Conservation Science News June 14, 2013

Highlight of the WeekNew York City– $19.5 Billion Climate Change Protection Plan









PRBO is now Point Blue Conservation Science: We have changed our name to Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) reflecting the expanded depth and reach of our work, building on our long-term bird ecology expertise.  Our 140 Point Blue
scientists and educators work with hundreds of partners, pointing the way forward to secure a healthy, blue planet well into the future.  We have changed our name to Point Blue
to more directly address climate change, together with other environmental threats, through nature-based solutions that benefit wildlife and people.  For more information please see From Point Reyes to Point Blue as well as our first Point Blue Quarterly.  You might also enjoy viewing our inspiring ~6 minute video introducing Point Blue that includes partner and staff highlights from the Sierra to the sea and as far away as Antarctica. Our new website,, is under construction through the summer. Until then, our existing website,, will remain active.

Highlight of the Week– New York City– $19.5 Billion Climate Change Protection Plan Unveiled

Stronger, More Resilient New York: An Ambitious Proposal to Protect the City Against the Effects of Climate Change

Last Updated June 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm  |  NYCEDC

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today presented A Stronger, More Resilient New York, the comprehensive and ambitious report that analyzes the city’s climate risks and outlines recommendations to protect neighborhoods and infrastructure from future climate events. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg launched the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency
and charged it with recommending steps the City should take to protect against the impacts of climate change.

A plan to protect NYC from the ravages of climate change


Jane C. Timm, @janestreet 6:17 PM on 06/11/2013

Lower Manhattan is visible from the Staten Island Ferry, in New York’s Upper Bay, Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Giant removable floodwalls would be erected around lower Manhattan, and levees, gates and other defenses would be built elsewhere around the city under a nearly $20 billion plan proposed Tuesday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to protect New York from storms and the effects of global warming. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed an ambitious, long-term plan to insulate New York City from climate change on Tuesday. Hurricane Sandy left much of New York City flooded, without power, and badly damaged; in the months after the storm, the city commissioned an in-depth examination and report on the city’s risks and developed a plan to protect the city from future storms and extreme weather brought on by climate change. The plan proposes a variety of solutions, from the predictable (widened beaches and amended building codes) to the bold (building a sustainable island on the East side of lower Manhattan to shield the city from extreme weather, just as Battery Park City mitigated the damage on Manhattan’s West side.) It will cost the city nearly $20 billion—three quarters of which will come from Sandy relief funds and City capital funding, according to the mayor. The city will lobby the federal government for the remaining billions.

Recovering and rebuilding after Sandy will cost the city $19 billion—not to mention the significant lost revenue that businesses felt—but by mid-century, the city’s team of experts estimate that a similar storm could cost the city five times that much, the Mayor said. “This is urgent work—it must begin now,” he said. He chided the federal government for not leading the fight against climate change. “We haven’t waited for Washington to lead the charge on climate change,” Bloomberg said. “If we had, we’d still be waiting.”

The third-term mayor leaves office at the end of the year. But he hopes to get commitments in place before a new administration takes over. He called on New Yorkers to hold him—and his successor—accountable for making New York as resilient as possible. New York City’s coastlines have 535 million square feet of built up homes and businesses and nearly 400,000 residents—roughly the same size as the city of Minneapolis. Retreating from these areas is futile, he said, as is denying climate change….



Juggling Mitigation And Adaptation: Mayor Bloomberg Outlines Path Toward Climate Resiliency

Posted: 12 Jun 2013 11:20 AM PDT

Credit: (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a speech where he presented a new plan that details New York City’s approach to climate resilience. Bloomberg trumpeted the success of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he spoke in a greenhouse damaged by Superstorm Sandy. He noted that the Yard now housed 330 businesses, some of them clean energy and sustainability pioneers. He then turned to climate resiliency — how New York was addressing the reality of climate change and preparing for its impacts: Today, this building that once turned out battleships now helps lead us in another battle – a battle that may well define our future for generations to come: The battle against climate change. It is a battle that our Administration has been waging as aggressively as any city in the world. In fact, it’s fair to say that PlaNYC is the most ambitious sustainability program any city has ever undertaken. Six years ago, PlaNYC sounded the alarm about the dangers our city faces due to the effects of climate change today, including the worsening impacts of extreme weather. Bloomberg noted that as it “waited for Washington to lead on climate change,” New York had cut greenhouse gas emissions city-wide by 16 percent. The goal is a 30 percent drop from 2005 emissions by 2030, meaning New York is halfway to its goal. Though dense, walkable cities allow citizens to emit less greenhouse gases than sprawling suburban areas do, they still emit a serious amount of carbon dioxide. New York City is one of the biggest cities in the world, and this terrific video provides a clear visualization of the level of emissions the city is facing.

As Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the Facts points out, though, the plan announced on Tuesday does not address New York’s role (and the investment choices of its financial industry) in creating the carbon emissions that are driving climate change. It could invest more broadly in public and low-income housing for those most affected by superstorms like Sandy. In fact, the plan has a chapter devoted to protecting liquid fuels (read: oil, diesel, and gasoline).

New York is mounting some efforts to reduce carbon pollution. In April, Bloomberg announced that he had secured the pledges of 10 large companies (AIG, BlackRock, Bloomberg LP, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Google, Goldman Sachs, JetBlue, JP Morgan Chase, and PVH) to cut their New York office emissions 30 percent by 2030. These companies join 17 universities and 11 hospitals in New York in making Bloomberg’s “Carbon Challenge” pledge, which also came out of a PlaNYC initiative.

Bloomberg himself has donated $50 million to a campaign that seeks to reduce carbon emissions through coal plants.

While mitigation (reining in the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change) is a critical element of any climate action plan, adaptation (adjusting to climate change, seizing opportunities, and coping with its effects) requires that communities become climate resilient.

Former commander of the Army Corps of Engineers’ New York District John Boulé said last month that: “Climate change is real…. We’ve got to stop ignoring it and start planning and building to reduce the risk to the public.”

CAP’s Andrew Light explained why adaptation is becoming a topic that can’t be ignored: “We’re starting to see very strong evidence of climate-related extreme events happening sooner than we thought with only a 1-degree [Celsius] rise in temperature, and a more refined science saying now that we will more than likely edge up to or cross the 2-degree threshold.”

The $19.5 billion plan (possibly funded through city and federal dollars) Bloomberg announced on Tuesday uses climate modeling to plan investments in storm surge remedies, as nearly a million New Yorkers will be living on a floodplain by 2050. For every $1 invested in resilience measures, $4 are saved in future recovery costs.

Bloomberg used the word “resilient” 15 times in his speech and mentioned “climate” 16 times. He said on Tuesday: “I strongly believe we have to prepare for what the scientists say is a likely scenario. Whether you believe climate change is real or not is beside the point — we can’t run the risk. And as New Yorkers, we cannot and will not abandon our waterfront. It’s one of our greatest assets. We must protect it, not retreat from it.” Specifically, the report details 250 recommendations, ranging from investing in flood-proof homes and commercial buildings to encouraging the elevation of boilers and electrical systems up from basements, from a system of dunes along the city’s natural coastline to a strengthened waterfront that includes levees and bulkheads, and from investing in decaying infrastructure to extending flood perimeters using detachable platforms and barriers.

Carol Browner, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is leading the way in finding creative and sustainable strategies for cities to become more resilient and secure while addressing the impacts of climate change. America’s mayors are on the front lines of combating climate change that is fueled by industrial carbon pollution. Our cities are at risk, and it will take strong leadership to protect ourselves in the future from the public health, security, and financial risks associated with climate change, carbon pollution, and extreme weather.

Every other city and town in America would do well to look at New York’s approach to climate mitigation and adaptation, improve upon it, and implement it.


For more information, see: Institute for Sustainable Communities

Taking On the World’s Biggest Challenges : ISC President George Hamilton shares his thoughts on what we do, and why addressing climate change and promoting active citizenship are our two primary goals.

Climate Change



In 2001, a 20,300 square-foot green roof was installed atop Chicago’s City Hall as part of the Urban Heat Island Initiative. When compared to an adjacent normal roof, City Hall’s green roof was nearly 100 degrees cooler, and contributed to $5,000 in annual energy cost reduction. Photo:

Win-Win” Solutions for Climate Adaptation & Resilience

ISC’s latest Climate Leadership Academy helps city practitioners prepare for the effects of climate disruption. Helping cities and regions develop local solutions to global climate change is an urgent and complex challenge: it requires resources, long-term thinking, action and leadership across sectors and jurisdictions. Preparing for and adapting to climate change also means “helping communities become healthy, resilient, and prosperous,” said Robert Verchik, deputy associate director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Policy. Verchik was the keynote speaker at ISC’s Climate Leadership Academy on Climate Adaptation & Resilience in Boston this September. Sixteen teams of city and regional practitioners from around the U.S.—sustainability and energy managers, urban planners and economic development staff, water managers, transportation infrastructure and public works administrator, and public health and safety workers—shared their challenges and successes, and worked together to develop new ways of adapting to a changing climate in their own cities….


SF Bay Area: Bay Area Climate & Energy Resilience Project





Large-scale biodiversity is vital to maintain ecosystem health
(June 7, 2013)
Over the years ecologists have shown how biological diversity benefits the health of small, natural communities. New analysis by ecologists demonstrates that even higher levels of biological diversity are necessary to maintain ecosystem health in larger landscapes over long periods of time.
Think of it as patches on a quilt, says Erika Zavaleta, UCSC associate professor of environmental studies. Each patch may be a diverse habitat of plants, animals, and insects but it is equally important that the landscape “quilt” is made up of a diversity of patches that are different from each other. A mix of meadows, young forest, old forest and shrub lands, for example, might provide more benefits than a landscape of continuous young forest, even if that young forest itself has high biodiversity,” Zavaleta said….The authors write: “In addition to conserving important species, maintaining ecosystem multifunctionality will require diverse landscape mosaics of diverse communities.” “What’s new here,” Zavaleta says, “is reminding us that it’s not just important to protect a diversity of species but also important to protect the mosaic of habitat patches in a landscape.” Conservation often emphasizes restoring land that has been mined, logged, or tilled, she said. Equally important is to recognize the role that restored landscape plays in a larger biotic community.. … > full story


J. R. Pasari, T. Levi, E. S. Zavaleta, D. Tilman. Several scales of biodiversity affect ecosystem multifunctionality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1220333110


Bridge species drive tropical engine of biodiversity
(June 10, 2013) — New research sheds light on how the tropics came to be teeming with species while the poles harbor relatively few. Furthermore, it confirms that the tropics have been and continue to be the Earth’s engine of biodiversity. … > full story


Whitebark Pine Trees: Is Their Future at Risk?

June 10, 2013 — There’s trouble ahead for the whitebark pine, a mountain tree that’s integral to wildlife and water resources in the western United States and Canada. Over the last decade, some populations of whitebark pines have declined by more than 90 percent. But these declines may be just the beginning. New research results, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and published today in the Journal of Ecology, suggest that as pine stands are increasingly fragmented by widespread tree death, surviving trees may be hindered in their ability to produce their usually abundant seeds. “With fewer seeds, you get less regeneration,” says ecologist Joshua Rapp, affiliated with NSF’s Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site and lead author of the paper…. Whitebark pine seeds are an essential food source for many animals in mountain habitats. The Clark’s Nutcracker, a mountain bird, can store up to 100,000 seeds in underground caches each year. Squirrels also store thousands of seeds underground. A diminished number of seed cones has an effect on grizzly bears, the scientists say; the bears regularly raid squirrel seed caches to prepare for winter hibernation. “In the past, low years for whitebark pine cones have led to six times more conflicts between grizzlies and humans, as hungry bears look for food in campgrounds,” says Crone. “Now, concerns about viability of whitebark pine populations are one of the main reasons grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park are still listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.” Birds, squirrels and bears are not the only species that depend on whitebark pine.
Vast stands of whitebark pine help to maintain the mountain snowpacks that provide water to more than 30 million people in 16 U.S. states each year. Whitebark pines are often the only trees at the highest elevations. Their branches retain snow as it blows across gusty mountaintops. Their shade moderates snow-melt in the spring, keeping flows down the mountain in check….


JM Rapp, E.J.B. McIntire and E.E. Crone. Sex allocation, pollen limitation and masting in whitebark pine. Journal of Ecology, 2013

River dredging reduced fish numbers, diversity
(June 10, 2013) — Comparing dredged and undredged sections of the Allegheny River, reduced populations of fish and less variety of aquatic life occurred in areas where gravel extraction took place, according to researchers. … > full story

Pollinators easily enhanced by flowering agri-environment schemes
(June 10, 2013) — European agri-environment schemes enhance wild pollinators on farmland, new research shows. The
effects increased with the number of flowers brought back by the schemes. Recent studies have shown that wild pollinators are instrumental in providing pollination services to crops. Agri-environment schemes can therefore help counteract pollination loss. …
However, recently there has been a lot of concern that the decline of pollinators might result in pollination limitation of insect-pollinated crops. Wild bees are excellent pollinators and common species do just the trick. All you have to do to enhance the wild pollinators of crops on farmland is increase flower abundance in field margins roadsides or crop edges.’ The examined agri-environment schemes seem less effective in enhancing endangered pollinator species. Endangered species were rarely observed during the field studies. ‘Most of the studies used for the analyses were carried out in North-western Europe where farming is relatively intensive. In these areas endangered species are restricted to semi-natural habitats and nature reserves. Also, endangered bee species often specialize on flowers that cannot easily be established on farmland, such as heather or bilberry. The conservation of Red data book pollinators seems to require a separate conservation strategy’…..full story


Lighter meals for fish in the northern Baltic Sea
(June 13, 2013) — The nutrition available for fish in the northern Baltic Sea has become lighter during the past 30 years. … > full story


Oysters could rebound more quickly with limited fishing and improved habitat
(June 13, 2013) — A new study shows that combining improved oyster restoration methods with limits on fishing in the upper Chesapeake could bring the oyster population back to the Bay in a much shorter period of time. The study assessed a range of management and restoration options to see which ones would have the most likelihood of success. … > full story


California town besieged by endangered birds

By Michael Cipriano Published June 13, 2013

Residents of a small California town wish a certain endangered species would make itself scarce. Flocks of California condors have descended upon Bear Valley Springs. Residents, who are allowed to do little to chase them away, say the huge birds peck off roof shingles, damage air conditioners and leave porches coated in droppings. And although the majestic birds, with a wingspan of nine feet, are widely admired, the gated community of about 5,200 about 80 miles north of Los Angeles has seen enough of them. “A lot of people used to think seeing a condor was amazing,” local realtor Beth Hall told  “After seeing the damage they have done, they have become less popular with people, myself included.”  “After seeing the damage they have done, they have become less popular, among myself included.” Unfortunately for the residents, the birds are protected by both federal and state law, leaving them almost powerless to take action. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 66 of the remaining 417 condors live in Southern California.



Turtles watch for, snack on gelatinous prey while swimming
(June 12, 2013) — Loggerhead turtles use visual cues to find gelatinous prey to snack on as they swim in open waters, according to new research. … > full story


Magpies make decisions faster when humans look at them
(June 7, 2013) — Researchers have found that wild birds appear to “think faster” when humans, and possibly predators in general, are directly looking at them. … > full story


Stranded orcas hold critical clues for scientists
(June 7, 2013) — The development of a standardized killer-whale necropsy system has boosted the complete data from killer-whale strandings from two percent to about 33 percent, according to a recent study. … > full story


Harbor porpoises can thank their worst enemy, the killer whale, for their success
(June 12, 2013) — The harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) is a whale species that is doing quite well in coastal and busy waters. They are found in large numbers throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Mauritania to Alaska, and now researchers explain why these small toothed whales are doing so well: The harbor porpoise can thank their worst enemy, the killer whale, for their success. … > full story


Amount of dust blown across the Western U.S. is increasing
(June 10, 2013) — The amount of dust being blown across the landscape has increased over the last 17 years in large swaths of the West, according to a new study. The escalation in dust emissions — which may be due to the interplay of several factors, including increased windstorm frequency, drought cycles and changing land-use patterns — has implications both for the areas where the dust is first picked up by the winds and for the places where the dust is put back down. “Dust storms cause a large-scale reorganization of nutrients on the surface of the Earth,” said Janice Brahney, who led the study as a CU-Boulder doctoral student. “And we don’t routinely monitor dust in most places, which means we don’t have a good handle on how the material is moving, when it’s moving and where it’s going.”… > full story


Male guppies reproduce long after death
June 12, 2013) — Performing experiments in a river in Trinidad, evolutionary biologists have found that male guppies — small freshwater fish — continue to reproduce for at least ten months after they die, living on as stored sperm in females, who have much longer lifespans than males. While it is well known that guppies store sperm, biologists had never before thought of the extent of the storage. … > full story


World population could be nearly 11 billion by 2100
(June 13, 2013) — A new United Nations analysis shows the world population could reach nearly 11 billion by the end of the century, about 800 million more people than the previous projection issued in 2011. … > full story


Pollution in Northern Hemisphere helped cause 1980s African drought

Posted: 06 Jun 2013 12:43 PM PDT

Air pollution in the Northern Hemisphere in the mid-20th century cooled the upper half of the planet and pushed rain bands south, contributing to the prolonged and worsening drought in Africa’s Sahel region. Clean air legislation in the 1980s reversed the trend and the drought lessened.


Fraternal singing in zebra finches: Young zebra finches are able to learn their fathers’ song via their brothers
(June 12, 2013) — Social learning from peers is a widespread phenomenon in infants. Peer group size may influence the degree to which interactions within the group can influence their own behavior. This insight nowadays gains more importance as an increasing number of children get into contact with large group peers at an even earlier age, for example in day care. … > full story


How birds lost their penises

Posted: 06 Jun 2013 11:06 AM PDT

In animals that reproduce by internal fertilization, as humans do, you’d think a penis would be an organ you couldn’t really do without, evolutionarily speaking. Surprisingly, though, most birds do exactly that, and now researchers have figured out where, developmentally speaking, birds’ penises have gone.


African starlings: Dashing darlings of the bird world in more ways than one
(June 10, 2013) — It’s not going to happen while you’re peering through your binoculars, but African glossy starlings change color more than 10 times faster than their ancestors and even their modern relatives, say researchers. The changes have led to new species of birds with color combinations previously unseen, according to a new study. … > full story






Warm ocean drives most Antarctic ice shelf loss
(June 13, 2013) — Ocean waters melting the undersides of Antarctic ice shelves, not icebergs calving into the sea, are responsible for most of the continent’s ice loss, a new study has found. … > full story

An unexpected lesson in Antarctic ice melt

A new study finds that more than half of the ice loss in Antarctic ice shelves is the result of melting at the base. (British Antarctic Survey / June 13, 2013)

By Monte Morin LA TIMES June 14, 2013, 5:00 a.m.

It’s called calving, and it occurs when enormous chunks of ice burst free from glaciers or floating ice shelves and drop into the sea with an explosive, heart-stopping crash. This process, which produces icebergs, has long been viewed as the primary mechanism for ice loss along the continent of Antarctica. Now however, scientists say calving is only half the story.

In what is being described as the first comprehensive survey of all Antarctic ice shelves, a study to be published Friday in the journal Science reports that 55% of the ice loss is due to melting at the base of these vast ice sheets. “We find that iceberg calving is not the dominant process of ice removal,” wrote Eric Rignot, a professor of earth system science at UC Irvine. “Ice shelves melt mostly from the bottom before they even form icebergs.” Ice shelves are permanent sheets of floating ice that cling to land masses. They are found mostly in the Antarctic. The study’s conclusions were based on ice thickness data collected by NASA’s Operation Ice Bridge, a six-year program that uses satellites, aircraft, radio echo sounding and other means to survey ice cover on both of Earth’s poles. Researchers found that basal melting in Antarctic ice shelves accounted for roughly 1,325 gigatons of melted ice per year, while calving accounted for 1,089 gigatons…..


Iron Fertilization, Process of Putting Iron Into Ocean to Help Capture Carbon, Could Backfire

June 12, 2013 — A new study on the feeding habits of ocean microbes calls into question the potential use of algal blooms to trap carbon dioxide and offset rising global levels.

These blooms contain iron-eating microscopic phytoplankton that absorb CO2 from the air through the process of photosynthesis and provide nutrients for marine life. But one type of phytoplankton, a diatom, is using more iron that it needs for photosynthesis and storing the extra in its silica skeletons and shells, according to an X-ray analysis of phytoplankton conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. This reduces the amount of iron left over to support the carbon-eating plankton.”Just like someone walking through a buffet line who takes the last two pieces of cake, even though they know they’ll only eat one, they’re hogging the food,” said Ellery Ingall, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-lead author on this result. “Everyone else in line gets nothing; the person’s decision affects these other people.” Because of this iron-hogging behavior, the process of adding iron to surface water — called iron fertilization or iron seeding — may have only a short-lived environmental benefit. And, the process may actually reduce over the long-term how much CO2 the ocean can trap. Rather than feed the growth of extra plankton, triggering algal blooms, the iron fertilization may instead stimulate the gluttonous diatoms to take up even more iron to build larger shells. When the shells get large enough, they sink to the ocean floor, sequestering the iron and starving off the diatom’s plankton peers. Over time, this reduction in the amount of iron in surface waters could trigger the growth of microbial populations that require less iron for nutrients, reducing the amount of phytoplankton blooms available to take in CO2 and to feed marine life…..In the paper “Role of biogenic silica in the removal of iron from the Antarctic seas” published June 10 in the journal Nature Communications, scientists conservatively estimate that 2.5 milligrams of iron annually is removed from every square meter of surface water in the Ross Sea and sequestered in silica skeletons on the ocean floor. This is roughly equivalent to the total amount of iron deposited annually into the Ross Sea surface through snow melt, dust and upwelling of seawater.

The same process may be occurring in the Southern Ocean and having a greater impact there, because this region dictates the nutrient mix for the rest of the world’s oceans through migratory current patterns. More study is needed to know just how much iron is used to make the silica skeletons and how much gets trapped on the ocean floor, the researchers said. “This gap in our knowledge, combined with renewed interest in iron fertilization as an approach to the current climate crisis, makes it crucial that we have an improved understanding of iron cycling in marine systems,” Ingall said.


Ellery D. Ingall, Julia M. Diaz, Amelia F. Longo, Michelle Oakes, Lydia Finney, Stefan Vogt, Barry Lai, Patricia L. Yager, Benjamin S. Twining, Jay A. Brandes. Role of biogenic silica in the removal of iron from the Antarctic seas. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2981


Colorado Is Burning Even Worse Than Last Year Is climate change to blame?

—By James West Mother Jones| Thu Jun. 13, 2013 3:40 AM PDT

Last year, Colorado suffered from a record-breaking wildfire season: More than 4,000 fires resulted in six deaths, the destruction of 648 buildings, and a half a billion dollars in property damage. Still reeling, thousands of Coloradans are once again fleeing from a string of drought-fueled fires. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said on Wednesday that the Black Forest Fire, northeast of Colorado Springs, had already destroyed between 80 and 100 homes. Three other fires, including one in neighboring Fremont County, also broke out this week.

So what role is climate change playing in the worsening wildfires? Here’s what we’ve learned:

Is climate change making wildfires worse? Big wildfires like Colorado’s thrive in dry air, low humidity, and high winds; climate change is going to make those conditions more frequent over the next century. We know because it’s already happening: A University of Arizona report from 2006 found that large forest fires have occurred more often in the western United States since the mid-1980s as spring temperatures increased, snow melted earlier, and summers got hotter, leaving more and drier fuels for fires to devour.

Thomas Tidwell, the head of the United States Forest Service, told a Senate committee on energy and natural resources recently that the fire season now lasts two months longer and destroys twice as much land as it did four decades ago. Fires now, he said, burn the same amount of land faster…..


$110 Billion Price Tag for Extreme Weather Events in 2012

Published: June 13th, 2013 , Last Updated: June 13th, 2013 By Andrew Freedman Climate Central

When it came to extreme weather and climate events, 2012 was a colossal year for the U.S. It was the warmest year on record in the lower 48 states, featuring a massive drought and deadly heat waves that broke thousands of temperature records. Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and one of the most intense and long-lasting complexes of severe thunderstorms, known as a “derecho,” plunged 4 million people into darkness from Iowa to Virginia. Now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has totaled the losses caused by the 11 most expensive extreme weather and climate disasters in 2012, each of which cost upwards of $1 billion. According to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., these billion-dollar events cost the U.S. a total of $110 billion, which puts 2012 behind only 2005 on the list of costliest years since 1980.  The billion-dollar events in 2012 included seven severe weather and tornado events, including the Midwest to Mid-Atlantic derecho, two hurricanes, and the yearlong drought and related wildfires. Those 11 events alone killed more than 300, NOAA reported. Hurricane Sandy was by far the deadliest and most expensive event, according to NOAA, costing about $65 billion and causing 159 fatalities. The yearlong drought cost about $30 billion….


Rapid adaptation is purple sea urchins’ weapon against ocean acidification
(June 12, 2013) — In the race against climate change and ocean acidification, some sea urchins may still have a few tricks up their spiny sleeves, suggesting that adaptation will likely play a large role for the sea creatures as the carbon content of the ocean increases. … > full story


Satellite data will be essential to future of groundwater, flood and drought management
(June 13, 2013) — New satellite imagery reveals that several areas across the US are all but certain to suffer water-related catastrophes, including extreme flooding, drought and groundwater depletion. A new report underscores the urgent need to address these current and rapidly emerging water issues at the national scale in the U.S. … > full story


Is a sleeping climate giant stirring in the Arctic?
(June 11, 2013) — Permafrost zones occupy nearly a quarter of the exposed land area of the Northern Hemisphere. NASA’s Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment is probing deep into the frozen lands above the Arctic Circle in Alaska to measure emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane from thawing permafrost — signals that may hold a key to Earth’s climate future. … > full story



Global warming appears to have slowed lately. That’s no reason to celebrate.

By Brad Plumer, Washington Post Published: June 14, 2013 at 11:40 am E-mail the writer

(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

A few things stand out. First, the planet has grown considerably warmer since mid-century, by more than half a degree Celsius. Second, even if the overall trend is upward, there’s a fair bit of variation year to year. Some of that, as we can see, has to do with El Niño and La Niña cycles, which can shift heat into and out of the ocean.

There’s a third aspect of this chart, however, that’s getting a barrage of attention lately. The past decade has clearly been the warmest decade on record. But the pace of warming in the last 15 years has been slower than it was in the 20 years before that. And that’s despite the fact that greenhouse gases are piling up in the atmosphere at a record pace.

So what should we make of this recent “slowdown” in global warming? Is it just a random blip — the sort of natural variation we’ve seen before and will likely see again? Or does it tell us anything interesting about climate change?

Here are a couple of big points to consider:

1) Global warming is still very much with us. The recent slowdown in temperature rise has left climatologists a bit puzzled, but it certainly doesn’t disprove global warming. The science of greenhouse gases has been well-established for over a century.

Scientists know that carbon-dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat on Earth. And it’s simple to see that humans are putting more carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. Researchers at NASA, meanwhile, have found that more solar energy is now entering Earth than is escaping back out into space. Basic physics suggests that this “energy imbalance” should, over time, heat up the planet. The mystery, then, is why all that extra energy hasn’t translated into even higher surface temperatures in recent years. Where is the extra heat going? Clearly something else must be at play here…

2) One theory is that the oceans are responsible for the recent warming slowdown. The oceans are vast and have long absorbed more than 90 percent of the extra energy that greenhouse gases trap on Earth. So it’s possible that they’ve somehow been absorbing even more of that heat lately, and hence slowing the rise of temperatures on the surface.

Recent measurements by Magdalena Balmaseda, Kevin Trenberth, and Erland Källén  have suggested that the warming of the oceans has accelerated in the past 15 years — and that the “missing heat” appears to be lurking in the deep layers, 700 meters below the surface:

As Fred Pearce writes, many researchers seem to agree that the oceans are playing some role here. Once you take them into account, Richard Allan of the University of Reading in England tells him, “global warming has actually not slowed down.” Similarly, a recent paper in Nature led by Virginie Guemas claims to have found a “robust” link between the recent plateau in temperatures and increased heat uptake by the oceans.

If the oceans are indeed the reason for the pause, that’s not comforting news, since that extra heat should eventually rise to the Earth’s surface in the years ahead, leading to much hotter temperatures.

That said, it’s not entirely clear why the oceans have been grabbing a bigger share of the heat lately. It’s also not certain when, exactly, that heat will return to the surface. Climate models still have trouble capturing the precise mechanisms by which the oceans transfer heat to the surface over short time scales. Which brings us to our third part…

3) Even if you place a lot of weight on the recent slowdown, it doesn’t alter future projections very much. 

Here’s a question we can ask. What if the recent slowdown in surface temperatures isn’t just a blip, but is actually an extremely important fact about the world? How much should it shift our view on climate change? And the answer turns out to be: Only a little bit. That’s the issue Alexander Otto and his co-authors explored in a recent paper published in Nature Geoscience. They focused on data from the last decade to come up with new estimates of the “transient climate response,” or what will happen in the very short term if we double the amount of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere.

Still here. (AP)

What Otto and his colleagues found is that, if you only look at data from the last decade and extrapolate from there, we can expect the Earth to warm between 0.9°C and 2°C in the short term if the amount of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere doubles. By contrast, mainstream climate models had found the range was between 1°C to 2.5°C. (Note: These are lower figures than estimates of “climate sensitivity,” which measures how the Earth would keep heating up thereafter, as the oceans and ice sheets reach equilibrium.) That’s a small shift downward, but the broad picture doesn’t change very much. As Otto told me:  “Even if we give a lot of weight to what we’ve seen over the last decade, you’re not getting rid of the problem.” And here’s how Myles Allen, a co-author, put it: “Taken at face value, our new findings mean that the changes we had previously expected between now and 2050 might take until 2065 to materialize instead.”…..


Climate Scientists Ring Alarm Bell, NY Times Hits Snooze Button

Posted: 11 Jun 2013 03:30 PM PDT

The planet just keeps warming, as NASA data makes clear (via Tamino).

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. So the New York Times
asserts today, “As unlikely as this may sound, we have lucked out in recent years when it comes to global warming.” But just last week, some of the country’s top climatologists wrote in the Washington Post about global warming: Legions of studies support the view that, left unabated, this warming will produce dangerous effects…. Man-made heat-trapping gases are warming our planet and leading to increases in extreme weather events. Droughts are becoming longer and deeper in many areas. The risk of wildfires is increasing. The year 2012, the hottest on record for the United States, illustrated this risk with severe, widespread drought accompanied by extensive wildfires….

We know a lot, more than enough to recognize that the alarm bells are ringing. Increases in heat waves and record high temperatures; record lows in Arctic sea ice; more severe rainstorms, droughts and wildfires; and coastal communities threatened by rising seas all offer a preview of the new normal in a warmer world. In this tale of two city newspapers, who is right? You won’t be surprised that I side with the climate scientists. The Times piece focuses on the recent seeming slowdown in one indicator of global warming — surface air temperatures — and uses some especially inartful language to describe it. The headline is “What to Make of a Warming Plateau.” I’m sure that the super-sophisticated word-smiths at the Times (who filed this story under “science/earth”) are aware that “in geology and earth science” a plateau is “an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain.” Memo to Times: We ain’t at a flat highpoint. We aren’t anywhere near the highpoint and we’re not even close to flat on any scale of time relevant to human civilization.

Temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013) plus projected warming this century on humanity’s current emissions path (in red, via recent literature).

Then the caption on their lead photo reads, “Despite a recent lull, climate scientists say it is an open question whether the pace of warming has undergone any lasting shift.” Of course, lull means “A temporary interval of quiet or lack of activity.” It’s pretty hard to find any evidence of “quiet” in this country (between superstorm Sandy and record-smashing heat) or up in the Arctic (where the ice is disintegrating decades ahead of schedule, which appears to be driving more extreme weather) or in the deep ocean (see the 3/13 piece, “Global Warming Has Accelerated In Past 15 Years, New Study Of Oceans Confirms”). Indeed, it’s absurd to claim “climate scientists say it is an open question whether the pace of warming has undergone any lasting shift.” It’s not an “open question” (see “Video And Charts Make Clear The Planet Is Still Warming“). I doubt the Times could find any leading climate scientist who thinks we’re going to see slower warming over the next 50 years than we saw in the last 50. Certainly the piece doesn’t quote a single scientist expressing such an absurd view. In fact, the ten climate scientists who collaborated to write the Washington Post op-ed explain matter of factly: Much has been made of a short-term reduction in the rate of atmospheric warming. But “global” warming requires looking at the entire planet. While the increase in atmospheric temperature has slowed, ocean warming rose dramatically after 2000. Excess heat is being trapped in Earth’s climate system, and observations of the Global Climate Observing System and others are increasingly able to locate it. Simplistic interpretations of cherry-picked data hide the realities. You can see a summary of the science the climatologists are referring to here: “New Study: When You Account For The Oceans, Global Warming Continues Apace.” The reality is warming continues unabated and you have to read deep into the Times piece — something that only a small fraction of readers who see the headline will bother doing — to find that that last time there was a “lull” in warming, it was followed by “an extremely rapid warming of the planet.” I suspect that this was once again a pretty reasonable piece of research by the Times reporter that was shoe-horned into a more “newsy” narrative by the editors. It isn’t the best of times or the worst of times — yet. It’s the best of times to act if we want to have a serious chance of preventing the worst of times.




Leakage of carbon from land to rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal regions revealed
(June 10, 2013) — When carbon is emitted by human activities into the atmosphere it is generally thought that about half remains in the atmosphere and the remainder is stored in the oceans and on land. New research suggests that human activity could be increasing the movement of carbon from land to rivers, estuaries and the coastal zone indicating that large quantities of anthropogenic carbon may be hidden in regions not previously considered. … Pierre Regnier from Université Libre de Bruxelles said: “The budget of anthropogenic CO2 reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) currently does not take into account the carbon leaking from terrestrial ecosystems to rivers, estuaries and coastal regions. As a result of this leakage, the actual storage by terrestrial ecosystems is about 40% lower than the current estimates by the IPCC.” The ‘land-ocean aquatic continuum’, has not previously been considered an important carbon sink. Future assessments of carbon storage must now take into account the surface areas of the land-ocean aquatic continuum to ensure accurate estimation of carbon storage. This will also require an improved knowledge of the mechanisms controlling the degradation, preservation and emissions of carbon along the aquatic continuum to fully understand the impact of human activity on carbon transfer. Professor Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter said: “Carbon storage in sediments in these rivers and coastal regions could present a more secure environment than carbon stored in soil on land. As soil warms up stored carbon can be lost to the atmosphere. The chances of this occurring in wet sediments are reduced.”… A significant part of the carbon storage thought to be offered by ecosystems on land — mainly forests — is thus negated by this leakage of carbon from soils to aquatic systems, and to the atmosphere….> full story


Regnier, Pierre et al. Anthropogenic perturbation of the carbon fluxes from land to ocean. Nature Geoscience, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/NGEO1830



Drought Is Causing U.S. Beef Prices To Skyrocket

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 08:12 AM PDT

(Credit: AP/Nati Harnik)

Last year’s historic drought hit the U.S. agriculture industry hard, and major losses in feed crops have driven the price of beef to record highs. And prices are expected to climb if the dry weather in the Midwest and Great Plains continues. Right now, the average retail price for ground beef is $3.51 per pound, up from $3.37 last year, and sirloin steak is as high as $5.14 per pound. The price hikes are due to a spike in demand coupled with a sharp drop in supply: the country’s cattle herd is the smallest it’s been since 1952, largely because of the drought. Last year, dry weather dried up grasses and decimated corn and soybean crops, causing their prices to spike. Farmers had a hard time finding and paying for feed for their cattle, so they took them to slaughter instead. The drought forced many small ranchers to sell their entire herds and abandon the business altogether. According to the U.S. drought monitor, major cattle regions may see some relief from drought this summer, but cattle numbers won’t likely rebound anytime soon, as Elaine Johnson, a market analyst with, told NPR: “When you have a drought like this and have liquidated numbers significantly, it typically means that supplies are going to be reduced for two, three, four years, and it’s one of the reasons why we’ve seen such a big increase in beef prices.”

It takes about three years from the time a cow becomes pregnant to the point where her calf is ready for slaughter, so numbers won’t rebound immediately. And the harsh weather of the past few years has made farmers wary about buying more cattle at the first sign of rain. Bill Hyman, executive director of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association in Lockhart, Texas, told USA Today that “the weather’s been so weird lately” that ranchers still don’t think they’ll have enough rain to keep their pastures green enough for cattle.

So far, sales of beef are down this summer, presumably in part because of the high prices. If this trend of low supply, high prices and subsequently decreased demand continues, it could help cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — agriculture production in the U.S. accounts for 8 percent of total emissions, and worldwide, agriculture is the third-largest contributor to global emissions. The writers of one recent report on livestock’s contribution to climate change said replacing meat with vegetarian alternatives would “have far more rapid effects on greenhouse gas emissions and their atmospheric concentrations — and thus on the rate the climate is warming — than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.”


British butterfly desperate for warm weather this summer
(June 10, 2013) — Butterflies are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, and new research has revealed that when summer weather turns bad the silver-spotted skipper battles for survival. … > full story


Study raises hope of combating global warming by reducing soot

Black-carbon soot is the No. 2 global warming agent released into the atmosphere by human activities. A landmark study in California shows some success in controlling it.

By Pete Spotts, CS Monitor Staff writer / June 13, 2013

Between 1989 and 2008, clean-air rules in California virtually halved the concentrations of black-carbon soot in the state’s skies, in effect reducing the state’s carbon footprint by the equivalent of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 21 million tons a year, according to new analysis. That would represent about 5 percent of the state’s CO2 emissions in 2009, according to the report. Though the data have yet to be fed into global climate models to see if California’s results can be replicated elsewhere, they bolster the hope that focusing on black-carbon soot could be an effective way to begin to address global warming. During the past decade, atmospheric scientists have focused increasing attention on black-carbon soot, the tiny particles found in Diesel exhaust as well as the emissions from wood and dung fires. The soot, which absorbs sunlight and re-radiates it as heat, has edged out methane as the second most-abundant greenhouse-agent released into the atmosphere by human activities. But unlike carbon dioxide or methane, soot takes only days or weeks to settle out of the atmosphere, compared with decades to centuries for methane and CO2….

**Think you know the odd effects of global climate change? Take our quiz.


Amazon forest fire risk to increase in 2013
(June 7, 2013) — University and NASA researchers predict that the severity of the 2013 fire season will be considerably higher than in 2011 and 2012 for many Amazon forests in the Southern Hemisphere. The outlook is based on a fire severity model that produced a successful first forecast in 2012. … > full story


Climate conditions determine Amazon fire risk
(June 7, 2013) — Using an innovative satellite technique, NASA scientists have determined that a previously unmapped type of wildfire in the Amazon rainforest is responsible for destroying several times more forest than has been lost through deforestation in recent years. … > full story


Nobody is declaring a state of drought in California, but …

Surveyors in the Sierra find only half the snowpack that is normal for the date…. driest January-March period on record.

March 29, 2013|By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times

When snow surveyors headed into the Sierra Nevada on Thursday for the most important measurement of the season, they found only about half the snowpack that is normal for the date. It could have been a lot worse — considering that the last three months in California have been the driest of any January-through-March period on record, going back to 1895. It has been a winter of extremes in the state, beginning with an unusually wet November and December and ending with a string of parched months. “It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — the changes we’ve had,” said climatologist Kelly Redmond of the Western Regional Climate Center. Storage in the state’s two largest reservoirs, Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville, is a bit above normal for the date, thanks to the big storms in the Northern Sierra that turned the final three months of last year into the 10th-wettest on record for that region. But with statewide snowpack at only 52% of the norm for this time of year — when it is usually at its peak — state and federal water managers are expecting below-normal runoff this spring and falling reservoir levels. Although no one is declaring drought, the state last week cut projected water deliveries to Southern California. And farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley may get only a fifth of the federal irrigation supplies they have contracts for. The delivery cutbacks have underscored problems with getting supplies through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the perennial bottleneck in north-to-south water shipments. Water officials say protections for the imperiled delta smelt severely restricted delta pumping when the early winter storms were pouring water into the system. Had a controversial diversion system proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration been in place, they say the big government water projects could have shipped a lot more water south to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California….


New theory proposes solution to long-running debate as to how stable the Earth system is
(June 10, 2013) — Researchers have proposed an answer to the long-running debate as to how stable the Earth system is. Earth, with its core-driven magnetic field, oceans of liquid water, dynamic climate and abundant life is arguably the most complex system in the known Universe. Life arose on Earth over three and a half billion years ago and it would appear that despite planetary scale calamities such as the impacts of massive meteorites, runaway climate change and increases in brightness of the Sun, it has continued to grow, reproduce and evolve ever since. Has life on Earth simply been lucky in withstanding these events or are there any self-stabilizing processes operating in the Earth system that would reduce the severity of such perturbations? If such planetary processes exist, to what extent are they the result of the actions of life? Forty years ago James Lovelock formulated his Gaia Hypothesis in which life controls aspects of the planet and in doing so maintains conditions that are suitable for widespread life despite shocks and perturbations. This hypothesis was and remains controversial in part because there is no understood mechanism by which such a planetary self-stabilising system could emerge. In research published in PLOS Computational Biology, University of Southampton lecturer Dr James Dyke and PhD student Iain Weaver detail a mechanism that shows how when life is both affected by and alters environmental conditions, then what emerges is a control system that stabilises environmental conditions. This control system was first described around the middle of the 20th Century during the development of the cybernetics movement and has until now been largely neglected. Their findings are in principle applicable to a wide range of real world systems — from microbial mats to aquatic ecosystems up to and including the entire biosphere.

Dr Dyke says: “As well as being a fascinating issue in its own right, we quite desperately need to understand what is currently happening to Earth and in particular the impacts of our own behaviour.

“Pretty much whatever we do, life on Earth will carry on, just as it did for the previous 3.5 billion years or so. It is only by discovering the mechanisms by which our living planet has evolved in the past can we hope to continue to be part of its future.”> full story


James G. Dyke, Iain S. Weaver. The Emergence of Environmental Homeostasis in Complex Ecosystems. PLoS Computational Biology, 2013; 9 (5): e1003050 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003050



How do you feed nine billion people?
(June 9, 2013) — An international team of scientists has developed crop models to better forecast food production to feed a growing population — projected to reach 9 billion by mid-century — in the face of climate change. … > full story






California needs drinking-water fixes

SF Chronicle June 9, 2013 EDITORIAL The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just released an assessment of the nation’s drinking water infrastructure, and California was at the top of the “needs” list. Over the next two decades, California needs $44.5 billion to fix our aging water systems – putting us far ahead of the second-place state, Texas ($34 billion) and New York, which came in third with needs of $22 billion. It would be easy to blame Washington gridlock and federal officials for California’s woes – but according to the EPA, California has been the most inept of all the states at distributing the money that the EPA gives it to improve and maintain water-transmission systems under the Safe Water Drinking Act.



Julia Gillard and Arnold Schwarzenegger join forces on climate change

Updated Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:27am AEST

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have written a joint opinion piece to urge global action on climate change.
Ms Gillard will meet the Hollywood star in Perth today. The opinion piece, published in News Limited newspapers, stresses that the two regions are not alone in acting on climate change, and says that by the end of the year more than 1 billion people will be living in a state or country where a price on carbon is in place.
“California and Australia have a lot in common – climate change threatens our fragile environments and aggravates serious bushfires, droughts and floods, which put our important agricultural industries at risk,” they write.
Because of these similar challenges, even though we are leaders from different sides of the political spectrum, we strongly agree on two fundamental ideas – that taking action on climate change can no longer be delayed and that such actions can succeed beyond partisan politics.
By the end of 2013, more than a billion people will be living in a state or country where a price on carbon pollution is in place, demonstrating that we are not alone.
What the Industrial Revolution and the Information Technology Revolution have shown is that the people in regions which lead these transformations prosper the most and the soonest. It is the same with the Clean Energy Revolution



Two-thirds of energy sector will have to be left undeveloped, Bonn conference told

If world is to limit global warming we cannot burn all our fossil fuels, says International Energy Agency economist Fatih Birol

Wed, Jun 12, 2013, 01:00

About two-thirds of all proven reserves of oil, gas and coal will have to be left undeveloped if the world is to achieve the goal of limiting global warming at two degrees Celsius, according to the chief economist at the International Energy Agency. Addressing participants in the latest round of UN climate talks in Bonn, Fatih Birol said this should be an “eye-opener” for pension funds with significant investments in the energy sector – particularly in coal – as well as for ratings agencies. He predicted coal would be hardest hit in the “unburnable carbon” scenario, followed by oil and gas. “We cannot afford to burn all the fossil fuels we have. If we did that, it [average global surface temperature] would go higher than four degrees.



CA Budget Conference Committee approves $500 million auction revenue loan
June 10 2013 Conservation Strategy Group

The Budget Conference Committee just voted to adopt the Governor’s proposal to loan $500 million of cap and trade auction revenue to the General Fund. Many of the committee members were disappointed with this action, but recognized the need to be in partnership with the Governor on an auction revenue expenditure plan. This is a disappointing outcome, but all indications are that the Legislature is intent on seeing this money paid back, and eventually spent on programs and projects that further the goals of AB 32. We know that many members of this group spent a significant amount of time and energy on this issue. We would like to thank everyone for their work with the Air Resources Board to develop the auction revenue Investment Plan and for their outreach to the Legislature to build support for the expenditure of auction revenue this year. Efforts to create an expenditure plan for next year will likely commence in the fall. We would like to continue to work with this coalition to ensure that a portion of auction revenue funds are spent on natural resources programs and projects.
Global warming: Not too late to rein in climate change, group says

The International Energy Agency urges governments to take interim steps to reduce emissions even before a hoped-for climate treaty, saying aggressive measures can still limit global warming.

By Pete Spotts, Staff writer / June 10, 2013

Over the next seven years, aggressive efforts to tackle greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, refineries, and pipelines, and especially to boost energy efficiency, could still keep the world on track to meet its goal of holding increases in global average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. What’s more, those efforts need not come at the expense of a profitable energy sector, a concern that has fueled opposition to international agreements on curbing emissions and slowing climate change. That’s the conclusion the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) has reached after reviewing rising global emissions trends from energy production, rising greenhouse-gas concentrations in general, and the glacial efforts to craft a new global climate treaty by 2015, to take effect in 2020….



After release of report, UN climate change body reiterates now is ‘crucial moment’ to act

10 June 2013 – With United Nations-backed climate talks underway in Germany, the UN climate change body today reiterated that international efforts to mitigate the phenomenon are insufficient to meet the goal of keeping global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The statement from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) follows the release earlier today from the International Energy Agency (IEA) of a report which shows that unless more is done to tackle energy sector emissions, the international community will see a spike in temperature increase of between 3.6 and 5.3 degree Celsius. “The IEA report comes at a crucial moment for the UN Climate Change negotiations and for global efforts to address climate change at all levels,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Cristina Figueres, said from Bonn, where UNFCCC is spearheading two-week discussions that started on 3 June, on scientific, technological and methodological matters related to climate change. According to the IEA’s “Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map,” global energy industry-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 rose 1.4 per cent in 2012 to a record 31.6 billion tons.

China experienced the largest growth of carbon dioxide at 300 million ton, but the increase was one of the lowest in a decade, the IEA said. Meanwhile, the United States’ carbon output fell by 200 million tons amid a switch to gas from coal in power generation. The report outlines some recommendations, particularly Governments’ role in adaptation and the need for the industry to assess the risks and impacts of climate change in its investment decisions….



Cheap Food Is A Thing Of The Past, Report Warns

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 07:58 AM PDT

Food is only going to get more expensive over the next decade, according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The report cited several reasons for rising prices, including: increased demand for food and biofuels as a result of a growing population and higher incomes and standards of living, slower growth in food production, and rising energy costs. Limited water resources and farmland availability, as well as price hikes on necessities such as fertilizer, are expected to slow the increase in food production worldwide from 2.1 percent last decade (2003 – 2012) to 1.5 percent in the next decade.



Congressman Demands Obama Apologize To Oklahoma For Investing In Climate Change Research

Posted: 12 Jun 2013 06:11 AM PDT

Just as extreme weather season kicks off, freshman Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) demanded that President Obama apologize to Oklahoma for allocating funding to climate change research. Bridenstine, a climate denier who serves on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, plans to introduce a bill that defunds climate change research. “Even climate change alarmists admit the number of hurricanes hitting the U.S. and the number of tornado touchdowns have been on a slow decline for over 100 years,” Bridenstine said on the House floor Tuesday, according to Raw Story. “But here is what we absolutely know. We know that Oklahoma will have tornadoes when the cold jet stream meets the warm Gulf air, and we also know that this President spends 30 times as much money on global warming research as he does on weather forecasting and warning. For this gross misallocation, the people of Oklahoma are ready to accept the President’s apology and I intend to submit legislation to fix this.” Here is what Director of the National Climatic Data Center Tom Karl had to say about hurricanes, tornadoes, and climate change in 2011: “What we can say with confidence is that heavy and extreme precipitation events often associated with thunderstorms and convection are increasing and have been linked to human-induced changes in atmospheric composition.” Meanwhile, climate scientists are in near universal agreement that climate change is driven by human activity.

Bridenstine also recently accused Obama of “dishonesty, incompetence, vengefulness” in an unhinged speech on the House floor.

Related Posts:

Oklahoma and Texas, Hotbeds Of Climate Change Denialism, Wracked By Another Year Of Warming-Worsened Droughts

Oklahoma, Where The Denial Comes Right Behind The Drought








National Adaptation Forum Presentations Available
The California Department of Fish & Wildlife hosted the first ever National Adaptation Forum. The presentations from this forum are available online, click here. Presentations are on a wide range of topics all relating to how we address climate change impacts. 







June 18, Indicators of Climate Change, 2013,
10:00-11:15 am Pacific. ITEP Webinar. An overview of EPA’s Climate Change Indicators in the U.S., 2012 report, which presents a set of 26 indicators tracking observed signs of climate change in the U.S. Presenter: Lesley Jantarasami and Mike Kolian, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Air and Radiation, Climate Change Division. Read more and register here

June 19, Species Translocations: Questions & Considerations in a Changing Climate, 10am-11:30am Pacific Time, FWS/NWF Webinar, You must pre-register for this webinar here.



Climate Change Outreach and Education
Friday, July 12, 2013—11:00 am-12:15 pm Pacific

Does your tribal community have little knowledge and understanding of climate change and its impacts? Are you trying to increase their awareness about climate change and ways to address it, such as mitigation and adaptation? This presentation will provide information about outreach and education material and resources that tribes can use in engaging their tribal community about climate change. It will include examples from the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals’ Environmental Education and Outreach Program. Presenter: Mansel Nelson, Program Coordinator, Environmental Education and Outreach Program, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, Northern Arizona University



Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connections and Governance Linkages
July 24, 2013
Event will be webcast.

TRhe National Research Council’s Science and Technology for Sustainability Program (STS) and the University of California, Davis, will be holding a special event related to a new report, Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connections and Governance Linkages, which provides a decision framework for policymakers to examine the consequences and operational benefits of sustainability-oriented programs.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 1:30-3:30 pm

University of California, Davis

Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), Ballroom A

Located at the intersection of LaRue and Orchard Roads

Map of Campus

Parking available in Visitor Lot 25 ($7 per vehicle)


new National Research Council report will provide a decision framework which can be used by policymakers to examine the consequences, tradeoffs, synergies, and operational benefits of sustainability-oriented programs. The committee identifies linkages among areas such as energy, water, land, and nonrenewable resources that are critical to promoting and encouraging long term sustainability within the federal policy framework, recognizing that progress towards sustainability involves many institutions. The report also recommends priority areas for interagency cooperation on specific sustainability challenges; identifies impediments to interdisciplinary, cross-media federal programs; and highlights scientific research gaps as they relate to these interdisciplinary, cross-media approaches to sustainability.


Members of the National Research Council’s Committee on Sustainability Linkages in the Federal Government

To register to attend the event, click HERE.   To register for the web cast, click HERE.  Click HERE to see event flyer.  For more information on the STS


May 20th Watershed Assessment Workshop in Oakland – posted

Thank you again to all the speakers and panel participants, as well as to the sponsors of the workshop: San Francisco Estuary Partnership, StopWaste.Org, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, Alameda County Resource Conservation District, and the Alameda Creek Watershed Council with support from the US EPA’s San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund. The agenda, speaker bios, presentations and the summary from the afternoon’s panel discussion have all been posted on the BAWN website:



5-6 SEPTEMBER 2013 for Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference

The 4th annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference will be held in Portland 5-6 September 2013. The conference provides a forum for researchers and practitioners to convene and exchange scientific results, challenges, and solutions related to the impacts of climate on people, natural resources, and infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest. The conference attracts a wide range of participants including policy- and decision-makers, resource managers, and scientists, from public agencies, sovereign tribal nations, non-governmental organizations, and more.   As such, the conference emphasizes oral presentations that are comprehensible to a wide audience and on topics of broad interest. This conference is an opportunity to stimulate and showcase decision-relevant climate science in the Pacific Northwest….We seek presentations, either oral or poster, that describe the region’s climate variability and change over time; connections between climate and forest, water, fish, and wildlife resources; climate-related natural hazards such as wildfire, drought, flooding, invasive species and shoreline change; and the emerging science of ocean acidification.  We also seek case studies of efforts to incorporate science into planning, policy, and resource management programs and decisions; new approaches to data mining or data development; decision support tools and services related to climate adaptation; and fresh approaches or new understanding of the challenges of communicating climate science. We invite you to suggest or organize a cluster of abstracts around a theme that might be used to design a special session.  Abstract submission is now open.  Registration and lodging information will be available soon.  See




Working Lands Program Manager, California

The Working Lands Program Manager leads Audubon’s work focused on increasing the scope and scale of bird-friendly management practices and habitat restoration on farms and ranches to benefit target birds and other wildlife. The Working Lands Program focuses on three key strategies: enhancing cropland, improving existing wetlands, and restoring working waterways.  This position will work closely with Audubon’s policy staff, scientists, public agencies, especially the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Resource Conservation Districts, agricultural producer organizations, conservation partners, farmers and ranchers to meet the programs goals California’s Central Valley. The Manager will report to Audubon California’s Managing Director, leading a highly functioning six person team and also serving as an integral member of Audubon California’s management team. The Manager will also work closely with National Audubon Society staff across the U.S. to coordinate and improve our national working lands efforts across the country. This position is based in Sacramento, California.




Listservers/Course Announcements

Listservers:  NCTC Climate Change Listserver (upcoming webinars and courses): send an email to Danielle Larock at   LCC listservers (see your LCC’s websiteOneNOAA Science Webinars  EPA Climate Change and Water E-Newsletter  CIRCulator (Oregon Climate Change Research Institute) Climate Impacts Group (Univ. Washington)

NCTC Course Announcements (Registration for these courses is through DOILearn )

July 15-19, 2013 – “Scenario Planing toward Climate Change Adaptation” ALC3194 – development led by the Wildlife Conservation Society
August 27-29, 2013 – “Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment” ALC3184
October 28-November 1, 2013 – “Climate Smart Conservation” ALC3195 – development led by the National Wildlife Federation. This pilot course is based on a forthcoming guide to the principles and practice of Climate-Smart Conservation.






NEW REPORT: Fulfilling The Promise Of Concentrated Solar Power

Posted: 11 Jun 2013 11:14 AM PDT

Full report available here. Low-Cost Incentives Can Spur Innovation in the Solar Market



US emissions hit first low since mid-1990s

Global emissions record high in 2012

11:07 12 June 2013 by Michael Marshall

Has the US peaked? The latest data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows its emissions fell by 3.8 per cent in 2012, to a level not seen since the mid-1990s. According to figures in the IEA’s report “Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map”, the nation has cut its carbon dioxide emissions in four out of the last five years, largely by switching from coal to natural gas – a cleaner fuel. But the encouraging trend could be reversed. US power companies favour gas because it is cheaper than coal these days, but gas producers are anxious to increase their profits. In the first quarter of 2013, gas prices rose by 40 per cent, triggering a rise in coal use of 14 per cent, compared with the same time last year. If coal makes a comeback, US emissions could start rising again. “The only way to stop this comeback is to regulate coal-fired power plants,” says Fatih Birol of the IEA. The US is considering new rules which would force coal-fired power stations to either clean up or shut down.

China is moving in the same direction. Its emissions rose in 2012 – by 300 megatonnes – but the increase is less than half that seen in 2011, as China replaces fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy such as hydroelectricity. The Chinese government is considering strict emissions targets, with the aim of peaking its emissions by 2025. All this is happening against a backdrop of increasing global emissions, which rose to another record high in 2012. The IEA estimates that burning fossil fuels emitted 31.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide last year – a 0.4 Gt increase over 2011. On current trends, the world will warm by 3°C by 2100. It needn’t be so. The IEA says the world can still limit warming to 2°C by boosting energy efficiency, limiting the building of the least efficient coal power plants, not venting methane at oil and gas fields, and cutting subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. The IEA calculates that to keep the global temperature from rising more than 2 °C, about two-thirds of known fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground.



Feds Give Wind Producers Free Pass to Kill Condors

Karen Dove June 14, 2013

Federal wildlife officials announced they will allow wind producers in California’s Tehachapi Mountains to kill endangered California condors without fear of prosecution. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the free pass will apply only when wind power companies inadvertently kill or harass the large and highly endangered birds, but such harassment and deaths are a foreseeable and unavoidable consequence of “green” wind power….Environmental groups including the American Bird Conservancy, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Audubon Society immediately criticized Fish and Wildlife’s decision to give wind power companies a free pass to kill endangered condors…..California wind farms already present a killing field for endangered and protected birds. According to Save the Eagles International, more than 1,000 birds of prey die each year at California’s Altamont Pass wind farm. Wind turbines are already the leading cause of death for golden eagles in the Golden State, and conservationists point out condors are larger and less agile than golden eagles, putting them in even greater danger from fast-spinning turbine blades.

Environmentalists have documented environmental damage already being caused by wind turbines in the Tehachapi Mountain area….




Nanoparticle opens the door to clean-energy alternatives
(June 13, 2013) — Cheaper clean-energy technologies could be made possible thanks to a new discovery. An important chemical reaction that generates hydrogen from water is effectively triggered — or catalyzed — by a nanoparticle composed of nickel and phosphorus, two inexpensive elements that are abundant on Earth. … > full story







Environmental apocalypse is a myth

Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus Opinion SF Chronicle June 9, 2013

Modern societies have been dealing with environmental problems since the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that so many people began to see pollution and rising population as signs that human civilization was fundamentally unsustainable. In his 1968 best-seller, “The Population Bomb,” Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich famously wrote, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. Continue Reading


Some environmentalists back nuclear power

Robert Stone, CNN Films; Stewart Brand, an architect of the environmental movement featured in a new documentary, now endorses nuclear energy.

By Joe Garofoli SF CHRONICLE June 13, 2013

Stewart Brand helped shape the modern environmental movement and the way the world interacts online. But the influential, 74-year-old Sausalito resident and editor of the Whole Earth Catalog has been standing apart from his fellow greenies on one issue: He supports nuclear power. “Nuclear is green,” Brand said during a recent interview, “not evil.” …. While “Pandora’s Promise” doesn’t have the star power of “An Inconvenient Truth,” the Oscar-winning 2006 documentary about former Vice President Al Gore’s campaign to curb climate change, the film will open in 25 theaters nationwide, compared with four for the Gore film’s opening day. ….Writer and leading international climate change activist Bill McKibben said that nuclear power is not likely to play a major role after that disaster. “Even before Fukushima, I thought cost was the real obstacle, along with the obvious issues,” he added. “You can’t argue that it’s clean,” Sierra Club President Michael Brune said. “You can’t argue that it’s cheap. You can’t argue that it’s coming online quickly.” But President Obama supports nuclear power, as does Steven Chu, his Nobel Prize-winning former energy secretary who was a Stanford professor. In March, Obama’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology told him that “achieving low-carbon goals without a substantial contribution from nuclear power is possible, but extremely difficult.”



‘Self-cleaning’ pollution-control technology could do more harm than good, study suggests
(June 13, 2013) — Environmental scientists shows that air-pollution-removal technology used in “self-cleaning” paints and building surfaces may actually cause more problems than they solve. The study finds that titanium dioxide coatings, seen as promising for their role in breaking down airborne pollutants on contact, are likely in real-world conditions to convert abundant ammonia to nitrogen oxide, the key precursor of harmful ozone pollution. … > full story


Men with prostate cancer should eat healthy vegetable fats, study suggests
(June 10, 2013) — Men with prostate cancer may significantly improve their survival chances with a simple change in their diet, a new study has found. … > full story

















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