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Conservation Science News March 8 , 2013

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Highlight of the Week Earth Now Warming 50 Times Faster Than Any Time Since Modern Civilization Began









Highlight of the Week


Recent Warming Is ‘Amazing And Atypical’ And Poised To Destroy Stable Climate That Enabled Civilization

New Science Study Confirms ‘Hockey Stick’: Earth Now Warming 50 Times Faster Than Any Time Since Modern Civilization Began

Posted: 08 Mar 2013 09:44 AM PST Joe Romm

Graph of temperature change over past 11,300 years (via Science, 2013).


A stable climate enabled the development of modern civilization, global agriculture, and a world capable of sustaining billions of people. Now, the most comprehensive “Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years” ever done reveals just how stable the climate has been — and just how destabilizing manmade carbon pollution has been and will continue to be unless we dramatically reverse emissions trends. Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) and Harvard University their findings today in the journal Science (subs. req’d). The National Science Foundation, which funded the work, has a news release:

With data from 73 ice and sediment core monitoring sites around the world, scientists have reconstructed Earth’s temperature history back to the end of the last Ice Age.

The analysis reveals that the planet today is warmer than it’s been during 70 to 80 percent of the last 11,300 years.

during the last 5,000 years, the Earth on average cooled about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit–until the last 100 years, when it warmed about 1.3 degrees F.


In short, thanks primarily to carbon pollution, the Earth is warming 50 times faster than it has during the time modern civilization and agriculture developed, a time when humans figured out where the climate conditions — and rivers and sea levels — were most suited for living and farming. We are headed for 7 to 11°F warming this century on our current emissions path — increasing the rate of change 5-fold yet again. By the second half of this century we will have some 9 billion people, a large fraction of the whom will be living in places that simply can’t sustain them —  either because it is too hot and/or dry, the land is no longer arable, the glacially fed rivers have dried up, or the seas have risen too much.


We could keep that close to 4°F — and avoid the worst consequences — but only with immediate action. This works vindicates the work of Michael Mann and others showing that recent warming is unprecedented in the past 2000 years — the so-called Hockey Stick — and in fact extends that back to at least 4000 years ago. I should say “vindicates for the umpteenth time” (see “Yet More Studies Back Hockey Stick: Recent Global Warming Is Unprecedented In Magnitude And Speed And Cause“)….


Lead author Shaun Marcott of OSU told NPR that the paleoclimate data reveal just how unprecedented our current warming is: “It’s really the rates of change here that’s amazing and atypical.” He noted with the AP, “Even in the ice age the global temperature never changed this quickly.”

And the rate of warming is what matters most, as Mann noted in an email to me: This is an important paper. The key take home conclusion is that the rate and magnitude of recent global warmth appears unprecedented for *at least* the past 4K and the rate *at least* the past 11K. We know that there were periods in the past that were warmer than today, for example the early Cretaceous period 100 million yr ago. The real issue, from a climate change impacts point of view, is the rate of change—because that’s what challenges our adaptive capacity. And this paper suggests that the current rate has no precedent as far back as we can go w/ any confidence—11 kyr arguably, based on this study.


Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, told the AP:

We have, through human emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, indefinitely delayed the onset of the next ice age and are now heading into an unknown future where humans control the thermostat of the planet.


Unfortunately, we have decided to change the setting on the thermostat from — “very stable, don’t adjust” to “Hell and High Water.” It is the single most self-destructive act humanity has ever undertaken — but there is still time to avoid the worst.



Reconstruction of Earth climate history shows significance of recent temperature rise
(March 7, 2013) — Using data from 73 sites around the world, scientists have been able to reconstruct Earth’s temperature history back to the end of the last Ice Age, revealing that the planet today is warmer than it has been during 70 to 80 percent of the time over the last 11,300 years. …

Of even more concern are projections of global temperature for the year 2100, when virtually every climate model evaluated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that temperatures will exceed the warmest temperatures during that 11,300-year period known as the Holocene — under all plausible greenhouse gas emission scenarios… Marcott said that one of the natural factors affecting global temperatures over the past 11,300 years is gradual change in the distribution of solar insolation associated with Earth’s position relative to the sun. “During the warmest period of the Holocene, the Earth was positioned such that Northern Hemisphere summers warmed more,” Marcott said. “As the Earth’s orientation changed, Northern Hemisphere summers became cooler, and we should now be near the bottom of this long-term cooling trend — but obviously, we are not.” Clark said that other studies, including those outlined in past IPCC reports, have attributed the warming of the planet over the past 50 years to anthropogenic, or human-caused activities — and not solar variability or other natural causes.

full story


A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years

Shaun A. Marcott1, Jeremy D. Shakun2, Peter U. Clark1, Alan C. Mix1

Surface temperature reconstructions of the past 1500 years suggest that recent warming is unprecedented in that time. Here we provide a broader perspective by reconstructing regional and global temperature anomalies for the past 11,300 years from 73 globally distributed records. Early Holocene (10,000 to 5000 years ago) warmth is followed by ~0.7°C cooling through the middle to late Holocene (<5000 years ago), culminating in the coolest temperatures of the Holocene during the Little Ice Age, about 200 years ago. This cooling is largely associated with ~2°C change in the North Atlantic. Current global temperatures of the past decade have not yet exceeded peak interglacial values but are warmer than during ~75% of the Holocene temperature history. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change model projections for 2100 exceed the full distribution of Holocene temperature under all plausible greenhouse gas emission scenarios.





One law to rule them all: Sizes within a species appear to follow a universal distribution
(March 4, 2013) — Biologists have discovered what might be a universal property of size distributions in living systems. If valid throughout the animal kingdom, it could have profound implications on how we understand population dynamics of large ecosystems. … > full story



Bats not bothered by forest fires, study finds
(March 6, 2013) — A survey of bat activity in burned and unburned areas after a major wildfire in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains found no evidence of detrimental effects on bats one year after the fire. The findings suggest that bats are resilient to high-severity fire, and some species may even benefit from the effects of fire on the landscape. … > full story



Stocking Florida bass in Texas reservoirs may alter stream systems connected to stocked reservoirs
(March 7, 2013) — A genetic analysis by biologists suggests that the stocking of Florida bass in Texas reservoirs impacts bass populations far beyond the actual stocking location. … >


Dr. Jeff Mount, Craig Miller/KQED

Aboard the Tugnacious With Dr. Doom– Jeff Mount

KQED Science News March 4, 2013

The scientist dubbed “Dr. Doom” for his dire pronouncements about California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is retiring after 33 years working on the troubled ecosystem that’s central to California’s water supply.




How birds of different feathers flock together
(March 7, 2013) — When different species of birds flock together, their flight formations are determined by social dynamics both between and within species. … > full story


Shark fisheries globally unsustainable: 100 million sharks die every year
(March 1, 2013) — The world’s shark populations are experiencing significant declines with perhaps 100 million – or more – sharks being lost every year, according to a new study. … > full story


Extinction looms for forest elephants: 60 percent of Africa’s forest elephants killed for their ivory over past decade
(March 4, 2013) — Across their range in central Africa, a staggering 62 percent of all forest elephants have been killed for their ivory over the past decade, new research shows. … > full story


Invasive Species: They’re Here and More on the Way

KQED Quest | Mar 01, 2013

Invasive species are here and more are on the way! Find out about the problems and some possible solutions.


Wild Bees Are Good For Crops, But Crops Are Bad For Bees

Posted by NPR Food Farmers and farms | Mar 01, 2013

When it comes to pollinating our favorite crops — from coffee to watermelon — honeybees can’t do it alone. Wild bees in the field play a critical role in creating bumper crops, a massive new study reports. But these bees are disappearing, and scientists say the rise of crop monocultures is partly to blame.


PaCOOS (Pacific Coast Ocean Observing System) 2012 annual report, of Physical and Ecological Conditions in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem that extends from Vancouver Island, Canada along the West Coast of the U.S. and the Baja Peninsula, Mexico.You can find the report at The material for the report is a combination of summaries from selected government, industry and academic websites as well as emails from researchers along the CA Current.  Please feel free to circulate to other interested parties who can sign up directly by emailing Rosa Runcie <>.

In Greenland and Antarctic tests, Yeti helps conquer some ‘abominable’ polar hazards
(March 4, 2013) — A century after Western explorers first crossed the dangerous landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctic, researchers have successfully deployed a self-guided robot that uses ground-penetrating radar to map deadly crevasses hidden in ice-covered terrains. … > full story






‘Climate-smart strategies’ proposed for spectacular US-Canadian landscape
(March 7, 2013) — A new report creates a conservation strategy that will promote wildlife resiliency in the Southern Canadian Rockies to the future impacts of climate change and road use. The report’s “safe passages and safe havens” were informed in part by an assessment of six iconic species — bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, grizzly bears, wolverines, mountain goats and bighorn sheep — five of which were ranked as highly vulnerable to projected changes.
Nestled between Glacier Nat
ional Park in Montana and Banff National Park in Canada, the Southern Canadian Rockies (SCR) has been overshadowed by these towering icons of mountain splendour. Yet this southern section contains spectacular landscapes, supports one of the most diverse communities of carnivores and hoofed mammals in North America, and is a stronghold for the six vulnerable species that have been vanquished in much of their former range further south. In the report entitled Safe Havens, Safe Passages for Vulnerable Fish and Wildlife: Critical Landscapes in the Southern Canadian Rockies British Columbia and Montana, WCS Conservation Scientist John Weaver notes that wildlife will need ‘room to roam’ to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Complicating those climate-related transitions are major highways and an expansive network of forest roads that have fragmented the SRC landscape. “Providing ‘safe havens’ of secure and diverse habitats and ‘safe passages’ across the highways are climate-smart strategies,” says Weave … > full story


Global warming affects crop yields, but it’s the water not the heat

Phys.Org Mar 4, 2013

( —The effect that global warming will have on plants is now better understood thanks to advanced modelling provided by The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Professor Graeme Hammer, one of Australia’s leading crop scientists….




…Below average flood potential expected for California this spring… the spring flood potential outlook is below average for all basins in California. Dry antecedent soil moisture conditions and low snowpacks are minimizing the potential for spring snowmelt flooding.

much of the region has experienced very dry conditions after a very productive November and December. Many locations have recorded precipitation among the top ten lowest on record for the combined months of January and February. This has reduced the statewide snowpack water content from 134 percent of average near the start of January to about 66 percent for this time of the year. Some relief occurred during the early part of March…mostly in the northern and central regions of the state. However…it will take a series of strong storm systems to return the snowpack to normal conditions by April 1st… which is the typical time of maximum snowpack accumulation. It appears very unlikely that snowpacks can recover from the current deficit this late into the wet season. Note that flooding could still result from heavy rainfall alone or combined with snowmelt anytime between now and early April.




Big One-Year Jump In Atmospheric CO2 Brings Climate Catastrophe Still Closer

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 09:30 AM PST

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere underwent one of its biggest single-year jumps ever in 2012, according to researchers at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Between the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2013, carbon dioxide levels increased by 2.67 parts per million — a rise topped only by the spike in 1998.

By comparison, global carbon levels averaged a yearly rise of just under 2 parts per million from 2000 to 2010, and increased by less than 1 part per million in the 1960s. The 2012 rise makes it that much more unlikely that global warming can be limited to the 2 degree Celsius threshold most scientist agree is the bare minimum necessary to avoid truly catastrophic levels of climate change. The Associated Press has the report:

Carbon dioxide levels jumped by 2.67 parts per million since 2011 to total just under 395 parts per million, says Pieter Tans, who leads the greenhouse gas measurement team for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Saharan and Asian dust, biological particles end global journey in California
(March 1, 2013)A new study is the first to show that dust and other aerosols from one side of the world influence rainfall in the Sierra Nevada. … The CalWater field campaign, funded by the California Energy Commission and led by UC San Diego and NOAA, could help western states better understand the future of their water supply and hydropower generation as climate change influences how much and how often dust travels aro
und the world and alters precipitation far from its point of origin. .. “We were able to show dust and biological aerosols that made it from as far as the Sahara were incorporated into the clouds to form ice, then influenced the formation of the precipitation in California,” said Creamean, who conducted the fieldwork as a UCSD graduate student under Prather, the study leader. “To our knowledge, no one has been able to directly determine the origin of the critical aerosols seeding mid-level clouds which ultimately produce periods with extensive precipitation typically in the form of snow at the ground.”… Besides dust, aerosols can be composed of sea salt, bits of soot and other pollution, or biological material. Bacteria, viruses, pollen, and plants, of both terrestrial and marine origin, also add to the mix of aerosols making the transcontinental voyage. The researchers’ analysis of winter storms in 2011 found that dust and biological aerosols tend to enhance precipitation-forming processes in the Sierra Nevada. In previous studies, researchers have found that pollution particles have the opposite effect, suppressing precipitation in the Sierra Nevada….full story

J. M. Creamean, K. J. Suski, D. Rosenfeld, A. Cazorla, P. J. DeMott, R. C. Sullivan, A. B. White, F. M. Ralph, P. Minnis, J. M. Comstock, J. M. Tomlinson, K. A. Prather. Dust and Biological Aerosols from the Sahara and Asia Influence Precipitation in the Western U.S.. Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1126/science.1227279

California Water: From African Skies to Sierra Nevada Snow

News Fix | KQED Mar 01, 2013

It’s March 1, which means Northern California is past its driest January-February period on record. Of course, the long-range forecast looks dry, too. So … Continue reading »


New study reveals how sensitive US East Coast regions may be to ocean acidification
(March 1, 2013) — A continental-scale chemical survey in the waters of the eastern US and Gulf of Mexico is helping researchers determine how distinct bodies of water will resist changes in acidity. … > full story

Glaciers will melt faster than ever and loss could be irreversible warn scientists
(March 7, 2013) — Canada’s Arctic Archipelago glaciers will melt faster than ever in the next few centuries. Scientists have shown that 20 percent of the Canadian Arctic glaciers may have disappeared by the end of this century which would amount to an additional sea level rise of 3.5 centimeters. … > full story

Australian Government Blames Climate Change for ‘Angry Summer’

New York Times  – ‎Mar 4 2013‎

SYDNEY, Australia – Climate change was a major driving force behind a string of extreme weather events that alternately scorched and soaked large sections of Australia in recent months, according to a report issued Monday by the government’s Climate …\




Although this is the climatological dry season for Florida, the current level of dryness is more intense than in normal years. Since Nov. 1, 2012, Daytona Beach has received just a little more than 40 percent of its normal rainfall, making it the 7th driest period in 80 years. Credit: National Drought Mitigation Center

U.S. Drought Intensifies in Texas and Florida

Posted: 2013-03-07T22:23:22+00:00 climatecentral

Drought expanded in two key areas of the country last week – Florida and West Texas – where several weeks of low rainfall have allowed already dry conditions to intensify, according to an update to the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.

While much of the East Coast has seen heavy precipitation over the past two weeks, very little of that has extended into the Florida peninsula. According to the Drought Monitor, “abnormal dryness” pushed into all of southern Florida, while conditions of “severe drought” expanded in the eastern and central parts of the state. Meanwhile, relatively wet conditions in the Florida Panhandle have kept the northwestern part of the state out of drought.





Atmospheric Warming Altering Ocean Salinity And The Water Cycle

Posted: 03 Mar 2013 07:38 AM PST

Lawrence Livermore Lab News Release

A clear change in salinity has been detected in the world’s oceans, signaling shifts and acceleration in the global rainfall and evaporation cycle tied directly to climate change. In a paper published [last spring] in the journal Science, Australian scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reported changing patterns of salinity in the global ocean during the past 50 years, marking a clear symptom of climate change. Lead author Paul Durack said that by looking at observed ocean salinity changes and the relationship between salinity, rainfall and evaporation in climate models, they determined the water cycle has become 4 percent stronger from 1950-2000. This is twice the response projected by current generation global climate models. “These changes suggest that arid regions have become drier and high rainfall regions have become wetter in response to observed global warming,” said Durack, a post-doctoral fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Scientists monitor salinity changes in the world’s oceans to determine where rainfall has increased or decreased. “It provides us with a gauge — a method of monitoring how large-scale patterns of rainfall and evaporation (the climate variables we care most about) are changing,” Durack said. With a projected temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the researchers estimate a 24 percent acceleration of the water cycle is possible. [JR: Actually the projected warming by century’s end is closer to 5°C — see review of literature here — which would yield a stunning 40% acceleration of the water cycle.] Scientists have struggled to determine coherent estimates of water cycle changes from land-based data because surface observations of rainfall and evaporation are sparse. According to the team, global oceans provide a much clearer picture. “The ocean matters to climate — it stores 97 percent of the world’s water; receives 80 percent of all surface rainfall, and it has absorbed 90 percent of the Earth’s energy increase associated with past atmospheric warming,” said co-author, Richard Matear of CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans Flagship. “Warming of the Earth’s surface and lower atmosphere is expected to strengthen the water cycle largely driven by the ability of warmer air to hold and redistribute more moisture.”…




Why you should sweat climate change and good VIDEO explaining basics of climate change


– ‎March 1, 2013‎

Special report: USA TODAY will explore how climate change is affecting Americans in a series of stories this year.

Story Highlights



The Downside of Our Beautiful, Dry Winter

By KQED News Staff and Wires Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 — 2:54 PM

State water officials performed a monthly winter ritual–measuring the Sierra snowpack. What they found does not bode well for state’s water supply.


In Epic Blunder, NY Times And Washington Post All But Abandon Specialized Climate Science Coverage

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 04:56 PM PST

Columbia Journalism Review slams Times for “outright lie” about its commitment to environmental coverage.
This weekend two of the premier newspapers in the country basically abandoned the story of the century — climate change — as a specialized beat. The NY Times shut down its Green Blog (fast on the heels of dismantling its environment desk) and the Washingon Post is switching its lead climate reporter, Juliet Eilperin, off the environment beat.
These epic blunders in editorial judgment essentially signal the end of the era of great national newspapers — certainly neither the New York Times nor Washingon Post qualify anymore. One can hardly be a great national newspaper while moving to slash coverage of the single most important story to the nation (and the world), the story that will have the biggest impact on the lives of readers and their children in the coming decades….






Developed Nations Must Cut Emissions In Half By 2020, Says New Study

Posted: 07 Mar 2013 09:26 AM PST By Kelly Levin, via WRI Insights.

After a year of extreme weather events and recent studies outlining climate change’s impacts, it’s become increasingly clear that we must understand what emissions reduction pathways are necessary to avoid these risks. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) last Assessment Report, for example, outlined the emissions reductions needed from developed countries to stabilize concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) consistent with limiting warming to 2°C. Further research has continued to examine the global GHG emissions reductions necessary to avert dangerous climate change. And as countries implement existing policies and consider new ones, the scale of required emissions cuts is a fundamental question. In fact, it’s one of the most pressing questions facing the international climate change community. One new study shows that we have to reduce emissions even more than scientists initially thought in order to avoid climate change’s worst impacts. A paper published in Energy Policy on February 20 by Michel den Elzen and colleagues examines new information on likely future emissions trajectories in developing countries. This includes recent clarification of assumptions and conditions related to developing country pledges. In addition, countries have also come forward with further information on their emissions projections. As a result, the report finds that developed countries must reduce their emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 if we are to have a medium chance of limiting warming to 2°C, thus preventing some of climate change’s worst impacts.




Because nothing was done to reform cotton subsidies, the U.S. will continue to send $150 million in 2013 to Brazilian cotton farmers.

Clueless about Food and Agriculture? Why Everyone has a Stake in the Farm Bill Fight

March 5, 2013 | Dan Imhoff | farming, food and farming, farm bill, agriculture

Outside of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to urge kids to exercise more and eat better, this administration remains largely indifferent to the disaster that is the country’s outdated food and agriculture policy. U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently argued that rural America has become politically irrelevant—a possible explanation for why the House refused to even consider a vote on a new Farm Bill last year. Maybe it’s something else.  It could be that the present Congress and administration are simply clueless about the severity of our food and farming crises.
Riding the coattails of the fiscal cliff bargain, the 2008 Farm Bill—three months past its “renew by” date—got a nine-month extension shortly after New Year’s Day. The extension could have included funds to preserve programs that help rural America and rebuild a food and farming system around the challenges of the 21st century. Instead, the policy—concocted in backdoor fashion without any public input—might as well have been written by lobbyists from the crop insurance, finance and agrochemical industries.
The Farm Bill extension bears little resemblance to the plan hotly debate and passed by the Senate last summer. While by no means ideal, that Senate plan would have clipped excessive commodity subsidies and reduced but still preserved important programs for conservation, organic agriculture, and rural development. This Farm Bill extension will continue sending $5 billion in direct payments to landowners whether they farm or not, whether they experience losses or not. (Both Republicans and Democrats favor eliminating such subsidies.) By extending rather than writing a new five-year Farm Bill, Congress did, however, manage to avert the dreaded “dairy cliff.” This would have reverted to a 1949 dairy subsidy program causing milk prices to spike to about $7 a gallon. …\



Obama nominates 3 to Cabinet-level posts

By Associated Press March 4 2013

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama filled in more pieces of his second term leadership team Monday, nominating a trio of new advisers to lead the Energy Department, Environmental Protection Agency and budget office.

The nominations signal the White House’s desire to get back to normal business after the president and Congress failed to avert the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that started taking effect Friday. While the president has warned of dire consequences for the economy as a result of the cuts, the White House does not want the standoff with Congress to keep Obama from focusing on other second term priorities, including making nominations for top jobs and pursuing stricter gun laws and an overhaul of the nation’s immigration system.

Two of Obama’s new nominees will also focus on another second term priority — tackling the threat of climate change. To head that effort, Obama promoted current EPA official Gina McCarthy to lead the agency and MIT scientist Ernest Moniz to run the Energy Department.


Keystone XL pipeline would have little impact on climate change, State Department analysis says

By Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, Updated: Friday, March 1, 2:20 PM

The State Department released a draft environmental impact assessment of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline Friday, suggesting the project would have little impact on climate change.

Canada’s oil sands will be developed even if President Obama denies a permit to the pipeline connecting the region to Gulf Coast refineries, the analysis said. Such a move would also not alter U.S. oil consumption, the report added. The lengthy assessment did not give environmentalists the answer they had hoped for in the debate over the project’s climate impact. Opponents say a presidential veto of the project would send a powerful message to the world about the importance of moving away from fossil fuels and make it more difficult for Canada to export its energy-intensive oil.

But the detailed environmental report — which runs close to 2,000 pages long — also questions one of the strongest arguments for the pipeline, by suggesting America can meet its energy needs over the next decade without it. The growth in rail transport of oil from western Canada and the Bakken Formation on the Great Plains and other pipelines, the analysis says, could meet the country’s energy needs for the next decade, even if Keystone XL never gets built.…..

The president is not likely to make a final decision on TransCanada’s permit application until mid-summer at the earliest. The analysis will be subject to at least 45 days of public comment once it is published next week in the Federal Register, and the State Department will have to respond to hundreds of thousands of comments before finalizing its environmental impact statement. The State Department will also have to conduct a separate analysis of whether the project is in the national interest, a question on which eight other agencies will offer input over 90 days.

Jim Lyon, vice president for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation, challenging the department’s analysis, saying it “fails in its review of climate impacts, threats to endangered wildlife like whooping cranes and woodland caribou, and the concerns of tribal communities.”

By vetoing the project, Lyon added, “President Obama can keep billions of tons of climate-disrupting carbon pollution locked safely in the ground. . . . Without access to major U.S. export terminals from Keystone XL and other routes, tar sands production will be substantially slowed.”….



After Keystone Review, Environmentalists Vow To Continue Fight (276)  

NPR Morning Edition March 4, 2013

A report released by the State Department Friday says the pipeline won’t have much of an impact on the development of oil from Alberta. But activists who oppose the project aren’t giving in.



Study: Global warming could help Arctic shipping

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY3:06p.m. EST March 4, 2013

Shipping routes across the Arctic Ocean — which have been ice-covered and impassable since humans first invented ships millennia ago — could be open to ships by mid-century.

Who said global warming is all bad? Shipping routes across the Arctic Ocean — which have been ice-covered and impassable since humans first invented ships millennia ago — could be open to ships for the first time by mid-century, thanks to climate change, a new study suggests.

This includes shipping directly across the North Pole and through the famed Northwest Passage, a sea route from Newfoundland toward the Bering Strait, neither of which has ever been done. The study appears in Monday’s edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Plus. “Nobody’s ever talked about shipping over the top of the North Pole,” according to study lead author Laurence C. Smith, a geography professor at UCLA. “This is an entirely unexpected possibility.” The earliest that sea routes would be taken directly over the North Pole and through the famed Northwest Passage would likely be in the 2040s or 2050s, Smith says. This sort of shipping would also only occur in late summer and early autumn, he adds: The prime month would be September, when Arctic sea ice is at its annual minimum. “The development is both exciting from an economic development point of view and worrisome in terms of safety, both for the Arctic environment and for the ships themselves,” says Smith.


Global warming will open unexpected new shipping routes in Arctic, researchers find
(March 4, 2013) — Shipping lanes through the Arctic Ocean won’t put the Suez and Panama canals out of business anytime soon, but global warming will make these frigid routes much more accessible than ever imagined by melting an unprecedented amount of sea ice during the late summer, new research shows. … > full story

USA TODAY’s Climate Change Series Comes At A Critical Time

MediaMatters Shauna Theel March 1, 2013

USA TODAY announced in its cover story today that it will be doing a year-long series on climate change, sending reporters around the U.S. to examine how climate change is already affecting Americans. The series, “Weathering The Change,” comes at a time when climate change coverage — including at USA TODAY — has been relatively low in the U.S.

USA TODAY covered climate change the least of the major national newspapers in the context of the 2012 presidential election. It entirely ignored how climate change has worsened fire risks in the Western U.S. in its print coverage of the destructive 2012 wildfires. It only mentioned ocean acidification once between January 2011 and June 2012, and ignored a study that found that the Great Barrier Reef has declined by 50 percent in the past 27 years largely due to human activities. And it closed its green blog in September 201


Bangladesh tackles climate change by fusing rice paddies with fish farms

Integrating coastal aquaculture with wet rice farming could boost Bangladesh’s food security and combat climate change

Naimul Haq for SciDev part of the Guardian development network, Friday 1 March 2013 10.27 EST

By combining aquaculture with wet paddy farming in its coastal areas Bangladesh can meet food security and climate change issues, says a report. The approach promises more nutritious food without causing environmental damage, and has the potential for a “blue-green revolution” on Bangladesh’s existing crop areas, extending to about 10m hectares (25m acres) and an additional nearly 3m hectares that remain waterlogged for four to six months. “The carrying capacities of these additional lands and waters, when fully utilised, can increase food production and economic growth,” said Nesar Ahmed, author of the report published last month in Ocean & Coastal Management. Ahmed, a researcher in fisheries management at the Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, told SciDev.Net there was a “vital link between prawn and shrimp farming in coastal Bangladesh and a ‘green economy’ that addresses the current environmental and economic crisis”.

Enamul Hoq, senior scientist at the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute, agrees that the blue-green revolution “not only holds out huge economic benefits but also solves the growing climate change crisis”.



Is Obama’s Climate Change Policy Doomed to Fail? Maybe Not.

Until there is an obvious, sudden and perhaps cataclysmic event, such as a loss of part of the Antarctic ice sheet, the odds would seem to be stacked heavily against climate change legislation, says Harvard’s Rob Stavins. But the picture is not nearly so dark as one might think. Photo by KEENPRESS/Getty Images.

A Note from Paul Solman: A professor of envinromental economics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Rob Stavins is one of the country’s leading thinkers on climate policy. Climate wonks regularly read his blog, One Economist’s Perspective on Environmental and Natural Resource Policy, as do I.
In the wake of President Obama’s strong push for action on climate change during his second term, I asked Rob to comment for a broader audience here at the Business Desk. He was kind enough to do so.

Rob Stavins: In his 2013 inaugural address, President Obama surprised many people, including me, by the intensity and the length of his comments on global climate change. Since then, there has been a great deal of discussion about what climate policy initiatives will be forthcoming from the administration in its second term.

Although I was surprised by the strength and length of what the President said, it did not change my thinking about what we should expect from the second term. I would say the same about the President’s State of the Union address.

What are the top priorities for environmental policy during the second term?

The Obama administration needs to find balance among four competing forces:

Demands from some constituencies for more aggressive environmental policies, including on climate change;

Demands from other constituencies — principally in the Congress — for progress on so called “energy security;

Recognition that nothing meaningful is likely to happen if the country’s economic problems are not addressed;

The reality that a set of other policy initiatives outside of the environmental realm are considered to be more important than climate change both by the administration and by the population at large, including immigration reform and gun control, not to mention the dozen other areas the President highlighted in his State of the Union address.

What are the roadblocks that would prevent the President from addressing these priorities? ….


National Parks’ Benefit to Bay Area: $445 Million

News Fix | Mar 01, 2013Tourism to Point Reyes, seen here on a low-traffic day during a winter storm, brings an economic boon to local communities. (Dan Brekke/KQED)Point Reyes Station, a pastoral West Marin outpost, has a population of 848. But on one recent weekday, … Continue reading »





Global Warming’s Six Americas in September 2012

Today we are releasing the fifth report from our latest national survey. In Global Warming’s Six Americas, September 2012 we report that the Alarmed have grown from 10 percent of the American adult population in 2010 to 16 percent in 2012. At the same time, the Dismissive have decreased in size, from 16 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2012.




Building Resilience: How Can We Steward Nature Through Climate
Thursday March 21st, 2013 11:30-1 Pacific; 2:30-4:00 PM Eastern

Erika Zavaleta, Ph.D.
University of California Santa Cruz
Environmental Studies Department

OFFICE OF THE SCIENCE ADVISOR WEB CONFERENCE SERIES U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This program is being facilitated by the USFWS’s National Conservation Training Center (NCTC).

Description: Climate change sets an unprecedented challenge to biodiversity conservation, especially against a backdrop of many other environmental stresses. However, it also creates an opportunity to examine and improve long-term, collaborative strategies for the stewardship of nature. Our knowledge about climate change is extensive and growing; how can we apply it to guide effective decision-making about the best way to conserve resilient, diverse ecosystems through the coming centuries?


If you cannot attend the webinar it will be posted approximately 1-2 weeks after the presentation is given and posted on the Office of the Science Advisor Webinar page:,AAAAv1RRo7E~,NyPVtykdKxXTH1jgoXjy22F_fAthM_K8
If you have any questions regarding registration for the OSA webinars, please contact: Ashley Fortune: 304.876.7361




The Future of Water in California: Integrating Water, Climate, and Policy
8-9 April 2013 University of California Sacramento Center

From snowpack to regional groundwater, water resources are essential for all life, including drinking water, the food supply, ecosystems, and recreation. Meeting these multiple, often conflicting needs will only become more challenging under climate change. An essential element will be improving connections between scientific disciplines and the exchange between science, management, and policy. Join physical and social scientists, water managers, and policymakers at the Future of Water Workshop to discuss how California can meet these challenges. Keynote speakers include Ben Santer and Phil Isenberg, with additional flash talks on current science and policy, panel and roundtable discussions, and a poster session open to all. For more information, please see the workshop website:



Want to know what goes on at those Bay Delta Conservation Plan meetings you are too busy to attend? Interested in following the Delta Stewardship Council and the development of the Delta Science Plan but you don’t want to sit through the webcast? Then visit Maven’s Notebook and find out what you’ve been missing


WWF Summer 2013 Internships



The following internships are available at the World Wildlife Fund – United States. They are designed typically for graduate students, although some may be appropriate for advanced undergraduates. Projects can be undertaken over the summer (with extensions, as necessary, into the fall semester). Most projects could also be extended over the course of one or two semesters as part of a student’s course work or thesis requirements; advance arrangements would be necessary with faculty advisors. Internships are typically unpaid unless otherwise noted, but facilities, library resources, and computers at WWF headquarters are available. Hours are flexible. To qualify for an unpaid internship, the student must provide documentation that they are receiving credit from their university, or that the work they will be performing is consistent with a course requirement.


Sacramento District Wetlands Conservation Fund Requests Proposals for Projects to be Funded

Posted: February 23, 2013

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, is soliciting proposals to fund projects that result in the rehabilitation, re-establishment, establishment, or enhancement of aquatic resources in the California Central Valley and Sierra Nevada.

The primary purpose of the Fund is to collect monies generated by in-lieu fee funding requirements under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act or Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act for authorized activities, as well as monies generated by enforcement and compliance actions initiated by the Sacramento District, and to serve as a funding source for the rehabilitation, re-establishment, establishment, enhancement, or in exceptional circumstances preservation of wetlands and other aquatic resources, and their associated habitats.

For Proposal Requirements and Application Guidelines please go to:






Other People’s Money: How Crowdfunding Lowers The Cost Of Solar Energy

Posted: 07 Mar 2013 08:30 AM PST

By Jesse Morris, via Rocky Mountain Institute.

From Forbes to Fortune, Bloomberg to the Wall Street Journal, a young company named Mosaic has been getting a lot of attention of late. Why? Because Mosaic is bringing crowd-sourced funding to the world of solar PV.

Crowdfunding is nothing new. Companies such as Kickstarter have allowed individuals to fund everything from their next indie film to extensive out of pocket medical bills with pooled donations from family, friends, and other supporters. But thanks to last year’s JOBS Act, debt-based crowdfunding is now an option as well, in which investors come together to fund startups and small businesses in return for repayment plus interest from a company like Mosaic.

It’s inclusive, meaning that investors of all shapes and sizes can get into the game. And it currently makes for a good, low-risk investment. Mosaic — with more than $1.1 million invested in solar projects to date — boasts 4.5 to 6.5 percent risk-adjusted annual returns, besting the latest interest rates on 30-year Treasury bonds…..



State’s ‘Environmentally Sound’ Keystone Assessment Done By Firms Linked To TransCanada, Exxon Mobil, BP And Kochs

Posted: 07 Mar 2013 03:07 PM PST

Yesterday, we found out via Inside Climate News and Brad Johnson over at Grist that the environmental impact statement the State Department just released on the Keystone XL pipeline was written by a private consulting firm being paid by the pipeline’s owner.

This obviously raises concerns about conflicts of interest with the report itself, but it also highlights the problems with turning government work and analysis over to private firms with possible financial ties to other private entities who may be affected by that work and analysis — a phenomenon that’s been underway since the 1990s. State’s report, which found that the pipeline was “unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands,” and will “not likely result in significant adverse environmental effects,” was written by Environmental Resources Management (ERM). Several years ago, Cardno Entrix, another private consultancy, was contracted by TransCanada to handle the State Department’s initial draft of the environmental impact statement, the Department’s hearings on the pipeline, and even its Keystone XL website.


40×35: A Zero-Carbon Energy Target for the World’s Largest Economies

Posted: 07 Mar 2013 01:36 PM PST

By Andrew Light, Mari Hernandez, and Adam James, via the Center for American Progress. Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF version of this issue brief.

In the past several years, small groups of some of the world’s largest carbon polluters have joined forces to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as part of their overall efforts to slow the pace of dangerous global warming. These efforts include the G20 leaders’ 2009 pledge to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies; the launch of a number of efforts on clean energy cooperation through the global Clean Energy Ministerial starting in 2010; and the creation of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants a year ago, which started with six nations and has now grown to 27 countries plus the European Union.





Internships become the new job requirement



by Amy Scott Marketplace Morning Report for Monday, March 4, 2013

By the time most kids are in high school, they’ve probably heard some career advice along these lines: get into a good college, pick a marketable major, keep those grades up, and you’ll land a good job. But that doesn’t quite cover it anymore. In a survey out today from Marketplace and The Chronicle of Higher Education, employers said what matters most to them actually happens outside the classroom. “Internships came back as the most important thing that employers look for when evaluating a recent college graduate,” says Dan Berrett, senior reporter at the Chronicle. “More important than where they went to college, the major they pursued, and even their grade point average.”


Berkeley-Based International Rivers Wins MacArthur Award

By Molly Samuel Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 — 7:42 PM

The MacArthur Foundation has awarded International Rivers a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.


The Scary Hidden Stressor

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN (NYT) March 3, 2013 Compiled: 1:08 AM

The brutal winter drought in China is connected to a global wheat shortage is connected to the Arab Spring is connected to … “The Arab Spring and Climate Change” doesn’t claim that climate change caused the recent wave of Arab revolutions, but, taken together, the essays make a strong case that the interplay between climate change, food prices (particularly wheat) and politics is a hidden stressor that helped to fuel the revolutions and will continue to make consolidating them into stable democracies much more difficult…. “Bread provides one-third of the caloric intake in Egypt, a country where 38 percent of income is spent on food,” notes Sternberg. “The doubling of global wheat prices — from $157/metric ton in June 2010 to $326/metric ton in February 2011 — thus significantly impacted the country’s food supply and availability.” Global food prices peaked at an all-time high in March 2011, shortly after President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in Egypt…. Ditto in Syria and Libya. In their essay, the study’s co-editors, Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell, note that from 2006 to 2011, up to 60 percent of Syria’s land experienced the worst drought ever recorded there — at a time when Syria’s population was exploding and its corrupt and inefficient regime was proving incapable of managing the stress. In 2009, they noted, the U.N. and other international agencies reported that more than 800,000 Syrians lost their entire livelihoods as a result of the great drought, which led to “a massive exodus of farmers, herders, and agriculturally dependent rural families from the Syrian countryside to the cities,” fueling unrest. The future does not look much brighter. “On a scale of wetness conditions,” Femia and Werrell note, ” ‘where a reading of -4 or below is considered extreme drought,’ a 2010 report by the National Center for Atmospheric Research shows that Syria and its neighbors face projected readings of -8 to -15 as a result of climatic changes in the next 25 years.” Similar trends, they note, are true for Libya, whose “primary source of water is a finite cache of fossilized groundwater, which already has been severely stressed while coastal aquifers have been progressively invaded by seawater.” … as much as one-fifth of some Arab state budgets go to subsidizing gasoline and cooking fuel — more than $200 billion a year in the Arab world as a whole — rather than into spending on health and education. Meanwhile, locally, Arab states are being made less resilient by the tribalism and sectarianism that are eating away at their democratic revolutions. As Sarah Johnstone and Jeffrey Mazo of the International Institute for Strategic Studies conclude in their essay, “fledgling democracies with weak institutions might find it even harder to deal with the root problems than the regimes they replace, and they may be more vulnerable to further unrest as a result.” Yikes.


Adam Cole/NPR

Your Child’s Fat, Mine’s Fine: Rose-Colored Glasses And The Obesity Epidemic

by Shankar Vedantam
March 04, 2013 3:24 AM NPR Listen to the Story

About 69 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, and more than four in five people say they are worried about obesity as a public health problem. But a recent poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health revealed a curious schism in our national attitudes toward obesity: Only one in five kids had a parent who feared the boy or girl would grow up to be overweight as an adult. Put another way, assuming current trends persist, parents of 80 percent of American children think all these kids will somehow end up being among the lucky 31 percent of adults who are not overweight. Tali Sharot is a neuroscientist at University College London who studies why large numbers of people — faced with a large number of different kinds of risks — believe they and their family members will dodge the odds.

“People underestimate their likelihood of experiencing all kinds of negative events, including medical illnesses,” she says. “And they do that for their family members as well. So not only do we think we are immune more than other people, we think that our kids are also more immune than other kids.”… “The optimism bias is our tendency to overestimate our likelihood of experiencing positive events in our lives, and underestimating the likelihood of experiencing negative events in our lives, such as divorce or cancer,” Sharot says….But if people don’t believe bad news applies to them, they seem readily willing to take in positive news. People readily change their views when you tell them they’ve been too pessimistic….In a series of brain experiments, Sharot has identified two areas in the frontal lobe — the left inferior frontal gyrus and the right inferior frontal gyrus — that appear to regulate how people process good and bad news. When she temporarily disables the normal functioning of the brain areas using a magnetic field, Sharot finds that the bias disappears. People stop being overly optimistic. They start to take risks seriously. Now, this bias isn’t a brain defect. In fact, multiple studies have shown the optimism bias produces a variety of positive life outcomes. We do better in life when we expect to do well. The trouble arises when it comes to major public health problems like childhood obesity. [and climate change!!]


Higher heart attack rates continue 6 years after Katrina
(March 7, 2013) — New Orleans residents continue to face a three-fold increased risk of heart attack post-Katrina — a trend that has remained unchanged since the storm hit in 2005, according to new research. … > full story


Processed meat linked to premature death, large study finds
(March 6, 2013) — In a huge study of half a million men and women, researchers have demonstrated an association between processed meat and cardiovascular disease and cancer. … > full story


School-based kitchen gardens are getting an A+: New study highlights benefits of for both children and parents
(March 7, 2013) — Grow it, try it, and you just might like it is a motto many schools are embracing to encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables. Through community-based kitchen garden programs, particularly those with dedicated cooking components, schools are successfully introducing students to healthier foods. In a new study, researchers found that growing and then cooking the foods that kids grew increased their willingness to try new foods. … > full story












How to Win Any Climate Change Argument–A flow chart for debating with denialists.

By Chris Kirk|Posted Monday, March 4, 2013, at 1:00 PM

If you’re exhausted by climate change shouting matches or so flummoxed by confronting scientific ignorance that you suffer in silence, this chart might be for you. It provides responses to three of the common stages of climate change disbelief: that climate change isn’t happening, that scientists can’t decide whether it’s happening, and that it’s happening but not caused by mankind.





for national grammar day!




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