Conservation Science News April 11, 2014

Focus of the Week
New National Wildfire Strategy










NOTE: Please pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
Point Blue Conservation Science
staff.  You can find these weekly compilations posted on line
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The items contained in this update were drawn from,, SER The Society for Ecological Restoration,,,, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, CA BLM NewsBytes 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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Founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Point Blue’s 140 scientists advance nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to benefit wildlife and people, through bird and ecosystem science, partnerships and outreach.  We work collaboratively to guide and inspire positive conservation outcomes today — for a healthy, blue planet teeming with life in the future.  Read more about our 5-year strategic approach here.



Focus of the Week– New National Wildfire Strategy

Obama Unveils New Wildfire Strategy Citing New Risks Posed By Climate Change

By Joanna M. Foster on April 10, 2014

With wildfire season just around the corner and much of the west and southwest still dangerously dry, the Obama Administration has released its National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy.

The strategy addresses factors exacerbating wildfire danger such as climate change, increasing community sprawl, and pests and disease affecting forest health. It calls for adopting preventive measures, such as: fuels thinning and controlled burns; promoting effective municipal, county, and state building and zoning codes and ordinances; ensuring that watersheds, transportation, and utility corridors are part of future management plans; and determining how organizations can best work together to reduce and manage human-caused ignitions.


“As climate change spurs extended droughts and longer fire seasons, this collaborative wildfire blueprint will help us restore forests and rangelands to make communities less vulnerable to catastrophic fire,” Council on Environmental Quality Acting Chair Mike Boots said in a press release. “With President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the Administration is committed to promoting smart policies and partnerships like this strategy that support states, communities, businesses, farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders who are working to protect themselves from more frequent or intense fires, droughts and floods, and other impacts of climate change.” The Administration highlighted the Blue Mountains near Flagstaff, Arizona and the Greater Okefenokee Association of Landowners in Georgia as areas where these strategies have already been implemented successfully.


In February, President Obama announced plans to change how the U.S. pays for the rising costs of fighting wildfires. In his 2015 budget, Obama called for shifting the costs of fighting the biggest wildfires to the same emergency fund that handles other natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. The new funding framework is designed to avoid forcing the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Interior to drain fire prevention budgets to pay for big wildfires. According to the White House, over the past two years, these agencies have, out of necessity, taken about $1.1 billion from funds designed to pay for programs to clear brush and thin overgrown forests to reduce fire danger. The federal government currently shoulders about two-thirds of the cost of fighting wildfires, about $3.5 billion every year. This figure is three times what was spent in the 1990s.


The cost of fighting wildfires has skyrocketed in recent decades as climate change has intensified drought, shrunken snowpacks and aided in the spread of tree-killing insects. The dramatic expansion of building in what is known as the “wildland urban interface” has also contributed greatly to the bill as firefighters struggle to protect the now more than 47 million homes in these high risk areas.



National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy

April 2014


The National Strategy: The Final Phase in the Development of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy
(PDF, 3.8 MB) represents the culmination of the three-phased Cohesive Strategy effort initiated in 2009. The National Strategy establishes a national vision for wildland fire management, defines three national goals, describes the wildland fire challenges, identifies opportunities to reduce wildfire risks, and establishes national priorities focused on achieving the national goals.

The National Strategy explores four broad challenges:

  1. Managing vegetation and fuels;
  2. Protecting homes, communities, and other values at risk;
  3. Managing human-caused ignitions; and
  4. Effectively and efficiently responding to wildfire.

Secretaries Jewell and Vilsack signed “The National Strategy: The Final Phase in the Development of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy

Posted April 9, 2014





Putting a price on ecological restoration
(April 7, 2014) — Putting a price on clean water and soil fertility helps the UN set ecological restoration targets for degraded and deforested land. Forests provide essential ecosystem services for people, including timber, food and water. For those struggling with the after-effects of deforestation, the main hope lies in rebuilding forest resources through ecological restoration. … > full story

Restoring Coastal Ecosystems Creates More Jobs ….

By Katie Valentine on April 10, 2014 at 10:05 am

A bird stands on an oyster shell strip atop an existing reef in the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. CREDIT: AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

Restoring coastal ecosystems can provide significant economic benefits and even create “pathways out of poverty” for low-income Americans, according to a new report. The report, published Wednesday by the Center for American Progress and Oxfam America, looked at three coastal restoration projects on different coasts in the U.S. and found that, for every $1 invested in coastal restoration projects, $15 in net economic benefits was created. These benefits include improved fish stocks, due to the fact that 75 percent of the U.S.’s most important commercial fish species rely on coastal environments at some point in their life cycle, with many young fish and crustaceans using habitats such as oyster reefs as nurseries.

Coastal restoration also provides increased protection from storm surges, improved coastal recreation opportunities, health benefits from increased levels of filter feeders such as oysters, and last of all, jobs: for every $1 million invested in coastal restoration, the report notes, 17 jobs were created on average. That’s almost double the 8.9 created per $1 million invested in offshore oil and gas development.
…..Mark Schaefer, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Conservation and Management at NOAA, said at the report’s release event Wednesday. “The economic benefits are remarkable … there’s a direct connection between what we’re doing to enhance the environment and what we’re doing to enhance economic opportunity.”

….. Coastal wetlands, along with serving as essential habitats for many species, help buffer coastal communities from strong storm surges by soaking up seawater. According to the report, up to 60 percent of the damage done to Gulf Coast communities from hurricanes happens because there aren’t healthy barrier ecosystems in place. Many of these ecosystems also serve as major carbon sinks, thus helping mitigate climate change as well as helping protect communities from its effects — coastal sea grass, for instance, stores more carbon dioxide per square kilometer than forests do. But despite these economic and safety benefits, Schaefer said the U.S. shouldn’t just focus on restoring coastal ecosystems. Instead, more must be done to prevent the damages that lead to the need for coastal reclamation in the first place. Loss of sediment from the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers is contributing to Louisiana losing a football field-sized chunk of land every hour, and that loss of sediment is occurring because of the construction of levees and dams along the rivers. Without the sediment, coastal marshes are more susceptible to being submerged due to sea level rise. “We need to do a better job of helping people understand what is happening to our coastlines in aggregate, over time.” he said. “We gain big when we conserve and restore coastal habitats — this is a no-brainer.”


How Restoring Coastal Ecosystems Will Help Our Economy

April 10, 2014

As America’s coastal cities expanded throughout the 19th century, the wetlands were often considered a nuisance that stood in the way of progress and development. Marshy areas seemed little more than endless founts of pesky insects or quagmires blocking access between drier uplands and navigable waters. As cities outgrew their dry land footprints and sought additional space to grow, the obvious answer was to simply turn the wet places into dry places. Today, these regions—from Boston’s Back Bay to New York’s Wall Street to Miami’s South Beach—comprise some of the most valuable real estate in the world. We are increasingly learning the cost of losing landscapes once thought to be valueless. The wetlands ecosystem provided numerous services to society that we now are beginning to sorely miss. Sea levels continue to rise and the increasing frequency of extreme weather threatens our shores. Many of our commercial and recreational fisheries are struggling to rebuild to sustainable levels. Population growth continues to generate more pollution, including carbon dioxide. Coastal wetlands are perhaps nature’s most effective solution to these problems.


The Economic Case for Restoring Coastal Ecosystems (pdf) by Michael Conathan, Jeffrey Buchanan, and Shiva Polefka April 2014


  • Download the report:
  • Download introduction & summary:
  • Read it in your browser:



Sunken logs create new worlds for seafloor animals
(April 9, 2014) — When it comes to food, most of the deep sea is a desert. In this food-poor environment, even bits of dead wood, waterlogged enough to sink, can support thriving communities of specialized animals. A new paper by biologists shows that wood-boring clams serve as “ecosystem engineers,” making the organic matter in the wood available to other animals that colonize wood falls in the deep waters of Monterey Canyon. … > full story


The cliffs along the island of Corvo — until recently it was unknown how many birds breed there.

Credit: Steffen Oppel; CC-BY 4.0

Counting the invisible by sound: New approach to estimate seabird populations
(April 9, 2014)

Seabirds nest in places that are inaccessible for most humans — vertical cliffs and remote islands surrounded by raging waves. Worse still, many seabirds lay their eggs in burrows or cavities where they are protected from inclement weather and invisible for researchers. Hidden under rocks or in burrows during the day, and flying around only during dark nights — counting these birds is a researcher’s nightmare. Despite their cryptic behaviour, the seabirds are ill-prepared to fend off furry invaders. Humans have brought cats and rats to many islands around the world, where the cats and rats roam freely and kill seabirds. Especially those seabirds that nest in burrows are often unable to escape, and many species have disappeared from islands where cats or rats have been introduced.

Although researchers have known for decades that many seabirds are in trouble, it is surprisingly hard to put a number on how fast populations decline. “Those species that are most vulnerable to rats are often the ones that are the most difficult to count” says Steffen Oppel, a Conservation Scientist with the RSPB who recently tested a new approach to count the invisible birds with colleagues from SPEA in Portugal. Seabirds that nest underground may be all but invisible in their breeding colonies, but they are very noisy at night. And the more birds there are, the louder a colony is. Oppel and his colleagues set up sound recorders on a remote island in the North Atlantic for two years to ‘count’ the number of nesting birds by recording their calls at night. They painstakingly counted every nest near the recorders to test whether larger colonies do in fact make more noise. The study was published in the open access journal Nature Conservation. “Recording seabird calls for a few months is the easy part — but making sense of 1000s of hours of sound recording is quite tricky” says Oppel. Together with Matthew McKown, a seabird researcher who specialises on sound recordings, the team developed an algorithm that automatically counted the seabird calls in terabytes of recordings. The results conformed with expectations: places with the most nests did indeed register the highest number of calls. With that relationship established, the team then extrapolated the seabird population size for the entire island — a number that had so far been derived from wild guesses. “Estimating exactly how many birds nest on a cliff is not very precise” admits Oppel, but the sound recordings provide a very valuable index of how large seabird colonies are. “We can use this index over time to assess whether colonies are stable or decreasing — which is extremely important for many remote colonies about which we know very little.”



Steffen Oppel, Sandra Hervias, Nuno Oliveira, Tania Pipa, Carlos Silva, Pedro Geraldes, Michelle Goh, Eva Immler, Matthew McKown. Estimating population size of a nocturnal burrow-nesting seabird using acoustic monitoring and habitat mapping. Nature Conservation, 2014; 7: 1 DOI: 10.3897/natureconservation.7.6890



World ranking tracks evolutionary distinctness of birds
(April 10, 2014) — The world’s first ranking of evolutionary distinct birds under threat of extinction has been published by a team of international scientists. These birds include a cave-dwelling bird that is so oily it can be used as a lamp and a bird that has claws on its wings and a stomach like a cow. The new rankings will be used in a major conservation initiative called the Edge of Existence program at the London Zoo. The zoo has already identified several species like the huge monkey-eating Philippine eagle that are at once distinct, endangered, and suffer from lack of attention. … > full story


Study: Shippers and seabirds clash over Arctic territory

Yereth Rosen April 10, 2014

The Arctic tern is among the 27 species of birds studied by researchers who say the Arctic is not big enough for both birds and increased shipping traffic. Lindsay Robinson via Creative Commons

The areas coveted as sea routes for commercial shippers seeking to exploit newly ice-free Arctic waters are the same areas that are vital to millions of seabirds that flock north each summer to feast under the midnight sun, says a newly published study.   The Arctic is not big enough for both birds and shippers, suggests the study, published in the April issue of the journal Diversity and Distributions.

“There is a competition for space, and the space has already been occupied by seabirds,” said co-author Falk Huettmann of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Institute of Arctic Biology, co-author of the study published in the journal Diversity and Distributions. Huettmann and co-author Grant Humphries, of the University of Otago’s Zoology Department, mapped out marine habitat used by 27 species of Arctic seabirds and compared those areas to routes already being used by Arctic shippers or contemplated for shippers’ future use. They found that shallow continental shelf areas, where marine life is richest and ice is thinnest, is vital territory for migrating bird populations. But it is also key territory for commercial operators seeking to boost shipments to and from the Arctic.

A key hotspot is the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia, famous for its abundant seabird and wildlife populations but also a crucial — and narrow — passage for commercial operators heading in and out of the Arctic. The area has the greatest overlap of seabird diversity and ship activity and the highest potential for conflict, the study says. Another area of “high impact” is likely to be the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay region, entry into the Northwest Passage, the study says.

“To enter the Arctic basin, you have to go through these bottlenecks,” Huettmann said.

Additional trouble spots include the Greenland Sea and Norwegian Sea, the study said. Areas of thick multiyear ice, in contrast, are not of much interest to either birds or shippers.


Putting models to a good use: a rapid assessment of Arctic seabird biodiversity indicates potential conflicts with shipping lanes and human activity
Grant R. W. Humphries1,* and Falk Huettmann2 Diversity and Distributions Volume 20, Issue 4, pages 478–490, April 2014 DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12177


Iconic boreal bird species declining in the Adirondacks
(April 10, 2014) — Several iconic Adirondack birds are in trouble, with declines driven by the size of their wetland habitats, how connected these wetlands are to one another, and how near they are to human infrastructure, research finds. A new report presents an evaluation of the potential influence of climate change and habitat alteration on species occurrence patterns over time. … > full story

‘Dinosaurs of the turtle world’ at risk in Southeast U.S. rivers
(April 10, 2014) — Conservation of coastal rivers of the northern Gulf of Mexico is vital to the survival of the alligator snapping turtle, including two recently discovered species, scientists say. A new study shows the alligator snapping turtle, the largest freshwater turtle in the Western Hemisphere and previously believed to be one species, is actually three separate species. … > full story


Health of ecosystems on U.S. golf courses better than predicted, researchers find
(April 10, 2014) — Currently, there are more than 18,300 golf courses in the US covering over 2.7 million acres. The ecological impacts of golf courses are not always straightforward with popular opinion suggesting that environmentally, golf courses have a negative impact on ecosystems. Now, researchers have determined that golf courses can offer a viable habitat for stream salamanders, and enhanced management practices may be beneficial to ecosystems within golf courses. … > full story


2014 Nigiri Project Field Season Summary: Slow it down, spread it out, grow ’em up

Salmon smolts reared on Knaggs Ranch as part of the Nigiri Project are on their downstream towards the Golden Gate Bridge. We are winding down our 3rd field season experimentally determining how salmon use floodplain habitats. This year we added two elements to the experiments; varying field depth and volition passage (fish were allowed to leave the fields on their own at any time).

  • In the first year, we demonstrated that winter flooded rice fields not only provide sufficient water quality to keep salmon alive but that they thrive and grow rapidly.  We also learned that oxygen levels and water temperature are driven more by the wind than water flows.  This knowledge allowed us to think of future projects more in terms of ponding water than moving water across the floodplain. 
  • In year two, we demonstrated that current rice farming practices are not simply compatible but provide high quality floodplain rearing habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon as evidenced by the fastest growth rates of juvenile salmon ever recorded in the Central Valley. 
  • This year’s data (year three) has yet to be analyzed but preliminary results are once again extremely encouraging: growth was similarly rapid as in years past but survival was substantially increased and initial indications are that allowing volitional passage will be the preferred model; the fish know when to leave.   

“Snap shot” comparison of fish reared on floodplain vs. in-river, February 24, 2014. Top fish was one of 300 “wild” fish (all roughly the same size as the one pictured) captured from the Feather River and delivered to Knaggs to be reared. The bottom fish was captured the same day as it volitionally left the Knaggs fields after 3-weeks eating at the floodplain “bug buffet”. Fish which gain access to floodplain habitat on Yolo Bypass and those stuck in the channel theoretically would meet-up near Rio Vista on their way to the ocean.

…..The abundant wildlife of the historical Central Valley (think birds to turn the sky black and fish to fill the rivers) was a direct result of the Valley’s seasonal marshes and floodplains. Recovery of salmon and other native fish populations will impossible without first reestablishing or mimicking the natural flood processes that are the basis of natural productivity.  Each winter and spring broad, shallow wetlands were inundated as the rivers covered the floodplain.  The wide shallow waters warmed as they caught sunlight making ideal conditions to grow phytoplankton (algae).  This fertile primary production fed incredible amounts of bugs (zooplankton and aquatic insects), which in turn were eaten by ducks and salmon. This simple floodplain food web (algae-bugs-wildlife) created as floodwater slowed down and spread across the floodplains was the engine of productivity that supported prolific numbers of fish and waterfowl in the prehistoric Central Valley.  The Valley has been engineered to drain efficiently and rapidly, shedding high volumes of storm water quickly through incised, armored flood channels. Large levees now confine rivers that once spread out over the floodplain to narrow, swift channels. This rapid high volume drainage system is the antithesis of the historic prolonged, broad and shallow annual inundation of the predevelopment flood pattern. The incredible floodplain food source was lost as marshes and floodplains were drained for agriculture and development. Essentially, Central Valley rivers are now starved systems deprived of the foundation of the aquatic food chain (algae grown on inundated floodplains).

The Knaggs Investigation is demonstrating that mimicking historical floodplain conditions – slowing down the flood water and spreading it out on winter rice fields instead of the marshes which they replaced – still produces phenomenal insect numbers which in turn result in rapid growth and improved body condition of salmon. In essence, we are providing native organisms with a system they recognize.  When exposed to conditions similar to those under which they evolved and to which they are adapted fish and bird populations respond favorably and quickly. By understanding how natural processes in the valley worked, we can take the key elements of natural productivity and integrate them into the design, operations and management of a central valley water infrastructure built in previous era with little environmental consideration. We are spreading this important knowledge directly to those who operate and design California’s water system. In the seven weeks of the fieldwork we hosted 375 people in 17 tours and open houses and nearly 500 students visited the site on school field trips. We also garnered some great newspaper and TV media coverage.

With Appreciation

We want to thank all the great members of the Knaggs team which is a partnership of California Trout, the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California at Davis (UCD), the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), the National Marine Fisheries Service Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC), and Cal Marsh and Farm Ventures, LLC with additional support from the California Waterfowl Association (CWA), the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), State and Federal Contractors Water Agency (SFCWA), the California Water Foundation, Audubon California, Point Blue Conservation Science and others.  Knaggs Ranch LLC provides the project site and Cal Marsh and Farm Ventures, LLC (CMFV), land manager for Knaggs Ranch, provides key logistical support. 

Good duck, best fishes and have a very rice day,— CALIFORNIA TROUT; CAL MARSH AND FARM VENTURES, LLC


Oyster aquaculture could significantly improve Potomac River estuary water quality
(April 9, 2014) — Oyster aquaculture in the Potomac River estuary could result in significant improvements to water quality, according to a new study. All of the nitrogen currently polluting the Potomac River estuary could be removed if 40 percent of its river bed were used for shellfish cultivation, according to the joint study. The researchers determined that a combination of aquaculture and restored oyster reefs may provide even larger overall ecosystem benefits. Oysters, who feed by filtering, can clean an enormous volume of water of algae which can cause poor water quality. … > full story


SF Big Bay Bridge bird problem

Phillip Matier And Andrew Ross SF Chronicle April 7, 2014

With the demolition of the old Bay Bridge eastern span already six months behind schedule, Caltrans plans to spend $12.8 million to beat the clock on a bird-nesting season that could tie up the takedown well into next year. At issue: 800 or so double-crested cormorants – a state-protected “species of special concern” – that have enjoyed migratory squatter rights on the bridge since they moved here from Alaska, Mexico and Nova Scotia in 1984. The lanky black birds with hooked bills nest from April to August, mostly on the far eastern end of the old bridge. Caltrans has already spent $709,000 to build “condos” for the birds on the underside of the new span – 2 1/2-foot-wide, stainless-steel nesting platforms – but so far, there have been no takers…..





Permafrost thawing could accelerate global warming
(April 7, 2014) — Researchers have found new evidence that permafrost thawing is releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere via plants, which could accelerate warming trends. Permafrost is soil that is frozen year round and is typically located in polar regions. As the world has gotten slightly warmer, that permafrost is thawing and decomposing, which is producing increased amounts of methane. … > full story



ENSO Alert System Status: El Niño Watch


10 April 2014

Synopsis: While ENSO-neutral is favored for Northern Hemisphere spring, the chances of El Niño increase during the remainder of the year, exceeding 50% by summer.

ENSO-neutral continued during March 2014, but with above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) developing over much of the eastern tropical Pacific as well as near the International Date Line (Fig. 1). …


Camels emit less methane than cows or sheep
April 10, 2014) — When digesting ruminants exhale methane. Their contribution to this global greenhouse gas is considerable. So far the assumption had been that camels with similar digestion produce the same amount of the climate-damaging gas. However, researchers have now shown camels release less methane than ruminants. … > full story


Why Scientists Are Making A Map Of The World’s Lobsters

By Joanna M. Foster on April 8, 2014

Maine researchers want to use satellite data and on-the-ground observations to create a real-time lobster database and map to help fishery managers cope with climate change….


Desert Research Institute

Can Deserts Stop Global Warming? No, but They Help, Study Says

By John Roach NBC News April 6, 2014

The world’s arid areas — deserts filled with scrubby vegetation and sand — are absorbing more of the carbon dioxide that’s being emitted into the atmosphere than expected, a new study shows. While these ecosystems will not stop global warming, scientists said the finding provides a better understanding of the carbon cycle, and thus how the global climate will change in the future.= “It is definitely not going to stop it … just now we are understanding the processes that are going on,” lead author Dave Evans, a biologist specializing in ecology and global change at Washington State University, told NBC News. “But we are still seeing huge amounts of carbon accumulating in the atmosphere.” Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas driving global climate change. More of the planet-warming gas is released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, and scientists want to know where it all goes. Reconciling this so-called carbon budget has proven one of the trickier areas of climate science, Evans explained. It’s well-known that some of the carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere, and the rest gets stored in the land or oceans in other carbon-containing forms, such as microbes, plants and animals. But the finer details of the process are elusive. To get a better handle on the carbon budget, several research teams around the world are conducting so-called free air carbon dioxide enrichment experiments, where plots of land are fumigated with the elevated levels of carbon dioxide expected in the future. This extra carbon dioxide has a specific chemical fingerprint that can be detected when the soils and plants are analyzed. The new findings come from such an experiment, conducted with nine octagonal plots about 75 feet in diameter in the Mojave Desert in southern Nevada. The plots are representative of the arid and semiarid ecosystems that cover nearly half of the Earth’s land area….. The findings indicate that these arid ecosystems are “significant, previously unrecognized sinks” for atmospheric carbon dioxide, Evans and colleagues write in a paper published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change


R. D. Evans, A. Koyama, D. L. Sonderegger, T. N. Charlet, B. A. Newingham, L. F. Fenstermaker, B. Harlow, V. L. Jin, K. Ogle, S. D. Smith, R. S. Nowak. Greater ecosystem carbon in the Mojave Desert after ten years exposure to elevated CO2. Nature Climate Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2184




Salamander’s Hefty Role in the Forest

By RICHARD CONNIFF NY Times April 7, 2014

Small but prolific predators, salamanders affect the ecosystem of a forest and collectively could help stave off climate disaster….



Southwestern bird and reptile distributions to shift as climate changes
(April 7, 2014) — Dramatic distribution losses and a few major distribution gains are forecasted for southwestern bird and reptile species as the climate changes, according to new research. Overall, the study forecasted species distribution losses — that is, where species are able to live — of nearly half for all but one of the 5 reptile species they examined, including for the iconic chuckwalla. …


Detailed Bird Species Projections:

Overall: Black-throated sparrow and gray vireo are projected to experience major gains in breeding habitat. In contrast, pygmy nuthatches, sage thrashers and Williamson sapsuckers are projected to experience large losses in breeding habitat. Thus, these three species might be expected to experience large future population declines. (Note: species are linked to their in-depth report summaries.)

  • Black-throated sparrow: breeding range projected to increase by 34-47 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Gray vireo: breeding range projected to increase from 58-71 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Virginia’s warbler: breeding range projected to decrease slightly, by 1.5-7 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Sage thrasher: breeding range projected to decrease by 78 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Pinyon jay: breeding range projected to decrease by 25-31 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Pygmy nuthatch: breeding range projected to decrease by 75-81 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Williamson’s sapsucker: breeding range projected to decrease by 73-78 percent between 2010-2099.


Overall: Future climate change will negatively affect the distributions of reptiles in the Western and Southwestern U.S. The one exception is the Sonoran desert tortoise, which is forecasted to expand, and, if a decrease happens, only by about one percent.

Reptiles can’t move as easily as birds nor can they regulate their body temperature, so they can only move minimally in response to changing climates. The authors found that the greater the projected distributional gain or loss in a reptile species was directly tied to the warmth of its current range. Thus, the less mobile reptiles will be more greatly affected by increasing temperatures.

  • Plateau striped whiptail: range projected to decrease by 42 percent, assuming no dispersal, or by 17 percent, with unlimited dispersal, between 2010 and 2099.
  • Arizona black rattlesnake: range projected to decrease between 32 and 46 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Sonoran desert tortoise: The Sonoran (Morafka’s) desert tortoise is the only species of reptile for which projections do not include a decrease in suitable habitat by 2099 but only when unlimited dispersal is assumed. When assuming no dispersal, a slight one percent decrease is forecasted in the extent of suitable habitat.
  • Common lesser earless lizard: ranged projected to decrease by 22-49 percent from 2010 to 2099.
  • Common chuckwalla: projected ranges are likely to decrease by between 13 and 23 percent between 2010 and 2099.

The report, Projecting climate effects on birds and reptiles of the southwestern United States, is authored by Charles van Riper III, USGS; James Hatten, USGS; J. Tom Giermakowski, University of New Mexico; Jennifer A. Holmes and Matthew J. Johnson, Northern Arizona University; and others.

…. > full story


What’s devastating the wild moose population in New England?
In some regions of northern New England, the moose population is down as much 40 percent in the last three years. The cause of this iconic animal’s dramatic die-off is not yet known, but researchers’ main theory is centered on the parasitic winter tick, and warmer winters may be partly to blame.



The tiniest greenhouse gas emitters: Climate feedbacks from decomposition by soil microbes less dire than previously thought
(April 7, 2014) — Climate feedbacks from decomposition by soil microbes are one of the biggest uncertainties facing climate modelers. A new study shows that these feedbacks may be less dire than previously thought. … > full story



Food quality will suffer with rising carbon dioxide, field study shows
(April 6, 2014) — Climate change is hitting home — in the pantry, this time. A field study of wheat demonstrates how the nutritional quality of food crops can be diminished when elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide interfere with a plant’s ability to process nitrate into proteins. “Several explanations for this decline have been put forward, but this is the first study to demonstrate that elevated carbon dioxide inhibits the conversion of nitrate into protein in a field-grown crop,” the lead researcher said. … > full story







Managing For Drought

Rangeland Watershed Laboratory, UC Davis

Having a drought strategy is pertinent to the sustainability of any ranch enterprise, especially when faced with a winter that has thus far produced below normal precipitation following an extremely dry water year. We have provided info to help prepare for the various stages of a drought.

• Ranchers’ Perspectives and Management Strategies for Drought
• Links of Interest Regarding Drought
• Key Drought Publications
• UC Sierra Foothill Research & Extension Center Drought Workshop Materials




California drought puzzle: store or conserve more water?

Peter Fimrite, SF Chronicle, April 7, 2014

Raising the height of Shasta Dam 18.5 feet to increase the reservoir’s capacity is among the proposals in a draft plan. There was a time not long ago when much of civilized society considered each drop of river water that reached the ocean a wasted resource. That was before environmentalists pointed out the benefits of the outflow to fish, wildlife and the ocean ecosystem, setting off an ongoing tug-of-war between fishermen and farmers in California that has reached a critical stage this year as the state struggles through a drought. One thing that’s become clear amid the fallow cropland and rationing is that there is not enough water storage in California to sustain all the competing interests. The dilemma has again put a spotlight on the precious water that gets away. In an average year, rain and snowmelt in California generate about 71 million acre-feet of water, some of which is captured in reservoirs or groundwater basins. An acre-foot is the amount needed to cover an acre with a foot of water, enough to supply an average household for a year.
About 32 percent of the 71 million acre-feet is used for agriculture and 10 percent for urban areas, according to the state Department of Water Resources’ chief hydrologist, Maury Roos. About 35 percent of the total is reserved by law to help river ecosystems, wetlands and fisheries, and to maintain a healthy flow of water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. That leaves about 21 percent of the total to flow out into the ocean without being used for anything, according to Roos’ calculations. “That is the segment we can capture more of,” Roos said. “If we could store more of that, we would have a larger water supply.” Trouble is, nobody in California can agree on how, or even whether, to capture it….


In a typical wet year, California captures about 10 million acre-feet of water in its reservoirs, about 80 percent of which is held in the state water department’s two biggest reservoirs behind Shasta and Oroville dams. That’s well below the 43 million acre-feet capacity of the 1,200 reservoirs under the jurisdiction of the state water department. The reason, said Roos, is that the department is required to release water for fish and wetlands management and must also leave space during winters to avoid flood-causing overflows.

Yet, agricultural interests support expanding California’s reservoir capacity by adding 18.5 feet to Shasta Dam and building Sites Dam, near the town of Maxwell (Colusa County), and Temperance Flat Dam, near Millerton (Madera County) on the San Joaquin River. These proposals, like the tunnels plan, are expensive. The Shasta dam and Sites proposals together would cost about $3.5 billion and add about 2.6 million acre-feet of water to the system, just enough to “take you through one dry year,” Roos said. Meanwhile, environmental groups mostly oppose the tunnels and water storage projects. The existing dams and conveyance system, they say, cut off the historic salmon and steelhead trout runs and have imperiled other fish populations, like the delta smelt. Instead, they are pushing for water conservation, treatment and recycling plants. Jon Rosenfield, a conservation biologist for the Bay Institute, said water bond money would be better spent replacing thousands of old leaking water mains around the state, implementing tiered water rates and building storm-water capture and water recycling systems. “It simply doesn’t make sense for us to be flushing toilets with pristine water transported miles from the Sierra Nevada,” Rosenfield said. “The notion that it just gets used once and then it is gone is crazy.” Conservationists point to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California as the model for a successful recycling program. The district has built over the past two decades a wastewater treatment and reclamation system that cleans dirty household water and then filters it into the groundwater for reuse later on. Tom Stokely, the water policy analyst for the California Water Impact Network, said Los Angeles County now uses less water than it did 30 years ago despite having at least a million more residents. “It’s really up to the Legislature and the individual water districts to take this up, but if they use up all their borrowing on the twin tunnels there won’t be money left over for these things,” said Stokely, adding that statewide recycling and conservation programs could save 2 million acre-feet of water a year. “We see it as an either-or scenario. Do we have a sustainable water future or do we spend all our resources on costly tunnels and water storage projects?”…


Ultimately, Californians will have to come to grips with the fact that, no matter what gets done, the state will never be drought proof, said Jay Lund, the director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis. “I think there will be some ability to improve, mostly in terms of giving incentives to store groundwater in wet years and to move water from north to south – efficiencies like that – but you can’t make it rain,” Lund said. “In the end, we will still be living in a semi-arid climate, and we will still have droughts. Most of what we can do is make it easier to prepare for the next drought.”


California’s drought

Find additional coverage at


Drought Is Driving Beef Prices To All-New Highs

By Jeff Spross on April 9, 2014

USDA choice-grade beef hit a record $5.28 in February, and droughts helped along by climate change are the culprit…..









Endangered butterfly defies climate change with new diet and habitat

Quino checkerspot, native to Mexico and California, shifts to higher altitude and chooses new species of plant for laying eggs

Patrick Barkham, Monday 7 April 2014 06.03 EDT

The quino checkerspot butterfly has defied predictions of extinction by moving to higher altitudes and choosing a new plant on which to lay its eggs. Photograph: Butterfly Conservation

A butterfly species whose population collapsed because of climate change and habitat loss has defied predictions of extinction to rapidly move to cooler climes and change its food plant. The quino checkerspot (Euphydryas editha quino), found in Mexico and California, has shifted to higher altitudes and surprisingly chosen a completely different species of plant on which to lay its eggs, according to research presented at the Butterfly Conservation‘s seventh international symposium in Southampton. Its rapid adaption offers hope that other insects and species may be able to adapt unexpectedly quickly to climate change. “Every butterfly biologist who knew anything about the quino in the mid-1990s thought it would be extinct by now, including me,” said Prof Camille Parmesan of the Marine Sciences Institute at Plymouth University. The Quino was once abundant in southern California but the expansion of Los Angeles and San Diego saw it reduced to just two small colonies. Other populations in Mexico began declining sharply as global warming made conditions too hot and dry for its caterpillars’ food plant, a species of plantain. Six years ago, Parmesan suggested that the endangered quino could be a prime candidate for “assisted colonisation” – to be moved by humans to cooler, unspoilt habitat north of Los Angeles. Instead, to the amazement of scientists, the butterfly did not need human help and reappeared on higher ground to the east, where its caterpillars are feeding on a flowering plant it has never eaten before. Several other butterfly species have been changing habitat or diet to cope with a changing climate but the quino checkerspot is the first butterfly known to science to change both so rapidly. Many environmentalists fear that climate change is happening too quickly for species to adapt but, according to Parmesan, this surprising example shows that some apparently doomed species may be more resilient than we imagine. However, she warned that this case showed that nature reserves, and linking together unspoilt habitat, was more important than ever to enable species to survive a changing climate. Without undeveloped land to the east of Los Angeles and San Diego, the quino checkerspot would have had nowhere to go and would have become extinct…. More than a quarter of Britain’s 59 species are moving north, with butterflies such as the comma moving around 10km each year. With climate change, another UK species, the brown argus, has started to feed on wild geranium plants as a caterpillar, enabling it to spread rapidly through the Midlands and into northern England.
But the international symposium also heard strong scientific evidence that climate change will create more losers than winners because unspoilt habitat is so fragmented, preventing many butterflies, moths and other insects from moving to more suitable places. Tom Oliver of the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology told the symposium that scientific modelling predicted a number of UK butterfly extinctions by the middle of this century…..



Canada’s New Adaptation Library.

Community resources for climate adaptation: Developing knowledge and tools to reduce risks and maximize opportunities arising from climate change.

This new library of adaptation resources was put together by Natural Resources Canada and ICLEI-Canada and has a graphically rich user interface to help make searching for the information you need easier to find and more enjoyable. 



At-risk cities hold solutions to climate change: UN report

Smart choices by cities such as Miami in planning and investment could hold key to cutting emissions, IPCC draft says

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, Friday 11 April 2014 07.02 EDT

Buildings near the ocean as reports indicate that Miami-Dade county could be one of the most susceptible cities to rising water levels associated with global warming. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It is already taking shape as the 21st century urban nightmare: a big storm hits a city like Shanghai, Mumbai, Miami or New York, knocking out power supply and waste treatment plants, washing out entire neighbourhoods and marooning the survivors in a toxic and foul-smelling swamp. Now the world’s leading scientists are suggesting that those same cities in harm’s way could help drive solutions to climate change. A draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), obtained by the Guardian, says smart choices in urban planning and investment in public transport could help significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, especially in developing countries. The draft is due for release in Berlin on Sunday, the third and final instalment of the IPCC’s authoritative report on climate change. “The next two decades present a window of opportunity for urban mitigation as most of the world’s urban areas and their infrastructure have yet to be constructed,” the draft said. Around 1 billion people live in cities and coastal areas at risk of sea-level rise and coastal flooding – and those figures are expected to rise in the coming decades. Most of the high-risk areas are in Asia, but the US east coast, where the rate of sea level rise is three or four times faster than the global average, is also a “hotspot”, with cities, beaches and wetlands exposed to flooding….But those at-risk cities also produce a large and growing share of emissions that cause climate change – which makes them central to its solution. “They are at the frontlines of this issue,” said Seth Schultz, research director for the C40 group of mega-cities taking action on climate change. “And on the whole cities have extraordinarily strong power to deliver on these things.” Even in America, where Republican governors and members of Congress deny the existence or have rolled back action on climate change, cities are moving ahead..


New global scorecard aims to promote urban development without cars

Thu, 10 Apr 2014 08:00 AM Samuel Mintz

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Researchers have launched an international standard and scorecard aimed at persuading planners, designers and architects to develop urban communities that encourage people to walk, cycle or take public transport – anything but drive. Today, there are more than a billion cars on the planet. In a few decades’ time, there might be twice that number. Combined with the trend in more people moving to cities, this presents a big problem for the planet, argues Luc Nadal, technical director of urban development at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), which is based in New York City. “The two factors of urbanisation and motorisation tend to result in the phenomenon of ‘suburbanisation’, which is people moving in large numbers to urban places that are car-centric; depending on their cars to connect all the dots of what needs to be done on a daily basis, such as going from home to work, from work to places of supply, of entertainment, going to school, and so on,” he said. He described suburban living as the “most inefficient settlement form ever”. “The time and energy consumed by travelling in personal vehicles from one activity to another is obviously also linked to the emissions of pollutants, of greenhouse gases that transform our climate,” Nadal said. Finding a different way to develop is crucial, he added. To this end, the ITDP has come up with the “Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Standard“, a policy guide that evaluates real estate schemes on how well they connect people with work, school or any other place they need to go, without having to use a car….



Chile Plans To Enact The First Carbon Tax In South America

By Ari Phillips on April 8, 2014

Power demand is growing rapidly across Latin America, including in Chile. The government there is trying to figure out how to provide it in a sustainable fashion….


The three most resilient cities? They’re all in Canada

Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary top a new report measuring the least vulnerable and most adaptive cities on the planet – while the high-growth cities of the Bric nations teeter precariously on the edge of danger

Chris Michael, Friday 11 April 2014 07.51 EDT

Hogtown on top … Toronto, seen here from Center Island, heads the list of most resilient cities. Photograph: Alamy

For perhaps the first time, someone has tried to qualify the resilience of cities. Grosvenor, the London-based property company led by the Duke of Westminster, analysed more than 100 independently verified data sets in order to determine two key elements of what makes a city resilient: its “vulnerability” on the one hand, and its “adaptive capacity” on the other.

Vulnerability was measured by looking at climate threats, environmental degradation (including pollution and overconsumption due to sprawl), resources (particularly access to energy), infrastructure and community cohesion. Weakness in any of those areas reduced a city’s score.
Adaptive capacity, or a city’s ability to prevent and mitigate serious threats, was a combination of governance (high value here on democracy, freedom of speech, community participation, transparency, accountability and long-term leadership vision), strong institutions, learning capacity (including good technical universities), disaster planner and finally funding (from budget to credit and access to global funding). Rob Ford and ice storms notwithstanding, Toronto tops the list, following by Vancouver and Calgary and closely trailed by several US cities. London is 18th, suffering as Grosvenor pointed out from social tensions due to lack of affordable housing. Eight of the weakest 20 cities are in the Bric countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, where blistering economic growth has not yet led to long-term resilience. One particularly disturbing trend is that some of the least resilient cities on the list are also the ones where the population is expected to grow fastest…..


2014 rankings: Top cities with the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings

On April 20, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the sixth annual list of the top 25 U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest number of ENERGY STAR certified buildings. The cities on this list demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits achieved by facility owners and managers when they apply a proven approach to energy efficiency to their buildings.
The Top 10 cities on the list are Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; New York; San Francisco; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Philadelphia; and Houston.
Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. ENERGY STAR certified office buildings cost $0.50 less per square foot to operate than average office buildings, and use nearly two times less energy per square foot than average office buildings…





Climate change Plan B stirs controversy, doubt

A U.N. panel is pressured on geoengineering, which entails efforts such as storing CO2 underground.

By Karl Ritter April 11, 2014 The Associated Press

BERLIN — It’s Plan B in the fight against climate change: cooling the planet by sucking heat-trapping CO2 from the air or reflecting sunlight back into space.

Called geoengineering, it’s considered mad science by opponents. Supporters say it would be foolish to ignore it, since plan A – slashing carbon emissions from fossil fuels – is moving so slowly.

The U.N.’s expert panel on climate change is under pressure from both sides this week as it considers whether geoengineering should be part of the tool-kit that governments use to keep global warming in check. Russia, in particular, has been pushing the panel to place more emphasis on such techniques in a key document for policy makers being finalized in Berlin this week.

Drafts leaked before the conference only mentioned one of the options, removing CO2 from the air and storing it underground. Russia, a major oil and gas producer, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change should also mention solar radiation management, which could include everything from covering open surfaces with reflective materials or placing sun-mirrors in orbit around the Earth.

“It is expedient to give a short description of the approach and mention the major ‘pro and contra’,” Russia said in comments submitted to the IPCC and seen by The Associated Press.

But even advocates of studying geoengineering express doubts….


Amid showdown with energy-rich Russia, calls rise in Europe to start fracking.
Ever since Russian forces took hold of Crimea last month, the British prime minister has been leading a chorus of conservative politicians and energy executives in a refrain they believe will spark a shale gas revolution in Europe: Frack, baby, frack. Washington Post


Three-quarters of World Bank-backed projects still don’t evaluate climate risks: Report.

Huffington Post

The World Bank is still failing to take climate change into account as it makes decisions about the projects it finances, according to a new report from the nonprofit World Resources Institute.


Secretary Jewell Releases Landscape-Scale Mitigation Strategy to Encourage Dual Objectives of Smart Development and Conservation

Strategy seeks to provide clarity and consistency to more effectively avoid, minimize and compensate for impacts on public lands

April 10, 2014 WASHINGTON, D.C. – To advance landscape-scale, science-based management of America’s public lands and wildlife, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today released a strategy to implement mitigation policies and practices at the Department that can more effectively encourage infrastructure development while protecting natural and cultural resources….



Rough Forecasts

by Elizabeth Kolbert New Yorker April 14, 2014

The chemist F. Sherwood Rowland is one of the few people in history about whom it can accurately be said: he helped save the world. In 1972, Rowland, a chemist at the University of California-Irvine, attended a talk on the compounds known as chlorofluorocarbons. At the time, these were being used as refrigerants, cleaning agents, and propellants in aerosol cans, and they had recently been detected in the air over the Atlantic. CFCs are unusually stable, but it occurred to Rowland that, if they were getting blown around the world, at very high altitudes they would eventually break down. He and one of his research assistants began to look into the matter, and they concluded that in the stratosphere CFCs would indeed dissociate. The newly liberated chlorine atoms would then set off a chain reaction, which would destroy the ozone layer that protects the earth from ultraviolet radiation.

Industry groups ridiculed Rowland’s findings—Aerosol Age accused him of being a K.G.B. agent—but other scientists confirmed them, and Rowland pressed for a ban on CFCs. As he said, “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” The discovery, in the mid-nineteen-eighties, of an ozone “hole” over the South Pole persuaded world leaders, including Ronald Reagan, that the problem was, in fact, urgent, and a global treaty phasing out CFCs was approved in 1987.

Rowland’s question came to mind last week. At a meeting in Yokohama, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest update on the looming crisis that is global warming. Only this time it isn’t just looming. The signs are that “both coral reef and Arctic systems are already experiencing irreversible regime shifts,” the panel noted. Composed in a language that might be called High Committee, the report is nevertheless hair-raising. The I.P.C.C.’s list of potential warming-induced disasters—from ecological collapse to famine, flooding, and pestilence—reads like a riff on the ten plagues. Matching the terror is the collective shame of it. “Why should the world pay attention to this report?” the chairman of the I.P.C.C., Rajendra Pachauri, asked the day the update was released. Because “nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.”

Talk about standing around and waiting. As in the case of the destruction of the ozone layer, much of the key research on climate change was completed in the nineteen-seventies. (The first major report on the subject from the National Academy of Sciences was requested by President Jimmy Carter.) And, once again, it’s been clear since that time what needs to be done. Global warming is a product of carbon emissions produced by burning fossil fuels, so, if we want to limit warming, these emissions have to be phased out.

Economists on both sides of the political spectrum agree that the most efficient way to reduce emissions is to impose a carbon tax. “If you want less of something, every economist will tell you to do the same thing: make it more expensive,” former Mayor Michael Bloomberg observed, in a speech announcing his support for such a tax. In the United States, a carbon tax could replace other levies—for example, the payroll tax—or, alternatively, the money could be used to reduce the deficit. Within a decade, according to a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, a relatively modest tax of twenty-five dollars per metric ton of carbon would reduce affected emissions by about ten per cent, while increasing federal revenues by a trillion dollars. If other countries failed to follow suit, the U.S. could, in effect, extend its own tax by levying it on goods imported from those countries.

Currently, instead of discouraging fossil-fuel use, the U.S. government underwrites it, with tax incentives for producers worth about four billion dollars a year. Those tax breaks are evidently ludicrous, and they should be repealed. According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. is the world’s largest single source of fossil-fuel subsidies; the I.M.F. has estimated that eliminating such subsidies worldwide could cut carbon emissions by thirteen per cent. Meanwhile, the tax credit responsible for much of the recent growth in wind generation in the U.S. has been allowed to lapse. This is more lunacy; that tax credit should be reinstated. On a state level, public-utility laws need to be revamped so that utility companies are rewarded for promoting energy efficiency rather than energy consumption. Building codes, too, need to be rewritten; according to the previous I.P.C.C. update, released in 2007, significant cuts in emissions from buildings could be achieved through measures, like improved insulation, that also save their occupants money.

When the first I.P.C.C. report was issued, back in 1990, George H. W. Bush was in the White House. Each of his successors, including Barack Obama, has vowed to address the problem, only to decide that he had better things to do. Obama had an opportunity early in his first term to make a real difference; legislation to impose a price on carbon emissions, through a cap-and-trade system, was approved by the House in 2009. But the President put little political muscle behind the bill, and it died the following year in the Senate. The White House is now trying to bypass Congress and reduce emissions through regulations. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency published rules governing emissions from new power plants; effectively, they prohibit the construction of coal-burning plants. In February, the Administration announced plans to tighten fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles like garbage trucks and tractor-trailers, and, this spring, it is expected to propose new regulations limiting emissions from existing power plants. These are all laudable efforts, but the last set of regulations, which should be the most consequential, are coming so late in Obama’s second term that they will be left to the next President to implement—or not, as the case may be. And, unfortunately, the Administration is undermining its own best efforts by pressing for more domestic fossil-fuel production.

The fact that so much time has been wasted standing around means that the problem of climate change is now much more difficult to deal with than it was when it was first identified. But this only makes the imperative to act that much greater, because, as one set of grim predictions is being borne out, another, even worse set remains to be written. 






Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: Focus on urban transport solutions distracts from poor planning
(April 7, 2014) — If you think transportation solutions are essential for reducing greenhouse emissions and growing economic opportunity in rapidly-expanding cities, think again. Scientists now say we’re looking at the problem the wrong way. … > full story


How Japan Replaced Half Its Nuclear Capacity With Efficiency

Is new coal really necessary in Japan?

Lauri Myllyvirta and Justin Guay April 10, 2014

After the Tohoku earthquake in March 2011, Japan was in a seemingly impossible situation. A tremendous amount of conventional generation capacity, including the entire nuclear fleet, was unavailable, and the country faced the risk of power cuts during summer consumption peaks. But miraculously, or seemingly so, in just a few short weeks Japan managed to avert the rolling power cuts that many believed inevitable. Even more impressive, the Japanese have turned these emergency measures into lasting solutions. So how’d they do it without forcing people back to the Stone Age? Japan overcame this daunting task by tapping the cheapest and most widely available source of energy: energy efficiency and conservation. Much of the electricity savings were initially driven by a popular movement known as “Setsuden” (“saving electricity”). This movement emerged to encourage people and companies to conserve energy and prevent rolling power cuts. Simple measures such as increasing temperatures in homes and offices, “thinning” lighting by removing some of the bulbs and tubes, shutting down big screens and cutting exterior lighting enabled Japan to dramatically reduce power demand almost overnight (albeit at the cost of a small amount of personal comfort). In addition to these measures, the dress code in offices was eased to reduce the need for AC, while commercial facilities were audited to identify potential savings. These temporary measures have proven to have long-term impact. They’ve dramatically increased the awareness of energy use and energy efficiency, and large companies are running high-profile efficiency programs. Consequently, power consumption never rebounded with GDP growth because energy-conscious practices became ingrained. More importantly, there is huge potential for technical measures to reduce energy use even further. More surprising is how far off pundits were about the impact. Some made dire predictions about the need to replace the nuclear fleet with “cheap coal” (a myth we debunked here). A combination of commonsense energy savings measures that began as temporary behavioral changes have led to permanent efficiency gains. In the process, the Japanese people, and its business community, proved the punditry wrong.  The key lesson from the Japanese experience is that coal plant construction is simply too slow to be relevant in the modern world, where resiliency is highly valued. To cope with rapid loss of generation capacity, Japan needed fast, nimble and modular 21st-century solutions. That means efficiency and clean energy. Despite major hurdles to deploying these solutions — mostly due to a complete absence of renewable energy policies prior to Fukushima — solar power surged in 2013, blowing away earlier predictions.….


Win-win situation: Growing crops on photovoltaic farms
(April 9, 2014) — A new model for solar farms that ‘co-locates’ crops and solar panels could result in a harvest of valuable biofuel plants along with solar energy. This co-location approach could prove especially useful in sunny, arid regions such as the southwestern United States where water is scarce, researchers said. … > full story


Four Years Later, BP’s Oil Spill Is Still Killing Gulf Wildlife

By Katie Valentine on April 10, 2014

“No matter what BP and others are telling you, the oil is not gone.”


Oklahoma Has Already Had More Magnitude 3 Earthquakes This Year Than All Of Last Year

By Katie Valentine on April 8, 2014

Scientists are trying to determine whether wastewater injection from fracking has triggered the earthquakes.



New climate pragmatism framework prioritizes energy access to drive innovation and development
(April 9, 2014) — Expanding access to reliable energy offers better route to address global challenges, climate and energy scholars say in new report. “Climate change can’t be solved on the backs of the world’s poorest people,” said a report co-author. “The key to solving for both climate and poverty is helping nations build innovative energy systems that can deliver cheap, clean and reliable power.” … > full story



Cheap solar power pushes renewables growth worldwide. Climate Central

The share of total global electricity production generated by renewable energy is climbing, mainly because solar photovoltaic systems are becoming less expensive, according to a report released Monday by the United Nations Environment Programme and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.


Global renewable energy investments fell 14 percent in 2013: UN Agence France-Presse

Global investments in renewable energy slumped 14 per cent last year, with China pouring more money into the sector than Europe for the first time on record, the United Nations said on Monday. Agence








Friday, April 18th 9 AM – 2:30 PM
David Brower Center Berkeley, CA!

For More Information and to Register Please Visit:!

Details are here to reserve a seat.


Webinar: Wildlife Response to Climate Change

 April 16, 2014 9:15 – 10:15 am PST
Dr. Erik Beever, USGS Research Ecologist, will use the American pika (Ochotona princeps) as a model to illustrate ways by which climate changes are already affecting wildlife.

Click here for more information.







Stanford experts from a range of disciplines will discuss the interconnections and interactions among humanity’s need for and use of climate, energy, food, water, and environmental resources…..


Southern Sierra Fire and Hydroclimate Workshop

April 22-24, 2014 Yosemite Valley, CA

This workshop is focused on developing an integrated view of the physical landscape, climate effects, hydrology and fire regimes of the Sierra Nevada.


Sanctuary Currents Symposium; Marine Debris: How do you pitch in?
Saturday April 26, 2014, University Center, California State University Monterey Bay

Research Posters: Call for abstracts will occur in January.  Visit the Sanctuary Currents Symposium website for updates and information: Sanctuary Currents Symposium



US EPA Climate Showcase Communities Replication Workshop
April 30, 2014—Hotel Monaco, Baltimore, MD

US EPA’s Climate Showcase Communities program is hosting a free, 1-day workshop highlighting successful local and tribal government climate and energy strategies that can be replicated in communities across the US. Panel themes will include:

 Please register for the workshop by April 15, 2014 at the conference registration website. For more information about the Climate Showcase Communities program, including a list of grantees and project descriptions, visit the Climate Showcase Communities website. To view a short video overview of past CSC Workshops, please visit our YouTube channel.  Please contact Andrea Denny with any questions.

Scenario Planning toward Climate Change Adaptation (pdf) WORKSHOP May 6-8, 2014 NCTC, Shepherdstown, West Virginia

This overview course will introduce the core elements of scenario planning and expose participants to a diversity of approaches and specific scenario development techniques that incorporate both qualitative and quantitative components.


Climate Change: Challenges to California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources
May 19, 2014; Sacramento, CA    The California Museum, 1020 “O” Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
The conference will bring together leading economists, analysts, scientists and policy makers from University of California, the state government, non-profits, and the private sector to discuss the potential impacts of climate change and the associated challenges to California agriculture and natural resources. Click here for more information.


Headwaters to Ocean “H20” Conference  May 27-29, 2014 San Diego, CA


Ecosystems, Economy and Society: How large-scale restoration can stimulate sustainable development (in DC)

29 – 30 MAY 2014 U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC, USA



North America Congress for Conservation Biology Meeting. July 13-16, Missoula, MT. The biennial NACCB provides a forum for presenting and discussing new research and developments in conservation science and practice for addressing today’s conservation challenges.

First Stewards
July 21-23, Washington, DC.

First Stewards will hold their 2nd annual symposium at the National Museum of the American Indian. This year’s theme is
United Indigenous Voices Address Sustainability: Climate Change and Traditional Places

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


California Adaptation Forum 
August 19-20, 2014

This two-day forum will build off a successful National Adaptation Forum held in Colorado in 2013. The attendance of many California leaders there underscored the need for a California-focused event, which will be held every other year to complement the biennial national conference.  To register go to:

International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE) World Congress meeting, July 9th 2015

Coming to Portland, Oregon July 5-10, 2015! The symposium, which is held every four years, brings scientists and practitioners from around the globe together to discuss and share landscape ecology work and information. The theme of the 2015 meeting is Crossing Scales, Crossing Borders: Global Approaches to Complex Challenges.




JOBS  (apologies for any duplication; thanks for passing along)



Point Blue Conservation Science, founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory and based in Petaluma, California, is a growing and internationally renowned nonprofit with over 140 staff and seasonal scientists. Our highest priority is to reduce the impacts of accelerating changes in climate, land-use and the ocean on wildlife and people while promoting climate-smart conservation for a healthy, blue planet.  Point Blue advances conservation of nature for wildlife and people through science, partnerships and outreach. Our scientists work hand-in-hand with wildlife managers, private land owners, ranchers, farmers, other scientists, major conservation groups, and federal, state, and local government agencies and officials.  Point Blue has tripled in size over the past 12 years in response to the ever–increasing demand for sound science to assess and guide conservation investments in our rapidly changing world.  At the core of our work is innovative, collaborative science.


Studying birds and other environmental indicators, we evaluate natural and human-driven change over time and guide our partners in adaptive management for improved conservation outcomes. We publish in peer-reviewed journals and contribute to the “conservation commons” of open access scientific knowledge. We also store, manage and interpret over 800 million bird and ecosystem observations from across North America and create sophisticated, yet accessible, decision support tools to improve conservation today and for an uncertain future. 


This is a pivotal moment in the history of life on our planet requiring unprecedented actions to ensure that wildlife and people continue to thrive in the decades to come.  Working from the Sierra to the sea and as far away as the Ross Sea (Antarctica), Point Blue is collaboratively implementing climate-smart conservation.   Read more at









The Brutally Dishonest Attacks On Showtime’s Landmark Series On Climate Change

By Joe Romm on April 9, 2014

The good news is the video of episode one of Showtime’s climate series, “Years Of Living Dangerously,” has been getting great reviews in the New York Times and elsewhere.

The bad news is the Times has published an error-riddled hit-job op-ed on the series that is filled with myths at odds with both the climate science and social science literature. For instance, the piece repeats the tired and baseless claim that Al Gore’s 2006 movie “An Inconvenient Truth” polarized the climate debate, when the peer-reviewed data says the polarization really jumped in 2009 (see chart above from “The Sociological Quarterly”)…..


Most Cable News Coverage Of Climate Change Isn’t Exactly Accurate: Report

April 7, 2014 Huffington Post

It is no secret that TV news coverage of climate change is far from perfect, even with outlets generally devoting very little time to the issue. And according to a new report released Monday, when cable news in particular does decide to cover climate change, it doesn’t always get the facts straight.

The report from the Union of Concerned Scientists analyzes just how accurately cable news networks in the United States, including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, cover climate science. The UCS analysis found that, in 2013, MSNBC had the highest accuracy rate in its coverage of climate change, getting the state of the science right about 92 percent of the time. CNN came in second, at 70 percent accuracy. Fox trailed at 28 percent accuracy. The inaccuracies identified in the report typically stemmed from dismissing or doubting scientific facts, or from overstating and understating current science.

At the time of publication, CNN and Fox had not responded to requests for comment, and MSNBC’s vice president for media relations said she had not seen the report. UCS analyzed 569 clips of cable news coverage from 2013, looking for all references to “climate change” and “global warming.” Then, the group evaluated the claims in the segments against actual published, peer-reviewed climate science. Segments were classified as “misleading” or “accurate” based on that criteria. If a segment included a single inaccuracy, that segment was listed as “misleading.”

“Sometimes, it’s like the networks are covering different planets,” Aaron Huertas, a science communications officer at UCS who led the analysis, said in a release accompanying the report. “Unfortunately, too many politicians, interest groups, and pundits continue to dispute established climate science and cable shows sometimes give them a platform to do so.”…


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