 2007, the United States established its expanded biofuel standards, and began relying on corn to meet them. That drove up demand, and the flow of cheap corn into Guatemala dried up. Meanwhile, larger farms and industrial producers took up much of Guatemala’s available cropland and water supplies to produce sugar cane, vegetable oil, and other crops to meet increased global demand for biofuel, due to European as well as U.S. policies.

    The result left subsistence farmers with less and less land to work, and the average Guatemalan — whose diet is heavily corn-based — with no where else to turn for affordable food:



    German solar power installations at record high in 2012

    Times of India  – ‎January 6, 2013‎

    BERLIN: New solar power installations in Germany hit a record high last year but tapered off in the fourth quarter as subsidies were cut to curb costs to consumers, environment ministry data showed on Saturday.



    What Did We Learn About Climate And Energy In 2012?

    Posted: 07 Jan 2013 06:11 AM PST

    by Andrew Steer, via the World Resources Institute

    This year has been one of those worst-of-years and best-of-years. In its failures, there are signs of hope.

    An unprecedented stream of extreme weather events worldwide tragically reminded us that we’re losing the fight against climate change. For the first time since 1988, climate change was totally ignored in the U.S. presidential campaign, even though election month, November, was the 333rd consecutive month with a global temperature higher than the long-term average.

    A WRI report identified 1,200 coal-fired power plants currently proposed for construction worldwide. The Arctic sea ice reached its lowest-ever area in September, down nearly 20 percent from its previous low in 2007. And disappointing international negotiations in June and December warned us not to rely too much on multilateral government-to-government solutions to global problems.

    But 2012 was also a year of potential turning points. A number of new “plurilateral” approaches to problem-solving came to the fore, offering genuine hope. A wave of emerging countries, led by China, embraced market-based green growth strategies. Costs for renewable energy continued their downward path, and are now competitive in a growing number of contexts.

    Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports that global investment in renewable energy was probably around $250 billion in 2012, down by perhaps 10 percent over the previous year, but not bad given the eliminations of many subsidy programs, economic austerity in the West, and the sharp shale-induced declines in natural gas prices. And the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy, coupled with the ongoing drought covering more than half of the United States (which will turn out to be among the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history) may have opened the door to a change of psychology, in turn potentially enabling the Obama Administration to exhibit the international leadership the world so urgently needs, as many of us have advocated…..









    New York Times Dismantles Its Environment Desk

    Times says demise of the nine-person team, created in 2009, won’t affect climate coverage.

    By Katherine Bagley, InsideClimate News Jan 11, 2013

    On Dec. 3, the Times announced that it was offering buyouts to 30 newsroom managers. The decision to dismantle the environment desk wasn’t linked to budgetary concerns and no one is expected to lose his or her job. Credit: Scott Beale, flickr

    The New York Times will close its environment desk in the next few weeks and assign its seven reporters and two editors to other departments. The positions of environment editor and deputy environment editor are being eliminated. No decision has been made about the fate of the Green Blog, which is edited from the environment desk. “It wasn’t a decision we made lightly,” said Dean Baquet, the paper’s managing editor for news operations. “To both me and Jill [Abramson, executive editor], coverage of the environment is what separates the New York Times from other papers. We devote a lot of resources to it, now more than ever. We have not lost any desire for environmental coverage. This is purely a structural matter.”

    On Dec. 3 the Times announced that it was offering buyouts to 30 newsroom managers in an effort to reduce newsroom expenses. But Baquet said the decision to dismantle the environment desk wasn’t linked to budgetary concerns and that no one is expected to lose his or her job.



    JAMES HANSEN: Jan. 7, 2013: Galileo and the Fireflies. What’s happening in the Netherlands.


    Locals say shifting sea ice frees trapped killer whales in northern Canada, but fears continue

    (The Canadian Press, Marina Lacasse/ Associated Press ) – In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 photo provided by Marina Lacasse, killer whales surface through a small hole in the ice near Inukjuak, in Northern Quebec. Mayor Peter Inukpuk urged the Canadian government Wednesday to send an icebreaker as soon as possible to crack open the ice and help the pod of about a dozen orcas find open water. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it is sending officials to assess the situation.

    By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, January 10, 6:15 PM

    MONTREAL — About a dozen killer whales trapped under sea ice appeared to be free after the ice shifted, village officials in Canada’s remote north said Thursday, while residents who feared they would get stuck elsewhere hired a plane to track them down.

    The whales’ predicament in the frigid waters of Hudson Bay made international headlines, and locals had been planning a rescue operation with chainsaws and drills before the mammals slipped away



    Time Is Not on Our Side

    Posted by Bill McKibben at 9:15am, January 6, 2013.

    When it came to climate change in 2012, the operative word was “hot” (with “record” a close second).  The continental U.S. broiled.  Drought struck with a passion and, as the year ended, showed no sign of going away any time soon.  Water levels on the Mississippi River fell so perilously low as to threaten traffic and business on one of the nation’s busier arteries.  Meanwhile, it’s estimated that record greenhouse gas emissions were pumped into the atmosphere.  And just in case you were thinking of putting those words “hot” and “record” away for a while, the first predictions for 2013 suggest that, drearily enough, they are once again likely to be much in use.  None of us should really be surprised by any of this, since the ill effects of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere have for years been outrunning the predictions of sober climate scientists…..


    CNN Veteran Dykstra Slams Network For Climate Special Lacking ‘A Single Mention Of What Causes Climate Change’

    Posted: 07 Jan 2013 09:29 AM PST

    “It was very well done for showing climate impacts, but doing an hour documentary on climate change and not mentioning fossil fuels is like doing an hour on sexually-transmitted diseases and not mentioning sex.” That is Peter Dykstra critiquing CNN’s new one-hour prime-time documentary, “The Coming Storms.” Dykstra — an Emmy and Peabody winner — is one of the best climate journalists around. He is currently Publisher of the Daily Climate (which CP often resposts), and “During a 17-year career at CNN, Peter Dykstra was executive producer for science, environment, weather and technology coverage.”

    The good news is that, as the CNN promo explains, the show discussed how “Global warming continues to wreak havoc on weather systems around the globe.” The bad news is that the show never examines the cause of global warming or how to slow it down (see transcript here).

    Here is more from Dykstra, in an email he sent to CNN staff and several reporters/bloggers….


    New stem cell approach for blindness successful in mice
    (January 7, 2013) — Blind mice can see again, after Oxford University researchers transplanted developing cells into their eyes and found they could re-form the entire light-sensitive layer of the retina. … > full story


    Pesticides and Parkinson’s: Further proof of a link uncovered
    (January 4, 2013) — Researchers have found a link between Parkinson’s disease and the pesticide Benomyl, whose toxicological effects still linger in the environment, 10 years after it was banned by the EPA. More important, the research suggests the way this pesticide does its damage may occur in other people with Parkinson’s, even for those who were not exposed to this pesticide. … > full story

    New Video on Benefits of Probiotics Posted By

    SF Chronicle January 5, 2013 According to the video, these healthy bacterial species named Probiotics can protect the human body from as many as 170 diseases and health conditions. Several clinical studies have established the fact that inadequate level of probiotics can… more »


    How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown?
    Wednesday, January 09, 2013, at 8:30 AM EST
    Slate partners with @GunDeaths for an interactive, crowdsourced tally of the toll firearms have taken since Dec. 14.











    National Geographic 2012 Photography Contest Winners


Conservation Science News January 4, 2013

Highlight of the Week









Highlight of the Week









Bering Sea study finds prey density more important to predators than biomass
(January 3, 2013)
Marine resource managers often gauge the health of species based on overall biomass, but a new study of predator-prey relationships in the Bering Sea found that it isn’t the total number of individuals that predators care about — it’s how densely they are aggregated.
It’s more than searching for an easy meal, the researchers say. Predators need to balance how much energy they expend in searching for food with the caloric and nutrient value of that which they consume. When prey doesn’t aggregate, however, the search for food becomes much more difficult — affecting the health of the predators’ offspring and the vitality of their overall population. Results of the study were published this week in the journal PLOS ONE. The study was part of the Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Project, which was funded by the North Pacific Research Board and the National Science Foundation. “We had to think very differently about these interactions, trying to see the world from the predators’ point of view,” said Kelly Benoit-Bird, an Oregon State University marine ecologist and lead author on the study. “When we first tried to identify good foraging locations for predator species we looked at areas of high prey numbers because it makes sense that they’d be where the food is. But the results didn’t match what we might have expected. “Predator populations that should have been doing well, based on prey numbers or biomass, were in fact not doing well,” added Benoit-Bird, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. “What we discovered is that smaller aggregations of prey are more attractive to predators if they are sufficiently dense.” “It is a trade-off strategy,” said Benoit-Bird, a 2010 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. “They feed themselves in one place and nourish their offspring from another.”This concept of prey “patchiness” can change rapidly, the researchers noted. Pollock aggregated only when the number of individuals in an area reached a certain threshold; below that threshold, they swam as individuals.”If the population is sufficiently diffuse, the pollock don’t aggregate and that could spell trouble for species that prey upon them,” Heppell said. “A 10 percent shift in the number of fish could change how the entire stock behaves — and have a major impact on the birds, seals and other predators.“…full story

Kelly J. Benoit-Bird, Brian C. Battaile, Scott A. Heppell, Brian Hoover, David Irons, Nathan Jones, Kathy J. Kuletz, Chad A. Nordstrom, Rosana Paredes, Robert M. Suryan, Chad M. Waluk, Andrew W. Trites. Prey Patch Patterns Predict Habitat Use by Top Marine Predators with Diverse Foraging Strategies. PLOS ONE, 03 Jan 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053348

A tagged blue whale in the Santa Barbara Channel Islands shipping lanes. J. Calambokidis / Cascadia Research

Ocean shipping lanes near San Francisco changed to protect whales

By GUY KOVNER THE PRESS DEMOCRAT Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 7:15 p.m.

Shipping lanes that carry about 20 cargo and cruise vessels a day in and out of San Francisco Bay are being revised in an effort to reduce fatal collisions with whales, federal officials said Thursday.

The proposal developed by the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration modifies shipping lanes that head north, west and south from the Bay, limiting their overlap with areas frequented by endangered blue, humpback and fin whales. Five whales were killed by confirmed or likely ship strikes in the San Francisco area in 2010, and scientists say the mortality rate may be much higher because most dead whales sink….


USGS- Quantifying Ecosystem Services Recent years have seen a proliferation of methods for quantifying ecosystem services but a lack of synthesis of these alternative approaches and comparative analysis between multiple models at a common site. We recently released this USGS report, which details the application of multiple tools to the San Pedro River watershed in southeast Arizona.


Rebuilding Resilience on the Land – Ecological Restoration & the Hydrological Cycle
A farmer, taking a break from heart-rending work tilling under a failed crop in the droughty backfield, is refreshing his spirit at what has become a favorite spot. The restored prairie is blooming even while his corn is dying. This makes him glad he put that marginal 20-acre field into prairie awhile back. Maybe he should think about restoring prairie to that droughty back field too, if the government program continues. This ecological vignette stands in sharp contrast to events that unfolded on many Midwestern streams and rivers during the drought-plagued summer of 2012. The land has a built-in resiliency and ability to maintain balance. Or, at least, it once did…



Evolutionary rescue in changing environments

Issue compiled and edited by Andrew Gonzalez, Ophélie Ronce, Regis Ferrière and Michael E. Hochberg

The ubiquity of global environmental change and its impacts on biodiversity poses a clear and urgent challenge for biologists. In many cases, environmental change is so widespread and rapid that plants and animals can neither accommodate to them physiologically nor migrate to a more favourable site. Extinction will ensue unless the population adapts fast enough to counter the rate of decline. The aim of this special issue is to present current understanding of evolutionary rescue: the case where evolution can reverse rapid population decline due to environmental stress, and so prevent otherwise inevitable extirpation. Remarkably, little is known about the prevalence of evolutionary rescue in nature, and even less about how to predict it. The contributions to this issue provide new insights about when evolutionary rescue might occur, address the latest conceptual developments, and report novel theoretical and experimental results. The results show that this burgeoning area of research can inform problems of direct practical concern, such as the conservation of biodiversity, adaptation to climate change, and the emergence of infectious disease. The continued development of research on ER will be necessary if we are to understand the extent to which anthropogenic global change will reduce the Earth’s biodiversity.


Environmental Threat Map Highlights Great Lakes Restoration Challenges
In an article published online Dec. 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a group led by researchers at the University of Michigan reports on an expansive and detailed effort to map and cross-compare environmental stresses and the ecological services provided by the five lakes. Their efforts have produced the most comprehensive map to date of Great Lakes’ stressors, and also the first map to explicitly account for all major types of stressors on the lakes in a quantitative way. The map represents the combined influence of nearly three dozen individual stressors and is incredibly detailed for a region spanning nearly 900 miles, showing impacts at the scale of half a mile…


Scientists challenge current theories about natural habitats and species diversity
(December 30, 2012) — How can a square meter of meadow contain tens of species of plants? And what factors determine the number of species that live in an ecosystem? This has been selected as one of the 25 most important unresolved questions in science, both for its importance in understanding nature and due to the value of natural ecosystems for humankind. The value of goods and services provided by natural ecosystems is estimated to exceed the GDP of our planet. … > full story

New York Times

Birdsong Stirs Birds’ ‘Emotions’ Much As Music Affects Humans, Brain Imaging ... Written by

Jacqueline Howard

Huffington Post January 3, 2013

“We found that the same neural reward system is activated in female birds in the breeding state that are listening to male birdsong, and in people listening to music that they like,” Sarah Earp, an Emory undergraduate who co-authored the study with


Jellyfish experts show increased blooms are a consequence of periodic global fluctuations
(December 31, 2012) — Blooms, or proliferations, of jellyfish can show a substantial, visible impact on coastal populations — clogged nets for fishermen, stinging waters for tourists, even choked cooling intake pipes for power plants — and recent media reports have created a perception that the world’s oceans are experiencing trending increases in jellyfish. Now, a new multinational collaborative study suggests these trends may be overstated, finding that there is no robust evidence for a global increase in jellyfish over the past two centuries. … > full story

The effect of stress on Atlantic salmon’s congenital immunity to IPN
(January 2, 2013) — Stress affects the congenital immune defence system. New doctoral research has revealed how stress can lower the immunity of salmon and increase its susceptibility to viral infection. Furthermore, stress can increase the propagation of viruses in the fish’s internal organs and can cause “benign” viruses to turn “pernicious”. … > full story


New insights into how plants grow in response to light, water and gravity
(January 2, 2013) — Elementary school students often learn that plants grow toward the light. This seems straightforward, but in reality, the genes and pathways that allow plants to grow and move in response to their environment are not fully understood. Leading plant scientists now explore one of the most fundamental processes in plant biology — plant movement in response to light, water, and gravity. … > full story


The New Frontier: Systems View of Life – Restoring Natural Capital & Sustainability
Humanity stands at the edge of a new frontier. In the 1960s and 1970s, advances in complexity theory and mathematics, coupled with dramatic advances in computing, allowed researchers and scientists to begin modeling and comprehending the predicament Earth’s inhabitants now find themselves in. A linchpin of the current predicament is the collective underlying philosophy that shapes assumptions about how the world works. These operating views govern how people think and make decisions affecting their present and future. This article will trace the evolving path of this collective worldview, focusing on the latest developments in the emerging Systems View of Life.


The Achievements of Cuba’s “Ecological Agriculture”
When Cuba faced the shock of lost trade relations with the Soviet Bloc in the early 1990s, food production initially collapsed due to the loss of imported fertilizers, pesticides, tractors, parts, and petroleum. The situation was so bad that Cuba posted the worst growth in per capita food production in all of Latin America and the Caribbean. But the island rapidly re-oriented its agriculture to depend less on imported synthetic chemical inputs, and became a world-class case of ecological agriculture.

Graze Cattle Such As Bison to Restore British Countryside
The British countryside could be restored by cattle herds grazing such as the bison of the American plains, according to organic farmers. … the countryside is being destroyed by industrial scale farms that concentrate on monoculture fields of wheat and animals in massive sheds. Organic matter in soils has been reduced by continuous use of fertilisers and pesticides. Instead he said that more of Britain could return to grazing animals as this returns fertility to grassland and retains the countryside. He suggested a US method ‘mob grazing’, based on how wild bison graze the American plains, is the best way to ensure productivity. Using electric fences, farmers split their pastures into a large number of small paddocks. Putting their cattle into each paddock in turn, they graze it off quickly before moving the herd to the next. US farmers report that their animals stay very healthy on this grazing regime, putting on weight fast. At the same time the soil quickly becomes more fertile as it accumulates carbon compounds. ..


A Watershed Era for Urban River Restoration
Recent US population growth trends show many cities are growing faster than suburbs, reflecting shifting lifestyle choices that favor urban living. There is also a concurrent interest in restoring natural features of the urban landscape, particularly river corridors, as part of this urban living renaissance. Daylighting is being considered by many cities as a way to manage flows and water quality while simultaneously revitalizing downtowns and urban areas. The Cheonggyecheon Stream restoration in Seoul, South Korea in 2005 received significant worldwide attention. In the US, small and large cities, as well as recently many federal agencies, are getting more involved in urban river restoration.


From Canada To Latin America, The Christmas Bird Count Is On

NPR  – ‎January 4, 2013‎

Every year at around this time, tens of thousands of people take part in a kind of bird-watching marathon. From Canada to Latin America and throughout the United States, participants will get up in the middle of the night…


Birds’ nests drop by 39 percent in South Florida

The News-Press  – ‎January 4, 2013‎

“We had two years of drought, in 2010 and 2011, and for birds that feed on animals that live in water, that’s not a good thing,” said Mark Cook, the South Florida Water Management District’s lead environmental scientist.







2012 in Review – a Major Year for Climate Change

Posted on 1 January 2013 by dana1981

With 2012 now in the books, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest climate-related events of the year.  Here we’ll examine some of the most significant scientific papers, debunked myths, climatic events, and steps taken towards solving the climate problem, as determined in part by the most widely-viewed Skeptical Science blog posts of 2012.  Let’s begin with two of the most significant climatic events of the year… in terms of impacts on people, the climate, and public awareness of climate change: the record-shattering Arctic sea ice melt, and Hurricane Sandy.


Light Absorption Speeding Arctic Ice Melt


The record-setting disappearance of Arctic sea ice this fall was an indication to many climate scientists and ice experts that the pace of climate change was outstripping predictions.

Geophysical Research LettersThe rate of the ocean’s heat absorption is depicted along a color spectrum, with red representing the highest levels and green the lowest.

Now a new study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters provides a look at a dynamic that may further accelerate the process: the rate at which the ocean underneath the ice absorbs sunlight. The bottom line of the study, which was done by four scientists, three at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, and one from the department of aerospace engineering sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is that the ocean under newly formed ice (“first-year ice” in the scientists’ terminology) absorbs 50 percent more solar energy than the ocean beneath older ice (“multiyear ice”).
This means that the more the ice melts in late summer, the more first-year ice replaces multiyear ice, and the warmer the ocean beneath the ice becomes, accelerating the melting process. One sentence of the study says it all: “a continuation of the observed sea-ice changes will increase the amount of light penetrating into the Arctic Ocean, enhancing sea-ice melt and affecting sea-ice and upper-ocean ecosystems.”
The study, the first of its kind, used a remotely driven undersea vehicle equipped with spectral radiometers, devices capable of measuring light. It then produced a map of the distribution of light under the summer ice across the Arctic….


Natural relationship between carbon dioxide concentrations and sea level documented
(January 2, 2013) — By comparing reconstructions of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and sea level over the past 40 million years, researchers have found that greenhouse gas concentrations similar to the present (almost 400 parts per million) were systematically associated with sea levels at least nine meters above current levels.

The study determined the ‘natural equilibrium’ sea level for CO2 concentrations ranging between ice-age values of 180 parts per million and ice-free values of more than 1,000 parts per million. It takes many centuries for such an equilibrium to be reached, therefore whilst the study does not predict any sea level value for the coming century, it does illustrate what sea level might be expected if climate were stabilized at a certain CO2 level for several centuries. Lead author Dr Gavin Foster, from Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton which is based at the centre, said, “A specific case of interest is one in which CO2 levels are kept at 400 to 450 parts per million, because that is the requirement for the often mentioned target of a maximum of two degrees global warming.” “This trend reflects the behaviour of the large East Antarctic ice sheet in response to climate changes at these very high CO2 levels. An ice-free planet, with sea level 65 metres above the present, occurred in the past when CO2 levels were around 1200 parts per million.” Professor Rohling said, “Sea level rises to these high values will take many centuries, or even millennia, but the implications from the geological record are clear – for a future climate with maximum warming of about two degrees Centigrade, that is with CO2 stabilized at 400 to 450 parts per million, sea level is set to steadily rise for many centuries, towards its natural equilibrium position at around 24 +7/-15 metres, at 68 per cent confidence. In Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change terms, this is a likely rise of at least nine metres above the present. Previous research indicates that such rises above present sea level may occur at rates of roughly one metre per century.”
Based on these results, which document how the Earth system has operated in the past, future stabilization of CO2 at 400-450 parts per million is unlikely to be sufficient to avoid a significant steady long-term sea level rise.full story


Dr Gavin Foster et al. The relationship between sea level and climate forcing by CO2 on geological timescales. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013



As climate warms, bark beetles march on high-elevation forests
(December 31, 2012) — In a new study, scientists report a rising threat to the whitebark pine forests of the northern Rocky Mountains as native mountain pine beetles climb ever higher, attacking trees that have not evolved strong defenses to stop them. … Trees and the insects that eat them wage constant war. Insects burrow and munch; trees deploy lethal and disruptive defenses in the form of chemicals. But in a warming world, where temperatures and seasonal change are in flux, the tide of battle may be shifting in some insects’ favor, according to a new study. In a report published today (Dec. 31, 2012) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison reports a rising threat to the whitebark pine forests of the northern Rocky Mountains as native mountain pine beetles climb ever higher, attacking trees that have not evolved strong defenses to stop them. The whitebark pine forests of the western United States and Canada are the forest ecosystems that occur at the highest elevation that sustains trees. It is critical habitat for iconic species such as the grizzly bear and plays an important role in governing the hydrology of the mountain west by shading snow and regulating the flow of meltwater.

Warming temperatures have allowed tree-killing beetles to thrive in areas that were historically too cold for them most years,” explains Ken Raffa, a UW-Madison professor of entomology and a senior author of the new report. “The tree species at these high elevations never evolved strong defenses.”….> full story


Sandy funnels northern birds to Florida, great danger

USA TODAY  – ‎Dec 31, 2012‎

Sandy may have blown the small birds off course and destroyed their food supply. They are coming to Florida in search of food, but the long journey and lack of food they are used to eating is killing them.


Climate change to put paid to the ‘perfect’ lawn

The Times UK (subscription)  – ‎Jan 2, 2013‎

The “bowling green” lawn will soon be a thing of the past thanks to climate change, horticultural experts are warning. It won’t be global warming that puts paid to the well-manicured lawn so much as unpredictable weather patterns that alternate



Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the United States

NRDC December 2012 The winter sports industry is deeply dependent upon predictable, heavy snowfall, but climate change is expected to contribute to warmer winters, reduced snowfall, and shorter snow seasons. The estimated $12.2 billion U.S. ski and snowmobile winter sports industry has already felt the direct impact of decreased winter snowpack and rising average winter temperatures.

And climate change will spell more trouble, according to research done for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Protect Our Winters (POW), for all businesses dependent on winter weather from snowmobiling, snowboarding, and ice fishing to snowshoeing and skiing — as well as the other related sectors that depend on winter sports tourists, such as restaurants, lodging, gas stations, grocery stores, and bars…..


Scientists link climate change and gray snapper

Phys.Org  – ‎Jan 4 2013‎

(—NOAA scientists continue to develop and improve the approaches used to understand the effect of climate change on marine fisheries along the


A ringed seal pup peeks out from its protective snow cave near Kotzebue, Alaska. (Credit: Michael Cameron, NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center)

NOAA lists ringed and bearded ice seal populations under the Endangered Species Act
(December 30, 2012) — NOAA Fisheries has announced its final listing decision for four subspecies of ringed seals and two distinct population segments (DPSs) of bearded seals under the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, in line with the proposal, NOAA will list as threatened the Beringia and Okhotsk DPSs of bearded seals and the Arctic, Okhotsk, and Baltic subspecies of ringed seals. The Ladoga subspecies of ringed seals will be listed as endangered. The species that exist in U.S. waters (Arctic ringed seals and the Beringia DPS of bearded seals) are already protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. ..

“Our scientists undertook an extensive review of the best scientific and commercial data. They concluded that a significant decrease in sea ice is probable later this century and that these changes will likely cause these seal populations to decline,” said Jon Kurland, protected resources director for NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska region. “We look forward to working with the State of Alaska, our Alaska Native co-management partners, and the public as we work toward designating critical habitat for these seals.”. > full story


Climate change threatens Tahoe’s snow levels, lake clarity

San Jose Mercury News  – ‎Jan 4 2013‎

That’s equivalent to moving Lake Tahoe from its current elevation of 6,200 feet above sea level to 3,700 feet, climate scientists report in a special January issue of the journal Climatic Change. That’s as high as the peak of Contra Costa County’s .


Top 10 ways Israel fights desertification

Israel has gained a worldwide reputation for its ability to turn barren desert into useful and arable land. ISRAEL21c takes a look at the country’s top 10 eco-strategies.

By Karin Kloosterman July 15, 2012,  10 Comments

This past year’s erratic and violent weather is only a small taste of what’s to come, climate scientists predict, as the impact of global warming starts to hit. Weather will become more unpredictable, flooding will become even fiercer, and droughts and famine more widespread as land increasingly gives over to desert. With desert covering a large part of its surface, Israel has had to quickly develop solutions for its lack of arable land and potable water. Israeli research, innovation, achievements and education on this topic now span the globe in tackling problems common to all desert dwellers. “We’ve done a lot of research on ecosystem response to drought because we have this problem on our doorstep,” says Prof. Pedro Berliner, director of Israel’s foremost research center for desert research, the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev Desert. ISRAEL21c looks at Israel’s top 10 advances to combat desertification, putting special focus on the work done by researchers at the Blaustein Institute.

1. Looking to the ancients

They lived in the Land of Israel more than 2,000 years ago in the heart of the Negev Desert, yet found a way to survive and thrive. How did the Nabateans build a sustainable community that provided food, firewood and fodder for animals?

This is Prof Pedro Berliner’s area of interest. He has developed a modern-day version of the Nabatean floodwater collection system, Runoff Agroforestry Systems, and travels the world teaching farmers in countries such as Kenya, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Mexico how to implement it. His low-tech approach redirects floodwaters to dike-surrounded plots or hand-dug pits in which trees or shrubs are planted. Going one step further than the Nabateans, “In our system we not only plant trees and between them rows of crops, but gave the old a new twist by using legume shrub-like trees which can absorb atmospheric nitrogen through their root system,” Berliner says. Soil fertility is maintained at practically no cost, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the system….


Climate change may increase volcanic eruptions

Findings were based only on natural changes in climate, so it’s not clear whether human-caused climate change would have the same impact

By Tia Ghose, LiveScience Thu, Jan 03 2013 at 10:10 AM

The rapid rise in sea levels could cause a dramatic increase in volcanic eruptions, according to a new study….It’s long been known that volcanism can dramatically alter the climate, often in cataclysmic ways. For instance, mass extinctions such as the one at the end of the Permian period may have been caused by continuous volcanic eruptions that cooled the climate and poisoned the atmosphere and the seas. [50 Amazing Volcano Facts] But few people thought climate change could fuel volcanic eruptions before Jegen and her colleagues began looking at cores drilled from the oceans off of South and Central America. The sediments showed the last 1 million years of Earth’s climatic history. Every so often, shifts in Earth’s orbit lead to rapid warming of the planet, massive melting of glaciers and a quick rise in sea levels. The team found that much more tephra, or layers of volcanic ash, appeared in the sediment cores after those periods. Some places, such as Costa Rica, saw five to 10 times as much volcanic activity during periods of glacial melting as at other times, Jegen told LiveScience.


2012 was the second-wettest year in Britain since records began in 1910



LAST UPDATED AT 15:12 ON Thu 3 Jan 2013

BRITAIN endured its second wettest year on record in 2012 and the Met Office has warned that “extreme rainfall” is becoming more frequent, something that could be connected to climate change.

Although the first few months of last year were dry, the rest of 2012 was a washout, and by the end of December the total rainfall stood at 1330.7mm, just 6.6mm off the record set in 2000. Four of the five wettest years since records began in 1910 have occurred since the turn of the century. “Changes in sea surface temperatures because of decreasing Arctic sea ice is one possible cause for the changes in weather patterns,” reports the Daily Telegraph. “Another possibility is that a 0.7C increase in global air temperatures since pre-industrial times has led to a four per cent increase in moisture in the atmosphere, bringing with it a greater potential for heavy rain.” The Daily Mail said that torrential rain is on the increase and “climate change is probably the cause”. It says that in the 1960s extreme rain would fall once every 125 days, but now it is more like once every 75 days. In 2012 such events happened every 70 days….

Little sign of easing in US’s big dry

Sydney Morning Herald  – ‎ January 3, 2013‎

Snowfall in parts of the US Plains last week had little impact on historic drought gripping the region, but parts of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin showed slight improvement, weather experts said


Video On 2012′s Extreme Weather: ‘A Jawdropping Year’

By Joe Romm on Jan 3, 2013 at 1:52 pm VIDEO:

WeatherNation Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas reviews past year’s amazing string of extreme weather events:


Facebook And The Rest Of Silicon Valley Could Be Wiped Out In 40 Years

Alyson Shontell | Jan. 3, 2013, 5:24 PM |

Facebook’s sprawling Menlo Park campus is surrounded by water on three sides. It’s beautiful now, but in a few decades its location could be problematic.

According to ClimateWire, Facebook and 256 other Silicon Valley tech companies sit in a dangerous flood zone. As climate change becomes more of a reality and sea levels rise, they could all be in serious trouble.







Cost of combating climate change surges as world delays: study

Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle Reuters

6:18 a.m. CST, January 3, 2013 OSLO (Reuters) – An agreement by almost 200 nations to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 will be far more costly than taking action now to tackle climate change, according to research published on Wednesday. Quick measures to cut emissions would give a far better chance of keeping global warming within an agreed U.N. limit of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times to avert more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.

“If you delay action by 10, 20 years you significantly reduce the chances of meeting the 2 degree target,” said Keywan Riahi, one of the authors of the report at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria. “It was generally known that costs increase when you delay action. It was not clear how quickly they change,” he told Reuters of the findings in the science journal Nature based on 500 computer-generated scenarios….


Insurers paid $40B for Sandy, drought

By  Geir Moulson ASSOCIATED PRESS Friday January 4, 2013 5:19 AM

BERLIN — Natural disasters cost insurers $65 billion last year, with the United States accounting for nine-tenths of the bill and superstorm Sandy prompting payouts of $25 billion, a leading insurance company said yesterday. However, Munich Re AG said that the total insured losses worldwide were down from a record $119 billion in 2011, when devastating earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand cost the industry dearly.

The company said total economic costs in 2012 from natural disasters worldwide — including uninsured losses — amounted to $160 billion, compared with the previous year’s $400 billion.

Sandy, which battered Eastern coastline areas at the end of October, killed at least 125 people in the United States and 71 people in the Caribbean. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were the hardest-hit U.S. states. Munich Re estimated insured losses from Sandy at $25 billion and total losses at $50 billion, though it cautioned that the figures are “still subject to considerable uncertainty.” That made it the year’s most costly disaster — but several other events in the U.S. meant that the country accounted for 90 percent of insured costs and 67 percent of overall losses, the company said.

Over the past decade the well-insured U.S. on average accounted for 57 percent of insured losses and 32 percent of overall costs.



Schwarzenegger’s Climate-Change Legacy

National Journal  – ‎Jan 2, 2013‎

If the United States ever enacts a major climatechange law, it will owe a debt to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Strange as it sounds, the Austrian-born bodybuilder, former California governor, and movie star has flexed more legislative muscle on climate


E.P.A. Chief Set to Leave; Term Fell Shy of Early Hope

By JOHN M. BRODER NY TIMES Published: December 27, 2012 200 Comments

Lisa P. Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency after a four-year tenure that began with high hopes of sweeping action to address climate change and other environmental ills but ended with a series of rear-guard actions to defend the agency against challenges from industry, Republicans in Congress and, at times, the Obama White House.

Ms. Jackson, 50, told President Obama shortly after his re-election in November that she wanted to leave the administration early next year. She informed the E.P.A. staff of her decision on Thursday morning and issued a brief statement saying that she was confident “the ship is sailing in the right direction.”

She has not said what she intends to do after leaving government, and no successor was immediately named, although it is expected that Robert Perciasepe, the E.P.A. deputy administrator, will take over at least temporarily. Ms. Jackson’s departure comes as many in the environmental movement are questioning Mr. Obama’s commitment to dealing with climate change and other environmental problems. After his re-election, and a campaign in which global warming was barely mentioned by either candidate, Mr. Obama said that his first priority would be jobs and the economy and that he intended only to foster a “conversation” on climate change in the coming months.


Wind energy tax credits survive as Congress passes fiscal cliff deal

By Katie Fehrenbacher Jan 2, 2012 Congress approved a fiscal cliff deal on Tuesday and in it included an extension of the wind energy tax credits for wind projects built in 2013. The wind energy industry is breathing a sigh of relief and says 37,000 jobs will be saved….


Laws of Geo-Engineering to Mitigate Global Warming?



January 2, 2013 — A law professor believes the legal ramifications of geo-engineering need to be thought through now and a global governance structure put in place soon to oversee these efforts to fight climate … > full story



A Nissan electric car being recharged outside the Windsor Airside Nissan dealership in Dublin. Derek Speirs for The New York Times

Carbon Taxes Make Ireland Even Greener

Environmental Taxes in Ireland: Taxes on garbage and fossil fuels are part of Ireland’s novel strategy to shrink its debt.

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL Published: December 27, 2012 196 Comments

DUBLIN — Over the last three years, with its economy in tatters, Ireland embraced a novel strategy to help reduce its staggering deficit: charging households and businesses for the environmental damage they cause. The government imposed taxes on most of the fossil fuels used by homes, offices, vehicles and farms, based on each fuel’s carbon dioxide emissions, a move that immediately drove up prices for oil, natural gas and kerosene. Household trash is weighed at the curb, and residents are billed for anything that is not being recycled.

The Irish now pay purchase taxes on new cars and yearly registration fees that rise steeply in proportion to the vehicle’s emissions.

Environmentally and economically, the new taxes have delivered results. Long one of Europe’s highest per-capita producers of greenhouse gases, with levels nearing those of the United States, Ireland has seen its emissions drop more than 15 percent since 2008. Although much of that decline can be attributed to a recession, changes in behavior also played a major role, experts say, noting that the country’s emissions dropped 6.7 percent in 2011 even as the economy grew slightly….


WATCH: What Obama Should Say About Climate Change



Huffington Post January 3, 2013

What should President Obama say about climate change in his State of the Union address? We asked scientist Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, in this extended preview clip from the next Moyers


Climate Change in Hawaii: It’s Here

A new report brings together all the science and concludes it’s time to act.

Honolulu Weekly Jan 2, 2013

For years we’ve been hearing ominous rumblings about climate change and its many implications for the planet, especially Hawaii and other islands in the Western Pacific. The scenarios fueled by a rapidly expanding body of science are sobering: rising temperatures and prolonged droughts, dying coral reefs and dwindling fish stocks. Rising sea levels will eventually, for some atolls and low-lying areas of Hawaii, bring total inundation. We have lots and lots of science,” says Jesse Souki, director of the Office of State Planning (OSP). “We have a pretty good idea of what the problem is, and what’s going to happen. The hard part is figuring out what to do about it.” Humans can respond locally and globally in two ways: We can mitigate, which means reducing the carbon emissions that are warming the planet, and we can adapt, as in figure out how to live with the changes we’ve already set into motion. Act 234, adopted in 2007, is the state’s response to mitigation. It calls for cost-effectively rolling back greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020, and has driven the Islands’ foray into renewable energy sources. With Act 286, the state is now turning its attention to adaptation. Drafted by OSP and signed by Gov. Abercrombie this past July, the bill is intended “to encourage cooperation and collaboration . . . to plan for the impacts of climate change and avoid, minimize or mitigate loss of life, land and property for future generations.”


Exclusive: Senators seek probe into royalties on coal exports



Patrick Rucker Reuters 10:22 a.m. CST, January 4, 2013 WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two top U.S. senators are calling for the Interior Department to investigate whether coal companies are undervaluing coal they export in order to lower their royalty payments to the government by hundreds of millions of dollars. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, the incoming chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the panel’s leading Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski, said they were concerned that coal companies may be shorting royalty payments.


Colorado: Disaster Bill Could Include State Watershed Restoration Funds
A $60.4 billion disaster appropriations bill for Hurricane Sandy relief and rebuilding now includes $125 million for restoration efforts at Colorado watersheds damaged by this summer’s wildfires. Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet worked to add funding to the bill. In a statement, Bennet says the $125 million will address damaged watersheds across the country and in El Paso, Larimer, and Weld counties….


More Gulf Restoration Projects Coming Online
More restoration projects – valued at about $9 million – to repair damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster are set to begin in the next months along the beaches of the Florida panhandle, Mississippi and Alabama, including habitat improvements for nesting sea turtles and seabirds. The work is part of the second phase of early restoration projects being organized by the Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees. Altogether, BP will fund $1 billion in early restoration projects.


Lean Manufacturing: Addressing Climate Change Through Reductions In Waste

Posted: 04 Jan 2013 06:14 AM PST by Rob Honeycutt

Climate scientists are in the unfortunate position of being the messengers of bad news. So in a way, climate change denial is a massive attempt to shoot the messenger.

There are so many existing technologies to address climate change that are positive messages that too often get lost in the noise.  I want to share what I see coming from my industry, which is manufacturing. Specifically, I want to address how things are manufactured rather than technological solutions.







Western Section TWS conference, Sacramento  Jan 28 – Feb 2

So. Sierra Adaptation Workshop, Convention Center, Visalia February 20-22

Nevada: Resilient Landscapes: Planning for Floor, Drought & Fire July 21-24, 2013

Climate change workshop, Las Vegas March 27-28

National Adaptation Forum, Denver Co April 2-4

International Congress for Conservation Biology

Connecting Systems, Disciplines and Stakeholders 21-25 July 2013 Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Call for Abstracts for Contributed Oral, Speed with Poster, Poster, and Student Award Presentations

The Society for Conservation Biology announces the Call for Abstracts for the 2013 International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB), to be held 21-25 July in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

We are seeking abstracts for contributed oral, speed with poster, poster, and student award presentations.

The deadline to submit your abstract is 30 January 2013.  Visit the Call for Abstracts page of the ICCB website for complete instructions and to access the Abstract Management System. Decisions on submitted proposals will be made by 28 February 2013.

EPA-Climate Ready Water Utilities 101– January 23, 1:00-2:00 PM (EST) – This webinar is an introduction to EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities initiative and climate change adaptation planning. Learn about the history of the initiative and the tools and resources available to the water sector, including an adaptation guide, an extreme events workshop planner, and comprehensive risk assessment software. Webcast registration


Piloting the National Secretive Marshbird MonitoringWhat have we learned, and where are we headed?
Wednesday, January 16 2013
12:00 – 1:30 PM EST
Presenter: Dr. Mark Seamans, USFWS
Phone:  866-912-2391
Passcode:  1221990
Webex Link:;p=MIDWESTBIRDS&amp;t=c<>
click on this link to launch the new window with meeting number and
passcode automatically filled in)
Abstract:  Secretive marsh birds in North America are poorly monitored by
existing avian monitoring programs.  Some marsh bird species are of
conservation concern, some are open to sport harvest, and for all species
their emergent marsh habitat has been in decline for decades.  A pilot
study was conducted in seven U.S. states (Florida, Idaho, Kentucky,
Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin) to determine if a proposed study
design and protocol were suitable for monitoring secretive marsh birds
during the breeding season.  Using an omnibus surveillance monitoring
approach, the design and protocol worked or would likely work well for all
but three rare rail species (Black, King, and Yellow Rails).  Stratifying
the sample in some states between high and low quality habitat resulted in
more precise estimates.  A more targeted hypothesis-driven approach is
recommended for all species and would likely be needed to assess status of
the three rare rail species.  Data for four species (Clapper and Virginia
Rail, Sora, and American Bittern) were used in a formal analysis using
distance sampling and a binomial mixture model to account for imperfect
detectability.  Except for Idaho, the sample frame in each state was
incomplete; typically private lands or National Wildlife Refuges were not

NOAA: Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Funding Opportunities- Due February 19, 2013
NOAA’s Restoration Center recognizes that healthy habitat is critical to recover and sustain fish populations. To that end, NOAA is currently soliciting applications for restoration projects that use a habitat-based approach to foster species recovery and increase fish production. The funding opportunity will focus on projects that will aid in recovering listed species and rebuilding sustainable fish populations or their prey. Awards will likely range from $500,000 to $5 million over three years. NOAA will accept one, two, or three year proposals.





Organic lithium-ion batteries on horizon

Zain Shauk San Francisco Chronicle January 4, 2013

In one more step of a global effort to develop greener battery technology, researchers at Rice University say they have found a way to replace a costly metallic component in lithium-ion batteries with material from a common plant. Many of… more »


Putting an End to the Myth that Renewable Energy is too Expensive

Posted on 3 January 2013 by dana1981

The Washington Post recently published an excellent piece of investigative journalism in which they found that the Heartland Institute has teamed up with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in an effort to reverse state renewable energy mandates across the USA.  ALEC is a highly controversial organization, essentially comprised of corporations which draft up legislation favorable to their interests, and then pass it along to legislators who will introduce and attempt to implement their bills in state legislatures and US Congress.

The Washington Post reports that ALEC has drafted the Electricity Freedom Act, which would repeal state renewable electricity standards (RESs), which require that a given state meet a certain percentage of its electricity demand with renewable sources by a certain date.  For example, California has an RES to supply 33% of its electricity demand with renewables by 2020, and overall 29 states (plus the District of Columbia) have RESs in the USA. A further 7 states have non-mandatory renewable electricity goals (Figure 1). The Heartland Institute defended the group’s efforts to repeal state RESs, calling them “essentially a tax on consumers of electricity” and claiming: “alternative energy, renewable energy, is more expensive than conventional energy.”

In short, the Heartland/ALEC argument is that mandating that electricity comes from renewable sources will raise prices for consumers, and that we should therefore not implement these standards.

There are of course many benefits to implementing renewable energy which this argument neglects, primarily involving reduced pollution — both of traditional pollutants and their human health effects, and greenhouse gases and their climate impacts.  But before we address these important neglected points, is it true that deploying renewable energy technologies raises electricity prices?  Let’s see what the data say.

Read more…


Towad reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of the Internet and telecommunications
(January 2, 2013) — Amid growing concern over the surprisingly large amount of greenhouse gas produced by the Internet and other telecommunications activities, researchers are reporting new models of emissions and energy consumption that could help reduce their carbon footprint. T
heir report appears in ACS’ journal
Environmental Science & Technology. Researchers from the Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications (CEET) and Bell Labs explain that the information communications and technology (ICT) industry, which delivers Internet, video, voice and other cloud services, produces more than 830 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, annually. That’s about 2 percent of global CO2 emissions — the same proportion as the aviation industry produces.
Projections suggest that ICT sector’s share is expected to double by 2020. The team notes that controlling those emissions requires more accurate but still feasible models, which take into account the data traffic, energy use and CO2 production in networks and other elements of the ICT industry. Existing assessment models are inaccurate, so they set out to develop new approaches that better account for variations in equipment and other factors in the ICT industry…..The researchers suggest, based on their models, that more efficient power usage of facilities, more efficient use of energy-efficient equipment and renewable energy sources are three keys to reducing ICT emissions of CO2.… > full story


Shell Runs Its Arctic Drilling Rig Aground; Coast Guard Prepares For ‘Possible Spill-Response’

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 06:09 AM PST by Kiley Kroh

It appears 2013 will begin much like 2012 ended for Shell’s Arctic Ocean drilling efforts – with yet another mishap.

After several failed attempts to secure the equipment in harsh weather, Shell’s enormous Kulluk drilling rig ran aground near Kodiak Island, Alaska late Monday night. With approximately 143,000 gallons of fuel and 12,000 gallons of lubricating oil and hydraulic fluid on board, the Coast Guard is now preparing for the “salvage and possible spill-response phase of this event.” Two Coast Guard flyovers on Tuesday did not detect any leakage but a severe winter storm – with winds up to 70 mph and waves as high as 50 feet – has prevented crews from conducting a full assessment of the damage….


Transocean To Pay $1.4 Billion In Civil & Criminal Penalties For Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Posted: 04 Jan 2013 08:40 AM PST




Developers of Wind Farms Run a Race Against the Calendar

A newly finished 126-turbine wind farm in Rosamond, Calif. J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

By MATTHEW L. WALD Published: December 27, 2012

WASHINGTON — Forget about parties, resolutions or watching the ball drop. To Iberdrola Renewables, New Year’s Eve will mean checking on last-minute details like the data connections between 169 new wind turbines in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and California and its control center in Portland, Ore. ….


Recology seeks higher rates in S.F.

Neal J. Riley San Francisco Chronicle January 1, 2013

A new proposal from Recology, the city’s trash hauler, seeks to increase collection rates starting in July 2013 as people continue to throw out less garbage and recycle more, and many customers who don’t step up their recycling habits will face a… more »


Chevron’s CEO: Affordable energy is crucial

By JONATHAN FAHEY— Dec. 27 1:00 PM EST NEW YORK (AP) — Chevron CEO John Watson notices something important as he visits his company’s operations around the globe: Governments everywhere find high energy prices much scarier than the threat of global warming. And that means the world will need a lot more oil and gas in the years to come. To meet that demand, Chevron is in the midst of an enormous cycle of investment aimed at extracting oil and gas from wherever it hides in the earth’s crust. Chevron Corp., based in San Ramon, Calif., is the second largest investor-owned oil and gas company in the world, and the third largest American company of any type as measured by revenue and profit. Over the last year, Chevron has earned $24 billion on revenue of $231 billion. Every day, the company produces the equivalent of 2.7 million barrels of oil and gas, mostly outside the U.S. Next year Chevron will invest $33 billion — more than it ever has — to drill wells, erect platforms, build refineries and scan for undiscovered deposits of oil and gas. Among its biggest projects: A natural gas operation in Australia that will ultimately cost Chevron and its partners $65 billion to build. Also planned are three deep-water drilling and production projects in the Gulf of Mexico that will cost $16 billion.


Electric car sales to double in the UK this year



January 2, 2013 By Graeme McMillan
American automobile enthusiasts may remain unconvinced, but it looks as though the electric car has found a slightly more receptive audience on the other side of the Atlantic, with one expert estimating sales of electric vehicles to double in 2013…..







Online science news with user comments fraught with unintended consequences, study suggests
(January 3, 2013) — A science-inclined audience and wide array of communications tools make the Internet an excellent opportunity for scientists hoping to share their research with the world. But that opportunity is fraught with unintended consequences. New research shows the tone of comments posted by other readers can make a significant difference in the way new readers feel about the article’s subject. The less civil the accompanying comments, the more risk readers attributed to the research described in the news story. … > full story


Make a resolution for a sustainable 2013



Lindsey Cromwell Kalkbrenner San Francisco Chronicle January 1, 2013 While world leaders work to hammer out global solutions to climate change, there are many ways individuals can make sustainability a personal New Year’s resolution in 2013. Spend your time doing things with people instead of buying… more »


NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope discovers evidence of 100 billion planets

The Space Reporter  – ‎January 3, 2013‎

It may be a difficult number to verify, but NASA officials are saying that a batch of recently discovered planets prove that the universe is littered with hundreds of billions of planets similar those within our own solar system. A new study finds that our own galaxy likely hosts upwards of 100 billion planets. “There are at least 100 billion planets in the galaxy, just our galaxy,” says John Johnson, assistant professor of planetary astronomy at Caltech and coauthor of the study, which was recently accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. “That’s mind-boggling.”


Meteorite from Mars contains water

San Francisco Chronicle January 4, 2013

The baseball-size meteorite, estimated to be 2.1 billion years old, is strikingly similar to the volcanic rocks examined on the Martian surface by the NASA rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which found water-bearing minerals. Short of sending a… more »

Reward for help in catching shore birds killer

(AP) January 2, 2013— PETA is offering $5,000 for help in catching whoever drove into a flock of shore birds on the beach in southwest Washington and killed 92 of them. Wildlife Center of the North Coast said the trauma the birds suffered is consistent with… more »


Rebecca Tarbotton, environmental leader, dies

Vivian Ho San Francisco Chronicle January 1, 2013

The environmental activist traveled the world fighting the exploitation of rain forests, championing the preservation of natural resources and human rights, and winning numerous battles in the ongoing fight for ecosystem health. A coroner… more »


Man dies after being swept into ocean near Point Reyes Lighthouse

Marin Independent-Journal  – ‎January 2, 2013‎

… The man was walking with his wife and dog on the beach around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday when a wave swept the two people into the water, said Marin County Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Giannini. “This is an example of the longstanding adage, ‘Never turn your back on the ocean,'” said Giannini, describing the unusually large wave that swept the couple into the water as a “sneaker wave.” Such waves are common in the area, and the battalion chief urged Marin residents to be vigilant when walking on the beach….


Violent media poisoning nation’s soul

Mick LaSalle San Francisco Chronicle January 2, 2013

Fourteen years ago, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and Gloria DeGaetano, in “Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill,” were warning us about the effects of violent video games and movies on young and impressionable minds. When I saw it at an advance screening, I… more »


Getting Started in Farming in Marin County. 
You can access this factsheet two ways:

  • Download the factsheet 
  • Access the webpage, which includes links to many helpful resources

We hope you find this useful as a resource for starting up a farming operation in Marin County.  And please refer yourself to the other Grown In Marin Factsheets on farming and ranching in Marin.  Enjoy!









Copyright Jim Powell,

St Louis Post Dispatch- Editorial