Conservation Science News June 27, 2014



Focus of the WeekNew Climate Change Adaptation Manual—Evidence to support nature conservation in a changing world (UK)










NOTE: Please pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
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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 Climate Change Adaptation Manual—Evidence to support nature conservation in a changing world (UK)



Science into practice: Helping nature conservationists prepare for climate change

3 June 2014

Natural England and the RSPB, in partnership with the Environment Agency’s Climate Ready Support Service and the Forestry Commission have today published a new resource for conservation practitioners: ‘Climate change adaptation manual: evidence to support nature conservation in a changing climate’. There is strong evidence that climate change is already affecting wildlife and habitats; species such as the Dartford warbler and the bee orchid are moving further north and recent storms have highlighted the vulnerability of coastal and wetland habitats. But we can reduce the risks of climate change and, in some cases, make the most of new opportunities for species and habitats.  The Climate Change Adaptation Manual helps land managers and conservationists to plan and take action to limit the impacts of climate change on the natural environment. This is a ground-breaking step forward in responding to the risks recently highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its report ‘Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’. The manual is a hands-on document giving up-to-date, detailed, habitat-specific information for conservation managers to use, to prepare and respond to a changing climate.  It is divided into three sections, focusing on:

  • the key concepts for making decisions about adaptation and the impact of climate change on the natural environment;
  • climate change impacts and potential adaptation responses for 27 of England’s most important habitats; and
  • the relationship between climate change and the delivery of ecosystem services.

….Martin Harper, Conservation Director at the RSPB said: “We’re already witnessing the impacts of climate change at RSPB nature reserves across the country – and we’re taking action to ensure we protect wildlife from these changes. If we are going to help threatened species adapt to a warmer climate then we need to act fast. We also need to work together and share knowledge and experience – I hope this manual will help us do just that. Science has given us a clear warning about the future and we have no excuse for not acting now.”……The Climate Change Adaptation Manual can be found on Natural England’s publications catalogue.


2. Principles of climate change adaptation


This section introduces climate change adaptation in general terms and provides links to the main evidence and policy documents. Adaptation is about tackling the vulnerabilities and risks climate change brings and making the most of any opportunities. More formally, adaptation can be defined as the adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities, (IPCC 4th Assessment report Working Group 2 Glossary). Adaptation is necessary and relevant to all areas of life. Within the UK, the National

While the natural environment is the focus of this manual, it cannot be seen in isolation from wider human needs and activities. There is increasing evidence that the natural environment can be managed in ways that will help people adapt to climate change, as well as providing benefits for nature and its conservation. This is sometimes known as ecosystem – based adaptation, and examples include creating wetlands where they can provide a buffer against flooding, and creating green spaces or planting trees in towns to lower the temperature locally (as a result of shading and the cooling effect of water loss from leaves).On the other hand, it is possible for adaptation in one sector to hinder adaptation in others. For example, hard sea defences designed to reduce coastal flooding may prevent the natural readjustment of the shoreline and lead to a loss of coastal habitats. There are circumstances in which this may have to be accepted, for example to protect coastal towns, but often it will be possible to identify alternatives, using coastal habitats as ‘soft’ defences that provide adaptation for both people and nature.


The concept of sustainable adaptation provides a useful way of looking at some of the prerequisites for a long-term, integrated approach to adaptation, including the synergies and trade-offs associated with cross-sectoral adaptation.


Four principles for sustainable adaptation have been proposed (Macgregor and Cowan 2011):

1. Adaptation should aim to maintain or enhance the environmental, social and economic benefits provided by a system, while accepting and accommodating inevitable changes to it.

2. Adaptation should not solve one problem while creating or worsening others. Action that has multiple benefits and avoids creating negative effects for other people, places and sectors should be prioritised.

3. Adaptation should seek to increase resilience to a wide range of future risks and address all aspects of vulnerability, rather than focusing solely on specific projected climate impacts.

4. Approaches to adaptation should be flexible and not limit future action.


Adaptation options can only be evaluated in this way if the objectives and benefits of conservation action are clearly framed. We need to understand what we are adapting for, as well as the impacts we are adapting to. An important aspect of sustainable adaptation is identifying action that would maintain or enhance the multiple benefits an area provides to society, by reducing vulnerability to a range of possible consequences of climate change. Climate projections necessarily define a range of potential future climates, and there is considerable uncertainty about the cascade of possible consequences for natural systems. It is usually more appropriate to consider a broad range of likely outcomes, as highly detailed or precise projections risk giving a false level of confidence; the UK Climate Projections 2009 facilitate this approach. Adaptive management is a commonly used management concept, not specific to climate change adaptation, and is based on a cycle of action, monitoring, review, and, if necessary, revision of actions. It is especially relevant to climate change adaptation, where the nature of impacts and the effectiveness of adaptation measures will become clearer over time. Effective monitoring of changes in the species, habitats and other features of the site is an essential prerequisitefor this approach. Monitoring of the effectiveness of interventions is also required.


While some adaptation measures, such as changing grassland management, or increasing the capture of winter rain, may take only a few years to implement, others such as creating habitats can take much longer. For example, the RSPB’s Lakenheath Fen project took around ten years from inception to bitterns becoming established. Other habitats, for example woodland, are likely to take much longer to mature and achieve their desired ecological state. With such long lead-in times for some adaptation measures, it is important to start adaption now.


The Government’s National Adaptation Programme sets out 4 focal areas for adaptation in the natural environment.

■■ Building ecological resilience to the impacts of climate change;

■■ Preparing for and accommodating inevitable change;

■■ Valuing the wider adaptation benefits the natural environment can deliver;

■■ Improving the evidence base.


The following sections expand on these areas.


And the US Climate-Smart Conservation Guide:









The National Wildlife Federation’s Climate Smart Conservation – Putting Adaptation Principles Into Practice looks at how climate change already is affecting the nation’s wildlife and habitats, and addresses how natural resource managers will need to prepare for and adapt to these unprecedented changes. Developed by a broad collaboration of experts from federal, state, and non-governmental institutions, the guide offers practical steps for crafting conservation actions to enhance the resilience of the natural ecosystems on which wildlife and people depend.





Observer aging and long-term avian survey data quality

Robert G. Farmer1,*,Marty L. Leonard1, Joanna E. Mills Flemming2 and Sean C. Anderson1,3 Article first published online: 26 MAY 2014 DOI: 10.1002/ece3.1101 © 2014 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Ecology and Evolution
Volume 4, Issue 12, pages 2563–2576, June 2014


Long-term wildlife monitoring involves collecting time series data, often using the same observers over multiple years. Aging-related changes to these observers may be an important, under-recognized source of error that can bias management decisions. In this study, we used data from two large, independent bird surveys, the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario (“OBBA”) and the North American Breeding Bird Survey (“BBS”), to test for age-related observer effects in long-term time series of avian presence and abundance. We then considered the effect of such aging phenomena on current population trend estimates. We found significantly fewer detections among older versus younger observers for 13 of 43 OBBA species, and declines in detection as an observer ages for 4 of 6 vocalization groups comprising 59 of 64 BBS species. Consistent with hearing loss influencing this pattern, we also found evidence for increasingly severe detection declines with increasing call frequency among nine high-pitched bird species (OBBA); however, there were also detection declines at other frequencies, suggesting important additional effects of aging, independent of hearing loss. We lastly found subtle, significant relationships between some species’ published population trend estimates and (1) their corresponding vocalization frequency (n ≥ 22 species) and (2) their estimated declines in detectability among older observers (n = 9 high-frequency, monotone species), suggesting that
observer aging can negatively bias long-term monitoring data for some species in part through hearing loss effects. We recommend that survey designers and modelers account for observer age where possible.


Organic Agriculture Boosts Biodiversity on Farmlands

June 26, 2014 — Organic farming fosters biodiversity. At least that’s the theory. In practice, however, the number of habitats on the land plays an important role alongside the type and intensity of farming practices. These are the findings of an international study that looked at 10 regions in Europe and two in Africa. The study shows that even organic farms have to actively support biodiversity by, for example, conserving different habitats on their holdings….


Land management trumps the effects of climate change and elevated CO2 on grassland functioning

Aurélie Thébault1,2,3,†, Pierre Mariotte4,†,*, Christopher J. Lortie5 and Andrew S. MacDougall3 Article first published online: 23 JUN 2014 DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12236

Journal of Ecology
Volume 102, Issue 4, pages 896–904, July 2014


  1. Grasslands cover ˜30% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface and provide many ecosystem services. Many grasslands are heavily managed to maximize these services for human benefit, but the outcome of management is anticipated to be increasingly influenced by various aspects of climate change and elevated atmospheric CO2. The relative importance of global change vs. land management on grasslands is largely unknown.
  2. A meta-analysis is used here to examine drivers at both scales primarily targeting services provided by grasslands relating to plant productivity (above- and below-ground biomass) and soil processes (nutrients and soil respiration) in 38 manipulative experiments published in the last decade. We specifically target effects of (i) single and combined land management practices (LMs), (ii) single and combined factors relating to broad-scale climate change and elevated CO2, and (iii) combined management practices and changes to climate and CO2. Collectively, this examines the general efficacy of global change models in predicting changes to grassland functioning.
  3. We found that combinations of management practices had approximately double the explanatory power for variation in grassland services compared with individual or interactive effects of factors associated with climate change and CO2. These interacting management practices such as nutrient additions and defoliation predominantly influenced functions associated with productivity or biomass both below and above ground. The effects of interacting factors of climate and CO2 influenced a wider range of ecosystem functions, but the magnitude of these effects was relatively smaller.
  4. Interactions between management practices or between climate change/CO2 factors always had higher explanatory power than any factor in isolation indicating that multivariate synergistic models of environmental change can better describe impacts on ecosystem function in plant communities (e.g. relative to univariate climate-based models). Given that the magnitude and direction (positive or negative) of the interactions varied widely, this also implies that the outcomes of these multivariate interactions can vary spatially, temporally or by immediate context (e.g. management prescriptions).
  5. Synthesis. Although our work confirms how climate change and CO2 can affect many ecosystem-based functional attributes, it suggests that combinations of LMs [land management practices] remain the dominant set of factors in determining the performance of grassland plant communities. Land management may thus be critical for influencing projected responses to future climate change and elevated CO2 in models of grassland function at least for factors relating to primary production.


Monarch butterflies employ a magnetic compass during migration

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 02:23 PM PDT

Scientists have identified a new component of the complex navigational system that allows monarch butterflies to transverse the 2,000 miles to their overwintering habitat each year. Monarchs use a light-dependent, inclination magnetic compass to help them orient southward during migration.



The interactions between the Common Cuckoo and its hosts (like the Reed Warbler shown on the left, caring for a much larger cuckoo chick) provide … Credit: David Kjaer (left) and Mary Caswell Stoddard/Natural History Museum, UK (centre, right)

Birds evolve ‘signature’ patterns to distinguish cuckoo eggs from their own

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 04:17 AM PDT

For some birds, recognizing their own eggs can be a matter of life or death. In a new study, scientists have shown that many birds affected by the parasitic Common Cuckoo — which lays its lethal offspring in other birds’ nests — have evolved distinctive patterns on their eggs in order to distinguish them from those laid by a cuckoo cheat.


Mary Caswell Stoddard, Rebecca M. Kilner, Christopher Town. Pattern recognition algorithm reveals how birds evolve individual egg pattern signatures. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5117



POINT BLUE in the news:


Drought, Wet Meadows and Sage Grouse: A Partner Biologist’s Perspective

By Tiffany Russell, Northeast California Partner Biologist, Point Blue Conservation Science for the Intermountain West Joint Venture

Tiffany Russell and Ryan Burnett from Point Blue Conservation Science in the field at Cradle Valley. Photo by Wendell Gilgert

When people think of California, they often think of palm trees and beaches, the Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood, or maybe Yosemite. What some don’t realize is that our diverse state contains large expanses of sagebrush habitat in its northeastern corner. This area is reminiscent of the old West: vast open landscapes, small mountain towns, sheepherders and cattlemen, and the ever-present scent of sage in the air. Within this region, on the edge of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Cascades, and the Modoc Plateau, the Greater Sage Grouse still survives at the western-most part of its range…..

Photos by Tiffany Russell, Point Blue Conservation Science


Emperor penguins are more willing to relocate than expected

Posted: 20 Jun 2014 09:04 AM PDT

The long-term future of emperor penguins is becoming more clear, thanks to new research showing that the penguins may be behaving in ways that allow them to adapt to their changing environment better than expected. Researchers have long thought that emperor penguins were philopatric, which means they would return to the same location to nest each year. The new research study used satellite images to show that penguins may not be faithful to previous nesting locations.


A call to better protect Antarctica: Human activity threatening continent

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 07:06 AM PDT

With visitor numbers surging, Antarctica’s ice-free land needs better protection from human activities, leading environmental scientists say. The new study found that all 55 areas designated for protection lie close to sites of human activity. Antarctica has over 40,000 visitors a year, and more and more research facilities are being built in the continent’s tiny ice-free area. Most of the Antarctic wildlife and plants live in the ice-free areas — and this is also where people most visit.


Bees and butterflies get a boost from the feds

By Nathanael Johnson June 24, 2014

After bailing out automakers and Wall Street bankers, the U.S. government has now rolled out a pair of programs to assist a more sympathetic recipient: insects. There’s finally a bailout for the bee and butterfly bankruptcy! U.S. farmers have gotten better and better at controlling weeds in their fields, and that’s been a disaster for monarch butterflies. Monarchs rely on one specific field plant: milkweed. They can’t survive without it. The populations of both milkweed and monarchs have taken a tumble with the rise of effective weed control, via the herbicide glyphosate and GMO crops that tolerate glyphosate. At the same time, honey bees have been dying off because of the mysterious colony collapse disorder, and many native bee populations are foundering. The White House just announced that it is creating a strategy to assist pollinators. The initial memo isn’t exactly revolutionary: It creates a task force and gives it six months to come up with a plan. There’s no new funding or regulation. So, okay, not the actual cash bailout that pollinators might have been hoping for. But there’s some muscle in this memo: It directs the departments in the executive branch to start increasing pollinator habitat. If the Department of Transportation starts planting butterfly gardens along every highway and the Department of Defense does the same on military bases, that’s a lot of real estate. There’s even more real estate under the control of the Department of the Interior. And the Department of Agriculture is also supposed to help out, by planting native seed mixes after forest fires, and helping farmers and ranchers plant for pollinators in their extra space: Hedgerows and fencelines could bloom. Finally, the memo directs the EPA to take a closer look at pesticides that kill pollinators, and, if appropriate, protect habitat from insecticides. These new efforts will contribute to programs that are already up and running. For example, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Xerces Society, a nonprofit for invertebrates, are already working together to produce milkweed seeds. The challenge is to find seeds that will thrive in the different biomes around the country. They’ve already produced over 35 million milkweed seeds and planted 120,000 acres for monarchs and other pollinators. Projects like this are great, though probably not enough on their own. For now, the change from business as usual amounts to just words. We’ll have to check in six months from now and see how the strategy pans out.



Presidential Memorandum — Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

DATE: June 20, 2014

SUBJECT: Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

Pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment. The problem is serious and requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment…… [read more online]



Maybe birds can have it all: Dazzling colors and pretty songs

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 11:26 AM PDT

A study of one of the world’s largest and most colorful bird families has dispelled a long-held notion, first proposed by Charles Darwin, that animals are limited in their options to evolve showiness. “Animals have limited resources, and they have to spend those in order to develop showy plumage or precision singing that help them attract mates and defend territories,” said the paper’s lead author. “So it seems to make sense that you can’t have both. But our study took a more detailed look and suggests that actually, some species can.”




Illegal drone flights over Monterey Bay sanctuary draw warning

By David Perlman SF Chronicle June 23, 2014 | Updated: June 24, 2014 5:28pm

Officials at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are reminding the public that flying drones – or even model aircraft – is strictly forbidden over the sanctuary’s sensitive coastal areas.

The reminder came after sanctuary officials received several complaints this year about drones buzzing over the sanctuary. In one instance, two drones flying over the grounds of Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station near Pacific Grove frightened a rookery of harbor seals – many with newborn pups and others pregnant – from a resting area into the ocean, said Scott Kathey, regulatory coordinator for the sanctuary. Two volunteer guides observed the stampeding seals and asked two men to stop flying their drones over the animals, Kathey said. “The guys just brushed the volunteers off,” he said.

Since 1992, federal regulations have required aircraft of any kind to fly above 1,000 feet over particularly sensitive coastal areas of the sanctuary, he said. Because the Federal Aviation Administration bans drones and model aircraft from flying above 400 feet anywhere, use of the unmanned craft in these zones is illegal under any circumstance, he said….



The waters just offshore from Point Arena support some of the most nutrient dense and productive ecosystems in the world. Image courtesy of Flickr user Iris

Boundary Expansion for National Marine Sanctuaries in California Will Help Protect Marine Ecosystems, Foster Healthy Fisheries

Posted by Rietta on Friday, May 30th, 2014

In the entire United States, we have 14 special areas of the ocean and the Great Lakes that we’ve deemed necessary to protect. California alone is home to four of these National Marine Sanctuaries, with our stretch of Pacific ocean containing some of the most productive and diverse ecosystems of any coastline in the world. Cordell Bank, the Gulf of the Farallones, and Monterey Bay NMS protect these amazing ecosystems and ensure that they will continue to thrive, providing our coastal communities with jobs in fisheries and ecotourism. Now we are in the process of expanding the borders of Cordell Bank and the Gulf of the Farallones with a proposal that would more than double their size if the plan is approved. The proposed sanctuary expansion was initiated by public interest to prevent oil and gas exploration along the north coast, but the plan has been met with resistance from people concerned about commercial and recreational fishing restrictions. In actuality, the boundary expansion would ensure that these extremely productive coastal waters would be protected from harmful human activities, making it beneficial for local fisheries. These protected areas have a trickle-down effect for consumers, allowing them to keep their favorite local seafood items in stock at local markets and restaurants…..


This shrew is more elephant than mouse

Science AAAS

 – ‎June 27, 2014‎


A cute new species of shrew has been discovered in the desert of Namibia. Though the little guy may look like a mouse, it shares more of its DNA with elephants, The Daily Mail reports.


Obama plans world’s largest ocean preserve in Pacific

Associated Press June 17, 2014

Washington — Moving to protect fragile marine life, President Obama announced plans Tuesday to create the largest ocean preserve in the world by banning drilling, fishing and other activities in a massive stretch of the Pacific Ocean.


Plastic Waste Causes $13 Billion In Damages To Marine Ecosystems Each Year

More than 30 percent of the natural capital costs of plastic are due to greenhouse gas emissions from raw material extraction and processing.

By Eco Watch | June 24, 2014

Concern is growing over the threat that widespread plastic waste poses to marine life, with conservative estimates of the overall financial damage of plastics to marine ecosystems standing at $13 billion USD each year, according to two reports released on the opening day of the first UN Environment Assembly. The eleventh edition of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Year Book looks at ten issues flagged as emerging by previous reports over the past decade, including plastic waste in the ocean. The UNEP Year Book 2014 gives an update on each issue and provides options for action. Other areas covered include the environmental impacts of excess nitrogen and marine aquaculture, air pollution’s deadly toll and the potential of citizen science. Plastic, a UNEP-supported report produced by the Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP) and Trucost, makes the business case for managing and disclosing plastic use in the consumer goods industry. It finds that the overall natural capital cost of plastic use in the consumer goods sector each year is $75 billion USD—financial impacts resulting from issues such as pollution of the marine environment or air pollution caused by incinerating plastic. The report says that more than 30 percent of the natural capital costs of plastic are due to greenhouse gas emissions from raw material extraction and processing. However, it notes that marine pollution is the largest downstream cost, and that the figure of $13 billion USD is likely a significant underestimate…



Why Are We Importing Our Own Fish?

By PAUL GREENBERG NY Times Opinion JUNE 20, 2014

Hundreds of shrimp trawlers setting off from the Shenjiamen fishing port in eastern China in 2010. Credit Hu Sheyou/Xinhua Press, via Corbis

…..As go scallops, so goes the nation. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, even though the United States controls more ocean than any other country, 86 percent of the seafood we consume is imported. But it’s much fishier than that: While a majority of the seafood Americans eat is foreign, a third of what Americans catch is sold to foreigners….The seafood industry, it turns out, is a great example of the swaps, delete-and-replace maneuvers and other mechanisms that define so much of the outsourced American economy; you can find similar, seemingly inefficient phenomena in everything from textiles to technology. The difference with seafood, though, is that we’re talking about the destruction and outsourcing of the very ecological infrastructure that underpins the health of our coasts. Let’s walk through these illogical arrangements, course by course. ….

Most seafood eaters know the sad story of the Atlantic cod. The ill effects of the postwar buildup of industrialized American fishing are epitomized by that fish’s overexploitation: Gorton’s fish sticks and McDonald’s Filets-o-Fish all once rode on the backs of billions of cod. The codfish populations of North America plummeted and have yet to return. Just as the North Atlantic was falling as a fish-stick producer, the Pacific rose. …..

There was a time when “nova lox” was exactly that: wild Atlantic salmon (laks in Norwegian) caught off Nova Scotia or elsewhere in the North Atlantic. But most wild Atlantic salmon populations have been fished to commercial extinction, and today a majority of our lox comes from selectively bred farmed salmon, with Chile our largest supplier. This is curious, given that salmon are not native to the Southern Hemisphere. But after Norwegian aquaculture companies took them there in the ’80s, they became so numerous as to be considered an invasive species…..And I’d suggest that all this fish swapping contributes to an often fraudulent seafood marketplace, where nearly half of the oceanic products sold may be mislabeled. We can have no more intimate relationship with our environment than to eat from it. During the last century that intimacy has been lost, and with it our pathway to one of the most healthful American foods. It is our obligation to reclaim this intimacy. This requires us not just to eat local seafood; it requires the establishment of a working relationship with our marine environment. It means, in short, making seafood not only central to personal health, but critical to the larger health of the nation.

Paul Greenberg is the author of the forthcoming book “American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood,” from which this essay was adapted.



Plastic Stones, Melting Snails: 3 New Ways To Maim a Planet

Humans to Earth: “Drop dead”

Keegan Meyer saves equipment from DBE Manufacturing via boat after an area of town flooded in Greeley, Colorado. Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

By Coco McPherson June 24, 2014 12:20 PM ET Rolling Stone

…..Many scientists argue we’re in the Anthropocene, defined chiefly by human activity permanently altering the Earth. Three horrifying discoveries support the argument:


This month brought news of plastiglomerate formations on beaches. These “stones” are monstrous anthropogenic composites of plastic, sand, wood, rocks, shells, rubber tubing and fishing junk including nets, rope and anything else melted plastic might adhere to. Because plastic degrades so slowly, these plastic stones are now part of the planet’s geological record; a permanent marker of our civilization. Oceanographer Captain Charles Moore, a marine plastic pollution expert who discovered the stones, also identified the hideous North Pacific gyre, a plastic-saturated stretch of ocean that’s one of the most polluted areas in the world. In 1999, plastic pollution in the gyre outweighed zooplankton 6 to 1; now it’s 36 to 1. What’s to be done with the estimated 600 billion pounds of plastic manufactured every year?

In April, scientists reported that an acidifying Pacific Ocean had corroded and dissolved the shells of sea snails, a critical food source for fish including herring, mackerel and salmon. Chemical processes triggered by acidification were depleting the carbonate ions needed by corals, mussels and oysters to form their shells and skeletons. Oceans suck up a lot of the carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere; they’ve absorbed more than 560 billion tons of carbon dioxide since the 1850s, a 50 percent faster increase than any known historical change. The result: ocean acidification, the “other CO2 problem.”
In Maine’s Casco Bay, scientists placed juvenile clams in mudflats bathed by an acidifying Atlantic Ocean — the clams promptly disintegrated. In addition to CO2 pollution, nitrogen runoff sourced to sewage plants and over-fertilized lawns also threatens Maine’s $60 million shellfish industry. “If I try to talk about climate change and ocean acidification, I lose people,” says Casco baykeeper Joe Payne. “I make it very short-term; the next three years. We’re focused on the fertilizer from people’s lawns that comes down the rivers and down the bay. It’s fertilizing microscopic plants in the water; when they die, bacteria breaks them down and takes oxygen out of the water. The byproduct of decomposition is CO2. We’re getting huge coastal acidification. What’s happening to the mud is astounding.”


An asteroid caused the Earth’s fifth great species extinction, but humans have launched a sixth that may rival the effects of that deadly event. Last month, Science reported that animal and plant species are being wiped out at 1,000 times the natural rate. “This is a death rate,” explains the study’s lead author, Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation at Duke. Examining the fossil record, scientists determined how long it took a species to die out there and compared. “We read the obituary notices of species — if not exactly the newspapers but in the scientific literature,” Pimm tells Rolling Stone. “And that tells us that species are dying off at a rate of between 100 and 1,000 extinctions per million species per year.” Comparing this as a rate is important. “If somebody comes to me and says 130 extinctions per million species per year, I can name them, I can tell you where they lived and where they died.” Habitat destruction threatens plants and animals around the globe. In The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert writes that human beings have so altered the physical world that species literally cannot survive: “One of the defining features of the Anthropocene is that the world is changing in ways that compel species to move, and another is that it’s changing in ways that create barriers – roads, clear-cuts, cities – that prevent them from doing so.” In Coastal Brazil, where Stuart Pimm works to restore tropical forests, more species are going extinct than anywhere in the Americas. Only patches of forest remain on a landscape that is now highly fragmented. “We’re being enormously poor stewards,” observes Pimm. “The debate about species extinction is we’ve got a few decades to get our act together. Species are going to die, but the question is, ‘Can we postpone that event?’ We’re not going to get biodiversity back within millions of years. As a global community, are we going to do something about this or are we going to go recklessly headlong into one environmental disaster after another? Yes, this is an emergency. If we don’t do something in the next few decades we will lose. The Sixth Extinction hasn’t happened yet. We’ve done a lot of bad things. But we can stop.”

Can we really stop? McKibben says pessimism’s a waste of time.” ‘No hope’ is both inaccurate and unhelpful. There’s no hope everything is going to be okay, there’s plenty of reason to hope we can keep it from getting worse than it has to. Which may mean lots of human lives, and lots of other DNA, make it through to the future.”


The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate, by Al Gore





In some areas, bears have become a problem. This is most often because:
(a.) They leave the remains of their prey lying around and breeding flies.
(b.) They make dens in abandoned houses and empty garages.
(c.) They knock over trees and destroy other vegetation while chasing prey.
(d.) They find food in campsites or garbage cans.
(e.) Someone starts a wildfire and bear with pants shows up with an attitude.
(f.) Of resentment over decades of lost teddy bear royalties.

See answer at bottom.





NOAA: May global temperature reaches record high, driven largely by record warm oceans

June 23, 2014

According to NOAA scientists, the globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for May 2014 was the highest for May since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 39th consecutive May and 351st consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average global temperature for May occurred in 1976 and the last below-average temperature for any month occurred in February 1985. The majority of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, with record warmth across eastern Kazakhstan, parts of Indonesia, and central and northwestern Australia. Scattered sections across every major ocean basin were also record warm. Part of the northeastern Atlantic, small sections of the northwestern and southeastern Pacific, and the ocean waters off the southern tip of South America were cooler or much cooler than average…….Extreme wetness was observed during May over parts of central and eastern Europe, along with small sections in both eastern and western equatorial Africa. Extreme dryness was scattered across different parts of the globe, including northern and eastern South America, parts of northern and eastern Australia, and sections of East Asia. Some regions in northern and eastern Austria received record monthly rainfall for May. The region north of Salzburg to Mattersburg observed 230 percent of average May precipitation, the most since records began in 1820. Several individual stations set new May precipitation records….



Ancient ocean currents may have changed pacing and intensity of ice ages: Slowing of currents may have flipped switch

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

Researchers have found that the deep ocean currents that move heat around the globe stalled or even stopped about 950,000 years ago, possibly due to expanding ice cover in the north. The slowing currents increased carbon dioxide storage in the ocean, leaving less in the atmosphere, which kept temperatures cold and kicked the climate system into a new phase of colder but less frequent ice ages, they hypothesize.


Just hatched Arctic shorebirds, like this long-billed dowitcher above, need to feed on abundant insects to grow and get ready for their southward migration in mid-summer. With earlier and earlier springs, shorebirds and other Arctic birds are challenged to adjust the timing of their breeding to insure that young have abundant resources. Credit: Steve Zack

Earlier snowmelt prompting earlier breeding of Arctic birds

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 12:12 PM PDT

Biologists have found that migratory birds that breed in Arctic Alaska are initiating nests earlier in the spring, and that snowmelt occurring earlier in the season is a big reason why. The report, “Phenological advancement in arctic bird species: relative importance of snow melt and ecological factors,” appears in the current on-line edition of the journal Polar Biology. Lead author Joe Liebezeit (formerly with WCS) and co-author Steve Zack of WCS [and Point Blue research associate) have conducted research on Arctic birds and conservation issues in Alaska for more than a decade…. Researchers looked in nearly 2,500 nests of four shorebird species: semi-palmated sandpiper, red phalarope, red-necked phalarope, and pectoral sandpiper, and one songbird, the lapland longspur, and recorded when the first eggs were laid in each nest. The research occurred across four sites that ranged from the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay to the remote National Petroleum Reserve of western Arctic Alaska. Snow melt was assessed in nesting plots at different intervals in the early spring. Other variables, like nest predator abundance (which is thought to affect timing of breeding), and satellite measures of “green-up”(the seasonal flush of new growth of vegetation) in the tundra were also assessed as potential drivers of the change in nest timing, but were found to be less important than snow melt. “It seems clear that the timing of the snow melt in Arctic Alaska is the most important mechanism driving the earlier and earlier breeding dates we observed in the Arctic,” said Liebezeit. “The rates of advancement in earlier breeding are higher in Arctic birds than in other temperate bird species, and this accords with the fact that the Arctic climate is changing at twice the rate.”… WCS Coordinator of Bird Conservation Steve Zack said, “Migratory birds are nesting earlier in the changing Arctic, presumably to track the earlier springs and abundance of insect prey. Many of these birds winter in the tropics and might be compromising their complicated calendar of movements to accommodate this change. We’re concerned that there will be a threshold where they will no longer be able to track the emergence of these earlier springs, which may impact breeding success or even population viability.”


J. R. Liebezeit, K. E. B. Gurney, M. Budde, S. Zack, D. Ward. Phenological advancement in arctic bird species: relative importance of snow melt and ecological factors. Polar Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00300-014-1522-x


Restricting Competitors Could Help Threatened Species Cope With Climate Change

June 24, 2014 — Threatened animal species could cope better with the effects of climate change if competition from other animals for the same habitats is restricted, according to new research. Observing the goats in the Italian Alps during the summer, the researchers found that Chamois tended to move to higher altitudes where it is cooler on hotter days and in the middle of the day, but moved much higher when sheep were present. To their surprise, they discovered that competition with sheep had a far greater effect on Chamois than the predicted effects of future climate change… Fellow study co-author Dr Philip Stephens, also in Durham University’s Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, added: “We often think of climate as the major determinant of where animals live.

“However, this study shows that the effects of species interactions could be more important than the predicted impacts of climate change.” The study, funded by The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) also revealed that Chamois can alter their behaviour in the face of warmer temperatures, seeking shelter during hot periods rather than moving to higher altitudes. The researchers said that an ability to adjust their behaviours could make some species more adaptable to climate change than previously thought. However, they added that a better understanding of the costs of these behaviours was required.…..full story


Tom H.E. Mason, Philip A. Stephens, Marco Apollonio, Stephen G. Willis. Predicting potential responses to future climate in an alpine ungulate: interspecific interactions exceed climate effects. Global Change Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12641




New study improves measurements of the warming oceans

Uncertainties in ocean measurements are crucial to our understanding of human-caused climate change

John Abraham, Friday 20 June 2014 09.00 EDT

Heating of the oceans is, pardon the pun, a hot subject. There is a broad recognition that the oceans, which absorb approximately 90% of excess greenhouse gas energy, are key not only to how fast the planet will warm, but also how hot it will get in the end. Many recent studies have tried to measure deeper ocean regions or previously uncharted areas in the search for heat. A new study by Lijing Cheng and Jiang Zhu takes a different approach. They ask how large are biases in the estimates of ocean heating from the finite resolution of the devices themselves. Their findings are exciting, but first, let’s talk about the details of the study…. Decades ago, insulated buckets, then, bathythermograph devices, and now ARGO floats have been used. While these devices all go down into the ocean depths, they have different depth resolutions. Over the years, we have a large number of measurements near ocean’s surfaces but as we measure deeper and deeper, fewer and fewer data points are available. As a result, we cannot construct exact temperature-depth curves. Consequently, our discrete data points give us some error, some bias compared to real ocean temperatures.

In their paper, Lijing Cheng and Jiang Zhu quantify our ocean errors. They started with a “real” ocean temperature and then they extracted discrete data and asked themselves how their discrete data matched the original temperatures. By discrete data, I mean that they extracted temperatures every 10 meters, 20 meters, 30 meters, and so forth. Somewhat like the science of calculus where smooth curves are approximated by a series of straight-lined segments. What they found was very interesting. In the upper regions of the oceans, the discrete data was colder than the real ocean temperatures. However, deeper in the waters, the trend reversed and the discrete data was warmer. But to make things more complicated, the errors differed depending on location in the oceans. Near the equator (tropics), the discrete data exhibited a warm bias but further from the equator, the bias was cold. Furthermore, the extent of the error changed throughout the year….



Understanding the ocean’s role in Greenland glacier melt

June 23, 2014
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The Greenland Ice Sheet is a 1.7 million-square-kilometer, 2-mile thick layer of ice that covers Greenland. Its fate is inextricably linked to our global climate system. In the last 40 years, ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet increased four-fold contributing to one-quarter of global sea level rise. Some of the increased melting at the surface of the ice sheet is due to a warmer atmosphere, but the ocean’s role in driving ice loss largely remains a mystery. Research by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Univ. of Oregon sheds new light on the connection between the ocean and Greenland’s outlet glaciers, and provides important data for future estimates of how fast the ice sheet will melt and how much mass will be lost. The study was published today in Nature Geosciences. … From their analysis of the data, the researchers found rapid fluctuations in ocean temperature near the glaciers, resulting from “surprisingly” fast ocean currents in the fjords. The fjord currents, which reverse every few days, are driven by winds and ocean currents outside the fjord. These findings imply that changes in temperature in the ocean waters outside the fjord can be rapidly communicated to the glacier, through an efficient pumping of new water into the fjord. “We see much more variability in the upper fjord than we would have expected,” Jackson said. “Our findings go against the prevailing paradigm that focused on the input of freshwater to the fjord as a driver of new water into the fjord.”

Rebecca H. Jackson, Fiammetta Straneo, David A. Sutherland. Externally forced fluctuations in ocean temperature at Greenland glaciers in non-summer months. Nature Geoscience, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2186


Regional weather extremes linked to atmospheric variations

Posted: 22 Jun 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Variations in high-altitude wind patterns expose particular parts of Europe, Asia and the US to different extreme weather conditions, a new study has shown. Changes to air flow patterns around the Northern Hemisphere are a major influence on prolonged bouts of unseasonal weather — whether it be hot, cold, wet or dry…. Dr James Screen, a Mathematics Research Fellow at the University of Exeter and lead author of the study, said: “The impacts of large and slow moving atmospheric waves are different in different places. In some places amplified waves increase the chance of unusually hot conditions, and in others the risk of cold, wet or dry conditions.” The study showed that larger waves can lead to droughts in central North America, Europe and central Asia, and western Asia exposed to prolonged wet spells. It also shows western North America and central Asia are more prone to heat waves, while eastern North America is more likely to experience prolonged outbreaks of cold….


James A. Screen, Ian Simmonds. Amplified mid-latitude planetary waves favour particular regional weather extremes. Nature Climate Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2271


How a Wavy Jet Stream Fuels Cold, Hot Weather Extremes

Brian Kahn, Climate Central Published: Jun 23, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT

Animation of the jet stream as it moves over North America, illustrating its troughs and ridges. (NASA)

The pattern of a wavy jet stream was a recurring theme in U.S. weather forecasts this winter as a particularly jagged one essentially split the country in two. While there is a debate over whether climate change causes that pattern, new research shows that the waviness does exacerbate extreme weather. The research, published in Nature Climate Change on Sunday, looked at planetary waves on a monthly timescale.
Waves are essentially the ridges and troughs left as the jet stream, a fast-moving river of air, cuts it way across the middle of the northern hemisphere. The jet stream essentially helps drive weather patterns around the northern half of the globe by pushing around storm systems and sometimes impeding their progress. James Screen, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter who co-authored the study, said he wanted to examine how planetary waves influenced persistent weather patterns, such as drought or extreme heat or cold. He examined the timeframe from 1979-2010, looking for 40 months that exhibited the most extreme precipitation, and for 40 months that showed the most extreme temperature departures from the norm. And the data showed that more wavy waves overwhelmingly accompanied months with temperature or precipitation extremes. Only a small percentage of months with extreme weather corresponded with a more relaxed series of waves…..

….Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Corporation for Atmospheric Research, said the study quantified a fairly well known pattern, though one he said climate scientists often take for granted. Climate researchers have started to look at these waves more closely, from how to use them to predict heat waves to how climate change could alter them. commentary in Science last month argued that climate change was at least in part to blame for the pattern that set up over the U.S. this past winter by making waves more common. That commentary is based on research published in 2012 that made the case for why rapid Arctic warming is increasing the odds of wilder planetary waves. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as areas around the equator because of unique feedbacks involving ice cover in the region. The research argues that as the temperature gradient between the poles and the equator decreases, planetary waves are getting out of whack and becoming even more extreme, though other research has challenged those findings…..Jennifer Francis, a researcher at Rutgers University who proposed the hypothesis, said there’s a ways to go toward understanding how climate change could affect planetary waves, and the meanderings of the jet stream. “This is a complicated problem, and finding answers is further challenged by the short time period over which those regional temperature changes have emerged as clear signals from the highly variable atmosphere,” she said in an email. “New approaches to this question are underway, however, and I’m confident that a clearer picture will come to light in the next few years.” Francis also stressed that understanding waves is just one component of understanding the larger category of extreme weather. Natural fluctuations in ocean temperatures, such as El Niño, and human-caused deforestation and air pollution, can all have an impact. Smaller fluctuations in the atmosphere can also lead to sudden, shorter-scale extreme events. Trenberth said that putting aside the impact climate change could have on waves, it can also alter the water cycle because a warmer atmosphere can hold more water, increasing the odds of heavy precipitation and extreme dryness.


Animation of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Credit: NOAA.

Atmosphere May Be Getting in Gear for El Niño

June 20th, 2014 By Andrea Thompson

The atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean may be getting its act together and finally cooperating with shifting ocean waters to signal that an El Niño has arrived, climate scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in their latest outlook. El Niño watchers have been waiting for the climate phenomenon to show up since an El Niño Watch was issued back in March, meaning that conditions were favorable for one to develop in the next six months. Potential El Niño events are so closely watched because of the influence they can have on the world’s weather. Depending on when this El Niño develops, it could also bump up Earth’s already warming temperature enough to make 2014 or 2015 a record warm year, scientists have said…..


The Midwest Receives Two Months Of Rainfall In One Week

By Katie Valentine on June 23, 2014

The Twin Cities have set records for the wettest year so far since 1871 and one of the wettest Junes ever recorded.

This concrete post was driven to bedrock in 1924 in the Everglades by University of Florida staff. The soil has subsided more than 6 feet in 90 years. Luckily, the rate of soil loss has been cut in 1/2 due to best management practices.

Where has all the soil gone? Focusing on soil loss important to researchers

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 01:39 PM PDT

During these times of high drought and potential dust storms (or torrential rain and flash flooding), focusing on soil loss is important. Soil erosion is expensive. It costs the United States about $44 billion per year. Preventing erosion means taking care of the soil. That means protecting it with mulch and plants, not plowing on steep slopes, and maximizing the amount of water that enters the soil while minimizing the water that runs over the soil


There may be a bright side to glacier melt

Release of iron into the ocean may fertilise phytoplankton that can trap carbon dioxide

By Philip Dooley June 27, 2014

A melting glacier in Scoresby Sound, Greenland. New findings suggest they may be fertilising the ocean. CREDIT: MINT IMAGES/FRANS LANTING/GETTY IMAGES

One of the alarming harbingers of global warming has been the melting of glaciers, but it turns out that there may be a silver lining, albeit a small one. The glaciers are releasing iron into the ocean and fertilising microscopic single-celled marine plants known as phytoplankton. Geoengineers have long suggested adding iron to the ocean to fertilise plankton. It seems nature is doing it on its own. Jon Hawkings from Bristol University in the UK led the team studying the melt waters that pool beneath west Greenland’s glaciers and found them rich in iron. The researchers calculated the total amount of iron entering the world’s oceans this way would average around a million tonnes per year – the weight of 125 Eiffel Towers. Iron is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, and plenty accumulates in glaciers as they gouge their way across the landscape. Nevertheless iron is very scarce in the oceans as it reacts with oxygen to form iron oxides. Once fully oxidised, it forms insoluble crystals that sink to the bottom of the ocean, leaving the phytoplankton hungry. However, the iron in the glacial melt water has a different story, says Hawkings. “We think the isolated environment under the glaciers might have no oxygen, it’s all been used up by chemical reactions.” The result is that iron carried into the sea is only partially oxidised, in a form that phytoplankton can access. Once out in the ocean the iron begins to oxidise further, but not so fast that the phytoplankton can’t snack on some first. This surge of nutrients enables them to multiply exponentially, in the process trapping large amounts of carbon dioxide. As the phytoplankton die they carry some of that carbon down to the ocean floor, where it remains. The discovery that the glacial melt water trickling into the ocean carries bioavailable iron solves a previous puzzle. “You can observe large algal blooms in satellite images, sometimes stretching for hundreds of kilometres. People have struggled to explain why they’re there,” says Hawkings, whose research was published in Nature Communications in May. The iron provides the explanation….




What does climate change mean for sea turtles?

Graeme Hays Professor of Marine Science at Deakin University June 23 2014

Is climate change good or bad news for sea turtles? djblock99/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

You might have seen in recent news that climate change may increase the size of some sea turtle populations, by increasing the number of female turtles. These studies hinge on an unusual trait of sea turtles: their sex is determined by the temperature in the nest. Turtle eggs incubated above 29C produce mostly females, while temperatures under 29C produce mostly males. Our recent study published in Nature Climate Change found that by altering the sex ratio of turtle populations in favour of females, climate change could lead to a population increase in the short term. But this isn’t the whole story….



Humans have been changing Chinese environment for 3,000 years: Ancient levee system set stage for massive, dynasty-toppling floods

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 09:50 AM PDT

A widespread pattern of human-caused environmental degradation and related flood-mitigation efforts began changing the natural flow of China’s Yellow River nearly 3,000 years ago, setting the stage for massive floods that toppled the Western Han Dynasty, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.



Words Matter When Talking Global Warming: The ‘Good Anthropocene’ Debate

By Joe Romm June 19, 2014 at 10:24 am Updated: June 19, 2014 at 4:28 pm

We spend more of our waking hours communicating than perhaps any other single activity. And while the principles of effective writing and speaking have been understood for centuries if not millennia, they are largely ignored today — sometimes intentionally, as Orwell pointed out nearly seven decades ago. ….. I’ve been thinking about all this because I was on two recent science communications panels: a “Science & Policy Communications Workshop” this week for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and a Communications Workshop at the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Summer Policy Colloquium last week. Everything I know on the subject can be found in my 2012 book, “Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln and Lady Gaga.” For those who want the pithy version, start with the great 20th Century essayist, Orwell, in his greatest essay, “Politics And The English Language” — and the great 20th Century orator, Winston Churchill, in his essay metaphorically titled, “The Scaffolding of Rhetoric.” Orwell offers six simple rules for writing with clarity, “rules that one can rely on when instinct fails,” when you are “in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase”:

  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

What’s interesting is that in his essay, Churchill says some very similar things even though he is focused on oratory. “There is no more important element in the technique of rhetoric than the continual employment of the best possible word,” he argues. “Whatever part of speech it is it must in each case absolutely express the full meaning of the speaker. It will leave no room for alternatives.” So clarity is king, just as it is for Orwell. Churchill then takes on a very common myth about rhetoric… [read on for an excellent essay conclusion!]…

An externally-valid approach to consensus messaging [on climate change]

Posted on 21 June 2014 by John Cook

Earlier this week, Dan Kahan published a blog post questioning the value of consensus messaging. He generously allowed me to publish a guest post, An “externally-valid” approach to consensus messaging, responding to his issues. For starters, I examine Dan’s idea that the consensus gap (the gap between public perception and the 97% consensus) is due to cultural cognition. I point out that there is a consensus gap even among liberals:

  • A 2012 Pew surveys of the general public found that even among liberals, there is low perception of the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming. When Democrats are asked “Do scientists agree earth is getting warmer because of human activity?”, only 58% said yes. There’s a significant “consensus gap” even for those whose cultural values predispose them towards accepting the scientific consensus. A “liberal consensus gap”.
  • My own data, measuring climate perceptions amongst US representative samples, confirms the liberal consensus gap. The figure below shows what people said in 2013 when asked how many climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming. The x-axis is a measure of political ideology (specifically, support for free markets). For people on the political right (e.g., more politically conservative), perception of scientific consensus decreases, just as cultural cognition predicts. However, the most relevant feature for this discussion is the perceived consensus on the left…..


Mediterranean region struggles with warming, acidification and jellyfish blooms
ClimateWire June 27, 2014

Loss of tourism as a result of degradation to marine ecosystems, such as local jellyfish blooms, was one of the 10 top problems in the Mediterranean announced this month at a conference highlighting the conclusions of a study funded by the European Commission on the health of the sea.





Satellite data provides picture of underground water

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 07:06 AM PDT

Scientists demonstrate that satellite-collected data can accurately measure aquifer levels, a finding with potentially huge implications for management of precious global water sources. Superman isn’t the only one who can see through solid surfaces. In a development that could revolutionize the management of precious groundwater around the world, Stanford researchers have pioneered the use of satellites to accurately measure levels of water stored hundreds of feet below ground. Their findings were published recently in Water Resources Research. Groundwater provides 25 to 40 percent of all drinking water worldwide, and is the primary source of freshwater in many arid countries, according to the National Groundwater Association. About 60 percent of all withdrawn groundwater goes to crop irrigation. In the United States, the number is closer to 70 percent. In much of the world, however, underground reservoirs or aquifers are poorly managed and rapidly depleted due to a lack of water-level data. Developing useful groundwater models, availability predictions and water budgets is very challenging. Study co-author Rosemary Knight, a professor of geophysics and senior fellow, by courtesy, at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, compared groundwater use to a mismanaged bank account: “It’s like me saying I’m going to retire and live off my savings without knowing how much is in the account.” Lead author Jessica Reeves, a postdoctoral scholar in geophysics, extended Knight’s analogy to the connection among farmers who depend on the same groundwater source. “Imagine your account was connected to someone else’s account, and they were withdrawing from it without your knowing.“….


Jessica A. Reeves, Rosemary Knight, Howard A. Zebker, Peter K. Kitanidis, Willem A. Schreüder. Estimating temporal changes in hydraulic head using InSAR data in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Water Resources Research, 2014; 50 (5): 4459 DOI: 10.1002/2013WR014938


Water war bubbling up between California and Arizona

Michael Hiltzik
June 20, 2014 LA Times

Low water levels are plainly visible on Lake Mead, which is fed by the Colorado River. (Michael Robinson Chavez / LA Times)

Once upon a time, California and Arizona went to war over water. The year was 1934, and Arizona was convinced that the construction of Parker Dam on the lower Colorado River was merely a plot to enable California to steal its water rights. Its governor, Benjamin Moeur, dispatched a squad of National Guardsmen up the river to secure the eastern bank from the decks of the ferryboat Julia B. — derisively dubbed “Arizona’s navy” by a Times war correspondent assigned to cover the skirmish. After the federal government imposed a truce, the guardsmen returned home as “conquering heroes.”

The next water war between California and Arizona won’t be such an amusing little affair. And it’s coming soon.

Nineteenth-century water law is meeting 20th-century infrastructure and 21st century climate change, and it leads to a nonsensical outcome.
– Bradley Udall, a senior fellow at the University of Colorado Law School. The issue still is the Colorado River. Overconsumption and climate change have placed the river in long-term decline. It’s never provided the bounty that was expected in 1922, when the initial allocations among the seven states of the Colorado River basin were penciled out as part of the landmark Colorado River Compact, which enabled Hoover Dam to be built, and the shortfall is growing. The signs of decline are impossible to miss. One is the wide white bathtub ring around Lake Mead, the reservoir behind Hoover Dam, showing the difference between its maximum level and today’s. Lake Mead is currently at 40% of capacity, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dam. At 1084.63 feet on Wednesday, it’s a couple of feet above its lowest water level since it began filling in 1935. But the rules governing appropriations from the river are unforgiving and don’t provide for much shared sacrifice among the states, or among farmers and city dwellers. The developing crisis can’t be caricatured as farmers versus fish, as it is by Central Valley growers irked at environmental diversions of water into the region’s streams. It can’t be addressed by building more dams, because reservoirs can’t be filled with water that doesn’t come. And it can’t be addressed by technological solutions such as desalination, which can provide only marginal supplies of fresh water, and then only at enormous expense….


Sudden oak death drying up with drought

Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Updated 10:45 pm, Sunday, June 22, 2014

The California drought is helping save the state’s signature tree – the mighty oak – by slowing down the spread of the plague-like disease scientists call sudden oak death. The exceptionally dry conditions have drastically reduced the number of contagious spores that have killed hundreds of thousands of oak trees and raised havoc among tree lovers and scientists. Preliminary results of surveys taken between April 4 and June 5 this year show an infection rate of between 2 and 10 percent of California bay laurel trees tested in 17 western counties between Fort Bragg and San Luis Obispo. That’s compared with between 20 and 80 percent during a normal year when rainfall is abundant. Pinpointing infected bay laurels is the key to fighting the tree-strangling pathogen because bays are the waylay point for the miscreant microbes before they do their dirty work on oaks. The findings are significant because scientists had predicted that sudden oak death, discovered in Mill Valley in 1995, would kill 90 percent of California’s oaks within 20 years. The drought is giving scientists battling the microscopic malefactor a fighting chance like they’ve never had before…..



California Drought: Snowmelt’s path shows impact from Sierra to Pacific– SPECIAL REPORT with VIDEOS

By Lisa Krieger San Jose Mercury News Posted:   06/21/2014 03:56:24 PM PDT

When a single snowflake falls peacefully atop a Sierra peak, it begins a turbulent journey to help quench the thirst of a drought-stricken state. In most years, Sierra snow provides a third of California’s water supply. But it is by far the least reliable portion — and now, after three years of historically low snowfall, tensions are soaring over how we share the shrinking bounty of this great frozen reservoir. Today, on the cusp of a long, dry summer, we follow the melting snow — and meet its dependents — along one of its many routes from remote peaks to thriving communities around the Golden State. As our snowmelt travels the 300-mile path from Yosemite’s Mount Dana to the sea, it meanders through the Tuolumne River watershed, past hydropower plants and nurseries, wildlife refuges and chemical plants, vineyards and the San Francisco Bay Area, where it provides water for millions of people…..

….The water in Don Pedro Lake was promised long ago to entrepreneurial farmers who built the dam and created the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts. About half of the 1.7 million acre feet of water captured by the Tuolumne River watershed goes to their farms. San Francisco’s PUC gets about 12 percent, and the rest goes downriver.

In California, we don’t own water. Rather, we just have the right to use it. These mighty districts — whose canals extend for more than 400 miles — sit atop the Tuolumne River’s human pecking order because they made their claim in 1887, under a water rights system that emerged with the early settlement of California known as “first in time, first in right.” Their access to water trumps San Francisco’s. But they rank below the rights of wildlife, which are protected by federal law — a major source of conflict in the region’s age-old fight for water…..    

Who has water rights? How much water is allotted to each user? To find, go to this interactive map, produced by the New California Water Atlas:

  • There is a pecking order to these rights, regulated by the State Water Board, which determines who can take water when there’s not enough to go around.
  • Riparian rights: The oldest and most senior of rights, dating back to English common law, given to owners of waterfront property, who must share water with other waterfront owners.
  • Appropriative “senior” rights: Next in line, these are given to users who aren’t connected to waterfront property but who made a claim on a river, stream or lake before 1914 under a long-held Western tradition of “first in time, first in right.” Not subject to permit or license.
  • Appropriative junior” rights: Given to users who aren’t connected to waterfront property and filed after 1914. Must obtain permit and license from state.


California’s record-warmest year worsens exceptional drought; El Niño continues to develop in Pacific

Filed in Uncategorized by Daniel Swain on June 22, 2014 • CA Weather Blog

The past couple of weeks have been warm and dry across nearly the entire state.

Persistent high pressure and geopotential height ridging have continued across the North Pacific in recent weeks. (NOAA/ESRL) While no widespread major heat waves occurred, certain regions (particularly in the Sacramento Valley) did set new daily record highs on a couple of occasions since my last post, and most other regions have averaged at least several degrees above normal for this time of year. “June gloom”–or the marine stratus and low clouds that are typically prevalent near the California coastline during early summer–has been less extensive than usual so far this summer. On a possibly related note, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are warmer than normal along the coast of Southern California (by as much as +3-4 F)…. California’s exceptional drought continues to make national and international headlines, and for good reason. 2014 has been (and remains) California’s warmest year to date in at least 118 years of record-keeping (and this follows the superlative warmest winter on record in 2013-2014). While the Water Year totals are not year in, 2013-2014 is destined to be among the top 3 driest Water Years on record, and this follows the all-time driest calendar year on record (by far) in 2013. Parallels have increasingly been drawn between the current event and both the much-remembered mid-1970s drought and the less-remembered but perhaps even more intense 1930s drought (which was associated with a much broader event across much of North America, including the devastating Dust Bowl conditions in the Great Plains). Given the fact that conditions during the present event are occurring in the broader context of record-warm temperatures–with associated record-high evaporation and soil/vegetation dryness–by some measures the hydrological intensity of the current drought is exceeding that of any recorded historical drought in California. And it’s also worth keeping in mind that we don’t yet know when the current drought will end: as many have noted, even a wetter-than-normal winter in 2014-2015 would almost certainly not be able to erase the phenomenal water deficits that currently exist around the state…..







US mayors give unanimous nod for cities to use nature to fight climate change effects

Ernest Moniz, right, secretary, United States Department of Energy, discusses climate protection with Gina McCarthy, ledt, United States Environmental Protection Agency, and David Agnew at the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, on June 22, 2014. Attendees of the U.S. Conference of Mayors voted Sunday to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in Dallas, on Sunday, June 22, 2014. The resolution encourages cities to use natural solutions to “protect freshwater supplies, defend the nation’s coastlines, maintain a healthy tree cover and protect air quality,” sometimes by partnering with nonprofit organizations. The resolution only “encourages” steps rather than mandating action. (AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Michael Ainsworth)

By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI, Associated Press June 23, 2014 | HOUSTON (AP) — A bipartisan group of mayors from across the country unanimously approved a resolution Monday that calls on cities to use natural solutions to fight the effects of climate change. Attendees of the U.S. Conference of Mayors voted in Dallas on the resolution that encourages cities to use nature to “protect freshwater supplies, defend the nation’s coastlines, maintain a healthy tree and green space cover and protect air quality,” sometimes by partnering with nonprofit organizations. The resolution was backed by mayors from GOP-dominated states — Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. It passed easily even though Republicans and Democrats remain deeply divided over how to deal with climate change. Although science shows human industrial activity is contributing to global warming, some conservatives remain skeptical. “What’s so significant is that there was a unanimous vote on an issue that can be so divisive,” said Laura Huffman, director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas. “When you peel away the high-level arguments and deal with the ground-level issues everyone just rolls up their sleeves and gets to work.” Mayors are looking for alternatives to traditional infrastructure projects that will be cost-effective and provide residents with amenities….



Scientists create new battery that’s cheap, clean, rechargeable … and organic

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a rechargeable battery that is all organic and could be scaled up easily for use in power plants where it can make the energy grid more resilient and efficient by creating a large-scale means to store energy for use as needed. The batteries could pave the way for renewable energy sources to make up a greater share of the nation’s energy generation.



A Slimmer Meal Tray Will Save Virgin Atlantic Millions Of Gallons Of Fuel

June 26, 2014

This design story is a typical example of how complex it can be to make a seemingly simple change–but why they can be necessary. When it’s fully loaded and ready to fly, a 747 jet can weigh as much as 400 metric tons, and airlines obsess over shaving off every possible ounce of weight. Losing even a single pound can save around 14,000 gallons of fuel in a year. Some carriers put in lighter seats and even lighter seatbelts, some strip paint off the outside of the jet (paint alone can weigh hundreds of pounds), and last year, one airline started charging passengers a fat tax. Now, by tweaking the design of meal trays, Virgin Atlantic has lightened the load of their flights by nearly 300 pounds each, enough to save millions of dollars in fuel costs and trim carbon emissions.



Longer flights ‘could curb impact of vapour trails’

By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News June 18, 2014

Contrails are believed to have a significant impact on global warming

Large condensation trails in the sky caused by aircraft could be eliminated by re-routing flight paths, say scientists. Researchers are concerned about the climate change potential of these wispy, man-made clouds. But a new study suggests that making changes to existing flight routes could curb their warming impact. Avoiding a major contrail on a flight to New York from London would only add 22km to the journey, experts say. Because of the way the Earth curves you can actually have quite small extra distances added onto the flight to avoid some really large contrails…Contrails are formed when planes fly through very cold, moist air and the exhausts from their engines condense into a visible vapour. …


Re-routing flights could reduce climate impact, research suggests

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 07:06 PM PDT

Aircraft can become more environmentally friendly by choosing flight paths that reduce the formation of their distinctive condensation trails, new research suggests




Can the Port Authority Save the Planet?

By TED STEINBERG NY Times Op Ed June 16, 2014

THIS has been a bad year for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, with scandals over a bridge closure and, most recently, a shady real estate deal. But the authority has a chance at redemption, if it is willing to move beyond its traditional mandate. Its model of interstate cooperation could do much more than prevent traffic jams; it could also play the leading role in managing the ecological health of the Hudson River estuary, and serve as an example for other coastal cities around the world facing complex environmental problems in a time of climate change. Estuaries exist where ocean tide meets freshwater from an incoming river. The nutrient-rich environment underwrites an enormous food supply that supports dense animal populations, from seals to frogs to wading birds. They have also long been attractive sites for urban development because of their prolific supply of natural resources, access to navigable water and capacity to absorb the waste produced by masses of people. During the last two centuries, urbanization has increasingly horned in on this territory. In 1800, a little more than 40 percent of the 25 largest cities in the world were situated along estuaries. Today, close to 70 percent of the planet’s largest cities are found there. One of the main ecological impacts has been eutrophication: a decline in water quality caused by an excess of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Often, those nutrients come from synthetic fertilizer, but the human waste discharged from cities, especially developing ones, remains an important factor. In the past, those nutrients found their way back to the land. Even today in the East Kolkata wetlands of India, sewage is recycled into vegetable patches and fish farms. But this kind of “closed-loop” system is rare in modern cities wedded to real estate development rather than agriculture. Instead, nutrients are gushing into estuaries and resulting in harmful algal blooms that rob the water of oxygen, degrade marine habitat and limit the diversity of aquatic life….



Cubans find preparing for climate change hard, expensive and essential

Environment & Energy Publishing 

 – ‎Jun 16, 2014‎ 


Cuba has a long history of climate adaptation measures, even if they weren’t originally conceived as such. For one, the country has a highly organized disaster prevention and management system, called Civil Defense, designed to protect lives in case of …






Bipartisan Report Tallies High Toll on Economy From Global Warming


More than a million homes and businesses along the nation’s coasts could flood repeatedly before ultimately being destroyed. Entire states in the Southeast and the Corn Belt may lose much of their agriculture as farming shifts northward in a warming world. Heat and humidity will probably grow so intense that spending time outside will become physically dangerous, throwing industries like construction and tourism into turmoil. That is a picture of what may happen to the United States economy in a world of unchecked global warming, according to a major new report released Tuesday by a coalition of senior political and economic figures from the left, right and center, including three Treasury secretaries stretching back to the Nixon administration. At a time when the issue of climate change has divided the American political landscape, pitting Republicans against Democrats and even fellow party members against one another, the unusual bipartisan alliance of political veterans said that the country — and business leaders in particular — must wake up to the enormous scale of the economic risk. “The big ice sheets are melting; something’s happening,” George P. Shultz, who was Treasury secretary under President Richard M. Nixon and secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, said in an interview. He noted that he had grown concerned enough about global warming to put solar panels on his own California roof and to buy an electric car. “I say we should take out an insurance policy….



Climate Campaign Can’t Be Deaf to Economic Worries, Obama Warns


WASHINGTON — President Obama acknowledged Wednesday that his efforts to combat climate change — in particular, Environmental Protection Agency regulations to slash carbon pollution from cars and coal-fired power plants — could raise fuel and electricity prices. And he told environmental advocates that in order to make a credible case for such climate policies, officials would need to acknowledge Americans’ worries about the economic effects. “People don’t like gas prices going up; they are concerned about electricity prices going up,” Mr. Obama said in a speech at an annual dinner for the League of Conservation Voters.
“If we’re blithe about saying, ‘This is the crisis of our time,’ but we don’t acknowledge these legitimate concerns — we’ve got to shape our strategies to address the very real and legitimate concerns of working families.” Climate change remains among the few policy items he can push through without action from Congress, and the issue is likely to define the remainder of his time in office…..


Barack Obama becomes mocker-in-chief on climate change skeptics.
President Barack Obama is letting his inner Don Rickles run free, mocking climate deniers as the crowd who used to think the moon was made out of cheese or spineless dopes who can’t or won’t listen to science even though the science is all overwhelmingly pointing in one direction. Politico


Supreme Court Reaffirms EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Authority, With Minor Limitation

By Ari Phillips on June 23, 2014

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA had narrowly exceeded its reach under the Clean Air Act in its permitting program to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.



Democrats use climate change as wedge issue on Republicans

By Carolyn Lochhead SF Chronicle June 22, 2014

Washington — When President Obama stood before students in Southern California a week ago ridiculing those who deny climate science, he wasn’t just road testing a new political strategy to a friendly audience. …


Environmentalists sign off on Bay Area growth plan

Bob Egelko Published 11:50 am, Saturday, June 21, 2014

(06-21) 11:48 PDT Oakland — Regional agencies that adopted a plan last year to guide Bay Area land use and transportation through 2040 have agreed with environmentalists to study and explain how they would promote public transit and limit greenhouse gases while building more highways. The agreement settled a lawsuit by Communities for a Better Environment and the Sierra Club, who argued that Plan Bay Area would increase climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions and displace low-income communities. The plan also is under a separate legal attack by pro-development forces who claim it is heavy-handed and unnecessary. That lawsuit is before an Alameda County Superior Court judge. Plan Bay Area, approved last July by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, sets guideposts for a 27-year period in which the nine-county population is projected to increase from 7 million to nearly 9 million. It is not legally binding, but designates areas eligible for state funding to encourage housing and jobs in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods near transit lines in order to keep development compact, reduce vehicle use and preserve open space. The agencies have approved 170 “priority development areas,” 100 acres or larger, nominated by local governments….



The Coming Climate Crash: Lessons for Climate Change in the 2008 Recession

By HENRY M. PAULSON Jr. Op-Ed NY Times JUNE 21, 2014

Carbon dioxide emissions like those from coal-fired power plants should be taxed to spur energy innovation. Credit Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

THERE is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage. For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do. We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked…..But we must not lose sight of the profound economic risks of doing nothing. The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a carbon tax. Few in the United States now pay to emit this potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere we all share. Putting a price on emissions will create incentives to develop new, cleaner energy technologies…..

two separate studies discovered that one of the biggest thresholds has already been reached. The West Antarctic ice sheet has begun to melt, a process that scientists estimate may take centuries but that could eventually raise sea levels by as much as 14 feet. Now that this process has begun, there is nothing we can do to undo the underlying dynamics, which scientists say are “baked in.” And 10 years from now, will other thresholds be crossed that scientists are only now contemplating? It is true that there is uncertainty about the timing and magnitude of these risks and many others. But those who claim the science is unsettled or action is too costly are simply trying to ignore the problem. We must see the bigger picture. The nature of a crisis is its unpredictability. And as we all witnessed during the financial crisis, a chain reaction of cascading failures ensued from one intertwined part of the system to the next. It’s easy to see a single part in motion. It’s not so easy to calculate the resulting domino effect. That sort of contagion nearly took down the global financial system. With that experience indelibly affecting my perspective, viewing climate change in terms of risk assessment and risk management makes clear to me that taking a cautiously conservative stance — that is, waiting for more information before acting — is actually taking a very radical risk. We’ll never know enough to resolve all of the uncertainties. But we know enough to recognize that we must act now. I’m a businessman, not a climatologist. But I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with climate scientists and economists who have devoted their careers to this issue. There is virtually no debate among them that the planet is warming and that the burning of fossil fuels is largely responsible.

Farseeing business leaders are already involved in this issue. It’s time for more to weigh in. To add reliable financial data to the science, I’ve joined with the former mayor of New York City, Michael R. Bloomberg, and the retired hedge fund manager Tom Steyer on an economic analysis of the costs of inaction across key regions and economic sectors. Our goal for the Risky Business project — starting with a new study that will be released this week — is to influence business and investor decision making worldwide.


Former Bush Treasury Secretary: We Can Prevent A ‘Climate Crash’ With A Carbon Tax

By Joe Romm on June 22, 2014

Bush’s former Treasury Secretary lays out our choice. Take on the “climate bubble” now and unleash the power of innovation to spur the next industrial revolution. Or keep ignoring science and face an irreversible “carbon crash” more devastating than the recent economic crash…..



Risky Business team spreads out in D.C. to spread word on climate costs

Anne C. Mulkern, E&E reporter ClimateWire: Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The high-profile team behind the “Risky Business” report on the economic costs of climate change fans out in Washington, D.C., today, spreading its message about what it sees as a looming crisis. Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer and other members of the project’s Risk Committee will review report findings with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and “senior White House leadership,” the Obama administration said. The group will learn this morning whether President Obama or Vice President Joe Biden will visit that meeting, said Matt Lewis, Risky Business’ communications director. Gregory Page, former CEO and current chairman of the board of Cargill Inc. and part of the Risk Committee, planned to confer with U.S. senators and House members. Lewis did not know which lawmakers Page planned to visit. Page also is slated to meet with American Farm Bureau Federation and Corn Growers Association members. Risk Committee member Henry Cisneros, President Clinton’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, planned to talk with Mortgage Bankers Association members. It’s part of a press that will continue this summer, as team members attend business group conferences in several states, Lewis said. Risky Business members “just don’t feel like the business and financial community have got this on their radar,” Lewis said, referencing climate change financial risks. “We want to make sure that the folks who should have this on their radar have this on their radar. That’s our main objective.”….



Maybe those EPA rules aren’t quite such a big deal.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule about carbon pollution from power plants isn’t that stringent. That’s why major environmental groups, though pleased to see the new rule, are quietly pushing the Administration to make it even stronger before it becomes final. The planet, they say, can’t wait for progress. New Republic


Initiative for renewable power in S.F. is stalling

John Coté and Marisa Lagos Monday, June 23, 2014 SF Chronicle

In his first month in office, Mayor Ed Lee assembled a team of energy experts to help San Francisco meet its ambitious goal of having all electricity in the city come from renewable sources by the end of 2020. But over the past year, Lee has overseen the evisceration of a renewable power program that clean-energy advocates, analysts and that task force say is critical to San Francisco meeting its goal. ….






Oklahoma Has Had More Earthquakes Than California This Year and Drilling Might Be to Blame

By Ben Mathis-Lilley June 23, 2014

….Between 1978 and 2008, Oklahoma experienced an average of just two quakes of 3.0 magnitude of greater. In 2014, as of Thursday, there have been about 207 such quakes recorded in the state, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The upward trend started in 2009, with 20 quakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater, then 43 the following year, and jumping every year with the exception of 2012.

California has seen 140 3.0-plus quakes this year to Oklahoma’s 207. Why the sudden increase? Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey believe that the blame may lie with wells that discard wastewater from oil and gas drilling operations by pumping it deep underground: A report issued last year by the U.S. Geological Survey found that most of these new earthquakes have taken place near active injection wells. Geophysicist William Ellsworth, the lead author of the report, wrote that it is completely plausible that the high water pressure often used in wastewater injections could nudge previously dormant faults out of their “locked” positions. The quakes, he wrote, are “almost certainly manmade.” The practice is similar to “fracking,” though the goal of fracking is to release new oil and gas, not discard drilling byproducts. It doesn’t appear that anyone has been killed or seriously injured in any of the state’s recent quakes.


Hormone-Disrupting Activity of Fracking Chemicals Worse Than Initially Found

June 23, 2014 — Many chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can disrupt not only the human body’s reproductive hormones but also the glucocorticoid and thyroid hormone receptors, which are necessary … full story


SunPower offers batteries to hold homes’ solar power until night.
SunPower Corp., the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer, is offering energy-storage systems to California homeowners that will power houses at night with electricity generated from sunlight during the day. Bloomberg News


Concentrating solar power: Study shows greater potential

Posted: 22 Jun 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Concentrating solar power could supply a large fraction of the power supply in a decarbonized energy system, shows a new study of the technology and its potential practical application.


The Future Of Solar Technology Could Be As Thin And Flexible As A Piece Of Paper

By Kiley Kroh June 23, 2014 at 10:49 am Updated: June 23, 2014 at 11:19 am

OPV solar cells are produced in the R&D lab. Just recently, Heliatek set a new world record for OPV with a cell efficiency of 10.7%. CREDIT: Heliatek/Tom Baerwald

Researchers in Denmark recently claimed a major breakthrough in the production of organic photovoltaic (OPV) solar cells. Unlike traditional silicon solar cells, used in rooftop solar panels and large-scale solar farms, OPVs use organic semiconductors — made from plastics and other flexible materials — and are much lighter, more flexible and less expensive. Because they use environmentally friendly materials and can be produced quickly with lower processing and materials costs, OPVs can be used in much more innovative ways, according to Jade Jones, Solar Analyst with GTM research. …


Harley-Davidson Roars Into Future With First Electric Motorcycle

By Ari Phillips on June 19, 2014

The future of Harley-Davidson is not a menacing roar but an explosive whoosh….


Winds of change for the shipping sector

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 07:06 PM PDT

Wind propulsion such as kites and Flettner rotors could offer a viable route to help cut carbon dioxide emissions in the shipping sector, according to researchers….







Sea-level Rise Modeling Handbook: Resource Guide for Coastal Land Managers, Engineers, and Scientists

Tuesday, July 1, 3:00 PM Eastern; NOON Pacific
via WebEx (Register at

Thomas W. Doyle, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, LA, will present:

Description: A sea-level rise modeling handbook has been developed as a natural resource manager’s guide of the science and simulation models for understanding the dynamics and impacts of sea-level rise on our coastal ecosystems.  This webinar introduces the layout and content of the handbook including various methods and models for understanding past and current sea-level change and predicting ecosystem impacts of rising sea level under future climate change.  Basic illustrations of the components of the Earth’s hydrosphere and effects of plate tectonics, planetary orbits, and glaciation are explained to understand the long-term cycles of historical sea-level rise and fall.  Discussion of proper interpretation of contemporary sea-level rates and trends from tide gauge stations and satellite altimetry missions will be presented to show their complementary aspects and value for understanding variability in eustasy and land motion for different coastal reaches of the U.S.  Examples of the different types and classes of hydrology and ecosystem models used to predict potential effects of future sea-level rise at local and regional scale applications will also be presented.  Coastal land managers, engineers, and scientists will benefit from this webinar and handbook illustrating tools and models that have been developed for projecting causes and consequences of sea-level change on the landscape and seascape.


THIS WEBINAR WILL BE RECORDED: approximately 1-2 weeks after the presentation is given- posted on the NCCWSC website: 

UPCOMING NCCWSC WEBINARSFor the schedule of upcoming webinars




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:

Ninth 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.


***SAVE THE DATE!!***  Sponsored by the CA LCC and CA Dept. of Water Resources

Traditional Ecological Knowledge Workshop September 23rd, 2014 @ California State University, Sacramento

Registration will open in June 2014. Check the California LCC website for details:



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



Director, California Terrestrial Conservation Program, TNC Job ID 42252

… a newly created position representing a unique opportunity to shape and lead a strategic vision for global conservation at the helm of the organization’s largest chapter. The Director will develop a compelling and unifying vision for terrestrial conservation in California, leading a team of approximately 30 employees throughout the state responsible for developing and implementing The Conservancy’s strategies to protect and restore priority terrestrial landscapes. The ideal candidate will be an experienced conservation leader with a proven ability to manage and inspire teams and significant experience developing and executing successful strategies in the environmental arena. The location is negotiable within California (San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles or San Diego). Applicants must apply on-line at To more easily locate the position, enter the job ID 42252 in the keyword search.


Bird and marine mammal observers on board NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center research ships

Watershed Stewards Program
two full-time Americorps member positions for 2014-1015.

The Watershed Stewards Program’s (WSP) mission is to conserve, restore, and enhance anadromous watersheds for future generations by linking education with high quality scientific practices.  A program of the California Conservation Corps, WSP is one of the most productive programs for future employment in natural resources Applications are due July 11. San Joaquin River Partnership’s Watershed Stewards members will be working with CA Dept of Fish & Wildlife on salmon recovery field work a good percentage of their time as well as habitat restoration, assisting with fishery biology elements of our school field trips, and community events. The San Joaquin River Partnership organizations will share mentor responsibilities for these Americorps members. WSP’s experience with their members is that the majority are placed with career positions as a result of their program participation. We’re very excited about the creation of a San Joaquin River unit of WSP and benefits for youth and our community and our expectation is that this unit will grow in subsequent years. Here is a short video about WSP







Bjorn Lomborg Is Part Of The Koch Network — And Cashing In

By Joe Romm on June 25, 2014

DeSmogBlog has done the first comprehensive analysis of where Bjorn Lomborg’s money comes from. You’ll be shocked, shocked to learn that a guy who argues for inaction on climate change and pens pieces like “The Poor Need Cheap Fossil Fuels” is connected to the Kochtopus empire….


Higgs Boson Confirms Reigning Physics Model Yet Again

June 23, 2014


Written by

Tia Ghose


For a subatomic particle that remained hidden for nearly 50 years, the Higgs boson is turning out to be remarkably well behaved. Yet more evidence from the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland, confirms that the …


European Space Agency: Magnetic North wandering south toward Siberia

Al Jazeera America

 – ‎June 23, 2014‎


Earth’s North Magnetic Pole is drifting south toward Siberia at an accelerating rate, according to recent data from the European Space Agency (ESA), which also showed that the dynamic magnetic field that protects the planet from radiation has weakened.


Conclusive evidence that sunscreen use in childhood prevents development of malignant melanoma in adults

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 08:14 AM PDT

Unequivocally, in a natural animal model, researchers have demonstrated that the incidence of malignant melanoma in adulthood can be dramatically reduced by the consistent use of sunscreen in infancy and childhood. The research was driven by the fact that, despite the increasing use of sunscreen in recent decades, the incidence of malignant melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, continues to increase dramatically. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 75,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year.


BPA Substitute as bad as BPA? Exposure to BPA substitute causes hyperactivity and brain changes in fish

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 07:39 AM PDT A chemical found in many “BPA free” consumer products, known as bisphenol S (BPS), is just as potent as bisphenol A (BPA) in altering brain development and causing hyperactive behavior, an animal study finds.


Association found between maternal exposure to agricultural pesticides and autism

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 06:29 AM PDT    

Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay, a study by researchers has found. The study examined associations between specific classes of pesticides, including organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamates, applied during the study participants’ pregnancies and later diagnoses of autism and developmental delay in their offspring.


Watching too much TV may increase risk of early death: Three hours a day linked to premature death from any cause

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 03:48 PM PDT

Adults who watch TV three hours or more a day may double their risk of premature death from any cause. Researchers suggest adults should consider getting regular exercise, avoiding long sedentary periods and reducing TV viewing to one to two hours a day….


Going vegetarian halves CO2 emissions from your food
New Scientist June 26, 2014

If you stop eating meat, your food-related carbon footprint could plummet to less than half of what it was. That is a much bigger drop than many previous estimates, and it comes from a study of people’s real diets….

Journal reference: Climatic Change, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-014-1169-1





Author and illustrator Katherine Roy paints a fabulous water color of the Farallones which will be the back page art of her upcoming children’s book on Farallon white sharks: NEIGHBORHOOD SHARKS: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands. This book will come out in the fall.














In some areas, bears have become a problem. This is most often because:
ANSWER: (d.) They find food in campsites or garbage cans.

SOURCE: “Black Bear – Ursus americanus” (BLM California wildlife database)
As they find food in urban areas they lose their fear of humans and could become quite aggressive. People who live in areas where bears are present should make their garbage cans bear-proof and keep their land clean. When camping, food should be stored in lockers that are specially designed to keep bears out. If the lockers aren’t available the food should be kept in the trunks of cars.




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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