Conservation Science News January , 2013

Highlight of the Week Climate Smart Conservation









Highlight of the WeekClimate Smart Conservation


PRBO’s working definition of Climate Smart Conservation:

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


Principles of Climate Smart Conservationvideo, thanks Deanne!

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



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

Introductory Presentations:

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

Case Studies– Examples of Climate Smart Strategies and Actions:

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

Additional information and resources on climate smart conservation:








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

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

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

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

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

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

Lots of herring hit Bay Area

Peter Fimrite San Francisco Chronicle January 25, 2013

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

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

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

Linking animal-borne video to accelerometers reveals prey capture variability

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

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

Click here for some great: VIDEOS of Adélie penguins!

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



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


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


Photo by Carl Safina

Insanity Caused By Eating Bluefin Tuna

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

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


Puzzling Plumage: Fractals Reveal Birds’ Health

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

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



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


Reviving Europe’s Biodiversity: By Importing Exotic Animals

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


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


Candid Camera For Endangered Birds

Midweekkauai  – ‎January 23, 2013‎

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


New Dinosaur Fossil Challenges Bird Evolution Theory



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



Some birds cancel their trips south

Marietta Times  – ‎ January 23, 2013‎

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


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







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


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

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

Review: Under a Green Sky

Alex Steffen, 27 Apr 07

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

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

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

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

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

And a fascinating TED talk and other links:

Peter Ward on Earth’s mass extinctions | Video on

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

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


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

NOAA: 2012 global temperatures 10th highest on record

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

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



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


Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt
07.24.12 NASA

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

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

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


Climate Change Adaptation in Rural India: A Green Infrastructure Approach

Erin Gray on January 24, 2013

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

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

What Is Participatory Watershed Development?

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


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



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


CA Landscape Conservation Cooperative- 2012 REPORT -Highlights

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



Seeking Clues About Sea Level From Fossil Beaches

By JUSTIN GILLIS (NYT) January 22, 2013

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



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


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



Study: South American Glaciers In Historic Retreat

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

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

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

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



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



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


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

Earliest Horses Show Past Global Warming Affected Body Size of Mammals

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

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


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

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




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

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


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


The Citizen Science of Climate Change: We are not bystanders

By Caren Cooper Posted: January 24, 2013

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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




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








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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

By Juliet Eilperin, Published: January 24

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

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

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

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


Exclusive: Billionaires secretly fund attacks on climate science

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

Steve Connor Thursday 24 January 2013 Independent UK

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

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

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

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

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


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

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 09:32 AM PST

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

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

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

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

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


Climate Change Report Warns of Dramatically Warmer World This Century


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

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

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

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

–  Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group

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



China and Australia top list of ‘carbon bomb’ projects

Oliver Milman, Tuesday 22 January 2013 08.00 EST

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

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

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



Obama Wants To Build On Climate Accomplishments

by Scott Horsley NPR Morning Edition

January 23, 2013

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



Climate Change Series: The Governance Challenge

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

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


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

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



Carney rejects carbon tax proposal

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Nebraska Governor Approves Keystone XL Route

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


53 senators urge approval of Keystone XL pipeline

Posted:  01/23/2013 3:07 PM

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

Full Story >>




Climate Change Given Prominence in Address


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

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



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

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

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

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

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



Obama Brings God Into the Climate-Change Fight

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

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

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

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



Northeast Faces Stark Choice on Climate Pollution

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

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



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

Posted: 23 Jan 2013 08:05 AM PST

President Nixon signs the 1969 National Environmental Protection Act

By Arpita Bhattacharyya, Center for American Progress

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



Farm Bill Extension Included in Fiscal Cliff Deal

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



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

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



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


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

Posted: 14 Jan 2013 08:28 AM PST

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


Reuters AlertNet (blog)  – ‎Jan 16, 2013‎

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







Third National Climate Assessment Report- DRAFT

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



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


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

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

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


1)      Before the webinar test your connection at:

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

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

3)      Click Enter as “Guest”

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

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

       For example: Ashley Fortune-FWS-1

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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



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



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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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




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

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





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

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


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









Trillions of dollars worth of oil found in Australian outback

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

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

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

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


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

REDD: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

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



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


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

Posted: 14 Jan 2013 10:58 AM PST

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

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

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







#ForwardOnClimate Rally on 2/17

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

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

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


When: February 17th, at 12 Noon

Where: The National Mall, Washington D.C.

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

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


Watch a Shroud of Cold Air Descend Across the Country

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

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



I Have A Dream

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

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

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

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




The 5% climate solution
January 12, 2013 LA TIMES

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

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

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

Bill McKibben responds:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Derek Jeter is concerned about climate change January 23, 2013

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


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

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

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

Memories of Long-Ago Birds

Audubon Magazine  – ‎January 24, 2013‎

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


36 Hours in Marin County, Calif.



By FREDA MOON Published: January 24, 2013

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












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

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

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


Stunning Gigapixel Image Shows Mt Everest In Extreme Detail

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