Conservation Science News July 19, 2013

Highlight of the Week– Fracking in California









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Highlight of the Week– FRACKING in CALIFORNIA



Data Source: U.S. EIA


Fracking, California’s oil frontier

By TOM KNUDSON The Sacramento Bee Published: Sunday, Jul. 7, 2013 – 5:13 am


SHAFTER, Calif. — One afternoon last fall, Tom Frantz cradled a video camera in his hand and pointed it at an oil well on the edge of this San Joaquin Valley farm town.

Workers shuffled amid tanks and trucks, preparing the site for hydraulic fracturing – fracking, for short – the controversial drilling method that has the potential to spark an economic boom in California and perhaps even free the state from foreign oil.

But Frantz recorded something less promising: oily-brown waste spilled from a pipe into an unlined pit near an almond grove, followed by a stream of soapy-looking liquid.


“That was kind of shocking,” said Frantz, 63, a fourth-generation farmer. “We can’t live without fresh groundwater. It doesn’t take much to ruin that.”

This is not the first time oil companies have fracked wells in California.

Today, though, they are doing it more often and in more places to try to tap an enormous buried treasure called Monterey shale.

Stretching from Los Angeles north along the coast and into the San Joaquin Valley, the formation is not just another potential new source of domestic oil. It is the grand prize, the richest oil shale formation in America. If it can be fully exploited – and that is not yet clear – it is estimated to hold enough oil to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, flood the state with tax revenue and halt oil imports to California for a half-century.


An almond farmer watches oil wells that have sprouted up near almond orchards in Shafter, CA. In California, there is no regulation of fracking, even as the state faces sudden growth in oil drilling


But here in the manicured, mint-green farm country around Shafter – a modern-day Sutter’s mill on California’s new fracking frontier – that promise is already being clouded by conflict, pollution and fear…

….Others, though, advise caution. “There is tremendous (scientific) uncertainty,” said Michael Kiparsky, associate director of UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Institute for Water Law and Policy and co-author of a recent report that found gaping holes in California’s regulation of fracking. “California has historically been a leader in the governance of environmental issues” – but not fracking, Kiparsky said. “There is the opportunity to learn from other states … and try not repeat their learning experiences.” The report cited many possible remedies, such as banning the underground injection of liquid drilling wastes near risky earthquake faults and requiring that companies give advance notice before fracking and disclose all chemicals used in the process. State lawmakers are scrambling to fill the void. This year, they introduced 10 fracking-related bills. Only one – focusing on public notice, disclosure and better monitoring – remains alive. The others died for a mix of reasons, including opposition from both the industry and environmentalists.
For some, including Desatoff, change can’t come soon enough. A retired businessman, he moved to rural Shafter in the early 1990s for its quiet pace of life. Now, he can smell the gassy odors and hear the million-mosquito drone of diesel equipment from his front porch…..



Interactive graphic: The ins and outs of fracking

Published: Sunday, Jun. 30, 2013 – 12:00 am

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a method of extracting oil and gas that are inaccessible by conventional drilling. Fracking has become increasingly common over the past decade and accounts for a large proportion of oil and gas production in the United States. Fracking involves freeing the gas or oil trapped in non-permeable layers of shale by fracturing the layer, thus freeing up the gas or oil. Go online to this graphic then click the button to begin the process:

Graphic by Mitchell Brooks

Sources: McClatchy Tribune, ProPublica, FracFocus

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.




Shale Shocked: Sharp Rise In U.S. Earthquakes Directly Linked To Fracking Wastewater Reinjection

By Joe Romm and Climate Guest Blogger on Jul 14, 2013 at 11:45 am

Distant Quakes Trigger Tremors at U.S. Waste-Injection Sites

“Cumulative count of earthquakes with a magnitude ≥ 3.0 in the central and eastern United States, 1967–2012. The dashed line corresponds to the long-term rate of 21.2 earthquakes per year, with an increase in the rate of earthquake events starting around 2009.” Via USGS

This double repost excerpts the releases for two new important articles in the journal Science. The first is “Enhanced Remote Earthquake Triggering at Fluid-Injection Sites in the Midwestern United States” (subs. req’d). The second is a review article, “Injection-Induced Earthquakes” (subs. req’d) by U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist William Ellsworth. The first release, from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, explains:

A surge in U.S. energy production in the last decade or so has sparked what appears to be a rise in small to mid-sized earthquakes in the United States. Large amounts of water are used both to crack open rocks to release natural gas through hydrofracking, and to coax oil and gas from underground wells using conventional techniques. After the gas and oil have been extracted, the brine and chemical-laced water must be disposed of, and is often pumped back underground elsewhere, sometimes causing earthquakes.

Earthquakes induced by fracking wastewater reinjection are a major concern because those wells are already prone to fail and leak (see “Natural Gas, Once A Bridge, Now A Gangplank“). The Propublica exposé in Scientific American, “Are Fracking Wastewater Wells Poisoning the Ground beneath Our Feet?” quoted engineer Mario Salazar, who worked for a quarter century as a technical expert with the EPA’s underground injection program: “In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted. A lot of people are going to get sick, and a lot of people may die.”

Here is an extended excerpt from the Columbia release:

Large earthquakes from distant parts of the globe are setting off tremors around waste-fluid injection wells in the central United States, says a new study. Furthermore, such triggering of minor quakes by distant events could be precursors to larger events at sites where pressure from waste injection has pushed faults close to failure, say researchers.

Among the sites covered: a set of injection wells near Prague, Okla., where the study says a huge earthquake in Chile on Feb. 27, 2010 triggered a mid-size quake less than a day later, followed by months of smaller tremors. This culminated in probably the largest quake yet associated with waste injection, a magnitude 5.7 event which shook Prague on Nov. 6, 2011. Earthquakes off Japan in 2011, and Sumatra in 2012, similarly set off mid-size tremors around injection wells in western Texas and southern Colorado, says the study….

The fluids are driving the faults to their tipping point,” said lead author Nicholas van der Elst, a postdoctoral researcher at Columba University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “The remote triggering by big earthquakes is an indication the area is critically stressed.”

… “We’ve known for at least 20 years that shaking from large, distant earthquakes can trigger seismicity in places with naturally high fluid pressure, like hydrothermal fields,” said study coauthor Geoffrey Abers, a seismologist at Lamont-Doherty. “We’re now seeing earthquakes in places where humans are raising pore pressure.”

The new study may be the first to find evidence of triggered earthquakes on faults critically stressed by waste injection. If it can be replicated and extended to other sites at risk of manmade earthquakes it could “help us understand where the stresses are,” said William Ellsworth, an expert on human-induced earthquakes with the USGS who was not involved in the study…..







Evolutionary Changes Could Aid Fisheries



July 18, 2013 — Sustainable fishing practices could lead to larger fishing yields in the long run, according to a new study that models in detail how ecology and evolution affect the economics of fishing. Evolutionary changes induced by fisheries may benefit the fishers, according to a new study published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But if fisheries are not well-managed, this potential benefit turns into economic losses, as stocks decline from overfishing and further suffer from evolution. The bad news is that today very few fisheries are managed in a way that will lead to yield increases in the long term. While these fisheries may not be in danger of collapsing, IIASA Evolution and Ecology Program Leader Ulf Dieckmann says, “There is a big difference between preventing stocks from collapsing and managing them so as to achieve an optimal harvest.”…. The new study shows that the balance depends on how aggressively a stock is fished: if the fish are harvested optimally, evolution helps, whereas if the fish are harvested too aggressively, evolution harms the economic interests of fishers and fishing nations. Consequently, to reap these long-term benefits, fisheries managers must first cut back substantially on the amount of fish that are harvested today. “Harvesting Northeast Arctic cod optimally means taking 50% less fish,” says Dieckmann. “Our model shows that by making this substantial cut and waiting for the stock to rebuild, evolution and natural growth could lead to sustainable yields over 30% greater than today.”> full story


European fish stocks poised for recovery
(July 18, 2013) — The results of a major international effort to assess the status of dozens of European fish stocks find that many of those stocks in the northeast Atlantic are being fished sustainably today and that, given time, those populations should continue to recover. The findings come as surprisingly good news amid widespread criticism that the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy is failing, the researchers say. … > full story


Southern California crustacean sand-dwellers suffering localized extinctions
(July 18, 2013) — Two types of small beach critters — both cousins of the beloved, backyard roly-poly — are suffering localized extinctions in Southern California at an
alarming rate, says a new study. As indicator species for beach biodiversity at large, their disappearance suggests a looming threat to similar sand-dwelling animals across the state and around the world. Led by David Hubbard and Jenifer Dugan of UCSB’s Marine Science Institute, the new work reveals a trend toward extirpation that has been growing slowly since 1905, steadily since the 1970’s, and today reflects the “dramatic” impact of development, climate change, and sea level rise on the diminutive critters that are essential prey for shorebirds. From Point Conception in Santa Barbara County, to Baja at the state’s southern tip, the endemic isopods in question have
vanished from some 60 percent of beaches where they were recorded 100 years ago. Barring the quick implementation of effective conservation strategies for sandy beaches, the pair say, the isopods — and several other species — may be wiped out altogether. “The pattern is really strong, and it’s a lot larger than we expected,” said research scientist Dugan, co-author to Hubbard on the paper posted today in the online edition of the journal Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science. “The southern species has lost eight percent of its California range since 1971 — there are only a few places where you can find it on the mainland coast now. The northern species isn’t doing well in the southern California region either. Just a handful of populations still remain south of Ventura County.” “Looking into the future is a little bit daunting,” said Hubbard. “We have trouble coming up with more than 12 kilometers out of the more than 450 in the study where we have much certainty — with current sea level rise projections — that in 100 years biodiversity will be preserved unless active conservation strategies are adopted.”…. And therein lies the larger problem: a lack of widespread recognition of sandy beaches as ecosystems in their own right. Where the average sunbather may see only beauty — wide, flat swaths of sand — the scientists see peril for plant and animal life alike. The grooming process to make a beach towel-friendly, so to speak, can be disastrous for species like Alloniscus and Tylos. Ceasing that practice alone, argued Hubbard and Dugan, would do wonders to restore the beaches that may be those best-equipped to sustain biodiversity through sea level rise. “There are opportunities for restoration, and that’s one of the messages we’re interested in people understanding,” Hubbard said. “These wide groomed beaches could become places where endemic biodiversity could be conserved and preserved through sea level rise. Some beaches with virtually no animals on them now would be tremendous restoration sites, but it will require a mind shift.”….full story

D.M. Hubbard, J.E. Dugan, N.K. Schooler, S.M. Viola. Local extirpations and regional declines of endemic upper beach invertebrates in southern California. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2013.06.017


Nesting Gulf of Mexico loggerhead turtles face offshore risks
(July 15, 2013) — Threatened loggerhead sea turtles in the northern Gulf of Mexico can travel distances up to several hundred miles and visit offshore habitats between nesting events in a single season, taking them through waters impacted by oil and fishing industries. … > full story


Puffins flock home to Maine islands

By DAVID SHARP, Associated Press Updated 5:47 am, Monday, July 15, 2013

In this July 1, 2013, photo, a puffin looks around after emerging from its burrow on Eastern Egg Rock off the Maine coast. Forty years ago biologists launched a re colonization effort called the Puffin Project by transplanting puffin chicks from Newfoundland to man-made burrows on the island. Photo: Robert F. Bukaty

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The cute and comical seabirds called puffins have returned to several Maine islands and are finding plenty of food for their young chicks unlike last summer when many starved.

Young puffins died at an alarming rate last season because of a shortage of herring, leaving adults to try to feed them another type of fish that was too big to swallow. Some chicks died surrounded by piles of uneaten fish. This summer, the chicks are getting plenty of hake and herring, said Steve Kress, director of the National Audubon Society‘s seabird restoration program and professor at Cornell University.

But researchers remain concerned. Occupancy of puffin burrows on Matinicus Rock and at Seal Island, the two largest U.S. puffin colonies, are down by at least a third this season, Kress said. That likely means many birds died over the winter and others were too weak to produce offspring this season, he said.


Novel Study Using New Technologies Outlines Importance of California Condor Social Groups



July 16, 2013 — The intricate social hierarchy of the California condor, an endangered species, is something that could not be studied until recently due to the severe reduction of this population in the wild. The … > full story


Fiji’s largest marine reserve swarming with sharks
(July 15, 2013) — Researchers have found that Fiji’s largest marine reserve contains more sharks than surrounding areas that allow fishing, evidence that marine protected areas can be good for sharks. … > full story


Why Crop Rotation Works: Change in Crop Species Causes Shift in Soil Microbes



July 18, 2013 — Shift in soil microbes triggers cycle to improve yield, plant nutrition and disease resistance. New research could help explain the dramatic effect on soil health and yield of crop … > full story


The ‘underground forests’ that are bringing deserts to life

Encouraging ‘weeds’ to grow in desert areas is helping prevent land degradation and allowing crops to thrive

A grassroots agricultural revolution is – almost unnoticed by the outside world – spreading across West Africa’s Sahel desert Photo: Christian Science Monitor/Getty By Geoffrey Lean 8:38PM BST 12 Jul 2013 73 Comments

They call it the “underground forest”, and it has proved, literally, to be an answer to prayer, both for one young Australian and for countless people living in one of the hungriest corners of the planet. For it has enabled millions of hectares of severely degraded land to produce good harvests, spurring a grassroots agricultural revolution that – almost unnoticed by the outside world – is spreading across West Africa’s Sahel. The revolution – and similar, largely unpublicised, developments around the globe – offers hope of reversing perhaps the world’s most alarming environmental crisis: land degradation costs at least 30 billion tons of priceless topsoil and deprives farmers of an area three times the size of Switzerland every year. And it represents one of the best ways of combating climate change and preventing conflict. ….The bushes turned out to be clusters of shoots from the buried stumps of long-felled trees, whose root systems still drew water and nutrients from far beneath the arid soil. The shoots could never grow much before being cut or eaten by livestock, but when Rinaudo pruned them down to a single stem and kept the animals away, they shot up into substantial trees within four years. As the trees grew, so did crops. And as local farmers began reaping good harvests, neighbours and visitors followed suit. Now, two decades later, some 200 million trees have been regenerated in this way, covering five million hectares of Maradi and the neighbouring region of Zinder, enabling the growing of enough extra grain to feed two-and-a-half million people.
Nor is this all. Satellite images have shown that the same technique has been used successfully over 485,000 hectares of next-door Mali. And it is known to have spread to Senegal and the Niger regions of Tahoua and Dosso, though no one has had the resources to quantify it.

This was only one of the success stories that emerged at a conference in Switzerland this week on land restoration. Counter-intuitive techniques developed by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean farmer and biologist, are successfully revitalising 15 million hectares of degraded land on five continents, by grazing livestock very intensively on small areas for short periods: their dung and the grass they trample enrich the soil, mimicking the natural practices of the once-vast herds of gnu or American bison….




Stemming the Tide of Shorebird Losses

With migrations that can span thousands of miles, Pacific shorebirds are among nature’s most amazing aerialists. But without crucial stopover habitat along their way, they could be doomed.

By Jane Qiu Audubon Magazine Published: July-August 2013

On a subdued April afternoon in Nanpu, an industrial town on China’s Bohai Bay, the air is salty and acidic from the saltpans, oil refineries, and steel and soda factories that cram along the coast. The mudflat slowly emerges from the receding tide, its soft sediment shimmering like a gigantic tin roof. Large flocks of shorebirds—bar-tailed godwits, dunlins, red knots, great knots, curlew sandpipers, whimbrels, sanderlings, and red-necked stints—feed frenetically at the water’s edge. With their highly specialized bills, they quickly dig out a feast of worms, clams, and crabs from the seemingly lifeless tidal flats. ….Twenty-four shorebird species that use the flyway are heading toward extinction, with many others facing exceptionally rapid losses, sometimes as high as 5 percent to 9 percent a year, according to a report released last October by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The worst hit are the long-distance, Arctic-breeding migrants such as the red knot and the spoon-billed sandpiper; the latter, declining at a rate of 26 percent a year and with fewer than 200 breeding pairs in the wild, is listed by the IUCN as critically endangered. These rates are among the highest of any on the planet, the report says. And all species identified as declining rely on the Yellow Sea shoreline during migration. It’s extremely challenging to make an airtight case that the marked reduction of mudflats in East Asia, especially on the Yellow Sea, is responsible for the rapid decline in flyway populations of such species as the red knot and spoon-billed sandpiper. It’s also hard to persuade policy makers to step up protection of the remaining key stopover habitat. This is the mission that Piersma—a world-renowned expert on the red knot and the namesake of one of its subspecies, Calidris canutus piersmai—and his team, including Yang, have set out to accomplish……



In the African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus), the female mates with several males and it is the males who raise offspring. (Credit: Daniel Sol)

Shorebirds Prefer a Good Body to a Large Brain

July 18, 2013 — In many animal species, males and females differ in terms of their brain size. The most common explanation is that these differences stem from sexual selection. But predictions are not always … > full story


Great white sharks’ fuel for oceanic voyages: Liver oil
(July 17, 2013) — New research shows that great white sharks power their nonstop journeys of more than 2,500 miles with energy stored as fat and oil in their massive livers. The findings provide novel insights into the biology of these ocean predators. … > full story


Phytoplankton social mixers: Tiny ocean plants use turbulence for travel to social gatherings
(July 15, 2013) — Scientists have shown that the motility of phytoplankton also helps them determine their fate in ocean turbulence. … > full story


Restoring the San Joaquin River and Recalling Its History

By: Isabella Ross
ENVIRONMENT — July 12, 2013 at 5:07 PM EDT


This photo from 1900 shows European-Americans boarding rowboats on the banks of the San Joaquin River in California. Using archives records like maps and photographs, scientists are trying to revive the delta. Photo courtesy Bank of Stockton


For centuries, California’s San Joaquin River teemed with over half a million wild Chinook salmon. Today, the river — much of it dry — has almost none. This year scientists have begun reintroducing Chinook into the river with hopes to eventually restore the salmon population–and the river itself. PBS NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels reports on tonight’s NewsHour.

The San Joaquin – like its larger cousin, the Sacramento River – flows into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and then out into San Francisco Bay. The Delta and the rivers that form it are part of a vast ecosystem that support fish, wildlife, and, of course, farming throughout the Central Valley. California is trying to restore not just the San Joaquin River, but the Delta as well. And those efforts have cast new attention on the human as well as the ecological history of this fascinating and watery part of California.

The state has funded scientists from the San Francisco Estuary Institute to reconstruct an image of the Delta’s pre-Spanish landscape. Using a process of “historical ecology,” these researches are layering thousands of historical sources from dozens of archives, including navigational charts, government land surveys, drawings, photographs, and journals to paint detailed picture of the Delta ecosystem of 200 years ago. By understanding the region’s ecological history and how native Americans carefully used the land, researchers hope to restore the Delta’s vibrant ecosystem and ensure a more sustainable future…..


Money Flow Is Concern for California’s San Joaquin River Restoration

PBS NewsHour AIR DATE: July 12, 2013

In 2006, environmentalists and farmers signed an agreement to share water from the San Joaquin River, as federal government planned to refill the waterway and restore the salmon population. But with the recession and $100 million already spent, Spencer Michels reports both sides worry there won’t be enough money to finish: (MP3 link:

This is the once-mighty San Joaquin River, and much of it has been like this, dry as toast, since the 1940s. That’s when the federal government constructed Friant Dam near Fresno, California, which impounded the San Joaquin’s water in a large reservoir, so it could diverted through a vast network of canals to farms and ranches in the San Joaquin Valley, leaving some sections of the river wet, some dry. Today, the San Joaquin Valley is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world. But the fish are gone, and the river is a ghost of its former self. Now there is a controversial move afoot to cover this sand with water to restore this river. Before the dam, the water began high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and flowed west, through the Central Valley, and eventually out through San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean…..


Study urges spending on coastal restoration  – ‎July 14 2013‎

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Wildlife tourism, from hunting and fishing to bird and dolphin watching, is a $19 billion-a-year business along the Gulf of Mexico, and states spending their settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill should focus on restoring ecologically sensitive areas that keep guides, hotels and others working, a study says. The study, commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund and the Walton Family Foundation, was released Tuesday at a replica of a historic lighthouse while the seafood restaurant next door geared up for lunch and sailboats set out on Lake Ponchartrain.

Wildlife tourism brings in 20 million visitors who pay $5.3 billion a year in federal state and local taxes, according to the study, which drew financial and tourist data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal Bureau of Labor Standards and from parish and county tourism bureaus.

Wildlife watching draws 11.5 million people a year to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, according to the study. It said recreational fishing attracts 7.5 million visitors and hunting 2.7 million. The 53 coastal counties and parishes in those states have more than 25,000 tourism-related businesses and nearly 500,000 associated jobs, it said.

The study by Datu Research LLC of Durham, N.C., was released in Louisiana because its marshes and estuaries are the nursery for 90 percent of the Gulf states’ seafood fisheries, said Jim Wyerman, spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund. The state’s 400 miles of coastline are so fringed with wetlands that they comprise 7,700 miles of shoreline….



Where do birds’ legs go when they fly?

Billings Gazette July 14, 2013

It turns out that birds’ posterior anatomy is even more remarkable than their feathered wings. See, a bird’s legs are designed to move only at the knee. Humans, antelope, frogs, crickets – we all rotate our hips and trust our thighs when we walk or run….





Snow and Arctic sea ice extent plummet suddenly as globe bakes

By Jason Samenow, Published: July 18 at 3:42 pmE-mail the writer

Temperature difference from average during June around the globe (NASA)

NOAA and NASA both ranked June 2013 among the top five warmest (NOAA fifth warmest, NASA second warmest) Junes on record globally (dating back to the late 1800s).  But, more remarkable, was the incredible snow melt that preceded the toasty month and the sudden loss of Arctic sea ice that followed…..You may recall, late last summer the Arctic sea ice extent dropped to its lowest level on record, 49 percent below the 1979-2000 average. Temperature difference from normal over the high latitude Northern Hemisphere over first 10 days of July (National Snow and Ice Data Center)

It’s not clear if 2013 levels will match 2012′s astonishing record low, but – with temperatures over the Arctic Ocean 1-3 degrees above average – the 2013 melt season has picked up in earnest during July.

“During the first two weeks of July, ice extent declined at a rate of 132,000 square kilometers (51,000 square miles) per day. This was 61% faster than the average rate of decline over the period 1981 to 2010 of 82,000 square kilometers (32,000 square miles) per day,” the National Snow and Ice Data Center writes on its website. Despite this rapid ice loss, the current mid-July 2013 sea ice extent is greater than 2012 at the same time by about 208,000 square miles NSIDC says…..



US wilting in a heat wave somehow stuck in reverse

By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Updated 3:35 pm, Thursday, July 18, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — The oppressively hot weather in the Northeast has surprised meteorologists: It’s moving backward across America, something that rarely happens.

Normally U.S. weather systems move west to east. The western Atlantic high pressure system behind the hot dry weather started moving east to west last week and by Tuesday was centered over lower Michigan, said Jon Gottschalck, the operations chief at the National Weather Service‘s prediction branch…


A high pressure system known as a “heat dome” is not only baking 21 states and DC, it’s also trapping air pollutants closer to the ground. [LA Times]


Scientists Predict Looming Climate Shift: Will Ocean Heat Come Back To Haunt Us Once Again?

Posted: 16 Jul 2013 08:15 AM PDT By Rob Painting via Skeptical Science. Reprinted with permission.

Key Points:

  • Despite a large increase in heat being absorbed by the Earth’s climate system (oceans, land & ice), the first decade of the 21st century saw a slowdown in the rate of global
    surface warming (surface air temperatures).
  • A climate model-based study, Meehl (2011), predicted that this was largely due to anomalous heat removed from the surface ocean and instead transported down into the deep ocean. This anomalous deep ocean warming was later confirmed by observations.
  • This deep ocean warming in the model occurred during negative phases of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), an index of the mean state of the north and south Pacific Ocean, and was most likely in response to intensification of the wind-driven ocean circulation.
  • Meehl (2013) is an update to their previous work, and the authors show that accelerated warming decades are associated with the positive phase of the IPO. This is a result of a weaker wind-driven ocean circulation, when a large decrease in heat transported to the deep ocean allows the surface ocean to warm quickly, and this in turn raises global surface temperatures.
  • This modelling work, combined with current understanding of the wind-driven ocean circulation, implies that global surface temperaures will rise quickly when the IPO switches from the current negative phase to a positive phase…..


High carbon dioxide spurs wetlands to absorb more carbon
(July 15, 2013) — Under elevated carbon dioxide levels, wetland plants can absorb up to 32 percent more carbon than they do at current levels, according to a 19-year study just published. With atmospheric carbon dioxide passing the 400 parts-per-million milestone this year, the findings offer hope that wetlands could help soften the blow of climate change. … > full story


Dunes, reefs protect U.S. coasts from climate change

As climate change brings higher sea levels, can sand dunes and coral reefs really protect U.S. coastlines? Yes, indeed, they help defend 67% of them, says a new study by Stanford scientists

Wendy Koch, USA TODAY 5:19 p.m. EDT July 14, 2013.

Story Highlights

  • Scientists say dunes and reefs help protect 67% of U.S. coastlines from sea level rise
  • They say coastal damages could double if natural habitats aren’t maintained

Rising sea levels and extreme weather put 16% of U.S. coastlines at “high-hazard” risk and the number of threatened residents could double if natural habitats — sand dunes, coral reefs, sea grasses, mangroves — aren’t protected, Stanford University researchers say in a study today. The study, noting that 23 of the 25 most densely populated U.S. counties are coastal, comes as U.S. and local officials are looking at “hardening” shorelines with billion-dollar sea walls and other projects in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the mid-Atlantic coast last October. It says maintaining habitats may offer a simpler, cheaper alternative in some areas. “If we lose these defenses, we will either have to have massive investments in engineered defenses or risk greater damage to millions of people and billions in property,” said lead author and Stanford scientist Katie Arkema in announcing the findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change. She says reefs and dunes play critical roles in places such as Hillsborough and Monroe counties in Florida and Brooklyn in New York…. They found good and bad news. On the plus side, natural habitats now protect two-thirds or 67% of U.S. coastlines. Yet the 16% of high-risk coastlines that are within a kilometer of the shore are home to 1.3 million people and $300 billion in residential property. The study says sea level rise, a result of climate change’s rising temperatures, will increase the number of threatened people 30% to 60% by the year 2100. “This study is a pretty significant advance over what’s been done before,” says Virginia Matzek,a restoration ecologist at Santa Clara University in California. She says prior research has looked at individual pieces, such as the role of habitats or the areas most at risk of sea level rise, but this is the first to synthesize them. She says the findings are conservative, noting the authors assumed current storm frequency, although storms are expected to get more frequent. “If I were a county planner, I’d be all over this,” she says. She adds that more research is needed, however, because current data is limited.

Peter Kareiva, chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy and one of the study’s co-authors, says data show whether an area has natural habitat but not its type, extent or exact location. He says it makes a difference whether marsh or reef is 10 feet or 100 feet offshore, arguing the federal government needs to invest in mapping coastal habitats.

“We have the Human Genome. What about the Earth Genome?” he asks, saying habitats could reduce the need for costlier solutions and offer other benefits such as recreation, fish nurseries, water filtration and erosion control. “It costs a ton of money to build a sea wall, and a sea wall does one thing only. Habitats do many.”

The study says the East and Gulf coasts are more vulnerable to sea level rise than the West coast. It says while habitats may protect some areas, “sea level rise will overwhelm” them in others, so additional measures are needed. It was compiled by Kareiva and eight Stanford researchers who are working with the Natural Capital Project, a partnership of scientists focused on nature’s benefits.



Nature | News

Natural defences can sharply limit coastal damage

Reefs, dunes and marshes are key to protecting lives and property against storm surges and long-term sea-level rise.

Virginia Gewin 14 July 2013

The Best Defense Against Catastrophic Storms: Mother Nature, Researchers Say

July 17, 2013 — Extreme weather, sea level rise and degraded coastal systems are placing people and property at greater risk along the coast. Natural habitats such as dunes and reefs are critical to protecting millions of U.S. residents and billions of dollars in property from coastal storms, according to a new study by scientists with the Natural Capital Project at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. The study, “Coastal habitats shield people and property from sea-level rise and storms,” published July 14 in the journal Nature Climate Change, offers the first comprehensive map of the entire U.S. coastline that shows where and how much protection communities get from natural habitats such as sand dunes, coral reefs, sea grasses and mangroves. The likelihood and magnitude of losses can be reduced by intact ecosystems near vulnerable coastal communities….

Katie K. Arkema, Greg Guannel, Gregory Verutes, Spencer A. Wood, Anne Guerry, Mary Ruckelshaus, Peter Kareiva, Martin Lacayo, Jessica M. Silver. Coastal habitats shield people and property from sea-level rise and storms. Nature Climate Change, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1944


Scientists outline long-term sea-level rise in response to warming of planet
July 15, 2013) — A new study estimates that global sea levels will rise about 2.3 meters, or more than seven feet, over the next several thousand years for every degree (Celsius) the planet warms. This is one of the first analyses to combine four major contributors to potential sea level rise into a collective estimate, and compare it with evidence of past sea-level responses to global temperature changes. … > full story


Stop marine pollution to protect kelp forests
(July 17, 2013) — Marine biologists have found that reducing nutrient pollution in coastal marine environments should help protect kelp forests from the damaging effects of rising CO2. … > full story


Antarctic ice loss alters ocean ecology, study shows



The Guardian  – ‎July 17, 2013‎

The deep southern ocean waters flow at a pretty steady -2°C. But waters once completely masked by ice are now exposed to sunlight for more than six months of the year.


‘Brown ocean’ can fuel inland tropical cyclones
(July 16, 2013) — In the summer of 2007, Tropical Storm Erin stumped meteorologists. Most tropical cyclones dissipate after making landfall, weakened by everything from friction and wind shear to loss of the ocean as a source of heat energy. Not Erin. The storm intensified as it tracked through Texas. Erin is an example of a newly defined type of inland tropical cyclone that maintains or increases strength after landfall.
Storms in the newly defined category derive their energy from the evaporation of abundant soil moisture — a phenomenon that experts call the “brown ocean.”
… > full story


Scientists solve a 14,000-year-old ocean mystery– role of iron in productivity

July 14, 2013 PhysOrg

Credit: Tiago Fioreze / Wikipedia

At the end of the last Ice Age, as the world began to warm, a swath of the North Pacific Ocean came to life. During a brief pulse of biological productivity 14,000 years ago, this stretch of the sea teemed with phytoplankton, amoeba-like foraminifera and other tiny creatures, who thrived in large numbers until the productivity ended—as mysteriously as it began—just a few hundred years later.

Researchers have hypothesized that iron sparked this surge of ocean life, but a new study led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists and colleagues at the University of Bristol (UK), the University of Bergen (Norway), Williams College and the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University suggests iron may not have played an important role after all, at least in some settings.

The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, determines that a different mechanism—a transient “perfect storm” of nutrients and light—spurred life in the post-Ice Age Pacific. Its findings resolve conflicting ideas about the relationship between iron and biological productivity during this time period in the North Pacific—with potential implications for geo-engineering efforts to curb climate change by seeding the ocean with iron. “A lot of people have put a lot of faith into iron—and, in fact, as a modern ocean chemist, I’ve built my career on the importance of iron—but it may not always have been as important as we think,” says WHOI Associate Scientist Phoebe Lam, a co-author of the study. Because iron is known to cause blooms of biological activity in today’s North Pacific Ocean, researchers have assumed it played a key role in the past as well. They have hypothesized that as Ice Age glaciers began to melt and sea levels rose, they submerged the surrounding continental shelf, washing iron into the rising sea and setting off a burst of life…..


Researchers shed new light on supraglacial lake drainage
(July 16, 2013) — Supraglacial lakes — bodies of water that collect on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet — lubricate the bottom of the sheet when they drain, causing it to flow faster. Differences in how the lakes drain can impact glacial movement’s speed and direction, researchers report. … > full story



Acid Test: Rising CO2 Levels Killing Ocean Life (Op-Ed)  – ‎ July 17, 2013‎

Matt Huelsenbeck is a marine scientist for the climate and energy campaign at Oceana. This article was adapted from one that first appeared on The Beacon






The Costs of Climate Change and Extreme Weather Are Passing the High-Water Mark

Hurricane Sandy made it clear: as the climate warms, population grows and sea level rises, extreme weather will hurt more. That’s why we need to fix flood insurance

By Bryan Walsh
@bryanrwalshJuly 17, 20135 Comments

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Image A truck is stuck outside the flooded Battery Tunnel in New York City on Nov. 1, 2012, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy cost the U.S. some $70 billion in direct damages and lost economic output. This is, obviously, a lot of money — Sandy was the second most expensive hurricane in U.S. history after a small tropical storm called Katrina. Much of that cost was borne by the government — local, state and federal — and some of it was absorbed by those of us who lived in the storm’s path. But about $20 billion to $25 billion of the damage from the storm was eventually covered by the insurance industry. Much of that bill in turn was covered by the big reinsurers, the companies that take on insurance policies from primary insurance companies looking to spread out their risk. And if you were an insurance company affected by Sandy, you better hope you had a reinsurer behind you.

One of the biggest of the reinsurers is Swiss Re, and yesterday I had a chance to talk with the
CEO of Swiss Re Americas, J. Eric Smith.
Smith was in New York City to speak at an event for the Climate Group, an international nonprofit that works with companies, cities and states on sustainability. The event was held at the NASDAQ headquarters in Times Square, where the temperature threatened to push past 100°F. Global warming was on everyone’s mind, even though the air-conditioning inside was on full and shades blocked out the droning city sun. “What keeps us up at night is climate change,” Smith said. “We see the long-term effect of climate change on society, and it really frightens us.”…..


Democrats looking to build support for new climate change action

Los Angeles Times July 18 2013

WASHINGTON — Democrats on Capitol Hill sought to move climate change back to the front of the congressional agenda Thursday morning, after a long period of inaction.


John Kerry lends support to closed-door negotiations over protecting waters around Antarctica

By Agence France-Presse Friday, July 12, 2013 15:00 EDT

The guardians of Antarctica’s marine wealth gather in Germany on Sunday for a fresh round of talks on creating the world’s largest ocean sanctuary.

Two plans of unprecedented scope are on the table, aimed at protecting vast, pristine waters and 16,000 species from human predation. But whether one scheme, both — or none — gets approval is unclear, given Russian and Chinese concerns that the restrictions are too draconian. One proposal, floated by the United States and New Zealand, would cover 1.6 million square kilometers (640,000 square miles) of the Ross Sea, the deep bay on Antarctica’s Pacific side. The other, backed by Australia, France and the European Union (EU), would protect 1.9 million sq. km (733,000 sq. miles) of coastal seas off East Antarctica, on the frozen continent’s Indian Ocean side. The three-day meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany, gathers 24 nations plus an EU delegation in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The CCAMLR is a treaty tasked with overseeing conservation and sustainable exploitation of the resources of the Southern Ocean.

It aims to fill a gap left by the Antarctic Treaty that came into force in 1961, which addressed the land of the continent but not its surrounding waters…..


Special meeting of the Commission in Bremerhaven

In July 2013 CCAMLR will hold a Special Meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany, dedicated to further discussions on marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean. This meeting will be only the second time in CCAMLR’s 32-year history that it has met outside its normal annual meeting.
The Bremerhaven meeting has been convened specifically to continue discussions on two proposals for the establishment of MPAs in the Convention Area. One proposal has been submitted by New Zealand and the United States (the Ross Sea region MPA proposal). The second proposal has been submitted by Australia, France and the European Union (the East Antarctica MPA proposal). Media are invited to attend the official opening of the Commission meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany, on Monday 15 July. Please email Jessica Nilsson to register and to receive further details. See here for CCAMLR – background information.


Free market is best way to combat climate change, study suggests
(July 15, 2013) — The best way to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change is through the use of market forces, according to a new study. … > full story

Evangelical Scientists Issue Faith-Based Call For Congress To Address Climate Change

Posted: 15 Jul 2013 01:54 PM PDT

It’s a plea frequently made to Christians who turn a blind eye to climate change: The Bible gives humankind dominion over the planet, so isn’t humankind responsible for helping preserve it? A group of evangelical scientists think so — and they’re using scientific and Biblical arguments to pressure congress to do something about climate change.

Last week, 200 self-identified evangelical scientists from secular and religious universities sent a letter to the U.S. Congress calling for legislation to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment. The signatories, all of whom hold master’s or doctorate degrees…






Stabilization Wedges- Princeton University



To get on track to avoiding dramatic climate change, the world must avoid emitting about 200 billion tons of carbon, or eight 25 billion ton wedges, over the next 50 years.

This is the heart of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative’s (CMI) Stabilization Wedges concept, a simple framework for understanding both the carbon emissions cuts needed to avoid dramatic climate change and the tools already available to do so. Since the wedges concept is becoming a paradigm in the field of carbon mitigation, CMI has developed this website both as an educational resource and as an archive of resources for those who’d like to incorporate the wedges into their own presentations and workshops. Our graphics and other materials may be used freely for non-commercial purposes; we just ask that you credit the “Carbon Mitigation Initiative, Princeton University.”






July 23, 2013 12:00-1:00pm (PT)
Effects of Climate Change on Inland Fishes of California

This CA LCC hosted webinar will present status and trends of fishes with different vulnerabilities to climate change and adaptation strategies for the major aquatic zoogeographic regions of California.
To join this webinar:
1. Go to 
2. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: calcc
3. Call-in to: 1-866-737-4154
4. Enter attendee access code: 287 267 0

July 23, 2013, 11:00-noon (Pacific Time)
Climate Change and Boreal Forest Fires: What does the future hold?
; NOAA Webinar; (Add to Google Calendar)

July 31, 10-11:30a.m. (Pacific Time)
State Wildlife Action Plans: lessons learned in adapting for an era of climate change. FWS and NWF Webinar.  Registration Link

August 29, 11:30a.m.-12:30p.m. (Pacific Time)
Pikas in the Columbia River Gorge FWS/C3 Webinar
WebEx link 
Call in: 877 952-8012  Access code: 274207

August 15-17
ScienceOnline Climate Conference  Explores the intersection of climate science, communication and the web.

Call for Abstracts

September 5-6, Fourth Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference: Reminder– All abstracts must be submitted by July 12.  Registration and lodging information will be available soon. For more details or to submit an abstract, please go to:

SER2013 Early Registration Closes July 15th!




Early registration for the 5th SER World Conference on Ecological Restoration
closes on July 15, 2013. Registration rates increase on July 16! (Sorry, but we can’t make exceptions to this deadline. We’re managing more than a thousand registrations).

Register now and save up to $125 on the cost of registration.  July 15 is also the deadline for presenter registration. If you have submitted an abstract or will speak in a symposium, you MUST register by July 15. If you do not register by this deadline your presentation will not be included in the scientific program. No Exceptions! More Information


Working for Conservation Conference: Active Engagement in Forestland Woodland Sustainability
October 10, 2013  Sacramento CA
This conference will focus on what we can learn from innovative and novel strategies that seek to achieve desired outcome in natural systems that have been historically altered and will continue to be altered. Participants will discuss new policies and management strategies that recognize the realities of these impacts, and encourage active approaches to ensure that these values continue into the future. This one-day conference is intended to engage resource managers, governmental, industry and NGO leaders, the interested general public. Early registration is due October 1, 2013.





Sierra Nevada Conservancy Prop 84 FUNDS – The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) Proposition 84 Grant Program for the Fiscal Year 2013-14 has been launched.  The funding available for this round of grants is approximately $2.5 million. Eligible projects for this grant round include projects that meet Proposition 84 eligibility criteria and SNC mission and program goals.  Projects must align with one of the two focus areas of this round, Healthy Forests and Abandoned Mine Lands).  Projects that build upon past SNC investment, financial or otherwise, will be given preference.  For more information click here.





Restoration and Education Internship, 2013-14

Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) is dedicated to conserving birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems through innovative scientific research, restoration, outreach and extensive partnerships.  Our highest priority is to reduce the impacts of habitat alteration, climate change and other threats to wildlife and people, while promoting adaptation to the changes ahead. Our 130+ staff and seasonal biologists and educators work with a wide range of public and private partners to advance effective conservation throughout the west. We are based in Petaluma, CA; visit us online at  Point Blue’s watershed restoration and education program called STRAW (Students & Teachers Restoring A Watershed), facilitates K-12 students in implementation of professionally designed habitat restoration projects on streams and wetlands in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties October – May. Restoration work typically includes native plant installation, biotechnical erosion control practices and/or invasive plant removal. Restoration sites are maintained for three summers after planting.  Restoration site maintenance work occurs April-August and includes watering, weeding and other plant establishment activities. Maintenance of STRAW restoration sites is an integral part of the project and overall program success. Point Blue is seeking four reliable, respectful, and enthusiastic interns to help with student-implemented restoration workdays and accompanying maintenance and monitoring of sites.

Position duration:  October 1, 2013 – September 1, 2014 (internship end dates may change depending on project needs)

Stipend: Voluntary position with monthly stipend of $850/month to offset living expenses, plus shared housing in an apartment in Petaluma, CA

To apply, please submit your resume, 3 references and a cover letter describing why you would like the internship by August 1, 2013 to Emily Allen (







How Water Scarcity From Climate Change Could Jack Up Europe’s Power Prices

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 01:43 PM PDT

Water evaporating from nuclear plant’s cooling towers. (Credit: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

Many European countries could see a decrease in electricity generating capacity and an increase in electricity prices thanks to climate change. That’s the overall finding from a new study out of the Austria-based Institute for International Applied Systems Analysis, which looked at how higher water temperatures and reduced river flows could affect hydropower plants, as well as the nuclear and fossil fuel power plants that draw off much of that water for cooling.



The Electrical Divide

New Energy Technologies and Avoiding an Electric Service Gap

By Richard W. Caperton and Mari Hernandez July 17, 2013

The current electricity system in the United States is one that is available to all Americans, but it is overly centralized and polluting. As the system inevitably evolves to include more clean distributed generation and more information technology to improve efficiency at the point of use, we must maintain our commitment to universal electricity access even as the fundamental design of our energy grid is transformed. If we fail to meet this challenge, our future electricity services will be distributed unevenly—much like new telecommunications services such as broadband Internet and cell-phone service—with a harmful effect on citizens, communities, and the larger economy. ….


Students in the Netherlands unveil a solar-powered family car



By Lauren Hockenson Jul. 5, 2013 – 1:39 PM PDT

Will we ever be able to live in a world powered by the sun? Solar Team Eindhoven, made up of students from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, has solved a crucial part of going solar: An solar-powered car that comfortably seats a family of four….

Scientists break record for thinnest light-absorber: May lead to more efficient, cheaper solar cells
(July 18, 2013) — Scientists have built the thinnest, most efficient absorber of visible light on record, a nanosize structure that could lead to less-costly, more efficient, solar cells. … > full story


Forget High-Speed Rail: Elon Musk Wants to Build Something Far More Awesome

By Will Oremus Posted Monday, July 15, 2013, at 5:54 PM

We don’t know yet what Elon Musk’s hypothetical Hyperloop might look like, but he claims it would get passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in under half an hour Illustration by Fedor Selivanov /

High-speed rail is so 20th century. Well, perhaps not in the United States, where we still haven’t gotten around to building any true bullet trains. After 30 years of dithering, California is finally working on one that would get people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a little under 2 1/2 hours, but it could cost on the order of $100 billion and won’t be ready until at least 2028.

Enter Tesla and SpaceX visionary Elon Musk with one of the craziest-sounding ideas in transportation history. For a while now, Musk has been hinting at an idea he calls the Hyperloop—a ground-based transportation technology that would get people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in under half an hour, for less than 1/10 the cost of building the high-speed rail line. Oh, and this 800-mph system would be self-powered, immune to weather, and would never crash.

What is the Hyperloop? So far Musk hasn’t gotten very specific, though he once called it “a cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table.” But we’ll soon find out more. …



Induced seismicity? Recent spike of earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S. may be linked to human activity

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 06:52 AM PDT

The number of earthquakes has increased dramatically over the past few years within the central and eastern United States. More than 300 earthquakes above a magnitude 3.0 occurred in the three years from 2010-2012, compared with an average rate of 21 events per year observed from 1967-2000. This increase in earthquakes prompts two important questions: Are they natural, or human-made? And what should be done in the future as we address the causes and consequences of these events to reduce associated risks? U.S. Geological Survey scientists have been analyzing the changes in the rate of earthquakes as well as the likely causes, and they have some answers.


Drought response identified in potential biofuel plant
(July 15, 2013) — Drought resistance is the key to large-scale production of Jatropha, a potential biofuel plant — and an international group of scientists has identified the first step toward engineering a hardier variety. … > full story


Deepwater Horizon debris was likely source of Gulf of Mexico oil sheens
(July 16, 2013) — A chemical analysis of oil sheens found floating recently at the ocean’s surface near the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster indicates that the source is pockets of oil trapped within the wreckage of the sunken rig. Both the Macondo well and natural oil seeps common to the Gulf of Mexico were confidently ruled out. … > full story








All waterfowl hunters over the age of 16, of course, are required to buy a stamp in order to hunt, but there are other very compelling reasons – for hunters and non-hunters – to buy a stamp each and every year. The $15 cost for the stamp is a small price to pay for new Refuge System habitat acquisition.

….For starters, become familiar with the Stamp on the Federal Duck Stamp Office website. ….And if you know others who wish to receive this Wingtips newsletter, with regular stamp announcements and news, have them ask to be added to our Wingtips mailing list. See here. Of course, buy a Stamp – or two – and use/display it proudly. (Many non-hunters display the stamp on their backpacks, field guides, binoculars, and camera-cases.)  Also become an official Friend! To find out how to do so, you can visit our website.





Bias pervades the scientific reporting of animal studies, research suggests
(July 16, 2013) — A new study suggests that the scientific literature could be compromised by substantial bias in the reporting of animal studies, and may be giving a misleading picture of the chances that potential treatments could work in humans. … > full story


Why Don’t Farmers Believe in Climate Change?

And does it really matter whether they do?

By David Biello|Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at 7:15 AM SLATE

…. Few would have to change their livelihoods as radically as American farmers if efforts to combat climate change became more serious. Maybe skepticism also flourishes because farmers tend to be more conservative, and denying climate change falls under the same political umbrella as, say, gun ownership. (According to Robert Carlson, who leads the World Farmers Organization, farmers in other countries are more likely to believe in climate change, and many feel they are already facing new weather extremes.)

But even if American farmers don’t believe in climate change, there are reasons for them to behave as if they do. The Agriculture Department has begun incorporating climate change into its projections and outreach, such as encouraging no-till practices where applicable. Oregon wheat farmer McCullough is following their advice to reduce tillage, which helps keep the soil from blowing away, like it used to do in his forefathers’ time, burying the farmhouse in silt that had to be shoveled out. He can now skip the three or four tilling passes in his tractor in favor of clearing a field with herbicides and then using an air drill that injects the wheat seed and fertilizer together.* “It’s more fuel efficient,” he says. Plus, the USDA also provides financial and technical assistance to those who adopt the new practices. “It’s cheaper to farm that way, and you still get the same type of crop, if not a bit better.”

The key to feeding 7 billion people in a post-climate-change world will be diversity of crops, which will help ensure resilience. To take the example of the farm my brother works, a dry year might see a better crop of sweet potatoes while a wet year promotes the growth of cereal crops. Weather is always changeable and unpredictable in the long term, which means a farmer must take good care of the soil so that the soil can take good care of the farmer when the weather turns challenging.

In other words, many American farmers—even those who would question whether climate change is man-made—are already doing exactly what efforts to combat climate change would require: precision agriculture to cut back on fossil fuel use, low or no-till farming, cover crops, biodigesters for animal waste, and the like. The key to reaching farmers is bringing them practices that improve their farms. “If you can help me deal with weather variability,” Miller says, “I can probably adapt to climate variability.”

“You’ve got so much to do anyway, trying to figure out rotations and moving animals and crops through and taking good care of your land and making enough money,” says my brother. “It’s unclear what the point of talking about climate change would be.” Or as I would put it: If many farmers are doing the right thing anyway, does it matter why?



Mark Hertsgaard Analyzes the Psychology of Climate Change Activism

The Keystone pipeline might be approved this year, but Mark Hertsgaard says an important new book shows what activists have to do to psychologically commit to fighting for the environment. Jul 14, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

When President Obama, to most observers’ surprise, addressed the Keystone XL pipeline in his landmark speech on climate change on June 25, it was partly because of Mary Pipher. Inside the Beltway, the conventional wisdom was that Obama would not mention Keystone, a pipeline that would carry particularly carbon-heavy tar sands oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries, because he was privately planning to approve the project later this year. In a speech designed to highlight his commitment to fighting climate change, what would be the point of talking about a pipeline that, if the president did approve it, would facilitate burning some of the dirtiest fossil fuels on the planet?

Yet activists like Pipher had made Keystone too big an issue to ignore. After years of living-room meetings that gave rise to statehouse rallies, mass demonstrations outside the White House, and the media coverage all this engendered, it was simply not credible for Obama to claim that he cared about climate change but not about Keystone. From her residence in Nebraska, Pipher had been one of countless grassroots activists who publicized what the pipeline would do—not only to the stability of the climate but the soil and water of the Midwestern states the pipeline would traverse—and rallied citizens to demand that this catastrophe in the making be prevented.

…… As a therapist, she learned long ago that simply telling a client to “wake up” doesn’t work. The client must also believe that waking up can actually make things better. “Neuroscientists have discovered that the human mind functions best when it acts as if there is hope,” Pipher writes. Believing that change is possible helps to make change possible….



Climate Change Could Make The Tour De France A Lot Hotter

ThinkProgress  – ‎ July 14, 2013‎

An article in Quartz Friday looked at moderate and extreme climate change projections in France for 2050 and 2100. It found that, in a moderate warming scenario, temperatures in the south of France will increase by 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, with …




Manure used by Europe’s first farmers 8,000 years ago
(July 16, 2013) — A new study says Europe’s first farmers used far more sophisticated practices than was previously thought. Scientists have found that Neolithic farmers manured and watered their crops as early as 6,000 BC. … > full story


Ecological forces structure your body’s personal mix of microbes
(July 16, 2013) — Environmental conditions have a stronger influence on the mix of microbes living in your body than does competition between species. Instead of excluding each other, microbes that fiercely compete for similar resources are more likely to cohabit the same individual. The findings are a step toward building a predictive model of the human microbiome to study how medical conditions change this massive biological system, identify how to promote beneficial microbiomes, and design interventions for hard-to-manage problems like chronic digestive inflammation. … > full story

Bioengineers develop new approach to regenerate back discs
(July 16, 2013) — Cell therapies may stop or reverse the pain and disability of degenerative disc disease and the loss of material between vertebrae, according to scientists. … > full story
















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