Conservation Science News Nov 14 2015

Focus of the Week

Paris Attacks Won’t Deter Coming Climate Talks, Officials Say











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Focus of the WeekParis Attacks Won’t Deter Coming Climate Talks, Officials Say



Paris Attacks Won’t Deter Coming Climate Talks, Officials Say

by Joe Romm Nov 14, 2015 12:31pm

Both the French Government and the United Nations have confirmed that the big Paris climate talks scheduled for November 30 to December 12 will proceed as planned, but with stronger security in the wake of the Friday’s terrorist attacks.

The much-anticipated talks “will be held with enhanced security measures but it is absolutely essential action against climate change and obviously it will take [place],” French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius told Le Monde. UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) spokesman Nick Nuttall confirmed that “COP21 [the 21st Conference of Parties to the Convention] is going ahead as planned,” E&E News reports.

Security was always going to be tight at COP21, as it kicks off with some 120 heads of state including President Obama, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The French government is now reviewing security following terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 128 people. AFP reports, “an American official said President Barack Obama would participate in the meeting.”

Significantly, while these are called the “Paris climate talks,” the negotiations actually take place 10 miles outside of the famous city center where tourists flock to see the Eiffel tower, the Louvre, and countless other attractions. The venue is Le Bourget Parc d’Expositions.

The site was chosen in part for security reasons. The Paris Air Show is held at Le Bourget, and the site is most well known for being where Charles Lindbergh landed in 1927 after his famous solo transatlantic crossing.

Although the talks will proceed, there are hundreds of events planned near the Le Bourget or in Paris center. Many groups are now reviewing their plans. E&E News reports that “Climate Action Network [CAN] international, which represents hundreds of environmental groups dedicated to climate change, said they will meet on Monday to discuss next steps.” A CAN statement said:

The coalition organizing the Global Climate March on November 29th is meeting on Monday to discuss ways forward. We hope this weekend will offer time for reflection, mourning and hope and that we can come together as a community on Monday when more information may be in hand. The climate movement around the world stands for peace and justice. To our core, we oppose hateful actions like those in Paris last night and in Beirut earlier this week



White House: Obama to attend Paris climate talks despite attacks

By Andrew Restuccia 11/14/15 12:24 PM EST

President Barack Obama still plans to attend international climate talks in Paris that are proceeding in the wake of attacks that rocked the city Friday, a White House official said Saturday.

The president is scheduled to join dozens of world leaders in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1 for the beginning of the high-stakes negotiations. Diplomats are hoping to finalize a new agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the two-week talks, which conclude on Dec. 11.

A White House official told POLITICO Obama would still attend. The Associated Press reported Secretary of State John Kerry would be attending the talks as well.

French officials have vowed that the negotiations, which have required months of planning, will go on as planned. But the already-high security will likely be dramatically increased.

The talks “must be held,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said today, according to Agence France-Presse.


Paris attacks scramble climate summit plans

Organizers and activists are assessing impact on preparations for COP21.

By Sara Stefanini, Kalina Oroschakoff and Anca Gurzu 11/14/15, 1:51 PM Updated 11/14/15, 2:35 PM CET

Organizers of the upcoming COP21 climate summit, and activists who had been planning massive marches around it, met separately in Paris Saturday to assess the impact of Friday’s terrorist attacks.

The attacks, which killed at least 128 people and placed France under a state of emergency, have underlined the risk inherent in holding such a high-profile conference in a city of 12 million people.

“The government will decide on the action to be taken,” Pierre-Henri Guignard, secretary-general of the COP, told Le Monde.

European leaders will also meet in the coming days to discuss the implications of the attack. Maroš Šefčovič, the EU’s energy union vice president, will talk about it with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the sidelines of the Foreign Affairs Council Monday. 

The global climate change summit is expected to draw tens of thousands of people, including more than 100 heads of state, between November 30 and December 11 to the Le Bourget conference center in a northeast Paris suburb. Activists have already started descending on the city to take part in rallies and demonstrations.

Friends of the Earth France, which is organizing peaceful “mass mobilizations” in the weekends before and after the COP21, also called an extraordinary meeting Saturday to assess whether to change strategy in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

A number of NGO representatives said Saturday morning that it was still too early to judge the effect of Friday’s attacks on campaigns and attendance at the COP21.

“There might be certain people who, like with Charlie Hebdo, choose to come to make a statement on this,” said Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, a coalition of advocacy groups, referring to the January shootings at the French satirical paper. “There might be certain others who will be afraid that these marches would be a target, though I would doubt it because there’s not really a precedent.”

CAN Europe isn’t organizing the marches, but has thousands of people from member groups preparing to go to Paris.

The murderous attacks were a shock to negotiators, who have been concentrating on working out a climate deal and not on the security aspects of the summit.

“In deep pain. Standing in solidarity with Paris and the whole of France,” Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, tweeted Saturday.

Al Gore, the environmentalist and former U.S. vice president, quickly canceled his 24-hour “Reality and Live Earth” climate change webcast from the Eiffel Tower on Friday night, after launching it that afternoon. “Our thoughts are with all who have been affected and the entire nation of France,” Gore said in a statement.

Beefed-up security

The UNFCCC expects some 10,000 government representatives to attend the summit, plus 7,000 observers per week and 3,000 journalists. The conference organizers, led by the UNFCCC and French government, will have to look at how to ratchet up security, sources said.

“Unclear, but surely extremely tightened security at Le Bourget,” a diplomat closely involved in the climate talks said Saturday, when asked about the implications of the Paris attacks on the COP21.

It is also uncertain when the state of emergency imposed Friday night will be lifted.

Several groups of so-called “black block” protesters from Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, the Philippines and elsewhere are already in Paris, according to local reports. The nickname comes from the black ski masks and other accessories they wear to disguise their identity and protect them from tear gas.

Some campaigners have been planning to set up “blockades” in Paris meant to represent the “red lines” that negotiators may cross in their search for a deal. Others are stealing chairs from banks in the city, in a move to “reclaim” 196 seats representing each government attending the COP21 and protest tax evasion, local news reported last week.

Even before the attacks, France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said security officers will step up searches and controls ahead of planned demonstrations, according to local reports.

About 30,000 police were already set to provide security at Le Bourget, according to Rfi.

France announced in October that it would reinstate border controls with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain between November 13 and December 13, according to an internal note it sent to other EU countries.

Cazeneuve told RMC radio earlier this month that the measure is in response to a “context of terrorist threats and risk of disturbances to public order.”

It’s common practice to temporarily reinstate border controls in the Schengen passport-free travel area during big events, such as the 2006 World Cup tournament in Germany.

The measure is meant to ensure “that there will not be any people that want to disturb the peace of the conference,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said earlier this month.

Steinmeier planned to meet Fabius Saturday morning to express condolences and to get an update on the situation in Paris.

It is not certain whether Šefčovič will still meet Ségolène Royal, France’s energy minister, as was planned on Monday evening in Paris.






Study cites gap between theory and practice in natural resource management

Posted: 11 Nov 2015 08:48 AM PST

Natural resource agencies have embraced an approach known as adaptive management to adjust and refine their management plans in the face of uncertainties. But a study finds agencies often apply adaptive management in ways that fail to promote learning, an approach the authors call ‘AM Lite.’…”Everyone agrees adaptive management is the right thing to do, and the agencies all make express promises to do it,” said Robert L. Fischman, the Richard S. Melvin Professor of Law in the IU Maurer School of Law. “Our study shows there is a troubling gap between the theory and the practice.”… Adaptive management is an approach to managing natural resources that incorporates monitoring of the consequences of decisions and methods for adjusting a management plan as it continues to be implemented. Ideally, Fischman said, managers create experiments that reveal whether decisions are effective. Such plans also include provisions for monitoring, clear thresholds for deciding when management should change, and detailed provisions for how it will change.

Managers often implement “passive” forms of adaptive management that, while not ideal, allow them to learn whether their management plans are succeeding and to make changes if they are not. But often, the study finds, agencies settle for “AM Lite” approaches that short-circuit the managers’ ability to learn as they go. …..While resource managers could do a better job with adaptive management, Fischman and Ruhl suggest revising statutes and administrative law to provide better guidance and clarity. Another recommendation: Provide consistent funding to cover the ongoing costs of implementing management plans, not just the cost of developing the plans. “We think adaptive management is not more expensive,” Fischman said. “But it does require a steady stream of funding for monitoring, which is not how agency funding typically works.”


Robert L. Fischman, J.B. Ruhl. Judging adaptive management practices of U.S. agencies. Conservation Biology, 2015; DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12616


Three urgent steps for better protected areas

Posted: 05 Nov 2015 08:34 AM PST

A group of scientists has developed a three-point plan to ensure the world’s protected areas meet new biodiversity targets set by the 193 signatory nations of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s. They recognize that part of the current failure of the protected areas to stop the decline of biodiversity is partly to do with the lack of science available. The scientists offer strategic guidance on the types of science needed to be conducted so protected areas can be placed and managed in ways that support the overall goal to avert biodiversity loss. The plan appears in the early online issue of the journal Conservation Biology. The CBD established 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets organized under five strategic goals. Aichi Target 11 calls for increasing by 2020 terrestrial protected areas to 17 percent on land and 10 percent in marine environments. However, the authors warn that the target may be technically met in terms of size, while failing the overall strategic goal of why it was established. This could occur if the areas are poorly located, inadequately managed, or unjustifiably include areas outside of official protected areas. The three points of their solution are:

  1. Establish ecologically sensible protected area targets to help prioritize important biodiversity areas and achieve ecological representation.
  2. Identify clear, comparable performance metrics of ecological effectiveness so conservationists can assess progress toward the targets.
  3. Identify metrics and report on the contribution of “other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) make toward the target.

The authors challenge the scientific community to actively ensure that the achievement of the required area in Aichi Target 11 is not simply and end in itself, but generates genuine benefits for biodiversity.


James E.M. Watson, Emily S. Darling, Oscar Venter, Martine Maron, Joe Walston, Hugh P. Possingham, Nigel Dudley, Marc Hockings, Megan Barnes, Thomas M. Brooks. Bolder science needed now for protected areas. Conservation Biology, 2015; DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12645



Obama’s New Public Lands Policy Is A Win For Conservation Efforts

by Matt Lee-Ashley – Guest Contributor & Nicole Gentile – Guest Contributor Nov 5, 2015 10:11am

In what is being hailed as a “landmark” conservation policy, President Obama on Tuesday released a presidential memorandum establishing that energy, mining, and other development projects on America’s public lands should result in a net benefit — or at minimum no net loss — for the nation’s rivers, lands, and wildlife resources. “We all have a moral obligation to the next generation to leave America’s natural resources in better condition than when we inherited them,” President Obama said in the memo. “It is this same obligation that contributes to the strength of our economy and quality of life today.” The “no net loss” memo instructs federal agencies to establish clear standards by which they seek to avoid, mitigate, or offset the impacts of mining, drilling, transmission, timber, and other development projects on federally-managed lands and waters. If damages are unavoidable, agencies are encouraged “to promote investment by the non-profit and private sectors in restoration or enhancement of natural resources.” The presidential directive could help spark new private investment in conservation and the expansion of conservation financing strategies such as mitigation banking. “Across the country, the private sector is increasingly looking for opportunities to invest in solutions that restore natural resources,” writes Christy Goldfuss, managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in a blog post. “Impact investors like these seek measurable environmental benefits alongside conventional return on capital.” Conservation groups praised the new policy and its direction that agencies first aim to avoid damages to sensitive environmental resources when reviewing proposed development projects. “This is a significant advance in how our nation both develops and conserves our natural resources,” said Mark R. Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “In the face of accelerated interest in developing our country’s energy resources and building transmission and other related infrastructure, agencies have seen that landscape-level planning, carried out in advance, can result in significant benefits for both industry and nature.”

Alongside the presidential memorandum, the Department of the Interior (DOI) on Tuesday released new planning guidance that directs land managers to conduct earlier, landscape-level planning to help keep development projects away from environmentally sensitive areas. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael Connor noted that DOI’s agencies will aim to build on the strategies the DOI has deployed to reduce the environmental impacts of utility-scale solar plants on public lands and to create a path for the recovery of the greater sage grouse. A trade association representing oil and gas companies, many of which are drilling on national forests and other public lands, criticized the presidential memorandum. “Setting in stone a no net loss ideal essentially puts wildlife and other natural resource values above human needs,” said the Western Energy Alliance’s Kathleen Sgamma in USA Today. The Obama presidential memorandum echoes a successful policy implemented by President George H.W. Bush and expanded by President Bill Clinton that set a goal of “no net loss” of wetlands in the United States. This wetlands policy is credited with reducing the pace at which riparian areas in the U.S. are disappearing and with sparking private sector investment in wetland conservation.



Encouraging Private Investments in America’s Natural Resources

President Obama takes a critical step to help encourage private investment in natural resource conservation by signing a Presidential Memorandum to strengthen environment America’s iconic landscapes and natural treasures attract visitors from all over the world, fueling local economies and supporting a $646 billion national outdoor economy.

November 3, 2015 at 12:30 PM ET by Christy Goldfuss White House Council on Environmental Quality

Since taking office, President Obama has taken unprecedented action to invest in our natural resources and work with American business leaders who understand that taking action to increase environmental protections is good for the future of our planet and their bottom line. Last month, the White House announced that 81 companies from all 50 states signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge to commit to reducing emissions and support a strong international climate agreement. And just two weeks ago, the Secretary of Labor made a crucially important announcement about pension investing with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in mind. This week, the President took another significant step to encourage American businesses to invest in conservation, signing a Presidential Memorandum to accelerate restoration efforts and incentivize private investment in our land, water and wildlife.  Across the country, the private sector is increasingly looking for opportunities to invest in solutions that restore natural resources.  Impact investors like these seek measurable environmental benefits alongside conventional return on capital. For example, in September, investors began restoring more than 23,000 acres of wetlands in northern Minnesota. The area, which is one of the most important bird habitats in the state and home to many other significant plant and animal species, was drained in the early 1900s and abandoned. Decades later, the area is now being voluntarily restored in exchange for credits which can eventually be used to offset smaller areas of wetlands lost to development elsewhere in the state. Similar approaches, known as wetland or mitigation banks, have successfully encouraged private developers to invest in conservation and have led to the protection of more than 800,000 acres of wetlands and important habitat. This announcement builds on a series of efforts by the Administration, including the EPA Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center and the DOE Clean Energy Investment Center, to address the private sector demand for impact investment opportunities.
As communities across the country experience the impacts of climate change like increasingly severe wildfires, droughts and extreme storms, they are also having devastating effects on America’s natural resources. While President Obama has taken bold action to protect our land, water and wildlife, new partnerships and innovative solutions are needed to address the increasing costs to our natural resources. Today’s announcements are a critical step forward for finding these solutions to truly protect our natural treasures for future generations.



At the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California’s Mojave Desert, some of the plant’s 347,000 garage-door-sized mirrors used to generate power can be seen. California is looking for a reliable way to store green energy for when customers need it. (Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Federal and state officials restart desert renewable energy plan

By Carolyn Lochhead Updated 11:05 pm, Tuesday, November 10, 2015

WASHINGTON — Federal and state officials said Tuesday they will allow solar, wind and other renewable energy development on 400,000 acres of public lands in the California desert, while setting aside 5 million acres for conservation as part of a big push by the Obama and Brown administrations to combat climate change. The long-awaited decision covers millions of acres of public land in one of California’s last comparatively undeveloped frontiers, seeking to correct what were widely perceived as mistakes during the first years of the Obama presidency when publicly subsidized, industrial-scale solar projects were plopped on pristine desert habitat. Another 3 million acres will be set aside for a wide variety of recreational uses, including off-road vehicles and rock hunting as well as hiking and other activities. Most of the public land is managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, and does not include California’s three desert national parks, Death Valley, Joshua Tree and the Mojave National Preserve, which are off-limits to any industrial use. Tuesday’s announcement represents the first phase of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, which was created in 2008 to look at the 22 million-acre California desert in its entirety, rather than in isolated segments, before approving solar and wind projects. The Mojave Desert receives some of the most intense solar radiation on the planet; it also is one of the largest ecologically and scenically intact landscapes in the United States.

Use federal lands

The plan originally was to include millions of acres of private desert land, but that proved difficult, so officials turned to federal public lands first. An initial draft was released last year, and the new plan constitutes a final environmental review. Opponents have a short window of time to request changes before officials in January formally sign off on the plan, which will be accomplished through executive action. Environmental organizations applauded the general effort, with significant caveats.

“It’s really important that we have this landscape-scale plan for public lands,” said Barbara Boyle, senior representative for the Sierra Club. “Overall there are strong conservation protections, which is very encouraging, but there are some areas like the West Mojave that need more protection for the desert tortoise and Mojave ground squirrel.” Conservationists were delighted that the remote, undisturbed Silurian Valley, the site of a proposed 23-mile wind and solar farm in the Mojave, was set aside for protection. But David Lamfrom, director of the California desert program for the National Parks and Conservation Association, said other areas such as Soda Mountain, the site of a proposed 3,000-acre solar project straddling a bighorn sheep corridor in San Bernardino County, remain on the table for development……



This image shows a fish school at Pearl and Hermes Atoll. Credit: NOAA, Papahnaumokukea Marine National Monument

Faster way to assess ocean ecosystem health

Posted: 10 Nov 2015 09:04 AM PST

A new study identifies a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on. Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats — such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species — so responders can act quickly to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability. “Until now, we’ve had to look at the condition of different species and habitats individually. Having an easy-to-adopt approach that gives us a good idea of what is happening to the ecosystem as a whole — not just a piece of it — and anywhere on the planet, is a giant leap forward in managing marine ecosystems,” said Richard Merrick, Ph.D., NOAA Fisheries director of scientific programs and chief science advisor. “It’s similar to giving a doctor the ability to look at a person’s whole body and treat an illness, not just its symptoms.” Scientists incorporate satellite imagery, fishery surveys, and landings data — among other things — to produce a visual image of the patterns in the food chain of the ecosystem. These patterns show when there is a problem. Scientists can also use the data in reverse to see how an ecosystem is recovering after a threat is reduced.For example, this discovery gives us an easier way to understand how an ecosystem is recovering after an oil spill,” said Jason Link, lead author of the study and NOAA Fisheries senior scientist for ecosystem management. “The information will be especially useful as climate change and ocean acidification continue to alter our environment in unpredictable ways.”


Jason S. Link, Fabio Pranovi, Simone Libralato, Marta Coll, Villy Christensen, Cosimo Solidoro, Elizabeth A. Fulton. Emergent Properties Delineate Marine Ecosystem Perturbation and Recovery. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 2015; 30 (11): 649 DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2015.08.011



Urban agriculture is a socioeconomic growing movement worldwide that promotes a sustainable model of agricultural production, urban development and food safety. Credit: Miguel Izquierdo

Urban gardens and human health

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 06:16 AM PST

Researchers assess the human health risk of exposure to metals in urban gardens by assessing their oral bioaccessibility….[Scientists conducted] research to assess the metal content of arable soil layers of different urban gardens in order to detect the potential effects of exposure taking into account two scenarios of exposure -agricultural scenarios for adults and recreational scenarios for children- and conducting bioaccessibility testing. Results show that the estimated risk does not exceed the maximum permissible for human health. This will allow researchers to adopt strategies and techniques for the management and remediation of contaminated sites. Urban agriculture is a socioeconomic growing movement worldwide that promotes a sustainable model of agricultural production, urban development and food safety. Diverse studies have proved that this activity presents multiple environmental, economic and cultural benefits. However, urban soils are often contaminated by diverse sources and historical usages, thus there is a potential risk for human health associated with agricultural performance, consumption of seeded products and the usage of these spaces for children with recreational purposes, being necessary to study soil conditions in order to guarantee safety.


M. Izquierdo, E. De Miguel, M.F. Ortega, J. Mingot. Bioaccessibility of metals and human health risk assessment in community urban gardens. Chemosphere, 2015; 135: 312 DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2015.04.079



Ice-age lesson: Large mammals need room to roam

Posted: 02 Nov 2015 03:42 PM PST

A study of life and extinctions among woolly mammoths and other ice-age animals suggests that interconnected habitats can help Arctic mammal species survive environmental changes….
Short periods of warm climate in the midst of the last ice age triggered boom-and-bust cycles in the populations of large mammals in the Arctic, the researchers found. Many large mammals became extinct when these cycles and the ice age ended and spreading peatlands and rising sea levels restricted animals’ ability to move between continents….. The study’s conclusions have implications for present day extinctions. “As human populations grow, patches of suitable habitat for many species are becoming increasingly isolated from each other,” said Shapiro. “If we are to preserve these species, we will need to devise strategies that allow these populations to remain somehow connected.”…


Daniel H. Mann, Pamela Groves, Richard E. Reanier, Benjamin V. Gaglioti, Michael L. Kunz, Beth Shapiro. Life and extinction of megafauna in the ice-age Arctic. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201516573 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1516573112


Great “Grass Farmers” Grow Roots

By Kathy Voth  /  November 9, 2015 

If you go to enough workshops about grazing, you’re bound to see an illustration that shows how biting off the tops of plants impacts their roots, and how if you graze short enough, the plant won’t have enough roots to rebound and produce more leafy material. (see above). In addition to losing the ability to feed your livestock, short roots can’t hold the soil in place, let alone do their job of feeding soil microorganisms, creating a sponge to hold water, and pulling carbon from the air deep, deep into the soil where it can be sequestered. It’s that depth that makes the difference between carbon that “breathes” back and forth between the soil and the atmosphere, and carbon that is actually held long term.
So what do we mean by deep? Well, it turns out that many plants and icebergs have something in common. What you see above the surface is very small compared to what’s below.  And now, thanks to Jerry Glover, who’s an agroecologist from Kansas, and Jim Richardson, a National Geographic photographer, you can get a good idea of the depths roots go to to do their jobs. You can read about the techniques they used to create these photos here, but what we’d like you to focus on is how far down into the earth you’re managing when you move your livestock across a pasture. Take a look:

Here’s Dr. Jerry Glover next to a 14 foot tangle of Indian grass, compass plant, and big bluestem grass he grew; Switchgrass; Missouri Goldenrod…which by the way is quite a nice forage!



Using insects, the research team set up experimental communities with complex food webs in 40 four-square meter outdoor field-cages. Credit: University of Exeter

Extinction can spread from predator to predator

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 09:31 AM PST

The extinction of one carnivore species can trigger the demise of fellow predators, conservation biologists have confirmed. A ground-breaking study has backed up theories and previous laboratory research demonstrating the phenomenon of horizontal extinction cascades, where extinctions of carnivore species can have a ripple effect across species triggering further unexpected extinctions of other carnivores.


Great tits, like the birds above, have been the subject of decades-long population studies. Photograph from Bildagentur Online/McPhoto-Rolfe/Alamy

Wild birds choose love over food

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 09:31 AM PST

Wild birds will sacrifice access to food in order to stay close to their partner over the winter, according to a study by Oxford University researchers. Scientists from the Department of Zoology found that mated pairs of great tits chose to prioritise their relationships over sustenance in a novel experiment that prevented couples from foraging in the same location. This also meant birds ended up spending a significant amount of time with their partners’ flock-mates.

And, over time, the pairs may even have learned to cooperate to allow each other to scrounge from off-limits feeding stations. The results, published in the journal Current Biology, demonstrate the importance of social relationships for wild birds — even when pursuing those relationships appears to be detrimental. Josh Firth, who led the research, said: ‘The choice to stay close to their partner over accessing food demonstrates how an individual bird’s decisions in the short term, which might appear sub-optimal, can actually be shaped around gaining the long-term benefits of maintaining their key relationships. For instance, great tits require a partner to be able to reproduce and raise their chicks….


Josh A. Firth, Bernhard Voelkl, Damien R. Farine, Ben C. Sheldon. Experimental Evidence that Social Relationships Determine Individual Foraging Behavior. Current Biology, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.075



The great tit bird is less attractive due to exposure to heavy metals

Posted: 05 Nov 2015 08:34 AM PST

Heavy metals, the result of contamination, may be toxic for animals to the extent of affecting their reproduction and physiology. This is the case with the great tit, a species of bird whose plumage color is affected either negatively or positively depending on exposure to certain contaminating substances. Mercury, copper and chrome may cause the male great tit to be less attractive to the females.


Photo shows a honey bee and a bumblebee foraging on a purple coneflower. Credit: Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis.

Managed bees spread and intensify diseases in wild bees

Posted: 05 Nov 2015 12:21 PM PST

Wild pollinators are in decline across many parts of the world. To combat this, managed honey bees and bumblebees are frequently shipped in to provide valuable pollination services to crops. But does this practice pose any risk to the wild bees? An entomologist has examined the evidence by analyzing the large body of research done in this area to come to the conclusion that managed bees are spreading diseases to wild bees….The authors of the review paper offer suggestions for mitigating the problem. They recommend first that the safety of bee transport be improved by employing rigorous disease screening of bees and creating unified international regulations to prevent the movement of diseased bees. Second, they advise that the mixing of managed bumblebees with wild bees should be prevented by using nets over glasshouses containing managed bumblebees. Finally, they recommend an increased conservation effort to limit the effects of managed bee use in areas suffering wild bee declines.


Southern right whale calf wounding by Kelp Gulls increased to nearly all over four decades

Posted: 11 Nov 2015 01:53 PM PST

Wounding of southern right whale calves and mothers by Kelp Gulls has increased from 2% to 99% over four decades, according to a new study. Over 600 southern right whale calves died at the Península Valdés calving ground, Argentina, between 2003 and 2014. This is a vastly larger number than seen over any similar period and in any other right whale calving ground. Kelp Gull harassment — they feed on skin and blubber pecked from the backs of living whales — has also increased in recent years, implicating the wounding as a potential contributing cause of the increased mortality. Mother-calf pairs are the primary targets for Kelp Gull attacks and pairs attacked by gulls appear to spend less time nursing, resting, and playing than pairs not under attack…”It is tempting to look at the correlation in time and think the gull-inflicted wounds must be a contributing factor to calf deaths, but despite a lot of work we still don’t have convincing evidence for any plausible mechanism,” says Dr. Marón. “One possibility is that increased stress is making young calves more vulnerable to a variety of other factors. We like that idea, but it won’t be easy to prove.”


Carina F. Marón, Lucas Beltramino, Matías Di Martino, Andrea Chirife, Jon Seger, Marcela Uhart, Mariano Sironi, Victoria J. Rowntree. Increased Wounding of Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) Calves by Kelp Gulls (Larus dominicanus) at Península Valdés, Argentina. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (10): e0139291 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139291



Radio-collared young gray wolf in Oregon. ODFW

Oregon delists wolves, but protections remain

As in Washington, reactions to the predator reflect deep east-west divides in the state.

Jodi Peterson Nov. 13, 2015 Web Exclusive High Country News

Oregon has taken its gray wolves – 81 in total – off the state endangered species list.
The decision, which came during a Monday wildlife commission meeting, followed many hours of impassioned testimony both for and against delisting. The status change will have little immediate effect, though. Management of the state’s wolves is governed by a wolf management plan, created in 2005, which allows the canids to be killed only in self-defense or when caught in the act of chasing or attacking livestock. According to the Statesman-Journal, “while the Oregon Endangered Species Act sounds important, it’s more of a relic from a time before wolves returned to Oregon. It carries little impact on decisions regarding how the state treats its wolf population.” Under the management plan, when four or more breeding pairs of wolves are found in the state for three years in a row, a review is triggered to determine if continued protection is necessary. The latest wolf survey, in February, found nine packs of wolves with seven breeding pairs. That met the conditions for considering delisting, a process which began in April.


Restoration project recreates variation in the Vindel River, Sweden

Posted: 03 Nov 2015 06:05 AM PST

Vindel River LIFE is aimed at restoring tributaries in northern Sweden that were affected by a century-long timber-floating era. The project spanned over nearly six years and came to an end on 31 October 2015.



Flying under the radar: Seabirds hold the key to healthy fisheries

13.11.2015 Jessie Wingard

Seabirds are being severely threatened by fisheries, pollution and invasive species. Scientist and conservationalist Ross Wanless explains to DW why the birds of the sea could be pivotal for survival of the planet. The African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) met in Bonn, Germany, November 9 through 13 to discuss conservation of seabirds. In addition to aiming for an agreement from AEWA member countries on changing fishery management to benefit migratory seabirds, researchers and conservationists also worked together on managing other seabird threats. DW caught up with Ross Wanless of BirdLife International toward the end of the conference in Bonn.

DW: What is the state of seabirds globally?

Ross Wanless: Seabirds are among the most threatened group of birds in the world, in fact their conservation status has decreased faster than any equivalent group of birds, so they are really not in good shape.

What is the biggest threat to seabirds?

There are two main threats, one is fisheries and a whole range of things within that – so accidental mortality and overfishing – and the other is invasive species on islands.

About 30 years ago, people discovered that when they counted up the number of birds that had been caught up in tuna longline fishing hooks and extrapolated that to the whole fishery, they realized that one or two birds on each boat every day translated into tens of thousands of albatrosses. That broke open a huge issue that we have been battling with ever since: how to stop birds from being caught on longlines…..








CLIMATE CHANGED: Carbon dioxide continues to accumulate invisibly in the atmosphere, trapping heat. Courtesy of NASA

Record Levels of CO2 Herald the Future of Climate Change

Global warming has become a 1-degree Celsius reality, making progress at climate talks in Paris even more imperative

By David Biello | November 10, 2015 Scientific America Related: 400 PPM: What’s Next for a Warming Planet

The Earth’s climate has changed. After nearly two centuries of fossil fuel-burning, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have reached 400 parts per million, especially boosted by the seemingly ever-accelerating amount of combustion in the last few decades according to the World Meteorological Organization. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations of 0.04 percent may not seem like much but it is enough to have already raised average global temperatures by a full degree Celsius, according to the U.K.’s Met Office, with more warming on the way as the greenhouse gas lingers invisibly in the atmosphere, trapping heat, or mixing into the ocean, rendering its waters more acidic.  In fact, the world has not seen CO2 concentrations this high in at least hundreds of thousands of years. Roughly 35 billion metric tons of CO2 are spewed into the atmosphere annually—and rising. The waters of the global ocean have become 30 percent more acidic in the last few decades and the world has not been this warm in thousands of years. This year is likely to be the hottest one since record keeping began, thanks to an El Nino weather pattern that’s taking place in addition to global warming. The top 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1998, which was the year of the last major El Nino. Worse, farming, forest-clearing and other activities have contributed to emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, the latter more commonly known as laughing gas, which is no laughing matter in the atmosphere.

Yet there are signs of hope as well. The U.S. is burning less coal; Europe, and even China have begun to use less of this dirtiest of fossil fuels. And although India and the rest of Asia are building hundreds of coal-fired power plants, there are also plans for more electricity derived from the sun in India, wind in China and hot rocks in Indonesia. In fact, renewables are growing fast all over the world, helping keep more CO2 out of the air. Half of the world’s electricity could come from less climate polluting sources by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest World Energy Outlook report. The electric output of renewables alone in 2040 may match the electric output of fossil fuel-fired power plants in China, the European Union and the U.S. today. Already, China, the European Union, and U.S.—the world’s largest polluters, together responsible for more than half of global pollution—have agreed to limit future greenhouse gas emissions. Compared with 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol to combat climate change was agreed on or 2009 when another effort to craft a global deal collapsed in Copenhagen, the prospects for a global effort to combat climate change have never been better. When climate negotiations get under way in Paris later this month, there is a real chance for a comprehensive set of actions from more than 190 nations around the world, all to restrain global warming.




A Dartmouth-led study finds that the black-throated blue warbler, a common migratory songbird, has a natural flexibility in its breeding time that has helped stave off the impact of climate warming on its food availability, at least for now. redit: Trisha Shears

Breeding flexibility helps migratory songbirds adjust to climate warming

Posted: 13 Nov 2015 02:11 AM PST

Phenological mismatches, or a mistiming between creatures and the prey and plants they eat, is one of the biggest known impacts of climate change on ecological systems. But a new study finds that one common migratory songbird has a natural flexibility in its breeding time that has helped stave off mismatches, at least for now.

The results suggest this flexibility provides a buffer against climate warming for the black-throated blue warbler in eastern North America and potentially for other migratory forest birds in temperate zones, but such resilience probably has limits. The study appears in the journal Oikos. The research included scientists from Dartmouth College, Norwegian Institute of Nature Research, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Wellesley College. “Understanding the effects of climate warming on ecological systems is critical for the conservation of forest bird species and their habitats,” says lead author Nina Lany, who conducted the study as part of her doctoral degree at Dartmouth and is now a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State University….


Nina K. Lany, M. P. Ayres, Erik E. Stange, T. Scotty Sillett, Nicholas L. Rodenhouse, Richard T. Holmes. Breeding timed to maximize reproductive success for a migratory songbird: the importance of phenological asynchrony. Oikos, 2015; DOI: 10.1111/oik.02412



Cow-calf grazing practices could determine, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions

Posted: 03 Nov 2015 06:09 AM PST

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Southern Great Plains could require a change of grazing management by traditional cow-calf producers, according to a new study…. Ruminants, particularly beef cattle, are perceived by many as a problem since they are a source of greenhouse gas due to the methane produced by rumen fermentation, Park said. “We believe that conclusion is premature until full ecosystem analyses have outlined the net emissions by considering all emissions compared to carbon sequestration associated with different options in the beef production chain,” Teague said.

In this study funded in part by the Dixon Water Foundation, the team considered both GHG emissions and carbon sequestration to calculate net GHG emissions for cow-calf farms grazing only rangeland under different grazing strategies, Park said. Unlike most published work that isolates the analyses of GHG emission and carbon sequestration, he said they used field-measured soil organic carbon data to estimate the carbon sequestrations for different grazing management systems. “Contrary to other publications claiming cow-calf farms are the most significant GHG emission source in the beef production link, our results show that cow-calf farms converting to multi-paddock grazing in the Southern Great Plains region are likely net carbon sinks,” Park said. “The continuous grazing was less effective in sequestering carbon.”….

The researchers did find overall GHG emissions are higher in the Southern Great Plains than the other regions, with almost 80 percent of those GHG emissions coming from ruminant digestion. “But this means there is great potential to reduce these GHG emissions by increasing grass quality and digestibility using multi-paddock grazing, which could reduce total GHG emissions by as much as 30 percent,” Wang said. Compared to continuous grazing, multi-paddock grazing can improve grass quality as well as grass production, according to ongoing research on this subject. Teague has studied three grazing management alternatives on neighboring commercial ranches in three proximate counties in north Texas tall grass prairie: continuous grazing with light stocking, representing the best-case scenario for continuous grazing; traditional heavily stocked, continuous grazing, representing the most commonly used grazing management; and adaptive multi-paddock grazing, representing best-case rotational grazing. “Under multi-paddock grazing management, one paddock is grazed at a time while the other paddocks recover,” Teague said. “This grazing strategy uses short periods of grazing, long recovery periods, and adaptively changing recovery periods and other management elements as conditions change.”



Integrated climate and land use change scenarios for California rangeland ecosystem services: wildlife habitat, soil carbon and water supply


In addition to biodiversity conservation, California rangelands generate multiple ecosystem services including livestock production, drinking and irrigation water, and carbon sequestration. California rangeland ecosystems have experienced substantial conversion to residential land use and more intensive agriculture. To understand the potential impacts to rangeland ecosystem services, we developed six spatially explicit (250 m) climate/land use change scenarios for the Central Valley of California and surrounding foothills consistent with three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emission scenario narratives. We quantified baseline and projected change in wildlife habitat, soil organic carbon (SOC), and water supply (recharge and runoff). For six case study watersheds we quantified the interactions of future development and changing climate on recharge, runoff and streamflow, and precipitation thresholds where dominant watershed hydrological processes shift through analysis of covariance. The scenarios show that across the region, habitat loss is expected to occur predominantly in grasslands, primarily due to future development (up to a 37 % decline by 2100), however habitat loss in priority conservation errors will likely be due to cropland and hay/pasture expansion (up to 40 % by 2100). Grasslands in the region contain approximately 100 teragrams SOC in the top 20 cm, and up to 39 % of this SOC is subject to conversion by 2100. In dryer periods recharge processes typically dominate runoff. Future development lowers the precipitation value at which recharge processes dominate runoff, and combined with periods of drought, reduces the opportunity for recharge, especially on deep soils. Results support the need for climate-smart land use planning that takes recharge areas into account, which will provide opportunities for water storage in dry years. Given projections for agriculture, more modeling is needed on feedbacks between agricultural expansion on rangelands and water supply.


Byrd, K.B., L. Flint, P. Alvarez, C.F. Casey, B.M. Sleeter, C.E. Soulard, A. Flint and T. Sohl. 2015. Integrated climate and land use change scenarios for California rangeland ecosystem services: wildlife habitat, soil carbon and water supply. Landscape Ecology 30(4):729-750. doi: 10.1007/s10980-015-0159-7. [Link] (open access)



Idea of slow climate change in Earth’s past misleading

Posted: 11 Nov 2015 08:50 AM PST

Climate change is progressing rapidly. It is not the first time in our planet’s history that temperatures have been rising, but it is happening much faster now than it ever has before. Or is it? Researchers have shown that the temperature changes millions of years ago probably happened no more slowly than they are happening today. Together with a British colleagues, palaeobiologist Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kießling and geosciences student Kilian Eichenseer, both from FAU, have published a pioneering study in Nature Communications explaining that the idea that environmental changes in Earth’s past happened slowly in comparison to current, rapid climate change is wrong. The reason for this incorrect assumption is the different time periods that are examined in climate research. ‘Today we can measure the smallest fluctuations in climate whenever they occur,’ Kilian Eichenseer explains. ‘Yet when we look at geological history we’re lucky if we can determine a change in climate over a period of ten thousand years.’ Therefore, if we compare global warming over recent decades with the increase in temperature that happened 250 million years ago over the Permian-Triassic boundary, current climate change seems incredibly fast. Between 1960 and 2010, the temperature of the oceans rose at a rate of 0.007 degrees per year. ‘That doesn’t seem like much,’ Prof. Kießling says, ‘but it’s 42 times faster than the temperature increase that we are able to measure over the Permian-Triassic boundary. Back then the temperature of the oceans rose by 10 degrees, but as we are only able to limit the period to 60,000 years, this equates to a seemingly low rate of 0.00017 degrees per year.’we are unable to prove such fast fluctuations during past periods of climate change with the available methods of analysis. As a consequence, the data leads us to believe that climate change was always much slower in geological history than it is today, even when the greatest catastrophes occurred. However, that is not the case,’ Prof. Kießling says. If we consider these scaling effects, the temperate increase over the Permian-Triassic boundary was no different to current climate change in terms of speed. The increase in temperature during this event is associated with a mass extinction event during which 90 percent of marine animals died out.


David B. Kemp, Kilian Eichenseer, Wolfgang Kiessling. Maximum rates of climate change are systematically underestimated in the geological record. Nature Communications, 2015; 6: 8890 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9890



Why were the ancient oceans favorable to marine life when atmospheric carbon dioxide was higher than today?

Posted on 12 November 2015 by Rob Painting

When we look back through the geological record, we see that for much of the last 500 million years there was an abundance of life in the oceans and that atmospheric carbon dioxide was much higher than today for the vast majority of that time. Though it may seem counterintuitive, especially considering that ocean pH was lower than present-day, the ancient oceans were generally more hospitable to marine calcification (building shells or skeletons of calcium carbonate) than they are now [Arvidson et al (2013)].

Numerous examples exist to support this, such as the enormous coccolith deposits that make up the White Cliffs of Dover in England. These tiny coccolith shells are made of calcium carbonate (chalk) and date from the Cretaceous Period (Cretaceous is Latin for chalk) about 145 to 65 million years ago – when atmospheric CO2 concentration was several times that of today. So conducive to marine calcification was the Cretaceous ocean that it also saw the emergence of giant shellfish called rudists as a major reef-builder.

Given the relationship between the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the pH of the ocean, why are scientists concerned about falling ocean pH when it was lower for much of the last 500 million years?  The simple answer is that these were not times of ocean acidification per se, and the key difference is in understanding the time scales and chemical processes involved. Ocean acidification only occurs when atmospheric carbon dioxide increases in a geologically-rapid manner because pH and carbonate ion abundance decline in tandem, and it’s the decrease in carbonate ions that makes seawater corrosive to calcium carbonate forms [Kump et al (2009)] . While the increase in dissolved CO2 and hydrogen ion concentration (falling pH) would have proven stressful for some ancient marine life, such as coral [Cohen & Holcomb (2009), Cyronak et al (2015)], the corrosive state of surface waters likely delivered the decisive blow….



Port Jackson Shark (Australia)

Sharks’ hunting ability destroyed under climate change

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 02:52 AM PST

The hunting ability and growth of sharks will be dramatically impacted by increased carbon dioxide levels and warmer oceans expected by the end of the century, a new study has found. Published in the journal Scientific Reports, marine ecologists from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute report long-term experiments that show warmer waters and ocean acidification will have major detrimental effects on sharks’ ability to meet their energy demands, with the effects likely to cascade through entire ecosystems. The laboratory experiments, studying Port Jackson sharks and including large tanks with natural habitat and prey, found embryonic development was faster under elevated temperatures. But the combination of warmer water and high CO2 increased the sharks’ energy requirement, reduced metabolic efficiency and removed their ability to locate food through olfaction (smelling). These effects led to marked reductions in growth rates of sharks. “In warmer water, sharks are hungrier but with increased CO2 they won’t be able to find their food,” says study leader Associate Professor Ivan Nagelkerken, Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow.

With a reduced ability to hunt, sharks will no longer be able to exert the same top-down control over the marine food webs, which is essential for maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems.”…


Jennifer C. A. Pistevos, Ivan Nagelkerken, Tullio Rossi, Maxime Olmos, Sean D. Connell. Ocean acidification and global warming impair shark hunting behaviour and growth. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 16293 DOI: 10.1038/srep16293



October 2015 was fourth warmest October for contiguous U.S

First ten months of 2015 were the sixth warmest on record for the Lower 48

This monthly summary from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making





El Nino Discussion

Synopsis: El Niño will likely peak during the Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, with a transition to ENSO-neutral anticipated during the late spring or early summer 2016

November 12 2015

A strong El Niño continued during October as indicated by well above-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean (Fig. 1). Most Niño indices increased during the month, although the far eastern Niño-1+2 index decreased, accentuating the maximum in anomalous SST farther west (Fig. 2). The subsurface temperature anomalies also increased in the central and eastern Pacific, in association with another downwelling equatorial oceanic Kelvin wave (Figs. 3, 4). Low-level westerly wind anomalies and upper-level easterly wind anomalies continued over the western to east-central tropical Pacific. Also, the traditional and equatorial Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) values remained negative. These conditions are associated with enhanced convection over the central and eastern tropical Pacific and with suppressed convection over Indonesia (Fig. 5). Collectively, these atmospheric and oceanic anomalies reflect a strong and mature El Niño episode…


Wildfires may double erosion across a quarter of western US watersheds by 2050

Posted: 03 Nov 2015 12:11 PM PST

In recent years, wildfires have burned trees and homes to the ground across many states in the western U.S., but the ground itself has not gotten away unscathed. Wildfires, which are on the rise throughout the west as a result of prolonged drought and climate change, can alter soil properties and make it more vulnerable to erosion. A new study shows that the increase in wildfires may double soil erosion in some western U.S. states by 2050, and all that dirt ends up in streams, clogging creeks and degrading water quality. “It’s a pretty dramatic increase in sediment [entering streams],” write United States Geological Survey (USGS) geologist Joel Sankey and his colleagues, who will speak on the subject on Wednesday, 4 November, at the meeting of the Geological Society of America in Baltimore, Maryland. “The sediment can have a wide range of effects on a lot of watersheds, many of which are headwater streams and important for water supply in the West.” Wildfires whipping across a landscape can burn away ground cover and vegetation, leaving soils exposed and easily erodible by precipitation. In other cases, fires can cause soil surfaces to harden. Instead of gently percolating underground, rain water and melted snow can rush across these hardened surfaces, gaining enough power to erode loose sediments. Sankey and his colleagues wanted to estimate how projected increases in wildfires would change erosion throughout the West between the start of the 21st century and 2050 — the first assessment of fire-induced erosion, said Sankey…. The amount of sediment entering creeks after fires increased with the proportion of the watershed that was burned and if the area burned repeatedly, said Sankey. All that extra dirt can reduce water quality. Soils contain minerals, nutrients and metals, often considered toxic if consumed in large quantities by humans or fish. Large loads of sediment can even dam rivers, changing the course of a creek through its valley. And if the sediment settles in a reservoir, the reservoir will fill with dirt instead of water, severely shortening the lifespan of the water reserve. Restoring forests and improving water quality for human consumption or stream habitat for aquatic animals after a fire is costly, said Sankey, but it may be something water municipalities in the west need to prepare for. In the future, other members of the research team who are co-authors on the study with Sankey will use the erosion results to identify specific communities or watersheds that will be the most prone to fire-induced erosion in the future.


Research links tundra fires, thawing permafrost

Posted: 10 Nov 2015 02:12 PM PST

Wildfires on Arctic tundra can contribute to widespread permafrost thaw much like blazes in forested areas, according to a study. The connection between wildfires and permafrost loss is better documented in boreal forests, where burns are relatively common. Tundra fires are less common, so their effects have not been studied as extensively.

Global warming’s fingerprints are all over recent extreme weather, research shows

Andrew Freeman Mashable Nov 5 2015

Extreme weather events, from droughts to floods and heat waves, are some of the most tangible present day impacts of global warming, and they will take center stage in speeches at the upcoming Paris Climate Summit. Now a new report gives leaders pushing to reduce emissions of global warming pollution, including President Obama, additional ammunition. The report, published Thursday as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, amounts to the largest-ever assessment of global warming’s role in intensifying the severity and altering the likelihood of extreme weather events during 2014. It amounts to the equivalent of a climate change CSI report, and its conclusions are damning in pointing to global warming as being an accomplice to numerous damaging extreme events worldwide…..


West Antarctic coastal snow accumulation rose 30 percent during 20th century

Posted: 04 Nov 2015 09:46 AM PST

Annual snow accumulation on West Antarctica’s coastal ice sheet increased dramatically during the 20th century, according to a new study. The research gives scientists new insight into Antarctica’s blanket of ice. Understanding how the ice sheet grows and shrinks over time enhances scientists’ understanding of the processes that impact global sea levels….


Study offers model to predict how microbiomes may respond to change

Posted: 05 Nov 2015 12:21 PM PST

Scientists studying microbiomes have created a framework for predicting how the composition of these complex microbial communities may respond to changing conditions.


Geophysics could slow Antarctic ice retreat

Posted: 10 Nov 2015 05:21 AM PST

The anticipated melting of the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet could be slowed by two big factors that are largely overlooked in current computer models, according to a new study. The findings suggest that the impact on global sea levels from the retreating ice sheet could be less drastic — or at least more gradual — than recent computer simulations have indicated. …



The setting sun paints a dramatic sky over icebergs in a fjord off west Greenland. UC Irvine glaciologists aboard the MV Cape Race in August 2014 mapped for the first time remote Greenland fjords and ice melt that is raising sea levels around the globe. Credit: Maria Stenzel/for UC Irvine

Massive northeast Greenland glacier is rapidly melting

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 12:04 PM PST

A glacier in northeast Greenland that holds enough water to raise global sea levels by more than 18 inches has come unmoored from a stabilizing sill and is crumbling into the North Atlantic Ocean. Losing mass at a rate of 5 billion tons per year, glacier Zachariae Isstrom entered a phase of accelerated retreat in 2012…..


Increased deforestation could substantially reduce Amazon basin rainfall

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 09:39 AM PST

Continued deforestation of the Amazon rainforest could diminish the amount of rain that falls in the Amazon River basin, finds a new study. These declines in rainfall could potentially alter the region’s climate, disrupting rainforest ecosystems and impacting local economies, according to the study’s authors.


Climate change is moving mountains

Posted: 05 Nov 2015 09:15 AM PST

Research points to strong interaction between climate shifts and increased internal movement in the North American St. Elias Mountain Range. The researchers note that the glaciers today are wet-based and are moving, very aggressively eroding material around and out, and in the case of her observation, into the Gulf of Alaska. The tectonic forces (internal plates moving toward one another) continue to move toward Alaska, get pushed underneath and the sediment on top is piling up above the Yakutat plate.


Carbon accumulation by US forests may slow over the next 25 years

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 09:35 AM PST

Currently, the carbon sequestered in US forests partially offsets the nation’s carbon emissions and reduces the overall costs of achieving emission targets to address climate change — but that could change over the next 25 years. The accumulation of carbon stored in U.S. forests may slow in the future, primarily due to land use change and forest aging — with the rate widely varying among regions — according to findings by U.S. Forest Service scientists published today in the journal Scientific Reports. Future declines in forest carbon sequestration could influence emission reduction targets in other sectors of the economy and impact the costs of achieving policy goals. The study also found that policies that encourage retaining or expanding forest land could enhance carbon sequestration levels in U.S. forests over the next 25 years. The researchers found that land use change strongly influences the amount of forest carbon stored. One of the scenarios they ran simulated the effects of policies that would encourage the retention or expansion of forest land as a way to enhance carbon sequestration. They found that afforesting or restoring 19.1 million acres over the next 25 years, a plausible goal in light of historical conservation efforts such as the USDA Conservation Reserve Program, could yield significant gains in carbon sequestration over that period. “Policymakers interested in reducing net carbon emissions in the U.S. need information about future sequestration rates, the variables influencing those rates, and policy options that might enhance sequestration rates,” said Wear. “The projection scenarios we developed for this study were designed to provide insights into these questions at a scale useful to policymakers.”


David N. Wear, John W. Coulston. From sink to source: Regional variation in U.S. forest carbon futures. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 16518 DOI: 10.1038/srep16518



Bleached coral in American Samoa earlier this year. CreditXL Catlin Seaview Survey 

The Pacific Ocean Becomes a Caldron

By JOHN SCHWARTZ NY Times NOV. 2, 2015

……. At the moment, the world’s largest ocean is a troublesome place, creating storms and causing problems for people and marine life across the Pacific Rim and beyond. A partial list includes the strong El Niño system that has formed along the Equator, and another unusually persistent zone of warm water that has been sitting off the North American coast, wryly called “the Blob.” And a longer-term cycle of heating and cooling known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation may be switching from a cooling phase to a warming phase. On top of all that is the grinding progress of climate change, caused by accumulation of greenhouse gases generated by human activity. Each of these phenomena operates on a different time scale, but for now they appear to be synchronized, a little like the way the second hand, minute hand and hour hand line up at the stroke of midnight. And the collective effects could be very powerful.

Although they interact with one another, each of these warming events is being blamed for specific problems. “The Blob” has been associated, among other effects, with the unusually dry and warm weather in the western United States. Out in the ocean, the nutrient-poor warmer waters of the Blob — about four degrees Fahrenheit higher than average — are disrupting the food web of marine life.
Some species of fish are showing up where they are not expected, including tropical sunfish off the Alaska coast, and an unusual number of emaciated sea lion pups and Guadalupe fur seals are being found stranded on California shores. The warm water has also been linked to unprecedented harmful algal blooms along the coasts that have rendered shellfish toxic and shut down shellfish fisheries in Washington, Oregon and California. “A single clam can have enough toxins to kill a person,” said Vera L. Trainer, the manager of the marine biotoxin program at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. Officials also ordered the largest closure of the state’s Dungeness crab fishing.

“It’s really worrisome,” Dr. Trainer added. “If this is a single event that then goes away and we can forget about it down the road, it’s O.K. If it’s a window into the future, it’s not a good future.”

The unusually strong El Niño weather pattern, in which the ocean’s surface warms and releases immense amounts of heat into the atmosphere, has drawn more attention — in part because it tends to bring heavy rain to Southern California, which is amid an intense drought, and cooler temperatures and rain across the southern United States during the winter and potentially into the spring. (The northern band of the country tends to have somewhat warmer and drier conditions.) But El Niño’s effects are felt across the planet, and this one has been linked to drought in Australia and enormous peat fires in Indonesia. 

The other large force at work, the Pacific decadal oscillation, is a long period — sometimes, as the name implies, spanning decades — of relatively cooler or warmer water. Since about the year 2000, the oscillation has been in a cool state, which many climate scientists say has allowed the ocean to soak up a great deal of the heat generated by greenhouse gases as part of climate change.

This, in turn, may have kept global average surface temperatures from rising. Climate scientists have called that condition the warming hiatus, and those who deny the overwhelming scientific consensus on warming have used the hiatus to raise doubts about whether climate change exists.

Now, however, the oscillation appears to be entering a warming phase, said Gerald A. Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and strong El Niños tend to nudge the cycle into a new phase. So the oscillation and El Niño “can all add together to give you a really big shift” toward warming over all.

“That’s going to provide a bigger boost to a global warming system,” he said. “These things will add together.” Already, 2015 is on track to be the hottest year in the historical record.

Climate change could nudge all of the interacting cycles of ocean heat and cold. Scientists are still trying to determine its effect on hurricanes, though it is widely believed that because warm ocean water provides the energy for hurricanes, the more powerful storms will grow even more potent over time.

Whether there is a clear and detectable human-caused component to today’s cyclone activity is harder to prove, said Thomas R. Knutson, a research meteorologist with NOAA’s geophysical fluid dynamics laboratory at Princeton. “We don’t expect to necessarily be able to detect these changes at this time,” he said. While no individual weather event can be linked to climate change, the continued warming already appears to be increasing the potential strength of storms, said Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Whether the storms reach their full potential depends on other factors, he said. Statistically, however, there are too few storms to show that the stronger hurricanes are being caused by climate change yet.

One phenomenon appears to be the result of a combination of El Niño, the Blob and climate change. NOAA this year announced that the world was in the midst of only the third global coral bleaching event ever recorded. Severe bleaching can lead to the death of reefs, and the loss of habitat for marine life and shoreline protection from storms. The current event began in 2014 in the Pacific and has persisted into this year, with the Blob’s effects being felt most keenly near Hawaii, where the western tail of that large patch of warmed water extends. “This is absolutely the worst that they have ever seen,” said C. Mark Eakin, the coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch. “It’s only the third time they’ve seen mass coral bleaching in Hawaii; the last time was last year.” And because El Niño events stretch from one year’s winter into the next spring, “we’re very likely to see the bleaching that’s going on this year go on into 2016 and even be worse in 2016,” he said.

A warmer Pacific also means higher seas at the United States coastline, because warm water expands and the general winds that flow from west to east will push water against the shore. That can add to an increase in what William Sweet, a NOAA oceanographer based in Maryland, calls nuisance flooding in low-lying coastal areas. Even a general increase of a half a foot from El Niño can, when combined with storms, cause a pronounced increase in such flooding, he said, adding that San Francisco could go from an average 12 days of nuisance flooding to 21 this year, and La Jolla, Calif., from six to 10.

Nicholas A. Bond, a research meteorologist at NOAA’s cooperative institute at the University of Washington who gave the Blob its name, said that climate change could make El Niño conditions more common. “That would just have monstrous implications,” he said. And though developed-world nations like the United States could take measures to adapt to the changing conditions, “It is going to be a different place,” he said. Despite all the current dark clouds over the Pacific, literal and metaphorical, Dr. Bond managed to spot a silver lining.

The confluence of problems can serve as a “wake-up call,” and a harbinger of climate change, he said. “We have a real chance with this kind of event to see what’s going to happen, and show folks, ‘Hey, this is the consequence of messing around with the climate.’ ”


Northern lakes act as carbon dioxide chimneys in a warming world

Posted: 10 Nov 2015 05:26 AM PST

Many of the world’s approximately 117 million lakes act as wet chimneys releasing large amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The most recent estimates show that carbon dioxide emissions from the world’s lakes, water courses and reservoirs are equivalent to almost a quarter of all the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels.



Immature east Pacific green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) captured in San Diego Bay, California. Credit: Camryn Allen/Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Female biased green sea turtle sex ratio in San Diego Bay

Posted: 03 Nov 2015 12:11 PM PST

Scientists have for the first time determined the ratio of males to females in a wild foraging group of green turtles in the Eastern Pacific, which suggests that sea turtles may be vulnerable to feminization from the temperature rises expected with climate change…. Female-biases in breeding populations may be beneficial for species recovery due to an increase in the number of breeding females, and therefore, population growth potential. However, if the scale tips too far towards females, there may not be enough males to maintain genetic diversity. Unless sea turtles change their behavior (e.g. nest earlier in the season to avoid warmer temperatures), climate change scenarios indicate that certain sea turtle rookeries could tilt to almost all females within the next 10 to 15 years or longer. More complete information on sex ratios will be informative for predicting climate warming conservation concerns for sea turtles, and sex ratio information for each sea turtle species is vital for inferring population status and the survivorship of males and females.


Camryn D. Allen, Michelle N. Robbins, Tomoharu Eguchi, David W. Owens, Anne B. Meylan, Peter A. Meylan, Nicholas M. Kellar, Jeffrey A. Schwenter, Hendrik H. Nollens, Robin A. LeRoux, Peter H. Dutton, Jeffrey A. Seminoff. First Assessment of the Sex Ratio for an East Pacific Green Sea Turtle Foraging Aggregation: Validation and Application of a Testosterone ELISA. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (10): e0138861 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138861


Human intervention can help endangered Saimaa ringed seal adapt to climate change

Posted: 05 Nov 2015 06:20 AM PST

Humans can help the critically endangered Saimaa ringed seal to cope with climate change. Human-made snow drifts developed in a recent study improved the breeding success of seals during winters with poor snow conditions. Lake Saimaa in Finland is home to the critically endangered subspecies of the ringed seal, the Saimaa ringed seal (Phoca hispida saimensis). The Saimaa ringed seal is heavily ice-associated and its breeding success depends on sufficient ice and snow cover. The loss of snow and ice caused by the ongoing climate change poses a direct threat to the subspecies, and climate change induced changes to the environment may have indirect effects, too.


Thermal sensitivity of marine communities reveals the most vulnerable to global warming

Posted: 11 Nov 2015 11:31 AM PST

The sensitivity of marine communities to ocean warming rather than rising ocean temperatures will have strong short-term impacts on biodiversity changes associated with global warming, according to new research.


Warmer New England waters change landscape for cod and lobsters

Posted: 03 Nov 2015 12:16 PM PST

An expert says a rapidly changing climate will dramatically change the living marine resources and maritime traditions of seacoast communities, like those of New England and must be accounted for by those responsible for managing the nation’s marine living resources.



This image shows a snowpack in the Lesser Caucasus mountains of northeastern Turkey, elevation about 2,700 feet, late April 2012. The lowlands below depend heavily on seasonal snowmelt, projected to decline in this region and others in coming decades, due to global warming. Credit: Dario Martin-Benito

Declining snowpacks may cut many nations’ water

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 02:52 AM PST

Gradual melting of winter snow helps feed water to farms, cities and ecosystems across much of the world, but this resource may soon be critically imperiled. In a new study, scientists have identified snow-dependent drainage basins across the northern hemisphere currently serving 2 billion people that run the risk of declining supplies in the coming century. The basins take in large parts of the American West, southern Europe, the Mideast and central Asia….


Justin S Mankin, Daniel Viviroli, Deepti Singh, Arjen Y Hoekstra, Noah S Diffenbaugh. The potential for snow to supply human water demand in the present and future. Environmental Research Letters, 2015; 10 (11): 114016 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/10/11/114016



India’s Rising Tides and Temperatures

By MATT MCCANN November 12, 2015 NY Times

Ghoramara and its sister islands in the Bay of Bengal are vanishing, their shoreline borders shifting, shrinking and sinking with rising temperatures and tides.


China Has Been Spewing Out Much More CO2 Than Previously Reported

The news comes just before a major global climate summit in Paris.

Nick VisserReporter, The Huffington Post Posted: 11/04/2015 09:28 AM EST | Edited: 2 hours ago

China has emitted roughly a billion more tons of carbon emissions a year over the past 15 years than it previously said, according to a report from The New York Times. The outlet analyzed energy statistics data from China’s statistical agency and found the Asian country has been burning up to 17 percent more coal than the government has disclosed. That figure translates into the entire fossil fuel emissions of Germany over a full year. China is the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter, and pollution is a huge issue in the nation. Most of the country’s major cities failed to meet basic air quality standards in 2014, and some studies have estimated thousands of deaths are attributed to air pollution every day. One study found that northern Chinese lived five fewer years than people from the south because of the effects of pollution in the north. “It turns out that it was an even bigger emitter than we imagined,” former Chinese energy official Yang Fuqiang told the Times. “This helps to explain why China’s air quality is so poor, and that will make it easier to get national leaders to take this seriously.”  The country has pledged to cut back emissions by 2030, and Beijing said it would end the use of coal 10 years prior to that. But the most recent data shows China has been underreporting coal pollution since 2000. The news comes one month ahead of December’s highly anticipated climate summit in Paris. Hundreds of world leaders and scientists are expected to work out a strategy to tackle climate change, and many are looking toward big polluters including China, India, Russia and the United States. President Barack Obama spoke with President Xi Jinping about the issue during the Chinese leader’s visit to the U.S. in September. They released a joint statement with firm goals to reduce emissions in the coming years, which they said shows “the determination of both countries to act decisively to achieve the goals set last year.” French President François Hollande also used a visit to China this week to engage the country on climate issues ahead of the Paris talks, The Guardian reported. The nations agreed that climate talk participants should be subject to checks to see whether they’re meeting their commitments, the French president said.



California 6th grade science books: Climate change a matter of opinion not scientific fact

Posted: 10 Nov 2015 09:04 AM PST

A new study that analyzed four California science textbooks from major publishers found they position climate change as a debate over differing opinions. Contrary to the clear majority of climate scientists who cite scientific data and evidence of human-caused climate change, the textbooks present the topic as uncertain, that humans may or may not cause it, and that its unclear if we need immediate mitigating action, the researchers found….



Zak Bickel / The Atlantic

Why Solving Climate Change Will Be Like Mobilizing for War

And even then, victory is far from guaranteed.

Venkatesh Rao The Atlantic Oct 15, 2015

As the 19th century entered its final decade, the War of Currents was nearing its peak. On one side of this war was Thomas Edison, who had invested heavily in direct-current (DC) technology. Tesla and Westinghouse backed alternating-current (AC), which they believed (correctly) to be more efficient. In the spring of 1891, a seemingly small event in Telluride, Colorado, decisively turned the tide in favor of AC. The Ames hydroelectric-power plant, financed by mining entrepreneur L. L. Nunn, and built around equipment supplied by Westinghouse, began transmitting AC power to Nunn’s gold-mining operations 2.6 miles away. It was the first successful demonstration of AC’s efficiency advantages over long distances, and it led to the unveiling of AC at the 1893 Chicago World Fair, followed by Westinghouse winning the contract to build an AC-based power plant at Niagara falls. The rest is history. Edison lost the plot, and AC came to dominate the story of electricity. The victory of AC over DC, in the midst of a noisy debate fueled as much by misinformation and propaganda as by science, is the sort of outcome under uncertainty that markets excel at delivering.

In 2015, the climate-change debate is where the War of Currents was in 1893. The December climate convention in Paris, COP 21, is shaping up to be the most significant since Kyoto in 1997. It might well do for clean-energy technologies what the Chicago World Fair did for electricity. It might be an inflection point…. It’s clear that the market is unlikely to solve the problem of climate change on its own. If scientists are right, and there is no reason to think they aren’t, averting climate change will require such large-scale, rapid action, that no single energy technology, new or emerging, could be the solution. Neither could any single non-energy technology, such as video-conferencing as a substitute for travel, solve the problem on its own. There is always a possibility that a single cheap and effective solution will emerge, rendering expensive interventions moot, but few climate experts are willing to trust the future to that unlikely prospect. The challenge therefore, is one of rapid, concerted deployment of a portfolio of emerging and mature energy and non-energy technologies. This means accepting a certain level of attendant risks. The Volkwagen emissions scandal illustrates these risks well: Aggressive forcing, through EU policy instruments, of the adoption of diesel engines (which are better suited to reducing emissions) created incentives that led to sophisticated gaming.



Cyclone Chapala dumps years’ worth of rain in Yemen, causing extensive damage

By Andrew Freedman November 3, 2015 See also: Cyclone Chapala will dump 10 years’ worth of rain on Yemen in just 2 days

The first hurricane ever to hit Yemen in recorded history arrived early Tuesday morning when Tropical Cyclone Chapala hit the city of Mukallah, bringing with it unprecedented flooding in an area already suffering from a war-related humanitarian crisis. The storm may have already dumped a decades’ worth of rainfall in some parts of this arid nation. As the rare and intense storm moved closer to the mainland the day before, it killed one person and injured nine on the remote Yemeni island of Socotra. The storm was predicted to bring catastrophic amounts of rain to the area — it could end up being a decade’s worth of rain — at least 20 inches — over the course of just a day or two in an area that typically receives just 2 inches of rain annually. According to freelance reporter Iona Craig, who is in Yemen, the Ministry of Fisheries has released preliminary figures from coastal Hadhramaut, where the storm made landfall, reporting 25 injured, 21 missing, and more than 50 homes destroyed. Mukalla has a manmade canal that runs into the heart of the city, which has turned into a raging river due to the heavy rains, Craig wrote in a Twitter message exchange with Mashable. Storm recovery there will be challenging because the city is under the control of militant groups. “There is no state in Mukalla, Craig wrote.



An aerial view of Colun Beach in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve, Los Rios, Chile. Photo © Nick Hall

Sixty Years of Data Show Waves are Getting Stronger, Threatening Coastlines and Infrastructure

The Nature Conservancy on October 14, 2015

By The Nature Conservancy’s Dr. Borja G. Reguero and Dr. Michael W. Beck

Climate change is modifying the way our oceans work in many different ways, including ocean acidification and water warming. But where people really start to pay attention is where humans and oceans meet: the coast.

On the coast, most people have heard about sea level rise and assume that it is the major new problem affecting coastlines. This is because we have a great deal of tangible scientific evidence that sea levels have been rising, and we are able to project future changes with relative certainty. There have been some changes in coastal policies around sea level rise (SLR) but overall it is hard to garner action around SLR, because it is a creeping problem with some of its greatest impacts many decades away (i.e., many election cycles). There’s another force out there that garners less attention yet has an even greater effect in shaping our coasts: waves. It governs where we live and the coastal infrastructure we build. In terms of both erosion and flooding, wave action is king. Waves drive everything on our coastline. They determine where the beaches, marshes and reefs occur. They shape our headlands, our bays and our open coasts. Waves determine where and in what direction we have built the hundreds of thousands of coastal defense structures (e.g., seawalls, breakwaters and dikes) we have erected over centuries. Yet while sea level rise registers globally and while its future projections get clearer, we don’t yet have a similar degree of consensus and confidence when talking about the future of waves. Projections for future waves have until now been rare. Historical changes observed by buoys, ships, and satellites point to increasing wave heights in many regions…..Overall there are significant increases in wave energy and this affects many of the most at risk large cities and vulnerable small island states alike. Moreover wave energy can increase greatly from more regular climatic events. For example, with an upcoming El-Niño season, we can expect wave energy to increase in many areas across the Pacific Ocean. Here in California, we are hoping the El Nino brings much needed rain (and the surfers hope for fun waves); we have forgotten for a moment the images of cliffside erosion and homes falling in to the water as they succumb to the erosion from these waves and wind.

….Waves are powerful and their effects are easily observable on our coasts. As wave energy increases, these effects will be more profound. Most of our coastal structures were designed and permitted to withstand a very particular amount and direction of wave attack. Flooding and erosion will accelerate. Our coastal defense structures will fail more often and more spectacularly. This will be bad news overall, but at least these climate change problems will be highly observable (even photogenic) and should motivate action from decision-makers. We need to quickly and better understand these changes. Our assessments of risk and where we build based on this risk must be updated. Our future structures must be designed to withstand these changing forces. By furthering the research in wave action and refining future wave projections, we can determine what’s in store for our coasts in an era that will also include rising seas and chart the best possible course to protect our coastal communities.


Scientists warned the US president about global warming 50 years ago today

By dana1981 & November 6, 2015 Skepticalscience

Fifty years ago today, as the American Association for the Advancement of Science highlighted, US president Lyndon Johnson’s science advisory committee sent him a report entitled Restoring the Quality of Our Environment. The introduction to the report noted: Pollutants have altered on a global scale the carbon dioxide content of the air and the lead concentrations in ocean waters and human populations. The report included a section on atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate change, written by prominent climate scientists Roger Revelle, Wallace Broecker, Charles Keeling, Harmon Craig, and J Smagorisnky. Reviewing the document today, one can’t help but be struck by how well these scientists understood the mechanisms of Earth’s climate change 50 years ago. The report noted that within a few years, climate models would be able to reasonably project future global surface temperature changes. In 1974, one of its authors, Wallace Broecker did just that in a paper titled Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?. You can read the details about this paper and Broecker’s modeling here and in my book Climatology versus Pseudoscience. His model only included the effects of carbon dioxide and his best estimates of natural climate cycles. It didn’t include the warming effects of other greenhouse gases, or the cooling effects of human aerosol pollution, but fortunately for Broecker those two effects have roughly canceled each other out over the past 40 years….




CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ALEPPO MEDIA CENTER AMC Refugees fill their buckets at a camp in northern Syria.

Veterans Day 2030 Could Look Like Syria Today, Thanks To Climate Change

by Joe Romm Nov 11, 2015 11:18am

The Syria conflict has triggered the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since World War II,” reports the European Commission. And a major 2015 study confirmed what Climate Progress has been reporting for years: “Human-caused climate change was a major trigger of Syria’s brutal civil war.” Now, half of Syria’s population has fled their homes and the massive influx of refugees is taking a toll on other nations in the Middle East and Europe. The chaos has even prompted the United States to deploy troops to the decimated country. We will have to work as hard as possible to make sure we don’t leave a world of wars to our children. That means avoiding decades, if not centuries, of strife and conflict from catastrophic climate change, from the synergistic effect of soaring temperatures or Dust-Bowlification and extreme weather and sea level rise and super-charged storm surges, which will create the kind of food insecurity that drives war, conflict, and the competition for arable and/or habitable land. The Pentagon itself made the climate/security link explicit in a 2014 report warning that climate change “poses immediate risks to U.S. national security,” has impacts that can “intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict” and will probably lead to “food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources.”

The world’s leading scientists and governments came to the same conclusion after reviewing the scientific literature. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned last year that climate change will “prolong existing, and create new, poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger.” And it will “increase risks of violent conflicts in the form of civil war and inter-group violence.” That same year, Tom Friedman wrote a column, “Memorial Day 2050,” which begins by quoting Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State who observed: “We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.” He concludes that the fight against climate change is our most important “fight for freedom” today, and ends “Let’s act so the next generation will want to honor us with a Memorial Day, the way we honor the sacrifice of previous generations.”….. ….The study identifies “a pretty convincing climate fingerprint” for the Syrian drought, Retired Navy Rear Admiral David Titley told Slate. Titley, also a meteorologist, said, “you can draw a very credible climate connection to this disaster we call ISIS right now.” Unfortunately, warming-worsened drought is causing problems all around the Mediterranean:

NOAA concluded in 2011 that “human-caused climate change [is now] a major factor in more frequent Mediterranean droughts.” Reds and oranges highlight lands around the Mediterranean that experienced significantly drier winters during 1971-2010 than the comparison period of 1902-2010. [Click to enlarge.]…. ….We’ve already seen that even areas expected to become wetter can experience an extreme heat wave so unprecedented that it forces the entire country to suspend grain exports, as happened in Russia in 2010. The U.K. government’s chief scientist, Professor John Beddington, laid out a scenario similar to Fingar’s in a 2009 speech. He warned that by 2030, “A ‘perfect storm’ of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources threaten to unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration as people flee from the worst-affected regions,” as the UK’s Guardian put it. And we are not just talking about upheaval overseas. If we don’t take far stronger action on climate change, then here is what a 2015 NASA study projected the normal climate of North America will look like. The darkest areas have soil moisture comparable to that seen during the 1930s Dust Bowl.

Our choice today is clear. We can continue listening to the voices of denial and delay and disinformation, assuring that everyone ultimately becomes a veteran of the growing number of climate-related conflicts. Or we can launch a WWII-scale effort and a WWII-style effort to address the problem. That is our most necessary fight today.



New Monthly Video Explores Climate, Drought, and National Security

A number of current and likely future ‘geopolitical hotspots’ are facing increased climate-related stresses, heightening concerns among military experts and policy makers.

Yale Climate Connections By Peter Sinclair Tuesday, November 10, 2015

“Drought, water, war, and climate change” is the title of this month’s Yale Climate Connections video exploring expert assessments of the interconnections between and among those issues.


acquired October 3 – 11, 2015

acquired September 27, 2015

Megacities Carbon Project

November 10, 2015
NASA Observatory

If you are concerned about the effects of climate change or simply want to understand why the climate is changing, there are good reasons to pay close attention to cities, particularly large cities. Cities produce 70 percent of anthropogenic global carbon dioxide emissions. The 50 largest cities together emit 2,600 megatons of carbon dioxide. That is more than some countries. For comparison, Russia emits 2,200 megatons and Japan emits 1,400 megatons per year. Meanwhile, many cities around the world are growing at astounding rates. Several in Asia boast population growth rates around 4 percent per year, with emissions growth of 10 percent per year. Demographers expect the number of megacities—urban areas with populations higher than 10 million—to increase by at least a dozen by 2025. Recognizing their impact on climate, some megacities have taken aggressive steps to curtail emissions. By 2030, the GreenLA plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Los Angeles by 35 percent (in comparison to 1990 levels). The Paris Climate Plan aims to reduce emissions by 25 percent by 2020 (in comparison to 2004 levels). Many other megacities have set or are in the process of setting similar goals as part of Climate 40, a plan to reduce urban greenhouse gas emissions. However, for most of these megacities, tracking emissions remains a major challenge. Estimates of greenhouse emission are unavailable in many cases; in others, estimates are based on ground sensors that do not offer a complete portrait of a city’s emissions. So called “bottom-up” estimates of emissions regularly differ by as much as 50 percent in comparison to “top-down” observations from aircraft and satellites.
To address the lack of reliable emissions inventories, the Megacities Carbon Project will develop and test methods for monitoring city emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide, with a particular emphasis on power plant emissions. Led by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists Riley Duren and Charles Miller, the team plans to deploy sensors that collect data from the ground, from airplanes, and from satellites. The effort will focus first on Los Angeles and Paris, then potentially expand into a city in South America or Asia. “For robust verification of emission changes due to growth or stabilization policies, we need to establish measurement baselines and begin monitoring representative megacities immediately,” noted Duren and Miller in a commentary published in Nature.






Moderate to heavy precipitation fell on the Sierra Nevada, northwestern California, western sections of Washington and Oregon, northern sections of the Rockies and Intermountain West, scattered areas from western Colorado to central Arizona, and a few other isolated spots. Other locations received little, if any. The wet/snowy season is off to a rapid start in the Intermountain West and West Coast States. Snowpack is well above normal for this time of year in the Sierra Nevada and parts of Nevada where drought has seemed intractable, Reno Tahoe Airport recorded 4.2″ of snow November 9-10 (including a daily record 2.4″ on the 9th), and over a foot blanketed some areas northeast of the city. But given the long-term nature of the drought in much of the Far West, only scattered areas of improvement were noted. D1 in south-central Idaho improved to D0, areas of D3 shrank a little in western Idaho and west-central Montana, severe drought eased to moderate levels in central Washington, abnormal dryness was eliminated in northwestern Colorado, coverage of D1 and D2 declined in southeastern Arizona, and a few other isolated areas saw improvement. Areas where drought was more entrenched will need abundant precipitation to continue much farther into the wet season before any notable improvement could evolve.



Global connections between El Nino events, drought

Posted: 02 Nov 2015 03:42 PM PST

A team of researchers recently discovered that global climate change is causing general increases in both plant growth and potential drought risk. El Nino is a disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific with important consequences for weather around the globe. Their research shows that during the past 32 years there have been widespread increases in both plant growth and evaporation due to recent global climate trends. The apparent rise in evapotranspiration — the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from plants and soil — is increasing potential drought risk with rising temperature trends, especially during periodic drought cycles that have been linked with strong El Nino events. El Nino is a disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific with important consequences for weather around the globe….



VIDEO: Innovation amid drought in the Sacramento Delta

November 6, 2015 HCN



Governor Brown Issues Executive Order to Bolster State’s Drought Response

Maven’s Notebook Nov 13 2015

3 Executive order includes new provisions to help localities capture stormwater from potential high precipitation events; $5 million in assistance for small water systems

From the Office of the Governor… includes:

  • To demonstrate the feasibility of projects that can use available high water flows to recharge local groundwater while minimizing flooding risks, the State Water Resources Control Board and California Regional Water Quality Control Boards shall prioritize temporary water right permits, water quality certifications, waste discharge requirements, and conditional waivers of waste discharge requirements to accelerate approvals for projects that enhance the ability of a local or state agency to capture high precipitation events this winter and spring for local storage or recharge, consistent with water rights priorities and protections for fish and wildlife….
California’s Drought Response

Governor Brown declared a drought state of emergency in January 2014 and directed state agencies to take all necessary actions to respond to drought conditions. In April, Governor Brown announced the first-ever 25 percent statewide mandatory water reductions and a series of actions to help save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state’s drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient. Californians have responded with unprecedented conservation efforts, exceeding the Governor’s water reduction order for a fourth consecutive month.To date, guided by the California Water Action Plan, the state has committed hundreds of millions of dollars – including Water Bond funds – to emergency drought relief, disaster assistance, water conservation and infrastructure projects across the state. Efforts are also underway to establish a framework for sustainable, local groundwater management for the first time in California’s history based on legislation signed by Governor Brown last year. Throughout the year, Governor Brown has convened mayors, business leaders and top agricultural, environmental and urban water agency
officials from across California to discuss the state’s drought and conservation efforts. In October, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency on the unprecedented tree die-off and sought federal action to help mobilize additional resources for the safe removal of dead and dying trees, building on provisions in the April 2014 executive order to redouble the state’s drought response. To learn more about the state’s drought response, visit: Drought.CA.Gov.Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at



Sandhill cranes land in flooded fields to roost for the night at the Sandhill Crane Reserve near Thornton, California, November 3, 2015. (REUTERS/Max Whittaker)

California drought shrinks winter digs for migratory birds

Monday, November 9, 2015, 3:30 – (Reuters) – With their red heads, 7-foot wingspan and a trilling call, migrating Sandhill Cranes provide a dramatic sunset spectacle as they land by the thousands in wetlands near Sacramento each night during the fall and winter. But the state’s ongoing drought has left the cranes, along with millions of other waterfowl that migrate from Canada and other northern climes to spend the winter in California, with fewer places to land, threatening their health as they crowd in on one another to seek shelter and food.  “They’re left with fewer and fewer places to go, which will start to have impacts on their population,” said Meghan Hertel, who works on habitat issues for the Audubon Society in California. “They can die here from starvation or disease or be weaker for their flight back north.”  The cranes are a beloved sight in California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys when they arrive each fall. Tourists flock to see them as they take off en masse at dawn or land in a series of swooping, trilling groups as the sun goes down. This weekend, the town of Lodi near the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta holds its annual crane festival, complete with tours of the wetlands where the five-foot tall birds spend their days foraging for food and their nights roosting in shallow water. California’s Central Valley – which includes both the San Joaquin and the Sacramento – provides winter lodging for 60 percent of the world’s 10,000 remaining greater Sandhill Cranes, a taller crane variety that is listed as a threatened species by the state, according to the Audubon Society. As many as 25,000 of their shorter cousins, the lesser Sandhill Cranes, also roost in the region. But the wildlife refuges set up to replace natural habitat long diminished by the dams and levees built by humans in the most-populous U.S. state are themselves drier this year, and fewer acres of wetland are available to the birds.  And in an ironic twist, farmers criticized by some conservationists for flooding their corn, rice and alfalfa fields have cut back the practice dramatically as the drought has worn on, saving water but reducing habitat for waterfowl, who rely on the wet acreage to roost and feed. “The impact of not having flooded agricultural fields available to the birds is huge,” said Craig Isola, deputy project leader for the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. In the Sacramento Valley north of the Delta, flooded fields rich with unused grain, insects and other nutrients supply half of the food eaten by migratory birds each year, Isola said. But this year, rice farmers plan to flood just 100,000 of the 300,000 acres that they normally cover with about five inches of water, said Paul Buttner, environmental affairs manager for the California Rice Commission. Wetland acreage is also down at the wildlife refuges managed by state and federal agencies.  That’s because even though the refuges are located in areas that were once natural wetlands, the water that would have flowed to them a century or more ago has long since been blocked by dams, levees and reservoirs meant to help manage water for a state that has grown to include 39 million residents.


Photo: Steve Orloff Jim Morris stands in a flooded field at Bryant-Morris Ranch in the Scott Valley, Siskiyou County in March 2015.

UC scientists test inexpensive way to capture El Niño rains– “on-farm recharge”

Amy Graff Updated 6:16 am, Thursday, November 12, 2015

During California’s rainy months, rivers often run high and excess water flows out into the ocean.  Amid the worst drought in more than a century, all of that water lost? With an El Niño event expected to bring heavy rains this winter, isn’t there an easy way to collect and store it? Researchers from UC Davis and UC Cooperative Extension are testing a new method for capturing some of that underutilized water by diverting it from rivers into the network of canals running through Central Valley farmland. This irrigation system sits empty during the rainy months, and the scientists are looking at filling some canals with water and directing it onto suitable farmland where it can seep underground…The method known as on-farm recharge could help capture some of the El Niño deluge and replenish California’s diminishing groundwater supply. The team has identified 3.6 million acres of California farmland that’s suitable for recharge and says that flooding it with only one foot of water could add as much as 3.5 million acre-feet of groundwater…..




Photo: Kat Wade, SFC In this file photo, a levee road on Bacon Island is shown after the delta waters of the adjacent Jones Tract burst through a 400 foot stretch of the levee in 2005.

L.A.’s water board seeks to buy key delta lands

By Peter Fimrite November 10, 2015 Updated: November 10, 2015 5:12pm

The powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California decided Tuesday to begin negotiations to buy thousands of acres including four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, an effort to secure steady flows of water amid the historic drought. But delta advocates and environmentalists called the bold move by the nation’s biggest water agency, which serves 19 million people, a blatant water grab. The 37-member board of directors, representing 26 agencies in Southern California, directed district staff to begin negotiating an option to buy 20,369 acres of land encompassing Webb Tract, Bacon Island, Bouldin Island, most of Holland Tract and a portion of Chipps Island in Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Solano counties. Two of the islands — Bouldin and Bacon — are directly in the proposed path of Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial twin-tunnels project, which would divert supplies from the Sacramento River to agencies that provide water to farms and some urban areas, including Los Angeles and parts of the Bay Area. “It’s pretty clear what their motive is. It lines up directly with the delta tunnels,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, the executive director of the environmental group Restore the Delta, which has opposed the tunnels. “They are full-speed-ahead supportive of the delta tunnels. It’s their business model. … Their whole goal is to figure out how to pull more water out of the delta.” The owner of the land, Delta Wetlands Properties, a subsidiary of insurance giant Zurich, recently gained approval to build reservoirs and flood Bacon Island and Webb Tract, and convert Bouldin Island and Holland Tract to wildlife habitat, after years of negotiations. Farmers on nearby islands had filed a lawsuit to stop those plans, arguing that the flooding would undermine levees and endanger crops, but a settlement was reached that included safeguards to protect their property.

Jeffrey Kightlinger, the general manager of the Metropolitan Water District, said after Tuesday’s board meeting that the district is interested in the land mainly for the environmental benefits, including waterfowl protection, fish food supply enhancement, carbon sequestration and turbidity studies. Such projects, he said, could be used to mitigate future water projects. In addition, he acknowledged, the islands could be used for storage and to transfer water in times of need. The land would also undoubtedly come in handy if the delta tunnels project — officially known as California WaterFix — is built, Kightlinger said….









NOAA Guidance for the Use of Living Shorelines

NOAA released Guidance for Considering the Use of Living Shorelines. This Guidance was developed in an agency wide effort to clarify NOAA’s encouragement for the use of living shorelines as a shoreline stabilization technique along sheltered coasts. Living shorelines can preserve and improve habitats and their ecosystem services at the land-water interface. Although erosion is a natural coastal process, coastal communities face constant challenges from shoreline erosion that threaten valuable resources along the nation’s coastline. Living shorelines are gaining attention around the country as an alternative to traditional shoreline stabilization techniques like seawalls and bulkheads, which create a barrier between land and water.

In the Guidance, readers will learn about:

  • NOAA’s living shorelines guiding principles.
  • NOAA’s role in providing science, tools, and training to help select appropriate techniques.
  • How to navigate NOAA’s potential regulatory and programmatic roles in living shorelines project planning.
  • Questions to consider when planning a shoreline stabilization effort. 



Climate change adaptation in high income countries: Some clear progress

Posted: 10 Nov 2015 09:04 AM PST

Researchers are looking at whether progress is being made in designing policies and initiatives to reduce vulnerability to climate change across countries. Their aim is to contribute new ways of monitoring the global climate adaptation process. They report that between 2010 and 2014, the 41 Annex I Parties to the UNFCCC countries made progress on climate change adaptation in broad terms, but that more must be done to develop ways to measure what works and what doesn’t….




Residential buildings are seen shrouded in haze in Shenyang, Liaoning province, November 8, 2015. Reuters/Stringer

Carbon emissions fall in 11 of G20 members, in turning point

OSLO | By Alister Doyle

Greenhouse gas emissions per capita are falling in 11 of the Group of 20 major economies, a turning point for tackling climate change, a study showed on Tuesday. The report, by a new organization of scientists and other experts called Climate Transparency, also said 15 of the G20 members has seen strong growth in renewable energy in recent years.Climate action by the G20 has reached a turning point, with per capita emissions falling in 11 members, and renewable energy growing strongly,” the group said in a statement. The G20 accounts for about three-quarters of world greenhouse gases. It said G20 members “must all urgently decarbonize their economies” to meet a U.N. goal to limit average temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels to limit heat waves, floods and rising seas. Leaders of the G20, led by the United States and China, will meet in Turkey on Nov. 15-16. And France will host talks among almost 200 nations from Nov. 30-Dec. 11 to agree a plan to limit climate change beyond 2030. The report said the trend in per capita carbon emissions over the five years to 2012 was down in Australia, the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, Britain, the European Union, South Africa, Italy, France and Mexico….



Nati Harnik

As coal use fades, renewables take center stage

Weeks away from the UN climate change summit in Paris, major economies around the world are looking to cut pollution and invest in clean energy.  

By Cathaleen Chen, Staff November 11, 2015 Christian Science Monitor

As 2016 approaches, renewable energy is steadily emerging as a major player in the energy market. Meanwhile, coal is seeing a drastic fall in use around the world. Renewables represent the world’s second largest electricity source, according to the International Energy Agency. By 2030, the agency says, it very well might replace the most polluting fossil fuel – coal. Greenpeace confirmed this trend in a report Monday that found that global use of coal fell by 2.3 percent from 2014 to 2015. In the United States, the decline is all the more extreme: Over the last decade, electricity from coal has fallen from 50 percent domestically to 36 percent.
“These trends show that the so-called global coal boom in the first decade of the 21st century was a mirage,” Lauri Myllyvirta, Greenpeace’s coal and energy campaigner, told The Washington Post with Bloomberg. “Coal is in terminal decline,” she added, “and those countries investing in coal for export markets are making reckless decisions.” She is referring primarily to India and some Southeast Asian countries. In the former, production increased by 7 percent in the first nine months of 2015 and the upward trend is projected to continue. “India is moving to the center stage of energy,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol told the Guardian. “The choices India makes will be important for all of us, and therefore there is a need for supporting India’s push for clean and efficient technologies.” But India recently vowed to reduce carbon emissions by remarkable margins in the next 15 years. The country’s environment minister announced in October that emissions will be cut by up to 35 percent of 2003 levels. This shift in priority will certainly affect coal’s salience in the coming years for India….



Over their lifetime, battery electric vehicles produce far less global warming pollution than their gasoline counterparts—and they’re getting cleaner.

Gasoline vs Electric—EV Wins on Lifetime Global Warming Emissions

November 12, 2015, 10:36 am EST Union of Concerned Scientists

I’m excited to introduce our newest analysis on electric cars, titled: Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave: How Electric Cars Beat Gasoline Cars in Lifetime Global Warming Emissions. After years of mixed messages on whether electric vehicles (EVs) really are better for the environment, we’re pleased to provide one of the most comprehensive answers to date (sneak peek: yes, they’re cleaner by 50 percent). Here’s what we’ve found…

  • From cradle to grave, battery-electric vehicles are cleaner. On average, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) representative of those sold today produce less than half the global warming emissions of comparable gasoline-powered vehicles, even when the higher emissions associated with BEV manufacturing are taken into consideration. Based on modeling of the two most popular BEVs available today and the regions where they are currently being sold, excess manufacturing emissions are offset within 6 to 16 months of driving.
  • EVs are now driving cleaner than ever before. Driving an average EV results in lower global warming emissions than driving a gasoline car that gets 50 miles per gallon (MPG) in regions covering two-thirds of the U.S. population, up from 45 percent in our 2012 report. Based on where EVs are being sold in the United States today, the average EV driving on electricity produces global warming emissions equal to a gasoline vehicle with a 68 MPG fuel economy rating.
  • EVs will become even cleaner as more electricity is generated by renewable sources of energy. In a grid composed of 80 percent renewable electricity, manufacturing a BEV will result in an over 25 percent reduction in emissions from manufacturing and an 84 percent reduction in emissions from driving—for an overall reduction of more than 60 percent (compared with a BEV manufactured and driven today)…..


Close to Home: The best way to deal with EV envy


November 8, 2015, 12:05AM Opinion Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Every decision entails a personal calculus, including the choice about transportation. Here is my story of a major decision I made last month about how to get around. For years, whenever I pumped gas into my car or turned over the key in the ignition, I felt sad and even vaguely suicidal. I was contributing to the blanket of greenhouse gas surrounding the Earth that causes global warming. Additionally, as the head of the Center for Climate Protection, I felt embarrassed driving in my car propelled by a gas-powered internal combustion engine to meetings where I advocated for reducing emissions. I resolved to do something about this when it became clear that my husband and I would not relocate closer to my work any time soon. If I were to be stuck commuting 20 miles round-trip between Graton and Santa Rosa, I was at least going to make the trip in an electric vehicle. My resolution intensified when my co-worker showed up with his new EV. I felt quite covetous as I parked my ’98 Honda next to his cool Volt. I could barely stand it. I had a bad case of EV envy! Fortunately, the price of EVs is extremely attractive now. For example, it is easy to find a good used EV for less than $10,000. I did some online research, honed in on a 2011 Leaf and envisioned a blue one. I searched “2011 Nissan Leaf” “Santa Rosa” in Google and, bam, up popped an electric blue Leaf for $8,900 at Sinatra Auto Group in Santa Rosa. It was in top shape with a new battery and new tires. As a bonus, when I bought it, the dealer joined the Center for Climate Protection as a Business for Clean Energy sponsor. My Leaf is cute, quiet, seats five, plus cargo, and drives like a dream. It is extremely peppy and smooth. Nothing special is required to charge it. I simply plug it in to the 110-volt wall outlet at night. Because we receive 100 percent renewable electricity as Sonoma Clean Power EverGreen customers, my ride is close to pollution free. It is cleaner and cooler with no noxious exhaust, drippy oil or hot engine…..






The Obama administration will deny the federal permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, officials say. Above, a pumping station in Steele City, Neb., where the pipeline would connect. (Nati Harnik / Associated Press)

Obama administration denies permit for controversial Keystone XL pipeline

Christi Parsons and Paul RichterContact Reporters
Los Angeles Times | November 6, 2015 | 8:12 AM

The Obama administration has denied the federal permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, siding with environmentalists after years of fighting about the potential impact of the project to carry crude oil from Canada to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries….

President Obama announced Friday that he was rejecting the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline project because it wouldn’t serve U.S. interests, dismissing its potential economic benefits as insignificant over time as he sought to close a long-running chapter in the political fight over global warming. “For years, the Keystone pipeline has occupied what I frankly consider an overinflated role in our political discourse,” Obama told reporters at the White House. “It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter.” The pipeline began as a project nearly a decade ago to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, as a shortcut to bring it to market more quickly. But it grew over time into a political symbol: for opponents, of energy interests run amok, and for backers, of the zealous overreach of environmental advocates. Opponents long warned about the negative effects of tar sands oil mining on wildlife and people. Construction of the pipeline would lock the U.S. into dependence on an oil that is destructive and hard to extract, foes said. Supporters, meanwhile, argued in favor of the economic benefits. They pointed to the jobs that the construction of the pipeline would create as well as to the stream of North American oil as an important alternative to Middle Eastern sources.

But a State Department study found that the pipeline would create only about 35 permanent jobs after construction was complete. And fluctuating oil prices affect the economics of tar sands oil, which is difficult and costly to extract. At some points over the past year, the price of oil dropped below the point that would allow Keystone investors to break even. The years of fighting obscured the fact that Keystone would “neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others,” Obama said. His announcement came days after TransCanada, the company building the pipeline, asked that its permit application be put on hold while another challenge to the project played out in Nebraska. It had become increasingly clear in recent months that Obama would probably reject the pipeline, and TransCanada’s request was widely seen as a way to buy time until a more politically friendly atmosphere prevailed, including a new administration moving into the White House after the 2016 presidential election. Environmentalists “are well aware that the next president could undo all this, but this is a day of celebration,” said Bill McKibben, cofounder of the environmental group, in a statement. Obama had long said he would decide on the pipeline before he left office, and making his announcement now could help ease the impact of the issue in the 2016 election. Keystone being a thing of the past could help Democratic candidates, particularly in swing states in the Rust Belt and interior West, where Democrats have voiced support for the project, and opposition to it helped cost Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado his seat last year.

The Democratic front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, opposes the pipeline, and Republicans immediately tried to tie her to Obama’s decision…



Mountains in West Virginia altered by coal mining and deforestation. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis

Killing Keystone XL Won’t Stop Climate Change. Here’s What Could

Nick Stockton 11.13.15 Wired

In a few weeks, nearly 200 countries will meet in Paris to try, once more, to figure out how to cut global greenhouse gas emissions and save human life on Earth. So in advance, every country is setting up its chess pieces. For the negotiations to work, the rest of the world has to believe that the US takes climate change seriously. In that context, President Obama’s series of executive actions on the environment—new regulations of coal power plants, canceling Arctic drilling leases, and killing the Keystone XL pipeline—all start to look like a plan.
Make a decision at home; get more leverage in Paris when negotiators in other countries base their arguments on “we don’t wanna because you don’t wanna.” But those decisions also suggest more to come. And more needs to come. Even with India, Brazil, and even China making emissions pledges, the Paris meeting still won’t meet its goal of keeping global average temperatures from rising an average of 2˚C. That leaves the door open for even wilder, fantasy-scale stuff. It’s Obama’s last year in office—he’s not running again. So
what could the president do? What would move the needle in Paris? The best way to stop climate change is by leaving fossil fuels in the ground. It is also the most radical.
Before Keystone XL, nobody had so boldly blocked an energy company’s desires. Now it seems like anything is possible. “Half of all fossil fuel sources in the US are on public lands,” says Jason Kowalski, US policy director for “With a stroke of the pen, President Obama could completely end the process of issuing coal, oil, and natural gas leases.”…. OK, maybe that’s too extreme. But what about smaller fixes? Last month on The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer floated the idea of getting rich environmentalists or nonprofits to buy coal leases from the Bureau of Land Management and sit on them. That’d lock the stuff away in the ground. Currently, the BLM’s rules require that anybody buying a coal lease has to have a plan for developing the stuff into energy. Obama could just nudge the agency away from that regulation, and the progressive money would do the rest. Or he could look to the seas. The Bureau of Oceans Management decides how to lease offshore oil and gas developments. The agency is currently developing its five year plan. “Right now it’s an open question whether Obama will include future Arctic drilling in that plan,” says Kowalski. The president could also use the plan to shut down proposed drill sites off the coast of Virginia. Any changes made in the plan would stay in place through November 2022—no matter who gets elected next November. But there might be hidden costs to locking away fossil fuels. “If setting some of them aside just drives up the value of other fossil fuel reserves, that could end up undermining some of the climate benefit,” says Jason Funk, senior climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Without competitively-priced alternatives, extractable fossil fuels would become more valuable, and the rest of the fossil fuel industry would rake in greater profits. “That’s why it’s so important to double down on the breakthroughs we’ve made in wind and solar,” he said, “reinvesting the gains from a strengthening economy into long-term energy solutions.”….



Obama Should Let Fossil Fuels Lie


The president can act to stop new extraction on our public lands without the approval of Congress

PRESIDENT OBAMA‘S rejection of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline last week had the ring of a great victory for the environment. But even as he declared the United States a “global leader” in the transition to cleaner energy, he revealed a challenge that neither he nor his administration has confronted: “If we’re going to prevent large parts of this earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes,” the president said, “we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground, rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.” The logic is clear. If we don’t extract them, we can’t burn them. Even better, this is a change the president can actually make, without the approval of Congress. With the climate summit meeting in Paris near, and the Keystone decision fresh, the United States can truly take the lead on these fuels by stemming their production, not just their consumption.

Most climate debates have focused on cutting the use of fossil fuels. But besides a few high-profile scuffles over fuel extraction in vulnerable wild places like the offshore Arctic, political leaders have ignored fossil fuel production as a necessary piece of climate strategy. In fact, under President Obama, oil and gas production in the United States has increased substantially. And that increase has been a major bragging point for the administration. “America is No. 1 in oil and gas,” the president boasted in his 2015 State of the Union address….No one in the “Keep It in the Ground” movement was suggesting the immediate cessation of fossil fuel extraction — merely an end to new leases on federal public lands. Existing leases, stretching decades into the future in some cases, already cover some 67 million acres of public land and ocean — 55 times bigger than Grand Canyon National Park — whose fuels contain the potential for up to the equivalent of 43 billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution. Meanwhile, our grandest public lands are being torn apart by fossil fuel extraction. Oil drilling and coal mining are killing endangered wildlife, polluting rivers, creating smog over wilderness areas and blocking wildlife corridors in America’s most treasured landscapes. Wyoming, home to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons, is also the country’s largest coal producer and one of its largest gas drillers. Two-thirds of the state’s gas-drilling rigs are on public lands in the increasingly industrialized Greater Green River Basin. Its once-magnificent Powder River Basin has been called a “national sacrifice area” by hunting and outdoor advocates because of the scarring impacts of coal, oil and natural gas extraction….Mr. Obama now has more of a chance than he’s ever had to live up to his long-ago campaign pledge to tackle the crisis of climate change head-on. His administration’s signature achievement in that arena, the Clean Power Plan, will cut up to 870 million tons of pollution annually, when it takes full effect in 2030; a halt to new public fuel leases would take up to 450 billion tons of that pollution off the table immediately. The president can, and should, take this crucial step to both preserve our heritage lands and get us on the path to a safer climate future.



Poor nations struggle to spend climate aid billions.

November 4, 2015 Daily Climate

Billions of dollars pledged by developed nations in climate finance over the last decade remain unused as poor countries that often most need the money are ill-equipped to spend it, international charity WaterAid said on Tuesday. Reuters.

Ministers discuss landing zones ahead of climate summit

Four so-called ‘landing zones’ for a global climate accord will be discussed by over 70 ministers at a 2-day meeting Paris which starts on Sunday.

November 6, 2015

A background note circulated to governments and obtained by Climate Home says one main focus will be on differentiation between rich and poor countries in a UN deal. The three other key areas relate to finance, carbon cuts ahead of 2020 and the potential for regular reviews of progress once an agreement is signed off. French government sources insist this will not be an official round of negotiations or lead to a new draft text – but it will inform the UN and governments on areas of convergence…..


View of smokestacks, about 200m (656 feet) high, at a thermal power plant in Inchon, west of Seoul, February 1, 2007. Reuters/Jo Yong-Hak

G20 spends four times more on fossil fuel output than on renewables, think tank says

Reuters November 11, 2015 ANKARA

The G20 countries spend almost four times as much to prop up fossil fuel production as they do to subsidize renewable energy, calling into question their commitment to halting climate change, a think tank said on Thursday. The G20 spent an average $78 billion on national subsidies delivered through direct spending and tax breaks in 2013 and 2014, according to a report from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) on Thursday. A further $286 billion was invested in fossil fuel production by G20 state-owned enterprises. Related public finance was estimated to average a further $88 billion a year. Meanwhile, renewable energy subsidies in 2013 were estimated at $121 billion by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Turkey, which will host leaders of the G20 this weekend, paid national subsidies for fossil fuel production of at least $627 million annually in 2013 and 2014, ODI said in its report. The figure may be higher because of missing data, it said. In addition, Turkish state-owned enterprises invested $1 billion in fossil fuel production domestically, part of a strategy of a rapid expansion of coal-fired generation and coal production. “It is tantamount to G20 governments allowing fossil fuel producers to undermine national climate commitments, while paying them for the privilege,” ODI said. Leaders of the G20 will meet in Turkey on Nov. 15-16, where climate change will be on the agenda. France will host talks among almost 200 nations from Nov. 30-Dec. 11 to agree a plan to limit climate change beyond 2030. Last year, during Australia’s presidency, leaders from the G20 group of nations agreed to tackle climate change despite the host country’s insistence that it was not an economic issue. This year, NATO-member Turkey wants world leaders to discuss the conflicts in Syria and Iraq that have led it to take in more than 2 million refugees. Oxfam’s Deputy Advocacy and Campaigns Director, Steve Price-Thomas, said leaders of developed countries were also falling short on their promises to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.   “These same governments are spending billions propping up the coal and oil industry. They must stop paying the polluters and instead ensure that poor communities receive the money they need to cope with a changing climate,” he said.



Nnimmo Bassey

“…it boils down to the fact that the world is in a state of potential destruction. There’s no use worrying about anything else.” —Ansel Adam’s final interview, Summer of 1984.

What is COP21 & Does it Matter?

Nnimmo Bassey, a Nigerian architect and veteran of the Convention of Parties (COP) is one of the seasoned civil society delegates heading to Paris for the COP21 in a few weeks. He chuckles in a deep baritone at my more convoluted questions.

My confusion takes time to unravel. We had 40 minutes. But I could have used much more than that. Following the trail of causality into future consequences is like trying to keep a pile of papers stacked neatly on a desk. The desk is in the middle of a desert. During a sand storm. But Bassey is patient. After all these years, he has to be. Bassey is accustomed to talking about the unfathomable challenges of climate change. He’s used to thinking about assigning national budgets to mitigate environmental costs that are dispersed around the globe; practiced at converting scientific data into global temperature projections. (“Anything more than a 1.5°C temperature increase is simply sentencing Africa to unimaginable suffering.”) Above all, Bassey is acclimated to thinking about how to organize mass climate justice movements. In the 1990s, Bassey was first drawn into climate justice work because of the violence in the Niger Delta. The oil-rich Delta is the center of international controversy over devastating pollution and human rights violations. Natural gas extracted in oil wells in the Delta is burned/flared into the air at a rate of approximately 70 million m³per day. When Delta locals organized peaceful marches against the destructive practices of oil extraction, their leader Kenule “Ken” Beeson Saro Wiwa was hanged by the military November 10, 1995. Almost exactly twenty years ago to the day. “This has set my determination to stay on the track of campaigning against those actions that lock in global warming,” says Bassey in his calm, understated voice.

Bassey met his climate justice cohort at a time of gathering political momentum. He met Bolivian President Evo Morales at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, a summit that worked within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At the time, UNFCCC still emphasized the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR). The UNFCCC now represents a fulcrum in the negotiations that rests on the question of how to mitigate the runaway train of global temperature change: The few degrees celsius that will cause mind-bendingly horrific famine, pandemic, drought and loss of habitat.

The UNFCCC called for legally binding commitments by developed countries and voluntary contributions by developing countries. Then in 1995 at the inaugural Convention of Parties in Berlin, delegates carved out a few more stone tablets, and eventually at the third COP produced the auspicous Kyoto Protocol. All signs of more progress to come. Or so it seemed. But subsequent COP summits are anti climatic by comparison to the first years. On paper, sure, the COPs are intended to result in collective legal acts that establish rights and obligations between the negotiating parties. But answering the Climate Finance questions has proven elusive. The two biggest obstacles to binding agreements are the question of bankrolling mitigation and adaptation as well as cutting emissions at source. COP15 established a $100 billion-per-year commitment, starting in 2020 from developed countries to help developing countries. Now it’s good PR for countries to tout their proposals to slow down the climate change juggernaut. Morocco, which already offered to host COP22, committed to sourcing more than half of its energy from renewables by the year 2020. Costa Rica proposes to be carbon neutral by 2021.

Yet as of July 2015, there was hardly $5bn in the kitty of the Global Climate Fund, a major shortfall. As if negotiating a divorce settlement, nations seem to be quibbling over the numbers. The fact is that poorer nations need the help of wealthier nations to make a transition to cleaner energy. But, wait, what is all this about “Common But Differentiated Responsibility”? Who is going pick up the check?

“COP21 will be a disappointment,” says Bassey. “Paris will be a COP of intentions and not actions.” He has been skeptical since COP15 in Copenhagen, where he says the track for a binding agreement was closed. And where, midway through the proceedings, access for NGO representatives was suddenly cut. “We found that our badges were refused,” recalls Bassey. “I was escorted out by UN security. It was all so ridiculous. It was a brazen display of lack of readiness to hear voices from the people.” Voices of the people from oil-rich, cash-poor nations will have different words about climate change than more highly industrialized nations. The African nations may have more skin in the game in terms of human cost. A 2009 U.S. National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) article determined that more wars will occur in Africa if global temperatures continue to rise. And when delegates from African nations show up to represent these facts, they have not only been met with physical barriers, but with barriers to comprehension from nations with different standards of living, different concerns and diverging agendas. Ambassador Lumumba Di-Aping from Sudan was so strong on the African position, when he saw there was no concession from the rich countries, he broke down in tears,” recalls Bassey. “Those were days when you could really see emotions, passion. Everything was on the table.”

Six years later, it looks like that passion has deserted the negotiations. Climate diplomacy, as with diplomacy writ large, is now moving at a glacial pace. And while Arctic glaciers are dissolving in front of us, this is not good. “The negotiation pace is too slow, far too slow,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon last summer. “The signals coming from the formal negotiations are not encouraging,” Bassey adds. “We see the justice aspect of climate negotiations receding and moving out of focus every day.”

If this is the case, then what purpose do COPS have at all? According to Bassey, the purpose is found outside the formal meetings. COP’s usefulness is in providing the space for civil society groups to share stories and experiences, and to strengthen networks. It is like another World Social Forum. Paris, in particular, is and always has been a place where counter movements run parallel to the official channels of government.

“Going to Paris is about joining forces and sharing. It’s really very reinforcing when people come from different regions and share common pains and a common vision of how to halt this global slide to catastrophe.”

Nnimmo Bassey is one of the figures in a new documentary about climate change and COP21 called Not Without Us by Kontent Films. (Here’s the trailer)



Tobacco industry executives testifying before Congress in 1998. Credit Jessica Persson/Agence France-Presse

The Limits of the ‘Tobacco Strategy’ on Climate Change

By BRENDAN NYHAN NY Times November 6, 2015

Creating identifiable villains like Exxon Mobil may work in the battle of public opinion, but it could also lead to further polarization…For years, activists and scholars have contended that groups who reject the scientific consensus on climate change are employing tactics once used to create doubt about the dangers of smoking. Now environmentalists are taking a page from tobacco opponents by suggesting oil companies misled investors and the public about the risks of climate change. The first step toward a legal inquiry came Wednesday evening when the New York attorney general subpoenaed records from Exxon Mobil. While this tactic helped tobacco opponents win over regulators and the public, it may be a less effective approach to addressing political opposition to climate change — an issue on which both elites and the public are deeply divided. Public acceptance of climate science has been slow in the United States. As elite conflict over the issue has grown, Americans’ views have become heavily polarized along partisan and ideological lines. In particular, though awareness of rising temperatures has increased somewhat, many people refuse to acknowledge the role of human activity in climate change — an anomaly internationally… Unfortunately for environmentalists, it’s not clear if a similar legal strategy will prove as successful. A recent New York Times report noted, for instance, that research by Exxon Mobil scientists has “generally lined up with the findings of other climatologists” and that a fraud prosecution might violate the First Amendment. On the other hand, we don’t know what an investigation might find. The risk for environmentalists is that this legal strategy may play out differently in a polarized age. With the issue and Congress more divided, lawsuits and investigations could provoke further conflict between liberals who distrust oil companies and conservatives who are skeptical of interventions in the free market. Though investigating Exxon is a creative tactic, it may end up reinforcing polarization on climate change rather than removing it….


Science alone cannot save the planet, insists spiritual leader of Orthodox Church

The Telegraph, United Kingdom

Science alone cannot save the planet the spiritual leader of an estimated 300 million Orthodox Christians has insisted, as he joined forces with the Archbishop of Canterbury urging followers around the world to fight climate change….The Church of England has been urging worshippers to
dedicate one day every month to fasting and prayer for the planet
as part of a major drive to instill green ideas in its followers. It is also sending a delegation on a 250-mile walking “pilgrimage” to Paris in the run-up to the conference. Patriarch Bartholomew was the first world faith leader to raise climate change as a key religious issue and was a major influence on Pope Francis’s recent encyclical on the environment. Speaking in Lambeth Palace on Tuesday, he said that for Christians protecting the planet was a “sacred task and a common vocation”. “Global warming is a moral crisis and a moral challenge,” he said.


Fossil Fools


The leading Republican presidential candidates are promoting the very junk science that was hatched, in part, in Exxon’s board room.


Climate change: A wake-up call in the world of finance

Posted: 05 Nov 2015 09:18 AM PST

As climate changes become impossible to dismiss, how does the mainstream investor community respond? Are financial decisions taking full account of risks and opportunities related to climate change, or is the topic still virtually ignored in financial decision-making?    


San Anselmo flood measures: Measure D looks headed for victory

[Prevents large park from being used as floodwater detention basin as part of larger valley-wide effort] NIMBY or?

By Richard Halstead, Marin Independent Journal

Posted: 11/03/15, 12:01 AM PST | Updated: 6 hrs ago

Measure D, which will bar use of San Anselmo’s Memorial Park as an emergency flood detention basin, sprinted to victory Tuesday night with 59 percent support.

Measure E, a rival measure placed on the ballot by the San Anselmo Town Council in hopes of tripping up Measure D, was rejected by voters with 59 percent voter opposition. Measure E would have allowed the park’s use for flood control if a majority of San Anselmo voters later approved such a plan following completion of an environmental impact report. …The measures split the town…. The proposal to retrofit Memorial Park for dual use as both a park and emergency detention basin was just one small part of a much larger plan to prevent flooding in the Ross Valley. Over the past 100 years San Anselmo has had eight floods that caused significant damage. In 2005 heavy rain wrecked about 1,200 homes and 200 businesses in the Corte Madera Creek watershed, resulting in $90 million in property damages.

But Measure D supporters asserted that Memorial Park’s conversion for flood control would ruin the park, turning it into a pit flanked by high concrete walls. They questioned whether a detention basin in the park would be effective in reducing flooding in San Anselmo and called for alternative sites. Measure E supporters said there was no final design for what the park would look like after it is converted to dual use; this would be worked out during the EIR process. They said voters would still get to decide after the EIR was completed whether to use Memorial Park as a basin. And they said if Memorial Park were used for flood control then $2.5 million to $3 million in state grant money would be available for rehabilitating the park’s deteriorating playground, tennis courts and baseball fields. But opponents warned that if San Anselmo later decided against building a detention basin there that grant money would be withdrawn, and the town could be forced to pay for the review. They estimated the town could get stuck with a $1 million tab.





The California Inland Empire Utility Agency’s solar panels, located at three of the Agency’s recycled water facilities and IERCF, generate 3.5 MW of clean solar power and will reduce electrical costs at its facilities — the single largest component of IEUA’s operating budget. The solar project is funded in part under the State’s Innovative California Solar Initiative. (Inland Empire Utilities Agency/John Mellin) [but where is the vegetation in this photo??]

This could be the biggest sign yet that the battery revolution is here

By Chris Mooney November 9 2015 Washington Post

We may be getting a real time glimpse of a world that energy visionaries have long awaited — one featuring a large scale merger between clean energy technologies, like wind and solar, and large batteries that can store power from these sources and make it available at will. Meet Advanced Microgrid Solutions, based in San Francisco and headed by former Arnold Schwarzenegger chief of staff and California Public Utilities commissioner Susan Kennedy. The company specializes in the creation of “hybrid electric buildings,” office or infrastructure buildings that contain large battery systems that can simultaneously reduce energy costs for users and owners, and also help strengthen the larger grid by running on batteries at key times, and thus not requiring grid power. Thus, AMS is selling to businesses and utilities simultaneously, and with a recently announced deal with SunEdison to supply 50 megawatts of energy storage to major California utility Southern California Edison, there is clearly a market for this kind of service. But in many ways, AMS’s latest deal is even more intriguing — it is now announcing that it will supply and operate batteries for a very large California customer, the Inland Empire Utilities Agency. It’s a large municipal water treatment and distribution agency serving the San Bernardino County region of California, where it has 850,000 customers.


Storage advance may boost solar thermal energy potential

Posted: 03 Nov 2015 11:04 AM PST

Engineers have identified a new approach for the storage of concentrated solar thermal energy, to reduce its cost and make it more practical for wider use.


Vast energy value in human waste

Posted: 03 Nov 2015 03:45 AM PST

Biogas potentially available from human waste worldwide would have a value of up to US$ 9.5 billion in natural gas equivalent, UN University’s Canadian-based water institute estimates. And the residue, dried and charred, could produce 2 million tonnes of charcoal-equivalent fuel, curbing the destruction of trees. The large energy value would prove small, however, relative to that of the global health and environmental benefits that would accrue from the safe treatment of human waste in low-resource settings…


The batteries will begin shipping over the summer of 2015 and mount on the wall, looking like this

Tesla unveils a battery to power your home, completely off grid

May 1, 2015

CEO of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, landed an official message unveiling the Powerwall, a battery designed to power your home.  The message came at a convention center powered completely by renewable battery power. The battery unit itself contains the same batteries present in the Tesla electric cars.  The 7kWh unit will ship for $3,000, while the 10kWh unit will go for $3,500 (get the big one). They will store electricity from the grid or from solar and wind generators on site and if the grid goes down, they will continue to power your home indefinitely  This feature makes them ideal for developing nations that are leap-frogging power grids completely. Musk refers to it as changing the “entire energy infrastructure of the world. Powerwall is a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, or when utility rates are low, and powers your home in the evening. It also fortifies your home against power outages by providing a backup electricity supply. Automated, compact and simple to install, Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup. Powerwall comes in 10 kWh weekly cycle and 7 kWh daily cycle models. Both are guaranteed for ten years and are sufficient to power most homes during peak evening hours. Multiple batteries may be installed together for homes with greater energy need, up to 90 kWh total for the 10 kWh battery and 63 kWh total for the 7 kWh battery.”



A sunrise view is seen at EDF Renewable field of gigantic wind turbines, which stand nearly 300 feet high near Rio Vista, California, September 24, 2012. Photo: Bob Chamberlin, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Green energy defined as San Francisco starts public power program

By Lizzie Johnson SF Chronicle November 4, 2015

A compromise initiative that will align a city-run renewable energy program with state standards won at the polls Tuesday….CleanPowerSF, which is more than a decade in the making, will use “community choice aggregation,” under which local governments purchase electricity for their residents, while private utilities own and operate the electrical grid, delivering that energy. San Francisco customers will be automatically transferred from PG&E to Clean-PowerSF unless they opt out. Prop. H makes it easier for customers to compare different clean power programs, said Jason Fried, executive officer of the city’s Local Agency Formation Commission. The program is a pivotal part of San Francisco’s efforts to meet a statewide push to have 33 percent of power coming from renewable sources by 2020, and 50 percent by 2030.



Oil dispersants can suppress natural oil-degrading microorganisms, new study shows

Posted: 09 Nov 2015 03:20 PM PST

The use of chemical dispersants meant to stimulate microbial crude oil degradation can in some cases inhibit microorganisms that naturally degrade hydrocarbons, according to a new study . These findings are based on laboratory-simulated conditions that mimic Gulf of Mexico deep waters immediately following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The study examined microbial oil degradation in the Deepwater plume.






Climate Change on YouTube by AJ+

What you need to know about climate change (aka global warming), green energy, the Keystone Pipeline and more from AJ+….



Mount Tamalpais State Park – East Peak Facilities Management Plan

Share your thoughts using our online tool!
California State Parks has initiated the planning process to develop a Facilities Management Plan (FMP) for the East Peak area of Mount Tamalpais State Park. The FMP will identify a cohesive vision for East Peak’s future in terms of site amenities and recreation opportunities. The Planning Team invites your participation as we begin the planning process. Planning will include numerous opportunities to provide input and share your vision for East Peak, including:
Online Engagement. Several online activities will be available during the planning process. The first activity is a brief survey that you can complete using the online tool.
Public Meeting. Anticipated for early 2016 (date TBD). To be added to the project contact list, please email: or write to the Planning Team at the address below. Please include “East Peak FMP” in the subject line.






Assessing Vulnerability and Developing Adaptation Strategies for Key Southern California Habitats November 19, 2015 1:00 -2:00 PM Pacific

Over the past year, the U.S. Forest Service and EcoAdapt have led a climate change vulnerability assessment and developed adaptation strategies and actions for 12 Southern California habitats within the National Forest Complex. This webinar will provide an overview of the project methods and key findings, discuss next steps, including an upcoming second adaptation workshop, and present additional planned products to further support the decision-making needs of the region. Products from this effort are intended to provide information and tools for U.S. Forest Service planning and management as well as other natural resource management and conservation efforts to prepare for climate change impacts in Southern California.

Presenters include Sarah Sawyer, Assistant Regional Ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, Jessi Kershner, Lead Scientist for EcoAdapt, and Whitney Reynier, Associate Scientist for EcoAdapt. More information

Click here to learn more about this project.  To join the Webinar: Click here for the WebEx Meeting Call-in number: 1-866-737-4154; Passcode: 287 267 0


Navigating the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit – How the Toolkit Can Support Local Planning and Decisions for Enhanced Community Resilience
November 19 (noon–1 PM EST; 9-10 PST).

Antioch University England and U.S. EPA are presenting this webinar on November 19 (noon–1 PM EST). Webinar participants will learn how the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit can be used to support local planning and decisions for enhanced community resilience. The webinar will walk participants through the Toolkit’s Five-Step Planning Process and examples of its use. The Planning Process includes:

  • Identifying the problem: focusing on climate stressors that threaten people, buildings, natural resources, or the economy in your area.
  • Determining vulnerabilities: identifying specific populations, locations, and infrastructure that may be impacts by the climate problem you identified.
  • Investigating options: compiling a list of potential solutions, drawing on the experiences of others who have addressed similar problems.
  • Evaluating the risks and costs: considering risks and values to analyze the costs and benefits of favored options. Select the best solution for your situation and make a plan.
  • Taking action: implementing your plan and monitoring your progress.







California Association of Resource Conservation Districts:

Healthy Forests, Healthy Soils, A Resilient California” 70th Annual Conference November 18—21, 2015 Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite, CA

Don’t miss out on being part of the change. California’s future is the crucial discussion at this year’s CARCD Annual Conference November 18th—21st at the Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite, CA. The Sierra National Forest, backdrop for Yosemite National Park, will provide a perfect classroom and case study of the challenges California will face if we cannot enact effective and efficient management strategies at the local, regional and statewide levels.  We will discuss how smart, integrated management projects on a seemingly small-scale are the building blocks that affect water abundance, water quality, soil health, tree/ plant health, forest health, groundwater, and climate change throughout the state.  In addition, we will examine innovative developments to solve new world challenges like the  latest developments in carbon markets, building partnerships to solve complex, multi-jurisdictional issues, state programs focused on solving California’s problems, capacity building for RCDs and much more.


National Living Shorelines Summit December 1-2, 2015 in Hartford CN

hosted by Restore America’s Estuaries



December 13-18, 2015 San Francisco

Abstract Submissions are OPEN for the 21st Biennial. We are currently accepting abstract submissions for workshops, oral, speed and poster presentations for the 21st Biennial Society for Marine Mammalogy Conference, to take place in San Francisco from December 13-18, 2015.  The submission deadline is May 15th, 2015.  Workshops will be held on December 12-13th.


2nd California Adaptation Forum  SEPTEMBER 7-8, 2016
Renaissance Long Beach Hotel and Long Beach Convention Center

The Local Government Commission and the State of California are proud to host the second California Adaptation Forum in the Fall of 2016. The two-day event will be the premiere convening for a multi-disciplinary group of 1,000+ decision-makers, leaders and advocates to discuss, debate and consider how we can most effectively respond to the impacts of climate change.

The 2016 California Adaptation Forum will feature:

  • A series of plenaries with high-level government, community and business leaders
  • A variety of breakout sessions on essential adaptation topics
  • Regional project tours highlighting adaptation efforts in Southern California
  • Pre-forum workshops on tools and strategies for implementing adaptation solutions



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


Point Blue: Coastal Adaptation Program LeaderHelp save the world!!

The Coastal Adaptation Program Leader (CAPL) will be responsible for executing the strategy and achieving the outcomes of Point Blue’s Protecting Our Shorelines Initiative. As such, the CAPL will help natural resource managers and policy makers advance their adaptation efforts in the face of accelerating climate change, ocean acidification, increased storm frequency and intensity, habitat loss, and other stressors, leveraging Point Blue and partner scientific, data, and informatics resources. The CAPL will also develop science-based policy and natural resource management recommendations. Learn more and how to apply here.

Point Blue: Institutional Philanthropy Director  The Director of Institutional Philanthropy (Director) will be responsible for securing foundation and agency funding for priority programs, and managing all aspects of Point Blue’s foundation relations to advance our innovative climate-smart conservation science strategies. Reporting to the Chief Advancement Officer, the Director will collaborate with the Chief Science Officer, Group Directors, and other organizational leaders on the development and planning of strategic initiatives, assist staff scientists in the production of technical proposals and reports, write foundation proposals and reports, and support the advancement staff in written communications to major donors…
For other jobs at Point Blue, see here.


2017 NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

The California Sea Grant College Program is now seeking applications for the 2017 NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. The Knauss Fellowship, established in 1979, provides a unique educational experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean and coastal resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The program, which is sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program, matches highly qualified graduate students with hosts in the legislative or executive branch of the government in the Washington, D.C. area for a one-year paid fellowship to learn about marine policy. California applicants may apply through either the California Sea Grant Program in La Jolla, or through the University of Southern California Sea Grant Program in Los Angeles. Other interested students should discuss this fellowship with their State Sea Grant Program or Project Director.




New award recognizes outstanding efforts to increase awareness and safeguard U.S. natural resources from climate change

Individuals or groups can be nominated until January 8, 2016

US EPA November 12, 2015

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the National Fish, Wildlife & Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, an interagency group of federal, state, and tribal agencies today announced creation of a new Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources. The Award will recognize the actions of individuals and organizations that are making a difference by increasing understanding of climate impacts, adapting to and reducing threats, increasing response capabilities, and providing other innovative approaches to reducing impacts and increasing resilience in a changing climate. It will help spotlight innovative tools and actions that are making a difference now, and serve as a source of inspiration for additional efforts that advance climate smart resource conservation and management. “Our climate is changing, and these changes are already affecting the nation’s valuable wildlife and natural resources,” said Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. “This new Award recognizes outstanding leadership by organizations and individuals that is critical to help advance the resilience of our natural resources and the people, communities, and economies that depend on them.” Establishment of the Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources was one of the commitments announced as part of the Administration’s Priority Agenda for Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources in 2014.The agenda calls for a commitment across the federal government to support resilience of America’s vital natural resources.









Going where the science matters

Science 30 October 2015: Vol. 350 no. 6260 p. 594 DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6260.594

Stephen T. Jackson is director of the Department of the Interior Southwest Climate Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, in Tucson, Arizona. He is also a professor emeritus of botany at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and an adjunct professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson.


Not long ago, I was a tenured professor on a sabbatical at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. One winter morning, reflecting on why we scientists work as hard as we do, I identified three primary drivers: curiosity, ambition, and idealism. We chase interesting problems, wherever they lead. We’re a competitive lot, with career advancement an important incentive. And we’re compelled by a desire to benefit society. Later that week, an old friend sent a photo taken in the Adirondack Mountains during my first summer’s fieldwork as a Ph.D. student. Looking at my 24-year-old face, framed by long black hair and a dreadful orange sweater, I asked myself, “What was on that young fellow’s mind?” Clearly, he wanted to satisfy his curiosity about how climate change affected ecological communities. He was idealistic, with notions of applying his training to the cause of conservation. In his naiveté, he viewed personal career advancement as unimportant, even contradictory to the greater good.


What would he think of my grayer self, sitting in my Oxford chambers some 30 years later? Though I hadn’t answered all the questions that gripped him, he’d be pleased that I’d learned a lot about climate change and ecology. He’d probably be happy that I’d had a successful career—though I expect he’d ask whether I hadn’t been co-opted by “the system.” And he’d be wondering in exactly what ways I had contributed to conserving the natural world. My honest answer: “Not many, beyond haranguing students, giving public lectures, and writing academic papers.”


Not long after these reflections, some colleagues suggested that I look into a job opening at a federal science agency to lead a program aimed at bridging the gap between the climate-change research and the natural-resource management communities. My knee-jerk reaction was to say no. I was comfortably tenured, enjoying the honors and perks of an established academic career. But tugging at my coat sleeve was my younger self, asking me why I shouldn’t reinvest my knowledge and experience into benefiting the environment.


With no good answers for him, and a reawakening idealism, I applied for the job. It’s now been 3 years since I assumed directorship of the Southwest Climate Science Center in Tucson, Arizona. I’ve worked harder than I ever did as a professor. I’ve had to acquire new skills, and I’m still struggling to understand all the dimensions of my new field. But the work has been interesting and rewarding in countless ways. I am fostering partnerships between researchers and managers to address a variety of urgent conservation challenges: How will sea-level rise affect vulnerability of coastal marshes to storm surges? What forest management practices are most effective for increasing drought resilience? What are the best ways for researchers and managers to engage?


Do I miss anything from my days as a professor? Certainly teaching, but I still mentor graduate students and younger colleagues. I continue doing research, but I’ve redirected much of my effort from paleoecology to conservation. I still get paid to satisfy my curiosity, but now I’m doing so in the center’s rich environment of multiple academic disciplines and professional cultures, and with the view to solve compelling real-world problems. Is my job perfect? Certainly not. As in any administrative job, some tasks are neither interesting nor enjoyable, and government administration has unique aggravations. But on the positive side, I no longer suffer the exhausting high-passion, low-stakes squabbles that can arise among university faculty members. And, most importantly, I enjoy the added satisfaction of knowing that my center is having a real impact on conservation. So, looking again at that old photo, I wonder whether the grin on my face came from knowing that, one day, I would inform and influence conservation in a direct and tangible way.


New look for Sonoma County Regional Parks rangers

Sonoma County Park Rangers debut their new uniforms and badges at Spring Lake in Santa Rosa on Tuesday.

CHRISTI WARREN Santa Rosa PRESS DEMOCRAT November 10, 2015, 7:59PM

Park rangers are not sheriff’s deputies, though, until recently, their uniforms might have suggested otherwise. Their star-shaped badges, which had been unchanged since the Sonoma County Regional Parks Department was formed nearly five decades ago, made them look more like law enforcement officers than stewards of the county’s 54 parks. On Tuesday, an initiative by Regional Parks to revamp the way rangers interact with the public debuted its most visible change when 19 rangers received new badges to adorn their redesigned uniforms. “Rangers are a combination of many things,” Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart told the rangers during a ceremony Tuesday at Spring Lake Regional Park in Santa Rosa. “You’re explorers, you’re guardians, outdoorsmen and women, educators, police officers, tree lovers, nature guides, greeters, animal protectors, custodians of our natural wonders, and field and environmental scientists all rolled into one,” Hart said.
The new badges resemble a shield, emblazoned with an image of the sun shining over Mount Hood and the Russian River as a bird soars through the sky. Blue letters on the old star-shaped badges have been replaced by green letters. Tan shirts, like those worn by deputies, have been switched out for gray shirts and olive-green neckties. The new badges and uniforms are part of a larger department-wide initiative to make the rangers look less like the sheriff’s deputies that they’re so commonly mistaken for, and more like what they are: rangers, said Bert Whitaker, park manager. It’s also part of a wider policy change within Regional Parks to get rangers out of their trucks and talking with members of the public. “We’re really making an emphasis on our rangers being out there firsthand in front of the public,” Whitaker said. “Rather than responding to the issues, we’re out there proactively talking to the community, explaining the challenges and providing that opportunity for the public to enjoy our facilities.” The department also is increasing rangers’ involvement in public outreach, planning more ranger talks and other programs to reinforce their roles as educators about a county park system that spans more than 11,000 acres.


Blood sample new way of detecting cancer

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 09:37 AM PST

A new RNA test of blood platelets can be used to detect, classify and pinpoint the location of cancer by analyzing a sample equivalent to one drop of blood. Using this new method for blood-based RNA tests of blood platelets, researchers have been able to identify cancer with 96 per cent accuracy, scientists report.


Mindfulness meditation trumps placebo in pain reduction

Posted: 10 Nov 2015 02:16 PM PST

New evidence has been found that mindfulness meditation reduces pain more effectively than placebo. The study used a two-pronged approach — pain ratings and brain imaging — to determine whether mindfulness meditation is merely a placebo effect. Seventy-five healthy, pain-free participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups: mindfulness meditation, placebo meditation (“sham” meditation), placebo analgesic cream (petroleum jelly) or control.






In too deep: Gideon Mendel’s photographs of global flooding – in pictures
The Guardian UK Nov 13 2015

For eight years, Gideon Mendel has travelled the globe, photographing people whose lives have been devastated by floods. Here are his images of a drowning world

Read environmental editor John Vidal’s introduction to Gideon Mendel’s flood project

























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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