Conservation Science News October 19, 2012

Highlight of the Week…. Geoengineering….










Highlight of the Week– Geoengineering….


Yellow and brown colours show relatively high concentrations of chlorophyll in August 2012, after iron sulphate was dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of a controversial geoengineering scheme. Photograph: Giovanni/Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center/NASA

World’s biggest geoengineering experiment ‘violates’ UN rules

Controversial US businessman’s iron fertilisation off west coast of Canada contravenes two UN conventions

Martin Lukacs Monday 15 October 2012 06.34 EDT

A controversial American businessman dumped around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean as part of a geoengineering scheme off the west coast of Canada in July, a Guardian investigation can reveal. Lawyers, environmentalists and civil society groups are calling it a “blatant violation” of two international moratoria and the news is likely to spark outrage at a United Nations environmental summit taking place in India this week.


Satellite images appear to confirm the claim by Californian Russ George that the iron has spawned an artificial plankton bloom as large as 10,000 square kilometres. The intention is for the plankton to absorb carbon dioxide and then sink to the ocean bed – a geoengineering technique known as ocean fertilisation that he hopes will net lucrative carbon credits. George is the former chief executive of Planktos Inc, whose previous failed efforts to conduct large-scale commercial dumps near the Galapagos and Canary Islands led to his vessels being barred from ports by the Spanish and Ecuadorean governments. The US Environmental Protection Agency warned him that flying a US flag for his Galapagos project would violate US laws, and his activities are credited in part to the passing of international moratoria at the United Nations limiting ocean fertilisation experiments


Scientists are debating whether iron fertilisation can lock carbon into the deep ocean over the long term, and have raised concerns that it can irreparably harm ocean ecosystems, produce toxic tides and lifeless waters, and worsen ocean acidification and global warming. “It is difficult if not impossible to detect and describe important effects that we know might occur months or years later,” said John Cullen , an oceanographer at Dalhousie University. “Some possible effects, such as deep-water oxygen depletion and alteration of distant food webs, should rule out ocean manipulation. History is full of examples of ecological manipulations that backfired.”….


From NY TIMES Oct 19, 2012:
A California businessman chartered a fishing boat in July, loaded it with 100 tons of iron dust and cruised through Pacific waters off western Canada, spewing his cargo into the sea in an ecological experiment that has outraged scientists and government officials. [New York Times]









Restoring the Narrative of American Environmentalism
Society for Ecological Restoration
The conventional narrative of American environmentalism is no longer very helpful for conservationists and restorationists seeking philosophical justification and guidance for their work. The tradition has often been cropped into a narrower and simplified account of the battle between the philosophies of wise use and preservation, a move bolstered by the turn to historical images of President Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir visiting California’s Yosemite National Park in the early years of the twentieth century. Restoring this lost pragmatism to the environmental tradition will prove vital to recovering the value of environmental history and philosophy for conservation and restoration practice and to reclaiming a more holistic and useful narrative of people, culture, and environment.




Why are U.S. Eastern seaboard salt marshes falling apart?
October 17, 2012) — Salt marshes have been disintegrating and dying over the past two decades along the U.S. Eastern seaboard and other highly developed coastlines, without anyone fully understanding why. Scientists now report that nutrients — such as nitrogen and phosphorus from septic and sewer systems and lawn fertilizers — can cause salt-marsh loss. … > full story


Tenuous water supply shrinks this year at Valley wildlife refuges

By Matt Weiser Published: Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 1A

At the Sutter National Wildlife Refuge near Yuba City, wetlands that should be teeming with mallards, canvasbacks, geese and pelicans are instead parched and barren.
The refuge, established in 1945, is normally able to flood its 21 wetland tracts by early October. They provide food and shelter for millions of birds that migrate across the globe, using California’s Central Valley as a vital stop along the Pacific Flyway.
In addition to their ecological importance, the Sacramento Valley’s public wildlife refuges attract more than 200,000 visitors per year, including hunters, anglers and bird lovers. They are one of the only options for outdoor lovers who can’t afford a pricey duck club membership or an exotic bird-watching safari.
This year, 80 percent of the Sutter refuge remains dry. That means about 2,000 acres of potential habitat is nearly empty of bird life. Ponds normally busy with squawking ducks and geese are dried to a crisp in the October sun.
“The water, come lately, hasn’t been real reliable,” said Dan Frisk, manager of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which includes Sutter….


Central Valley’s wildlife refuges need water, too

By the Editorial Board Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 16A

Congress, along with state and federal water managers, doesn’t have much to brag about in protecting and recovering native fish in California. But they should take some pride in increased waterfowl. Ducks, geese and other birds have rebounded in the Sacramento Valley, partly because of a 1992 law requiring increased deliveries of water to wildlife refuges. That record of success, however, shouldn’t be taken for granted. Over the last five years, water deliveries by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to federal refuges have dipped and spiked. This year is likely to be another bad year. As The Bee’s Matt Weiser reported Monday, 80 percent of the Sutter National Wildlife Refuge is dry this year. “That means about 2,000 acres of potential habitat is nearly empty of bird life,” he reported. “Ponds normally busy with squawking ducks and geese are dried to a crisp in the October sun.”

There is no doubt that the Bureau of Reclamation – the agency that manages water from Lake Shasta and other federal reservoirs – has worked hard to increase water to refuges. Still, it hasn’t come close to meeting the requirements of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act. That law required the bureau to deliver 133,264 acre-feet of water annually to 19 wildlife areas in the Central Valley by 2002. It hasn’t come close. Its best year was in 2011, when it still was about one-fourth short of the requirement. It is too soon to know if these gyrating water deliveries are causing harm to migrating waterfowl. It should be remembered that, in the Sacramento Valley, rice fields are beneficial to birds and there are far more acres in rice than in refuges. Still, there is no denying that a dry refuge is a wasted refuge, a problem the 1992 law sought to correct. The first order of business is to understand the nature of the challenge. The second is avoid making it worse as California considers changes to plumbing in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. One problem for the refuges is the lack of a secure supply. Up until 2005, the Bureau of Reclamation was able to buy water on the spot market, including some from rice farmers in Northern California who choose to fallow their land and sell water on a one-time basis. In recent years, however, prices for rice have been high and rice farmers have been hoarding their water, leaving little for the spot market. Another big challenge is moving water through the Delta to refuges in the San Joaquin Valley. There’s no easy answer here, but there are a lot of stakeholders who have an interest in a healthy Pacific Flyway. Central Valley Joint Venture, a group trying to help the refuges, could use assistance in elevating the issue and securing funds and water for the Valley’s wildlife areas. We hear a lot from Southern California these days about the need for reliable water supplies. Refuges need that, too. © Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.


Great whites’ diets shown to vary widely

Peter Fimrite San Francisco Chronicle October 17, 2012

The study, published recently in the scientific journal PLoS One, showed that the dining habits of the finned creatures vary widely and often include dolphins, squid and a wide variety of fish. The researchers analyzed growth bands in the… more »


San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science October 2012 VOLUME 10, ISSUE 3 available on line

  • Using Conceptual Models and Decision-Supoort Tools to Guide Ecosystem Restoration Planning and Adaptive Management: An Example from the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, California

    Bruce DiGennaro, Denise Reed, Christina Swanson, Lauren Hastings, Zachary Hymanson, Michael Healey, Stuart Siegel, Scott Cantrell, and Bruce Herbold

  • Juvenile Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in and around the San Francisco Estuary

    John G. Williams

  • A Conceptual Model of Sedimentation in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta

    David H. Schoellhamer, Scott A. Wright, and Judith Z. Drexler

  • A Conceptual Model for Floodplains in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta

    Jeffrey J. Opperman


UK: Crossrail Earth To Help Create Biggest Man-Made Nature Reserve In Europe
The first giant scoops of almost 5m tons of earth from deep beneath London were delivered to the Essex coast on Monday, the first step in creating the biggest man-made nature reserve in Europe. The soil, excavated from two new 21km rail tunnels under the capital, will transform the pancake-flat intensive farmland of Wallasea Island into a labyrinth of mudflats, saltmarshes and lagoons last seen on the site 400 years ago.


Restore The California Delta! To What, Exactly? Oct 7 2012
In California, state officials are planning a multibillion-dollar environmental restoration of the inland delta near San Francisco Bay. There’s only one problem: No one knows what the landscape used to look like. Since 97% of the original wetlands are gone, the state is turning to historians for help. Alison Whipple and Robin Grossinger are looking through a pile of maps, trying to piece together the path of William Wright, a man who got hopelessly lost somewhere nearby 160 years ago.


Primates in peril: Conservationists reveal the world’s 25 most endangered primates
(October 15, 2012) — Humankind’s closest living relatives — the world’s apes, monkeys, lemurs and other primates — are on the brink of extinction and in need of urgent conservation measures, according to a report released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The report, announced by some of the world’s leading primate experts every two years, reveals those species most in danger of becoming extinct from destruction of tropical forests, illegal wildlife trade and commercial bush meat hunting. … > full story


Endangered woodpeckers caught, driven to new homes

JANET McCONNAUGHEY, Associated Press Associated Press October 19, 2012

Thursday night, biologists in the forest’s southwestern Calcasieu Ranger District caught seven more pairs of the 5- to 7-inch-long black-and-white birds, which are named for a few tiny red feathers on their heads. More than 80 pairs of juvenile red cockaded woodpeckers are being moved from big groups in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas forests to bolster small groups in those states and in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. At their new homes, males and… more »


Activists say Cayman must stop farming sea turtles



DAVID McFADDEN, Associated Press Associated Press October 19, 2012 KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Wildlife activists urged the Cayman Islands on Thursday to permanently halt the farming of green sea turtles at a popular government-owned tourist attraction that has released thousands of juveniles into the sea and… more »


Shark finning hitting Persian Gulf sharks hard

MICHAEL CASEY, AP Environmental Writer Associated Press October 19, 2012

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Armed with a clip board and wearing bright yellow waders, Rima Jabado looked the part of a government inspector at the Dubai fish market as workers sawed the fins off hundreds of dead sharks from Oman and… more »







September 2012 Tied For The Warmest September Ever Recorded -globally

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 11:25 AM PDT

Last month was tied for the warmest September ever recorded globally, according to new data from the National Climatic Data Center. The average combined land and ocean surface temperature last month was 1.21 degrees F above the 20th century average — rivaling September of 2005 as the warmest on record. In August, the National Climatic Data Center reported that June through August of 2012 was the warmest ever recorded for global land surface temperatures. When factored with ocean surface temperature, the average global temperature between June and August was the third warmest in recorded history. The summer of 2012 was also the third warmest ever recorded for the U.S. — only .2 degrees F lower than the summer of 1936, during the height of the Dust Bowl. In early September, the climate center reported that January through August of this year was the most extreme for weather ever recorded for the U.S.


Global temperature ties with 2005 as record highest for September. Larger size. (Credit: NOAA Visualization Lab)

NOAA: Global temperature ties with 2005 as record highest for September

Arctic sea ice retreats to all-time minimum extent, while Antarctic sea ice records all-time maximum

According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature for September 2012 tied with 2005 as the warmest September since recordkeeping began in 1880. It also marked the 36th consecutive September and 331st consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average September temperature was September 1976, and the last below-average temperature for any month was February 1985.

Most areas of the world experienced higher-than-average monthly temperatures, including central Russia, Japan, western Australia, northern Argentina, Paraguay, western Canada, and southern Greenland. Meanwhile, far eastern Russia, western Alaska, southern Africa, parts of the upper Midwest and southeast United States, and much of China were notably below average.

In the Arctic, sea ice extent averaged 1.39 million square miles for the month, resulting in the lowest monthly sea ice extent on record, and on September 16, the Arctic reached its all-time lowest daily extent on record. More than 4.57 million square miles of ice melted in 2012, the size of the entire United States and Mexico combined. Conversely, on the opposite pole, Antarctic sea ice reached its all-time highest daily extent on record on September 26.

This monthly analysis (summary, full report) from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.


NOAA winter outlook: Big uncertainty due to fickle El Nino

By Jason Samenow Posted at 12:24 PM ET, 10/18/2012


NOAA’s winter oulook for temperature and precipitation. A indicates “above normal”, B indicates “below normal”, whereas EC indicates “equal chances” above or below normal. (NOAA) Since the summer, forecasters have called for El Nino to develop this fall, but so far, it has defied such predictions. El Nino’s baffling behavior has left NOAA forecasters scratching their heads and unable to make a solid call about what kind of winter to expect over large parts of the United States.

El Nino, the episodic warming of ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific, is often linked to certain weather patterns over the U.S. Generally, during El Nino winters, it is cool and wet across the southern U.S. and warm and dry across the northern tier.



As waters warm, predators may go hungry

David Perlman San Francisco Chronicle October 19, 2012

Predators of the North Pacific Ocean – among them many sharks, whales, seals and sea turtles – will be forced to swim farther from their food supplies or go hungry as the world’s warming climate shifts their normal habitats, a marine scientist
has concluded. Yet the changes pushed by ocean warming may benefit some seabirds and fast-swimming tuna, which are built to forage farther than their competitors, according to a study by Elliott Hazen, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries researcher affiliated with Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions. Climate specialists estimate that average sea surface temperatures will rise from 1.8 to 10.8 degrees by the end of this century, and Hazen and his colleagues have calculated how this could affect predators in two great western regions of the world’s oceans…. more »



Ozone affects forest watersheds
(October 18, 2012)
ScienceDaily (Oct. 18, 2012)
— U.S. Forest Service and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) scientists have found that rising levels of ozone, a greenhouse gas, may amplify the impacts of higher temperatures and reduce streamflow from forests to rivers, streams, and other water bodies. Such effects could potentially reduce water supplies available to support forest ecosystems and people in the southeastern United States. Impacts of ozone, a global scale pollutant, on forests are not well understood at a large scale. This modeling study indicates that current and projected increases in ozone in the 21st century will likely enhance the negative effects of warming on watersheds, aggravating drought and altering stream flow. Using data on atmospheric water supply and demand and statistical models, researchers with the Forest Service and ORNL were able to show what effects ozone can have on stream flow in dry seasons. Published in the November issue of the journal Global Change Biology, the study suggests that ozone has amplified the effects of warmer temperatures in reducing streamflow in forested watersheds in the southeastern United States. … > full story

Forest Fires Linked to High Temperatures Two Years Before



October 19, 2012 — A study led by some University of Barcelona researchers analyses the impact of interannual and seasonal climate variability on the fires occurred in Catalonia last summer. The study concludes that summer fires, related to summer climate conditions, are correlated with antecedent climate conditions, especially winter and spring ones with a lag time of two years. The results suggest that precipitation and temperature conditions regulate fuel flammability and fuel structure. According to the correlations observed, the study provides a model to produce long-term predictions. The study, published in the journal Climatic Change, comes out of the doctoral thesis of the researcher Marco Turco, directed by the UB researcher Maria del Carme Llasat, co-author of the article. From 1983 to 2007, period analysed in the study, more than 16000 fires events were recorded and the total burned area was more than 240000 hectares, around 7.5 % of Catalonia. The work develops a statistical analysis of these fires and shows that, from a climate point of view, according to Maria del Carme Llasat, “is possible to develop a model that gives us an estimation of the number of fires and the extension of the burned area related to monthly average temperature and rainfall. We developed a simple regression model which includes the influence of spring-summer climate conditions of the studied year, but specially other variables which are determinant, although they do not seem to.”… > full story


How Climate Change Makes Species Go Extinct

Randy Astaiza | Oct. 16, 2012, 7:11 PM | 291 | 1

A type of frog called Atelopus certus. Many species in the genus Atelopus are threatened or extinct due to a fungus spreading. The fungus is surviving better because of global climate change. As climate changes, so does the way a species uses and interacts with its environment and other species. These changes could be why some species suffer severe declines, or even extinction in local populations a new study suggests. The study published tomorrow, Oct. 17, in the the journal Proceedings of The Royal Society B.

“Currently our knowledge of the ways in which climate change can lead to species extinctions is extremely limited,” study researcher John Wiens, from Stony Brook University, said in a statement from the journal. “Understanding the proximate causes of extinction from climate change should be an urgent priority for future research if we are to develop effective conservation strategies to ameliorate their effects.” This next great extinction, on par with the mass die off that killed the dinosaurs, may actually have already started.

To see how climate is playing a role in local species extinctions, the researchers studied 136 case studies to figure out how climate might have been involved in each. They found seven studies that could be nailed down as climate-related. Although there were only a handful of studies to review, in the ones that were climate related the researchers noticed a pattern: They found that local extinctions happened because of changes in how the animals used and interacted with their environment, not because of temperature changes. For example they found that: Reduced food availability led to local extinctions of three birds — a plover, a jay, and an auklet; A spreading deadly fungus killed off multiple species of tropical frog; drought killed off a local type of aloe tree and four amphibians; and lower oxygen availability in warmer waters killed off a fish. The loss of beneficial species interactions was also a factor in local extinctions. Rapid changes in climate wreaked havoc for figs and their wasps and for algae that live on corals….



Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy is

Illustration by Edel Rodriguez

By Bill McKibben July 19, 2012 9:35 AM ET Rolling Stone Magazine
If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven’t convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe……When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math. For the past year, an easy and powerful bit of arithmetical analysis first published by financial analysts in the U.K. has been making the rounds of environmental conferences and journals, but it hasn’t yet broken through to the larger public. This analysis upends most of the conventional political thinking about climate change. And it allows us to understand our precarious – our almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless – position with three simple numbers…..The First Number: 2° Celsius….The Second Number: 565 Gigatons….The Third Number: 2,795 Gigatons



Climate change: Circulation of Atlantic Ocean was faster during last Ice Age than today
(October 15, 2012) — Heat transport in the Atlantic Ocean during the last Ice Age was not weaker, as long assumed, but in fact stronger than it is today. Scientists used ultra-precise measurements of natural radionuclides in ocean sediments to study the ocean’s strength of circulation and uncovered new information about the past of the “Atlantic heat pump.” … > full story



Fishery collapse near Venezuela linked to climate change
(October 18, 2012)Even small increases in temperature from global warming are causing climatology shifts harmful to ocean life, a new study shows. Modest changes in temperature have significantly altered trade wind intensity in the southern Caribbean, undercutting the supply of key phytoplankton food sources and causing the collapse of some fisheries there. … > full story


Steps in the right direction for conservation
(October 17, 2012) — As the climate changes, conservationists are divided over the most effective way to preserve animal and plant diversity because they cannot simply preserve the status quo. Ensuring species can shift to track the climate to which they are suited is a complex problem, especially when there are competing demands on land use. A simple prediction is that more habitat would help species to shift, but it is not obvious what the best spatial locations for habitat would be. … > full story


Island Wildlife Decline, Linked To Ocean Acidification, ‘Could Prove A Bellwether For Oceanic Change Globally’

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 01:30 PM PDT The NY Times published a sobering piece recently about Tatoosh Island off the coast of Washington state. Tatoosh is a global “warming bellwether”: But for over four decades, with the blessing of Makah leaders, Tatoosh has been the object of intense biological scrutiny, and scientists say they are seeing disturbing declines across species — changes that could prove a bellwether for oceanic change globally. The Makah hold treaty rights to the island. Among the declines the researchers are noticing: historically hardy populations of gulls and murres are only half what they were 10 years ago, and only a few chicks hatched this spring. Mussel shells are notably thinner, and recently the mussels seem to be detaching from rocks more easily and with greater frequency. Goose barnacles are also suffering, and so are the hard, splotchy, wine-colored coralline algae, which appear like graffiti along rocky shorelines. This particular whodunit appears to be largely solved: Humans in the Ecosystem with CO2. Global warming is “capable of wrecking the marine ecosystem and depriving future generations of the harvest of the seas” (see Ocean dead zones to expand, “remain for thousands of years”). In this case, it’s ocean acidification, a subject we have covered extensively — see, for instance, Geological Society study finds acidifying oceans on track for marine biological meltdown “by end of century,” as co-author warns: “Unless we curb carbon emissions we risk mass extinctions, degrading coastal waters and encouraging outbreaks of toxic jellyfish and algae.” The major media haven’t been so focused on this major threat to humanity (see “Kardashians Get 40 Times More News Coverage Than Ocean Acidification“)….”Biologists suspect that the shifts are related to huge declines in the water’s pH, a shift attributed to the absorption of excess carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in ever-greater amounts by the burning of fossil fuels for energy.As the carbon dioxide is absorbed, it alters the oceanic water chemistry, turning it increasingly acidic. Barnacles, oysters and mussels find it more difficult to survive, which can cause chain reactions among the animals that eat those species, like birds and peopled uring a research trip in 2000, Dr. Pfister and Dr. Wootton first began testing the pH of water samples. They found the water around Tatoosh and along nearby coastlines to be 10 times as acidic as what accepted climate change models were predicting. Even after collecting seven years of data, when they published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2008, their data were met with skepticism. “People think we just don’t know how to use the instrument — I still hear that,” Dr. Pfister said. “Luckily for our reputations, I guess, this has been corroborated by a lot of other people.”

Unluckily for humanity, a great many of the impacts of man-made greenhouse gas emissions are worse than what “accepted climate change models were predicting.” It was on Tatoosh and the nearby shore (which you can see in the top photo) that Prof. Robert T. Paine, retired University of Washington zoologist, “developed his keystone species hypothesis, which describes how top predators dominate an ecosystem, often to the benefit of species diversity.” I guess that makes us the anti-keystone species, since humans dominate almost every ecosystem, but invariably to the detriment of species diversity (see Royal Society: “There are very strong indications that the current rate of species extinctions far exceeds anything in the fossil record”). Indeed, we seem to be the species that is especially adept at wiping out keystone species and diversity (see “Global Warming May Cause Far Higher Extinction of Biodiversity Than Previously Thought“). The final word goes to the too-appropriately named professor: “You can predict change,” Dr. Paine said, “and most of the changes are going to be in a direction we don’t want.” So it’s good to see the Times run with this story and explain the climate change angle so clearly:

Related posts:



Long-term observations in the tropics linked to global climate change
(October 16, 2012) — Reports of declining ice coverage and drowning polar bears in the Arctic illustrate dramatic ecosystem responses to global climate change in Earth’s polar regions. But in a first-ever account of a long-term project in the southern Caribbean, researchers report that tropical ecosystems are also affected by global climatic trends — and with accompanying economic impacts. … > full story



Ice sheet retreat controlled by the landscape
(October 16, 2012) — Ice-sheet retreat can halt temporarily during long phases of climate warming, according to scientists. … > full story


Dinosaur-era acoustics: Global warming may give oceans the ‘sound’ of the Cretaceous
(October 18, 2012) — Global temperatures directly affect the acidity of the ocean, which in turn changes the acoustical properties of sea water. New research suggests that global warming may give Earth’s oceans the same hi-fi sound qualities they had more than 100 million years ago, during the Age of the Dinosaurs. … > full story



Tuvalu: A Pacific Landscape Befouled

By MATT SIEGEL (NYT) October 17, 2012

Decades after they were dug to provide material for an airstrip during World War II, “borrow pits” are eroding islanders’ quality of life in Tuvalu.



Prime Hook plan may become a model for dealing with rising seas
By Jon Hurdle June 14, 2012

A plan to save Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge from rising sea levels may do more than just create new habitat for migratory birds, increase opportunities for hunters, and prevent flooding in some coastal communities. The ambitious proposal, released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on May 31, may become a template for how Delaware deals with the coastal flooding that already strikes the state’s many low-lying areas – a challenge that experts say will get far worse in coming decades. The 10,000-acre Prime Hook preserve is one of the areas that state officials say will be virtually wiped out by the one-meter rise in ocean waters projected to happen by the end of the century if current trends continue.

Rising sea level is the main threat to the refuge and the main driver behind the federal agency’s long-awaited Comprehensive Conservation Plan. As salt water from the Delaware Bay inundates some 4,000 acres of what had been freshwater impoundments, those areas no longer attract the migratory birds that they were built to shelter. The surging waters from the bay frequently flood the adjacent community of Prime Hook Beach and damage bordering farmland with salt water. The plan lays out three options for responding to repeated flooding at the refuge. The option favored by the Fish and Wildlife Service would raise the level of at least one of the impoundments by about seven inches by pumping in million of tons of sand and mud from a long-planned dredging project to deepen the Delaware ship channel. The agency hopes the operation will allow the area to revert to salt marsh and drain into the bay rather than drawing waters from it, as it does now. “The bay is rising twice as fast as the marsh is,” said Michael Stroeh, project leader for the Delaware Coastal Refuge Complex that includes Prime Hook and Bombay Hook refuges….



Some climate scientists, in a shift, link weather to global warming

By Monte Morin Los Angeles Times – ‎October 13, 2012‎

The worst drought in half a century has plagued two-thirds of the nation, devastating farms and stoking wildfires that scorched almost 9 million acres this year. Withering heat blanketed the East Coast and Midwest, killing scores of people and making July the hottest month ever recorded in the U.S. And in the Arctic this summer, polar snow and ice melted away to the smallest size ever observed by man.

Extreme events like drought, heat waves, intense rainfall, flooding and fires have prompted many people to reconsider the connection between the weather and the changing climate. Now, a handful of scientists are among them. In a break with the mainstream scientific consensus, a few prominent climate scientists now argue that there have been enough episodes of drought and intense heat in the last 10 years to establish a statistical pattern of extreme weather due to global warming.

One of those scientists is NASA climatologist James Hansen. In a study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he noted that dramatic events like droughts and heat waves affected just 1% of Earth’s surface between 1950 and 1980; in the last 30 years, that figure has jumped to 10%. “We can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies … were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small,” he and his colleagues wrote. Hansen isn’t the only one who suspects that the signature of climate change can be seen in recent weather trends.

Around the world, “the incidence of drought is consistent with what the climate models are predicting,” said John Seinfeld, an atmospheric researcher at Caltech. “It certainly doesn’t appear to be out of line to conclude that this last summer could be statistically attributed to global warming.” In the U.S., the summer ranked as the third-hottest in the nation’s history.

Among laypeople, the perception that extreme weather is getting worse — and that it’s linked to climate change — is increasingly taking hold. Nearly 75% of Americans now say global warming is affecting the weather in the U.S., according to a poll released this week by scientists at Yale University. The poll found that about 60% of Americans reported experiencing an extreme heat wave or drought this year, while an equal percentage said weather had worsened over the last several years. A companion poll reported earlier this year that 8 in 10 Americans had personally experienced at least one extreme weather event in the last year, and more than one-third said they had suffered as a result….

Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that the planet is getting hotter and that mankind’s use of fossil fuels is largely responsible….When fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide is produced and traps heat within the atmosphere. The more that’s added, the hotter it gets. It’s not the only greenhouse gas, but it’s the one many scientists focus on because it stays in the atmosphere for hundreds or thousands of years.

The average global temperature has risen by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century, a period that gave rise to mass-produced automobiles and commercial aviation, among other developments. Altogether, modernization has led to an 800% increase in global fossil fuel consumption since 1900, with a corresponding jump in emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

As the temperature rises, evaporation increases and draws more water from soil. Experts predict that moist areas of the planet will become wetter, while dry areas will become drier……


NASA: climate change leads to enormous ecosystem shifts – 40% of biomes flip this century

Posted on December 20, 2011 by Rolf Schuttenhelm

The results of studies that try to quantify the effects of climate change on biodiversity loss which include damage to the micro scale level of subspecies and genetic variation are perhaps most shocking. When however you focus on the response to climate change at the macro level, the ecosystem level, you get a better understanding of what is one of the major drivers of that biodiversity loss: forced migrations. And even here, the numbers may be larger than one would expect, as a new assessment by NASA and Caltech published in the journal Climatic Change
shows that by 2100 some 40 percent of ´major ecological community types´ – that is biomes like forest, grassland, tundra – will have switched to a different such state. According to the same study most of the land on Earth that is not currently desert or under an icecap will undergo at least a 30 percent change in vegetation cover.
Ecological damage is the real climate problem….While warnings of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other environmental changes are illustrative and important, ultimately, it’s the ecological consequences that matter most,” says John Bergengren from Caltech, who led the study. It is not just species that have slowly evolved around specific climatic values, the same goes for ecosystems. As another study, recently published in Science, shows tropical biomes like rainforest, savanna and desert are tied to specific climate tipping points. When certain climatic thresholds are crossed the one ecosystem can suddenly switch to the other, as intermediate states somehow prove to be non-existent…..

Bergengren, et al Ecological sensitivity: a biospheric view of climate change. Climatic Change
22 July 2011


Scientists uncover diversion of Gulf Stream path in late 2011; Warmer waters flowed to shelfbreak south of New England
(October 12, 2012) — The Gulf Stream made an unusual move well north of its normal path in late October and early November 2011, causing warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures along the New England continental shelf, according to physical oceanographers. … > full story


Tropical cyclones are occurring more frequently than before, study shows
(October 15, 2012) — Are there more tropical cyclones now than in the past — or is it just something we believe because we now hear more about them through media coverage and are better able detect them with satellites? New research shows that there is an increasing tendency for cyclones when the climate is warmer, as it has been in recent years. … > full story


The World’s Most Powerful Climate Change Supercomputer Powers Up



TIME Matt Peckham October 17, 2012 For all the political discord over climate change, one thing everyone can probably agree on is that when you’re throwing computational resources at modeling weather, the more the merrier.

Corn Belt Shifts North With Climate as Kansas Crop Dies

By Alan Bjerga on October 15, 2012 Bloomberg News

Joe Waldman is saying goodbye to corn after yet another hot and dry summer convinced the Kansas farmer that rainfall won’t be there when he needs it anymore. “I finally just said uncle,” said Waldman, 52, surveying his stunted crop about 100 miles north of Dodge City. Instead, he will expand sorghum, which requires less rain, let some fields remain fallow and restrict corn to irrigated fields. While farmers nationwide planted the most corn this year since 1937, growers in Kansas sowed the fewest acres in three years, instead turning to less-thirsty crops such as wheat, sorghum and even triticale, a wheat-rye mix popular in Poland. Meanwhile, corn acreage in Manitoba, a Canadian province about 700 miles north of Kansas, has nearly doubled over the past decade due to weather changes and higher prices.

Shifts such as these reflect a view among food producers that this summer’s drought in the U.S. — the worst in half a century — isn’t a random disaster. It’s a glimpse of a future altered by climate change that will affect worldwide production.

“These changes are happening faster than plants can adapt, so we will see substantial impacts on global growing patterns,” said Axel Schmidt, a former senior scientist for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture now with Catholic Relief Services.

While there is still debate about how human activity is altering the climate, agriculture is already adapting to shifting weather patterns.

Agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. is investing in northern U.S. facilities, anticipating increased grain production in that part of the country, said Greg Page, the chief executive officer of the Minneapolis-based company.

“The number of rail cars, the number of silos, the amount of loading capacity” all change, Page said in an interview in New York. “You can see capital go to where there is ability to produce more tons per acre.”

Losses in some areas will mean gains in others, Page said…..


Calif. expected to lose 100 dairy farms
SF Chronicle Stacy Finz Updated 10:56 p.m., Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ray Souza stands in a pen of some his dairy cows at his dairy farm in Turlock, CA on Tuesday, October 9, 2012. Feed costs have skyrocketed over the past several years and the recent rise in the price of milk isn’t enough for him to stop losing money.Photo: Tomas Ovalle, Special To The Chronicle / SF

The nation’s drought and high corn prices are devastating California’s $8 billion dairy industry to the point where farmers can’t afford to feed their cows – and their professional trade organization has been regularly referring despondent dairymen to suicide hotlines. Experts in the industry estimate that by year’s end California, the largest dairy state in the nation, will have lost more than 100 dairies to bankruptcies, foreclosures and sales. Milk cows are being slaughtered at the fastest rate in more than 25 years because farmers need to save on corn costs. According to the Western United Dairymen, a California trade group, three dairy farmers have committed suicide since 2009, despairing over losing their family’s dairies.

“I’ve never seen it as dire as it is now,” said Frank Mendonsa, a Tulare dairyman who serves on the Western United Dairymen board. “Pride is just eating these guys up. People are calling me and asking me what to do. It becomes like a counseling session to stop people from hurting themselves. But it’s not just losing our jobs that is driving the desperation. We’re losing our houses, in some cases the same houses that our grandparents lived in, and we’re losing our entire identities.”

The problems started in 2009, when milk prices bottomed out and grain prices soared, partly due to the government’s ethanol mandate. Congress is requiring that gasoline producers blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol, made from corn, into the nation’s gas supply by 2015. Dairy farmers were forced to borrow against their land and cows to make their bills.

Then, this year, the worst drought in half a century struck in the Midwest, and corn prices tipped the scale at more than $300 a ton. Historically, the price for corn has averaged $130 a ton. Even though milk prices have slowly come up – in November, it will be at a near record high of $23.17 for 100 pounds of fluid milk – farmers are barely breaking even because of grain and hay costs. Experts predict that consumers will start seeing a price increase for dairy products at the cash register starting in November.

Now, not only can’t farmers pay their feed bills, but they also can’t make their loan payments. As a result, farmers are having to slaughter productive milk cows once worth $2,000 each for meat, and are receiving only $1,200 a head. “I’ve never seen a time where a milk cow is worth more for meat salvage than dairy production,” said Ray Souza, a Turlock dairyman whose grandfather started dairy farming in 1930. …


Corn belt shifts north with climate change

Daily Republic  October 17, 2012‎

The data show a climate in transition, with agriculture needing to adapt, said Wolfram Schlenker, an environmental economist at Columbia University in New York.

Wine experts: worst grape harvest in half century

RAF CASERT, Associated Press Associated Press October 17, 2012

BRUSSELS (AP) — Drought, frost and hail have combined to ravage Europe’s wine grape harvest, which in key regions this year will be the smallest in half a century, vintners say. Thierry Coste, an expert with the European Union farmers’ union,… more »


Ice age polarity reversal was global event: Extremely brief reversal of geomagnetic field, climate variability, and super volcano
(October 16, 2012) — Some 41,000 years ago, a complete and rapid reversal of the geomagnetic field occured. Magnetic studies on sediment cores from the Black Sea show that during this period, during the last ice age, a compass at the Black Sea would have pointed to the south instead of north. Moreover, data obtained by the research team, together with additional data from other studies in the North Atlantic, the South Pacific and Hawaii, prove that this polarity reversal was a global event. … > full story


Tropical collapse in Early Triassic caused by lethal heat: Extreme temperatures blamed for ‘Dead Zone’
(October 18, 2012) — Scientists have discovered why the ‘broken world’ following the worst extinction of all time lasted so long — it was simply too hot to survive. The end-Permian mass extinction, which occurred around 250 million years ago in the pre-dinosaur era, wiped out nearly all the world’s species. Typically, a mass extinction is followed by a ‘dead zone’ during which new species are not seen for tens of thousands of years. In this case, the dead zone, during the Early Triassic period which followed, lasted for a perplexingly long period: five million years. … > full story






Environment: California greenhouse gas rules on shaky ground in appeals court

San Jose Mercury News  October 16, 2012‎

SAN FRANCISCO — California’s unprecedented regulations to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation fuels appears to face a smoggy future in the courts.



US: VCS Approves Wetland Restoration & Conservation for New Carbon Trading Category
A Restore America Estuaries-led (RAE) initiative aimed at creating greenhouse gas offset opportunities for coastal wetlands got final approval under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) today, paving the way for increased private investment in wetland restoration and conservation projects through the issuance of internationally recognized carbon credits. “We hope that by adopting wetlands under the VCS Standard, wetland conservation and restoration activities will be stimulated,” added Stephen Crooks, Climate Change Services Director at ESA PWA, an environmental consulting group.


Hillary Clinton On Energy And Foreign Policy: We Need To ‘Address The Very Real Threat Of Climate Change’

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 08:30 AM PDT by Katie Valentine

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is willing to break the climate silence.

In a speech on energy diplomacy yesterday afternoon at Georgetown University, Clinton talked about the importance of sustainability and climate issues on the international policy agenda.

We…have an interest in promoting new technologies and sources of energy – especially including renewables – to reduce pollution; to diversify the global energy supply; to create jobs; and to address the very real threat of climate change,” said Clinton……


WHY IT MATTERS: The environment

MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press Associated Press October 19 2012

The administration also imposed the first-ever regulations on heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming and tightened standards on toxic mercury pollution from power plants. Obama failed to persuade a Democratic Congress to pass limits he… more »



Interior Dept. creates climate change committee

By: Audrey Hudson 10/19/2012 05:20 AM

The Obama administration is creating an advisory committee on climate change to advise the federal government on future operations. The Interior Department announced the new bureaucracy in a recent federal registry notice along with a call for nominations by Nov. 19 to seat the 25-member board. The notice specifically states membership will be comprised of state and local government employees, non-governmental organizations, Native American tribes, academia, individual landowners and business interests. “In addition, the committee may include scientific experts, and will include rotating representation from one or more of the institutions that host the (Interior Department) Climate Science Centers,” the notice said. The climate centers were created to provide scientific information to help land, water, wildlife and cultural resource managers to monitor and adapt to climate change on regional and local levels…..


Climate change: journalism’s never-ending fight for facts



The Guardian (blog) – ‎4 hours ago‎

The debate about climate changeis dogged – possibly even defined – by its interminable, intractable tug of war over the “facts”. 

Activists want climate change on presidential debate agenda



Lexington Herald Leader – ‎October 19 2012‎

MIAMI – Despite a year that has produced unprecedented ice melts in the Arctic and Greenland, a devastating drought across much of the country and hundreds of record high temperatures around the world, the subject of climate change has managed to


Why the chill on climate change? Washington Post October 19, 2012 EUGENE ROBINSON

Not a word has been said in the presidential debates about what may be the most urgent and consequential issue in the world: climate change. President Obama understands and accepts the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is trapping ..


DOI Secretary Signs Record of Decision for Chokecherry/Sierra Madre Wind Farm

On October 9, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the Record of Decision (ROD) authorizing the largest wind farm in North America to be developed in southeast Wyoming, reports the Wildlife Management Institute.  The project also received approval by the Carbon County Commission on October 2. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project could include as many as 1,000 wind turbines on nearly 220,000 acres of mostly Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land with the potential to produce 3,000 MW of power when fully operational (see story in July Outdoor News Bulletin).  While touted by the Administration as an important project that fulfills their objective to authorize 10,000 MW of renewable energy on federal public lands by the end of the year, several conservation organizations have raised concerns about the potential impacts to Greater Sage-Grouse and Golden Eagles.




Delta farmers to fight tunnel project

Los Angeles Times Published 5:13 p.m., Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sutter Island, Sacramento County — As a child, Brett Baker learned farming fundamentals from his grandfather, who taught him to drive a tractor and gave him some advice about water.

“There may come a time,” his grandfather said, “when you have to grab a shotgun and sit on the pump.” The vast delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, where Baker’s family has lived and farmed since the 1850s, has long been the center of California’s chronic water conflicts. It is the switchyard of the state’s water, the place where the north’s liquid riches are shipped to the irrigation ditches of the San Joaquin Valley and the sinks of Southland suburbs. Now, as if heeding Baker’s grandfather, the delta has become the defiant seat of rebellion against the most ambitious water supply project proposed in California in decades, a multibillion-dollar plan that has the backing of the administrations of Gov. Jerry Brown and President Obama, as well as the state’s most powerful irrigation and urban water districts…..


Federal government to broaden Native Americans’ right to possess eagle feathers

New York Daily News – ‎October 13, 2012 WASHINGTON _ The Department of Justice announced a new policy broadening and clarifying the right of Native Americans to possess eagle feathers and other parts of the birds that they consider sacred but are protected by U.S. law. Federal wildlife laws ..


A Grand Experiment to Rein in Climate Change

By FELICITY BARRINGER New York Times Published: October 13, 2012

….Mr. Hrubes’s task, a far cry from forestry of the past, was to calculate how much carbon could be stored within the tanoak, madrone and redwood trees in that plot. Every year or so, other foresters will return to make sure the trees are still standing and doing their job. Such audits will be crucial as California embarks on its grand experiment in reining in climate change. On Jan. 1, it will become the first state in the nation to charge industries across the economy for the greenhouse gases they emit. Under the system, known as “cap and trade,” the state will set an overall ceiling on those emissions and assign allowable emission amounts for individual polluters. A portion of these so-called allowances will be allocated to utilities, manufacturers and others; the remainder will be auctioned off. Over time, the number of allowances issued by the state will be reduced, which should force a reduction in emissions…..



Tom Brokaw: Why Haven’t Presidential Debates Discussed Climate Change?
Posted: 16 Oct 2012 06:31 AM PDT

by Miles Grant, via National Wildlife Federation

On Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw listed climate change among the topics that neither the first presidential debate nor the vice presidential debate delved into.

There has been no discussion of global warming,” said Brokaw. “I think the American public, as I talk to them, want detailed answers and they want candor and they say, hey, look, don’t try to smoke me this time.



Pew Climate Change Poll Reveals That Less Than Half Of Americans Make Anthropogenic Connection

The Huffington Post  |  By James Gerken Posted: 10/16/2012 2:40 pm EDT Updated: 10/16/2012 3:27 pm EDT

Recent polling conducted by the Pew Research Center suggests that a greater number of people in the U.S. are accepting the reality of climate change. 67 percent of Americans said that there is “solid evidence” that average global temperatures have been rising in recent decades, signaling a gain of four points since last year and 10 points since 2009. Yet only 42 percent say this warming is “mostly caused by human activity,” according to Pew. In a presidential election marked by accusations of “climate silence” and a lack of forthright discussion of what has been called a “planetary emergency,” the Pew polling reveals another stark difference between supporters of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Only 42 percent of Romney supporters say there is strong evidence of global warming and a paltry 18 percent acknowledge its human origin. This 42 percent stands in sharp contrast to the 88 percent of Obama supporters who say that average global temperatures are on the rise and 63 percent who say it is anthropogenic. Among Republicans overall, 48 percent say there is “solid evidence” of global warming, up from 35 percent in 2009.

Despite these numbers, at least 97 percent of the most actively publishing climate scientists and nearly a dozen of the world’s most prominent national science academies acknowledge that the world’s climate is changing as a result of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, mostly from the burning of fossil fuels. According to the Pew poll, 45 percent of Americans — including 58 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans — answered yes to the question “Do scientists agree earth is getting warmer because of human activity?”

NASA scientist James Hansen recently said, “There’s a huge gap between what is understood by the scientific community and what is known by the public.”

Amid a year of record temperatures and severe drought, Hansen and his colleagues released a statistical analysis suggesting that the odds are too great for many of the past decade’s most extreme weather events to have happened by chance. He wrote in the Washington Post, “our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.”…



Koch-Affiliated Group Campaigns To Make Wind Tax Credit ‘So Toxic’ Republicans Won’t Back It

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 06:05 AM PDT The wind energy industry faces a lame duck fight in the House of Representatives over extending the expiring production tax credit. The tax credit has broad bipartisan support, and considering that 81 percent of U.S. wind projects are installed in Republican districts, GOP lawmakers have a good reason to support it.

But with Koch Industries and fossil fuel groups mobilizing to defeat the credit, its future after 2012 is uncertain. The American Energy Alliance, which has Koch ties, told Politico Pro this week that it aims to make the credit a toxic issue for House Republicans: (Article requires subscription access):

Our goal is to make the PTC so toxic that it makes it impossible for John Boehner to sit at a table with Harry Reid and say, ‘Yeah, I can bend on this one,‘” said Benjamin Cole, spokesman for the American Energy Alliance….








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

Novel Climates, No-Analog Communities, and Truncated Niches: Implications for Species Distribution Models” Wednesday, October 24, 2012 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern

Dr. John (Jack) Williams, Professor of Geography, Director, Nelson Center for Climatic Research, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Description: Various factors are creating novel or no-analog ecosystems, composed of species mixtures not historically observed. One key factor expected to drive the formation of no-analog ecosystems this century is the development of ‘novel’, i.e. climates outside the range of climates currently observed. This poses a challenge for predicting and managing species responses to these future novel climates. No-analog communities are also widely observed in the fossil record, and offer a model system for studying a) the climatic and biotic drivers of no-analog community formation and b) assessing the predictive ability of ecological models when making predictions into no-analog climates. Note: YOU MUST REGISTER TO JOIN THIS WEBINAR



“Cartographic Design for GIS, Part 1” is the next workshop in the Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program’s GIS curriculum.

When: November 30th and December 1st, 2012, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Deadline to register is November 2nd, 2012

Where: Center for Integrated Spatial Research, University of California, Santa Cruz

Who: Expert Tim Norris will teach the workshop. Tim Norris is a PhD Candidate in the Environmental Studies Department at UCSC. Prior to graduate studies Tim was a cartography consultant for over 15 years with clients such as the University of California University-Industry Cooperative Research Program, National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration, several Conservation NGOs and several guide books and field guides.

How: Cost is $500; the fee includes refreshments, lunch, and materials.

For more information, to register for the workshop, or to see the agenda, please visit:


Coastal Off-Channel and Tidal Habitat Restoration Symposium, November 15-16, 2012
Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, Eureka, CA.

South Coast Fish Passage Design and Engineering Field School, January 15-17, 2012
Pierpont Inn, Ventura CA


SER2013 First Conference Announcement

The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) is pleased to announce its 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration to be held October 6-11, 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. SER2013 will bring together people from around the world with interests in the science and practice of ecological restoration, large-scale ecosystem restoration, natural resource management, climate change, biodiversity conservation, environmental policy, and sustainable development. Follow the link below to learn more.








Community Choice Aggregation: Giving Consumers Access To Clean Energy

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 12:30 PM PDT by Whitney Allen

With an overwhelming majority of Americans in favor of seeing more energy from wind and solar, individuals and communities are often frustrated by a lack of renewable energy options from their available power company choices. To allow their constituents greater purchasing power, several states have implemented Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) models of buying electricity. This model allows communities to pick from several utility companies in a competitive market to ensure that the energy goals of the customers are met, be they lower rates, local job creation, or increased supply from renewable sources. What separates CCA agreements from the municipal utility model is that CCA’s generally take over the existing utility’s role as provider, while still relying on the previous infrastructure and maintenance of the existing investor owned utility (IOU), keeping costs down and relieving the burden that municipal agreements place on the communities. The agreements typically come in the form of either “opt-in” agreements, where individual energy consumers decide whether or not to participate in an alternative energy program, or “opt-out” agreements where citizens are enrolled in the program collectively as soon as legislation is passed, but are given several opportunities to choose not to participate…..


Solar power is contagious
(October 18, 2012) — People are more likely to install a solar panel on their home if their neighbors have one, according to a new study. The researchers studied clusters of solar installations throughout California from January 2001 to December 2011 and found that residents of a particular zip code are more likely to install solar panels if they already exist in that zip code and on their street. … > full story


Bicycle infrastructure can reduce risk of cycling injuries by half, Canadian study finds
(October 18, 2012) — Certain types of routes carry much lower risk of injury for cyclists, according to a new study. The study analyzed the cause of 690 cycling injuries in Vancouver and Toronto from 2008 to 2009 and various route types and infrastructure. … > full story


For Hybrid Drivers, a Gas Pump Allergy? NY Times October 19, 2012 Although electric vehicles have not taken off as some had hoped, there are now enough of them on the road that some behavioral differences between drivers of all-electric models and plug-in hybrids have become evident, in addition to those between E.V. users and owners of conventional models. [New York Times]



New Solar Energy Program Signals A Paradigm Shift In Our Approach To Energy Development On Public Lands

Posted: 12 Oct 2012 01:00 PM PDT by Jessica Goad

The way that solar energy is sited and built on federal public lands just got simpler. Earlier today, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed into law a new plan outlining the best places for solar to be developed on public lands and incentives for avoiding places that are ecologically sensitive. At the beginning of this administration, there were literally no solar energy projects on public lands, despite hundreds of applications lined up.  Currently one project is operating while five others are under construction. “Energy from sources like wind and solar have doubled since the President took office, and with today’s milestone, we are laying a sustainable foundation to keep expanding our nation’s domestic energy resources,” said Secretary Salazar in a statement. Perhaps the most unique idea in the “Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” announced today is that of zones for solar development.  These areas were screened for their high solar resource potential, transmission capacity, and lack of resource conflicts, the idea being that projects located within them will benefit from faster permitting and easier mitigation.  Altogether, 17 zones covering approximately 285,000 acres were identified in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.  Solar development is also allowable in 19 million acres outside of the zones, but will receive less agency attention and more environmental analyses….


The Promise Of Open Energy Data

Posted: 13 Oct 2012 06:34 AM PDT by David Leipziger, via the Institute For Market Transformation

Last month, New York City became the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to publicly post energy efficiency information for its building stock. The data—a maze of mind-numbing Excel tables—is hard to sort through. But it’s a critical first step to opening up energy transparency in the real estate market. As we’ve noted, benchmarking and disclosing energy efficiency info is a rapidly growing trend among U.S. cities. In Europe, this kind of data is already available on a national scale. Many of the countries that drafted rating policies at the behest of the EPBD Directive also created national databases for Energy Performance Certificates (labels relating a building’s relative efficiency) that are public and web-searchable. As of 2010, the Building Energy Performance Institute Europe reported that the list includes Denmark, Belgium (Flanders region), Ireland, Portugal, and the Netherlands. But the U.S. isn’t far behind, especially given that we have many more buildings to accommodate, diverse local requirements for energy performance reporting, and ambitious open data plans….






New radiation treatment significantly increases survival rate, researchers find
(October 16, 2012) — A novel drug that mimics a naturally occurring molecule found in coffee and blueberries has been developed to treat radiation exposure. Researchers show that application of this drug, starting 24 hours after radiation exposure, increases survival in animal models by three-fold compared to placebo. … > full story


Mechanisms of action for green tea extract in breast cancer prevention identified
(October 18, 2012) — An oral green tea extract, Polyphenon E, appears to inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor and hepatocyte growth factor, both of which promote tumor cell growth, migration and invasion. … > full story


Prehistoric human populations prospered before the agricultural boom, research suggests
(October 18, 2012) — Researchers have found major prehistoric human population expansions may have begun before the Neolithic period, which probably led to the introduction of agriculture. … > full story

John Hoffman, Developer of Energy Star, Dies at 62

By WILLIAM YARDLEY (NYT) October 17, 2012

Mr. Hoffman developed the government’s Energy Star program and helped shape a treaty to protect the ozone layer






Bird of the Week- from American Bird Conservancy:
Big Bird

Big Bird is an eight-foot two-inch-tall bright yellow bird. He can roller skate, ice skate, dance, sing, write poetry, draw, and even ride a unicycle. He lives in a large nest at 123 Sesame Street, and has a teddy bear named Radar. His lovable, innocent, and curious personality has helped endear him to millions of children and adults all over the world.

Big Bird is a flightless bird, of indeterminate species and genus, describing himself at different times as a “Golden Condor”, a lark, or a canary. Regardless of his species, he is a unique and talented creature who has helped educate generations of children, appeared on countless television shows and movies, and even has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Big Bird’s conservation status is perilous. He is likely the last of his species, with no female having been found so far. He is now nearly 43 years old, but it is not known if this is past breeding age, should a mate ever turn up. However, he continues to travel around the world and has been sighted in 140 countries so far, making him perhaps the most migratory bird in history.

Big Bird’s popularity is just another example of the positive impact of birds on society and culture.


































Giant Mobile 3 (Thanks Bruce Riordan!)













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