Conservation Science News Oct 30 2015

Focus of the Week
When megafauna disappear, so does their ecosystem-sustaining poop

1ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

2CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS with special DROUGHT section

3– ADAPTATION AND HOPE

4- POLICY

5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

6-
RESOURCES and REFERENCES

7OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST 

8IMAGES OF THE WEEK

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NOTE: Please share this news update that has been prepared for
Point Blue Conservation Science
staff.  You can find these news compilations posted on line by clicking here.  For more information please see www.pointblue.org. The items contained in this update were drawn from www.dailyclimate.org, www.sciencedaily.com, http://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.sfgate.com, and many other online sources. This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  You can receive this news compilation by signing up for the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative  Newsletter or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium listserve.  You can also email me directly at ecohen at pointblue.org with questions or suggestions. 

 

Founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Point Blue’s 140 scientists advance nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to benefit wildlife and people, through science, partnerships and outreach.  We work collaboratively to guide and inspire positive conservation outcomes today for a healthy, blue planet teeming with life in the future.  Read more about our 5-year strategic approach here.

 

 

Focus of the Week– When megafauna disappear, so does their poop- disrupts Earth’s nutrient cycle

 

 

This diagram shows an interlinked system of animals that carry nutrients from ocean depths to deep inland — through their poop, urine, and, upon death, decomposing bodies. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that — in the past–this chain of whales, seabirds, migratory fish and large land mammals transported far greater amounts of nutrients than they do today. Here, the red arrows show the estimated amounts of phosphorus and other nutrients that were moved or diffused historically — and how much these flows have been reduced today. Grey animals represent extinct or reduced densities of animal populations. Credit: Diagram from PNAS; designed by Renate Helmiss

 

Declines in whales, fish, seabirds and large animals disrupt Earth’s nutrient cycle

Posted: 26 Oct 2015 02:20 PM PDT

In the past, whales, giant land mammals, and other animals played a vital role in keeping the planet fertile by transporting nutrients via their feces. However, massive declines and extinctions of many of these animals has deeply damaged this planetary nutrient recycling system, threatening fisheries and ecosystems on land, a team of scientists reports.

Giants once roamed the earth. Oceans teemed with ninety-foot-long whales. Huge land animals–like truck-sized sloths and ten-ton mammoths–ate vast quantities of food, and, yes, deposited vast quantities of poop.

A new study shows that these whales and outsized land mammals–as well as seabirds and migrating fish–played a vital role in keeping the planet fertile by transporting nutrients from ocean depths and spreading them across seas, up rivers, and deep inland, even to mountaintops.

However, massive declines and extinctions of many of these animals has deeply damaged this planetary nutrient recycling system, a team of scientists reported October 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This broken global cycle may weaken ecosystem health, fisheries, and agriculture,” says Joe Roman, a biologist at the University of Vermont and co-author on the new study.

On land, the capacity of animals to carry nutrients away from concentrated “hotspots,” the team writes, has plummeted to eight percent of what it was in the past–before the extinction of some 150 species of mammal “megafauna” at the end of the last ice age.

And, largely because of human hunting over the last few centuries, the capacity of whales, and other marine mammals, to move one vital nutrient–phosphorus–from deep ocean waters to the surface has been reduced by more than seventy-five percent, the new study shows….

The world of giants came to an end on land after the megafauna extinctions that began some 12,000 years ago–driven by a complex array of forces including climate change and Neolithic hunters. And it ended in the oceans in the wake of whale and other mammal hunting in the industrial era of humans.

“But recovery is possible and important,” says UVM’s Roman. He points to bison as an example. “That’s achievable. It might be a challenge policy-wise, but it’s certainly within our power to bring back herds of bison to North America. That’s one way we could restore an essential nutrient pathway.”

And many whale and marine mammal populations are also recovering, Roman notes. “We can imagine a world with relatively abundant whale populations again,” he says.

But have domestic animals, like cows, taken over the nutrient distribution role of now-extinct large land animals? No, the new study shows. Though there are many cows, fences constrain the movement of domestic animals and their nutrients. “Future pastures could be set up with fewer fences and with a wider range of species,” the team writes….

Christopher E. Doughty, Joe Roman, Søren Faurby, Adam Wolf, Alifa Haque, Elisabeth S. Bakker, Yadvinder Malhi, John B. Dunning Jr., and Jens-Christian Svenning. Global nutrient transport in a world of giants. PNAS, October 26, 2015 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1502549112

 

Francois Gohler/Science Source

When whales disappear, so does their ecosystem-sustaining poop

26 October 2015 5:45 pm Science Mag

Humans have been bad for blue whales. As many as 350,000 of the giant mammals (pictured) once plied the oceans; now, only a few thousand are left.

 

Although removing such creatures from ecosystems can have a host of effects, a new study draws attention to one in particular: There’s a lot less poop getting spread around the planet. In the research, published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists describe how losing these animals and other “megafauna” has upset a global cycle that once passed large amounts of nutrients like phosphorus from the ocean depths where large marine mammals like blue whales often feed into the sunlit surface waters where seabirds or migrating fish like salmon browse.

 

As those fish swam back up the rivers where they were born or the birds returned to dry ground, the nutrients went with them, incorporated into their bodies or excreted, eventually feeding a host of terrestrial organisms. In turn, those animals’ own waste—and eventually decomposing bodies—helped spread the nutrients even further, fertilizing the interior of continents, the scientists say.

 

In all, the researchers used a set of mathematical models to reveal that today animals only have about 6% of their former capacity to move such nutrients away from “hot spots” and across the oceans and land.

 

Such a loss may continue to weaken ecosystem health, fisheries, and agriculture, leaving them less naturally productive than they might otherwise be. Protecting whales, migratory fish, and seabirds could make a difference in restoring, at least somewhat, the nutrient pathway, the scientists say. 

 

 

 

 

In this photo taken on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, an elephant crosses the road in Hwange National Park, about 700 kilometers south west of Harare, Zimbabwe. Cyanide poisoning has killed 22 elephants in Zimbabwe. Photo: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, Associated Press

Scientists’ warning: Extinction of big land animals forever alters environment

By Peter Fimrite Updated 3:03 pm, Monday, October 26, 2015 SF Chronicle

Extinctions of large animals — a fate that could soon befall elephants and rhinoceros — have a cascade effect on local ecosystems, including Northern California, where many smaller animals and plants died off after mammoths were wiped out, a team of scientists has discovered. The size of elephants, wildebeest and other big plant-eaters not only makes them impressive and fascinating, but vital to the many species, including flora and fauna, that live with and depend on them, according to a joint report by UC Berkeley, Stanford University, California State University Sacramento and the University of Chile. “Ecological studies have shown that if you pull out a top predator or a key herbivore today, you get dramatic change in the ecosystem,” said Anthony Barnosky, a UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology and the study leader. “Our study makes it clear that in the past, such changes have lasted for thousands of years. These extinctions really do permanently change the dynamics. You can’t go back.” The study, which was released Monday and is to be published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at past extinctions in North and South America since humans arrived about 15,000 years ago. The scientists found that the number and diversity of small animals and vegetation decreased all along the Pacific Northwest, as well as the western and northeastern United States, after mammoth and mastodon extinctions. In Alaska and the Yukon, what was once a mix of forest and grassland became mostly tundra after the loss of mammoths, native horses and other large animals, according to the study….

 

 

Rewilding the future

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 06:52 AM PDT

New research shows that the loss of large animals has had strong effects on ecosystem functions, and that reintroducing large animal faunas may restore biodiverse ecosystems. Rewilding is gaining a lot of interest as an alternative conservation and land management approach in recent years, but remains controversial. It is increasingly clear that Earth harbored rich faunas of large animals — such as elephants, wild horses and big cats — pretty much everywhere, but that these have starkly declined with the spread of humans across the world — a decline that continues in many areas. A range of studies now show that these losses have had strong effects on ecosystem functions, and a prominent strain of rewilding, trophic rewilding, focuses on restoring large animal faunas and their top-down food-web effects to promote self-regulating biodiverse ecosystems. A new study led by researchers from Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, published in PNAS today, synthesizes the current scientific research on trophic rewilding and outlines key research priorities for rewilding science. “Reviewing the evidence from major rewilding projects such as the wolf reintroduction to the Yellowstone National Park and the Oostvaardersplassen experiment in the Netherlands, the study concludes that species reintroductions and ecological replacements can successfully restore lost food-web cascades with strong ecological effects,” says lead author Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University.

 

Jens-Christian Svenning, Pil B. M. Pedersen, C. Josh Donlan, Rasmus Ejrnæs, Søren Faurby, Mauro Galetti, Dennis M. Hansen, Brody Sandel, Christopher J. Sandom, John W. Terborgh, Frans W. M. Vera. Science for a wilder Anthropocene: Synthesis and future directions for trophic rewilding research. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201502556 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1502556112

 

Mauricio Anton Violent attacks by large packs of carnivores limited the population of mammoths, mastodons and other species in the Pleistocene epoch.

Large, violent animal packs shaped the ecosystems of the Pleistocene epoch

Research led by UCLA biologist uses wide variety of data to reconstruct an ancient era

Stuart Wolpert | October 26, 2015

For years, evolutionary biologists have wondered how ecosystems during the Pleistocene epoch survived despite the presence of many species of huge, hungry herbivores, such as mammoths, mastodons and giant ground sloths. Observations on modern elephants suggest that large concentrations of those animals could have essentially destroyed the environment, but that wasn’t the case. Now life scientists from UCLA and other universities in the U.S. and England argue that the ecosystem was effectively saved by predatory animals that helped keep the population of large herbivores in check. Their findings, reported this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that intense, violent attacks by packs of some of the world’s largest carnivores — including lions much larger than those of today and sabertooth cats — went a long way toward shaping ecosystems during the Pleistocene epoch. The research could have implications for animal conservation efforts today. The paper notes that many of today’s endangered species evolved during or before the Pleistocene epoch, and under very different conditions from today’s. “Recreating these [Pleistocene] communities is not possible, but their record of success compels us to maintain the diversity we have and rebuild it where feasible,” the researchers write. Led by Blaire Van Valkenburgh, a UCLA evolutionary biologist, the researchers found that, because of their larger size, the ancient carnivores were very capable of killing young mammoths, mastodons and other species, which prevented those animals from destroying ecosystems in the Pleistocene, which ended about 11,700 years ago. The paper suggests that the extinction of the largest of the “hyper-carnivores” (such as lions, sabertooth cats and hyenas) during the late Pleistocene almost certainly was caused by the disappearance of their preferred prey, including young mega-herbivores (the mammoths, mastodons and giant ground sloths). “Based on observations of living mega-herbivores, such as elephants, rhinos, giraffes and hippos, scientists have generally thought that these species were largely immune to predation, mainly because of their large size as adults and strong maternal protection of very young offspring,” said Van Valkenburgh, who holds an appointment in the UCLA College’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology….

 

 

Only four percent of the ocean is protected, research shows

Posted: 26 Oct 2015 06:28 AM PDT

Despite global efforts to increase the area of the ocean that is protected, only four per cent of it lies within marine protected areas (MPAs), according to a new study.

 

Lisa Boonzaier, Daniel Pauly. Marine protection targets: an updated assessment of global progress. Oryx, 2015; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0030605315000848

 


http://www.ecology.com/2012/11/13/marine-reserves-make-fish-naive/

Marine reserves will need stepping stones to help fish disperse between them

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 10:29 AM PDT

A massive field effort on the Belizean Barrier Reef has revealed for the first time that the offspring of at least one coral reef fish, a neon goby, do not disperse far from their parents. The results indicate that if marine protected areas aim to conserve such fishes, and biodiversity more broadly, then they must be spaced closely enough to allow larvae to disperse successfully between them.
A growing body of scientific research has demonstrated that marine protected areas, particularly no-take marine reserves that exclude extractive activities like fishing, can increase biodiversity and sustain fisheries within the reserves, often with spillover benefits in surrounding areas. But despite the decline of coral reefs and fisheries worldwide, only 3.5 percent of the ocean is protected and only 1.6 percent of it is fully protected. Moreover, for reserves to conserve marine biodiversity most effectively, they must be embedded in networks that are connected such that marine life from one reserve can repopulate other reserves. “Before our study, we didn’t have a deep, quantitative understanding of how far fish larvae do and do not disperse from their parents,” says study co-author Peter Buston of Boston University. “If we’re going to design effective networks of marine reserves, we need to know how far baby fish can and cannot travel. Our study suggests that for fishes like the neon gobies, protected areas may need to be close together.”…

 

Cassidy C. D’Aloia, Steven M. Bogdanowicz, Robin K. Francis, John E. Majoris, Richard G. Harrison, Peter M. Buston. Patterns, causes, and consequences of marine larval dispersal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201513754 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1513754112

 

 

Seals not competing with Irish fishing stocks, according to new research

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 07:06 AM PDT

Seals are not threatening commercial fishing stocks in Irish waters, with the possible exception of wild Atlantic salmon, according to new research.

 

 

Water-treatment plants are not supposed to harm the functioning of river ecosystems

Posted: 29 Oct 2015 10:46 AM PDT

When a river receives waste water from a treatment plant, the plant’s efficiency is revealed. A new study group has observed that the waste water from treatment plants significantly influences the river ecosystem. As the quantity of organic matter is bigger, the activity of the organisms that feed on it increases. Yet other organisms are harmed because this matter contains toxic substances

 

 

CREDIT: wikimedia commons The swift fox, a species that’s benefited from local conservation efforts.

A New Way To Protect Animals With Dwindling Populations– At-Risk Category

by Katie Valentine Oct 25, 2015 9:00am

There’s no question that the Endangered Species Act has had some major successes. When America’s beloved bald eagle was placed on the endangered list in the 1960s, there were fewer than 400 nesting pairs in the country — now, that number has risen to nearly 10,000. The brown pelican was nearly extinct in the U.S. when it was listed in the 1970s, but its numbers improved so dramatically that it was removed from the list in 2009.

But an endangered listing typically serves as an option of last resort for declining species in America — something that can swoop in when numbers get frighteningly low. There are many species that aren’t yet listed as endangered but whose numbers are threatened by pollution, loss of habitat, and other factors. That’s why a new report from the Center for American Progress recommends that the federal government create a new category under the Endangered Species Act — “at risk.” An at risk species would be a lower category than the ESA’s threatened or endangered listing, and wouldn’t afford a species any legal protections. But it would encourage voluntary efforts to conserve the at-risk species’ habitat, and would prioritize federal funding for incentives for this voluntary conservation. “A farmer who has important aquatic habitat for an at-risk amphibian, for example, could receive priority consideration for funding from the Agriculture Department’s Wetlands Reserve Program,” the report states. “A land trust that is working with a rancher to place a conservation easement on high-priority habitat for at risk species might likewise get favorable consideration from the Land and Water Conservation Fund or the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.”…

 

 

Annual Antarctic ozone hole larger and formed later in 2015

Posted: 29 Oct 2015 03:55 PM PDT

The 2015 Antarctic ozone hole area was larger and formed later than in recent years, said scientists….

 

Aquaculture: Gear, not geoducks, impacts ecosystem if farming increases

Posted: 22 Oct 2015 06:45 AM PDT

The equipment used to farm geoducks (clams), including PVC pipes and nets, might have a greater impact on the Puget Sound food web than the addition of the clams themselves. That’s one of the findings of the first major scientific study to examine the broad, long-term ecosystem effects of geoduck aquaculture in Puget Sound.

 

 

 

Mountain big sagebrush – or Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana – is a sub-species of big sagebrush that is found in primarily at higher elevation and colder, drier sites between the Rocky Mountains and the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. (High resolution image

Technical Announcement:
Restoration Handbook for Sagebrush Steppe Ecosystems, Part 1 – Understanding and Applying Restoration
Released: 10/26/2015 12:30:00 PM Click here for Handbook

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Heightened interest in advancing sage-grouse conservation has increased the importance of sagebrush-steppe restoration to recover or create wildlife habitat conditions that meet the species’ needs.  Today, the U.S. Geological Survey published part one of a three-part handbook addressing restoration of sagebrush ecosystems from the landscape to the site level….The new handbook describes a sagebrush-steppe habitat restoration framework that incorporates landscape ecology principles and information on resistance of sagebrush-steppe to invasive plants and resilience to disturbance. This section of the handbook introduces habitat managers and restoration practitioners to basic concepts about sagebrush ecosystems, landscape ecology and restoration ecology, with emphasis on greater sage-grouse habitats.

Six specific concepts covered are:

  • similarities and differences among sagebrush plant communities,
  • plant community resilience to disturbance and resistance to invasive plants based on soil temperature and moisture regimes,
  • soils and the ecology critical for plant species used for restoration,
  • changes that can be made to current management practices or re-vegetation efforts in support of general restoration actions,
  • landscape restoration with an emphasis on restoration to benefit sage-grouse and
  • monitoring effectiveness of restoration actions in support of adaptive management.

Restoration of an ecosystem is a daunting task that appears insurmountable at first,” said Pyke. “But as with any large undertaking, the key is breaking down the process into the essential components to successfully meet objectives. Within the sagebrush steppe ecosystem, restoration is likely to be most successful with a better understanding of how to prioritize landscapes for effective restoration and to apply principles of ecosystem resilience and resistance in restoration decisions.” Pyke noted that the blending of ecosystem realities – such as soil, temperature and moisture – with species-specific needs provides an ecologically based framework for strategically focusing restoration measures to support species of conservation concern over the short and long term. Part one of the handbook sets the stage for two decision support tools. Part two of the handbook will provide restoration guidance at a landscape level, and part three, restoration guidance at the site level.

The handbook was funded by the U.S. Joint Fire Science Program and National Interagency Fire Center, Bureau of Land Management, Great Northern Landscape Conservation, USGS, and Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies with authors from the USGS, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State University, Utah State University and Brigham Young University

    

Siberian jays can recognize unfamiliar, distant relatives

Posted: 26 Oct 2015 06:32 AM PDT

Can animals recognize distantly related, unfamiliar individuals of the same species? Siberian jays possess this ability as evolutionary biologists recently could demonstrate for the first time. This bird species belongs to the crow family and is able to accurately assess the degree of kinship to unfamiliar individuals. This ability provides advantages when sharing food and other forms of cooperation.

 

Birds require multiple sperm to penetrate eggs to ensure normal embryo development

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 06:36 PM PDT

Unlike humans, birds require multiple sperm to penetrate an egg to enable their chicks to develop normally.

 

 

Amazonian natives had little impact on land, new research finds

Posted: 28 Oct 2015 02:45 AM PDT

Natives of Amazonia had limited impact on the forests and land surrounding them, suggests new research. The findings reinforce how vulnerable Amazonian forests may be to logging and mining.

 

 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCyiWaCiA8s

It’s Bat Week

U.S. Department of the Interior October 28, 2015

It’s Bat Week — a week dedicated to celebrating the importance of bats! Far from scary, these little creatures act as pollinators and natural pest control. Watch this video to learn more cool bat facts, find out what challenges are facing bats today and what you can do to help #savethebats.

 

 

 

 

 

Plankton poo clue could aid climate predictions

By Matthew Stock Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:17am EDT

Scientists from the UK’s National Oceanography Center (NOC) have set their sights on unmasking the ocean’s ‘twilight zone’ – the area between 100 and 1000 meters deep where a small amount of the sun’s light can still penetrate. This area has proved particularly troublesome for researchers to study, as scientific instruments are typically designed to either sink to the ocean floor or float on the surface. But this elusive region is teeming with ocean life that plays a key role in keeping atmospheric carbon-dioxide (CO2) levels 30 percent lower than it otherwise would be, according to the scientists from NOC. “Just like the plants in your garden, phytoplankton – the plants in the ocean – absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The difference is when these guys sink they can go down into the deep ocean. And then the deep ocean of course isn’t in contact with the air anymore and so it’s captured and it’s stored down there for long periods of time,” ocean biochemist Dr. Stephanie Henson told Reuters, adding that understanding what processes are involved in carbon transport in the ocean could lead to better predictions of global environmental change. Professor Richard Sanders is leading a project to develop a scientific instrument that can gather samples of these organisms. At the NOC headquarters in Southampton, Sanders and his team are testing a device they’ve built called PELAGRA, or the ‘pelagic lagrangian sediment trap’. “This is specifically designed to attack and sample the key unknown part of the ocean; we call it the ‘twilight zone’, where there’s just a little bit of light. So what this does is it samples the bit between about 50 and 500 meters, that’s where a lot of the action is. We’ve got stuff sinking and there’s lots of organisms that live there eating it. And what we want to know is what they’re doing. What this device does is it captures the flux at different depths in that depth range, so we can work out what the organisms that live there are doing,” explained Sanders. PELAGRA’s sediment traps will help scientists calculate the carbon entering the oceans by providing a sample of the volume of sediment that sinks in a given period of time. Known as ‘marine snow’ for its appearance as it falls through the ocean, this sediment consists of flakes of marine detritus – dead plant and animal plankton, and plankton faeces. “Marine snow is composed of dead phytoplankton which sort of clump together to form flakes and then they’re heavy enough to sink down into the deep ocean. It can also be formed of little animals which eat the little plants and then they poop out that carbon, and then their fecal pellets are very heavy and they sink down to the bottom of the ocean, also carrying lots of carbon with them,” said Henson. She added that scientists have known about marine snow as a mechanism for getting carbon out of the atmosphere and down into the ocean for about 50 years, but it’s only recently that technology has evolved to a degree that allows for accurate measurements….

 

 

Warming waters a major factor in the collapse of New England cod

Posted: 29 Oct 2015 12:02 PM PDT

Today, cod stocks are on the verge of collapse, hovering at 3-4 percent of sustainable levels. Even cuts to the fishery have failed to slow this rapid decline, surprising both fishermen and fisheries managers. For the first time, a new report in Science explains why. It shows that rapid warming of Gulf of Maine waters — 99 percent faster than anywhere else on the planet – reduced the capacity of cod to rebound from fishing, leading to collapse….

 

Andrew J. Pershing, Michael A. Alexander, Christina M. Hernandez, Lisa A. Kerr, Arnault Le Bris, Katherine E. Mills, Janet A. Nye, Nicholas R. Record, Hillary A. Scannell, James D. Scott, Graham D. Sherwood, and Andrew C. Thomas. Slow adaptation in the face of rapid warming leads to collapse of the Gulf of Maine cod fishery. Science, 29 October 2015 DOI: 10.1126/science.aac9819

 

The great northern cod comeback [anyone know if this is related to decline in New England?]

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 04:48 AM PDT

Once an icon of overfishing, mismanagement, and stock decline, the northern Atlantic cod is showing signs of recovery according to new research published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. This research, led by Dr. George Rose, tracks what is arguably the most important comeback of any fish stock worldwide. Studying the great northern Atlantic cod stock complex off Newfoundland and Labrador, once considered among the largest cod stocks in the world before its disastrous decline in the 1990s, Dr. Rose documents the stock’s rebound over the past decade from tens of thousands to several hundred thousand tonnes and growing. According to the study, this comeback from commercial extinction has followed three distinct steps:

1. After a decade and a half moratorium on fishing, improved environmental factors resulted in stock rebuilding in the southern Bonavista Corridor spawning-migration route accompanied by increases in size structure and fish condition.

2. Two more northerly routes became populated with a wide size structure of fish.

3. Generation of strong recruitment from all three regions. The stock is positioned for this third and final step.

Dr. Rose credits many equally important yet diversified factors in the continued rebuilding of this stock, “The important take-away from this study is that with favourable environmental conditions, in this case the increase in capelin as a key food for this stock, and a severe reduction of fishing, even the most decimated fish stocks have the potential to recover.” Stressing the importance of responsible management, Dr. Rose continues, “Without a doubt, maintaining low removals of this stock over the past decades has been essential to recovery. While the timing of a full recovery remains uncertain, continued protection from excessive fishing remains essential to achieving that outcome.” While Dr. Rose underscores that neither the full northern cod stock nor the Bonavista Corridor group are fully rebuilt or recovered at this stage, the findings show that the stock is making a strong comeback after nearly two decades of attrition.

 

George A. Rose, Sherrylynn Rowe. Northern cod comeback. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 2015; 1789 DOI: 10.1139/cjfas-2015-0346

 

 

Harmful algal blooms and climate change: Preparing to forecast the future

Posted: 26 Oct 2015 10:21 AM PDT

Marine scientists have warned that the future may bring more harmful algal blooms (HABs) that threaten wildlife and the economy, and called for changes in research priorities to better forecast these long-term trends.

 

Mammal body-size responds to climate change in ancient Wyoming

Posted: 29 Oct 2015 08:22 AM PDT

Evidence from fossils suggests that multiple global warming events, which occurred over 50 million years ago, impacted the evolution of mammals living in ancient Wyoming. Using over seven thousand fossilized teeth, paleontologists found a reduction in body size of mammal populations, hypothesized to be related to warming events.
This work provides a unique glimpse at the long-term impact of climatic change on mammal populations….

 

Worst Climate Threat You Never Heard of Is Stronger Than CO2

Alex Nussbaum
anussbaum1

October 29, 2015 — 5:00 PM PDT Updated on October 30, 2015 — 7:44 AM PDT

  • HFCs are thousands of times stronger than CO2 at trapping heat
  • As envoys debate a phase-out, some countries balk at cost

The biggest global warming battle you’ve never heard of kicks off in Dubai this weekend. Climate negotiators from across the globe will gather in the Persian Gulf city to debate how to get rid of hydrofluorocarbons — a class of hundreds of artificial chemicals used in refrigerators, air-conditioners, fire suppressants and other widely used products. While less common than greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide or methane, HFCs can be thousands of times more potent, pound for pound, at heating up the planet. They’re also gaining in popularity as demand for air conditioning, refrigeration and other services is expected to soar in developing countries in coming decades. The result: HFCs are now the world’s fastest growing greenhouse gases and projected to rise even more in the future. A worldwide agreement coming out of the United Nations-run meeting in Dubai to quickly get rid of HFCs may keep the equivalent of 100 billion tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere by 2050 and avoid a half-degree Celsius of warming by century’s end, proponents say. That’s about a quarter of the 2-degrees Celsius (3.6-degree Fahrenheit) limit that scientists say is needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change. “If we can avoid 100 billion tons and eliminate a half-degree of warming, that’s a pretty good down payment,” said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Washington-based Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. A global deal is proving elusive, however. Poorer countries and those in warmer climates have concerns about the reliability and expense of substitutes, which can cost ten times as much as the climate-threatening chemicals they replace. Advocates fear a new ban may boost the black market for HFCs. Chemical makers including Chemours Co. have found a significant amount of the refrigerants in use in some regions are labeled as the newer, safer products, but are actually older, cheaper products harmful to the environment. “The chemical industry is producing literally hundreds of different kinds of HFC blends,” said Clare Perry, a senior campaigner for the Environmental Investigations Agency, a nonprofit that tracks environmental crime. “The scope for illegal trade is just enormous.”….

 

 

This river is one of a network of thousands at the front line of climate change

GREENLAND IS MELTING AWAY

October 27, 2015 NY TIMES

By Coral Davenport, Josh Haner, Larry Buchanan and Derek Watkins

On the Greenland Ice Sheet — The midnight sun still gleamed at 1 a.m. across the brilliant expanse of the Greenland ice sheet. Brandon Overstreet, a doctoral candidate in hydrology at the University of Wyoming, picked his way across the frozen landscape, clipped his climbing harness to an anchor in the ice and crept toward the edge of a river that rushed downstream toward an enormous sinkhole. If he fell in, “the death rate is 100 percent,” said Mr. Overstreet’s friend and fellow researcher, Lincoln Pitcher. But Mr. Overstreet’s task, to collect critical data from the river, is essential to understanding one of the most consequential impacts of global warming. The scientific data he and a team of six other researchers collect here could yield groundbreaking information on the rate at which the melting of Greenland ice sheet, one of the biggest and fastest-melting chunks of ice on Earth, will drive up sea levels in the coming decades. The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet. “We scientists love to sit at our computers and use climate models to make those predictions,” said Laurence C. Smith, head of the geography department at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the leader of the team that worked in Greenland this summer. “But to really know what’s happening, that kind of understanding can only come about through empirical measurements in the field.” For years, scientists have studied the impact of the planet’s warming on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. But while researchers have satellite images to track the icebergs that break off, and have created models to simulate the thawing, they have little on-the-ground information and so have trouble predicting precisely how fast sea levels will rise…The scientists were excited but anxious as they prepared to travel inland by helicopter to do the fieldwork at the heart of their research: For 72 hours, every hour on the hour, they would stand watch by a supraglacial watershed, taking measurements — velocity, volume, temperature and depth — from the icy bank of the rushing river.

“No one has ever collected a data set like this,” Asa Rennermalm, a professor of geography at the Rutgers University Climate Institute who was running the project with Dr. Smith, told the team over a lunch of musk ox burgers at the Kangerlussuaq airport cafeteria. Taking each measurement was so difficult and dangerous that it would require two scientists at a time, she said. They would have to plan a sleep schedule to ensure that a group was always awake to do the job. Everyone knew the team would be working just upriver from the moulin — the sinkhole that would sweep anyone who fell into it deep into the ice sheet. ….They might even learn, Dr. Smith said, that the water is refreezing within the ice sheet and that sea levels are actually rising more slowly than models project. For three days and three nights, the scientists continued to measure the river, as up to 430,000 gallons of water a minute poured off the ice and into the moulin. On the final morning, the team, tired but elated, gathered by the river as the boogie board made its final trip. By then, Mr. Ryan’s backup drone had safely completed its mapping mission. Mr. Overstreet broke open a celebratory bag of dried mangoes — a lavish treat for the ice campers.

 

Ancient permafrost quickly transforms to carbon dioxide upon thaw

Posted: 26 Oct 2015 02:14 PM PDT

Researchers have quantified how rapidly ancient permafrost decomposes upon thawing and how much carbon dioxide is produced in the process.

 

 

CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos/ThinkProgress

How Washington Transformed Its Dying Oyster Industry Into A Climate Success Story [for now]

by Natasha Geiling Oct 28, 2015 11:07am

….The hatchery was still suffering massive larvae mortality — months where nearly every one of the billions of tiny larvae housed in the hatchery’s vast network died before it could reach maturity. Two-hundred miles up the coast in Shelton, Washington, Bill Dewey was also stumped. As director of public affairs for Taylor Shellfish, the country’s largest producer of farmed shellfish, he couldn’t figure out what was causing the hatchery’s tiny larvae to die in huge numbers….Dick Feely, a senior scientist with NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, was just halfway through the first-ever survey meant to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the surface waters of the Pacific Coast. Already, he could tell from the few samples they had collected that he and his team had the material for a major scientific paper. He called his boss at NOAA to tell him that there was something wrong with the water. It seemed that an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, propelled by the burning of fossil fuels, was also increasing the acidity of the water….

Less than a decade after the small business balanced dangerously on the edge of ruin, the hatchery is surviving. Up at Taylor Shellfish, things are markedly better, too — the company posted record production in 2009. In 2013, the Washington state legislature set aside millions of dollars in the state budget dedicated to combating the problem that Dick Feely and the team of scientists detected so near the coast back in 2007. In recent years, representatives from Washington have traveled around the country and the world, teaching other coastal communities about the dangers of and potential solutions to the increase of acidity in ocean waters caused by the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, also known as ocean acidification.

“It’s one beautiful story of how science and government and industry work together,” Feely said. “This would have never worked out anywhere else, but it works beautifully here.” But as global carbon dioxide emissions continue to pour into the atmosphere — and seep into the water — other states are beginning to face the threat of ocean acidification in their own waters. By the end of the century, under a business-as-usual carbon emissions scenario, some scientists think the acidity of the world’s oceans could double. If that happens, can the Pacific Northwest’s regional success help guide a global fight against the impacts of ocean acidification?…….

….With data coming in daily from the monitoring system, hatcheries were able to install buffer systems — tanks that pump sodium carbonate back into the water to manually raise the concentration of carbonate ions.

“That turned things around almost instantaneously for us in the hatcheries,” Bill Dewey of Taylor Shellfish said. “We went from 75 percent mortality to record production almost overnight.” But while monitoring and buffering helped save the hatcheries from years of dismal production, everyone knew that they were little more than short-term fixes. As the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide continues to increase, the number of favorable days for oyster spawning will continue to decrease, narrowing from 50 percent of the time to only a quarter of the time. “What we’ve got is no doubt a temporary workaround,” Dewey said….

Gregoire convened the country’s first Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification that following year, and asked Manning if he would serve as chair. All the key players — Dick Feely, Bill Dewey, and Burke Hales’ OSU colleague George Walbusser — were joined by more than 20 scientists, industry professionals, and local and national representatives. Many of the politicians on the panel were from conservative, rural districts. They weren’t the poster children of environmental activism, but were willing to participate because the shellfish industry was a crucial economic driver for their districts — and the threat of losing jobs was enough to bring a bipartisan coalition to the table.

“Industry led the charge, and they had really good people doing it who had pre-established political relationships with these relatively conservative representatives,” Manning said. “They were able to convince them that something had to be done and something had to be done quickly.” A year later, the Blue Ribbon Panel produced a lengthy report outlining 42 key early actions that the state could take to combat and adapt to ocean acidification. Shortly thereafter, state senator Kevin Ranker, who represents Orcas Island, set about implementing the recommendations that had come out of the Blue Ribbon Panel. In her parting budget, Gregoire had allotted $3.3 million to address the panel’s top recommendations — Ranker managed to get $1.7 million of that included in the Washington state budget that passed in 2013. That money went towards the creation of the Washington Ocean Acidification Center, based out of the University of Washington, as well as the Marine Resources Advisory Council, a standing committee tasked with advising the state on issues relating to marine resources and ocean acidification. Each year, Ranker continues to include money in the state’s budget dedicated to ocean acidification, and has been able to leverage private money to match the state’s contribution…..

In 2014, Maine became the first East Coast state to establish a commission charged with studying the potential impact of ocean acidification on their commercial industries, notably their lobster fisheries. Throughout the process, the commission looked to Washington for guidance, even designating a subcommittee tasked with reviewing the Washington Blue Ribbon Panel’s work and finding recommendations that could directly translate to Maine. In the end, Maine adopted 23 recommendations outlined in the Washington Blue Ribbon Panel. In February, the commission issued its final report, outlining six steps that the state should take to combat ocean acidification.

Devin is also hoping to pass two bills this upcoming session that take a page out of Washington’s playbook: One would create an ocean acidification monitoring system, the other would establish a coordinating council to ensure the state continues to work toward understanding and mitigating ocean acidification.

…”Human beings have a choice to make, and that choice is are we going to do something about this now, and preserve what we have, or are we just going to burn everything and see what happens,” Feely said. “That’s all our choice, and we have to collectively come to that decision.” If that doesn’t happen, scientists like Feely and Alin worry that oyster larvae might just be the beginning — scientists at NOAA are beginning to look into how ocean acidification might impact other marine organisms, like pteropods, tiny marine butterflies that are the primary source of food for juvenile salmon during their first year. Preliminary studies have shown that increased acidity in ocean waters can literally eat away at a pteropod’s shell, endangering a critical part of the marine food web. Scientists like Alin are also trying to understand how ocean acidification interacts with things like algae blooms and dead zones, and whether acidification or temperature increase could ramp up the toxicity of potentially harmful blooms….

 

 

 

 

Pilgrims in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in September. A new study predicts heat and humidity levels “intolerable to humans.” Credit Ahmad Masood/Reuters

‘Intolerable’ Heat May Hit the Middle East by the End of the Century

By JOHN SCHWARTZ NY Times October 26, 2015

By the end of this century, areas of the Persian Gulf could be hit by waves of heat and humidity so severe that simply being outside for several hours could threaten human life, according to a study published Monday. Because of humanity’s contribution to climate change, the authors wrote, some population centers in the Middle East “are likely to experience temperature levels that are intolerable to humans.” The dangerously muggy summer conditions predicted for places near the warm waters of the gulf could overwhelm the ability of the human body to reduce its temperature through sweating and ventilation. That threatens anyone without air-conditioning, including the poor, but also those who work outdoors in professions like agriculture and construction. The paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, was written by Jeremy S. Pal of the department of civil engineering and environmental science at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Elfatih A. B. Eltahir of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Previous studies had suggested that such conditions might be reached within 200 years. But the new research, which depends on climate models that focus on regional topography and conditions, foresees a shorter timeline. The researchers resolve the old argument over whether the source of summer misery is the heat or the humidity by saying that it is both. They rely on a method of measuring atmospheric conditions known as wet-bulb temperature, which, while less well known and understood than the standard method of measuring temperatures, describes the extent to which evaporation and ventilation can reduce an object’s temperature.
A wet-bulb thermometer has, literally, a wet bulb: It is wrapped in a moistened cloth. If the wet-bulb temperature is 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius), even a person drenched in sweat cannot cool off.
Wet-bulb readings are not the same as the heat-index measurements used by the National Weather Service, Dr. Eltahir said. (This is the figure used by weather forecasters to say what a hot day “feels like” when the humidity is added.) A wet-bulb measure of 95 degrees Fahrenheit, he estimated, would roughly translate to a heat-index reading of 165 degrees.
Since even today’s heat waves cause premature deaths by the thousands, mainly affecting very young, elderly and infirm people, the more extreme conditions envisioned in the new paper “would probably be intolerable even for the fittest of humans, resulting in hyperthermia” after six hours of exposure.…

If the nations of the world reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions, the authors concluded, the predicted disasters can be prevented: “Such efforts applied at the global scale would significantly reduce the severity of the projected impacts.”

An essay published with the new paper by Christoph Schär of the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science at ETH Zurich said the message of the new research is clear. “The threats to human health may be much more severe than previously thought, and may occur in the current century,” he wrote. A heat wave in July of this year got very close to the 95-degree wet-bulb threshold described by the authors, reaching about 94.3 degrees. “It is credible that it will sometimes rise above 35 °C within this century,” he wrote….

…Steven Sherwood, a researcher whose work in 2010 suggested that parts of the world could become uninhabitable within 200 years if fossil-fuel burning continued unabated, said he saw no reason to doubt the results of the new study. However, he added that “we really need to learn how to improve these models” to build confidence in the results. Still, he said he was startled by the prediction that many cities on the Persian Gulf coast could be essentially uninhabitable by the end of the century for those without air-conditioning. “That is truly shocking,” he wrote in an email exchange, and added that he found it ironic, “given the region’s importance in providing fossil fuels.”

 

 

Future temperature in southwest Asia projected to exceed a threshold for human adaptability

Jeremy S. Pal & Elfatih A. B. Eltahir Nature Climate Change (2015) doi:10.1038/nclimate2833 Published online 26 October 2015

 

 

Asia’s coasts to experience most extreme weather

Posted: 21 Oct 2015 07:49 AM PDT

Over the next 50 years, people living at low altitudes in developing countries, particularly those in coastal Asia, will suffer the most from extreme weather patterns, according to researchers.

 

A transmission electron microscopy image of cells from a mutant version of an Arabidopsis plant. Researchers found that the plant’s cells can destroy damaged individual structures that help the plant grow. Credit Salk Institute


Plants Manage Cellular Damage Related to Weather

By SINDYA N. BHANOO NY Times October 26, 2015

Plants rid their cells of individual chloroplasts damaged by heat and drought, scientists find.

 

 

Seed Sourcing for Restoration in an Era of Climate Change

Kayri Havens1,2 , Pati Vitt1 , Shannon Still1 , Andrea T. Kramer1 , Jeremie B. Fant1 and Katherine Schatz1 Natural Areas Journal 35(1):122-133. 2015 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3375/043.035.0116

ABSTRACT:

Proper sourcing of seed for ecological restoration has never been straightforward, and it is becoming even more challenging and complex as the climate changes. For decades, restoration practitioners have subscribed to the “local is best” tenet, even if the definition of “local” was often widely divergent between projects. However, given our increasing ability to characterize habitats, and rapid climate change, we can no longer assume that locally sourced seeds are always the best or even an appropriate option. We discuss how plants are responding to changing climates through plasticity, adaptation, and migration, and how this may influence seed sourcing decisions. We recommend focusing on developing adequate supplies of “workhorse” species, undertaking more focused collections in both “bad” years and “bad” sites to maximize the potential to be able to adapt to extreme conditions as well as overall genetic diversity, and increasing seed storage capacity to ensure we have seed available as we continue to conduct research to determine how best to deploy it in a changing climate

 

 

AFP/AFP/File – Researchers reported October 28, 2015 that habitats for some of the rarest birds in the Hawaiian islands (pictured: the city of Honolulu on Oahu) are being destroyed by a warming climate, which helps avian diseases spread.

Climate change to shrink habitat for rarest Hawaii birds

By AFP | AFP – 23 hours ago

By the end of this century, a warming climate may wipe out available habitat for some of Hawaii’s rarest birds, researchers warned on Wednesday. The future is particularly dire for certain species living in high elevations, said the study, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. The yellow honeycreeper known as ‘Akeke’e, the gray Akikiki bird and a rare songbird known as Puaiohi could lose all of their current range, said the study. Three others, including the Maui parrotbill, the tiny orange honeycreeper known as ‘Akepa and the crested honeycreeper ‘Akohekohe, could lose around 90 percent of their range. “As dire as these findings are, they do not mean that these bird species are doomed,” said the study’s lead author Lucas Fortini, a research ecologist with the US Geological Survey. “Instead, our findings indicate what may happen if nothing is done to address the primary drivers of decline: disease spreading uphill into the few remaining refuges.” Researchers say the most vulnerable birds have been able to survive in Hawaii’s higher elevation forests, where cooler temperatures tend to keep away mosquitos that carry diseases, like avian malaria.

In the future, conservation efforts must include interrupting “the cycle of malaria transmission and mortality” over the long-term, the study said. “Such actions could include vector control and genetic modification of both birds and mosquitos.”

 

 

 

 

CREDIT: Climate Interactive The world had been on a path toward 900 ppm of CO2 in the air by 2100. Commitments made by major countries to cut or constrain CO2 emissions through 2030 — Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) — would put us on a sharply lower trajectory. To avoid catastrophic impacts, however, we will need much stronger commitments post-2030.

Elevated CO2 Levels Directly Affect Human Cognition, New Harvard Study Shows

by Joe Romm Oct 26, 2015 10:05am

In a landmark public health finding, a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health finds that carbon dioxide (CO2) has a direct and negative impact on human cognition and decision-making. These impacts have been observed at CO2 levels that most Americans — and their children — are routinely exposed to today inside classrooms, offices, homes, planes, and cars. Carbon dioxide levels are inevitably higher indoors than the baseline set by the outdoor air used for ventilation, a baseline that is rising at an accelerating rate thanks to human activity, especially the burning of fossil fuels. So this seminal research has equally great importance for climate policy, providing an entirely new public health impetus for keeping global CO2 levels as low as possible. In a series of articles, I will examine the implications for public health both today (indoors) as well as in the future (indoors and out) due to rising CO2 levels. This series is the result of a year-long investigation for Climate Progress and my new Oxford University Press book coming out next week, “Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know.” This investigative report is built on dozens of studies and literature reviews as well as exclusive interviews with many of the world’s leading experts in public health and indoor air quality, including authors of both studies.

What scientists have discovered about the impact of elevated carbon dioxide levels on the brain

Significantly, the Harvard study confirms the findings of a little-publicized 2012 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) study, “Is CO2 an Indoor Pollutant? Direct Effects of Low-to-Moderate CO2 Concentrations on Human Decision-Making Performance.” That study found “statistically significant and meaningful reductions in decision-making performance” in test subjects as CO2 levels rose from a baseline of 600 parts per million (ppm) to 1000 ppm and 2500 ppm.

The impact of fossil fuels and modern buildings on human cognition

For most of human evolution and modern history, CO2 levels in the air were in a fairly narrow and low range of 180 to 280 parts per million. Also, during the vast majority of that time, humans spent most of their time outdoors or in enclosures that were open (like a cave). Even once humans built dwellings, those were not tightly sealed as modern buildings are. So even though we generate and breathe out CO2, homo sapiens were not generally exposed to high, sustained CO2 levels.

CO2 concentrations over the last 400,000 years CREDIT: Wikipedia

But in recent decades, outdoor CO2 levels have risen sharply, to a global average of 400 ppm. Moreover, measured outdoor CO2 levels in major cities from Phoenix to Rome can be many tens of ppm higher — up to 100 ppm or more — than the global average. That’s because CO2 “domes” form over many cities primarily due to CO2 emissions from traffic and local weather conditions. The outdoor CO2 level is the baseline for indoor levels. In buildings — the places where most people work and live — CO2 concentrations are considerably higher than outdoors. CO2 levels indoors that are 200 ppm to 400 ppm higher than outdoors are commonplace — not surprising since the design standard for CO2 levels in most buildings is 1000 ppm….…Interestingly, the authors of all of these studies — the direct CO2 studies and the CO2-as-a-proxy-for-ventilation studies — are generally public health researchers focused on indoor environmental quality (IEQ). As a result, their published work does not examine the implications these findings have for climate policy.

The risks of doing nothing

But the implications for climate policy are stark. We are at 400 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 today outdoors globally — and tens of ppm higher in many major cities. We are rising at a rate of 2+ ppm a year, a rate that is accelerating. Significantly, we do not know the threshold at which CO2 levels begin to measurably impact human cognition….Loftness draws two key conclusions from these studies, her own work, and the vast database of scientific literature she has surveyed.

First, the immediate public health message is to increase ventilation and the use of outside air in buildings.

And second:

We have to do everything we can to keep outdoor CO2 levels below 600 ppm because something serious starts happening then.

Researchers at Climate Interactive put together a chart of where CO2 levels headed as we head into the crucial Paris climate talks in December [see chart above]. Commitments made by major countries to cut or constrain CO2 emissions through 2030 — Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) — would put us on a sharply lower trajectory. To avoid catastrophic impacts, however, we will need much stronger commitments post-2030. Success at Paris, as I have written, would buy us 5 to 10 years in the fight to avoid catastrophe. But we would still be on a path to 675 ppm, which is too high for both the climate change impacts and the direct human cognition impacts. Worse, that level of warming will likely trigger many major carbon-cycle amplifying feedbacks that are not included in the climate models, such as permafrost melting. So we must take stronger action. On the immediate public health front, we need to start monitoring indoor CO2 more closely and keep inside levls as close as possible to levels outdoors through greater use of outside air. According to the building design experts I have interviewed, such as Dr. Loftness, that can be done without increases in building energy consumption using cost-effective strategies and technologies available today. Indeed, systematic green design will lower total energy consumption. I will examine these design strategies later in this series.

 

 

 

Photo: Bruce Chambers, Associated Press The 1998 El Niño rains caused severe floods in the state, inclu ding this street in the Orange County town of Laguna Beach.

Restored wetlands and the floods in our future

By Andrew Gunther Andrew Gunther is the executive coordinator of the Bay Area Ecosystem Climate Change Consortium. He is joined in this opinion by other members of the Baylands Goals Steering Committee, which represents 21 nonprofits and agencies, including Beth Huning, coordinator of San Francisco Bay Joint Venture.

October 24, 2015 Updated: October 26, 2015 11:02am

Despite the drought, now is the time to increase public support for flood protection efforts. One key to that is restoring our wetlands. The effect of El Niño and rising seas require the Bay Area to be prepared for flooding this winter and in the decades to come. Restored wetlands will provide vital protection from future damage. We’ve been spared from violent storms such as Hurricane Patricia that just hammered Mexico. But our homes, businesses, highways, railroads, airports, groundwater basins, sewage treatment plants and other vital resources for the region’s 7 million inhabitants are at risk. Even facilities on higher ground are vulnerable because many are linked economically to resources that are threatened. The Bay Area Council conservatively estimates $10 billion in damages from a single major storm. The risk we face has many sources. Extreme storms, such as those driven by El Niño, produce intense rainfall that strains our aging flood control infrastructure. Global warming is heating up the ocean and melting glaciers and ice sheets, causing the water level of San Francisco Bay to rise at an accelerating rate. Prior to 2000, we lost 85 percent of the bay wetlands (marshes and mudflats) that once buffered our shorelines from storm surges and high tides. In recent decades, the supply of silt that nourished and maintained our wetlands has declined dramatically. We can reduce the risk. A landmark report from more than 200 scientists and other experts recently produced a set of recommendations on how. The report (www.baylandsgoals.org) urges Bay Area leaders to build on previous efforts and accelerate progress toward the long-standing goal of restoring 100,000 acres of bay wetlands. By restoring these natural systems, we take advantage of “natural engineering” to protect our communities from floods. The proposed solutions also create public recreation areas and abundant wildlife habitat, filter bay water and preserve the iconic beauty that contributes to our quality of life and our tourist economy.
To achieve this goal, we must use silt to build up our wetlands over time as sea level rises. We can use the silt dredged from ports, flood-control channels and construction projects (when not polluted), to nourish wetlands growth. We can improve the natural flows of silt our streams deliver to the shore by considering our regional lands as one system from the hills to the bay, coordinating the activities of cities, counties and special districts. But we must act quickly. Restored, healthy wetlands must be secured by 2030, before sea level rise accelerates, or the wetlands will not keep pace as bay waters rise. In places where wetlands cannot provide the full solution, levees and sea walls will be necessary, either alone or in combination with wetlands. Just as we have used our knowledge and foresight to make investments that reduce our vulnerability to earthquakes, we must also take action to address larger floods. We can do so using an innovative approach that generates multiple benefits, and provides a global example of how a coastal urban region can tackle climate change, extreme weather and rising seas. Scientists have provided guidance. Now we need the political leadership to act.

 

 

 

DROUGHT:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drought-driven salmon deaths could have far-reaching impact

Drought-driven salmon deaths could have far-reaching impact

By Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Updated 7:46 am, Thursday, October 29, 2015

One of the last wild runs of chinook salmon in California is sinking fast amid the four-year drought and now appears perilously close to oblivion after the federal agency in charge of protecting marine life documented the death of millions of young fish and eggs in the Sacramento River. The National Marine Fisheries Service reported Wednesday that 95 percent of the winter-run chinook eggs, hatchlings and juvenile salmon died this year in the river, which was too warm to support them despite conservation efforts. It was the second year in a row that most of the juvenile salmon died in the soupy water released from Shasta Dam, failing to make it to the ocean. The situation could have far-reaching effects, leading to cuts in water allotments to farmers next year if projected rains and a strong snowpack don’t erase drought deficits this winter. Commercial and recreational fishing limits could be imposed to protect the endangered chinook population, taking a toll on those industries. “Certainly there is cause for alarm when we are talking about 95 percent mortality,” said Garwin Yip, the branch chief for water operations and delta consultations for the fisheries service. “We think it is temperature-related.”

The problem was caused by a lack of snow this year on top of four years of drought. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Yip said, was left without enough cold water behind Shasta Dam to release during spawning season. Chinook, also known as king salmon, are born in the Sacramento River and pass through San Francisco Bay. They roam the Pacific Ocean as far away as Alaska before returning three years later to spawn. There are three distinct runs of salmon — winter, spring and late fall, which is what West Coast fishers catch in the ocean. The winter and spring-run chinook salmon are listed under the state and federal endangered species acts. The winter run has been endangered since 1994. The fisheries service worked with two state agencies, the Department of Water Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, to develop an elaborate plan this year to regulate cold-water releases from Shasta Dam.

Resource officials are required by law to release enough cold water to keep the Sacramento River at 56 degrees — the ideal temperature for fish. In a bid to meet that requirement, federal officials sharply limited flows and delayed water deliveries to hundreds of Central Valley farmers.

Failed plan

The problem, Yip said, was that “there wasn’t as much cold water as anticipated and the water wasn’t as cold as we thought it was going to be.” The lack of cold water forced regulators to come up with a new temperature management plan, this one allowing the water to warm up to 57 degrees. But it didn’t work, and water temperatures, at times, rose to 58 degrees, he said. As a result, the number of juvenile fish counted this month at the Red Bluff diversion dam, downstream of Shasta, was down 22 percent compared with last year, which was also a bad year. That’s despite the fact that there were 21 percent more adult fish laying eggs in the river, Yip said. Two months remain in this year’s run, but the number of juvenile fish is unlikely to grow much beyond the 217,489 counted so far….

 

 


March 31, 2011 (download large image) compared to March 31, 2015 (download large image)

Earth Observatory’s World of Change: Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada

October 27, 2015 NASA

Sierra Nevada is a Spanish name that means “snowy mountain range.” While the term “snowy” has generally been true for most of American history, the mountain range has seen far less snow accumulation in recent years. The depth and breadth of the seasonal snowpack in any given year depends on whether a winter is wet or dry. Wet winters tend to stack up a deep snowpack, while dry ones keep it shallow. These images show the snowpack on the Sierra Nevada amid the wet year of 2011 (top) and the dry year of 2015 (bottom).
They were acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Turn on the image comparison tool to see the difference in the snowpack. Both images were acquired on March 31, about halfway through the water year. A “water year” is the 12-month period from October 1 through September 30. The snowpack on the Sierra Nevada has generally peaked and begins to melt by the beginning of April. Meltwater runoff from that snowpack helps replenish rivers and reservoirs while recharging the groundwater. The wet year of 2011 buffered the initial effects of drought that returned in 2012, but dry conditions deepened in subsequent years. By March 2015, about one-third of the ground-based monitoring sites in the Sierra Nevada recorded the lowest snowpack ever measured. Some sites reported no snow for the first time. One month later, only some sites—generally those at higher elevations—had any measureable snowpack. Scientists from the University of Arizona wrote in a September 2015 article in Nature Climate Change that the low snowpack conditions of 2015 were truly extraordinary. Tree-ring records of precipitation anomalies and of temperature allowed them to reconstruct a 500-year history of snow water equivalent in the Sierra Nevada. The researchers found that the low snowpack of April 2015 was “unprecedented in the context of the past 500 years.

 

A helicopter suspending a large loop of electrical equipment to measure the conductivity of underground soils. This approach called SkyTEM, for transient electromagnetism, will be used to build a colorful, three-dimensional model of an aquifer a thousand feet under the surface of California’s central valley farms. Photo taken Oct. 27, 2015 at the Visalia Airport. (Lisa Krieger/Bay Area News Group)

Stanford project maps underground water

By Lisa M. Krieger, lkrieger@mercurynews.com Posted: 10/29/15, 7:47 PM PDT | Updated: 7 hrs ago

TULARE >> In the drought-ravaged Central Valley, scientists are using a new imaging technology to find ancient worlds of trapped water, hidden hundreds of feet underground. The Stanford University-led project, the first of its type in California, is aimed at taking the guesswork out of well drilling — and guiding restoration of precious groundwater supplies once winter rains start soaking the state. “Medical imaging has revolutionized our approach to human health. This lets us do the same thing for groundwater, probing very deep,” said Stanford geophysicist Rosemary Knight, who is leading the effort. This week, a helicopter swept 60 linear miles of parched fields in the Tulare Irrigation District in one of the most arid regions of California. By suspending a large hexagonal array of electrical equipment, the technology located patches of underground sand, gravel, clay and water by measuring the differences in their conductivity. The low-flying helicopter system sent an electromagnetic pulse, about the same strength as that emitted by a cellphone, which then traveled into the Earth’s subsurface and returned to be measured by instruments on the helicopter. The data will be used to build a colorful three-dimensional map of the ground that identifies the regions of differing soils and water. While the technology, owned by a Danish company called SkyTEM, has been widely used in oil, gas and mineral exploration in California, it has never been used to survey the state’s other huge natural resource: groundwater. Scientists hope the tool can build a picture of what’s underneath not only Tulare County’s dusty soils, but also California’s 20 other stressed water basins

 

 


Farmers near Sacramento River save water for winter birds

By Heather Hacking, Chico Enterprise-Record Posted: 10/29/15, 5:33 PM PDT | Updated: 10 hrs ago

Willows >> Nothing has been normal when it comes to water supplies over the past several years.

Normally, rice farmers in the Sacramento Valley have access to water in the late fall and early winter to flood their fields after harvest. Right now, migrating waterfowl are looking for wet places to land and feed. Drought, however, means less winter water available for fields and less water for those hungry birds. This week, several Sacramento River farm water districts finalized a deal with the federal Bureau of Reclamation to use water later in the year, to provide water for birds in November. The water is left over from the growing season and normally would need to have been used by October, when the contracts for the water season end. Usually, these same growers would have additional water to flood land during the winter months, but that water has been cut off this year due to the extended drought. Over the growing season, some farmers used wells on their property. Many others saved as much water as they could through summer. Also, some land was not planted.

The result is that about 50,000 acre-feet of water had not been used by the end of the growing season. The water districts asked the Bureau if that water could be used in November through Dec. 10 when there would be the greatest benefit to birds. Of the eight districts, the largest allocation will go to the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, 24,370 acre-feet. Others include the Princeton-Codora-Glenn Irrigation District (3,249 acre-feet) and Provident Irrigation District (5,280 acre-feet).

One acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons, enough to fill an acre of land a foot deep with water. Bird groups, including Audubon California, California Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited and the Nature Conservancy, lauded the plan to delay the use of the 50,000 acre-feet of water.
Refuges in Northern California had their water cut back 25 percent his year, and about 20 percent less rice was planted, a letter of support from the bird groups states. Before the drought, about 300,000 acres of land was flooded for birds. Only about 100,000 acres of that rice land is expected to be wet this year, the letter continues.
Right now, birds are in large numbers on refuges, said Lewis Bair, manager of Reclamation District 108, based in Grimes southwest of Yuba City. The best time to use that leftover 50,000 acre-feet of water is going to be in November, Bair said. Normally, the irrigation districts would need to use the water now. Farmers, in fact, prefer to use the water now when it’s warm. The warm water helps speed up the decomposition of rice straw. With water limited, “We’ve been working with (groups) and saying what’s the best time to deliver that water for birds. It would be mid-November,” Bair said. If it rains, even better, he said.

 

 

Governor Brown Takes Action to Protect Communities Against Unprecedented Tree Die-Off

Dead Tree Removal Strategy– see letter here

October 30, 2015
Maven
Uncategorized

From the Office of the Governor:

As record drought conditions exacerbate bark beetle infestation that is killing tens of millions of trees across California, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today declared a state of emergency and sought federal action to help mobilize additional resources for the safe removal of dead and dying trees. “California is facing the worst epidemic of tree mortality in its modern history,” said Governor Brown in a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “A crisis of this magnitude demands action on all fronts.” Four years of drought have made trees in many regions of California susceptible to infestation by native bark beetles, which are normally constrained by the defense mechanisms of healthy trees. The United States Forest Service recently estimated that more than 22 million trees have already died in California due to current conditions. The tree die-off is of such a scale that it significantly worsens wildfire risk in many areas of the state and presents life safety risks from falling trees to Californians living in rural, forested communities. Several counties have declared local state of emergencies due to this epidemic tree mortality. The Governor’s state of emergency proclamation on the tree mortality epidemic builds on the April 2014 executive order to redouble the state’s drought response, which included provisions to expedite the removal of dead and dying hazardous trees.
Today’s proclamation helps identify high hazard zones for wildfire and falling trees that have resulted from the unprecedented die-off and prioritizes tree removal in these areas. It also calls for state agencies to take several actions to enable removal of hazard trees. Governor Brown’s letter to Secretary Vilsack requests urgent federal action, including additional technical assistance for private land owners, matching federal funding and expedited approval for emergency actions on federal lands. In addition, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and CAL FIRE are convening a Task Force on Tree Mortality comprised of state and federal agencies, local governments and utilities that will coordinate emergency protective actions and monitor ongoing conditions. The Governor’s state of emergency proclamation on the tree mortality epidemic can be found here and his letter to Secretary Vilsack can be found here.

 

 

Signs along River road on the Delta waters of the Sacramento River, Calif., as seen on Wednesday July 30, 2014 near Rio Vista, Calif. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Proposed bay delta tunnels will let in even more saltwater

By Gary Bobker and Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla — Gary Bobker is the rivers and delta program director for the Bay Institute. Barbara Barrigan- Parrilla is the executive director of Restore the Delta.

October 26, 2015 SF Chronicle OpEd

Whether walking the dog or riding a ferry full of awestruck tourists, every day Bay Area residents experience a national treasure — the San Francisco Bay Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. Many bay delta fish and wildlife species and habitats depend on the right mix of salty and freshwater to thrive. But too much saltwater is creeping east into the estuary as river flows are diverted for urban and agricultural use. As sea levels rise with climate change, the problem will get worse. Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed delta tunnels would grab up to half of the flow of the Sacramento River, water desperately needed to keep the ecosystem healthy. Encroaching saltwater is the enemy of a healthy estuary, drinking water supplies and the $5.2 billion delta farm economy.

From the Golden Gate Bridge to Sacramento’s Tower Bridge to Weber Park in Stockton, the bay delta estuary supports the largest nursery for California fisheries and the largest Pacific Coast stop for migrating waterfowl. The bay delta also provides recreation, fishing, boating, tourism and more than 500,000 acres of California prime farmland. The region is home to 15 million people. This July, with the drought in its fourth summer, state water officials said they were “struggling” to keep saltwater from pushing further inland. The state installed a $40 million pile of rocks called the False River Dam to keep saltwater back. Freshwater flowing through the bay delta would have kept the saltwater from intruding.
To increase water deliveries to Central Valley farms, officials have used “emergency declarations” 15 times over the past three years to waive clean water standards, pushing native fish species closer to extinction than ever before. So why dig two new 40-foot diameter tunnels under the delta to suck even more freshwater out of the system? The tunnels will degrade water quality for people, who live in or visit the bay delta, as well as endangered species and habitats. Gov. Brown is committed to reducing California’s carbon footprint, so why is he proposing to expand our water footprint by increasing dependence elsewhere in the state on imported delta water? The Delta Independent Science Board recently found the tunnel project’s Environmental Impact Report inadequate. “The Current Draft … lacks completeness and clarity in applying science to far-reaching policy decisions.” Instead of spending $15 billion to build the delta tunnels to send more Sacramento River water to grow almonds and hay for export, we should invest in projects that promote groundwater recharge, storm water capture, water recycling and an expansion of urban conservation projects that worked so well this year. In 1982, the Peripheral Canal, which also sought to take more water from the delta and ship it south, was defeated by voters. But the public will not get to vote on the delta tunnels. Our only chance to speak up is by commenting on the delta tunnels environmental impact report by Friday. One cannot hope to maintain a healthy estuary by taking more freshwater out of an already struggling habitat. With the effects of climate change increasing each year, we should protect the many benefits this estuary provides for humans and the environment. Draining the bay delta of water — and life — is not the way to do it.

 

 

Almond Industry and Sustainable Conservation Launch New Partnership to Explore Almond Acreage Groundwater Recharge Potential

MODESTO, Calif., Oct. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — The Almond Board of California and Sustainable Conservation, a conservation nonprofit that unites people to steward California’s resources in ways that make economic sense, today announced a new partnership focused on exploring the potential of California’s one million acres of almond orchards for groundwater recharge. The partnership launches just as California is entering a much-anticipated El Niño year, which could bring an exceptionally wet winter.
Groundwater recharge returns water to underground aquifers, collectively California’s largest water storage system, through managed flooding with seasonal floodwaters. The partnership between Sustainable Conservation and the Almond Board marks the first concerted effort to increase groundwater recharge on almond farmland. With a long track record of working hand in hand with California farmers to promote environmental solutions that work economically, Sustainable Conservation has been partnering with growers on field trials to accelerate groundwater recharge on agricultural lands in the San Joaquin Valley. For more than 20 years, the Almond Board has funded several research projects to understand water movement in the soil, and preserve and improve groundwater quality.  “Leveraging almond acreage for groundwater recharge has the potential to benefit the entire Central Valley,” said Ashley Boren, Executive Director of Sustainable Conservation. “Once a farmer utilizes his or her land to return water to the aquifer, it serves the greater community, not just that farmer. Maximizing the capture of excess flood flows during wet years replenishes groundwater supplies for use during dry years, while also reducing downstream flood risk.”

“Groundwater has always been a vital resource for all Californians, and has played a critical role in maintaining California’s economic and environmental sustainability through the years,” said Richard Waycott, President and CEO of the Almond Board. “The Almond Board will identify farmers who are already using or are interested in trying groundwater recharge to join the Sustainable Conservation program. This partnership is complemented by Almond Board-funded research with the University of California, Davis to understand the orchard health impact of applying excess water to almond trees.” While the ongoing drought continues to impact everyone across California, the California Almond industry has focused decades of investment in research and improved production practices to protect California’s valuable natural resources. Through nearly 100 innovative Almond Board-funded research projects since 1994, almond growers have incorporated state-of-the-art, research-proven irrigation practices that reduced the amount of water needed to grow each pound of almonds by 33 percent[1]. …

 

 

 The Rain Maker uses heat to create water vapor that it distills into freshwater, top, and at scale, bottom, could remedy California’s drought. Photo: Courtesy of Billions in Change

This billionaire wants to solve California’s water problem

by Brittany Shoot October 29, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

Manoj Bhargava, the man behind 5-Hour Energy, believes his affordable desalination technology can equally help wealthy Californians and poor Indians. If rain doesn’t arrive soon, speculators will start taking bets on whether California can survive what has already been a devastating four-year drought. Many hope that El Niño storms will help replenish groundwater reserves. Relocating millions of people has been floated as a last resort. But Manoj Bhargava prefers to make his bet—one worth an estimated $4 billion, thanks to 5-Hour Energy, his smash-success energy drink—on his own innovations. Bhargava’s bottled beverage is ubiquitous, but his name is mostly unknown. Yet for the past several years the self-effacing CEO has been quietly pouring most of his wealth into radical, home-brewed solutions through Stage 2 Innovations, his investment fund. Tucked away in a sprawling R&D facility in the tony Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills are solutions that, Bhargava says, will solve the planet’s most pressing resource scarcities. Take the Rain Maker, a desalination unit roughly the size of a flatbed truck that relies on a conventional power source to distill seawater into freshwater well beyond Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. A single Rain Maker can be placed in a town with a wastewater plant. In a crisis, hundreds could be stacked on an ocean barge to process seawater.
Coastal desalination facilities typically cost billions to construct and require massive amounts of energy. Could the Rain Maker, produced at industrial scale, pull California back from the brink of disaster? The forecast looks promising. Regulators at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility, a testing facility administered in New Mexico by the Department of the Interior, have given it a stamp of approval….

 

 

Beverly Hills, 3 other suppliers fined over water use

Los Angeles Times | October 30, 2015 | 12:01 PM

The city of Beverly Hills and three other water suppliers face financial penalties for falling short of state water conservation mandates, officials said today. Statewide, Californians cut their urban water use in September by 26.1% compared with the same month in 2013, regulators said, but still in line with Gov. Jerry Brown’s order that cities and towns slash water consumption by 25% amid a four-year drought….

 

 

Water pipe on Richmond Bridge from Contra Costa to Marin County during 1977 drought. Photo by MMWD – found on KQED

Writer Peter Anderson Remembers Gov. Brown’s Rain Drum -1977 Drought Solution!!

Marin NostalgiaPeter Anderson

In Marin, it was horrible. Nobody could water their lawns or gardens. Showers were severely limited. Fines were heavy if you exceeded your rationed amount. Neighbors sometimes stole from neighbors by hitching their hoses to next door. Swimming pools went empty. Dishes and silverware never looked totally clean. It was a downer. In late 1977, I was writing for a Marin weekly, Pacific Sun, as their Sacramento correspondent. I scored a real coup by interviewing Jerry Brown, who was in the third year of his first term as Governor. The morning of the interview, I was ushered into his private office. He was seated on a white sofa. Above him on the wall was the famous “Whole Earth” painting by his friend Steward Brand. On the coffee table was a drum, and Brown, knowing I was from Marin, was beating the drum and humming for rain. He explained that an Indian friend of his from Marin had given him the drum and exhorted him to use it as a drought-buster. Two weeks later, right around the time my cover story/interview came out, the Marin drought ended!
Next time I ran into the Governor, drinking beer and playing Liar’s Dice at David’s Brass Rail, I commented on the timing. He merely grinned, and said, “What else did you expect? Miracles happen.” By the way, what a lot of people don’t recall is that Marin was absolutely bone dry, and, at the midnight hour, the head of the Water District, a no-B.S. guy named Dietrich Stroeh, got a pipeline built across the San Rafael-Richmond Bridge in record time, shaming bureaucracies infamous for massive consumption of time. He got it done in less than a month. There was a vacant right lane on the top level of the bridge, and pipe was laid from the Contra Costa Water Agency all the way into the entrance of Marin near San Quentin. It literally saved Marin County. Sadly and stupidly, the pipeline was taken down a few years ago. Now we are up against it again. Stroeh has written a wonderful book explaining his heroism. I did early research for the first few drafts of his book — it is called “The Man Who Made It Rain.” It can be found on Amazon. People, start banging your drums. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Point Blue file photo.

California Seeks to Base Future Growth on Climate Change Adaptation

The Safeguarding California report calls on state agencies to take action to help the state adapt to a hotter climate.

Ben Miller | October 27, 2015

If climate change scenarios plotted out through scientific research come to fruition, California faces a future of flood and fire. The problems inherent in rising temperatures and sea levels in the state are vast — cities at risk for partial submersion underwater, an agriculture industry battling a rising number of pests and a shrinking amount of water, forests dying and providing kindling for wildfires, and hotter days ramping up the incidence of heat stroke. It’s a lot for a state to deal with, and for that reason, California has begun to work climate adaptation into its plans for growing and governing in the future. At the direction of Gov. Jerry Brown, the Natural Resources Agency put out a report, Safeguarding California: Implementation Action Plans, on Oct. 9. The document is aimed at sizing up the scope of potential problems and identifying agencies and organizations that can help, and rounding up potential solutions. Through a variety of mechanisms — grant money handed out for climate-conscious projects and requirements that governments plan to adapt to climate changes, for example — the plan aims to begin preparing the state for climate changes. The agency presented the draft report at public hearings in Sacramento and Los Angeles on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. A big focus at the Los Angeles meeting was on the need for adaptation to come from all sides — that is, many different groups need to be preparing for the effects of global warming, and many of the solutions they come up with can be used to address multiple problems. The report covers agriculture, ocean management, wildlife preservation, forestry, emergency management, urban planning and other sectors of governance. “It’s probably the most comprehensive adaptation strategy in the country,” said JR DeLaRosa, special assistant for climate at the Natural Resources Agency, during the Los Angeles hearing. As a result of the plan, climate adaptation could influence things like how the state builds roads, where it places affordable housing and how it farms the land…..

 

 


Governments to raise $22 billion from carbon pricing in 2015: report

October 29, 2015 Reuters LONDON

Governments around the world will this year raise around $22 billion from schemes putting a price on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions such as taxes or emissions trading systems, a report on Wednesday showed. The role of carbon pricing, in efforts to curb rising emissions blamed for global warming, has gained prominence this year after several multinational companies including oil majors said such a price is needed to spur investment in low-carbon energy. The figure is up 46 percent from an estimated $15 billion raised in 2014, the report by industry group the Climate Markets and Investment Association (CMIA) showed. “Revenues from carbon pricing appear likely to continue to increase around the world, and continuing debate will be needed about how these funds should best be used in future,” it said. Europe, which has an emissions trading system (ETS) as well as carbon taxes in some countries, accounted for almost three quarters of the revenue, the report said…

 

 

 


ZERO WASTE IS A LOCAL SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE

We use a LOT of energy…to heat our homes, to transport ourselves, and to make stuff. Energy went into making the computer you’re using right now, the clothes you’re wearing, the food you ate for breakfast, and pretty much everything you’ve ever bought, used, or thrown away. All that energy emits a lot of greenhouse gases (GHG), contributing to our climate problem. We hear a lot about changing our energy systems to tackle climate change, how energy and transportation are the two biggest culprits — the smokestacks and the tailpipes. But if a lot of those smokestack and tailpipe emissions come from making all our stuff, shouldn’t we be talking about HOW our stuff is made, too?

Smokestacks, Tailpipes and Trash Cans

More than 40% of our climate impact in the U.S. comes from our stuff and our food — how we make it, haul it, use it and throw it away. It’s called our consumption emissions. The more we buy and throw away stuff, the more energy it takes to make new stuff, and the faster climate change accelerates. Zero Waste addresses the entire system of our stuff and can substantially reduce climate emissions by changing what and how much we buy, what resources went into making it, how long it’s designed to last, how much gets reused, recycled or composted, and what we throw away. Zero Waste is one of the fastest, easiest, most cost-effective short-term climate solutions We need time to solve our long-term energy and transportation problems. Zero Waste strategies can be implemented TODAY, using existing technologies and proven programs, and produce immediate results. Zero Waste can help buy us some time to develop more complex energy and transportation solutions.

By 2030, Zero Waste strategies could reduce GHG emissions by more than 400 million metric tons CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking more than 20% of U.S. coal-fired powered plants off the grid. This means Zero Waste offers greater annual GHG savings than expanding nuclear power, significantly improving vehicle efficiency, carbon capture projects, and many other prominent climate strategies. Zero Waste strategies are also cost-effective climate solutions. ICLEI calls out recycling and composting as some of the most cost-effective actions local governments can take to reduce community GHG emissions. Communities around the world are investing in Zero Waste as a priority climate action. One of California’s first actions in its landmark climate change policy was to require businesses and apartments to recycle, a move that will reduce GHG emissions by five million metric tons….

Leading experts support Zero Waste as a climate solution:

Recycling is already making a major contribution to keeping down emissions. Indeed, its scale is so little appreciated that it might be described as one of the ‘best kept secrets’ in energy and climate change…”

-Renowned Economist Lord Nicholas Stern, Blueprint for a Safer Planet

 

 
 

Fact Check: Reign of Recycling

The New York Times (NYT Opinion) printed an opinion piece by John Tierney (@JohnTierneyNYC) that astounded us by the sheer number of inaccurate statements and misrepresentations about the economic and environmental impact of the recycling industry. We thought it would be helpful to point a bunch of them out and share third-party, verifiable sources.

 

 

 


Levee breach transforms [1000 acres of] Sears Point farmland back into wetlands

BY DEREK MOORE AND DIANE PETERSON THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

October 25, 2015, 6:37PM

Cooled by a stiff breeze off San Pablo Bay, about 300 supporters and partners of the Sonoma Land Trust cheered on Sunday as an excavator’s crane broke through a 140-year-old Sears Point levee, allowing saltwater to flood back over 1,000 acres of reclaimed oat hay fields at the southern tip of Sonoma County. As the water rushed in, the crowd of government officials and others involved in the decade-old Sears Point Restoration Project threw balls of pickleweed seeds into the mud to aid the wetland’s rebirth. It is expected to take another 25 to 30 years before the marshland’s vegetation and wildlife comes back completely, but a flock of sandpipers swept in Sunday to investigate the small levee breach, which will be widened to 285 feet. “Historically, over a quarter of the bay’s estuarine habitat was up here at the north end of the bay,” said Don Brubaker, the National Wildlife Refuge manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, one of about two dozen partners in the project. “We’re going to see ducks coming in, and wading birds like herons and egrets … eventually, salmon could move in here.” About 1,000 members of the public were expected at a tour of the levee site later Sunday. The morning breach was just the start of the work planned this week by the Sonoma County Land Trust, which plans to lower about a mile of the old levee and cut another 285-foot breach along Tolay Creek.
During the past three years, the Sonoma County Land Trust has excavated a channel for the tidal water to enter the field and used the soil to build a new levee protecting the railroad tracks about a mile to the north, which will become the new northern edge of San Pablo Bay. Public access to the site is expected in early 2016, once safety measures at a railroad crossing are added. Sunday’s celebration started at 10:30 a.m. with a festive brunch and a string of speakers from various organizations and government, including Congressman Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena; state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Solano; Assemblyman Bill Dodd, D-Napa; and Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt.

Officials praised the restoration project’s many benefits, saying it will lessen the impact of rising sea levels, protect against floods, filter runoff pollution and attract wildlife.
“We are putting a big down payment toward our sea-level-rise insurance policy,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the southwest regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. “I have spent a lot of time trying to make levees bigger and stronger, so this is ironic,” Wolk said. “But what we learned with (Hurricane) Katrina is that when the Mississippi Delta was eliminated, that created more of a problem when the sea rose.”

….The project adds nearly 1,000 acres toward a goal first established by the scientific community in 1999 of restoring 100,000 acres of wetlands in the Bay Area. About 45,000 acres have been restored to date, according to Save the Bay.

Meisler, with the land trust, confessed Friday that he had major doubts whether the tidal restoration would ever be realized. Perhaps the greatest hurdle was finding money for the project. The land trust raised $20 million to acquire the property in 2005 and raised another $18 million for the restoration work. Major donors included the state Wildlife Conservation Board ($5 million), California Coastal Conservancy ($3.2 million) and the Environmental Protection Agency ($2.5 million). There also have been many technical challenges with the project. To raise the farmland by about 7 feet, project managers are relying on the natural process of allowing tides to carry sediment into the area versus the standard — and more expensive — practice of trucking dirt in. The natural approach has never been tried before on a project of this size. Crews added more than 500 small islands to support marsh plants, act as wind breaks and filter out sediment from the incoming tides.

Standing in the dry basin Friday, his boots caked in dirt, Meisler acknowledged not knowing what would happen once water began flowing in. Asked to describe what it would look like in 30 years at the spot where he stood, he replied, “at least six feet under water and covered with pickleweed.”

 

Observers watch the levee being breached Sunday at Sears Point Ranch near Highway 37. A 1,000-acre tidal basin was created for the marsh restoration project. (Frankie Frost/Marin Independent Journal)

San Pablo Bay tidal basin flooded for marsh restoration project

By Janis Mara, Marin Independent Journal Posted: 10/25/15, 9:04 PM PDT | Updated: 1 hr ago

The long arm of the excavator scooped up a load of mud from the levee, and as onlookers gasped, the waters of San Pablo Bay flooded the tidal marsh basin Sunday at Sears Point Ranch in Sonoma County. The moment was the product of 10 years of planning and $18 million in funds, plus tireless work on the part of lead agency Sonoma Land Trust and more than a dozen governmental and advocacy groups. “The restoration of tidal flows is incredibly important,” state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, told a group of about 300 activists and dignitaries who watched the levee breaching at noon. Nearly 1,000 members of the public signed up to watch the water flowing into the recently constructed 1,000-acre tidal marsh basin off Reclamation Road near Highway 37 at 2 p.m. “(The tidal basin) will be the first line of defense against rising sea levels and the intense storms we know are to come,” Wolk said. “The delta and its survival are part of our national heritage and we must protect it,” Wolk said. “Fresh water mixes with the salty Pacific Ocean and this is what makes this ecosystem special. All species depend on tides and wetlands.”
The project is one of several restoring thousands of acres of marshland around the bay….The levee at Novato’s former Hamilton Field was breached in April 2014, unleashing the bay’s waters into the 648-acre area. That $200 million project will help restore the habitat for the California clapper rail, the salt marsh harvest mouse, fish and tidal plants. “It’s a thrill to be out here today to see the breach happening,” said Roger Leventhal, a senior engineer with Marin County. He was previously a design engineer for the preliminary design for the Sears Point Ranch project. “If you look at what happened at Hamilton and will hopefully happen in Novato, we will have a string of wetlands all the way from China Camp all the way around up to the Napa River,” Leventhal said. The next step in the Bay Area-wide plan is restoration of 1,850 acres north of Hamilton, including a large part of Bel Marin Keys….. “Today we are seeing what is the beginning of a new segment of the trail, two and a half miles,” said planner Maureen Gaffney of the San Francisco Bay Trail project. “This will connect to an existing one that is one and a half miles away at Sonoma Baylands, and will eventually make a ring around the entire San Francisco Bay.” Gaffney added, “The access for hiking and biking and wildlife viewing is amazing.”…

 

 

 

 

 

Current climate commitments would increase global temperature around 3° C

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 07:06 AM PDT

An assessment shows that current climate commitments submitted by 155 countries for COP21 would increase global temperature around 3º C.

 

If a major economy takes the lead, warming could be limited to 2°C

Posted: 26 Oct 2015 09:50 AM PDT

Though most countries around the globe agree that warming must be limited to 2 degrees Celsius to avoid the raft of climate risks, they clash about who should do what to reach this target. Hence the issue of allocating greenhouse-gas emissions reductions will be key for the outcome of the world climate summit COP21 in Paris. Scientists now found what amount of emissions reductions it takes for a major economy to lead out of the climate gridlock.

 

New campaign to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius

October 26, 2015

The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and CARE International have launched a new online campaign
#1o5C 
to gather more support to the global call to keep warming below 1.5°C. The campaign kick off took place at the sidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Bonn, the last preparatory meeting before the COP21 UN climate change conference in Paris this December.

  • We need to limit warming to a strict minimum to safeguard communities and the world. Less than 1°C of warming has already triggered scores of dangerous and unmanageable impacts. Raising ambition is a question of survival. It’s also feasible and an opportunity for communities to thrive. We hope this campaign will help to convince other countries to call for a sensible decision on the temperature goal at the Paris climate change conference.” – Emmanuel de Guzman, Climate Change Commissioner of the Philippines
  • “Countries are supporting the 1.5°C goal because climate change has already proved dangerous and in some cases unmanageable. Costa Rica has also committed to truly ambitious climate action, including a rapid transition to carbon neutrality because we believe in the benefits this will bring for people, the environment and the economy. We see 1.5°C as an opportunity to work together towards enhanced global prosperity and we’re encouraging others to join us.” – Pascal Girot, Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica
  • “It is crucial that the 1.5°C goal, and the means to make it happen, are part of the new UN climate agreement due to be signed in Paris. We must come together to rally all countries to support this goal. CARE International is already seeing how the poorest and most vulnerable communities are being hit the hardest by increasingly severe climate change impacts.” – Sven Harmeling, CARE International’s Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator
  • “It’s significant that 103 nations and hundreds of civil society groups already support the ambitious 1.5°C temperature goal, because numbers do matter in the UN climate talks. Paris provides a rare opportunity to increase our collective ambition to combat climate change including by strengthening the 2°C goal that the vulnerable countries rightly view as totally inadequate. And support for 1.5°C is steadily growing – this campaign will only add to that momentum.” – Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development and Chair, Advisory Group of the Climate Vulnerable Forum.

     

     

Everyone’s favorite climate change fix

Economists, officials, and executives across the globe increasingly support carbon pricing to stem the rise of greenhouse-gas emissions. Can it work?

by Cristina Maza, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor • Oct. 29, 2015

On the first day of the hottest June ever recorded, a letter from a group of concerned citizens arrived at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Rising greenhouse-gas emissions, the letter warned, would warm the planet to dangerous levels unless more action was taken to transition to cleaner energy. The letter’s authors called on world leaders to implement a global price on carbon to “help stimulate investments in the right low carbon technologies and the right resources at the right pace.” The message itself was not so extraordinary. For years, economists and environmentalists have made the case for using price signals to efficiently and effectively tilt global energy toward cleaner sources. But this letter didn’t come from a think tank or an environmental group. Instead, the signatories of the June 1, 2015 dispatch were chief executives of some of the world’s most carbon-intensive companies – oil supermajors like BP, Eni, and Statoil – companies that profit enormously from the very fuels carbon pricing aims to curtail. “Pricing carbon obviously adds a cost to our production and our products,” the letter continued, “but carbon pricing policy frameworks will contribute to provide our businesses and their many stakeholders with a clear roadmap for future investment, a level playing field for all energy sources across geographies and a clear role in securing a more sustainable future.” Some dismissed Big Oil’s call for a popular climate policy as a public-relations ploy. Others noted that only European firms signed on, representing just one slice of a sprawling international oil and gas industry. But if taken in earnest, the letter from six oil supermajors reflects a widening acceptance of climate change as a challenge humanity should – and can – tackle. Even more significantly, the letter offers up a solution embraced by an increasingly diverse group of businesses, governments, non-profits, investors, and other institutions….

 

 

A Global Agreement On Climate Change Likely Won’t Include Carbon Pricing

by Samantha Page Oct 27, 2015 2:10pm

We won’t have a global price on carbon with the United Nations conference ends in December, the UN climate chief said Monday. Christiana Figueres, head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will meet in Paris in December to hammer out worldwide carbon emissions reductions, said Tuesday that the conference will not include global carbon pricing. Carbon pricing has been gaining support from a broad range of stakeholders, including the IMF, the World Bank, oil and gas companies, and world leaders. But agreeing on what the price would look like and how it would be charged is too big a challenge for this round of negotiations, Figueres said. “(Many have said) we need a carbon price and (investment) would be so much easier with a carbon price, but life is much more complex than that,” Figueres said. “It’s not quite what we will have.” Climate policy experts, though, weren’t rattled by the comments. The Paris agreement is part of a larger framework, building off the 1992 convention, said Joe Robertson, the global strategy director at Citizens’ Climate Lobby. The goals are to come up with a legally binding outcome, identify strong national plans, move forward on financing commitments, and establish action platforms that can help member countries achieve carbon reduction targets.

“This is the next step forward in an ongoing framework,” Robertson told ThinkProgress, saying it is not a “Big Bang” treaty that is going to end global warming in December. “It’s not possible. That’s not what the world is trying to do — and it should not be reported that way.” On a domestic level, introducing a price on climate at the Paris conference could trigger the need for congressional ratification. International agreements that bind or prohibit U.S. actions that aren’t already part of U.S. law must be approved by Congress. As Figueres pointed out Monday, there are already pricing mechanisms in use or planned across much of the globe. And more are expected. The Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition — a group representing global leaders, non-profits, and corporations — is one of the so-called action platforms and will help global economies implement carbon pricing. The coalition will work with member states to help build carbon pricing mechanisms, either through fees, taxes, or cap and trade systems, that will help them more efficiently achieve reduction pledges.

In the meantime, U.S. states are developing carbon reduction plans. Many of these plans will likely include some system of cap and trade or carbon fee as economically efficient ways to meet the mandates of the Clean Power Plan.

The carbon pricing landscape is shifting quickly. Some experts have called for a global carbon fee, and suggested that if China, the United States, and the EU began collecting fees at their borders, the scheme would quickly go global.

 

Massachusetts Mulls an Economy-Wide Price on Carbon

One of six states considering carbon pricing to combat climate change, Massachusetts weighs two bills that could make the state a trendsetter.

By Zahra Hirji, InsideClimate News

Oct 29, 2015

“We have to step up our fight against climate change,” Massachusetts state Sen. Michael Barrett told a packed committee hearing in Boston on Tuesday. Barrett’s solution: put a price on carbon. Barrett laid out his plan in Senate Bill S.1747, one of two carbon price options before the legislature. Massachusetts joins five other states—Connecticut, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington—with proposed legislation exploring this option for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Although the idea of a carbon price is not new, it is increasingly seen as a key climate solution in the leadup to the U.N. climate talks in Paris in December. Six major oil and gas companies, including BP, Shell and Statoil, have said they support carbon pricing. In recent weeks, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg voiced support for a global price on carbon. So have the heads of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, along with many global leaders in business and politics. Responding to such calls for action, U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres said on Tuesday that pricing carbon will not be part of the upcoming climate treaty; but she expressed optimism that it will happen in the future. “The idea of putting a price on carbon is catching fire as one of the best ways we can cut emissions and deal with the worst effects of climate change,” Kenneth Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a climate research and communications nonprofit told InsideClimate News. “I do think the Paris agreement is going to galvanize that further. “People have to recognize that right now, fossil fuels are getting an enormous subsidy because the harm of their emissions are not being captured in their price.”

Carbon pricing, whether through a cap-and-trade program, a carbon tax or carbon fee, seeks to encourage communities, organizations, even individuals to use less carbon-intensive energy sources by raising the prices of fossil fuels to reflect their associated carbon pollution. Massachusetts has already been pricing carbon for the electricity sector for more than five years through a cap-and-trade program called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI. It involves a regional carbon cap and a market for its nine member states to sell and purchase carbon credits. But for Massachusetts, the power sector accounts for only 20 percent of the state’s emissions; the remaining 80 percent comes from sources not covered under RGGI––such as heating fuels, construction, transportation and manufacturing. The new carbon pricing proposals aim to fill that gap.

 

 

 

Can the University of California help answer our climate problems?

After a two-day climate summit at the University of California San Diego, university leaders say the school’s 10 campuses can serve as role models for the rest of the world. 

By Story Hinckley, Staff October 28, 2015 Christian Science Monitor

The University of California (UC) renewed its commitment to fight climate change at the UC Carbon and Climate Neutrality Summit at UC San Diego Tuesday. University president Janet Napolitano assured California Gov. Jerry Brown and other summit participants that the university’s 10 campuses will continue to act as “living laboratories” for climate change solutions.  “Addressing these challenges, and reducing our carbon footprint, is a moral imperative,” Ms. Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona and Homeland Security secretary, said at the summit. Through the Carbon Neutrality Initiative, announced by Napolitano in 2013, UC is committed to making all buildings and vehicles associated with its 10 campuses carbon neutral by 2025. To successfully emit net zero greenhouse gases in 10 years, the University of California will primarily focus on energy and food waste….

 

 


Environmental groups demand inquiry after Exxon ‘misled public’ on climate

In call for attorney general to investigate, top activists say company acted deceptively despite knowing about climate change ‘as early as the 1970s’

Joanna Walters Friday 30 October 2015 13.49 EDT Last modified on Friday 30 October 2015 13.55 EDT

Leading US environmental campaigners have joined a diverse line-up of pressure groups to demand a federal investigation into allegations that the oil giant ExxonMobil illegally covered up the truth about climate change. Earlier in the week, first Bernie Sanders and then Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential candidates, called for the US government to announce an official investigation. On Friday morning, 350.org, an environmental movement, issued a letter signed by climate campaigners, civil rights organizations, indigenous people’s groups and others, calling on US attorney general Loretta Lynch to investigate. The letter cited “revelations that the company knew about climate change as early as the 1970s, but chose to mislead the public about the crisis in order to maximize their profits from fossil fuels”. The letter was signed by groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, as well as bodies such as the Indigenous Environmental Network, which promotes environmental and economic justice issues affecting indigenous communities. …

 

Exxon’s climate change denial warrants federal inquiry, congressmen say

Members of Congress claim that oil company’s ‘sustained deception campaign’ could be prosecuted through truth in advertising and racketeering laws

Friday 16 October 2015 18.17 EDT Susan Goldenberg

Members of Congress have asked for a federal investigation into whether ExxonMobil broke the law by intentionally obscuring the truth about climate change….In an opinion piece for the Washington Post last May, Whitehouse wrote there was already a precedent for such legal action with the successful prosecution of tobacco companies under anti-racketeering laws. Richard Keil, a spokesman for Exxon, rejected the allegations contained in the letter. “This is complete bullshit,” he told the Guardian. “We have a 30 year continuous uninterrupted history of researching climate change and the LA Times for whatever reason chose to ignore that fact.” Greenpeace spent years investigating the extent of Exxon’s funding for climate denial, estimating the oil company spent more than $30m funding thinktanks and front groups disputing global warming before publicly disavowing such activities. The Guardian reported last July that the oil company’s scientists knew that fossil fuels caused climate change as early as 1981 – 27 years before climate change became a public issue.

 

 

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Exploiting renewable energy while allowing for protecting biodiversity

Posted: 29 Oct 2015 08:22 AM PDT

Global expansion of bioenergy possesses serious threats to biodiversity, whereas solar energy could have potential for power provision with limited impacts on biodiversity, say experts…

 

Upcoming UN Climate Summit can’t overlook China’s support of global coal power

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 06:36 PM PDT

When global leaders converge on Paris on Nov. 30 for the 2015 United Nations climate change conference, they should create guidelines and incentives for developing nations to cooperate with one another on lower-carbon energy projects, according to a new report. Failure to do so could contribute to an unchecked expansion of coal energy in developing counties, which has already accelerated in recent years with the help of Chinese firms going global.

 

 

 

 
 

 

NOAA Guidance for the Use of Living Shorelines

Today, NOAA released Guidance for Considering the Use of Living Shorelines. This Guidance was developed in an agency wide effort to clarify NOAA’s encouragement for the use of living shorelines as a shoreline stabilization technique along sheltered coasts. Living shorelines can preserve and improve habitats and their ecosystem services at the land-water interface. Although erosion is a natural coastal process, coastal communities face constant challenges from shoreline erosion that threaten valuable resources along the nation’s coastline. Living shorelines are gaining attention around the country as an alternative to traditional shoreline stabilization techniques like seawalls and bulkheads, which create a barrier between land and water.

In the Guidance, readers will learn about:

  • NOAA’s living shorelines guiding principles.
  • NOAA’s role in providing science, tools, and training to help select appropriate techniques.
  • How to navigate NOAA’s potential regulatory and programmatic roles in living shorelines project planning.
  • Questions to consider when planning a shoreline stabilization effort. 

 

 

 

 

 

UPCOMING CONFERENCES: 

 

 


2015 Southwest Climate Summit  November 2-3, 2015 Holiday Inn Capital Plaza Sacramento, CA
Join us for the
2015 Southwest Climate Summit when we’ll promote Climate-Smart Conservation by bringing together managers and scientists from across the Southwest to:

  • Discover emerging climate science
  • Explore adaptive management application
  • Share Climate-Smart Conservation results 
  • Discuss management and policy responses

The California LCC, Southwest Climate Science Center, USDA Southwest Climate Hub, Great Basin LCC, and Desert LCC are hosting the Summit to foster sharing of lessons learned and collaboration across the Southwestern landscape. Click here for more information.

 

An Overview of Climate-Smart Conservation November 6, 2015 at The San Diego Foundation

This one day overview class is being hosted by the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative (CA LCC) and is based on the guide Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice. This publication is the product of an expert workgroup on climate change adaptation convened by the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with the FWS’s National Conservation Training Center and other partners. The course is designed to provide an introduction to climate adaptation for application to on-the-ground conservation. It will provide an overview of how to craft climate-informed conservation goals, to carry out adaptation with intentionality, and how to manage for change and not just persistence…. The San Diego Foundation, 2508 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, CA 92106 Register Now– contact Christy Coghlan – christy_coghlan@fws.gov

 

Grand Challenges in Coastal & Estuarine Science: Securing Our Future 8 – 12 November, 2015 Oregon Convention Center | Portland, Oregon
Registration for the CERF 23rd Biennial Conference is now open! The CERF 2015 scientific program offers four days of timely, exciting and diverse information on a vast array of estuarine and coastal subjects. Presentations will examine new findings within CERF’s traditional scientific, education and management disciplines and encourage interaction among coastal and estuarine scientists and managers. Plus, there are plenty of workshops, field trips, and special events to get involved with that will make this conference one you won’t want to miss.

 

First Western Governor’s Association Species Conservation
and ESA Initiative WorkshopNov. 12-13 in Wyoming

The first workshop of the
Western Governors’ Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative will be held Nov. 12-13 at the Buffalo Bill Center for the West in Cody, Wyo. The Chairman’s Initiative of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead creates a mechanism for states that will: share best practices in species management; promote and elevate the role of states in species conservation efforts; and explore ways to improve the efficacy of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Gov. Mead will speak at the first workshop, which will feature a robust and bipartisan conversation regarding species conservation and the ESA. The Wyoming workshop will be the first in a series of regional workshops. Learn more

 

California Association of Resource Conservation Districts:

Healthy Forests, Healthy Soils, A Resilient California” 70th Annual Conference November 18—21, 2015 Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite, CA

Don’t miss out on being part of the change. California’s future is the crucial discussion at this year’s CARCD Annual Conference November 18th—21st at the Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite, CA. The Sierra National Forest, backdrop for Yosemite National Park, will provide a perfect classroom and case study of the challenges California will face if we cannot enact effective and efficient management strategies at the local, regional and statewide levels.  We will discuss how smart, integrated management projects on a seemingly small-scale are the building blocks that affect water abundance, water quality, soil health, tree/ plant health, forest health, groundwater, and climate change throughout the state.  In addition, we will examine innovative developments to solve new world challenges like the  latest developments in carbon markets, building partnerships to solve complex, multi-jurisdictional issues, state programs focused on solving California’s problems, capacity building for RCDs and much more.

 

National Living Shorelines Summit December 1-2, 2015 in Hartford CN

hosted by Restore America’s Estuaries

 

 

December 13-18, 2015 San Francisco

Abstract Submissions are OPEN for the 21st Biennial. We are currently accepting abstract submissions for workshops, oral, speed and poster presentations for the 21st Biennial Society for Marine Mammalogy Conference, to take place in San Francisco from December 13-18, 2015.  The submission deadline is May 15th, 2015.  Workshops will be held on December 12-13th.

 


2nd California Adaptation Forum
SEPTEMBER 7-8, 2016
Renaissance Long Beach Hotel and Long Beach Convention Center

The Local Government Commission and the State of California are proud to host the second California Adaptation Forum in the Fall of 2016. The two-day event will be the premiere convening for a multi-disciplinary group of 1,000+ decision-makers, leaders and advocates to discuss, debate and consider how we can most effectively respond to the impacts of climate change.

The 2016 California Adaptation Forum will feature:

  • A series of plenaries with high-level government, community and business leaders
  • A variety of breakout sessions on essential adaptation topics
  • Regional project tours highlighting adaptation efforts in Southern California
  • Pre-forum workshops on tools and strategies for implementing adaptation solutions

 

 

JOBS (apologies for any duplication; thanks for passing along)

 

Point Blue: Coastal Adaptation Program LeaderHelp save the world!!

The Coastal Adaptation Program Leader (CAPL) will be responsible for executing the strategy and achieving the outcomes of Point Blue’s Protecting Our Shorelines Initiative. As such, the CAPL will help natural resource managers and policy makers advance their adaptation efforts in the face of accelerating climate change, ocean acidification, increased storm frequency and intensity, habitat loss, and other stressors, leveraging Point Blue and partner scientific, data, and informatics resources. The CAPL will also develop science-based policy and natural resource management recommendations. Learn more and how to apply here.

Point Blue: Institutional Philanthropy Director  The Director of Institutional Philanthropy (Director) will be responsible for securing foundation and agency funding for priority programs, and managing all aspects of Point Blue’s foundation relations to advance our innovative climate-smart conservation science strategies. Reporting to the Chief Advancement Officer, the Director will collaborate with the Chief Science Officer, Group Directors, and other organizational leaders on the development and planning of strategic initiatives, assist staff scientists in the production of technical proposals and reports, write foundation proposals and reports, and support the advancement staff in written communications to major donors…

 

For other jobs at Point Blue, see here.

 

 

 

 

  • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

 

 

Al Gore: Optimist?

The slide show is alive and well, and now he’s training hundreds of mini-Gores. And he claims that in the “struggle between hope and despair,” these days he’s a hope guy.

By Michael Grunwald October 2015 Politico.com

…Yes, it’s that slide show, the one that thrust climate change into popular culture, generating the 2007 Academy Award and Nobel Prize in the process. Gore is still doing it, and training a global cadre of mini-Gores to do it as well; there have been 30 Climate Reality trainings, from South Africa to Australia to India.
Fifteen years after he missed out on the White House by the narrowest of conceivable margins, Gore is still schlepping around the world to try to save it, spreading his unique brand of alarmism backed by data leavened with hope. The former vice president still begins and ends his presentation with photos of the earth from space, iconic reminders of what’s at stake. He still lectures in that much-mocked wooden style, with sporadic flashes of passion detectable more by changes in volume than delivery. The big difference in the updated version of the slide show is that a decade ago, Gore mostly warned about what could happen. Now he shows what’s already happening.

…..Most of the show is itself a deluge of apocalyptic extreme-weather images: body bags stacked like firewood after a recent heat wave in Pakistan, a “This Is Where I Belong” sign in front of a house burned down by a California wildfire, the rope-assisted rescue of a Brazilian woman (but not, alas, her dog) from a raging flood, the roof of the Metrodome collapsing after a record snowfall and a clump of 35,000 walruses forced onto an Alaska beach after their sea ice melted. Gore explains how a climate-driven drought that ravaged 60 percent of Syria’s farmland and 80 percent of its livestock drove rural Syrians into cities, laying the groundwork for the current refugee crisis. He even suggests that climate-driven food shortages helped trigger the Arab Spring. But toward the end of his presentation, Gore adds a new twist, another element that his slide show lacked nine years ago: Good news. If the biggest change from the 2005 version is proof, the second-biggest is legitimate grounds for optimism.

Now there are graphs showing how wind and solar prices are plummeting while wind and solar installations are soaring, how global investment in renewables exceeds investment in fossil fuels, how “green bonds” have expanded 1,500 percent in two years. There are images of solar panels on a grass hut in Africa and in a slum in Bangladesh, where two new solar systems are deployed every minute. There’s one of Gore with one of those clunky 1980s mobile phones, the point being that no one expected them to get so ubiquitous so quickly, either. You know when you’re at a football game and the momentum shifts, and you can just feel it in the stadium?” Gore asked the trainees. “Well, the momentum is shifting! We’re winning! We’ve got to win faster, but we’re winning!“…

… “Anyone who works on the climate issue has an internal dialogue, the struggle between hope and despair. All my colleagues struggle with that. But I’ve always come down on the side of hope.”

Gore truly believes the world has reached a tipping point in its transition away from fossil fuels, a transition he describes as the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. He says that carbon-polluting industries can delay that transition, but they can’t stop it any more than King Canute could stop the tides. Meanwhile, though, he’s still leading his audiences on that nature hike through Revelations, a tour he still completes with the blue marble portrait of the earth from space. “There we are. That’s our home,” he says. “Don’t let anyone tell you we can escape to Mars; we couldn’t even evacuate New Orleans. The earth is the only planet habitable for human beings. We’re going to have to make our stand right here.”

 

Research investigates impact of carbon footprint label

Posted: 26 Oct 2015 06:29 AM PDT

An initiative to show consumers which products are more environmentally friendly needs to be easy to understand to be effective, say investigators.

 

 

Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans, based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.Credit: © volff / Fotolia

Processed meat can cause cancer

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 10:51 AM PDT

Researchers have evaluated the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat. They classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans, based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect. Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans….The consumption of meat varies greatly between countries, with from a few percent up to 100% of people eating red meat, depending on the country, and somewhat lower proportions eating processed meat. The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. “For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed,” says Dr Kurt Straif, head of the IARC monographs programme.”In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance.”… “These findings further support current public health recommendations to limit intake of meat,” says Dr. Christopher Wild, director of IARC. “At the same time, red meat has nutritional value. Therefore, these results are important in enabling governments and international regulatory agencies to conduct risk assessments, in order to balance the risks and benefits of eating red meat and processed meat and to provide the best possible dietary recommendations.”

 

 

After just 9 days on the study’s sugar-restricted diet, virtually every aspect of the participants’ metabolic health improved, without change in weight. Credit: © Walenga Stanislav / Fotolia


Obese children’s health rapidly improves with sugar reduction unrelated to calories

Study indicates that calories are not created equal; sugar and fructose are dangerous

October 27, 2015 University of California – San Francisco

Reducing consumption of added sugar has the power to reverse a cluster of chronic metabolic diseases in children in as little as 10 days, according to a study.

 

 

REI closing on Black Friday for 1st time in push to #OptOutside

Hadley Malcolm, USA TODAY 2:15 p.m. EDT October 27, 2015

Outdoor gear and sporting goods retailer REI is canceling Black Friday this year. No promotions, no hourly sales, no doorbusters, no waiting in line.

In an unprecedented move for the modern-day holiday shopping season, REI’s 143 stores will be closed the day after Thanksgiving. The co-op business plans to launch a campaign Tuesday encouraging people to forgo shopping to spend time outside instead. With the hashtag #OptOutside, REI will ask people to share what they’re doing on Black Friday on social media. REI is taking direct aim at the frenzied consumerism that dominates the holidays with a message to do the exact opposite of what Black Friday demands….

 

 

 

 


 

http://energy.gov/articles/turn-your-halloween-pumpkins-power

With the passing of Halloween, millions of pounds of pumpkins have turned from seasonal decorations to trash destined for landfills, adding to more than 254 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the United States every year. This Halloween, think of turning this seasonal waste into energy as a very important “trick” that can have a positive environmental and energy impact. At landfills, MSW decomposes and eventually turns into methane—a harmful greenhouse gas that plays a part in climate change, with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide (CO2). However, when MSW is used to harness bioenergy—rather than simply being thrown away—the end result benefits the environment and helps our nation become less dependent on carbon-based fuel. Harnessing the potential of bioenergy allows the United States to generate its own supply of clean energy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It also limits stress on landfills by reducing waste and could ultimately create jobs for manufacturing, installing, and maintaining energy systems. The Energy Department’s Bioenergy Technologies Office is working together with industry to develop and test integrated biorefineries—facilities capable of efficiently converting plant and waste material into affordable biofuels, biopower and other products. These projects are located around the country and use a variety of materials as feedstocks….

 

 


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

————

Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)

3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954

707-781-2555 x318

 

www.pointblue.org  | Follow Point Blue on Facebook!

 

Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.

 

When megafauna disappear, so does their poop- disrupts Earth’s nutrient cycle

 

 

 

This diagram shows an interlinked system of animals that carry nutrients from ocean depths to deep inland — through their poop, urine, and, upon death, decomposing bodies. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that — in the past–this chain of whales, seabirds, migratory fish and large land mammals transported far greater amounts of nutrients than they do today. Here, the red arrows show the estimated amounts of phosphorus and other nutrients that were moved or diffused historically — and how much these flows have been reduced today. Grey animals represent extinct or reduced densities of animal populations. Credit: Diagram from PNAS; designed by Renate Helmiss

 

Declines in whales, fish, seabirds and large animals disrupt Earth’s nutrient cycle

Posted: 26 Oct 2015 02:20 PM PDT

In the past, whales, giant land mammals, and other animals played a vital role in keeping the planet fertile by transporting nutrients via their feces. However, massive declines and extinctions of many of these animals has deeply damaged this planetary nutrient recycling system, threatening fisheries and ecosystems on land, a team of scientists reports.

Giants once roamed the earth. Oceans teemed with ninety-foot-long whales. Huge land animals–like truck-sized sloths and ten-ton mammoths–ate vast quantities of food, and, yes, deposited vast quantities of poop.

A new study shows that these whales and outsized land mammals–as well as seabirds and migrating fish–played a vital role in keeping the planet fertile by transporting nutrients from ocean depths and spreading them across seas, up rivers, and deep inland, even to mountaintops.

However, massive declines and extinctions of many of these animals has deeply damaged this planetary nutrient recycling system, a team of scientists reported October 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This broken global cycle may weaken ecosystem health, fisheries, and agriculture,” says Joe Roman, a biologist at the University of Vermont and co-author on the new study.

On land, the capacity of animals to carry nutrients away from concentrated “hotspots,” the team writes, has plummeted to eight percent of what it was in the past–before the extinction of some 150 species of mammal “megafauna” at the end of the last ice age.

And, largely because of human hunting over the last few centuries, the capacity of whales, and other marine mammals, to move one vital nutrient–phosphorus–from deep ocean waters to the surface has been reduced by more than seventy-five percent, the new study shows….

The world of giants came to an end on land after the megafauna extinctions that began some 12,000 years ago–driven by a complex array of forces including climate change and Neolithic hunters. And it ended in the oceans in the wake of whale and other mammal hunting in the industrial era of humans.

“But recovery is possible and important,” says UVM’s Roman. He points to bison as an example. “That’s achievable. It might be a challenge policy-wise, but it’s certainly within our power to bring back herds of bison to North America. That’s one way we could restore an essential nutrient pathway.”

And many whale and marine mammal populations are also recovering, Roman notes. “We can imagine a world with relatively abundant whale populations again,” he says.

But have domestic animals, like cows, taken over the nutrient distribution role of now-extinct large land animals? No, the new study shows. Though there are many cows, fences constrain the movement of domestic animals and their nutrients. “Future pastures could be set up with fewer fences and with a wider range of species,” the team writes….

Christopher E. Doughty, Joe Roman, Søren Faurby, Adam Wolf, Alifa Haque, Elisabeth S. Bakker, Yadvinder Malhi, John B. Dunning Jr., and Jens-Christian Svenning. Global nutrient transport in a world of giants. PNAS, October 26, 2015 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1502549112

 

Francois Gohler/Science Source

When whales disappear, so does their ecosystem-sustaining poop

26 October 2015 5:45 pm Science Mag

Humans have been bad for blue whales. As many as 350,000 of the giant mammals (pictured) once plied the oceans; now, only a few thousand are left.

 

Although removing such creatures from ecosystems can have a host of effects, a new study draws attention to one in particular: There’s a lot less poop getting spread around the planet. In the research, published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists describe how losing these animals and other “megafauna” has upset a global cycle that once passed large amounts of nutrients like phosphorus from the ocean depths where large marine mammals like blue whales often feed into the sunlit surface waters where seabirds or migrating fish like salmon browse.

 

As those fish swam back up the rivers where they were born or the birds returned to dry ground, the nutrients went with them, incorporated into their bodies or excreted, eventually feeding a host of terrestrial organisms. In turn, those animals’ own waste—and eventually decomposing bodies—helped spread the nutrients even further, fertilizing the interior of continents, the scientists say.

 

In all, the researchers used a set of mathematical models to reveal that today animals only have about 6% of their former capacity to move such nutrients away from “hot spots” and across the oceans and land.

 

Such a loss may continue to weaken ecosystem health, fisheries, and agriculture, leaving them less naturally productive than they might otherwise be. Protecting whales, migratory fish, and seabirds could make a difference in restoring, at least somewhat, the nutrient pathway, the scientists say. 


 

Why Restoring Nature Could Be the Key to Fighting Climate Change

Getty Images

Why Restoring Nature Could Be the Key to Fighting Climate Change

‘It’s a solution that’s available now’

Justin Worland
TIME Oct. 14, 2015

For decades, scientists and policymakers have focused on changing human behavior to address climate change. Regulations have mandated reduced carbon emissions, subsidies have supported the development of renewable energy and individuals have worked to make their lifestyles more sustainable. But, while addressing global warming will inevitably require humans to change behavior, a growing body of research supports the need for solutions rooted in nature: ensuring biodiversity, revitalizing forests and supporting other natural environments. A new study in the journal Nature offers the strongest evidence yet that biodiversity strengthens ecosystems, increasing their resistance to extreme climate events and improving their capacity to stem climate change.
For years, the researchers behind the study evaluated 46 grassland ecosystems in Europe and North America, collecting data on the production of organic matter called biomass. Because species in any given ecosystem rely on biomass for energy, biomass production serves as a metric for the health of a community. In grasslands areas with only one or two species, ecosystems’ biomass production declined by approximately 50% on average during extreme climate events. In communities with between 16 and 32 species, biomass production declined by only 25%.

Study author Forest Isbell, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, explained the importance of ecosystem biodiversity using the insurance hypothesis: having more species provides insurance for carrying out key functions to the ecosystem if one disappears or can no longer serve its function. “Because different species have different responses to environmental fluctuations, the aggregate of many species is dampened,” he said. The study’s results only applied to an ecosystem’s resistance to the immediate effects of climate events and not necessarily to its ability to bounce back following an event. Determining how to ensure the health of ecosystems figures into efforts to address climate change more broadly. Ecosystems absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a key gas that contributes to global warming. Forests alone absorbed one-sixth of carbon dioxide released by fossil fuel emissions between 1900 and 2007, according to one study. Still, the capacity of forests has been reduced as deforestation continues to cause the release of carbon and the loss of future carbon-absorbing capacity. The new Nature study shows that biodiversity loss threatens the productivity of even those forests not at risk of deforestation. “It’s not always enough to have forests that are storing carbon if you have only one or two species in that forest,” said Will R. Turner, chief scientist at Conservation International. “It may be that the function of those forests is less than if the forest has more species.” While the destruction of nature threatens to exacerbate climate change, the connection between nature and climate change also presents opportunities. In addition to enacting regulations to alter human behavior, policymakers can work to restore nature as a method of addressing global warming. One study suggests that a reversal in deforestation trends would allow forests to absorb as much as 30% of global carbon emissions. Right now forests absorb 11% of greenhouse gas emissions. “Climate change is a big problem and we’re going to need a whole range of solutions to solve it,” said Turner. “One of those solutions is to get better at harnessing the role that ecosystems play. It’s a solution that’s available now.”

El Nino and Global Warming– California 2100: More frequent and more severe droughts and floods likely

On the left, La Nina cools off the ocean surface (greens and blues) in the winter of 1988. On the right, El Nino warms up it up (oranges and reds) in the winter of 1997. Credit: Jin-Ho Yoon/PNNL

California 2100: More frequent and more severe droughts and floods likely

El Nino and global warming work together to bring more extreme weather

October 21, 2015 DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

In the future, the Pacific Ocean’s temperature cycles could disrupt more than just December fishing. A study published in Nature Communications suggests that the weather patterns known as El Nino and La Nina could lead to at least a doubling of extreme droughts and floods in California later this century. The study shows more frequent extreme events are likely to occur. Other research shows the Golden State’s average precipitation increasing gradually, but not enough to account for the occurrence of extreme events. A better understanding of what gives rise to El Nino and La Nina cycles — together known as El Nino-Southern Oscillation — might help California predict and prepare for more frequent droughts and floods in the coming century. “Wet and dry years in California are linked to El Nino and La Nina. That relationship is getting stronger,” said atmospheric scientist Jin-Ho Yoon of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “Our study shows that ENSO will be exhibiting increasing control over California weather.”

Rain’s range

California is experiencing one of the most severe droughts in its history, but it’s not clear if a warmer world will make droughts worse, more frequent or perhaps even improve the situation. After all, warmer air can hold more water, and some research suggests global warming could increase California’s average rain and snowfall. However, research also suggests future rain will come down more as light drizzles and heavy deluges and less as moderate rainfall. Yoon and colleagues from PNNL and Utah State University in Logan, Utah, wondered if droughts might follow a similar pattern.

Carbon sequestration in soil: The potential underfoot

Carbon sequestration in soil: The potential underfoot

Posted: 19 Oct 2015 08:23 AM PDT

Declining greenhouse gas emissions from European cropland could compensate for up to 7 percent of annual agricultural emissions from the region, according to a new study analyzing the carbon uptake potential of soil. However at global scale, indirect effects could offset significant parts of these emission savings….A new study published in the journal Global Environmental Change projects that carbon sequestration in European cropland could store between 9 and 38 megatons of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) per year in the soil, or as much as 7% of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in the European Union, at a price of carbon of 100 $/tCO2. “However, if strict emission reduction targets are only adopted inside Europe, efforts within the EU to reduce emissions could lead to increased emissions in other parts of the world, which could significantly compromise emission reductions at global level” says IIASA researcher Stefan Frank, who led the study.

In order to reach the EU goals on climate change, mitigation measures will be needed across many sectors. This research focuses on the agriculture piece of that puzzle. The world’s soils contain the third largest stock of carbon, after oceans and the geological pool, which includes rocks and fossil fuels. Any disturbance of soils, for example through inappropriate management or land use change could therefore release significant amounts of carbon to the atmosphere. Good management practices, on the other hand, can significantly reduce emissions. The study shows that a carbon tax only within Europe could cause some part of European agricultural production to be reallocated outside Europe. Consequently, emissions outside Europe would increase, thereby partly offsetting the emission reductions inside Europe, a problem known as emissions leakage.

 

Stefan Frank, Erwin Schmid, Petr Havlík, Uwe A. Schneider, Hannes Böttcher, Juraj Balkovič, Michael Obersteiner. The dynamic soil organic carbon mitigation potential of European cropland. Global Environmental Change, 2015; 35: 269 DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.08.004

The Baylands and Climate Change: What We Can DoScience Update 2015

 

The Facebook campus sits next to the Menlo Park Baylands amid the rich colors of the drying mud flats in Ravenswood Slough in this aerial view taken Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 2, 2015, in Menlo Park, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) ( Karl Mondon )

San Francisco Bay: Race to build wetlands is needed to stave off sea-level rise, scientists say

By Paul Rogers
progers@mercurynews.com Posted:   10/18/2015 06:00:00 PM PDT

San Francisco Bay is in a race against time, with billions of dollars of highways, airports, homes and office buildings at risk from rising seas, surging tides and extreme storms driven by climate change. And to knock down the waves and reduce flooding, 54,000 acres of wetlands — an area twice the size of the city of San Francisco — need to be restored around the bay in the next 15 years. That’s the conclusion of a new report from more than 100 Bay Area scientists and 17 government agencies that may help fuel a regional tax measure aimed at addressing the looming crisis. The other alternative, the report found, is to ring large sections of the bay with seawalls and levees in the coming decades. But that would destroy many of the marshes and probably cost taxpayers more in the long run. “If we don’t change our approach, we’ll see the marshes and mud flats start to drown,” said Letitia Grenier, a biologist with the San Francisco Estuary Institute, a scientific research organization in Richmond. “They’ll start to erode,” said Grenier, one of the report’s main authors. “We’ll have bigger waves coming in on high tides and storms — and more flooding. We’ll lose our wildlife. And eventually the wetlands will be gone. You’ll see levees and concrete seawalls. The water in many places will be higher than the land, like it is in New Orleans.” San Francisco Bay already has risen 8 inches since 1900, according to the tidal gauge at Fort Point, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge….

 

Report: Bay Area Infrastructure, Communities at Risk Without Wetlands Restoration

Wed, Oct 21, 2015 — 9:30 AM
Download audio (MP3)

Hundreds of acres of salt evaporation ponds, in the background, are being restored to tidal wetlands, as seen in the foreground of this scene from Eden Landing in Hayward, California.

A new report reveals that 42,000 acres of wetlands in the Bay Area must be restored over the next 15 years to mitigate the effects of climate change. Rising sea levels, swelling tides and strong storms threaten billions of dollars worth of businesses, homes and infrastructure. The report, from 100-plus Bay Area scientists and 17 government agencies, warns that wetlands either need to be repaired or buffered with seawalls and levees.

Host: Michael Krasny

Guests:

  • Letitia Grenier, co-director & senior scientist of the Resilient Landscapes Program, San Francisco Estuary Institute
  • Sam Schuchat, executive officer, The California State Coastal Conservancy

More info:
Baylandsgoals.org

New studies look at impact of protected areas on poverty, human well-being

 

 

These are women from Uaxactun village in the Peten, Guatemala preparing dinner for tourists. Credit: Lovett Williams

New studies look at impact of protected areas on poverty, human well-being

Posted: 14 Oct 2015 11:22 AM PDT

A substantial fraction of the Earth is now legally protected from damaging human activities. Does this protection matter? In other words, has it made a difference in terms of maintaining or enhancing biological diversity and ecosystem services? Has it harmed or helped the people who live in and around these areas? The answers to these important questions are surprisingly elusive, but absolutely essential for developing effective conservation strategies. Practitioners need credible, scientific evidence about the degree to which protected areas affect environmental and social outcomes, and how these effects vary with context. Such evidence has been lacking, but the situation is changing as conservation scientists adopt more sophisticated research designs for evaluating protected areas’ past impacts and for predicting their future impacts. Complementing these scientific advances, conservation funders and practitioners are paying increasing attention to evaluating their investments with more scientifically rigorous evaluation designs. This theme issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B highlights recent advances in the science of protected area evaluations and explores the challenges to developing a more credible evidence base on which societies can achieve their goals of protecting nature while enhancing human welfare….Nature conservation programs such as protected areas can have significant impacts — both positive and negative — on local people. These impacts can be economic, including on income, housing and livelihoods, but conservation can also affect social relations and people’s feelings about life. The authors explore the concept of wellbeing, which encompasses these different dimensions, and propose nine principles which can help conservationists better to understand their impacts on people’s lives. These include ensuring local people’s priorities are addressed and making sure that research uses appropriate methods which can capture the complexity of the impacts that people experience.

  1. Daniel Brockington, David Wilkie. Protected areas and poverty. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2015; 370 (1681): 20140271 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0271
  2. Emily Woodhouse, Katherine M. Homewood, Emilie Beauchamp, Tom Clements, J. Terrence McCabe, David Wilkie, E. J. Milner-Gulland. Guiding principles for evaluating the impacts of conservation interventions on human well-being. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2015; 370 (1681): 20150103 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0103

    Summary of guiding principles for evaluating impacts of conservation interventions on well-being

    .

    (a) Defining outcomes and indicators

    (i) Principle 1: put local people at the centre of the evaluation

    (ii) Principle 2: select multiple outcomes to measure and consider subjective components

    (b) Evaluation design: linking outcomes to the intervention

    (i) Principle 3: match evaluation design to the setting and questions asked

    (c) Understanding processes of change

    (i) Principle 4: provide evidence of causal linkages

    (ii) Principle 5: consider trajectories of change

    (iii) Principle 6: investigate institutions and governance structures

    (d) Data collection

    (i) Principle 7: select and apply methods and toolkits with sensitivity to the research context

    (ii) Principle 8: take into account heterogeneity within the target group

    (iii) Principle 9: ensure independence

Solar Energy Impacts Protected Areas and Ecosystems

 

A solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert. Credit: Worklife Siemens/flickr

Study Sees Ecological Risks as Solar Expands

October 19th, 2015 By Bobby Magill Climate Central

Solar power development is big business in sunny California, fueled by low solar panel prices and the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change. Some biologists, however, are growing concerned that the placement of new large-scale solar power plants in the Mojave Desert may harm the biological diversity found there. A study published Monday shows that solar power developers in California have been using mostly undeveloped desert lands with sensitive wildlife habitat as sites for new solar power installations rather than building on less sensitive, previously developed open lands. The study, by the Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University, shows the ecological footprint of solar power development could grow to more than 27,500 square miles — roughly the land area of South Carolina — if the U.S. were to adopt a more ambitious climate goal. When thousands of solar panels are built in undeveloped natural areas, the panels crowd out wildlife and destroy their habitat. “Solar takes out a lot of territory, right? It obliterates everything,” University of California-Santa Cruz ecologist Barry Sinervo, who is unaffiliated with the study, said. “There is as much plant biodiversity in the Mojave as there is in a redwood forest. The key part of this is, do we want to tile out the last largest wilderness area that we have, which is the Western desert?”
The Carnegie study found that of the 161 planned or operating utility-scale solar power developments in California, more than half have been or will be built on natural shrub and scrublands totaling about 145 square miles of land, roughly the land area of the city of Bakersfield, Calif. About 28 percent have been built on agricultural land and 15 percent have been built in developed areas. Areas that have already been developed and have little wildlife habitat would be better suited for solar development from an ecological standpoint, said study lead author Rebecca Hernandez, a postdoctoral fellow at University of California, Berkeley, and a former ecologist at the Carnegie Institution. Hernandez said she was surprised to find that nearly a third of solar development is occurring on former cropland, perhaps because farmers are shifting from growing crops to using their land to generate electricity. California’s devastating drought may be responsible for farmers’ shift to solar, something one of the study’s co-authors is researching in more depth. “We see that ‘big solar’ is competing for space with natural areas,” she said. “We were surprised to find that solar energy development is a potential driver of the loss of California’s natural ecosystems and reductions in the integrity of our state and national park system.” Finding ways to resolve conflicts between renewable energy development and ecosystem protection may be critical if the U.S. is to rely on more solar power to displace fossil energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Assuming that 500 gigawatts of solar power may be needed to meet a future climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, Hernandez’s team found that a region of California roughly equal to the land area of South Carolina may be needed to accommodate all the new solar power plant development. … The study also does not account for increasing solar panel efficiency over time, something that is likely to reduce the amount of land needed to generate a megawatt of solar electricity….

 

 

Most Calif. [solar] projects sited near protected areas — study

Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

Published: Monday, October 19, 2015

Most commercial-scale solar energy projects in California are located within 6 miles of protected lands
such as inventoried roadless areas or critical habitat for federally protected species, according to a study released today by scientists at California universities.The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined 161 projects that have been planned, are under construction or are operating. Their proximity to protected areas “may exacerbate habitat fragmentation” with direct and indirect ecological consequences, it found. “A prevailing cause of degradation within protected areas is land use and land cover change in surrounding areas,” the study notes.Protected areas are effective when land use nearby does not obstruct corridor use, dispersion capabilities, nor facilitate invasions of nonnative species through habitat loss, fragmentation, and isolation — including those caused by renewable energy development.”

It recommends land-use policies that encourage solar development in “human-impacted places” that comply with environmental laws to avoid “deleterious land cover change.”… Fewer than 15 percent of projects were located in “compatible” areas — defined by the study’s lead author as places that have previously been disturbed by humans, are sufficiently sunny and are located near existing energy infrastructure. About 19 percent of installations were in “incompatible” areas, due primarily to their lengthy distances to existing transmission….Today’s study found that nearly 30 percent of solar installations in California are sited in croplands and pastures, a sign that developers are increasingly gravitating toward farmland, such as in the Central Valley. But a greater number of projects are located in shrublands and scrublands, comprising about 93,000 acres of land-cover change.
Photovoltaic projects, which use panels like the ones installed on rooftops to convert sunlight directly into electricity, were concentrated particularly in the Central Valley and the interior of Southern California, while concentrated solar power projects, which use the sun to heat a liquid and power a turbine, were sited exclusively in inland Southern California, the study found.
Future project siting will have a major impact on biodiversity considering the scarcity of land and the vast space requirements of renewable energy
, the study notes.
Opportunities to minimize land use change include co-locating renewable energy systems with food production and converting degraded and salt-contaminated lands, unsuitable for agriculture, to sites for renewable energy production,” the study says.Using unoccupied spaces such as adjacent to and on top of barns, parking lots, and distribution centers in agricultural areas is another win-win scenario.” The study found that 16 percent of photovoltaic and 44 percent of concentrated solar power installations were located in “incompatible” areas. Most of these plans were sited “far from transmission infrastructure.”

 

 

Solar energy development impacts on land cover change and protected areas

Rebecca R. Hernandez et al PDF PNAS September 2015 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1517656112

Significance

Decisions humans make about how much land to use, where, and for what end use, can inform innovation and policies directing sustainable pathways of land use for energy. Using the state of California (United States) as a model system, our study shows that the majority of utility-scale solar energy (USSE) installations are sited in natural environments, namely shrublands and scrublands, and agricultural land cover types, and near (<10 km) protected areas. “Compatible” (≤15%) USSE installations are sited in developed areas, whereas “Incompatible” installations (19%) are classified as such owing to, predominantly, lengthier distances to existing transmission. Our results suggest a dynamic landscape where land for energy, food, and conservation goals overlap and where environmental co-benefit opportunities should be explored.

Abstract

Decisions determining the use of land for energy are of exigent concern as land scarcity, the need for ecosystem services, and demands for energy generation have concomitantly increased globally. Utility-scale solar energy (USSE) [i.e., ≥1 megawatt (MW)] development requires large quantities of space and land; however, studies quantifying the effect of USSE on land cover change and protected areas are limited. We assessed siting impacts of >160 USSE installations by technology type [photovoltaic (PV) vs. concentrating solar power (CSP)], area (in square kilometers), and capacity (in MW) within the global solar hot spot of the state of California (United States). Additionally, we used the Carnegie Energy and Environmental Compatibility model, a multiple criteria model, to quantify each installation according to environmental and technical compatibility. Last, we evaluated installations according to their proximity to protected areas, including inventoried roadless areas, endangered and threatened species habitat, and federally protected areas. We found the plurality of USSE (6,995 MW) in California is sited in shrublands and scrublands, comprising 375 km2 of land cover change. Twenty-eight percent of USSE installations are located in croplands and pastures, comprising 155 km2 of change. Less than 15% of USSE installations are sited in “Compatible” areas. The majority of “Incompatible” USSE power plants are sited far from existing transmission infrastructure, and all USSE installations average at most 7 and 5 km from protected areas, for PV and CSP, respectively. Where energy, food, and conservation goals intersect, environmental compatibility can be achieved when resource opportunities, constraints, and trade-offs are integrated into siting decisions.

Is 2015 the Last Year Below 400 ppm of CO2?

 

 

Scientists at the Scripps Institution project that the powerful El Niño condition this year, along with rising emissions, will send concentrations of carbon dioxide, even accounting for annual ups and downs, beyond 400 parts per million shortly. Credit Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Is This the Last Year Below 400? [ppm of Co2]

Leader of Keeling Curve measurement says temporary bump from El Niño could push atmospheric CO2 levels above symbolic threshold for good

October 21, 2015 Ralph Keeling

The Mauna Loa CO2 record is a saw-tooth pattern, with CO2 concentrations typically falling from May through September, and rising over the rest of the year. This cycle is caused by the natural exchanges of CO2 with vegetation and soils. Each year, the values are higher than the year before, as CO2 continues to pile up in the atmosphere from fossil fuel burning. This year, as expected, we hit the annual low point back in September and CO2 concentrations are starting up again. The lowest point this year was well below 400 parts per million (ppm). The lowest daily minimum this year was 395.83 ppm and the average for the month of September, was around 397.1 ppm. By sometime in the next month or two, CO2 will again rise above 400 ppm. Will daily values at Mauna Loa ever fall below 400 ppm again in our lifetimes?
I’m prepared to project that they won’t, making the current values the last time the Mauna Loa record will produce numbers in the 300s

The background for my forecast:

In recent years, CO2 has been increasing by around 2.2 ppm, per year. Barring anything unusual, we would therefore expect next year’s September value to be around 399.3 ppm, just barely below 400 ppm, and we’d expect the lowest daily minima to be around 398 ppm or so. But we seem now to be on the verge of the largest El Niño event since 1997. This is significant because CO2 tends to rise much faster during and just following El Niño events. From September 1997 to September 1998, for example, CO2 rose by a whopping 3.7 ppm. If this El Niño is comparable, the rise from September 2015 to September 2016 could easily be 4.4 ppm, allowing for an El Niño boost and allowing that fossil-fuel emissions rates globally are larger now than in 1998. Taking these factors into account, a reasonable forecast for next year’s September minimum is around 402 ppm, with the lowest daily minima also over 400 ppm. The El Niño growth spurt in atmospheric CO2 is mostly caused by drought in the tropics. Rainfall that normally falls over tropical landmasses shifts to the oceans during El Niño events. This slows the normal growth of tropical forests and increases forest fires. Indonesia suffered severe fires during the 1997 event and, from recent news, is already being hit hard this year. The loss of carbon from tropical forests in El Niño years is temporary as the forests tend to regrow in normal years, building back their biomass and sucking CO2 out of the air in the process. But the eventual recovery from this El Niño won’t bring us back below 400 ppm, because its impact will be dwarfed by the global consumption of fossil fuels, pushing CO2 levels ever higher.

 

Starting Later This Year, 400 and Up is Likely to Be the New Normal for CO2 Measurements

By ANDREW C. REVKIN NY Times Oct. 22 2015

Climate scientists predict that the combination of El Niño impacts and rising emissions will cause atmospheric levels of heat-trapping CO2 to cross a threshold that won’t be revisited for a very long time. On Tuesday, a simple but sobering note predicting an imminent end to measurements of carbon dioxide in air lower than 400 parts per million was posted by the group at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography that has been carefully measuring the rising concentration of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere since 1958.
The sawtoothed “Keeling Curve,” of these measurements, named for Charles David Keeling, the scientist who launched the project and ran it until his death in 2005, has become an icon of the Anthropocene, the proposed geological epoch created by humanity’s “great acceleration.” There’s no surprise in the 400 p.p.m. threshold being passed soon given continuing growth in emissions of the heat-trapping gas and its long lifetime once released. This landmark has been written about extensively here and elsewhere, and the annual surge and ebb of the gas has previously crossed that 400 p.p.m line temporarily (seasonal bursts of photosynthesis account for the sawtoothed ups and downs).

This time, partially because of the impact of El Niño on precipitation and thus plant growth, the scientists foresee an accelerated rise, but an insufficient seasonal surge of photosynthesis to draw levels lower. The long lifetime of the gas, once released, and the slow response of humans in trying to constrain emissions mean it’ll almost surely take generations, at least, before numbers below 400 are revisited on the way down.

The Scripps note is worth posting simply as an artifact of our age. It is written by Ralph Keeling, who took over after death of his father, the pioneering atmospheric scientist Charles David Keeling, in leading this simple but momentous observational effort. See my 2008 “ode to the value of monitoring” for a broader look at why seemingly boring observations of important parameters, from CO2 concentrations to stream flows, get too little respect, and funding. The climate historian Spencer Weart did a fine job of tracking the budget woes of the Keelings’ work. [see Ralph Keeling’s note above]


 

Conservation Science News Oct 24 2015

 

Focus of the Week – Is This the Last Year Below 400 ppm of CO2?

1ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

2CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS with special DROUGHT section

3ADAPTATION and HOPE

4- POLICY

5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

6-
RESOURCES and REFERENCES

7OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST 

8IMAGES OF THE WEEK

——————————–

NOTE: Please share this news update that has been prepared for
Point Blue Conservation Science
staff.  You can find these news compilations posted on line by clicking here.  For more information please see www.pointblue.org. The items contained in this update were drawn from www.dailyclimate.org, www.sciencedaily.com, http://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.sfgate.com, and many other online sources. This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  You can receive this news compilation by signing up for the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative  Newsletter or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium listserve.  You can also email me directly at ecohen at pointblue.org with questions or suggestions. 

 

Founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Point Blue’s 140 scientists advance nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to benefit wildlife and people, through science, partnerships and outreach.  We work collaboratively to guide and inspire positive conservation outcomes today for a healthy, blue planet teeming with life in the future.  Read more about our 5-year strategic approach here.

 

 

Focus of the WeekIs This the Last Year Below 400 ppm of CO2?

 

Scientists at the Scripps Institution project that the powerful El Niño condition this year, along with rising emissions, will send concentrations of carbon dioxide, even accounting for annual ups and downs, beyond 400 parts per million shortly. Credit Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Is This the Last Year Below 400? [ppm of Co2]

Leader of Keeling Curve measurement says temporary bump from El Niño could push atmospheric CO2 levels above symbolic threshold for good

October 21, 2015 Ralph Keeling

The Mauna Loa CO2 record is a saw-tooth pattern, with CO2 concentrations typically falling from May through September, and rising over the rest of the year. This cycle is caused by the natural exchanges of CO2 with vegetation and soils. Each year, the values are higher than the year before, as CO2 continues to pile up in the atmosphere from fossil fuel burning. This year, as expected, we hit the annual low point back in September and CO2 concentrations are starting up again. The lowest point this year was well below 400 parts per million (ppm). The lowest daily minimum this year was 395.83 ppm and the average for the month of September, was around 397.1 ppm. By sometime in the next month or two, CO2 will again rise above 400 ppm. Will daily values at Mauna Loa ever fall below 400 ppm again in our lifetimes?
I’m prepared to project that they won’t, making the current values the last time the Mauna Loa record will produce numbers in the 300s

The background for my forecast:

In recent years, CO2 has been increasing by around 2.2 ppm, per year. Barring anything unusual, we would therefore expect next year’s September value to be around 399.3 ppm, just barely below 400 ppm, and we’d expect the lowest daily minima to be around 398 ppm or so. But we seem now to be on the verge of the largest El Niño event since 1997. This is significant because CO2 tends to rise much faster during and just following El Niño events. From September 1997 to September 1998, for example, CO2 rose by a whopping 3.7 ppm. If this El Niño is comparable, the rise from September 2015 to September 2016 could easily be 4.4 ppm, allowing for an El Niño boost and allowing that fossil-fuel emissions rates globally are larger now than in 1998. Taking these factors into account, a reasonable forecast for next year’s September minimum is around 402 ppm, with the lowest daily minima also over 400 ppm. The El Niño growth spurt in atmospheric CO2 is mostly caused by drought in the tropics. Rainfall that normally falls over tropical landmasses shifts to the oceans during El Niño events. This slows the normal growth of tropical forests and increases forest fires. Indonesia suffered severe fires during the 1997 event and, from recent news, is already being hit hard this year. The loss of carbon from tropical forests in El Niño years is temporary as the forests tend to regrow in normal years, building back their biomass and sucking CO2 out of the air in the process. But the eventual recovery from this El Niño won’t bring us back below 400 ppm, because its impact will be dwarfed by the global consumption of fossil fuels, pushing CO2 levels ever higher.

 

Starting Later This Year, 400 and Up is Likely to Be the New Normal for CO2 Measurements

By ANDREW C. REVKIN NY Times Oct. 22 2015

Climate scientists predict that the combination of El Niño impacts and rising emissions will cause atmospheric levels of heat-trapping CO2 to cross a threshold that won’t be revisited for a very long time. On Tuesday, a simple but sobering note predicting an imminent end to measurements of carbon dioxide in air lower than 400 parts per million was posted by the group at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography that has been carefully measuring the rising concentration of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere since 1958.
The sawtoothed “Keeling Curve,” of these measurements, named for Charles David Keeling, the scientist who launched the project and ran it until his death in 2005, has become an icon of the Anthropocene, the proposed geological epoch created by humanity’s “great acceleration.” There’s no surprise in the 400 p.p.m. threshold being passed soon given continuing growth in emissions of the heat-trapping gas and its long lifetime once released. This landmark has been written about extensively here and elsewhere, and the annual surge and ebb of the gas has previously crossed that 400 p.p.m line temporarily (seasonal bursts of photosynthesis account for the sawtoothed ups and downs).

This time, partially because of the impact of El Niño on precipitation and thus plant growth, the scientists foresee an accelerated rise, but an insufficient seasonal surge of photosynthesis to draw levels lower. The long lifetime of the gas, once released, and the slow response of humans in trying to constrain emissions mean it’ll almost surely take generations, at least, before numbers below 400 are revisited on the way down.

The Scripps note is worth posting simply as an artifact of our age. It is written by Ralph Keeling, who took over after death of his father, the pioneering atmospheric scientist Charles David Keeling, in leading this simple but momentous observational effort. See my 2008 “ode to the value of monitoring” for a broader look at why seemingly boring observations of important parameters, from CO2 concentrations to stream flows, get too little respect, and funding. The climate historian Spencer Weart did a fine job of tracking the budget woes of the Keelings’ work. [see Ralph Keeling’s note above]

 

 

 

 

 

A solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert. Credit: Worklife Siemens/flickr

Study Sees Ecological Risks as Solar Expands

October 19th, 2015 By Bobby Magill Climate Central

Solar power development is big business in sunny California, fueled by low solar panel prices and the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change. Some biologists, however, are growing concerned that the placement of new large-scale solar power plants in the Mojave Desert may harm the biological diversity found there. A study published Monday shows that solar power developers in California have been using mostly undeveloped desert lands with sensitive wildlife habitat as sites for new solar power installations rather than building on less sensitive, previously developed open lands. The study, by the Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University, shows the ecological footprint of solar power development could grow to more than 27,500 square miles — roughly the land area of South Carolina — if the U.S. were to adopt a more ambitious climate goal. When thousands of solar panels are built in undeveloped natural areas, the panels crowd out wildlife and destroy their habitat. “Solar takes out a lot of territory, right? It obliterates everything,” University of California-Santa Cruz ecologist Barry Sinervo, who is unaffiliated with the study, said. “There is as much plant biodiversity in the Mojave as there is in a redwood forest. The key part of this is, do we want to tile out the last largest wilderness area that we have, which is the Western desert?”
The Carnegie study found that of the 161 planned or operating utility-scale solar power developments in California, more than half have been or will be built on natural shrub and scrublands totaling about 145 square miles of land, roughly the land area of the city of Bakersfield, Calif. About 28 percent have been built on agricultural land and 15 percent have been built in developed areas. Areas that have already been developed and have little wildlife habitat would be better suited for solar development from an ecological standpoint, said study lead author Rebecca Hernandez, a postdoctoral fellow at University of California, Berkeley, and a former ecologist at the Carnegie Institution. Hernandez said she was surprised to find that nearly a third of solar development is occurring on former cropland, perhaps because farmers are shifting from growing crops to using their land to generate electricity. California’s devastating drought may be responsible for farmers’ shift to solar, something one of the study’s co-authors is researching in more depth. “We see that ‘big solar’ is competing for space with natural areas,” she said. “We were surprised to find that solar energy development is a potential driver of the loss of California’s natural ecosystems and reductions in the integrity of our state and national park system.” Finding ways to resolve conflicts between renewable energy development and ecosystem protection may be critical if the U.S. is to rely on more solar power to displace fossil energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Assuming that 500 gigawatts of solar power may be needed to meet a future climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, Hernandez’s team found that a region of California roughly equal to the land area of South Carolina may be needed to accommodate all the new solar power plant development. … The study also does not account for increasing solar panel efficiency over time, something that is likely to reduce the amount of land needed to generate a megawatt of solar electricity….

 

 

Most Calif. [solar] projects sited near protected areas — study

Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

Published: Monday, October 19, 2015

Most commercial-scale solar energy projects in California are located within 6 miles of protected lands
such as inventoried roadless areas or critical habitat for federally protected species, according to a study released today by scientists at California universities.The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined 161 projects that have been planned, are under construction or are operating. Their proximity to protected areas “may exacerbate habitat fragmentation” with direct and indirect ecological consequences, it found. “A prevailing cause of degradation within protected areas is land use and land cover change in surrounding areas,” the study notes.Protected areas are effective when land use nearby does not obstruct corridor use, dispersion capabilities, nor facilitate invasions of nonnative species through habitat loss, fragmentation, and isolation — including those caused by renewable energy development.”

It recommends land-use policies that encourage solar development in “human-impacted places” that comply with environmental laws to avoid “deleterious land cover change.”… Fewer than 15 percent of projects were located in “compatible” areas — defined by the study’s lead author as places that have previously been disturbed by humans, are sufficiently sunny and are located near existing energy infrastructure. About 19 percent of installations were in “incompatible” areas, due primarily to their lengthy distances to existing transmission….Today’s study found that nearly 30 percent of solar installations in California are sited in croplands and pastures, a sign that developers are increasingly gravitating toward farmland, such as in the Central Valley. But a greater number of projects are located in shrublands and scrublands, comprising about 93,000 acres of land-cover change.
Photovoltaic projects, which use panels like the ones installed on rooftops to convert sunlight directly into electricity, were concentrated particularly in the Central Valley and the interior of Southern California, while concentrated solar power projects, which use the sun to heat a liquid and power a turbine, were sited exclusively in inland Southern California, the study found.
Future project siting will have a major impact on biodiversity considering the scarcity of land and the vast space requirements of renewable energy
, the study notes.
Opportunities to minimize land use change include co-locating renewable energy systems with food production and converting degraded and salt-contaminated lands, unsuitable for agriculture, to sites for renewable energy production,” the study says.Using unoccupied spaces such as adjacent to and on top of barns, parking lots, and distribution centers in agricultural areas is another win-win scenario.” The study found that 16 percent of photovoltaic and 44 percent of concentrated solar power installations were located in “incompatible” areas. Most of these plans were sited “far from transmission infrastructure.”

 

 

Solar energy development impacts on land cover change and protected areas

Rebecca R. Hernandez et al PDF PNAS September 2015 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1517656112

Significance

Decisions humans make about how much land to use, where, and for what end use, can inform innovation and policies directing sustainable pathways of land use for energy. Using the state of California (United States) as a model system, our study shows that the majority of utility-scale solar energy (USSE) installations are sited in natural environments, namely shrublands and scrublands, and agricultural land cover types, and near (<10 km) protected areas. “Compatible” (≤15%) USSE installations are sited in developed areas, whereas “Incompatible” installations (19%) are classified as such owing to, predominantly, lengthier distances to existing transmission. Our results suggest a dynamic landscape where land for energy, food, and conservation goals overlap and where environmental co-benefit opportunities should be explored.

Abstract

Decisions determining the use of land for energy are of exigent concern as land scarcity, the need for ecosystem services, and demands for energy generation have concomitantly increased globally. Utility-scale solar energy (USSE) [i.e., ≥1 megawatt (MW)] development requires large quantities of space and land; however, studies quantifying the effect of USSE on land cover change and protected areas are limited. We assessed siting impacts of >160 USSE installations by technology type [photovoltaic (PV) vs. concentrating solar power (CSP)], area (in square kilometers), and capacity (in MW) within the global solar hot spot of the state of California (United States). Additionally, we used the Carnegie Energy and Environmental Compatibility model, a multiple criteria model, to quantify each installation according to environmental and technical compatibility. Last, we evaluated installations according to their proximity to protected areas, including inventoried roadless areas, endangered and threatened species habitat, and federally protected areas. We found the plurality of USSE (6,995 MW) in California is sited in shrublands and scrublands, comprising 375 km2 of land cover change. Twenty-eight percent of USSE installations are located in croplands and pastures, comprising 155 km2 of change. Less than 15% of USSE installations are sited in “Compatible” areas. The majority of “Incompatible” USSE power plants are sited far from existing transmission infrastructure, and all USSE installations average at most 7 and 5 km from protected areas, for PV and CSP, respectively. Where energy, food, and conservation goals intersect, environmental compatibility can be achieved when resource opportunities, constraints, and trade-offs are integrated into siting decisions.

 

These are women from Uaxactun village in the Peten, Guatemala preparing dinner for tourists. Credit: Lovett Williams

New studies look at impact of protected areas on poverty, human well-being

Posted: 14 Oct 2015 11:22 AM PDT

A substantial fraction of the Earth is now legally protected from damaging human activities. Does this protection matter? In other words, has it made a difference in terms of maintaining or enhancing biological diversity and ecosystem services? Has it harmed or helped the people who live in and around these areas? The answers to these important questions are surprisingly elusive, but absolutely essential for developing effective conservation strategies. Practitioners need credible, scientific evidence about the degree to which protected areas affect environmental and social outcomes, and how these effects vary with context. Such evidence has been lacking, but the situation is changing as conservation scientists adopt more sophisticated research designs for evaluating protected areas’ past impacts and for predicting their future impacts. Complementing these scientific advances, conservation funders and practitioners are paying increasing attention to evaluating their investments with more scientifically rigorous evaluation designs. This theme issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B highlights recent advances in the science of protected area evaluations and explores the challenges to developing a more credible evidence base on which societies can achieve their goals of protecting nature while enhancing human welfare….Nature conservation programs such as protected areas can have significant impacts — both positive and negative — on local people. These impacts can be economic, including on income, housing and livelihoods, but conservation can also affect social relations and people’s feelings about life. The authors explore the concept of wellbeing, which encompasses these different dimensions, and propose nine principles which can help conservationists better to understand their impacts on people’s lives. These include ensuring local people’s priorities are addressed and making sure that research uses appropriate methods which can capture the complexity of the impacts that people experience.

  1. Daniel Brockington, David Wilkie. Protected areas and poverty. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2015; 370 (1681): 20140271 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0271
  2. Emily Woodhouse, Katherine M. Homewood, Emilie Beauchamp, Tom Clements, J. Terrence McCabe, David Wilkie, E. J. Milner-Gulland. Guiding principles for evaluating the impacts of conservation interventions on human well-being. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2015; 370 (1681): 20150103 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0103

    Summary of guiding principles for evaluating impacts of conservation interventions on well-being

    .

    (a) Defining outcomes and indicators

    (i) Principle 1: put local people at the centre of the evaluation

    (ii) Principle 2: select multiple outcomes to measure and consider subjective components

    (b) Evaluation design: linking outcomes to the intervention

    (i) Principle 3: match evaluation design to the setting and questions asked

    (c) Understanding processes of change

    (i) Principle 4: provide evidence of causal linkages

    (ii) Principle 5: consider trajectories of change

    (iii) Principle 6: investigate institutions and governance structures

    (d) Data collection

    (i) Principle 7: select and apply methods and toolkits with sensitivity to the research context

    (ii) Principle 8: take into account heterogeneity within the target group

    (iii) Principle 9: ensure independence

 

 


Virtual Issue: Monitoring Wildlife

October 2015

To celebrate The Wildlife Society Annual Conference
Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Journal of Animal Ecology and Journal of Applied Ecology have compiled this virtual issue on Monitoring Wildlife. The papers below are drawn from the journals and provide examples of the latest research in techniques for monitoring including remote sensing, telemetry, camera traps and modelling techniques. The papers cover a broad range of animals including fish, mammals, invertebrates and birds. We hope that this selection of papers will be of interest to researchers and stakeholders in this highly topical field….

 

 

 

Prioritizing Wetland Restoration Sites: A Review and Application to a Large-Scale Coastal Restoration Program

Widis et al doi: 10.3368/er.33.4.358 Ecological Rest. December 1, 2015 vol. 33 no. 4 358-377

ABSTRACT: Wetland restoration has emerged as an important tool for counteracting and restoring lost ecological services resulting from urban and agricultural development. Over the last 20 years, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) modeling has also become a powerful mechanism for prioritizing potential wetland restoration sites across a variety of geographic scales. Although numerous studies have created GIS-based models for a variety of uses, no one has comprehensively analyzed and compared models to determine best practices and inform future site selection efforts. We performed a comprehensive literature review of GIS-based wetland prioritization models. We found no congruency between stated objectives, specific variables and metrics, and respective weighting and scoring systems. We then performed a case study, applying these findings to explore potential improvements to the spatial decision support system (SDSS) used by the Mississippi Coastal Improvement Program (MsCIP; USA), a large-scale coastal restoration project aimed at improving the resiliency and reducing flood risk after significant damage from Hurricane Katrina (2005). This case study draws on several state-of-the-art practices in the literature to retroactively study potential improvements in the SDSS’s flexibility and accuracy in identifying potential wetland restoration sites. Our findings suggest improvements for wetland restoration prioritization models (including consistent variable use and ground-truthing) that could better direct future federal initiatives, as well as a wide range of domestic and international wetland restoration programs.

 

Is Information Enough? The Effects of Watershed Approaches and Planning on Targeting Ecosystem Restoration Sites

Woodruff et al doi: 10.3368/er.33.4.378 Ecological Rest. December 1, 2015 vol. 33 no. 4 378-387

ABSTRACT: Since 1996, the watershed approach (i.e., the inclusive use of watershed information) has been a hallmark concept in ecosystem restoration site location. In 2008, federal regulators required use of the watershed approach in siting compensatory mitigation for aquatic impacts regulated under the U.S. Clean Water Act. However, regulations fell short of requiring full watershed plans, which could have required stakeholder involvement and inter-institutional coordination. Little work has evaluated how the watershed approach or planning position mitigation sites in the landscape. Has the watershed approach or watershed planning been successful in targeting restoration sites where they are needed? The North Carolina Division of Mitigation Services (DMS; formerly the NC Ecosystem Enhancement Program), a state agency, has implemented the watershed approach and extensive watershed planning to focus restoration investments. Through a multi-step planning program, the DMS employs a watershed approach to gauge the need of 12-digit watersheds for restoration. In some cases, an intensive local watershed planning process follows this targeting effort. We tested the effect of the program’s watershed targeting approach (n = 710) and local watershed planning efforts (n = 147) on increasing the frequency of wetland and stream mitigation projects (n = 480) in each of the state’s 1741 12-digit watersheds (1998–2012). We find that while the watershed approach is successful at guiding restoration to targeted watersheds over space and time, the impacts of watershed planning are more nebulous, with important but weaker panel-effects. Our findings highlight the importance of plan quality and data management in using a watershed approach to target restoration sites effectively.

 

 

Antarctic species threatened by willful misinterpretation of legal treaty

Posted: 21 Oct 2015 02:08 PM PDT

Countries are loosely interpreting the legal meaning of “rational use” of natural resources to escalate fishing efforts in Antarctic waters and hinder efforts to establish marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean, scientists and legal scholars say. The findings, published online in the journal Marine Policy, come as 24 countries plus the European Union convene in Hobart, Australia, this week for the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to set fisheries management rules in the Southern Ocean. Also on the meeting agenda are plans for extensive marine protected areas (MPAs), including the Ross Sea, Antarctica, a region scientists have deemed Earth’s “Last Ocean” because it is perhaps the healthiest large intact marine ecosystem left on the planet.

 

Jennifer Jacquet, Eli Blood-Patterson, Cassandra Brooks, David Ainley. ‘Rational use ‘ in Antarctic waters. Marine Policy, 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2015.09.031

 

 

The radio transmitter this wood thrush is wearing enables researchers to track it through the forest at night. Credit: V. Jirinec

Secret nocturnal lives of wood thrushes

Posted: 21 Oct 2015 03:50 PM PDT

We know surprisingly little about what songbirds do after the sun goes down, but past studies have provided tantalizing hints that many forest birds roost for the night in different habitat from where they spend the day. A new paper confirms that wood thrushes often move out of their daytime ranges to sleep, seeking dense areas of vegetation where they’re safe from predators….

 

Vitek Jirinec, Christina P. Varian, Chris J. Smith, Matthias Leu. Mismatch between diurnal home ranges and roosting areas in the Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina): Possible role of habitat and breeding stage. The Auk, 2015; 133 (1): 1 DOI: 10.1642/AUK-15-76.1

 

 

http://batsurveysireland.com/2014/01/30/european-bat-population-trends/

Bats important to survival of rare frog, other species

Posted: 21 Oct 2015 02:08 PM PDT

Bat poop matters. So says a study examining a little-known species, the Caucasian parsley frog, and its reliance on insects that breed in bat guano. This is yet another study showing how critically important are bats for the environment. Their role is not limited to controlling agricultural pests; entire cave ecosystems with dozens of species depend on bats for survival, and many of these species are yet to be discovered….Dinets found that in the summer, most of the frogs find shelter in limestone caves, although some probably wander outside at night. The frogs showed significant preference for caves with bat colonies, most likely because insects breeding in bat waste provided a rich source of food. “This is yet another study showing how critically important are bats for the environment,” Dinets said. “Their role is not limited to controlling agricultural pests; entire cave ecosystems with dozens of species depend on bats for survival, and many of these species are yet to be discovered.” The study was recently published in the Herpetological Bulletin, a leading scientific publication devoted to herpetology, the study of amphibians and reptiles. Dinets noted that as bat populations in eastern North America are being devastated by human-introduced white-nose syndrome, the disaster is likely to cause a cascade of extinctions and widespread ecosystem destabilization. White-nose syndrome is of Eurasian origin, but it is a problem only in North America because bats here are not adapted to it. “The study shows the importance of protecting even small bat colonies,” Dinets said.

 


Northern gannet (Morus bassanus) are using old fishing nets as nesting material in their nesting colony at the island Helgoland (North Sea / Germany), Credit: Image courtesy of Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

Plastic litter taints the sea surface, even in the Arctic

Posted: 22 Oct 2015 08:13 AM PDT

For the first time,
researchers show that marine litter can even be found at the sea surface of Arctic waters. Though it remains unclear how the litter made it so far north, it is likely to pose new problems for local marine life, the authors report
on the online portal of the scientific journal Polar Biology. Plastic has already been reported from stomachs of resident seabirds and Greenland sharks. Plastic waste finds its way into the ocean, and from there to the farthest reaches of the planet — even as far as the Arctic.…We currently know of five garbage patches worldwide; the sixth patch in the Barents Sea is most likely in the early stages of formation. Bergmann believes it may be fed by the densely populated coastal regions of Northern Europe….The litter floating in the Arctic is particularly detrimental to seabirds, which feed at the sea surface. A recent study from the nearby Isfjorden fjord on Spitsbergen showed that 88 percent of the northern fulmars examined had swallowed plastic. These birds spend their entire life at sea. Even Greenland sharks are swallowing plastic litter: researchers found plastic litter in the stomachs of up to eight percent of the sharks caught south of Greenland

 

 

Beavers take a chunk out of nitrogen in Northeast rivers

Posted: 21 Oct 2015 11:47 AM PDT

Beavers, once valued for their fur, may soon have more appreciation in the Northeastern United States. There they are helping prevent harmful levels of nitrogen from reaching the area’s vulnerable estuaries. By creating ponds that slow down the movement of water, they aid in removing nitrogen from the water…..

 

Growing up without parents makes endangered birds more flexible

Posted: 21 Oct 2015 03:51 PM PDT

This is it, kids: official permission to stop listening to what your parents tell you — but only if you’re a bird. Many animal parents spend time teaching their young about how to find food and avoid danger, and this usually gives a big boost to their offspring. However, a new commentary makes the case that when environmental conditions change, relying on their parents’ way of doing things can actually hinder, not help, young cranes.

 

Advances in genetic studies of birds are changing ornithology research

Posted: 21 Oct 2015 03:50 PM PDT

How do birds evolve over generations? How do different bird populations diverge into new species? Ornithologists have been asking these questions since the days of Darwin, but rapid advances in genetic sequencing techniques in the last few years have brought answers more in reach than ever. A Review forthcoming in The Auk: Ornithological Advances describes some of the newest and most exciting developments in the field of “high-throughput sequencing,” a collection of techniques for studying broad regions of a genome rather than individual genes.

 

The Facebook campus sits next to the Menlo Park Baylands amid the rich colors of the drying mud flats in Ravenswood Slough in this aerial view taken Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 2, 2015, in Menlo Park, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) ( Karl Mondon )

San Francisco Bay: Race to build wetlands is needed to stave off sea-level rise, scientists say

By Paul Rogers
progers@mercurynews.com Posted:   10/18/2015 06:00:00 PM PDT

San Francisco Bay is in a race against time, with billions of dollars of highways, airports, homes and office buildings at risk from rising seas, surging tides and extreme storms driven by climate change. And to knock down the waves and reduce flooding, 54,000 acres of wetlands — an area twice the size of the city of San Francisco — need to be restored around the bay in the next 15 years. That’s the conclusion of a new report from more than 100 Bay Area scientists and 17 government agencies that may help fuel a regional tax measure aimed at addressing the looming crisis. The other alternative, the report found, is to ring large sections of the bay with seawalls and levees in the coming decades. But that would destroy many of the marshes and probably cost taxpayers more in the long run. “If we don’t change our approach, we’ll see the marshes and mud flats start to drown,” said Letitia Grenier, a biologist with the San Francisco Estuary Institute, a scientific research organization in Richmond. “They’ll start to erode,” said Grenier, one of the report’s main authors. “We’ll have bigger waves coming in on high tides and storms — and more flooding. We’ll lose our wildlife. And eventually the wetlands will be gone. You’ll see levees and concrete seawalls. The water in many places will be higher than the land, like it is in New Orleans.” San Francisco Bay already has risen 8 inches since 1900, according to the tidal gauge at Fort Point, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge….

 

Report: Bay Area Infrastructure, Communities at Risk Without Wetlands Restoration

Wed, Oct 21, 2015 — 9:30 AM
Download audio (MP3)

Hundreds of acres of salt evaporation ponds, in the background, are being restored to tidal wetlands, as seen in the foreground of this scene from Eden Landing in Hayward, California.

A new report reveals that 42,000 acres of wetlands in the Bay Area must be restored over the next 15 years to mitigate the effects of climate change. Rising sea levels, swelling tides and strong storms threaten billions of dollars worth of businesses, homes and infrastructure. The report, from 100-plus Bay Area scientists and 17 government agencies, warns that wetlands either need to be repaired or buffered with seawalls and levees.

Host: Michael Krasny

Guests:

  • Letitia Grenier, co-director & senior scientist of the Resilient Landscapes Program, San Francisco Estuary Institute
  • Sam Schuchat, executive officer, The California State Coastal Conservancy

More info:
Baylandsgoals.org

 

 

 


Almost Every Chemical-Based Sunscreen In The U.S. Linked To Coral Destruction

by Jess Colarossi Oct 21, 2015

Coral reefs cannot seem to catch a break this year. Between a particularly strong El Niño, ocean acidification and increasing ocean temperatures, links between overfishing and reef collapses, and the declaration of a massive coral bleaching event expected to affect 95 percent of U.S. coral reefs by the end of the year, the current state of the global environment has been particularly detrimental to coral reefs. And now, research has shown that a chemical found in almost every chemical-based sunscreen used in the United States is linked to coral destruction. The study, published Tuesday in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, was led by Craig Downs from the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia. He told Reuters that the research was conducted in order to help explain why baby corals have not been developing in many established reefs. Between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotion make their way into coral reef areas each year… According to the research, concentrations of oxybenzone as low as 62 parts per trillion — equivalent to a drop of water in six and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools — are deemed harmful. Between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotion make their way into coral reef areas each year, and much of that sunscreen contains oxybenzone. The Huffington Post reported that the chemical is used in more than 3,500 sunscreens worldwide. However, harmful chemicals can also find their way into oceans through sewer systems and sewer overflows. The Washington Post reported that cities including Ocean City, Maryland, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, have built sewer outfalls that send waste water away from public beaches and deep into the ocean with an assortment of toxic chemicals from personal care products like sunscreen. This study is the latest to examine sunscreen’s impact on corals, but previous research has also found that sunscreen is a danger to corals. Conservation and environmental protection organizations have advised people to be mindful of the personal care products they use, especially while swimming in oceans. The National Park Service reported that 90 percent of snorkeling and diving occurs on only 10 percent of the world’s reefs, making the most “popular reefs” the most susceptible to harmful chemicals from sunscreens. Though no sunscreen has been named completely “reef friendly,” mineral and children’s sunscreens are found to be less harmful for reefs. The human health effects of oxybenzone, along with other chemicals found in the vast majority of sunscreens, have been called into question by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in previous years. The group has found that oxybenzone penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream, and acts as an endocrine disruptor, much like it has been found to do in coral reefs. EWG states that concentrations of oxybenzone are linked to disorders such as endometriosis in older women and lower birth weights in newborn girls — but the group notes that the studies showing this link aren’t conclusive. Some dermatologists at organizations such as the Skin Cancer Foundation have been critical of EWG’s findings…

 

The global demand for pine nuts, a main ingredient of pesto, means pine forests have been razed to the ground and pine cones ransacked from their floors 

Passion for pesto puts entire ecosystems in Russia in danger

October 22, 2015

  • Russia is the world’s largest producer of nuts from the Korean pine tree
  • Thousands of pickers collect them and sell them on to Chinese exporters
  • Entire forests have been razed to the ground to meet insatiable demand
  • Experts say lack of nuts will wipe out ecosystems ‘from chipmunk to tiger’ 

The global demand for pine nuts has meant that pine forests have been razed to the ground and pine cones ransacked from their floors, and in Russia, where the majority of the world’s pine nuts are imported from, entire ecosystems from birds to bears… First it was olive oil, and then Prosecco, and now the shortage of another Italian staple is threatening middle-class dining tables. Pesto could be on the wane – as ecologists are warning that its core ingredient, the pine nut, is under threat.

The global demand for pine nuts has meant that pine forests have been razed to the ground and pine cones ransacked from their floors, and in Russia, where the majority of the world’s pine nuts are imported from, entire ecosystems from birds to bears are in danger. The International Union for Conservation of Nature says that pine nuts from the Korean pine tree in the south-east Russia are collected by thousands of pickers each year, who sell them on to Chinese merchants who then ship them overseas. While the pine nuts traditionally preferred for pesto were imported from Europe, harvested from the Italian stone pine, increases in global demand and skyrocketing prices have shifted the world market toward less expensive Asian varieties, of which the Korean pine is the most important. Jonathan Slaght, of the Russia program of the Wildlife Conservation Society, wrote in the New York Times: ‘The global demand is making this harvest unsustainable. The entire Korean pine ecosystem could collapse if it continues. We are already seeing the cracks appearing… ‘The Korean pine nut pesto you eat today…carries with it an unseen cost that could shatter an ecosystem bottom to top, seedling to tree, and chipmunk to tiger.’

 

 

Fish farming gobbles up phosphorus

Posted: 22 Oct 2015 06:45 AM PDT

Fish farming is the largest source of phosphorus emissions in Norway, generating about 9,000 tonnes a year. Finding ways to reuse the waste from the fish farming industry could cut consumption of this important and increasingly scarce resource…The phosphorus contained in imported raw plant materials destined for fish feed production currently accounts for almost one-third of the phosphorus imported to Norway, and is larger than domestic fertilizer consumption.

In addition, fish farming is the largest source of phosphorus emissions, generating about 9,000 tonnes a year. Whereas animal manure that is spread on fields partially reuses the phosphorus, virtually all of the fish waste and feed scraps end up in the ocean….

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo: NASA)

Hurricane Patricia bears down on Mexico as strongest storm ever

Thousands are fleeing Mexico as Hurricane Patricia bears down on the country. Packing sustained winds of 200 mph, wind gusts could reach up to 245 mph.

David Agren and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY 6:05 p.m. EDT October 23, 2015

MONTERREY, Mexico — Tens of thousands of people were being evacuated Friday from Mexico’s Pacific coast as the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere bore down on the popular tourist area packing sustained winds of 190 mph, down from 200 mph earlier in the day. The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted the Category 5 Hurricane Patricia would make a “potentially catastrophic landfall” in southwestern Mexico later in the day.

The center described the storm as the most powerful ever recorded in the eastern Pacific or Atlantic basins. It warned of powerful winds and torrential rain that could bring life-threatening flash flooding and dangerous, destructive storm surge.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said during a radio interview on Friday that he didn’t want to create panic in the western states of Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit that are in Patricia’s path, but that it’s important for people there to understand the magnitude of the historic storm. Nieto said Patricia has surpassed the constraints of the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, which defines a top-rated category 5 storm as having wind speeds higher than 156 mph.

“If there were a category six for hurricanes, this would be a category six,” he said. “It’s a hurricane that hasn’t been seen before, not just in Mexico, not just in the United States. It has wind speeds that are greater than the most intense, strongest hurricanes ever recorded on the planet.” Nieto said the entirety of the federal government is responding to the storm, working with state and local officials to coordinate evacuations and position emergency personnel to respond. He told Mexicans that they have some difficult days ahead, but urged them to follow the instructions of their local authorities to survive the oncoming storm.

 

Getty Images Hurricane Patricia heads towards Mexico

This Is How Patricia Became The Strongest Hurricane Ever Recorded

Justin Worland @justinworland October 23, 2015 4:43 PM ET

Meteorologists say heightened sea temperatures due to El Niño and global warming explain how the storm caught them by surprise Hurricane Patricia—now the strongest hurricane ever recorded—surprised meteorologists as it transformed over the course of a day from a run of the mill tropical storm to a monster with sustained winds of up to 200 miles per hour. Now, meteorologists are pointing to heightened sea temperatures due to El Niño and global warming to explain how the storm caught them by surprise. “Our models all showed it would become a fairly big hurricane but none of them got close to what was actually measured,” said Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We’re going to be scratching our heads for a long time about this storm.” Surface temperatures across the Pacific Ocean have been elevated in recent months due to El Niño—a climate phenomenon that affects weather patterns across globe— by as much as 7ºF (4ºC), according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The El Niño effect follows decades of increased water temperatures due to global warming. A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that the surface levels of the world’s oceans warmed by about 4% between 1971 and 2010….

 

 

 

 

The first nine months of 2015 were the hottest since 1880. Clockwise from top left: a water spring north of Jerusalem; the boardwalk at Coney Island in New York City; a graveyard in Karachi, Pakistan; and a fountain in Madrid. Credit Clockwise from top left: Abir Sultan/European Pressphoto Agency; Spencer Platt, via Getty Images; Akhtar Soomro, via Reuters; Emilio Naranjo, via European Pressphoto Agency

2015 Likely to Be Hottest Year Ever Recorded

By JUSTIN GILLISOCT. 21, 2015

Just one year after 2014 set a record as the hottest year in the historical record, 2015 is on track to beat it by a substantial margin, possibly signaling a return to a sustained period of rapid global warming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the American agency that tracks worldwide temperatures, announced Wednesday that last month had been the hottest September on record, and that the January-to-September period had also been the hottest since 1880. Scientists say it is now all but certain that the full year will be the hottest on record, too. That means that delegates to a global climate conference scheduled for Paris in early December will almost certainly be convening at a time when climate-related disasters are unfolding around the world, putting them under greater pressure to reach an ambitious deal to limit future emissions and slow the temperature increase. The immediate cause of the record-breaking warmth is a strong El Niño weather pattern, in which the ocean releases immense amounts of heat into the atmosphere. But temperatures this year are running far ahead of those during the last strong El Niño, in 1997 and 1998, and scientists said the record heat would not have occurred without an underlying trend of warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

“We have no reason at this point to think that El Niño itself is responding to the forcing from greenhouse gases,” said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. “You can think of them as independent and adding to each other.” The El Niño phenomenon and the accompanying heat are already roiling weather patterns worldwide, likely contributing to dry weather and forest fires in Indonesia, to an incipient drought in Australia, and to a developing food emergency across parts of Africa, including a severe drought in Ethiopia. Those effects are likely to intensify in coming months. Past patterns suggest that El Niño will send unusual amounts of rain and snow to the American Southwest and to California, offering some relief for that parched state but also precipitating floods and mudslides. The California effects are likely to be strongest in the latter part of the winter, experts said.

 

 

(NOAA)

September 2015 Analysis NOAA

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for September 2015 was the highest for September in the 136-year period of record, at 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average of 15.0°C (59.0°F), surpassing the previous record set last year in 2014 by 0.12°C (0.19°F). This marks the fifth consecutive month a monthly high temperature record has been set and is the highest departure from average for any month among all 1629 months in the record that began in January 1880. The September temperature is currently increasing at an average rate of 0.06°C (0.11°F) per decade. Separately, the September average temperature across global land surfaces was 1.16°C (2.09°F) above the 20th century average, also the highest for September on record. Large regions of Earth’s land surfaces were much warmer than average, according to the Land & Ocean Temperature Percentiles map above. Record warmth was observed across northeastern Africa stretching into the Middle East, part of southeastern Asia, most of the northern half of South America, and parts of central and eastern North America. Southern South America, far western Canada, Alaska, and a swath across central Asia were cooler or much cooler than average.

 

Paradise Bay, Antarctica (stock image). Credit: © mrallen / Fotolia

Two degree Celsius warming locks in sea level rise for thousands of years

Posted: 18 Oct 2015 06:38 PM PDT

A jump in global average temperatures of 1.5°C-2°C will see the collapse of Antarctic ice shelves and lead to hundreds and even thousands of years of sea level rise, according to new research published in Nature. The research highlights the moral significance of decisions made now about mitigating climate change. An international team led by Dr Nicholas Golledge, a senior research fellow at New Zealand’s Victoria University’s Antarctic Research Centre, published the study ‘The multi-millennial Antarctic commitment to future sea-level rise’, which predicts how the Antarctic ice-sheet will respond to future atmospheric warming. Using state-of-the-art computer modelling, Dr Golledge and his colleagues including researchers from UNSW simulated the ice-sheet’s response to a warming climate under a range of greenhouse gas emission scenarios. They found in all but one scenario (that of significantly reduced emissions beyond 2020) large parts of the Antarctic ice-sheet were lost, resulting in a substantial rise in global sea-level. “The long reaction time of the Antarctic ice-sheet — which can take thousands of years to fully manifest its response to changes in environmental conditions — coupled with the fact that CO₂ lingers in the atmosphere for a very long time means that the warming we generate now will affect the ice sheet in ways that will be incredibly hard to undo,” Dr Golledge said….”It becomes an issue of whether we choose to mitigate now for the benefit of future generations or adapt to a world in which shorelines are significantly re-drawn.”In all likelihood we’re going to have to do both, because we are already committed to 25 centimetres by 2050, and at least 50 centimetres of sea-level rise by 2100.” According to Dr Golledge the last time CO concentrations in the atmosphere were similar to present levels was about three million years ago. “At that time average global temperatures were two or three degrees warmer, large parts of the Antarctic ice-sheet had melted, and sea-levels were a staggering 20 metres higher than they are now.” “We’re currently on track for a global temperature rise of a couple of degrees which will take us into that ballpark, so there may well be a few scary surprises in store for us, possibly within just a few hundred years.

 

  1. N. R. Golledge, D. E. Kowalewski, T. R. Naish, R. H. Levy, C. J. Fogwill, E. G. W. Gasson. The multi-millennial Antarctic commitment to future sea-level rise. Nature, 2015; 526 (7573): 421 DOI: 10.1038/nature15706
  2. Alexander Robel. Climate science: The long future of Antarctic melting. Nature, 2015; 526 (7573): 327 DOI: 10.1038/526327a

 

 

 


Tracking the 2C Limit- 1.062 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times now – September 2015

Posted on 23 October 2015 by Rob Honeycutt skepticalscience.come

The latest temperature anomaly coming out of GISS is, same as last month, 0.81°C. Adjusting that for our preindustrial baseline we show we’re now at 1.062°C over preindustrial times. The current El Niño continues to grow and is now predicted to have a 95% probability of continuing into the Spring of 2016.  Ironically, the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH) satellite temperature data is still showing little sign of warming now 5 months into the warming you see above in the equatorial upper-ocean anomaly. I’ve asked other more knowledgeable folks about this and everyone is in agreement this is probably about right, but we should start seeing the satellite data begin spiking in the next month or so. With the Pacific “blob” off the coast of California, I would guess much more heat is entering the atmosphere than even during the 1998 el Nino, as such we would expect a similar or greater spike in the satellite data. If not, something must be amiss.

 

 

 

The Atlantic Conveyor – a Graph of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation by Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Red colors denote surface flows, and blue colors denote deep water flows.

Everything you need to know about the surprisingly cold ‘blob’ in the North Atlantic ocean

By Chris Mooney September 30 2015 Washington Post

Last week, I published a story drawing attention to the surprisingly cold anomaly in the North Atlantic Ocean that has emerged recently — featuring record cold temperatures from January through August for a substantial area (see in article above- NOAA). This is happening despite the fact that the globe as a whole is likely en route to its warmest year on record. I also quoted two prominent researchers who think this pattern reflects a much feared slowdown in Atlantic ocean circulation, a scenario made famous by the film The Day After Tomorrow. Granted, even if they’re right, what’s happening here will be nothing like the movie. At most, the circulation may be slowing, not stopping abruptly. And with a warming globe overall, there will definitely be no new ice age. Still, if the circulation is really slowing we need to weigh what the impacts might be. So let’s probe a little bit deeper here to figure out what’s happening, and what it means.

What explains the cold blob in the North Atlantic?

Michael Mann of Penn State and Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research say that to see a pattern like this, in an otherwise record hot year, is a sign that the Atlantic ocean’s so-called “meridional overturning circulation” or AMOC — which is driven by differences in ocean temperature and salinity in the North Atlantic — may be slowing down. Indeed, they say this fits nicely with a study they published earlier this year, which found an “exceptional” slowdown in the circulation over the course of the last century, and suggested that the dramatic melting of Greenland, by injecting large volumes of freshwater into the ocean, may be the cause.

So are they right? First, let’s consider in more depth what the circulation is and how it works. This figure, courtesy of Rahmstorf, is a big help (above)…… In the Atlantic ocean, warm surface water flows northward off the U.S.’s east coast — a current known as the Gulf Stream — and then continues into the North Atlantic. Here the current branches into different segments and eventually reaches regions where colder, salty water sinks beneath the surface, because of its greater density. It is this sinking that keeps the warmer waters flowing northward — they’re basically filling the gap that’s left behind by the sinking waters. The problem is that a freshening of the North Atlantic — due to large amounts of melting from Greenland — might reduce the density of cold surface waters and prevent sinking. And that, in turn, would slow down northward heat transport. That’s what Mann, Rahmstorf, and their colleagues think is happening — and that the “blob” is a telling sign…..

 

 

Evaporation takes place differently than previously thought: Implications for global warming

Posted: 22 Oct 2015 07:35 AM PDT

The process of evaporation, one of the most widespread on our planet, takes place differently than we once thought — this has been shown by new computer simulations. The discovery has far-reaching consequences for, among others, current global climate models, where a key role is played by evaporation of the oceans.

 

Is climate change responsible for more salt in the North Atlantic?

Posted: 23 Oct 2015 05:45 AM PDT

Researchers have studied the dynamics of the Mediterranean outflow through the Straits of Gibraltar, and the impact on global ocean circulation. They conclude that as a result of global warming, more extremely salty water masses from the Mediterranean will be flowing into the North Atlantic through the Straits of Gibraltar.

 

 

Photo by: Elaine Patarini Soil biologist Wendell Gilgert of Point Blue Conservation Science describes healthy soils to a group at Paicines Ranch, Feb. 6 2015; “State of the Soil”posted on Wed, 02/11/2015 – 01:55pm by Julie Morris, reporting for BenitoLink

 

 

Carbon sequestration in soil: The potential underfoot

Posted: 19 Oct 2015 08:23 AM PDT

Declining greenhouse gas emissions from European cropland could compensate for up to 7 percent of annual agricultural emissions from the region, according to a new study analyzing the carbon uptake potential of soil. However at global scale, indirect effects could offset significant parts of these emission savings….A new study published in the journal Global Environmental Change projects that carbon sequestration in European cropland could store between 9 and 38 megatons of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) per year in the soil, or as much as 7% of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in the European Union, at a price of carbon of 100 $/tCO2. “However, if strict emission reduction targets are only adopted inside Europe, efforts within the EU to reduce emissions could lead to increased emissions in other parts of the world, which could significantly compromise emission reductions at global level” says IIASA researcher Stefan Frank, who led the study.

In order to reach the EU goals on climate change, mitigation measures will be needed across many sectors. This research focuses on the agriculture piece of that puzzle. The world’s soils contain the third largest stock of carbon, after oceans and the geological pool, which includes rocks and fossil fuels. Any disturbance of soils, for example through inappropriate management or land use change could therefore release significant amounts of carbon to the atmosphere. Good management practices, on the other hand, can significantly reduce emissions. The study shows that a carbon tax only within Europe could cause some part of European agricultural production to be reallocated outside Europe. Consequently, emissions outside Europe would increase, thereby partly offsetting the emission reductions inside Europe, a problem known as emissions leakage.

 

Stefan Frank, Erwin Schmid, Petr Havlík, Uwe A. Schneider, Hannes Böttcher, Juraj Balkovič, Michael Obersteiner. The dynamic soil organic carbon mitigation potential of European cropland. Global Environmental Change, 2015; 35: 269 DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.08.004

 

New methane-metabolizing organisms discovered 600 meters below sea surface

Posted: 23 Oct 2015 06:43 AM PDT

Textbooks on methane-metabolizing organisms might have to be rewritten after researchers discovered two new organisms. These new organisms played an unknown role in greenhouse gas emissions and consumption.

 

NASA studying 2015 El Nino event as never before

Posted: 19 Oct 2015 03:28 PM PDT

Every two to seven years, an unusually warm pool of water — known as El Nino, affects the local aquatic environment, but also spurs extreme weather patterns around the world, from flooding in California to droughts in Australia. This winter, the 2015-16 El Nino event will be better observed from space than any previous El Nino.

 

 

http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/provdrs/forestry.html/

Carbon canopy: Study shows that tree planting alone may not significantly offset urban carbon emissions

Posted: 20 Oct 2015 09:11 AM PDT

Trees play a minor role in offsetting carbon emissions in urban areas, a new study shows. Researchers examined carbon emissions and trees’ carbon storage in the Twin Cities (Minnesota) and found hotspots where more trees could yield benefits. Around the world, from small towns to the biggest cities, civic soldiers in the battle against global warming are striving to cut carbon emissions. One oft-used strategy is to plant more trees, which suck up carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas. But does adding more oaks and maples make a dent in urban carbon-reduction goals? How does a city know where trees would be most effective for carbon management? A new study tries to answer those questions by looking at the carbon balance in one major American city. Researchers at the University of Iowa examined the amount of carbon generated in two counties in the Twin Cities, Minnesota and then calculated the amount of carbon absorbed by all trees there. They found that trees offset just one percent of the area’s carbon emissions.
They also noted “hotspots” where the amount of carbon generated was high and the number of trees was low. This analysis may help city planners determine the best locations to focus tree-planting efforts, while helping them realize that the strategy of adding trees needs to be complemented by other reduction and energy-conservation efforts if their communities are to reach their carbon-reduction targets.

 

More rain leads to fewer trees in the African savanna

Posted: 19 Oct 2015 10:08 AM PDT

Researchers might have finally provided a solution to the ecological riddle of why tree abundance on Africa’s grassy savannas diminishes in response to heavy rainfall despite scientists’ expectations to the contrary. The researchers found that the ability of grasses to more efficiently absorb and process water gives them an advantage over trees. This raises concerns that the heavy tropical rains that could accompany climate change may lead to fewer trees on savannas.

 

Alaskan boreal forest fires release more carbon than the trees can absorb

Posted: 19 Oct 2015 09:24 AM PDT

A new analysis of fire activity in Alaska’s Yukon Flats finds that so many forest fires are occurring there that the area has become a net exporter of carbon to the atmosphere.
This is worrisome, the researchers say, because arctic and subarctic boreal forests like those of the Yukon Flats contain roughly one-third of the Earth’s terrestrial carbon stores….

 

 

If vast amounts of permafrost thaws, it would release trapped methane gas, estimated to be more than double the quantity of carbon currently in the atmosphere. A stock image of ‘drunken forests’ in  Fairbanks, Alaska is shown. The phenomenon is caused by the permafrost melting beneath the trees, causing them to lean

Loss of world’s permafrost is ‘unbelievable’: Melting ice could release devastating quantities of methane and accelerate global warming, warns expert

  • Leading permafrost expert Professor Vladimir Romanovsky, told BBC News that permafrost in Alaska could start to thaw by 2070 
  • It had previously been assumed permafrost would remain stable until 2100
  • Permafrost is permanently-frozen earth, which holds methane deposits
  • Fears their release into the atmosphere could exacerbate global warming

By Sarah Griffiths for MailOnline

Published: 07:13 EST, 22 October 2015 | Updated: 07:48 EST, 22 October 2015

The recent warming of permafrost is ‘unbelievable,’ according to one of the world’s leading authorities on this vital frozen layer of Earth. Professor Vladimir Romanovsky has warned that permafrost in Alaska could start to thaw by 2070, which could trigger the release of methane stored in the earth, exacerbating climate change. It has been assumed that permafrost levels would remain stable for the rest of this century, but rising temperatures in the constantly frozen soil in the past four years, suggest this theory is flawed. Permafrost is found beneath a quarter of the northern hemisphere, predominantly in Arctic region and can range in depth between three and 4,921 feet (one and 1,500 metres). If this layer thaws, it would release trapped methane gas, estimated to be more than double the quantity of carbon currently in the atmosphere. Professor Romanovsky, of the University of Alaska and the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost told BBC News that permafrost in parts of Alaska has been warming at a rate of 0.1°C since the mid-2000’s. Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky, deputy director of the Moscow-based Oil and Gas Research Institute, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has called for ‘urgent’ investigation of the new phenomenon amid safety fears. ‘When we started measurements it was -8°C, but now it’s coming to almost -2.5°C on the Arctic coast,‘ he said. ‘It is unbelievable – that’s the temperature we should have here in central Alaska around Fairbanks, but not there…It was assumed it [the permafrost] would be stable for this century but it seems that’s not true anymore.’ So far, signs of warming have been seen in the form of sinking or ‘drunken’ trees, the appearance of sinkholes and buckling roads. While engineers can prevent important structures being damaged by thawing permafrost – by placing thermopiles underneath – there is little that can be done to stop general melting of the layer. Scientists think the thawing will be gradual, but they cannot predict whether the impact will be the same across different Arctic regions or if undersea permafrost will be affected. Earlier this month, experts warned that rampant wildfires burning in Alaska during the summer could change the Arctic and global climate in years to come. More than five million acres of forest burned this summer and scientists at Woods Hole Research Centre in Massachusetts warned, ‘if the trend continues, as predicted, [warming and drying] are likely to induce feedbacks that may further influence the global climate’….

 

SIBERIA’S CRATERS COULD BE CAUSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE 

In Februray, four collosal craters appeared in the Siberian permafrost in northern Russia, sparking fears that global warming may be causing gas to erupt from underground. Scientists spotted the new holes, along with dozens of other smaller ones, in the same area as three other enormous craters that were spotted on the Yamal Peninsula last year. The craters are thought to be caused by eruptions of methane gas from the permafrost as rising rising temperatures causes the frozen soil to melt. It has sparked fears that the craters could become more common as climate change continues to warm and led to warnings that the area is facing a looming natural disaster. One of new craters, surrounded by at least 20 smaller holes, is just six miles from a major gas production plant….

 

 

 

 

DROUGHT

 


 

On the left, La Nina cools off the ocean surface (greens and blues) in the winter of 1988. On the right, El Nino warms up it up (oranges and reds) in the winter of 1997. Credit: Jin-Ho Yoon/PNNL

California 2100: More frequent and more severe droughts and floods likely

El Nino and global warming work together to bring more extreme weather

October 21, 2015 DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

In the future, the Pacific Ocean’s temperature cycles could disrupt more than just December fishing. A study published in Nature Communications suggests that the weather patterns known as El Nino and La Nina could lead to at least a doubling of extreme droughts and floods in California later this century. The study shows more frequent extreme events are likely to occur. Other research shows the Golden State’s average precipitation increasing gradually, but not enough to account for the occurrence of extreme events. A better understanding of what gives rise to El Nino and La Nina cycles — together known as El Nino-Southern Oscillation — might help California predict and prepare for more frequent droughts and floods in the coming century. “Wet and dry years in California are linked to El Nino and La Nina. That relationship is getting stronger,” said atmospheric scientist Jin-Ho Yoon of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “Our study shows that ENSO will be exhibiting increasing control over California weather.”

Rain’s range

California is experiencing one of the most severe droughts in its history, but it’s not clear if a warmer world will make droughts worse, more frequent or perhaps even improve the situation. After all, warmer air can hold more water, and some research suggests global warming could increase California’s average rain and snowfall. However, research also suggests future rain will come down more as light drizzles and heavy deluges and less as moderate rainfall. Yoon and colleagues from PNNL and Utah State University in Logan, Utah, wondered if droughts might follow a similar pattern.

 

 


How Monarch Butterflies Might Actually Be Saved by California’s Drought

Published Oct 20 2015 02:11 PM EDT weather.com

The dwindling population of the monarch butterfly may get a boost from the California drought, of all places. Suburban homeowners are ripping out their lawns and replacing them with drought-resistant plants, like milkweed. These plants, which are native to California’s deserts and chaparral, could save the drought and monarchs at the same time, as the females only lay eggs on milkweed. The plant’s resurgence comes at a crucial time, since monarch butterfly populations have dropped from 1 billion to fewer than 60 million in just two decades. Milkweed was removed in many places nationwide during those two decades because of development and pesticides. Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced $1.2 million starter investment to restore habitat; other national projects aim to distribute milkweed seeds by mail and build databases of breeding habitats as alarm grows. Whether by choice or by chance, ecologists hope California gardeners looking to save water can provide a boost to the butterflies on the West Coast…..”If you plant it, they will come,” said Merriman, who has a greenhouse stuffed with 8,000 milkweed of a dozen types. “We had chrysalises on shovels, we had them on wheelbarrows. They were up in the nursery on palm trees. They were everywhere, under tables. We were releasing 500 caterpillars a week on native milkweed.”…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getty Images

Why Restoring Nature Could Be the Key to Fighting Climate Change

‘It’s a solution that’s available now’

Justin Worland
TIME Oct. 14, 2015

For decades, scientists and policymakers have focused on changing human behavior to address climate change. Regulations have mandated reduced carbon emissions, subsidies have supported the development of renewable energy and individuals have worked to make their lifestyles more sustainable. But, while addressing global warming will inevitably require humans to change behavior, a growing body of research supports the need for solutions rooted in nature: ensuring biodiversity, revitalizing forests and supporting other natural environments. A new study in the journal Nature offers the strongest evidence yet that biodiversity strengthens ecosystems, increasing their resistance to extreme climate events and improving their capacity to stem climate change.
For years, the researchers behind the study evaluated 46 grassland ecosystems in Europe and North America, collecting data on the production of organic matter called biomass. Because species in any given ecosystem rely on biomass for energy, biomass production serves as a metric for the health of a community. In grasslands areas with only one or two species, ecosystems’ biomass production declined by approximately 50% on average during extreme climate events. In communities with between 16 and 32 species, biomass production declined by only 25%.

Study author Forest Isbell, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, explained the importance of ecosystem biodiversity using the insurance hypothesis: having more species provides insurance for carrying out key functions to the ecosystem if one disappears or can no longer serve its function. “Because different species have different responses to environmental fluctuations, the aggregate of many species is dampened,” he said. The study’s results only applied to an ecosystem’s resistance to the immediate effects of climate events and not necessarily to its ability to bounce back following an event. Determining how to ensure the health of ecosystems figures into efforts to address climate change more broadly. Ecosystems absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a key gas that contributes to global warming. Forests alone absorbed one-sixth of carbon dioxide released by fossil fuel emissions between 1900 and 2007, according to one study. Still, the capacity of forests has been reduced as deforestation continues to cause the release of carbon and the loss of future carbon-absorbing capacity. The new Nature study shows that biodiversity loss threatens the productivity of even those forests not at risk of deforestation. “It’s not always enough to have forests that are storing carbon if you have only one or two species in that forest,” said Will R. Turner, chief scientist at Conservation International. “It may be that the function of those forests is less than if the forest has more species.” While the destruction of nature threatens to exacerbate climate change, the connection between nature and climate change also presents opportunities. In addition to enacting regulations to alter human behavior, policymakers can work to restore nature as a method of addressing global warming. One study suggests that a reversal in deforestation trends would allow forests to absorb as much as 30% of global carbon emissions. Right now forests absorb 11% of greenhouse gas emissions. “Climate change is a big problem and we’re going to need a whole range of solutions to solve it,” said Turner. “One of those solutions is to get better at harnessing the role that ecosystems play. It’s a solution that’s available now.”

 

 

Over 3 out of 4 Americans Now Acknowledge Climate Change Is Occurring Including the Majority of Republicans…

Scientific American (blog)

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | October 20, 2015

       

Maybe it’s the weather. Or the Pope. Or the irrefutable scientific data. Or perhaps a combination of all three. The latest UT Energy Poll released this morning reveals that U.S. attitudes on climate change have shifted significantly – and not just in the ways you might expect. Seventy-six percent of Americans now say that climate change is occurring–an increase from 68 percent just one year ago. Further, only 14 percent say it’s not, compared with 22% when we first asked the question in the Spring of 2012….

 

 

 

New study suggests fossil fuel demand is beginning a nosedive

Benjamin Hulac, E&E reporter ClimateWire: Thursday, October 22, 2015

Successful companies make and sell products that consumers demand, and fossil energy companies have long said demand for their products — particularly from emerging markets — will be strong decades from now.A group of U.K. researchers trying to debunk that notion issued its latest salvo last night. In a point-by-point analysis of population, economic, labor, energy and development trends, the authors of a report from Carbon Tracker Initiative, a London think tank that studies climate change and economic impacts, outline a host of reasons why fossil fuel demand may diminish sharply in 25 years. Swift advancement in technology (such as electric vehicles and battery storage), flagging economic growth regionally and worldwide, inexpensive renewable energy options, swift renewable deployment, and a lower-than-expected rise in population could all blunt “fossil fuel demand significantly by 2040,” CTI said in a statement last night. Industry projections typically foresee coal, gas and oil demand climbing 30 to 50 percent and making up three-quarters of global energy supply in 2040.

Betting against decarbonization? “These scenarios do not reflect the huge potential for reducing fossil fuel demand in accordance with decarbonization pathways,” CTI said. The report presents a litany of counterarguments to the energy industry’s estimates of future demand for its products. Market analysts and top government forecasting groups, namely the International Energy Agency and the U.S. Energy Information Administration, have long underestimated the growth of renewable energy sources, the authors contend…

 

 

Meltwater gushes from an ice cap on the island of Nordaustlandet, in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. The Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth. Photograph by Paul Nicklen

Fresh Hope for Combating Climate Change

If a climate disaster is to be averted, we’ll have to move forward without relying as much on fossil fuels. It can be done.

By Robert Kunzig Published October 15, 2015

This year could be the turning point. Laurence Tubiana thinks so. She’s a small, elegant, white-haired woman of 63. At a press briefing in a noisy restaurant near Washington’s Capitol Hill, she apologized for being incapable of raising her voice—which in a diplomat is no doubt an excellent quality. Tubiana is no ordinary diplomat: She’s France’s “climate ambassador,” charged with the greatest cat-herding project in history. For the past year and a half she has been traveling the world, meeting with negotiators from 195 countries, trying to ensure that the global climate confab in Paris this December will be a success—a watershed in the struggle against climate change. “This notion of a turning point—that’s super important,” Tubiana says. There are at least 20 reasons to fear she will fail. Since 1992, when the world’s nations agreed at Rio de Janeiro to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system,” they’ve met 20 times without moving the needle on carbon emissions. In that interval we’ve added almost as much carbon to the atmosphere as we did in the previous century. Last year and the past decade were the warmest since temperature records began. Record-breaking heat waves are now five times as likely as they once were. A large part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, scientists reported last year, is doomed to collapse—meaning that in the coming centuries sea level will rise at least four feet and probably much more. We’re already redrawing the map of the planet, especially of the zones where animals, plants, and people can live. But the reasons for hope go beyond promises and declarations. In 2014 global carbon emissions from fossil-fuel burning didn’t increase, even though the global economy was growing. We won’t know for years if it’s a trend, but it was the first time that had happened.
One reason emissions were flat was that China, for the first time this century, burned less coal than the year before. And one reason for that was that the production of renewable energy—wind and solar and hydropower—is booming in China, as it is in many other countries, because the cost has plummeted. Even Saudi Arabia is bullish on solar. “The world is tipping now,” says Hans-Josef Fell, co-author of a law that ignited Germany’s renewable energy boom. It’s the kind of tipping point we want
….

 

Sure House: Hip, modern, and hurricane-proof. (DOE)

These students designed a 100% solar house that laughs at hurricanes

Updated by David Roberts on October 20, 2015, 8:30 a.m. ET @drvox
david@vox.com

“Sustainability” and “resilience” are the two most annoyingly overused words in today’s green-o-sphere, but occasionally something comes along to remind us what the real deal looks like. In this case, it’s a new project from students at New Jersey’s Stevens Institute of Technology, known as the SURE (SUstainable REsilience) House, or Sure House. Sure House just won the 2015 Solar Decathlon, sponsored by the US Department of Energy. The decathlon has been held every few years since 2002; this was the seventh, in Irvine, California. Each time, 20 teams of students compete to design and build the most efficient, attractive solar-powered house. (The event is open to the public.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Numerous States Prepare Lawsuits Against Obama’s Climate Policy

By CORAL DAVENPORT NY Times October 22 2015 Washington– As many as 25 states will join some of the nation’s most influential business groups in legal action to block President Obama‘s climate change regulations when they are formally published Friday, trying to stop his signature environmental policy. In August, the president announced in a White House ceremony that the Environmental Protection Agency rules had been completed, but they had not yet been published in the government’s Federal Register. Within hours of the rules’ official publication on Friday, a legal battle will begin, pitting the states against the federal government. It is widely expected to end up before the Supreme Court.

“I predict there will be a very long line of people at the federal courthouse tomorrow morning, eagerly waiting to file their suits on this case,” said Jeffrey R. Holmstead, a lawyer for the firm Bracewell & Giuliani who represents several companies that are expected to file such suits. While the legal brawls could drag on for years, many states and companies, including those that are suing the administration, have also started drafting plans to comply with the rules. That strategy reflects the uncertainty of the ultimate legal outcome — and also means that many states could be well on the way to implementing Mr. Obama’s climate plan by the time the case reaches the Supreme Court. The E.P.A.’s climate change rules are at the heart of Mr. Obama’s ambitious agenda to counter global warming by cutting emissions of planet-warming carbon pollution. If they withstand the legal challenges, the rules could shutter hundreds of polluting, coal-fired power plants and freeze construction of such plants in the future, while leading to a transformation of the nation’s power sector from reliance on fossil fuels to wind, solar and nuclear power…States have to submit an initial version of their plans by 2016 and final versions by 2018. States that refuse to submit a plan will be forced to comply with one developed by the federal government. Republican governors have denounced the rule, particularly its emphasis on pushing cap-and-trade systems; in his first term, Mr. Obama tried but failed to send a cap-and-trade bill through Congress. Since then, the term has become politically toxic: Republicans have attacked the idea as “cap-and-tax.” The governors of five states — Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Louisiana and Oklahoma — have threatened to refuse to submit a plan of any kind. But economists and many industry leaders have found that in many cases, the easiest and cheapest way for states to comply would be by adopting cap-and-trade systems.

American Electric Power, an electric utility that operates in 11 states, is among the companies that intends to sue the administration over the rule. At the same time, the company’s vice president, John McManus, said: “We think it makes sense for states to at least start developing a plan. The alternative of having a federal plan has risks.” And he said that his company could support a cap-and-trade plan. “The initial read is that a market-based approach is more workable,” he said.

 

 

CA
Natural Resources Agency Seeks Public Comment on Preparing for Extreme Effects of Climate Change

In response to a directive from California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., the Natural Resources Agency is seeking public comment on a draft plan for how California will prepare for and adapt to the catastrophic effects of climate change, including extended droughts and wildfires, rising sea levels and increasingly extreme weather. “With climate change, we cannot use the past to help us predict future conditions,” said John Laird, the California Secretary for Natural Resources. “While we work to reduce the carbon emissions that worsen climate change, we must prepare for higher sea levels, flashier winter storms, warmer temperatures, reduced snowpack, and other changes with big ramifications for how we live in California. This draft report gathers in one place all of the actions unfolding across state government to help build our resiliency in the face of climate change. As a comprehensive document, it will help us track our progress and help the public hold us accountable.” The Natural Resources Agency seeks public comment on the draft plan through the end of November, and will hold two public meetings this month to gather input from interested citizens, scientists, government officials, and other stakeholders. The Safeguarding California: Implementing Actions Plan document will be revised based on public comments, with a final version scheduled for release in December. Upcoming meetings to gather input on the plan:

  • October 26: Sacramento Public Workshop on Safeguarding California Implementation Plans
    Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Location: Rosenfeld Hearing Room
    California Energy Commission 1516 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
  • October 27: Los Angeles Public Workshop on Safeguarding California Implementation Plans
    Time: 1:30 p.m. — 3:30 p.m. Location: Carmel Room
    Junipero Serra Building 320 W. 4th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

In Executive Order B-30-15, Governor Brown set aggressive targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions [including prioritizing natural infrastructure] and called for the Safeguarding California report released today. The purpose of the report is to identify the state’s vulnerabilities to climate change by sector; outline primary risks to residents, property, communities and natural systems; identify an agency or group of agencies to lead adaptation efforts in each sector; and to prepare an implementation plan of necessary state actions. The report sets forth how the state will help residents, communities, and natural systems adapt to the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change. The report also analyzes what actions have already been taken to prepare for climate change and details steps that still need to be taken across ten sectors including water, transportation, agriculture, biodiversity and habitat, emergency management, and energy. It provides a blueprint for execution of the actions recommended in the Natural Resources Agency’s 2014 report Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk. Since California released its first adaptation plan in 2009, a series of extreme natural events – drought, record-breaking higher average temperatures and a practically non-existent Sierra Nevada snowpack last winter – have heightened the urgency to act. The state has committed to facing the risks of climate change proactively and preparing accordingly. Just this week, the Governor signed legislation, including AB 1482, AB 1496 and SB 246 to strengthen local planning and coordination to cope with increased flooding, temperatures and other climate change effects. More information about the state’s climate change adaptation efforts is available at http://resources.ca.gov/climate/safeguarding/ That draft report, Safeguarding California: Implementing Action Plans, is available here. State agencies must report back by June 2016 on actions they are taking to make the plan a reality.

Please submit your comments to climate@resources.ca.gov, or by mail. The deadline for public comment is November 30, 2015.

California Natural Resources Agency
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311
Sacramento, CA 95814

 

Pledges by top three greenhouse gas emitters shut out other nations

Posted: 19 Oct 2015 09:34 AM PDT

Pledges by the three largest emitters — the United States, the European Union, and China — leave very little room for the rest of the world to emit, suggests a new article by subject experts.

 

New UN climate deal text: what’s in, what’s out

October 7 2015 CarbonBrief

The UN has released the latest draft of the text that will eventually be hammered into an international climate change agreement in Paris this December. The text, written by co-chairs Dan Reifsnyder from the US and Ahmed Djoghlaf from Algeria, bears many of the hallmarks of its two previous incarnations. There is the same flurry of square brackets (231, to be precise, indicating that there at least 231 points still up for negotiation) and deluge of acronyms — and the same core issues running throughout the document. But, in many ways, the text is a skeleton of previous versions. At 20 pages, it is about a quarter of the length of the 76-page document released in July, and the 86 pages from February.

In other words, it is the first time that the co-chairs have made substantive reductions to the Paris text. At UN sessions taking place throughout this year, countries have expressed concern at the slow pace of the negotiations. The text responds to a call for a “step change in the pace of negotiation”, say the co-chairs in a note accompanying the text. Behind the scenes, diplomats have been engaging in intense discussions to speed along the process. The hope is that countries will start to converge around what should go in — and stay out of — the final deal. Nonetheless, slimming down the contents of the document remains a politically sensitive task, with nations often reluctant to say let go of their favoured positions.

What’s in

It is not surprising that the document centres around the same pillars as before, including mitigation, adaptation and finance…

….What’s out

Previous drafts of the UN text have amounted to progressively neater summaries of party positions on the negotiations. The co-chairs’ latest effort is the first time that substantive content has been dropped from the text, in an attempt to create a slimmed down, manageable document to take into the Paris negotiations in December.

Here are five issues that did not make the final cut.

Zero-emissions goal

The text removes references to a zero-emissions goal. While option for a “zero net greenhouse gas emissions” goal remains, the differences are important. Zero-net emissions implies that emissions can continue as long as they are balanced elsewhere or in the future via negative emissions. This includes technologies such as biomass with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which would require a large amount of land, and thus has prompted concerns over biodiversity and food security. It also means emitters can initially “overshoot” the carbon budget. More simply, zero emissions does what is says: emissions should be reduced to zero. Many campaigners are in favour of this option, as it gives emitters less leeway when it comes to decarbonising their economies….

 

Why Justin Trudeau’s Election Is Good News for the Fight Against Climate Change

TIME

 – ‎October 20, 2015‎

       

For years, climate change activists have criticized the Canadian government as a global warming laggard. The Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has been in power since 2006, has never taken climate change seriously. Trudeau’s predecessor Stephen Harper was a climate change skeptic. But the new prime minister brings a different attitude…But the surprise election of Justin Trudeau yesterday promises to change that perception. The Liberal Party leader emphasized the very real danger of climate change and pledged his support for what he called a “pan-Canadian” approach to the issue. “In 2015, pretending that we have to choose between the economy and the environment is as harmful as it is wrong,” he said in a speech earlier this year. Even with a resounding win, however, it may provide surprisingly difficult for new Prime Minister Trudeau to enacting strong environmental and energy policy at the federal level in Canada. Control over Canadian environmental and energy policy rests largely with the country’s powerful provincial leaders. Indeed, the country explicitly leaves authority over natural resource management to the provinces. And many Canadians still recall an ill-fated attempt in the 1980s by the federal government to grab a larger share of the profits from energy resources in individual provinces. That program was championed by none other then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father. “Provinces have enormous authority in so many areas and there are huge regional differences on this issues,” said Barry Rabe, a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. “Canadians have struggled mightily to put together a federal policy that address emissions.” For these reasons, Trudeau appears keen on implementing a carbon pricing scheme that would set targets for emissions reductions at the federal level and allow for provinces to design programs independently to meet those goals. The program, which still needs to be fleshed out, might bear some similarity to the President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, said Rabe, which sets emissions reductions standards for each state based on its current energy sources.

 

 

CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos/AP

These World Leaders Agree: We Need A Price On Carbon

by Samantha Page Oct 20, 2015 3:54pm

The cost of carbon is having a moment, with economists, environmentalists, and even the pope supporting a price on carbon emissions. And on Monday, the World Bank announced a high-level group, the Carbon Pricing Panel, which brings together heads of state, local leaders, and business executives. The luminaries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, and California Gov. Jerry Brown, are calling on policymakers and negotiators to use carbon pricing mechanisms, setting the stage for strengthening emissions reduction plans expected at the United Nations conference in December. “There has never been a global movement to put a price on carbon at this level and with this degree of unison,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement. The only approach that would work is an across-the-board rising carbon fee covering every fossil fuel at the source. Putting a price on carbon uses a standard economic tool and is broadly favored by economists as an efficient and effective way of reducing emissions. How it would be implemented worldwide, though, remains to be seen. Some climate activists worry that some programs will push emissions down far too slowly to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change. “The only approach that would work is an across-the-board rising carbon fee covering every fossil fuel at the source — the first sale at the domestic mine or port of entry,” Jim Hansen, a leading climate scientist, told ThinkProgress. “If the collected funds were distributed to the public, an equal amount to each legal resident, the economy would be stimulated, most people could make money, and fossil fuel use would go down rapidly. I call this fee-and-dividend, as opposed to cap-and-trade. It is not a tax, because the government gets no money, the government does not grow bigger.” In fact, there are a number of ways carbon pricing can be leveraged to reduce carbon emissions. A carbon tax — or fee — requires emitters to pay, usually into a dedicated fund, for each ton of carbon they put out. That money can be redistributed to offset higher energy costs (revenue-neutral) or can be redirected towards efficiency and clean energy programs, further lowering emissions. Cap-and-trade schemes, another mechanism, place limits on emissions but allow entities to trade their credits, creating an emissions credit market. Cap-and-trade generally involves more government oversight….

 

 

 


The dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington is seen behind the emissions, and a smokestack, from the Capitol Power Plant, the only coal-burning power plant in the nation’s capitol, on March 10, 2014.  (EPA/JIM LO SCALZO)

Congressional skeptic on global warming demands records from U.S. climate scientists

By Joby Warrick October 23 at 7:37 PM Washington Post

The head of a congressional committee on science has issued subpoenas to the Obama administration over a recent scientific study refuting claims that global warming had “paused” or slowed over the last decade. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and a prominent congressional skeptic on climate change, issued the subpoenas two weeks ago demanding e-mails and records from U.S. scientists who participated in the study, which undercut a popular argument used by critics who reject the scientific consensus that man-made pollution is behind the planet’s recent warming. Smith’s document request to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ordered the agency to turn over scientific data as well as internal “communications between or among employees” involved in the study, according to a letter Friday by the House committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Tex.).  Johnson accused Smith of “furthering a fishing expedition” by looking for ways to discredit NOAA’s study, which was published in June in the peer-reviewed journal Science. “It is a disturbing trend for the legitimacy of this committee,” Johnson said in the letter to Smith. She linked the subpoena to previous requests by the committee’s Republican staff seeking information about NOAA’s climate researchers, which Johnson called “a serious misuse of Congressional oversight powers.” Noting that NOAA routinely publishes supporting data for its studies, Johnson said Smith had “not articulated a legitimate need for anything beyond what NOAA has already provided.”

 

 

Carbon pollution: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the denial

By dana1981 & Skeptical Science posts: 21 October 2015

The anti-climate policy ‘fact blurring‘ advocacy group Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) recently published a report on ‘the good news’ about rising carbon dioxide, written by Indur Goklany. Goklany has a background in electrical engineering and has been a US delegate to the IPCC. He has also in the past received $1,000 per month from the Heartland Institute and had two books published by the Cato Institute, among other affiliations with fossil fuel-funded think tanks….

 

 

 

The combined emissions from these three countries compared to global emissions, with the thick solid line representing a global pathway consistent with 2 °C. (Peters et al, 201

The math on staying below 2°C of global warming looks increasingly brutal

Updated by Brad Plumer on October 19, 2015, 1:20 p.m. ET

Here’s a capsule summary of the big UN climate talks this year:

1) The good news: Every country is submitting a detailed pledge to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

2) The bad: Those pledges, added together, aren’t nearly enough to keep us below 2°C of global warming. Short of drastic changes, we’re in for some serious %#&*.

Point 2 can be tricky to conceptualize, since it involves so many moving parts. For more detail, I’d recommend this new paper in Environmental Research Letters by Glen Peters, Robbie Andrew, Susan Solomon, and Pierre Friedlingstein. It’s the clearest presentation I’ve seen of how far off course the world is from its stated 2°C climate goal. And it illustrates why the United States, Europe, China, and even India would have to drastically rethink their climate policies to stay below that target.

The US, Europe, and China will use up the world’s carbon budget by 2030

The science here is pretty straightforward: If we want decent odds of avoiding more than 2°C (or 3.6°F) of global warming — which has long been the stated goal — then there’s only so much more carbon dioxide we can put into the atmosphere. The world’s annual CO2 emissions will need to shrink to zero to stay within this “carbon budget.” In their paper, Peters and his co-authors sketch out a plausible carbon budget if we want a 66 percent chance of staying below 2°C. (Because there’s some uncertainty around climate sensitivity, this is couched in terms of probabilities.) Roughly speaking, the world has just 765 gigatons of CO2 left to emit. We currently emit about 35 gigatons per year and don’t (yet) have large-scale carbon removal technology. The authors then compared this carbon budget (the dark line) with what the United States, the European Union, and China* are currently promising to do on emissions between now and 2030:

There’s a big problem here: If the United States, EU, and China all followed through on their current emissions pledges, they’d consume practically the world’s entire
carbon budget by 2030 — leaving only scraps for the rest of the world (the part shaded in gray). That’s untenable. The “rest of the world” is where most of humanity lives — 5 billion people. It includes India, which is still very poor, has per capita emissions that are just one-fourth of Europe’s and China’s, and will inevitably need to burn more fossil fuels to grow. It also includes Africa, which still has 620 million people without electricity. No one thinks it’d be fair for these developing countries to cut even more deeply than the United States and Europe. So that leaves a few options. Humanity could emit more CO2 than this budget allows — though at the risk of higher levels of global warming, with all the problems, risks, and potential horrors that entails. If, say, we emitted another 1,535 gigatons of CO2, double the budget above, then our odds of staying below 2°C drop to 50-50. A much bigger gamble. Alternatively, the US, EU, and China could tighten their belts and cut their emissions even more deeply than they’re currently promising, to make space for other, poorer countries. But how would they do that? And is that even realistic?

To stay below 2°C, the US, EU, China, and India would have to cut much, much more

In their paper, Peters and his colleagues explore what a “fair” climate agreement that still keeps global warming below 2°C might look like. Because fairness is an ethical term, not a scientific one, there are all sorts of ways to define it….

 

 

 

On the People’s Climate Movement Day of Action, Wed., Oct. 14, two volunteers carried the giant Styrofoam puppets, with Debby Lee Cohen of Cafeteria Culture (founded as Styrofoam out of Schools).

E.V. school kids fuming over Styrofoam reversal

October 22, 2015 | Filed under: Education | Posted by: The Villager

BY YANNIC RACK  |  When a judge struck down the city’s ban on plastic foam food containers late last month, among the many environmentally conscious New Yorkers who disapproved were a group of East Village public school students who had campaigned for the ban as part of their mission to achieve zero-waste school cafeterias.The students and teachers were so disappointed and shocked, because they had worked so hard on this. I don’t think anyone expected that this was not going to go through,” said Debby Lee Cohen, the executive director of Cafeteria Culture, a grassroots organization that works in partnership with schools across the city.
Cohen said the fifth-grade students at P.S. 34 in Alphabet City, among other area schools, had played a role in helping to achieve the unanimous City Council vote that banned the use of polystyrenes, more commonly known as Styrofoam, citywide.
… In November 2013, the fifth graders stood on the steps of City Hall with councilmembers from across the city, advocating for a ban with the help of giant puppets made out of Styrofoam food trays. The “data puppets,” so called because they visually show the massive amount of polystyrene products previously used in the schools, were built by community members young and old at the Sixth Street Community Center….

The ban, which was proposed by former Mayor Mike Bloomberg and implemented by Mayor Bill de Blasio this July, was overturned in State Supreme Court on Sept. 22. Justice Margaret Chan, in her ruling, called the ban “arbitrary and capricious” and denied the city’s claim that recycling used polystyrene containers was neither environmentally effective nor economically feasible.….”We disagree with the ruling,” a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office wrote in a statement. “These products cause real environmental harm, and we need to be able to prevent nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from entering our landfills, streets and waterways. We are reviewing our options to keep the ban in effect.” The ban, passed in January and effective since July, includes a six-month grace period, so businesses would have until Jan. 1, 2016, to comply. After that, violations would be punishable by fines, though the city says that for the first year it would only hand out warnings. Some proponents of the ban say that the court challenge comes too late anyway because the administration’s efforts already pushed the city’s businesses over the line.
Ron Gonen, a former deputy sanitation commissioner, told Crain’s New York that the vast majority of food-serving businesses in the city had already stopped, or never started, using Styrofoam products — a list that now includes the city’s two biggest former offenders, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. The city’s school cafeterias, including those in the East Village, are already Styrofoam-free, which Cohen said won’t change, no matter what happens with the ban. In May, six of the nation’s largest school districts, including New York City, ditched polystyrene trays for eco-friendly compostable plates
….

 

How Exxon went from leader to skeptic on climate change research

Los Angeles Times | October 23, 2015 | 2:51 PM

Throughout much of the 1980s, Exxon earned a reputation as a pioneer in exploring the science behind global warming. But by 1990, the company took a different public posture. It poured millions into a campaign that questioned climate change and argued that regulations aimed at curbing global warming were ill-considered and premature. An investigation by Columbia University’s Energy & Environmental Reporting Project and The Times looks at how one of the world’s largest oil companies, which had been a leader in climate change research, become one of its biggest public skeptics….

 

National Park Service: SF Ocean Beach Fire Program Proposal

Your Feedback NeededThe Ocean Beach Fire Program Proposal is now available on our website.  This proposal was developed through evaluation and monitoring of the Parks’ previous fire programs and important feedback from community members like you. Beach fires have a long history at Ocean Beach and the Park is committed to continuing this tradition by creating a safe and sustainable beach fire program.  Key elements of the preferred proposal include a permit system for beach fires, seasonal restrictions to promote better air quality, and the installation of replacement fire rings.  The proposal includes options under consideration that were developed directly in response to public comments received at 2 public meetings earlier this year.
What’s Next?  We invite you to review the proposal (http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=303&projectID=59097&documentID=68872) and provide feedback by November 20, 2015 on our website or by mail at:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Attn:  Ocean Beach Fire Program

Fort Mason, Building 201

San Francisco, CA  94123   

After the comment period, the park will evaluate all feedback before finalizing the Ocean Beach Fire Program. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CREDIT: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File In this May 14, 2015, file photo, the Royal Dutch Shell oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer is towed toward a dock in Elliott Bay in Seattle. Three weeks after Royal Dutch Shell announced it was walking away from exploratory drilling in U.S. Arctic waters, the Obama administration has taken steps to keep drill rigs out of Alaska’s northern ocean for a decade or more.

Obama Administration Cancels Oil Drilling Lease Sales In Arctic Ocean [for 2016 and 2017]

by Katie Valentine Oct 18, 2015 12:05pm

The Interior Department has scrapped two lease sales for oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, a move that comes as a win for environmentalists who have fought to prevent oil development in the remote region. The lease sales had been scheduled tentatively for 2016 and 2017 in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
The Interior Department’s Friday announcement comes a few weeks after Royal Dutch Shell announced that it would be stopping its oil exploration in the Arctic “for the foreseeable future,” due to a “challenging and unpredictable” regulatory environment and insufficient oil and gas discoveries. The Interior Department referenced Shell’s decision in its reasoning behind canceling the two lease sales. “In light of Shell’s announcement, the amount of acreage already under lease and current market conditions, it does not make sense to prepare for lease sales in the Arctic in the next year and a half,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement. Also on Friday, the Interior Department rejected attempts by oil companies Shell and Statoil to get more time to explore for oil under their existing leases in the Arctic, saying that neither company properly illustrated how it would take advantage of the extra exploration time. …

 

 

Flawed Carbon Accounting Drives Boom in Burning U.S. Forests in E.U. Power Plants

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

Science says burning wood for power can produce more CO2 than burning coal, but the European Union shows no signs it wants to close a loophole pushing this practice

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

http://ucanr.edu/sites/Jackson_Lab/files/215941.pdf

climateresolve.org | http://climateresolvela.nationbuilder.com/

 

UPCOMING CONFERENCES: 

 

2015 Southwest Climate Summit  November 2-3, 2015 Holiday Inn Capital Plaza Sacramento, CA
Join us for the 2015 Southwest Climate Summit when we’ll promote Climate-Smart Conservation by bringing together managers and scientists from across the Southwest to:

  • Discover emerging climate science
  • Explore adaptive management application
  • Share Climate-Smart Conservation results 
  • Discuss management and policy responses

The California LCC, Southwest Climate Science Center, USDA Southwest Climate Hub, Great Basin LCC, and Desert LCC are hosting the Summit to foster sharing of lessons learned and collaboration across the Southwestern landscape. Click here for more information.

 

An Overview of Climate-Smart Conservation November 6, 2015 at The San Diego Foundation

This one day overview class is being hosted by the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative (CA LCC) and is based on the guide Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice. This publication is the product of an expert workgroup on climate change adaptation convened by the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with the FWS’s National Conservation Training Center and other partners. The course is designed to provide an introduction to climate adaptation for application to on-the-ground conservation. It will provide an overview of how to craft climate-informed conservation goals, to carry out adaptation with intentionality, and how to manage for change and not just persistence…. The San Diego Foundation, 2508 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, CA 92106 Register Now– contact Christy Coghlan – christy_coghlan@fws.gov

 

Grand Challenges in Coastal & Estuarine Science: Securing Our Future 8 – 12 November, 2015 Oregon Convention Center | Portland, Oregon
Registration for the CERF 23rd Biennial Conference is now open! The CERF 2015 scientific program offers four days of timely, exciting and diverse information on a vast array of estuarine and coastal subjects. Presentations will examine new findings within CERF’s traditional scientific, education and management disciplines and encourage interaction among coastal and estuarine scientists and managers. Plus, there are plenty of workshops, field trips, and special events to get involved with that will make this conference one you won’t want to miss.

 

First Western Governor’s Association Species Conservation
and ESA Initiative WorkshopNov. 12-13 in Wyoming

The first workshop of the Western Governors’ Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative will be held Nov. 12-13 at the Buffalo Bill Center for the West in Cody, Wyo. The Chairman’s Initiative of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead creates a mechanism for states that will: share best practices in species management; promote and elevate the role of states in species conservation efforts; and explore ways to improve the efficacy of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Gov. Mead will speak at the first workshop, which will feature a robust and bipartisan conversation regarding species conservation and the ESA. The Wyoming workshop will be the first in a series of regional workshops. Learn more

 

California Association of Resource Conservation Districts:

Healthy Forests, Healthy Soils, A Resilient California” 70th Annual Conference November 18—21, 2015 Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite, CA

Don’t miss out on being part of the change. California’s future is the crucial discussion at this year’s CARCD Annual Conference November 18th—21st at the Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite, CA. The Sierra National Forest, backdrop for Yosemite National Park, will provide a perfect classroom and case study of the challenges California will face if we cannot enact effective and efficient management strategies at the local, regional and statewide levels.  We will discuss how smart, integrated management projects on a seemingly small-scale are the building blocks that affect water abundance, water quality, soil health, tree/ plant health, forest health, groundwater, and climate change throughout the state.  In addition, we will examine innovative developments to solve new world challenges like the  latest developments in carbon markets, building partnerships to solve complex, multi-jurisdictional issues, state programs focused on solving California’s problems, capacity building for RCDs and much more.

 

December 13-18, 2015 San Francisco

Abstract Submissions are OPEN for the 21st Biennial. We are currently accepting abstract submissions for workshops, oral, speed and poster presentations for the 21st Biennial Society for Marine Mammalogy Conference, to take place in San Francisco from December 13-18, 2015.  The submission deadline is May 15th, 2015.  Workshops will be held on December 12-13th.

 

 

JOBS (apologies for any duplication; thanks for passing along)

 

Point Blue: Coastal Adaptation Program LeaderHelp save the world!!

The Coastal Adaptation Program Leader (CAPL) will be responsible for executing the strategy and achieving the outcomes of Point Blue’s Protecting Our Shorelines Initiative. As such, the CAPL will help natural resource managers and policy makers advance their adaptation efforts in the face of accelerating climate change, ocean acidification, increased storm frequency and intensity, habitat loss, and other stressors, leveraging Point Blue and partner scientific, data, and informatics resources. The CAPL will also develop science-based policy and natural resource management recommendations. Learn more and how to apply here.

Point Blue: Institutional Philanthropy Director  The Director of Institutional Philanthropy (Director) will be responsible for securing foundation and agency funding for priority programs, and managing all aspects of Point Blue’s foundation relations to advance our innovative climate-smart conservation science strategies. Reporting to the Chief Advancement Officer, the Director will collaborate with the Chief Science Officer, Group Directors, and other organizational leaders on the development and planning of strategic initiatives, assist staff scientists in the production of technical proposals and reports, write foundation proposals and reports, and support the advancement staff in written communications to major donors…

 

For other jobs at Point Blue, see here.

 

PISCES FOUNDATION: Enviro Education Officer

The Pisces Foundation is excited to announce it is seeking a Program Officer to lead its Environmental Education program.  Based in our main office in San Francisco, this position will play an important role in a dynamic, growing environmental philanthropy. For more details on the position, please refer to the posting on our website. This fall, the Foundation will also launch a search for a dynamic professional to lead Foundation operations. To receive information about this position when it becomes available, or if you have any questions, please contact us at admin@piscesfoundation.org. We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds and with a variety of skills, experiences, and ideas. We are an equal opportunity employer. Employment selection and related decisions are made without regard to gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, religion, national origin, color, veteran status, or any other protected class.         

 

Director of Science, Monterey Bay Aquarium

We are looking for someone with strong experience linking science and conservation, and in communicating science.  We are hoping to recruit someone with skills to assess the state of science to inform conservation priorities, provide science services across the aquarium, and create solid collaborations with experts. Applications should be made through our website: https://montereybayaquarium.snaphire.com/jobdetails?ajid=TYZQ7

 

 

FUNDING

 

 

CDFW Now Accepting Proposals for Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for restoration projects that further the objectives of the California Water Action Plan (CWAP). For Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-2016, a total of $31.4 million in Proposition 1 funds will be made available through CDFW’s two Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs. The Watershed Restoration Grant Program will fund up to $24 million in projects of statewide importance outside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, while the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program will fund up to $7 million in projects that specifically benefit the Delta….

 

Breakdown and Tips on Prop 1 Funding and Permits 

Sustainable Conservation September 4, 2015

Many of you are busy with project implementation right now and may not have had the time to evaluate Prop 1 funding sources. Sustainable Conservation has put together a breakdown of top funding sources, application tips, and which simplified permits for restoration you can use to increase your “project readiness” scoring and save time/resources on permitting. Simplified permits will be essential to getting projects implemented quickly and spending more money for on-the-ground work. Note that we are continually working on new permits where coverage doesn’t already exist, so be sure to check our website for updates. The following tables have summary information to guide you:

1.            Summary of 2015-16 Prop 1 Funding Sources and Application Tips

2.            Coastal Areas and Anadromous Fisheries Simplified Permits

3.            Inland Simplified Permits

 

 

 

 

 

  • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

 

Orange lichens are potential source for anticancer drugs

Posted: 19 Oct 2015 09:29 AM PDT

An orange pigment found in lichens and rhubarb called parietin may have potential as an anti-cancer drug because it interferes with the metabolic enzyme 6PGD, scientists have discovered.

 

(Copyright DPC)

Is Grass-Fed Beef Better for You?

Saturday, 24 Oct 2015 12:11 AM

Is eating grass-fed beef really better for you than conventional beef? In fact, studies show grass-fed beef tends to be higher in some nutrients, and may contain fewer bacteria that can cause food poisoning, The New York Times reports. According to the American Grassfed Association, which has a certification program, grass-fed animals are “those that have eaten nothing but grass and forage from weaning to harvest, have not been raised in confinement, and have never been fed antibiotics or growth hormones.” Conventionally raised livestock are typically fed primarily corn and soy, which causes them to fatten more quickly, said Glenn A. Nader, a natural resources farm adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension. In 2010, Nader and his colleagues published a review in Nutrition Journal that found that grass-fed beef contained higher levels of beneficial fats such as omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid. It also contained more antioxidants and higher levels of beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A that can give grass-fed beef a yellowish appearance. This month, Consumer Reports tested 300 samples of beef purchased at stores across the United States and determined that beef from conventionally raised cows was three times as likely as grass-fed beef to contain bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics. The report recommended that consumers choose grass-fed organic beef “whenever possible.” Consumers who wish to buy grass-fed beef can find that information on package labels, as required by the United States Department of Agriculture.

 

 

Individual actions, from cycling to work to planting a roof garden, like this one on an organic food store in Chicago, are having a huge effect, says author. Photograph by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, National Geographic 

And Now for Some Good News About Climate Change

Small things like energy efficient lightbulbs and big ones—like solar panels and light rail transportation—are making a difference.

By Simon Worrall, National Geographic PUBLISHED October 21, 2015

There are now only 39 days to go until the world’s nations convene in Paris for the United Nations
Climate Summit. Six years ago, talks in Copenhagen ended in chaos. Is there any reason to suppose Paris will deliver anything more than well-padded expense accounts for delegates and hot air on the issues? In his new book,
Atmosphere of Hope: Searching For Solutions To The Climate Change Crisis,

best-selling Australian author Tim Flannery counsels cautious optimism by showing how the millions of small actions taken by individuals are driving down oil consumption and points out how new “Third Way” carbon-capture technologies promise to reduce emissions and create massive economic opportunities
. Speaking from a café in Melbourne, he explains how the plastic housing on his cell phone is reducing climate change; why geo-engineering is a disastrous idea; and how he is inspired by the desire to leave a better world for his three children…..

 


Flights Of Fancy: Exploring The Songs And Pathways Of ‘The Living Bird’

October 20, 2015 2:53 PM ET Listen to the Story
Fresh Air
37:10

100 Years of Listening to Nature by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Gerrit Vyn, Barbara Kingsolver, Scott Weidensaul and Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Hardcover, 201 pages purchase

Wildlife photographer Gerrit Vyn and essayist Scott Weidensaul share bird calls and discuss some of the remarkable abilities of birds. Both men contributed to a new book about North American birds.

 

Jimmy Kimmel Live — Marty McFly and Doc Brown drop by “Jimmy Kimmel Live” for “Back to the Future Day” and take a selfie

Marty McFly, Doc Brown go ‘Back to the Future’ on ‘Kimmel’

Kirthana Ramisetti NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 10/22/2015 8:26 AM ET

Marty McFly and Doc Brown were introduced to the year 2015 by Jimmy Kimmel — and they were not impressed. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd made a surprise appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Wednesday to commemorate “Back to the Future Day,” the date when Marty traveled to the future in the film’s sequel. The duo received a standing ovation when they materialized on stage in their DeLorean. “All of these people must have gotten here in flying cars,” Marty marveled about the studio audience. Kimmel had the task of informing Marty and Doc that many of the achievements predicted in “Back to the Future 2” — including flying cars, hovercrafts and peace in the Middle East — had not come to pass….

 

 

 

 

 


 


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / AP This satellite image taken at 11 a.m.. EDT on Friday Oct 23 2015 shows Hurricane Patricia moving over Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

 

dana summers

 



 

 



 

 


 

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