Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates September 14, 2012

News of the Week– Endangered Species and Conservation Reliance



















Highlight of the Week….

Special Section: Conservation-Reliant Species
Conservation-Reliant Species October 2012 Bioscience

Dale D. Goble, John A. Wiens, J. Michael Scott, Timothy D. Male, and John A. Hall

ABSTRACT: A species is conservation reliant when the threats that it faces cannot be eliminated, but only managed. There are two forms of conservation reliance: population- and threat-management reliance. We provide an overview of the concept and introduce a series of articles that examine it in the context of a range of taxa, threats, and habitats. If sufficient assurances can be provided that successful population and threat management will continue, conservation-reliant species may be either delisted or kept off the endangered species list. This may be advantageous because unlisted species provide more opportunities for a broader spectrum of federal, state, tribal, and private interests to participate in conservation. Even for currently listed species, the number of conservation-reliant species—84% of endangered and threatened species with recovery plans— and the magnitude of management actions needed to sustain the species at recovered levels raise questions about society’s willingness to support necessary action.


FROM THE CONCLUSION of the TEXT:….What is required is demonstrably effective management agreements that include management and funding commitments outside the framework of the ESA. But our focus needs to shift to abating those factors that lead to endangerment, and a conservation-reliant framework may be of assistance in doing so (Averill-Murray et al. 2012 [in this issue]). Given the criticisms of the ESA and the lower potential costs of conserving species before they are listed, understanding the ongoing management requirements of a species and responding before listing is needed has the potential to be a universal societal goal regarding species conservation. The challenge will be in creating reliable alternative funding and management structures….

….Continuing business as usual, in which the majority of recovery funds are used to conserve a few iconic species while others are only monitored or simply ignored, will achieve little of lasting value. Even with increased funding, it is unlikely that we can conserve all species facing extinction, particularly as the queue gets longer. We must either develop sensible ways of assigning conservation priorities in which both the magnitude of management required and the potential benefits of management and conservation actions are considered. Information about the degree of conservation reliance of a species is central to developing sensible conservation priorities.


Continuing management needed for most threatened and endangered species, experts say
(September 10, 2012)ScienceDaily (Sep. 10, 2012) — The Endangered Species Act (ESA) — the key US law protecting species listed as threatened or endangered — focuses on boosting species’ numbers until they reach recovery thresholds and so can be taken off the ESA list. Almost 1400 species are now listed. Yet as many as 84 percent of currently listed species with management plans will face threats to their biological recovery even after they are considered “recovered” under the act, according to an article by Dale D. Goble and his colleagues in the October issue of
BioScience. These species will require continuing management actions. Goble and colleagues argue that individual, formal conservation agreements are the best way to help such “conservation-reliant species.”

The ESA was intended to interact with state and local regulations to prevent extinction. However, say Goble and his coauthors, these regulations are often insufficient to maintain a species’ population, and the ESA itself may hinder the spread of a species — for example, a landowner may not wish to create habitat for a species that will then require monitoring under the ESA. Individual conservation agreements might not only help species’ biological recovery and accelerate their removal from the ESA list, Goble and his colleagues maintain — they might prevent some species from having to be listed in the first place. To be effective, such agreements should be tailored to the species, landscape, landowners, conservation managers, and sources of funding of each situation.


Recognizing that conservation reliance is a deeper and more widespread problem for ESA-listed species than initially thought, Goble and his colleagues distinguish two forms of conservation reliance — population-management reliance and the less direct, threat-management reliance. The former will involve interventions aimed at helping specific populations. The latter is suitable for species that can persist if threats are managed so that an appropriate habitat is maintained.


Both sorts are illustrated in articles in the October BioScience. Goble’s article is part of a special section that includes three case studies of specific conservation-reliant species. Carol I. Bocetti and her colleagues discuss conservation management agreements that will ensure continued availability of habitat for Kirtland’s warbler. J. Michael Reed and his coauthors assess the status of Hawaii’s endangered birds and how continued management is needed to maintain the populations of these species. Finally, the plight of the Mojave desert tortoise and its continuing management needs are addressed by Roy C. Averill-Murray and his colleagues.






First-time analysis of three distinct contributions of forage fish
(September 10, 2012) — A new study provides a first-time analysis of the value of forage fish, which are small, schooling species such as sardines, herring, and anchovies. Three kinds of contributions of forage fish were estimated: as direct catch, as food for other commercially important fish, and as an important link in the food web in marine ecosystems. … > full story


Scrub Jays React to Their Dead, Bird Study Shows: ‘Funerals’ Can Last for Up to Half an Hour

ScienceDaily (Sep. 11, 2012) — Western scrub jays summon others to screech over the body of a dead jay, according to new research from the University of California, Davis. The birds’ cacophonous “funerals” can last for up to half an hour. Anecdotal reports have suggested that other animals, including elephants, chimpanzees and birds in the crow family, react to dead of their species, said Teresa Iglesias, the UC Davis graduate student who carried out the work. But few experimental studies have explored this behavior. The new research by Iglesias and her colleagues appears in the Aug. 27 issue of the journal Animal Behaviour. Western scrub jays live in breeding pairs and are not particularly social birds.

T.L. Iglesias, R. McElreath, G.L. Patricelli. Western scrub-jay funerals: cacophonous aggregations in response to dead conspecifics. Animal Behaviour, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.08.007

Food production and wildlife can coexist if land use is planned at a bigger scale
(September 10, 2012) — A larger-scale approach to sustainable farming could be more beneficial for wildlife than our current system of farm-based agri environment payments, say researchers working in the UK. … > full story


Human Activities’ Reduce Desert Environment Diversity

RedOrbit September 9, 2012

Human activities and disturbances can put a significant amount of stress on localenvironments and a new research review has shown that the functional diversity in arid, desert environments can be affected by the hand of man. According the report published in the Journal of Arid Environments, mammalian communities living in dry ecosystems are “drastically changing” as a result of human activities. “We report for the first time that in drylands, the effect of human-induced disturbances on mammal functional diversity is negative,” said study co-author Veronica Chillo, a biologist in the Functional diversity Research Group at the Argentinian Institute of Arid Lands Research.

Lights out? The dangers of exposure to light at night
(September 10, 2012) — A panel of world experts shed light on the extent of the dangers and harm that night-time artificial lighting causes, emphasizing that it could be LED causing most harm, at 21st International Congress of Zoology. … > full story


Bird food maker poisoned product, and birds, to keep insects out – ‎September 7, 2012‎

“Scotts admitted that it used these pesticides contrary to EPA directives and in spite of the warning label appearing on all Storicide II containers stating, ‘Storcide II is extremely toxic to fish and toxic to birds and other wildlife’,” the EPA said



Fresh push to save Central CA Coast coho salmon

San Francisco Chronicle September 7, 2012

The wide-ranging plan sets forth detailed restorations for creeks and estuaries, regulatory and policy changes and many other actions regulators said are needed to restore lost habitat and help the fish rebound. While NOAA’s plan helps provide a roadmap for Central Coast coho, implementation will require cooperation from a wide array of parties, including creekside homeowners and water departments.
more »






NOAA: Contiguous U.S. experiences third hottest summer on record

Warm and dry conditions continue in August with Isaac bringing heavy rain to Gulf Coast and some drought relief to the Midwest

According to NOAA scientists, the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during August was 74.4°F, 1.6°F above the long-term average, marking the 16th warmest August on record. The warmer-than-average August, in combination with the hottest July and a warmer-than-average June, contributed to the third hottest summer on record since recordkeeping began in 1895…..


U.S. Experiences The Most Extreme Eight-Month Period For Weather Ever Recorded
Posted: 10 Sep 2012 01:09 PM PDT

The period from January to August 2012 saw the most extreme weather in recorded history throughout the contiguous U.S., according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The agency’s Climate Extremes Index, which tracks the top 10 percent extremes in drought, precipitation, and temperature, was more than double the average value since the index was started in 1910…..




Himalayan Glaciers Retreating at Accelerated Rate in Some Regions: Consequences for Water Supply Remain Unclear

ScienceDaily September 12, 2012

Glaciers in the eastern and central regions of the Himalayas appear to be retreating at accelerating rates, similar to those in other areas of the world, while glaciers in the western Himalayas are more stable and could be growing, says a new report from the National Research Council. The report examines how changes to glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region, which covers eight countries across Asia, could affect the area’s river systems, water supplies, and the South Asian population. The mountains in the region form the headwaters of several major river systems — including the Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers — which serve as sources of drinking water and irrigation supplies for roughly 1.5 billion people….> full story



Carbon Sequestration and Sediment Accretion in San Francisco Bay Tidal Wetlands
John C. Callaway, Evyan L. Borgnis, R. Eugene Turner and Charles S. Milan Estuaries and Coasts Vol 35 #5 2012
Abstract: Tidal wetlands play an important role with respect to climate change because of both their sensitivity to sea-level rise and their ability to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Policy-based interest in carbon sequestration has increased recently, and wetland restoration projects have potential for carbon credits through soil carbon sequestration. We measured sediment accretion, mineral and organic matter accumulation, and carbon sequestration rates using 137Cs and 210Pb downcore distributions at six natural tidal wetlands in the San Francisco Bay Estuary. The accretion rates were, in general, 0.2–0.5 cm year−1, indicating that local wetlands are keeping pace with recent rates of sea-level rise. Mineral accumulation rates were higher in salt marshes and at low-marsh stations within individual sites. The average carbon sequestration rate based on 210Pb dating was 79 g C m−2 year−1, with slightly higher rates based on 137Cs dating. There was little difference in the sequestration rates among sites or across stations within sites, indicating that a single carbon sequestration rate could be used for crediting tidal wetland restoration projects within the Estuary.

How sea otters can reduce CO<sub>2</sub> in the atmosphere: Appetite for sea urchins allows kelp to thrive
(September 7, 2012) — A new study suggest that a thriving sea otter population that keeps sea urchins in check will in turn allow kelp forests to prosper and help reverse a principal cause of global warming. … > full story



Increase in metal concentrations in Rocky Mountain watershed tied to warming temperatures
(September 9, 2012)Warmer air temperatures since the 1980s may explain significant increases in zinc and other metal concentrations of ecological concern in a Rocky Mountain watershed, reports a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Colorado Boulder. Rising concentrations of zinc and other metals in the upper Snake River just west of the Continental Divide near Keystone, Colo.,
may be the result of falling water tables, melting permafrost and accelerating mineral weathering rates, all driven by warmer air temperatures in the watershed. Researchers observed a fourfold increase in dissolved zinc over the last 30 years during the month of September…. “Acid rock drainage is a significant water quality problem facing much of the Western United States,” Todd said. “It is now clear that we need to better understand the relationship between climate and ARD as we consider the management of these watersheds moving forward.”full story


Andrew S. Todd, Andrew H. Manning, Philip L. Verplanck, Caitlin Crouch, Diane M. McKnight, Ryan Dunham. Climate-Change-Driven Deterioration of Water Quality in a Mineralized Watershed. Environmental Science & Technology, 2012; 46 (17): 9324 DOI: 10.1021/es3020056

Mountain forest study shows vulnerability to climate change
(September 9, 2012) — A new study that ties forest “greenness” in the western United States to fluctuating year-to-year snowpack indicates mid-elevation mountain ecosystems are most sensitive to rising temperatures and changes in precipitation and snowmelt. … > full story

Forest mortality and climate change: The big picture
(September 9, 2012) — Over the past two decades, extensive forest death triggered by hot and dry climatic conditions has been documented on every continent except Antarctica. Forest mortality due to drought and heat stress is expected to increase due to climate change. Although research has focused on isolated incidents of forest mortality, little is known about the potential effects of widespread forest die-offs. … > full story

Next Generation of Advanced Climate Models Needed, Says New Report
September 7, 2012 National Academies

Pre-publication copies of A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling
are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at

WASHINGTON — The nation’s collection of climate models should advance substantially to deliver more detailed, smaller scale climate projections, says a new report from the National Research Council.  To meet this need, the report calls for these assorted climate models to take a more integrated path and use a common software infrastructure while adding regional detail, new simulation capabilities, and new approaches for collaborating with their user community.
From farmers deciding which crops to plant next season, to mayors preparing for possible heat waves, to insurance companies assessing future flood risks, an array of stakeholders from the public and private sectors rely on and use climate information.  With changes in climate and weather, however, past weather data are no longer adequate predictors of future extremes.  Advanced modeling capabilities could potentially provide useful predictions and projections of extreme environments, said the committee that wrote the report.  Over the past several decades, enormous advances have been made in developing reliable climate models, but significant progress is still required to deliver climate information at local scales that users desire.


The U.S. climate modeling community is diverse, including several large global efforts and many smaller regional efforts.  This diversity allows multiple research groups to tackle complex modeling problems in parallel, enabling rapid progress, but it also leads to some duplication of efforts.  The committee said that to make more efficient and rapid progress in climate modeling, different groups should continue to pursue their own methodologies while evolving to work within a common nationally adopted modeling framework that shares software, data standards and tools, and model components. ….



Developing Policy on Moving Threatened Species Called “A Grand Challenge for Conservation”

BioScience July 2012 Read the full article (PDF)

Managed relocation—the act of purposely relocating a threatened species, population, or genotype to an area that is foreign to its natural history—is a controversial response to the threat of extinction resulting from climate change. An article in the August 2012 issue of BioScience by Mark W. Schwartz and his colleagues reports on the findings of the Managed Relocation Working Group, an interdisciplinary group of scientists, researchers, and policymakers whose goals were to examine the conditions that might justify the use of managed relocation and to assess the research being conducted on the topic. The authors note that although traditional management strategies are not likely to address the effects of climate change adequately, guidelines and protocols for managed relocation are poorly developed. “Developing a functional policy framework for managed relocation is a grand challenge for conservation,” they assert.

Moving a species to a higher elevation, for instance, may allow it to survive rising temperatures or an elevated sea level, but doing do in an ethically acceptable way is fraught with both legal and political complications. Unforeseen environmental consequences of such an action may be severe—the species might become invasive in its new location, for example. Some question the appropriateness of conserving a single species at the expense of possibly disrupting an entire ecosystem. What is more, lax regulation of managed relocation may open the door to exploitative movement of species. Regulation is often dispersed among states, the federal government, and various agencies, which may have conflicting agendas, and most relevant policies and laws were not written with climate change in mind….

Calif. firefighters battle 9 wildfires

San Francisco Chronicle September 10, 2012

In Northern California, the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for a wide area of the region through Sunday evening, with wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour and humidity levels dropping. There are nine major fires burning in the… more »



The Baffling Nexus of Climate Change and Health

By DYLAN WALSH September 6, 2012, 1:28 pm2 Comments


Associated Press–A plane sprayed insecticide over Dallas last month to kill mosquitoes and limit the spread of West Nile virus.

In 2004, a rare tropical fungus caused a string of respiratory failures and neural disorders along the Pacific Northwest coast, baffling the health community. That same year, Alaskan cruise ship passengers dining on local oysters fell sick with a gastric virus typically found in warm water estuaries. Now Texas, after an unusually wet spring and dry summer, is battling what may become the country’s worst recorded outbreak of West Nile virus.

Meteorological and ecological shifts driven by climate change are creating a slow and often unpredictable bloom of novel public health challenges across the United States. The American Public Health Association has declared climate change “one of the most serious public health threats facing our nation,” although the precise nature of that threat remains uncertain.

“This is a relatively research-poor area,” said John Balbus, a senior adviser on public health at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. In 1999, the nation’s first reported cases of West Nile virus spurred interest in the subject, but this soon faded.

Then in 2007, the release of the Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change laid out the scientific consensus on the foundation and widespread consequences of climate change. That “gave public health more confidence to again move forward,” said George Luber, associate director for climate change at the Centers for Disease Control.The C.D.C. formally established its climate and health program in 2009, and the National Institutes of Health followed suit in 2011.

The short-term challenge, Dr. Balbus said, is making it clear that climate change is not a separate field but rather a background constant with far-reaching health implications. “Just like diet or air pollution, climate influences a whole lot of other factors,” he said…..


Precautions for tick-borne disease extend ‘beyond Lyme’
(September 7, 2012) — This year’s mild winter and early spring were a bonanza for tick populations in the eastern United States. Reports of tick-borne disease rose fast. While Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, new research results emphasize that it is not the greatest cause for concern in most Southeastern states. … > full story


Tracking Viruses from Animals to People

Sep. 07, 2012 Science Friday

Researchers discuss West Nile, hantavirus, and other diseases that cross from animals to people.









U.S. to auction California state shale for drilling

Part of the Monterey Shale, a huge underground formation of minerals, runs beneath Hames Valley in Monterey County. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle / SF

By Stephanie M. Lee SF Chronicle Published 10:58 p.m., Saturday, September 8, 2012

A nearly 18,000-acre stretch of land extending from California’s Central Coast to the San Joaquin Valley is the setting for a brewing debate over an oil-extraction method that has little governmental oversight.

The land, which spans Monterey, San Benito and Fresno counties, rests on a large chunk of the Monterey Shale, a formation of underground minerals long eyed by the energy industry for its potential to yield billions of barrels of oil.
That potential is expected to come closer to reality in December, when the federal government – which owns below-surface rights to the mostly private land – is scheduled to hold an auction to lease out parcels to oil and gas companies…..


Fracking in California takes less water

David R. Baker SFChronicle Published 11:02 p.m., Saturday, September 8, 2012

In Pennsylvania, the controversial practice of fracking can consume 4.5 million gallons of water per well, the liquid pumped deep underground to crack rocks that contain natural gas. In parts of Texas, fracking a well often takes 6 million gallons. But in California, where fracking is starting to spread, the average amount of water involved is just 164,000 gallons, according to industry data.

Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, has triggered a boom in energy production across the United States and sparked a fierce public debate that revolves around water. Critics say fracking can ruin drinking water supplies when badly built wells allow chemicals used in the process to seep into aquifers. The disposal wells that take used fracking water and bury it far beneath the earth’s surface can trigger earthquakes.

And in arid Western states, the sheer volume of water that fracking requires alarms farmers and environmentalists alike. “Here in California, as much as people worry about contamination, water supply and induced seismicity are at the front of people’s minds,” said Damon Nagami, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental group. “The lack of data on these issues is freaking people out.”

But so far, fracking in California appears to take far less water than it does elsewhere.

At the request of state regulators, some of the companies fracking here have started posting information about their wells on, a website created by the oil and gas industry to allay public fears about the practice. The site contains information on 364 fracked wells in the Golden State, most of them in the southern San Joaquin Valley. (For comparison, FracFocus lists 1,940 fracked wells in Pennsylvania – ground zero of the fracking boom.)

The average amount of water used in California wells has been 164,000 gallons, according to the Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry lobbying group that compiled a spreadsheet of the California data. Some fracked wells here require significantly more – 300,000 gallons and up – while others consume substantially less. A cluster of fracked wells near Sutter Buttes in the Sacramento Valley used between 10,000 gallons and 35,000 gallons apiece. An Olympic-size swimming pool contains about 660,000 gallons of water. A golf course typically uses around 300,000 gallons per day…..


Oiled birds found in Louisiana in Isaac’s wake

Houston Chronicle

The U.S. Coast Guard and state officials in Louisiana are evaluating the environmental impact on the area from Hurricane Isaac. On Monday, wildlife management teams recovered three birds that were covered in oil and were continuing to search for any other affected wildlife, officials said. The teams have investigated about 90 reports of pollution directly linked to the hurricane. More


Shell begins drilling well off Alaska

Jennifer A. Dlouhy San Francisco Chronicle September 10, 2012

Shell began boring its first well in the Chukchi Sea in more than two decades on Sunday, kicking off what company executives anticipate will be years of work tapping prospects throughout U.S. Arctic waters. To check for unexpected obstructions… more »







Announcing the New AGU [American Geophysical Union] U.S. Elections Website
The 2012 presidential and congressional elections are quickly approaching. The economy and unemployment may grab most of the headlines, but the Earth and space sciences also play a vital role in our nation’s and states’ prosperity. Scientific and technological innovation, education, and discovery will continue to help provide our nation with growth and security in the future. From satellites that predict severe weather to understanding how ocean acidification affects the shellfish industry, science is at the forefront in providing answers to challenging societal issues. AGU has created a new U.S. Elections website as a tool to assist its members and other scientists in making an impact in the elections by becoming involved and asking the right questions. Resources include a listing of regional Earth and space science issues, tips on attending town halls and writing op-eds, and science questions to ask candidates, just to name a few. When many people ask candidates questions about science policy or publish op-eds about science issues facing their communities, we collectively show the value of science to society and make those issues even more important to legislators. Your voice as a scientist is important to this year’s elections. Visit the website and speak out!


Returning Congress to face angry farmers

San Francisco Chronicle September 10, 2012

While that unfinished bit of business threatens to cut off aid to farmers across the nation, lawmakers, fresh off their parties’ conventions, appear to favor action on other bills that emphasize their political agendas over actual lawmaking. In… more »



Wyoming wolves to lose Endangered Species Act protection
Reuters via Chicago Tribune
Gray wolves in Wyoming, the last still federally protected in the northern Rockies, will lose endangered species status at the end of next month, opening them to unregulated killing in most of the state, the U.S. government said. The planned delisting of Wyoming’s estimated 350 wolves caps a steady progression of diminishing federal safeguards for a predator once hunted, trapped and poisoned to the brink of extinction throughout most of the continental United States. More



Climate change: why it could be a hot topic on the campaign trail
Christian Science MONITOR September 7 2012

Like Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter saga, climate change has been the issue “that shall not be named” – mostly a political no-show in the presidential campaign. But that may be changing thanks to the political heat generated by the two conventions…..



Obama To Nation: ‘Climate Change Is Not A Hoax. More Droughts And Floods And Wildfires Are Not A Joke.’
Posted: 06 Sep 2012 07:41 PM PDT

It looks like Romney’s mockery of Obama’s 2008 pledge of climate action had one positive impact.

At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, President Obama said tonight to a large national TV audience: “And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax.  More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke.  They’re a threat to our children’s future.  And in this election, you can do something about it.”…..


Obama, Romney Present Stark Choice on Environment, Energy

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, September 7, 2012 (ENS) – Of all the areas of life where the two candidates now running for election to the U.S.



Concerns over bird migration provokes change in Philadelphia light show

Philadelphia Inquirer – ‎ September 8, 2012‎

Researchers have found dead birds around the bases of communications towers, lighthouses, and tall buildings. Birds use stars as navigational tools, and they are attracted to strong light, especially on cloudy nights when the stars are not visible .


Leading Global Companies Say ‘Tangible And Present’ Climate Change Is Already Creating Business Risk
Posted: 12 Sep 2012 09:27 AM PDT

The number of large corporations reporting current risks from climate change has grown substantially over the last two years. According to a survey of 405 of the biggest global companies conducted by the Carbon Disclosure Project, 37 percent say they are already seeing the impact of climate change on their business — up from 10 percent in 2010.

The Carbon Disclosure Project attributes the increase in companies worried about current climate risks to the rise in extreme weather globally: Recent extreme weather and natural events have tested companies’ business resilience and increased their level of understanding of the timeframes of the physical risks they associate with climate change. Physical risks are viewed as tangible and present, impacting companies’ operations, supply chains and business planning. The majority of companies (81%) report physical risks and the percentage of companies that view these risks as current has nearly quadrupled from 10% in 2010 to 37% in 2012. Insurance company Allianz reports that in 2011 it processed $2.2 billion in natural catastrophe (including non-weather related) claims, the largest sum for natural catastrophes in its history. So far this year, America has seen the most extreme period for weather ever recorded. The country is on track to surpass last year, when there were 14 extreme weather events that each caused more than a billion dollars in damage — the most in U.S. history.

In response to these tangible impacts, more large companies are crafting strategies for addressing climate change. According to the survey, 78 percent of responding companies are factoring climate into their business plans, up from 68 percent in 2011…..


Corporations Slow to Act on Climate Change, Report Says



New York Times (blog) – ‎September 12, 2012‎

The group’s 2012 Global 500 Climate Change Report, based on responses from 379 of the world’s 500 largest companies in terms of market capitalization, said that 82 percent of those responding set emission reduction targets of some sort, but that most



As global warming nudges average temperatures upward across the planet and causes tumultuous, grape-damaging weather changes, winemakers in Oregon are wondering just how their superstar grape will fare — if at all. [NPR]

The lack of natural nectar — and the resulting decrease in honey production — has put many beekeepers in a sticky spot going into the winter. [Deseret News]






Adaptation to Drought – Conservation Innovation Grants Available
NRCS has announced the availability of up to $5 million in grants to evaluate and demonstrate agricultural practices that help farmers and ranchers adapt to drought. NRCS is offering the grants to partnering entities to evaluate innovative, field-based conservation technologies and approaches. Private individuals, Tribes, local and state governments, and non-governmental organizations are eligible to apply.
Grant applications are due October 15, 2012.

For more information click here


NRCS Partners Receive $2 Million for Conservation Innovations
 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last Friday that four conservation organizations will receive approximately $2 million to fund five Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) projects in California.  USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the grants that in California will include developing water quality trading markets in Sonoma County, improving pollinator habitat on farms and ranches and other conservation innovations.  “These grants will help spur creativity and problem-solving on California’s farms and ranches,” said Jeff Burwell, acting state conservationist in California. New this year was a special emphasis on water quality trading markets to demonstrate how farmers and ranchers can help municipalities and other point sources overcome high pollution control costs. The Sotoyome Resource Conservation District (SRCD), based in Santa Rosa, Calif., will receive $570,000 to establish a credit trading market with the City of Santa Rosa. Other CIG grants awarded in California include; Sustainable Conservation, the Regents of the University of California and the Xerces Society. For a complete list of CIG awardees click here.




Interactive Timeline Of 2012 Extreme Weather

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 07:02 AM PDT by Kelly Levin, via WRI’s Insights

Over the past several months, extreme weather and climate events in the form of heat waves, droughts, fires, and flooding have seemed to become the norm rather than the exception. In the past half-year alone, millions of people have been affected across the globe – from Europe suffering from the worst cold snap in a quarter century; to extreme flooding in Australia, Brazil, China, and the Philippines; to drought in the Sahel. Records have been broken monthly in the continental United States, with the warmest spring and 12-month period experienced this year and severe fires and drought affecting large swaths of the country. So how bad has it really been? Below we have put together a timeline of extreme climate and weather events in 2012. We have by no means attempted to be comprehensive in listing events, but have aimed to include some of the most significant occurrences this year. Please let us know through the comment section if we are missing some, as we plan to update the timeline periodically….








Enough wind to power global energy demand: New research examines limits, climate consequences
(September 9, 2012) — There is enough energy available in winds to meet all of the world’s demand. Atmospheric turbines that convert steadier and faster high-altitude winds into energy could generate even more power than ground- and ocean-based units. New research examines the limits of the amount of power that could be harvested from winds, as well as the effects high-altitude wind power could have on the climate as a whole. … > full story

Predicting wave power could double marine-based energy
(September 10, 2012) — A scientist says that his new computer algorithm improves the functioning of Wave Energy Converters used in producing electrical energy from ocean waves. And, with improvements in the converters themselves, it could make marine-based energy more commercially viable. … > full story



Sep. 07, 2012 ScienceFriday

Oregon Power Project Needs the Motion of the Ocean

A generator that makes electricity from wave power is being prepared for installation off the Oregon coast.


Hot Air About ‘Cheap’ Natural Gas

Posted: 07 Sep 2012 11:12 AM PDT by Amory Lovins and Jon Creyts, via Rocky Mountain Institute

Would you build a buy-and-hold financial portfolio from only junk bonds and no Treasuries by considering only price, not also risk? Not for long. Yet those who say cheap natural gas is killing alternatives—solar, wind, nuclear—make the same error. In truth, they’re doing the math wrong: The gas isn’t really that cheap.

“Cheap gas” reflects only the bare spot price of the commodity without adding the value of its price volatility. Yet such competitors as efficiency and renewables have no fuel and hence no fuel-price volatility: Once built, they’re as financially riskless as Treasuries. Of course, much gas is sold not at spot but on long-term contract, especially to its biggest user—electricity generators. But for other players, it’s vital not to become the patsy in the poker game: basic financial economics says asset comparisons must value and equalize risk…..







The Elephant We’re All Inside

Junk Journalism on Climate, or Too Big to Cover?

Bill Blakemore
ABC NEWS September 9, 2012
Nature’s Notebook Column

…As scientific reports about the speedy advance and devastating impacts of man made global warming have grown steadily more alarming, surveys have shown most mainstream American news organizations covering it less and less over the past two years….Why this decline in persistent coverage? It seems unlikely to last; all responsibly sourced reports from around the world — “as solid as science ever gets,” say eminent climate scientists — suggest the increasing impacts will soon force news directors to offer more coverage and explanatory reporting to a public that will appreciate getting it. It may be that many of our mainstream news directors are, in effect, in the final stages of getting their act together as they get ready to cover this unprecedented story….

….Psychologists Charles B. Strozier and Robert J. Lifton report finding what they call a sort of pragmatic “professional numbing” in several professions that deal with traumatic or frightening events or information. One metaphor I came up with when first grappling with this story eight years ago (journalists love to find a good new metaphor) was that “This isn’t the elephant in the room, it’s the elephant we’re all inside of.”Global warming, we’re barely beginning to realize, is actually… global. There may, in a way, be something new under the sun here — a new fourth category of news: “global news”… as something quite different from “foreign news.”….

….And how do professional journalists deal with something so big — once we see the size? Simple. By doing what we’ve been doing.We just keep at it, and start to figure it out. We try to get a fix on whatever new psychological barriers the latest story has presented to us and to our news directors, much less to our readers and viewers. An excellent college professor (Tom T. Tashiro) told this future reporter and his classmates that “All genuine learning is frightening. It’s new, and therefore unknown, at first, and we’re naturally frightened of the unknown.”

It’s much the same with a truly new story — what we mean by real “news.”
Any big new story worth its salt always has new psychological barriers, by definition.

Manmade global warming appears, so far, to have the biggest of all.



Many Shades of Green

Aug. 22, 2012 Science Friday by Annette Heist

The movie ‘Carbon Nation’ bills itself as a “climate change solutions movie that doesn’t even care if you believe in climate change.” …



Training a New Wave of “Digital Ornithologists”

Cornell professor David Winkler got his start in ornithology in the 1970s, when cameras used film, recorders used tape, and computers used punch cards. Today’s ornithologists must be as comfortable with cameras and computers as they are with catbirds and cardinals. So this summer, Winkler helped a group of Cornell undergraduates gain some real-world practice with a project collecting digital recordings of nesting Scarlet Tanagers. Read, listen to, and watch their work.


Scientific publishing

Academic journals face a radical shake-up

Jul 21st 2012 | The Economist

IF THERE is any endeavour whose fruits should be freely available, that endeavour is surely publicly financed science. Morally, taxpayers who wish to should be able to read about it without further expense. And science advances through cross-fertilisation between projects. Barriers to that exchange slow it down. There is a widespread feeling that the journal publishers who have mediated this exchange for the past century or more are becoming an impediment to it. One of the latest converts is the British government. On July 16th it announced that, from 2013, the results of taxpayer-financed research would be available, free and online, for anyone to read and redistribute….


Research Shows Rapid Pace Of Historic Desertification In Dead Sea Region

Posted: 06 Sep 2012 12:27 PM PDT by Bob Berwyn, via Summit County Citizens Voice

Past climate change in the Dead Sea region was sudden and dramatic, with Mediterranean-type vegetation giving way to desert plants within just a few decades as the climate dried out. One of those dry spells may have resulted in the Canaanites’ urban culture collapsing while nomads invaded their area, perhaps establishing a climate link to biblical events described in the Old Testament as the exodus of the Israelites to the Promised Land. The new climate data from the area came from a detailed study by scientists with the Steinmann-Institute for Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology at the University of Bonn, who tracked distinct dry periods during the pottery Neolithic Age (about 7,500 to 6,500 years ago), as well as at the transition from the late Bronze Age to the early Iron Age (about 3,200 years ago). “Humans were also strongly affected by these climate changes,” said Dr. Thomas Litt, describing how the climate in the region shifted within just a few decades…..


Exclusive Interview With Invisible President Obama On Global Warming

Posted: 06 Sep 2012 03:53 PM PDT


Seeing Through the Smoke — The Secrets in a Cigarette

Sept 72012 ScienceFriday

Many cigarettes are only two-thirds tobacco, and contain hundreds of additives, such as antifreeze, cocoa shells, and liquorice.



Treatment with fungi makes a modern violin sound like a Stradivarius
(September 8, 2012) — A good violin depends on the expertise of the violin maker, but also on the quality of the wood that is used. Professor Francis W. M. R. Schwarze of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology has succeeded in modifying the wood for a violin through treatment with special fungi, making it sound indistinguishably similar to a Stradivarius. … > full story








Obama On Climate Change: “More Droughts And Floods And Wildfires Are Not A Joke”








SF Bay Area in the Fog- NASA

acquired August 16, 2012
download large image (2 MB, JPEG, 3050×2938)

For some people, the relentless waves of fog that roll off the Pacific Ocean into San Francisco each summer inspire awe. For others, they arouse frustration, even depression. Either way, fog is simply a fact of life for San Franciscans, particularly those who live near the Golden Gate Bridge.

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