Conservation Science News November 8, 2013

Focus of the Week
Executive Order on Climate Adaptation; New UN Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Body









NOTE: Please pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) staff.  You can find these weekly compilations posted on line by clicking here.  For more information please see The items contained in this update were drawn from,, SER The Society for Ecological Restoration,,,, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  
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Focus of the Week– Executive Order on Climate Adaptation; New UN Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Body


Executive Order calls for climate adaptation

Holly Doremus, professor of law | 11/5/13 | UC Berkeley blog

On Nov. 1, President Obama issued an Executive Order intended “to prepare the Nation for the impacts of climate change by undertaking actions to enhance climate preparedness and resilience.” In some respects, this order simply continues ongoing efforts. Under this administration, the executive branch has already been doing a great deal of research, assessment, and planning for adaptation. This Executive Order will continue those efforts. But it also lays the foundation for moving from planning to action. Two provisions strike me as potentially important advances.

  • First, the Executive Order tells the nation’s key land and water management agencies, working with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to complete an inventory and assessment of proposed and completed changes to their land- and water-related policies, programs, and regulations necessary to make the Nation’s watersheds, natural resources, and ecosystems, and the communities and economies that depend on them, more resilient in the face of a changing climate.
  • Second, it directs federal agencies to “work together to develop and provide authoritative, easily accessible, usable, and timely data, information, and decision-support tools on climate preparedness and resilience.” That’s very general, of course, but the Order provides at least one specific directive: it tells CEQ and OMB to create a special portal for climate issues and decision-making on the site.

Both of these measures hold great promise. The first provides a needed nudge for agencies to adjust their programs in light of increasing understanding of the potential effects of climate change. And the second offers the hope that for once data and tools will be shared within and between agencies, and with the public and other governments, in ways that will improve the effectiveness and decrease the costs of adaptation work. The key test, of course, is the extent of follow-through. If the White House makes this effort a priority, the agencies will too. If the White House forgets about it and moves on to other things, it could end up as nothing more than hopeful words. Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet.



Click here for the text of the Order.


An executive order puts climate change up front


 – ‎Nov 4, 2013‎


Margaret Talev, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, assesses a new executive order by President Obama requiring federal agencies and local governments to account for climate change when undertaking big new projects….the executive order is telling federal agencies and local governments, but especially federal agencies to analyze all of the risks that climate change may have to their missions and what they do and to talk about what they are already doing and what they should be doing. And it sets up a task force to put all of these suggestions and recommendations together and analysis over the next nine months


White House Will Focus on Climate Shifts While Trying to Cut Greenhouse Gases


White House aides said President Obama would sign an executive order on Friday morning directing federal agencies to make it easier for states to build resilience against storms.




Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services


Most Nations Lack Means to Assess Biodiversity, Key Ecosystem Services and Their Value


November 7, 2013 — Most of the world’s nations — unanimously committed to protecting biodiversity — nevertheless cannot measure and assess their genetic and biological resources, nor the value of key ecosystem … Strengthening the ability of nations to conduct biodiversity and ecosystem service-related assessments for better informed policy decision-making is a key mandate of the UN’s new Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which convened the meeting, hosted by the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology and supported by the Government of Norway.


Often likened to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the new Bonn-based IPBES is chaired by Zakri Abdul Hamid, science advisor to Malaysia’s prime minister.”There’s an old saying: We measure what we treasure,” said Dr. Zakri, recently appointed also to the UN Secretary-General’s new Science Advisory Board. “Unfortunately, though we profess to treasure biodiversity, most nations have yet to devote adequate resources to properly measure and assess it along with the value of ecosystem services. Correcting that is a priority assignment from the world community to IPBES.”…. ‘


Dr. Zakri said biodiversity scientists, who see a crisis looming in the rapid rate of loss of species and ecosystem services in many areas, “need to stop talking amongst ourselves. The message needs to get through to policy makers, politicians, captains of industry and the general public. We need to start talking in terms people understand — economics and health, for example.”

Scientific papers have documented that biodiversity, for example, provides a kind of human health insurance, he noted, by diluting the pool of virus targets.


Other research in recent years has revealed enormous dollar values of ecosystem services — including food, pollution treatment and climate regulation — provided by forests and coral reefs.


A single hectare of coral reef, for example, provides annual services to humans estimated at US $130,000 on average, rising to as much as $1.2 million, according to researchers with The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). TEEB estimated in 2010 that the planet’s 63 million hectares of wetlands provide some $3.4 billion in storm protection, food and other services to humans each year. Up to half of the $640 billion pharmaceutical market relies on genetic resources, with anti-cancer agents from marine organisms alone valued at up to $1 billion annually. And the loss of biodiversity through deforestation will cost the global economy up to $4.5 trillion every year.
“Harvard professor E.O. Wilson put it well,” said Dr. Zakri, “Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.” The rainforest in Malaysia is estimated to be around 130 million years old…..full story






Creatures of influence
(November 6, 2013) — An
international research team has developed mathematical tools that can estimate which species are most influential in a food web. In the children’s game “Jenga,” removing the wrong block from a tower of wooden blocks can cause the entire tower to collapse. In the same way, removing certain species from an ecosystem can cause a collapse in ecological function. A common scientific question has been to identify these critical species in different ecosystems and an international research team has developed mathematical tools that can estimate which species are most influential in a food web.
The researchers from the University of Bristol, the Max Planck Institute for Physics of Complex Systems and the US Geological Survey have taken a new modeling approach to the question. The team, using the new mathematical tools, found that long-lived, generalist top predators — such as otters — play the most influential roles within a food web. The findings are published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Helge Aufderheide of the Max Planck Institute and University of Bristol, who led the research, said: “The interactions in an ecosystem are so complex that one can often only guess about the roles that each species plays. Therefore, knowing how to find the key players makes all the difference for understanding where to focus studies.” Long-lived, generalist top predators can highly influence ecosystems because they feed on different types of prey that occupy different parts of the food web. For example, otters feed on a wide variety of aquatic prey and can influence multiple species throughout the course of their relatively long lifespan. Removing otters from the ecosystem would cause long-term disruptions to all those species, a theory that the new models can now confirm for other species and ecosystems. Understanding how the gain or loss of a single species affects a complex food web has been a difficult mathematical challenge, and the new findings provide fundamental insights into complex natural systems. The new study offers a rule of thumb to help other studies focus their research and data collection on species in order of their expected importance, and increase the efficiency of their research effort... > full story


Helge Aufderheide, Lars Rudolf, Thilo Gross, and Kevin D. Lafferty. Predicting community responses in the face of imperfect knowledge and network complexity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, November 2013


Global Map Provides New Insights Into Land Use

Global land system archetypes: world map. The data for this classification refer to the year 2005. (Credit: Tomáš Václavík/UFZ)

Nov. 5, 2013 — In order to assess the global impacts of land use on the environment and help provide appropriate countermeasures, a group of researchers under the leadership of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) has created a new world map of land use systems. Based on various indicators of land-use intensity, climate, environmental and socio-economic conditions, they identified twelve global patterns called land system archetypes. The scientists from UFZ with colleagues from the Humboldt-University Berlin and University Bonn have recently published their results in the journal Global Environmental Change. Land use changes come in various forms: maize fields replace meadows and grasslands, tropical forests are cleared for pastures, steppes become cropland. The reasons are complex, the impacts are immense: animal and plant communities change, ecosystem functions disappear, carbon emissions contribute to climate change. Whatever happens regionally has global consequences. In order to better assess these impacts and help provide effective countermeasures, the researchers from UFZ created a world map that identifies twelve global land-use systems, also called archetypes. These include barren lands in the developing world, pastoral systems or extensive cropping systems. Germany, for instance, together with most of the Western Europe, Eastern USA and Western Australia represents the ‘intensive cropping system’ that covers about 5% of the terrestrial Earth surface. This system is characterized by high density of cropland, high inputs of nitrogen fertilizers, temperate climate, high crop yields, large capital investments in the agricultural sector, low proportion of GDP originating from agriculture and good access to market places.

What is novel about this research is the fact that the scientists analyzed significantly more data and indicators than what is common in similar studies….


Tomáš Václavík, Sven Lautenbach, Tobias Kuemmerle, Ralf Seppelt. Mapping global land system archetypes. Global Environmental Change, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.09.004



Great civilisations have fallen because they failed to prevent the degradation of the soils on which they were founded. The modern world could suffer the same fate. (Credit: © philipus / Fotolia)

Civilizations rise and fall on the quality of their soil
(November 4, 2013)
Great civilizations have fallen because they failed to prevent the degradation of the soils on which they were founded. The modern world could suffer the same fate. … This is according to Professor Mary Scholes and Dr Bob Scholes who have published a paper in the journal, Science, which describes how the productivity of many lands has been dramatically reduced as a result of soil erosion, accumulation of salinity, and nutrient depletion.

“Cultivating soil continuously for too long destroys the bacteria which convert the organic matter into nutrients,” says Mary Scholes, who is a Professor in the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at Wits University.

Although improved technology — including the unsustainably high use of fertilisers, irrigation, and ploughing — provides a false sense of security, about 1% of global land area is degraded every year. In Africa, where much of the future growth in agriculture must take place, erosion has reduced yields by 8% and nutrient depletion is widespread. “Soil fertility is both a biophysical property and a social property — it is a social property because humankind depends heavily on it for food production,” says Bob Scholes, who is a systems ecologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Soil fertility was a mystery to the ancients. Traditional farmers speak of soils becoming tired, sick, or cold; the solution was typically to move on until they recovered. By the mid-20th century, soils and plants could be routinely tested to diagnose deficiencies, and a global agrochemical industry set out to fix them. Soil came to be viewed as little more than an inert supportive matrix, to be flooded with a soup of nutrients. This narrow approach led to an unprecedented increase in food production, but also contributed to global warming and the pollution of aquifers, rivers, lakes, and coastal ecosystems. Activities associated with agriculture are currently responsible for just under one third of greenhouse gas emissions; more than half of these originate from the soil. Replacing the fertility-sustaining processes in the soil with a dependence on external inputs has also made the soil ecosystem, and humans, vulnerable to interruptions in the supply of those inputs, for instance due to price shocks. However, it is not possible to feed the current and future world population with a dogmatically “organic” approach to global agriculture. Given the large additional area it would require, such an approach would also not avert climate change, spare biodiversity, or purify the rivers.

To achieve lasting food and environmental security, we need an agricultural soil ecosystem that more closely approximates the close and efficient cycling in natural ecosystems, and that also benefits from the yield increases made possible by biotechnology and inorganic fertilisers.


M. C. Scholes, R. J. Scholes. Dust Unto Dust. Science, 2013; 342 (6158): 565 DOI: 10.1126/science.1244579


Plan to Address Hypoxia in Gulf of Mexico Urged by Experts

November 7, 2013 — Despite a 12-year action plan calling for reducing the hypoxia zone in the Gulf of Mexico, little progress has been made, and there is no evidence that nutrient loading to the Gulf has decreased … > full story



Flying the Coop: Antibiotic Resistance Spreads to Birds, Other Wildlife

Scientific American

November 5 2013


Her mission: to collect as much bird poop as possible. Back in the laboratory, Ellis’ colleagues combed through the feces….


Will Jellyfish Rule the Ocean?

Nov 6, 2013 08:40 AM ET // by Elizabeth Howell, Livescience

In 2000, a bloom of sea tomato jellyfish in Australia was so enormous — it stretched for more than 1,000 miles from north to south — that it was even visible from space. It was certainly a bloom that Australian jellyfish researcher Lisa-ann Gershwin won’t forget. While most blooms are not quite that big, Gershwin’s survey of research on jellyfish from the last few decades indicate that populations are most likely on the rise, and that this boom is taking place in an ocean that is faced with overfishing, acid rain, nutrient pollution from fertilizers and climate change, among other problems. There have been many reports about jellyfish numbers increasing in the past few years; some researchers think it is part of a larger trend, while others say it may be just a numerical fluke. Most agree, however, that more data is needed before coming to a definitive conclusion. Gershwin, a research scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation who specializes in jellyfish, recently wrote about her findings in a book called “Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean” (University Of Chicago Press, 2013). The book, which is aimed at a general audience and is not peer-reviewed, details dozens of studies that Gershwin read and concludes it’s possible that ocean conditions are ripe for a jellyfish takeover. [Image Gallery: Jellyfish Rule!] “What we see in the areas that are the most damaged from numerous different disturbances, we see these jellyfish bloom problems,” Gershwin told LiveScience. In the Sea of Japan, for example, jellyfish are drifting in from China, where reports indicate the country is facing massive overfishing and pollution, as well as coastal construction where jellyfish polyps (or young) can find a home, Gershwin said. Some researchers say that overfishing removes other species that compete for the same food jellyfish eat, such as plankton. Gershwin thinks that overfishing, climate change and a combination of other factors are clearing the way for a jellyfish takeover. Jellyfish are said to prefer warmer oceans; no direct link has been found for why acidification would benefit them, according to a 2008 paper in the journal Limnology and Oceanography, but some researchers say jellyfish increase in abundance in acidic conditions….


Motion of the ocean: Predicting the big swells
(November 5, 2013) — New research will help you every morning with the surf report. It is estimated that 75 per cent of waves across the world are not actually generated by local winds. Instead, they are driven by distant storms which propagate as swell. … > full story


Clean Air Act has led to improved water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed
(November 6, 2013) — A new study shows that the reduction of pollution emissions from power plants in the mid-Atlantic is making an impact on the quality of the water that ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. … > full story


Negative effects of road noises on migratory birds
(November 6, 2013) — A new study shows that the negative effects of roads on wildlife are largely because of traffic noise.
Biologists have known that bird populations decline near roads. But pinpointing noise as a cause has been a problem because past studies of the effects of road noise on wildlife were conducted in the presence of the other confounding effects of roads. These include visual disturbances, collisions and chemical pollution, among others. “We present the first study to experimentally apply traffic noise to a roadless area at a landscape scale, thus avoiding the other confounding aspects of roads present in past studies,” said Christopher J. W. McClure, post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Biological Sciences. “Understanding the effects of road noise can help wildlife managers in the selection, conservation and management of habitat for birds,” said Jesse R. Barber, assistant professor of biological sciences and one of McClure’s fellow researchers.… > full story


C. J. W. McClure, H. E. Ware, J. Carlisle, G. Kaltenecker, J. R. Barber. An experimental investigation into the effects of traffic noise on distributions of birds: avoiding the phantom road. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1773): 20132290 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2290


Early bird catches the worm — for dinner
(November 5, 2013) — Birds, such as great and blue tits, scout for food in the morning but only return to eat it in late afternoon to maximize their chances of evading predators in the day without starving to death
overnight. … ‘Birds have to store body-fat to avoid starving during the cold winter nights, but this can make them slower and less manoeuvrable so that they are more likely to be caught by predators,’ said Damien Farine of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, who led the research. ‘So there is a trade-off, where birds need to remain lean enough in order to ‘outrun’ their predators, or at least the next slowest bird, during the day but also store enough fat to survive each night.’.. ‘Because small birds can’t reproduce without surviving the winter they have evolved a complex set of behaviours that enables them to maximise their chance of both surviving predators and avoiding starvation,’ said Damien Farine ‘It’s a good example of how animals alter their behaviour to respond to constantly changing environmental conditions. It also shows how new technologies, like tiny PIT tags, are enabling us to explore questions about animal survival strategies at an unprecedented scale.’full story


D. R. Farine, S. D. J. Lang. The early bird gets the worm: foraging strategies of wild songbirds lead to the early discovery of food sources. Biology Letters, 2013; 9 (6): 20130578 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0578


How pigeons may smell their way home
(November 5, 2013) — Homing pigeons are extraordinary navigators, but how they manage to find their way back to their lofts is still debated. To navigate, birds require a ‘map’ (to tell them home is south, for example) and a ‘compass’ (to tell them where south is), with the sun and the Earth’s magnetic field being the preferred compass systems. A new paper provides evidence that the information pigeons use as a map is in fact available in the atmosphere: odors and winds allow them to find their way home. … > full story


Maine’s Penobscot River finally runs free after huge restoration project

CBS News

November 6, 2013


Billed as the largest river restoration project in the country, it took 10 years to get Penobscot River back to its natural state.

Saddling Up Against the Threat to Our National Parks

November 7, 2013 — An Australian research team has investigated the threat horse riding poses to the ecology of national parks around the world. And it seems there’s a growing problem in horse … > full story


Natural Products Discovery Group Asks for Public’s Help With Citizen Science Program

November 7, 2013 — A research group has taken an unconventional approach to finding new compounds with therapeutic relevance by launching a crowdsourcing initiative with citizen scientists from around the country. … > full story


Staying alive in the high and dry
(November 5, 2013) — New research published this week sheds light on how desert plants gain nutrients they desperately need — even in the driest circumstances. … > full story





Yosemite Rim Fire Map:



Hottest September On Record, Fastest Pacific Warming In 10,000 Years, Warmest Arctic In 120,000 Years

By Joe Romm on November 3, 2013 at 11:47 am

Temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013) plus projected warming on humanity’s current emissions path (in red, via recent literature.

It’s been a hot week for global warming. NASA released global temperature data showing that this September tied with 2005 for the warmest September on record. That’s doubly impressive since 2005 was warmed by an El Niño and accompanying warm Pacific ocean temperatures, whereas 2013 has had cooler Pacific temperatures all year. Greenhouse gases keep warming the planet to unprecedented levels with unprecedented speed. That’s the conclusion of two new studies out this week.

The first, “Unprecedented recent summer warmth in Arctic Canada,” concludes: “Our results indicate that anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gases have led to unprecedented regional warmth.” How unprecedented? The news release explains: Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years and perhaps as long ago as 120,000 years, says a new INSTAAR study. The study is the first direct evidence the present warmth in the Eastern Canadian Arctic exceeds the peak warmth there in the Early Holocene, when the amount of the sun’s energy reaching the Northern Hemisphere in summer was roughly 9 percent greater than today, said study leader Gifford Miller. The Holocene is our current geological epoch. It began after Earth’s last Ice age ended some 11,700 years ago. The release notes that, “The ice cores showed that the youngest time interval from which summer temperatures in the Arctic were plausibly as warm as today is about 120,000 years ago.”

What does the unprecedented warming mean? “The key piece here is just how unprecedented the warming of Arctic Canada is,” said Miller, also an INSTAAR fellow. “This study really says the warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” And it isn’t just the level of warming that is unprecedented. It is also the rate of warming. Columbia University’s Earth Island Institute explained that in an article Thursday, “Is Global Heating Hiding Out in the Oceans?“:

… a new study in the leading journal Science adds support to the idea that the oceans are taking up some of the excess heat, at least for the moment. In a reconstruction of Pacific Ocean temperatures in the last 10,000 years, researchers have found that its middle depths have warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than they did during apparent natural warming cycles in the previous 10,000. “We’re experimenting by putting all this heat in the ocean without quite knowing how it’s going to come back out and affect climate,” said study coauthor Braddock Linsley, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “It’s not so much the magnitude of the change, but the rate of change.” We are experimenting on our previously stable climate without wisdom or morality, we are experimenting on our children and grandchildren without their consent. If we don’t stop ASAP, it won’t end well.




Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States

Securing clean water is becoming increasingly difficult in the United States. Infrastructure like dams and treatment plants are aging, water demand is increasing, and more frequent extreme weather events like wildfires and flooding are driving up the cost of water management. It’s a complex problem, but one of the potential solutions is decidedly low-tech: Invest in nature.

Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States, pulls together the insights of more than 50 authors from the front lines of efforts to integrate “natural infrastructure” into water management. Incorporating strategically secured networks of forests, wetlands, and floodplains to complement existing “built” infrastructure can reduce water-management costs and effectively secure clean drinking water.

Edited by the World Resources Institute, in collaboration with Earth Economics and the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, this publication provides comprehensive guidance to help water utilities, municipalities, businesses, land management organizations, and other decision makers better manage their water systems by securing forests and other ecosystems. The guide paints a picture of the current “state of practice” of natural infrastructure investment, and details the businesses case, science, partnerships, and finance mechanisms underlying successful natural infrastructure investments across the United States.



Environmentalists look to carbon markets to slow grassland conversion

Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter Greenwire: Monday, November 4, 2013

Spurred largely by high crop prices and increased demand, landowners in the Great Plains have converted hundreds of thousands of acres of native grasslands over the past several years into fields of corn and soybeans. Environmentalists have long warned that increased conversion to cropland, while boosting the pocketbooks of farmers, has led to a loss of habitat for wildlife and declining water quality. But researchers are beginning to quantify that it’s also meant a significant loss of the soil’s potential to store carbon. Armed with a model that takes into account emissions data from grassland conversion, environmentalists and the Agriculture Department hope to harness the financial incentives of carbon markets to slow the rate of declining native grassland in the environmentally sensitive Prairie Pothole region. In a first-of-its-kind program, they’re offering up carbon offsets to farmers in several North Dakota counties who agree to preserve their grassland. “The basic idea is that there’s a lot of carbon stored in these grasslands,” said Peter Weisberg, program manager at the Climate Trust. “When you convert it, more carbon decomposes and is lost.” In 2011, USDA awarded Ducks Unlimited a $161,000 grant to develop a way to monetize the preservation of grassland using carbon markets. The organization partnered with the Climate Trust, the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund and Terra Global Capital and announced last week that it has successfully developed a way of quantifying avoided carbon losses from grassland conversion. Using the model, which has cost about a half-million dollars to develop, Ducks Unlimited has begun enrolling farmers in eight North Dakota counties in a pilot program to provide farmers with money from the sale of carbon offsets. Under the pilot, Ducks Unlimited has agreed to find carbon buyers for landowners when they agree to preserve grassland. Ducks Unlimited currently has an inventory of offset options from landowners; once money becomes available, the conservation group will go out and sell the offsets to entities such as companies that want to demonstrate sustainability. Ducks Unlimited will then pay the farmer market value for the carbon…..



Climate change scientists must turn their attention to clean skies, experts urge
(November 6, 2013) — Natural aerosols, such as emissions from volcanoes or plants, may contribute more uncertainty than previously thought to estimates of how the climate might respond to greenhouse gas emissions. … > full story


Oldest ice core: Finding a 1.5 million-year record of Earth’s climate
(November 5, 2013) — How far into the past can ice-core records go? Scientists have now identified regions in Antarctica they say could store information about Earth’s climate and greenhouse gases extending as far back as 1.5 million years, almost twice as old as the oldest ice core drilled to date. … > full story


Global warming led to dwarfism in mammals — twice
(November 2, 2013) — Mammal body size decreased significantly during at least two ancient global warming events, a new finding that suggests a similar outcome is possible in response to human-caused climate change, according to paleontologists. … > full story


Preparing for Hell and High Water: Researchers Advocate for Climate Adaptation Science

Nov. 7, 2013 — Changes are already happening to Earth’s climate due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and large-scale agriculture. As changes get more pronounced, people everywhere will have to adjust. In this week’s issue of the journal Science, an international group of researchers urge the development of science needed to manage climate risks and capitalize on unexpected opportunities. “Adapting to an evolving climate is going to be required in every sector of society, in every region of the globe. We need to get going, to provide integrated science if we are going to meet the challenge,” said senior scientist Richard Moss of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “In this article, we describe the foundations for this research and suggest measures to establish it.” Climate preparedness research needs to integrate social and climate science, engineering, and other disciplines. It prepares for impacts by determining who and what are most vulnerable to changes and considering ways to adapt. “Science for adaptation starts with understanding decision-making processes and information needs, determining where the vulnerabilities are, and then moves to climate modeling. A final step tracks whether adaptation is effective,” said Moss, who is based at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a collaboration between PNNL in Richland, Wash. and the University of Maryland….This research is motivated by a practical challenge, ensuring reliable water supplies. Among the scientific advances that will be required is better integration of weather and climate models to improve decadal climate information to help people plan,” Moss said. Bringing together diverse disciplines at the Aspen workshop allowed the international team to explore all facets of adaptation, including less examined ones such as how scientific information is (and isn’t) used in making decisions. “Traditionally we think that what society needs is better predictions. But at this workshop, all of us — climate and social scientists alike — recognized the need to consider how decisions get implemented and that climate is only one of many factors that will determine how people will adapt,” he said. The focus on problem-solving could open up new sources of funding as well, sources such as non-governmental organizations, industry — any group with specific problems that adaptation science could solve.


R. H. Moss, et al. Hell and High Water: Practice-Relevant Adaptation Science. Science, 2013; 342 (6159): 696 DOI: 10.1126/science.1239569



Can sea life adapt to souring oceans? Seattle Times
The violet bottom-dwelling, prickle-backed spheres wriggling in the tank in Gretchen Hofmann’s lab aren’t really known for their speed. But these lowly sea urchins adapt so quickly they’re helping to understand ocean acidification.


Amazon Deforestation Could Mean Droughts for Western U.S.

November 7, 2013 — Total deforestation of the Amazon could mean 20 percent less rain for the coastal Northwest and a 50 percent reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, resulting in water and food shortages, and a … > full story


Britain’s New Flood Protection Plan: Surrender To The Ocean

By Joanna M. Foster on November 5, 2013

In the south of England, land is being surrendered to the ocean to create the ultimate flood protection system.

Medberry managed realignment project CREDIT: Environment Agency

For hundreds of years, the Manhood Peninsula that juts into the English channel has relied on a shingle barricade to keep the ocean out. Today, residents are welcoming the ocean in. Earlier this year, a massive hole was punched through the western flood wall near Medmerry, and the ocean is now at liberty to come rushing over 452 acres of land, just as it has been trying to do for as long as anyone can remember. It may seem like surrender, but in low-lying Medmerry, this was a more realistic strategy in the face of climate change. Some areas near the town are below sea level, so taking down a part of the sea wall and creating a floodplain buffer zone is more feasible than constantly building and rebuilding an ultimately indefensible barrier at the water’s edge…..


Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of strongest storms ever, heads for central Philippines

By Jethro Mullen, CNNupdated 2:23 PM EST, Thu November 7, 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan one of the biggest ever


  • The storm is one of the strongest ever observed
  • The storm is forecast to make landfall in the Eastern Visayas region Friday
  • Authorities have relocated thousands of people ahead of its arrival
  • People left homeless by a quake on Bohol island are among the most vulnerable

(CNN) — Thousands of people in vulnerable areas of the Philippines are being relocated as one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever observed spins toward the country. With sustained winds of 315 kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 kph (235 mph), Super Typhoon Haiyan was churning across the Western Pacific toward the central Philippines. Its wind strength makes it equivalent to an exceptionally strong Category 5 hurricane. The storm, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, is expected to still be a super typhoon, with winds in excess of 240 kph (149 mph), when it makes landfall Friday morning in the region of Eastern Visayas. The storm is so large in diameter that clouds from it are affecting two-thirds of the country….


Strongest typhoon of the year hits Philippines

Fox News November 7, 2013 MANILA, Philippines – The world’s strongest typhoon of the year has slammed into the Philippines. One weather expert says Typhoon Haiyan was set to be the strongest any tropical cyclone has ever been when it made landfall..


Super typhoon smashes into Philippines. November 8, 2013 USA Today A massive typhoon packing winds approaching 200 mph and called one of the most powerful storms ever recorded blasted into the Philippines on Friday, killing at least four people.



After drought, historic flash flood leaves Austin residents digging through the mud. USA Today November 7, 2013

Neighborhoods near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport were overwhelmed in the early morning hours of Oct. 31, when water from a nearby creek surged down streets and filled homes within minutes. It was a flash flood with more force and volume than the city has ever seen.


Rising temperatures challenge Salt Lake City’s water supply
(November 1, 2013) — In an example of the challenges water-strapped Western cities will face in a warming world, new research shows that every degree Fahrenheit of warming in the Salt Lake City region could mean a 1.8 to 6.5 percent drop in the annual flow of streams that provide water to the city. … By midcentury, warming Western temperatures may mean that some of the creeks and streams that help slake Salt Lake City’s thirst will dry up several weeks earlier in the summer and fall, according to the new paper, published today in the journal Earth Interactions. The findings may help regional planners make choices about long-term investments, including water storage and even land-protection policies. “Many Western water suppliers are aware that climate change will have impacts, but they don’t have detailed information that can help them plan for the future,” said lead author Tim Bardsley, with NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder. “Because our research team included hydrologists, climate scientists and water utility experts, we could dig into the issues that mattered most to the operators responsible for making sure clean water flows through taps and sprinklers without interruption.”…Among the details in the new assessment:

  • Temperatures are already rising in northern Utah, about 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last century, and continue to climb. Summer temperatures have increased especially steeply and are expected to continue to do so. Increasing temperatures during the summer irrigation season may increase water demand.
  • Every increase in a degree Fahrenheit means an average decrease of 3.8 percent in annual water flow from watersheds used by Salt Lake City. This means less water available from Salt Lake City’s watersheds in the future.
  • Lower-elevation streams are more sensitive to increasing temperatures, especially from May through September, and city water experts may need to rely on less-sensitive, higher-elevation sources in late summer, or more water storage.
  • Models tell an uncertain story about total future precipitation in the region, primarily because Utah is on the boundary of the Southwest (projected to dry) and the U.S. northern tier states (projected to get wetter).
  • Overall, models suggest increased winter flows, when water demand is lower, and decreased summer flows when water demand peaks.
  • Annual precipitation would need to increase by about 10 percent to counteract the stream-drying effect of a 5-degree increase in temperature.
  • A 5-degree temperature increase would also mean that peak water flow in the western Wasatch creeks would occur two to four weeks earlier in the summer than it does today. This earlier stream runoff will make it more difficult to meet water demand as the summer irrigation season progresses. > full story


Tim Bardsley, Andrew Wood, Mike Hobbins, Tracie Kirkham, Laura Briefer, Jeff Niermeyer, Steven Burian. Planning for an Uncertain Future: Climate Change Sensitivity Assessment toward Adaptation Planning for Public Water Supply. Earth Interactions, 2013; 17 (23): 1 DOI: 10.1175/2012EI000501.1



Leaked IPCC report links climate change to global food scarcity

IPCC’s forecast of lowered crop yields will ultimately affect us all

The Guardian November 7, 2013
It’s a human-centric approach, but the prospect of a food scare should be one way to get people—believers and deniers alike—to seriously evaluate the effects of climate change. Last week, a source leaked a draft report, drawn up by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and due to be released next March. It’s the second of three reports, following the first that came out in September this year. Among other things, the text clearly outlines the threats climate change poses to the global food supply, citing a decrease of up to 2% each decade in yields of staple crops like maize, wheat, and rice. That projected dip looks even more serious when one considers the parallel 14% increase per decade in the demand for food that scientists are expecting, to match the needs of a population that will reach 9 billion-plus by 2050. It’s a familiar message. But, “what is probably new compared to previous reports is the recognition of climate change’s impacts much sooner than was expected,” says Alexandre Meybeck, senior policy officer on Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. “We are not talking about 2100, we are talking about what’s going to happen in 20, 30 years.” The New York Times
first reported on the story in depth, author Justin Gillis writing: The warning on the food supply is the sharpest in tone the panel has issued. Its previous report, in 2007, was more hopeful…The new tone reflects a large body of research in recent years that has shown how sensitive crops appear to be to heat waves. This IPCC report, which focuses on the impacts of, vulnerability and adaption to, climate change, finds that the negative impacts on crops and yields have been more common than the positive ones, the latter occurring in some higher latitudes where atmospheric carbon dioxide can aid plant growth. ….


Heat waves in Eastern US will become deadlier, study.
Environmental Health News
Heat waves will kill about 10 times more people in the Eastern United States in 45 years than they did at the turn of this century, according to a new projection from researchers.



Combating Climate Change – And Responding to Skeptics

By Michael Edesess November 5, 2013 Advisor Perspectives

Climate change is a highly contentious issue. Well, not entirely. The distance between climate “skeptics” and climate “believers” can be measured only in percentages of estimated probabilities. From the way the issue is typically framed in the media, one would think that battle lines are drawn and forces are lined up in adamant opposition. But that’s not the way it really is – or should be. Scientists are skeptics by nature. Those who contributed to the Fifth Assessment Report – the latest in a series of assessments of scientific research on climate change prepared by the United Nations-established Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – are no exception. Numerous discussions and disagreements lay behind the production of the so-called consensus report. The end result projects temperature changes by the end of the century ranging from virtually no change to an increase of 10⁰F.

Nevertheless, the climate-change threat is real, even if it is only a matter of probabilities. What action we should take, and how action should be brought about, are knotty problems. Harvard Business School’s Business and Environment Initiative (BEI) says they can be attacked with a business approach…



Jordan’s farmers struggle to weather climate change.
Inter Press Service
For the small community of farmers in the Zarqa river basin east of the capital Amman, industrial development, poor resource management and climate change have converged to create a perfect storm of problems that damage farmers’ produce and livelihoods and ultimately threaten food security in Jordan…
Others suggest that while climate change exacerbates existing environmental problems in Jordan, the core of mitigation lies not in tackling climate change but in improving how Jordan consumes and manages the scant resources it does have. Between 1975 and 2007 grain-cultivating areas decreased by 65 percent and vegetable-cultivating areas by 91 percent. Among the driest countries in the world, Jordan has an average of 145 cubic metres of water available per person annually (the water poverty line is 500 cubic metres). Its average annual precipitation is 111 millimetres. Prime areas for agricultural cultivation, such as rain-fed areas, are shrinking, in part because of urbanisation and development. Farmers in Abu Waleed’s area have meanwhile noticed changes in weather in recent years. Along with a decrease in rainfall, temperatures have risen, leading to more pests and bugs and shifting growing seasons. They are calling on the government to help mitigate these effects. Some in the government too admit that it needs to do more…..




‘Climate change puts 5m. Israelis at risk of severe flooding events’

The conditions could also result in outbreaks of transmissible diseases from pests such as mosquitoes

A storm touches down on water off Atlit coast Photo: Baz Ratner / Reuters

Rising temperatures and climbing sea levels due to climate change could be putting more than five million Israelis at severe risk, a special Environmental Protection Ministry report has indicated. The rise of the Mediterranean Sea’s levels as well as the flooding of rivers could gravely impact five million Israelis as water barrels into their communities, the study warned. In addition to the flooding dangers, the conditions could also result in outbreaks of transmissible diseases from pests such as mosquitoes, the report explained. Escalating temperatures combined with population growth will also undoubtedly lead to an increased demand for water from decreasing aquifer supplies, it said…About 2.5 million people are located in these seaside risk prone areas, while another 2.8 million also may be in danger due to their proximity to rivers, the study explained. In order to weaken the impact of extreme weather events, the report recommended erecting barriers against flooding as well as increasing the diameters of drainage pipes so that they can handle greater amounts of water at a time. For every $1 invested in flooding preparation, cities will save about $8 worth of damage and compensation costs, according to the study. Despite the rising sea levels that climate change brings, reduced rain events and escalating temperatures will reduce available groundwater for an increasingly thirsty population, the report warned. To cope with some of these challenges, the study suggested using treated wastewater for firefighting and for cleaning streets, as well as collecting rainwater from roofs for gardening purposes and spreading messages about the importance of water conservation. The government should be encouraging green building, which reduces about 30 percent of electricity consumption and 10% of water consumption, the report added. Potential heat waves in the future could lead to an increased presence of invasive species, such as mosquitoes, which could bring with them malaria outbreaks and intestinal diseases, the study said. The report recommended that all public institutions be properly air conditioned and that the public always receive timely warnings ahead of extreme heat or cold events….






US invites views on climate change adaptation plans

Energy Live News

 – ‎Nov 4, 2013‎


The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting public views and opinions on its Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans – which includes adapting to increased extreme weather, floods and droughts and preventing pollution. It aims to integrate climate adaptation planning into its programmes, policies and rules to ensure its work continues to be effective even as the climate changes. The draft plans are in support of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan announced earlier this year. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said: “To meet our mission of protecting public health and the environment, EPA must help communities adapt to a changing climate. These Implementation Plans offer a roadmap for agency work to meet that responsibility while carrying out President Obama’s goal of preparing the country for climate-related challenges.” The public review will last for around two months. Earlier this year the EPA published new standards to cut carbon emissions from new-built power plants in the nation.

The EPA released its draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans for public review and comment. In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and Executive Order on Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, the Implementation Plans provide detailed information about the actions EPA plans to take across the country to help communities adapt to a changing climate. 

Click here for more information.


Election day 2013: Fossil fuels take hits from Virginia to Washington State. Christian Science Monitor
November 7 2013

Voters on election day 2013 threw their weight behind politicians and policies that limited the use of coal, oil, or natural gas. Bans on fracking, coal exports, and tar sands were on the ballot in a handful of states, and in most cases, election results did not favor fossil fuels. … In particular, they point to the defeat of pro-coal Ken Cuccinelli by pro-regulation Terry McAuliffe in the race for governor of Virginia, a state that has long profited from the region’s coal industry.  “This victory in Virginia is round one,” Michael Brune, executive director of Sierra Club, an environmental group that contributed to Mr. McAuliffe’s campaign, said in a statement late Tuesday. “Those running for office now must choose whether they stand with solutions or whether they stand in the way. The climate crisis won’t wait, and neither will we.” Voters in three Colorado cities choose to limit or outright ban the use of hydraulic fracturing in their communities. Boulder and Fort Collins placed five-year bans on the advanced drilling technique used to wring oil and gas from stubborn shale rock formations. Lafayette went one step further, banning any new oil and gas wells in town. A push to place a five-year moratorium in Broomfield, Colo., was narrowly defeated….



The Political Scientist: Michael Mann’s Moment in the Campaign Spotlight

6 November 2013 5:00 pm

For climate researcher Michael Mann, yesterday’s elections marked the end of what has been an unusual—and perhaps unique—adventure in electoral politics for an academic scientist. The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, professor was recruited to spend days on the campaign trail with Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D), and he was even asked to introduce former President Bill Clinton at a major rally. And he was featured in millions of dollars’ worth of television ads attacking McAuliffe’s opponent, Ken Cuccinelli (R), the Virginia attorney general who launched a controversial investigation into research that Mann conducted when he worked at the University of Virginia (UVA). “Scientists by our nature try to avoid getting entangled in partisan politics, but in this case … I didn’t come to politics, politics came to me,” Mann told ScienceInsider today from his home in Pennsylvania, where he was working after a late night of watching election returns and celebrating McAuliffe’s narrow victory. But the “difficult decision” to get involved in the McAuliffe-Cuccinelli duel came down to one thing, he says: “I wanted to make sure that the forces of antiscience did not gain a stronger foothold in our politics, and that’s what a Cuccinelli victory would have meant. …  Here you had a candidate who not only rejected what science has to say about climate change, but felt it necessary to attack scientists.” Three years ago, when Cuccinelli launched his investigation of Mann, it was hard to imagine that the balding climate specialist would end up playing such an active role in thwarting the telegenic conservative star….


Climate Change Rescue in U.S. Makes Steyer Converge With Paulson

By Edward Robinson – Sep 30, 2013 9:00 PM PT Bloomberg Markets Magazine

Robyn Twomey/Bloomberg Markets

“We need to get rid of this idea that going with the status quo is a smart economic thing,” says billionaire Tom Steyer, who is funding an effort to make an economic case for addressing climate change. Billionaire Tom Steyer recalls a dinner at the U.S. Treasury in Washington with two senior department officials and six money managers. It was August 2012, and the meal was part of an effort by the agency to keep up with what the financial community was worrying about. The diners discussed China’s slowdown, Federal Reserve policy and other trends affecting the U.S. economy. Steyer says they were overlooking the biggest game changer of all. He told the group the country would have to overhaul its energy policy to address greenhouse gas emissions….His fellow guests were skeptical. ….


Warsaw climate talks warned time is running out to close ’emissions gap’

UN calls on governments to step up action to prevent catastrophic climate change, reports BusinessGreen
November 5 2013

As world leaders prepare to meet in Poland for the latest United Nations summit on climate change, a major new report has warned that the chance to limit global temperature rises to below 2C is swiftly diminishing. The United Nations Environment Programme’s annual “Gap report”, issued on Tuesday aims to highlight the efforts needed by governments and businesses to avoid catastrophic climate change. This year’s report shows that even if nations meet their current climate pledges, greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are likely to be eight to 12 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) above the level needed to have a good chance of remain below 2C by 2020 on the lowest cost pathway. The report shows that emissions should peak at 44 GtCO2e by 2020 and fall to 22GtCO2e by 2050 to stay within a 2C target, but under a business-as-usual scenario, which includes no emissions pledges, emissions would reach 59 GtCO2e in 2020. Even if countries deliver policies and investments that allow them to meet their current emissions targets, emissions would be just 3-7GtCO2e lower than the business-as-usual scenario, the report warns. Unep is now warning that rising emissions means it is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to limit warming to safe levels. However, it finds that it concludes it is still possible to meet a 2C target if leaders agree more ambitious targets for 2020. The report found governments could go half way to closing the emissions gap if they tightened rules governing existing pledges in the climate negotiations, achieved the top end of their current reduction pledges and further expanded the scope of their current commitments….


Poland To Host Both UN Climate Change Conference And International Coal Summit

Huffington Post

 – ‎November 8 2013‎


Organizers say the International Coal and Climate Summit will bring together coal industry executives, policy-makers and others to “discuss the role of coal in the global economy, in the context of the climate change agenda.” In a statement Thursday to


Changes to Fisheries Legislation Have Removed Habitat Protection for Most Fish Species in Canada

November 7, 2013 — Federal government changes to Canada’s fisheries legislation “have eviscerated” the ability to protect habitat for most of the country’s fish species, scientists say in a new … > full story


Fossil Fuels Receive $500 Billion A Year In Government Subsidies Worldwide

By Emily Atkin on November 7, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Producers of oil, gas and coal received more than $500 billion in government subsidies around the world in 2011, with the richest nations collectively spending more than $70 billion every year to support fossil fuels.

Those are the findings of a recent report by the Overseas Development Institute, a think tank based in the United Kingdom….


The Climate Impact Of Canada’s Tar Sands Is Growing

By Katie Valentine on November 7, 2013

Canada’s tar sands are emitting more greenhouse gases per barrel now than they did five years ago, according to a new environmental report card. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers found per barrel greenhouse gas emissions for tar sands and other unconventional oil sources — like oil shale — have grown by 21 percent, from 90 million metric tons in 2008 to 109 million metric tons in 2012. The increase is the result of a growth in the production of tar sands and other sources of unconventional oil and is in spite of industry attempts to reduce the energy it consumes to produce tar sands, a fuel that’s among the most energy-intensive on Earth. The news could have implications for the U.S. government, which has yet to decide whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. In his landmark climate address this summer, President Obama said he would only approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar sands crude from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, if the project “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” …



Top climate scientists ask environmentalists to support nuclear power in climate battle. Associated Press

Some of the world’s top climate scientists say wind and solar energy won’t be enough to head off extreme global warming, and they’re asking environmentalists to support the development of safer nuclear power as one way to cut fossil fuel pollution.


China’s Soviet-Style Suburbia Heralds Environmental Pain

By Bloomberg News – Nov 7, 2013 1:41 AM PT

Take away the haze of air pollution and Waterfront Corso Mansions near Tianjin might seem like an urban idyll for China’s growing population of city dwellers. Inside a gated compound, residential towers and houses overlook a lake and manicured gardens. What’s missing from the neighborhood are shops and amenities, turning the block and hundreds like it in the suburb of Meijiang into a giant dormitory for Tianjin, 40 minutes away by car.

A pedestrian walks on a bridge in front of residential buildings in Tianjin, China. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

…This is one of China’s superblocks, developments that are storing up a social, energy and environmental crisis by forcing millions of new urban middle-class residents to drive everywhere. As China’s ruling Communist Party convenes this week to debate an economic blueprint for the future, the Soviet-inspired urban plan pits municipal governments that rely on the land sales for a fifth of their revenue against Premier Li Keqiang, who is trying to balance urbanization with efforts to clean up the environment. What the U.S. did in the 1950s with 160 million people, China is doing now with more than a billion — moving to suburbia….


Bill de Blasio’s biggest challenge is climate change

New York’s new mayor-elect will have to deal with the costly impacts of global warming on his city. Failure to do would be even more expensive Thursday 7 November 2013 06.18 EST Ben Adler for Grist

Bill de Blasio, New York City’s new mayor-elect, didn’t spend much time during the campaign talking about climate change, but he’ll likely spend a lot of his time at City Hall dealing with it. New York finds itself these days with an unusual conundrum: Its biggest problems are largely the byproduct of its biggest successes. Just 20 years ago, New York was, like American cities generally, blighted by rampant crime and less populated than at its mid-century heyday.…. But other serious challenges loom in New York’s future, even though they were hardly mentioned in this year’s mayoral campaign. Indeed, they are arguably already here: extreme weather events caused by climate change, and felt especially hard in coastal areas developed during the city’s boom years. New York is built on a collection of islands, with 520 miles of coastline and entire neighborhoods constructed on landfill. One year ago, Hurricane Sandy flooded New York’s low-lying neighborhoods, from Lower Manhattan to the Rockaways in southeastern Queens, leaving elderly, impoverished New Yorkers stranded in high-rise housing projects without power for weeks. Some families are still displaced, living seven to a hotel room. Global warming leads to melting polar ice caps, which lead to higher sea levels. Global warming is also raising surface water temperatures, leading to larger, more frequent storms. The former could permanently submerge miles of New York’s currently inhabited land, while the latter threatens to periodically topple buildings, destroy power stations, and knock trees onto cars. New York Harbor is where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean, and what we call the East and lower Hudson Rivers are actually tidal estuaries. Much of New York’s recent economic and real estate development has been in the very same waterfront areas that are most at risk from climate change. Tribeca, DUMBO, and Red Hook have seen former waterfront warehouses filled first with artists and then well-heeled professionals. A year ago, they saw neck-high water flowing through their streets…..



California must adopt aggressive climate-change policies, report says

Los Angeles Times

Nov 6 2013


Written by

Tony Barboza


California will fall short of its goal to slash greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury unless it adopts aggressive policies to fight climate change, a new report says. The state is still on track to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat


Obama appoints Brown, Garcetti to climate-change task force

Los Angeles Times 

November 5, 2013


Jerry Brown are among the state and local leaders named to a national task force that will recommend steps the federal government can take to help communities cope with climate change. President Obama established the task force last week when he ..






High bat mortality from wind turbines
November 8 2013

A new estimate of bat deaths caused by wind turbines concludes that more than 600,000 of the mammals likely died this way in 2012 in the contiguous United States. The estimate, published in an article in BioScience, used sophisticated statistical techniques to infer the probable number of bat deaths at wind energy facilities from the number of dead bats found at 21 locations, correcting for the installed power capacity of the facilities. Bats, although not widely loved, play an important role in the ecosystem as insect-eaters, and also pollinate some plants. They are killed at wind turbines not only by collisions with moving turbine blades, but also by the trauma resulting from sudden changes in air pressure that occur near a fast-moving blade. The article by Mark Hayes of the University of Colorado notes that 600,000 is a conservative estimate; the actual figure could be 50 percent higher. The estimate is in rough agreement with some previous estimates, but bigger than most. The data that Hayes analyzed also suggest that some areas of the country might experience much higher bat fatality rates at wind energy facilities than others: the Appalachian Mountains have the highest estimated fatality rates in Hayes’s analysis. The consequences of deaths at wind energy facilities for bat populations are hard to assess because there are no high quality estimates of the population sizes of most North American bat species. But Hayes notes that bat populations are already under stress because of climate change and disease, in particular white-nose syndrome. The new estimate is therefore worrisome, especially as bat populations grow only very slowly, with most species producing only one young per year.


Increasing Wind Turbine Turn-On Speeds Could Help Reduce Bat Deaths, New Study Says

At the North American bat convention, biologists seek ways to reduce bat deaths at wind farms

By Rebecca Boyle
Posted 10.30.2010 at 2:30 pm



Marshall Islands pioneers sustainable technology solutions to climate change

The Guardian

November 5, 2013


But climate change has propelled the Pacific Ocean nation to the international centre stage. With its exposure to rising sea levels, the Marshall Islands are in peril of being the first country obliterated by climate change, but the country has seized


Yet another Model S fire puts heat on Tesla

November 7 2013


A driver of a Tesla Model S in Tennessee escaped a fire without injury after puncturing the battery compartment, reports CNBC’s Phil LeBeau….


Bringing sun’s light and energy to interior rooms: Innovative solar technology may lead to interior lighting revolution
(November 6, 2013) — Researchers have seen the light — a bright, powerful light — and it just might change the future of how building interiors are brightened. In fact, that light comes directly from the sun. And with the help of tiny, electrofluidic cells and a series of open-air “ducts,” sunlight can naturally illuminate windowless work spaces deep inside office buildings and excess energy can be harnessed, stored and directed to other applications. … > full story


The top 10 most energy-efficient states.
Bloomberg News Debates persist over the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly mix of nuclear energy, coal, gas and liquid hydrocarbons and renewable sources. Too often left out of these discussions is the so-called fifth fuel: energy efficiency.


Wind turbine collapses in Washington.
Portland Oregonian
Another of the thousands of wind turbines that now dot the Columbia Plateau has collapsed in a wind storm, this one at the Stateline wind farm near Touchet, Washington.


Smart water meters stop money going down the drain
(November 6, 2013) — Water is increasingly becoming one of Australia’s most precious commodities, yet leaking taps and pipes may be costing householders an extra 10 percent on their water bills. … > full story


Thorium-Fueled Automobile Engine Needs Refueling Once a Century

By: David Russell Schilling | October 28th, 2013  






Green Infrastructure Strategic Agenda

The US EPA has released an updated Green Infrastructure Strategic Agenda and has created a greenstream listserv featuring updates on green infrastructure publications, training, and funding opportunities. If you’re interested in joining, send an email to


Institute For Tribal Environmental Professionals

Host institutions needed for summer interns working on climate or air quality





Impacts of Sea Level Rise on National Parks November 14, 2013 10:00-11:00am PST NOAA
Climate change and sea level rise will challenge National Park efforts to protect natural and cultural resources and to provide visitor access and recreational opportunities.  Learn how several national parks are addressing these challenges.

Click here, for more information






Quivira Conference 2013– Inspiring Adaptation  Wednesday, November 13 – Friday, November 15, 2013  Registration Deadlines:  November 5, 2013
“The Westerner is less a person than a continuing adaptation. The West is less a place than a process.” – Wallace Stegner 

From prehistoric times to the present, human societies have successfully adapted to the challenges of a changing West, including periods of severe drought, limitations created by scarce resources and shifting cultural and economic pressures. Now, the American West is entering an era of unprecedented change brought on by new climate realities, which will test our capacity for adaptation as well as challenge the resilience of the region’s native flora and fauna. It is therefore paramount that we find and share inspiring ideas and practical strategies that help all of the region’s inhabitants adapt to a rapidly changing world.  We will hear from scientists, ranchers, farmers, conservationists, urban planners and others who have bright ideas and important tools to share from their adaptation toolbox.



Friday, November 15, 2013 San Jose

Join Bay Area cities, counties, agencies, and environmental organizations for a day of presentations and discussion about trash reduction and prevention.  

Agenda Highlights: *Impacts of Litter on Aquatic Environments *Tobacco Product Litter *Engaging the Public in Trash Reduction *Food and Beverage Packaging Learn More and Register


Eleventh Annual Workshop: Habitat Conservation Planning from Tahoe to the Bay

November 20, 2013, Ulatis Community Center, Vacaville  Speakers and Presentations

The Conservation Planning Partners is an ad-hoc association of eight County and Sub-county scale Habitat Conservation Plans and Natural Community Conservation Plans.

County and sub-county scale Habitat Conservation Plans and Natural Community Conservation Plans are in preparation or being implemented in a number of counties in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sacramento Region.  These plans provide a means for the conservation of endangered species and contribute to the ir recovery, while allowing appropriate, compatible growth and development in the metropolitan areas.


The Future of the Concrete Channel

Thursday 21 November 2013, UC Berkeley

Ubiquitous in the urban landscape, concrete channels embody a mid-20th-century attitude of subduing nature and maximizing developable land.  Yet these optimistically-engineering structures have proven hard to maintain, and society increasingly regrets the loss of riparian ecosystems and the opportunity for human recreation and renewal once offered by the natural streams.  As concrete channels inevitably age and reach the end of their design lives, river managers confront the question of what to do with this deteriorating infrastructure?  Can the channels be rebuilt or modified to pass floods increasing due to urbanization and climate change?  Or is this an opportunity to implement alternative approaches that restore valuable functions of natural rivers?  …..  The conference will wrap up with an exhibition of Concrete Channel Art.  ….For more information and to register, please visit the conference website:


The Great Basin: A Landscape Under Fire

Dec 9-10, University of Nevada, Reno

(Secretary Jewell invited keynote speaker)


Introducing Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience
December 12, 2013

9:30am – 4:30 pm David Brower Center, Kinzie Room 741 Allston Way Berkeley, CA 94710

Registration: To register, click here. Registration is limited to 41 participants and is expected to fill fast. The deadline to register is December 6, 2013.  

A workshop sponsored by the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and NOAA Coastal Services Center.  Green Infrastructure incorporates the natural environment and constructed systems that mimic natural processes in an integrated network that benefits nature and people. A green infrastructure approach to community planning helps diverse community members come together to balance environmental and economic goals. This day-long workshop will include a morning introductory course and afternoon panels by local experts. Who Should Attend: City and county officials, Engineers, Floodplain managers, Landscape Architects, NGO’s, Planners, and other Decision Makers involved in Coastal Management Issues 

This workshop is being developed in partnership by the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and NOAA Coastal Services Center. In addition, an advisory committee have provided feedback on the training including participants from: San Francisco Estuary PartnershipBay Area Ecosystems Climate Change ConsortiumSan Francisco Bay Conservation and Development CommissionCalifornia Coastal Conservancy and the Bay Institute. Questions? Contact Heidi Nutters,, 415-338-3511 Feel free to forward this message to others who might be interested. 


Date CHANGED! : Rangeland Coalition Summit 2014 January 21-22, 2014  Oakdale, CA  Please note that the dates have been changed for the 9th Annual California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Summit to be hosted at the Oakdale Community Center. Mark your calendar for January 21-22, 2014, more details will be coming soon! The planning committee will have a conference call on September 11 at 9:00 AM to start planning for the event. If you are interested in serving on the planning committee or being a sponsor please contact Pelayo Alvarez:

Communicating Climate Change: Effective skills for engaging stakeholders, partners and the public

Sponsored by: Elkhorn Slough and San Francisco Bay Coastal Training Programs

Presenter: Cara Pike, TRIG’s Social Capital Project/Climate Access 

San Francisco Bay NERR                               or                                         Elkhorn Slough NERR

 February 4, 2014                                                                                         February 6, 2014

Contact: Heidi Nutters, 415-338-3511                                                   Contact: Virginia Guhin, 831-274-8700


Soil Science Society of America ecosystems services conference–abstracts are now being invited and are due by 12/1/2013.

March 6-9, 2014 Sheraton Grand Hotel, Sacramento, CA Sponsored by the Ecological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and US Geological Survey. More info is available here:



North Bay Watershed Association Friday, April 11, 2014 NOVATO, CA 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM PDT

The conference will bring together key participants from around the North Bay to focus on how we can work together to manage our water resources.

Keynote Speakers

  • Mark Cowin, Director, CA Department of Water Resources
  • Jared Huffman, U.S. Congressman, California 2nd District
  • Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board

For more information or questions contact: Elizabeth Preim-Rohtla North Bay Watershed Association 415-945-1475


99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America
Sacramento, California  August 10-15, 2014

Call for Proposals– Symposia, Organized Oral Sessions, and Organized Poster Sessions

Deadline for Submission: September 26, 2013




CA NRCS Announces Assistance for Catastrophic Fire Recovery

DAVIS, Calif., Oct. 18, 2013—The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced that applications will be accepted to assist private landowners in California affected by wildfires in the last 18 months. Financial assistance for implementing conservation practices may be available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications for this initiative can be submitted for primary consideration and ranking through Nov. 15, 2013


Proposal Deadline: 3 December 2013 – Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Grants 2014

The United States Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act established an annual, competitive grants program to support projects that promote the conservation of neotropical migratory birds and their habitats in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Because our Website was not available during the U.S. Federal government shutdown, the deadline for applying to the NMBCA program has been extended, and proposals are now due no later than 3 December 2013. All applications must be submitted through, a process that requires an active “Dun and Bradstreet number” (DUNS) and active registration in the “System for Award Management” (SAM).




National Audubon Society: Policy Director for California, based in San Francisco or Sacramento.

Climate Protection Campaign Director of Development and Communications– Santa Rosa, CA (Sonoma County)







Nepal’s cawing ‘bird brother’ amazes crowds, raises awareness


 – ‎Nov 2 2013‎


“I told them to come, sit, be quiet and fly away,” said Sapkota, a 30-year-old school dropout who has been doing “crow shows” at schools since 2005 to entertain students and raise awareness about nature and the conservation of birds. He says he can …


One dose of HPV vaccine may be enough to prevent cervical cancer
(November 4, 2013) — Women vaccinated with one dose of a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine had antibodies against the viruses that remained stable in their blood for four years, suggesting that a single dose of vaccine may be sufficient to generate long-term immune responses and protection against new HPV infections, and ultimately cervical cancer. … > full story

Health benefits of wild blueberries abound
(November 6, 2013) — New research shows that regular long-term wild blueberry diets may help improve or prevent pathologies associated with the metabolic syndrome, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. … > full story

Responsibility requires a change of world view from companies
November 6, 2013) — Becoming a responsible actor and promoting sustainable development requires companies to adopt a new perspective on combining responsibility and strategy. One author states that market-oriented and image-centric corporate responsibility strategies cannot bring about sustainable development or the adoption of a responsible identity. In their place, he offers an awareness–sustainability approach that focuses on building a responsible corporate identity and operating on a sustainable basis. … > full story







murmuration #4, 2013 inkjet on hahnemühle baryt, mounted on dibond, framed edition 7 + 2 e.a., 1/7 127 x 180 cm; 50 x70.9 inch; 4.2 x 5.9 feet

the balletic murmurations of wild birds (click on link to see more photos, video)


 – ‎8 hours ago‎


…the images of french photographer alain delorme seemingly capture a rare and extraordinary moment in the natural world: the murmurations of birds, balletic, synchronized, and dramatically graceful. however, upon closer inspection, the viewer discovers












Good Nature: Ellie Cohen and Andy Gunther, State of the Estuary Conference, 2013, by Richard Seagraves



Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)

3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954

707-781-2555 x318  | Follow Point Blue on Facebook!


Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.


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