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Conservation Science News May 3, 2013

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Highlight of the Week we are surpassing 400 parts per million of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere for first time in human history….









Highlight of the Week– we are surpassing 400 ppm CO2 for first time in human history…. The last time CO2 levels were this high was likely during the Pliocene epoch, between 3.2 million and 5 million years ago. The Earth’s climate was warmer during the Pliocene than it is today—perhaps by 2 to 3 C—and sea levels were much higher. It was a very different planet than the one we’ve lived on so successfully for thousands of years…..


The Keeling Curve

A daily record of atmospheric carbon dioxide from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

Bottom of Form

Latest reading: 399.39 ppm

CO2 concentration on May 1, 2013         May 2, 2013 instrument status: operational

Historical Charts

1 week 

1 month  

1 year

2 years

Keeling Curve (1958-present) 

300 years

800,000 years


Greenhouse Effect: CO2 Concentrations Set to Hit Record High of 400 PPM



By Bryan Walsh May 02, 2013 TIME

Jonathan Kingston Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii

Climate change is, first and foremost, a consequence of the addition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We emit carbon dioxide, through burning fossil fuels or forests, and some of that carbon stays in the atmosphere, intensifying the heat-trapping greenhouse effect and warming the climate. What kind of global warming we’ll see in the future will largely be due to how much carbon dioxide—and to a lesser extent, other greenhouse gases like methane—we add to the atmosphere. And to fully understand the future, we need to understand the present and the past, and track the concentration of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The fact that we can and have been tracking that very important number is due largely to the efforts of the geochemist Charles David Keeling. As a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology in the 1950s, Keeling developed the first instrument that could accurately measure the CO2 levels in the entire atmosphere through sampling. When he got to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography a few years later, Keeling began taking regularly CO2 measurements at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Keeling discovered that atmospheric CO2 underwent a seasonal cycle, as plants bloomed and decayed in the Northern Hemisphere, and more importantly, that CO2 was rising fast. In 1958, CO2 levels recorded at Mauna Loa were about 316 parts per million (ppm). By 2005, when Keeling died—and his son, Ralph Keeling, took up the project—CO2 levels were just under 380 ppm.
Plotted on a graph, the readings over time curve upwards sharply as humans added more and more CO2 to the atmosphere—which is why the readings came to be known as the Keeling Curve.

Now, thanks to Keeling’s successors at Scripps, we know that global CO2 levels are about to pass a major threshold: 400 ppm. It’s a momentous enough occasion, at least for scientists, that Scripps has begun releasing daily readings—today the level is 399.50 ppm—on a website and via a Twitter account. We should pass 400 ppm any day now—possibly, by the time that you read this. And that’s not good.



The fact that we’re going to cross 400 ppm doesn’t mean that much by itself. It’s not like the sound barrier—the difference in warming between 399 ppm and 400 ppm would likely be minute. But the sheer rate of increase over just the past 55 years shows how fast global warming could hit us in the future—and the present—and underscores how much we’ve failed as a planet to slow down carbon emissions. As Ralph Keeling put it in a statement:

I wish it weren’t true, but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400-ppm level without losing a beat. At this pace we’ll hit 450 ppm within a few decades.

400 ppm may be high enough. The last time CO2 levels were this high was likely during the Pliocene epoch, between 3.2 million and 5 million years ago. The Earth’s climate was warmer during the Pliocene than it is today—perhaps by 2 to 3 C—and sea levels were much higher. It was a very different planet than the one we’ve lived on so successfully for thousands of years.

There’s no guarantee that we’d experience the same levels of warming in the future if CO2 levels stay that high, but it doesn’t look good. Nor will CO2 levels stop at CO2—barring a virtually impossible immediate turn away from fossil fuels, CO2 emissions will keep growing globally, and CO2 concentrations will keep rising. The U.N.’s official goal is to keep CO2 levels below 450 ppm, and as Ralph Keeling indicated, we’re rapidly running out of time to make that happen. CO2 can stay in the atmosphere for centuries, which means that we’ve already baked in far more warming than we’ve yet experienced. But we will soon enough. The Keeling Curve tells us our past, but it’s also a roadmap for our future—a future that will almost certainly be hotter and wilder….

Carbon dioxide now at highest level in 5 million years – USA Today Apr 24, 2013 – For the first time in roughly 5 million years, the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere could top 400 parts per million next month…..







1st northern gannet found on Farallones

Sophie Webb, PRBO Conservation Science The northern gannet is an Atlantic Ocean native never before seen in the Pacific – is its arrival a sign of global warming?

By Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle April 27, 2013

A strange seabird hanging around the Farallon Islands has created quite a ruckus among scientists, who have identified the sleek, mostly white creature as a species of booby never seen before in this part of the world. The bird is a northern gannet, which is native to the Atlantic Ocean. The one at the Farallones is believed to be the first of its kind ever to visit the Pacific Ocean, according to researchers with PRBO Conservation Science….The species thrives in cold, open water. The birds generally live in large colonies on rocky islands or cliffs between Quebec and Britain, where they are protected. Residents of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides are allowed by tradition to take a limited number of the fishy-tasting delicacies. The bizarre presence of the booby appears – at least to the marine scientists at the Farallones – to be a product of climate change. This particular seabird does not fly over land and, ornithologists agree, could never have flown over the North American continent. The only possible route to the Pacific would have been over the Arctic. Arctic sea ice reached a record low last summer as a result of rising temperatures, according to NASA, leaving an open passageway from ocean to ocean along the fabled but, until recently, impassable Northwest Passage. …It isn’t the first time migrating animals have ventured to alien lands. Scientists have documented Pacific birds and plankton in the Atlantic over the past few years. In 2010, a Pacific gray whale was spotted in the Mediterranean Sea, possibly after getting lost and traversing the newly melted arctic passage. “There have been more sightings of northern marine animals winding up on opposite sides of the world,” [Russ] Bradley said. “These are potential early warning signs of how future climate change could change the distributions of animals.” ….


News From the Farallones: So Far, So Good
PRBO biologists documented the earliest Common Murre egg ever on record and earliest Cassin’s Auklet population-wide breeding effort in over 10 years. Early egg laying may be a sign of a good year for seabirds and the marine ecosystem off north-central California. Time will tell if these conditions last and translate up the food chain to species such as Brandt’s Cormorant that feeds entirely on small fish. Meanwhile, a single Northern Gannet, the first of its kind to be documented in the Pacific Ocean, remains at the Farallones a year after its arrival (see SF Chronicle article above.)
>>Read recent San Francisco Chronicle front page article
>>Read about our extensive work on the Farallones
>>Follow our Farallones blog



Boom in Jellyfish: Overfishing Called Into Question

Jellyfish food chain. (Credit: © IRD / L. Corsini)

May 3, 2013 — Will we soon be forced to eat jellyfish? Since the beginning of the 2000s, these gelatinous creatures have invaded many of the world’s seas, like the Japan Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, etc. Is it a cyclic phenomenon, caused by changes in marine currents or even global warming? Until now, the causes remained unknown. A new study conducted by IRD researchers and its partners, published in Bulletin of Marine Science, exposes overfishing as the main factor. Jellyfish predators, such as tuna and sea turtles, are disappearing due to overfishing. However, jellyfish are primarily taking advantage of the overfishing of small pelagic fish. Just like these cnidarians, sardines, herring, anchovies and more feed off zooplankton. Thus, they represent their main competition for food. In areas where too many of these fish are caught, they free up an ecological niche. Jellyfish now have free rein and can thrive. Furthermore, small fish eat the eggs and larvae of jellyfish. Therefore, under normal conditions, they regulate the population. In their absence, there is nothing to stop the proliferation of these gelatinous creatures……A vicious circle is developing in affected areas. Under the water, the links in the food chain are much more flexible than on Earth: prey species can feed off their predators. As such, jellyfish devour larval fish. Their proliferation prevents the renewal of fishery resources. This invasive species in turn threatens fisheries. In Namibia, some 10 million tonnes of sardines in the 1960s made way for 12 million tonnes of jellyfish….Jellyfish are made up of 98% water. They have neither a brain, nor a heart or teeth… And yet, they are fierce predators! They immobilise their prey with their poisonous tentacles. The boom in jellyfish is observed across the entire planet. To date, however, there is no hard data on the increase in their global population. There are hundreds of species of jellyfish which come in a great variety of colours, shapes and sizes, ranging from a few millimetres to several metres in diameter. The majority of them are carnivorous.


Jean-Paul Roux, Carl D van der Lingen, Mark J Gibbons, Nadine E Moroff, Lynne J Shannon, Anthony DM Smith, Philippe M Cury. Jellyfication of Marine Ecosystems as a Likely Consequence of Overfishing Small Pelagic Fishes: Lessons from the Benguela. Bulletin of Marine Science, 2013; 89 (1): 249 DOI: 10.5343/bms.2011.1145

Scientists Are Divided Over Threat to Pacific Northwest Salmon

By KIRK JOHNSON NY Times Published: May 2, 2013

SEATTLE — Like mariners scanning the horizon from the crow’s nest, scientists have for years been on the lookout in the Pacific Northwest for signs that a dreaded salmon-killing disease, scourge to farmed salmon in other parts of the world, has arrived here, threatening some of the world’s richest wild salmon habitats. Most say there is no evidence. But for years, a biologist in Canada named Alexandra Morton — regarded by some as a visionary Cassandra, by others as a misguided prophet of doom — has said definitively and unquestionably that they are wrong. Wild Pacific salmon, she has said, are testing positive for a European strain of the virus that causes the disease, infectious salmon anemia, or I.S.A. The virus, which has struck farmed salmon populations in Chile, among other places, is not harmful to humans who eat the fish, but could potentially pose grave threats in a part of the world where salmon plays a huge role in local economies and ecosystems. If the virus, which is in the influenza family, mutates into a virulent Pacific strain in the crowded fish farms in British Columbia, where wild and farmed salmon are sometimes in proximity, fish populations on both sides of the farm/wild divide, Ms. Morton believes, could be devastated. “It’s an uncomfortable truth,” she said. But scientists and government testing groups in Canada and the United States have said repeatedly over several years that Ms. Morton’s findings were not sufficient to sound an alarm, and that the risks to wild salmon, even in the event of a fish-farm outbreak, are unclear. After rounds of government hearings and millions of dollars spent on research, the two sides are in an increasingly bitter standoff. …..

US: Many causes for dramatic bee disappearance

Thursday May 02, 2013  |  Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new U.S. report blames a combination of problems for a mysterious and dramatic disappearance of honeybees across the country since 2006. The multiple causes make it harder to do something about what’s called colony collapse disorder, experts say. The disorder has caused as much as one-third of the nation’s bees to just disappear each winter since 2006. Bees, especially honeybees, are needed to pollinate crops, and they are crucial to the U.S. food supply. About $30 billion a year in agriculture depends on their health, said Sonny Ramaswamy with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The problem has also hit bee colonies in Europe, where regulators are considering a ban on a type of pesticides that some environmental groups blame for the bee collapse. The report, issued Thursday by the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency, is the result of a large conference of scientists that the government brought together last year to figure out what’s going on….



Smoke signals: How burning plants tell seeds to rise from the ashes
(April 29, 2013) — In the spring following a forest fire, trees that survived the blaze explode in new growth and plants sprout in abundance from the scorched earth. For centuries, it was a mystery how seeds, some long dormant in the soil, knew to push through the ashes to regenerate the burned forest. … > full story


Biologists propose a new research roadmap for connecting genes to ecology
(April 30, 2013) — A team of researchers is proposing a new investigative roadmap for the field of evolutionary developmental biology, or “evo devo,” to better understand how innovation at the genetic level can lead to ecological adaptations over time. Evo devo seeks to understand the specific genetic mechanisms underlying evolutionary change. … > full story


Bird navigation: Great balls of iron
(April 26, 2013) — Every year millions of birds make heroic journeys guided by the earth’s magnetic field. How they detect magnetic fields has puzzled scientists for decades. Today, biologists have added some important pieces to this puzzle.
Their work, published in
Current Biology, reports the discovery of iron balls in sensory neurons. These cells, called hair cells, are found in the ear and are responsible for detecting sound and gravity. Remarkably, each cell has just one iron ball, and it is in the same place in every cell. “It’s very exciting. We find these iron balls in every bird, whether it’s a pigeon or an ostrich” adds Mattias Lauwers who discovered them “but not in humans.” It is an astonishing finding, despite decades of research these conspicuous balls of iron had not been discovered.But we’re a long way off to understanding how magnetic sensing works — we still don’t know what these mysterious iron balls are doing.” said Dr Keays. “Who knows, perhaps they are the elusive magnetoreceptors” muses Dr Keays “only time will tell.”full story



Allan Savory to Reverse Desertification, Solve Global Warming, Feed World’s Poor

Written By: Jason Dorrier Posted: 05/2/13 9:25 AM

Allan Savory TED Talk

As a young scientist in Africa, Allan Savory helped set aside national parks. His organization removed indigenous “hunting, drum-beating people” to protect animals. Newly burgeoning herds of elephants were then identified as causing desertification by overgrazing. Savory theorized as much in a paper and sent it to his peers for review. Other scientists corroborated the report, and the government killed 400,000 elephants. Instead of improving, desertification worsened. Savory opens his recent TED talk with this story, assuming responsibility for an awful mistake. But, he says, the experience taught him a lesson, “One good thing did come out of it. It made me absolutely determined to devote my life to finding solutions.” I had to rewind the video the first time I heard that.

According to his account, this was a man already devoted to finding solutions, and those solutions, implemented on a grand scale, failed just as grandly. That experience might imbue some with a severe and undying sense of humility in the face of nature’s grandeur and complexity. Not so, Allan Savory. Savory says his favored solution—holistic management and planned grazing—is the right solution and should be implemented on an even grander, global scale. “I can think of almost nothing that offers more hope for our planet, for your children, and their children, and all of humanity.” Queue the standing ovation. Holistic management goes against the grain. Common wisdom would have it that desertification, or the human degradation of once verdant grasslands, can be caused by overgrazing of large herds of livestock. But that common wisdom underpinned Savory’s mistake with the elephants, and therefore he now believes the opposite is true—if properly managed. Savory says Earth’s grasslands evolved with large herding creatures feeding, defecating, and moving to greener pastures before overgrazing. The herd’s passage assured good soil coverage, provided manure, and grasslands evolved to depend on it—not unlike how many ecosystems counterintuitively depend on fire to regenerate…..




Behavior of seabirds during migration revealed
(April 30, 2013) — The behavior of seabirds during migration — including patterns of foraging, rest and flight — has been revealed in new detail using novel computational analyses and tracking technologies. Using a new method called ‘ethoinformatics’, described as the application of computational methods in the investigation of animal behaviour, scientists have been able to analyse three years of migration data gathered from miniature tracking devices attached to the small seabird the Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus). The Manx Shearwater is currently on the ‘amber’ list of UK Birds of Conservation Concern. Up to 80% of the world population breeds in the UK, travelling 20,000km each year in their migrations to South America and back…..Results indicate that in winter, birds spend much less time foraging and in flight than in breeding season. Also, a much larger proportion of birds’ time in the southern hemisphere was spent at rest — probably a reflection of their release from the demands of reproduction and also the increased costs of flight during the winter…. > full story


In the Northeast, forests with entirely native flora are not the norm
(April 30, 2013) — Two-thirds of all forest inventory plots in the Northeast and Midwestern United States contain at least one non-native plant species, a new US Forest Service study found. The study across two dozen states from North Dakota to Maine can help land managers pinpoint areas on the landscape where invasive plants might take root. … > full story


Amphibians Living Close to Farm Fields Are More Resistant to Common Insecticides



May 1, 2013 — Amphibian populations living close to agricultural fields have become more resistant to a common insecticide and are actually resistant to multiple common insecticides, according to two recent … > full story



World’s longest-running plant monitoring program now digitized
(April 29, 2013) — Researchers have digitized 106 years of growth data on the birth, growth and death of individual plants on Tumamoc Hill in Tucson, Ariz., making the information available for study by people all over the world. The permanent research plots on the University of Arizona’s Tumamoc Hill represent the world’s longest-running study that monitors individual plants. Knowing how plants respond to changing conditions over many decades provides new insights into how ecosystems behave. … > full story

Sea turtles benefiting from protected areas
(April 29, 2013) — Nesting green sea turtles are benefiting from marine protected areas by using habitats found within their boundaries, according to a new study that is the first to track the federally protected turtles in Dry Tortugas National Park. …


Computer scientists suggest new spin on origins of evolvability: Competition to survive not necessary?
(April 26, 2013) — Scientists have long observed that species seem to have become increasingly capable of evolving in response to changes in the environment. But computer science researchers now say that the popular explanation of competition to survive in nature may not actually be necessary for evolvability to increase. … > full story


Agencies should use common approach to evaluate risks pesticides pose to endangered species
(April 30, 2013) — When determining the potential effects pesticides could pose to endangered or threatened species, the US Environmental Protection Agency, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service should use a common scientific approach, says a new report. … > full story


Ecological knowledge offers perspectives for sustainable agriculture
(April 29, 2013) — A smart combination of different crops, such as beans and maize, can significantly cut the use of crop protection agents and at the same time reduce the need for fertilizers. Integrating ecological knowledge from nature with knowledge of crops opens up the prospect of a sustainable strategy that will increase yield per hectare at reduced environmental costs. … > full story


Farmers: Birds hurting rice crops

Seattle Post Intelligencer  – ‎May 1, 2013‎

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) – South Louisiana farmers have been struggling this year to fight off birds feasting on newly planted rice seed.


Swallows may delay Petaluma bridge work

Brant Ward, The ChronicleA construction worker uses a cherry picker to watch swallows as they swarm around the Petaluma River Bridge.

By Peter Fimrite SFChronicle April 29, 2013

Swarms of swooping swallows are creating havoc for Sonoma County transportation officials whose attempts to prevent nesting on the Petaluma River Bridge have resulted in the deaths of dozens of the birds. The swallow imbroglio is threatening to delay a three-year, $82 million project by the California Department of Transportation to replace the bridge structure, which is part of a long-term effort to widen oft-congested Highway 101 along the notorious bottleneck known as the Marin-Sonoma narrows. Wildlife advocates say 80 to 100 cliff swallows have been killed in netting that was placed on the bridge by a contractor. State law and the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act require Caltrans to protect the birds and their nests.”The netting has not achieved what it was intended for, which was to exclude the swallows, and the birds continue to get caught in the nets,” said Veronica Bowers of the nonprofit group Native Songbird Care & Conservation. “We feel very strongly that that netting needs to come down.” ….





New PRBO Publication on Restoration and Conservation Planning in the Face of Uncertainty

It may seem obvious to resist putting all your eggs in one basket, but when considering how best to spend conservation dollars and help ecosystems adapt to climate change, this age-old idea is key. PRBO’s new paper, led by Dr. Sam Veloz, found that considering a range of future conditions to prioritize restoration projects today leads to robust adaptation plans. Their conclusion: future uncertainty should not prevent us from developing and implementing climate-smart adaptation plans today.
>>Read our publication brief
>>Read the paper

>>Read more about our work in tidal marsh



Modeling climate change impacts on tidal marsh birds: Restoration and conservation planning in the face of uncertainty


Samuel D. Veloz , Nadav Nur , Leonardo Salas , Dennis Jongsomjit , Julian Wood , Diana Stralberg 1, and Grant Ballard

PRBO Conservation Science, 3820 Cypress Drive #11, Petaluma, California 94954 USA

The large uncertainty surrounding the future effects of sea-level rise and other aspects of climate change on tidal marsh ecosystems exacerbates the difficulty in planning effective conservation and restoration actions. We addressed these difficulties in the context of large-scale wetland restoration activities underway in the San Francisco Estuary (Suisun, San Pablo and San Francisco Bays). We used a boosted regression tree approach to project the future distribution and abundance of five marsh bird species (through 2110) in response to changes in habitat availability and suitability as a result of projected sea-level rise, salinity, and sediment availability in the Estuary. To bracket the uncertainty, we considered four future scenarios based on two sediment availability scenarios (high or low), which varied regionally, and two rates of sea-level rise (0.52 or 1.65 m/100 yr). We evaluated three approaches for using model results to inform the selection of potential restoration projects: (1) Use current conditions only to prioritize restoration. (2) Use a single future scenario (among the four referred to above) in combination with current conditions to select priority restoration projects. (3) Combine current conditions with all four future scenarios, while incorporating uncertainty among future scenarios into the selection of restoration projects. We found that simply using current conditions resulted in the poorest performing restoration projects selected in terms of providing habitat for tidal marsh birds in light of possible future scenarios. The most robust method for selecting restoration projects, the “combined” strategy, used projections from all future scenarios with a discounting of areas with high levels of variability among future scenarios. We show that uncertainty about future conditions can be incorporated in site prioritization algorithms and should motivate the selection of adaptation measures that are robust to uncertain future conditions. These results and data have been made available via an interactive decision support tool at



David the cuckoo from Ceredigion turned back from the UK to visit France

Ceredigion cuckoo takes European holiday to avoid UK weather

By Joanna Humphreys BBC News May 2 2013

A cuckoo returning to Ceredigion from migration in Africa has taken a holiday in France to avoid the UK weather. David the cuckoo returned to the UK from the Democratic Republic of the Congo last Friday but turned back on reaching Somerset. Bird experts say he could either wait until the weather warmed up or take a short European break. Five Welsh cuckoos were fitted with satellite tags in May 2012 to monitor their migration paths. The five birds – Idemili, David, Iolo, Lloyd and Indy – left Ceredigion in spring 2012 for Africa. They travelled over East Anglia, through Holland, Germany and Italy before reaching North Africa. The main reason for the journey is the hunt for their main food source: caterpillars. The birds bypass the dry climates of northern Africa because caterpillars cannot survive there, and head for the wetter countries of Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where caterpillars thrive….



Fire season starts early in California

Skimpy Sierra snowpack means frequent conflagrations are a worry

Kent Porter, Associated Press Flames whipped by gusty winds shoot into the sky early Wednesday near the border between Napa and Sonoma counties.

By Peter Fimrite SF Chron May 2, 2013

Snow that would normally be lingering in the Sierra is virtually gone and fire is already beginning to scorch the bone-dry hills of California, where the big storms of December are a distant memory.

Wildfires, fed by hot weather and strong winds, burned 200 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties Wednesday as if in defiance of snow surveyors who are preparing for this week’s final survey of the Sierra snowpack. Fire officials are concerned that the early conflagrations might be a bad omen, a logical concern given the remarkable scarcity of wet weather this year. The state’s frozen water supply, as snow is known to water resources officials, is 21 percent of normal for this time of year, according to electronic measurements taken across the Sierra. The dismal numbers reflect what is happening across the Bay Area and in San Francisco, which just went through the driest first four months of the year in recorded history. “That’s not good,” said David Rizzardo, chief of snow surveys and water supply forecasting for the California Department of Water Resources. “We are below where we were last year at this time, which is disappointing because now we have strung together a couple of dry years.”

The paltry snow levels are actually being propped up by the Central Sierra, which includes the Yuba and Merced river drainages, where the snowpack is 28 percent of the average for this time of year.

That’s a relative blanket of snow compared with the Northern Sierra, which came in at 19 percent of normal and the Southern Sierra, which has only 11 percent of the snowpack it normally has this time of year. ….



Calif. wildfire burns 15-mile path to Pacific

By SHAYA TAYEFE MOHAJER and CHRISTOPHER WEBER, Associated Press Friday, May 3, 2013

NEWBURY PARK, CA – MAY 02: Fire firghters set back fires to burn off dry brush to protect homes behind a hillsdie threatened by an out of control wildfire on May 2, 2013 in Newbury Park, California. Hundreds of firefighters are battling wind and dry conditions as over 6000 acres have already been burned northwest of Los Angeles. Photo: Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Southern California wildfire carving a path to the sea grew to more than 15 square miles and crews prepared Friday for another bad day of gusting winds and searing weather. “We’re going to be at Mother Nature’s mercy,” Ventura County fire spokesman Tom Kruschke said.

The wind-whipped fire erupted Thursday in the Camarillo area, damaging 15 homes and a cluster of recreational vehicles in a parking lot. About 2,000 Ventura County homes remained threatened and evacuations remained in force although the fire line edged southwards toward Malibu. It was about 20 miles from the coastal enclave at daybreak. The blaze was 10 percent contained but the work of more than 900 firefighters and deputies was just beginning, fire officials said. The weather forecast called for parching single-digit humidity, highs in the 90s in some fire areas and morning winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph — slightly down from a day earlier. There’s still a chance of “explosive fire spread” before winds begin tapering off in the afternoon and cooler weather begins to kick in, said Curt Kaplan, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Oxnard. While winds calmed overnight, the fire that had burned about 12 1/2 square miles by Thursday night had increased to around 15 1/2 square miles by dawn. “It has grown throughout the night,” Kruschke said. “The fire has been coming down canyons all along Pacific Coast Highway and that’s where we’ve been concentrating a lot of our effort.”



Why Climate Change Means More — And Less — Ice for the Antarctic

PBS NewsHour May 1, 2013

Scientists have been trying to create a clearer picture of how the Antarctic responds to climate change.


Record low in Arctic sea ice caused by global warming, says UN

Global warming not only increased temperatures last year but caused a record low in Arctic sea ice, as well as deadly storms and economic uncertainty, the UN has warned. May 2, 2013


The World Meteorological Organisation, that tracks the weather on behalf of the 193 countries of the United Nations, confirmed 2012 was the 9th warmest year on record. The annual summary of climate change also warned Arctic sea ice reached its lowest ever level, rainfall increased causing floods around the world and a number of countries experienced drought. Extreme weather events, like Superstorm Sandy in the US and Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines, were linked to climate change. Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the WMO, said natural variability – like the La Nina/ El Nino pattern in the Pacific – means global warming will not necessarily make each year successively warmer than the last. Global average temperature in 2012 was 0.45 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1961 to 1990 long term average of 14C, according to the report….


Last 12 Years Were Among 13 Warmest On Record, World Meteorological Organisation Confirms

By Ryan Koronowski on May 2, 2013 at 8:56 am

2012 was the ninth-warmest year since 1850, and 2001-2012 were all among the top 13 warmest years on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. [Climate News Network] Last year was among the ten warmest years since records began more than 160 years ago, the World Meteorological Organisation says. The WMO says 2012 was the ninth warmest year recorded since 1850, and the 27th consecutive year in which the global land and ocean temperatures were above the 1961-1990 average…..


New Research Finds Humans Causing More Strong Hurricanes

By Climate Guest Blogger on May 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm By Dana Nuccitelli via Skeptical Science

The link between human-caused global warming and extreme weather is often difficult to pin down, particularly with regards to hurricanes.  As Kevin Trenberth has discussed, all weather now occurs in a climate that humans have altered: “It is important to recognize that we have a ‘new normal’, whereby the environment in which all storms form is simply different than it was just a few decades ago.  Global climate change has contributed to the higher sea surface and sub-surface ocean temperatures, a warmer and moister atmosphere above the ocean, higher water levels around the globe, and perhaps more precipitation in storms.” Two new papers have recently been published examining the link between global warming and hurricane intensity.  In both cases, the scientists have found evidence that the most intense hurricanes are already occurring more often as a result of human-caused global warming.  However, their predictions about future hurricane changes differ somewhat.

Last year, Tamino examined Grinsted et al. (2012), which demonstrated that the most extreme storm surge events can mainly be attributed to large landfalling hurricanes, and that those events are strongly linked to hurricane damage.  The study also found that there have been twice as many Katrina-magnitude storm surge events in globally warm years as compared to cold years.

In a new paper, Grinsted et al. (2013) constructed a storm surge index beginning in 1923 from six long tide gauge records in the southeastern USA.  The idea is that surges in sea level recorded at tide gauge stations can tell us about strong hurricane events.  Consistent with their 2012 results, the authors found: “The strong winds and intense low pressure associated with tropical cyclones generate storm surges. These storm surges are the most harmful aspect of tropical cyclones in the current climate, and wherever tropical cyclones prevail they are the primary cause of storm surges.”…



Along N.J. bay, rising sea draws ever closer

By Sandy Bauers, Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: April 28, 2013

…..Just visible across the grassy marsh is Gandys Beach with 80 homes. Farther south, Fortescue with 250 homes. All three are steadily disappearing. On the Atlantic coast, beach replenishment masks the effects of sea-level rise. But along the low-lying bay shore, veined with creeks, the problems are striking. With each nor’easter, more of the beachfronts erode. More of the streets and driveways flood. Septic systems, inundated with salt water, are failing. “We’re seeing beyond the normal damage,” said Steve Eisenhauer, a regional director with the Natural Lands Trust, which has a 7,000-acre preserve in the area. “We see the problems getting worse.” In the last century, sea level in the bay has risen a foot, gauges show, partly because the warming ocean is expanding and polar ice is melting. Also, New Jersey is sinking….


Exploring the saltiness of the ocean to study climate change
(April 30, 2013) — Details are emerging from a recent research expedition to the Sub-Tropical North Atlantic. The objective of the expedition was to study the salt concentration (salinity) of the upper ocean. Scientists explored the essential role of the ocean in the global water cycle. … > full story


Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind
May 1, 2013 Center For Climate Change Communication


Updated US Global Change Research Program Website Launched!

We are happy to announce the launch of the USGCRP’s refreshed website at www.globalchange.govRead the full story in the newsletter…



Protecting NZ from Antarctic change May 2 2013

Scientists are warning that climate change in Antarctica could have a “dramatic” influence on New Zealand. To try to understand what might happen, the issue has been included as one of the 10 science challenges announced by the Government this week.


Why Sewage Plants Are Especially Vulnerable to Climate Change

Eric Jaffe May 02, 2013


If the subway disruption, and the housing damage and residential displacement, and the general psychological toll of Superstorm Sandy weren’t enough, there’s also the sewage. Approximately 11 billion gallons of untreated (or only semi-treated) waste spilled into waterways after Sandy, according to a new report from the environmental group Climate Central. The vast majority of that overflow occurred in the rivers and bays surrounding New York and New Jersey. Forgive us if we order sparkling the next few days…. Sewage treatment plants are “especially vulnerable” to problems in the climate change era, write the report authors. Unlike housing and transportation, which are nice to have near the coast but technically movable, the very function of sewage plants all but requires them to locate near waterways. A low-lying placement lets gravity do some of the work piping waste into plants, and proximity to water makes it easy to flush the plants of treated sewage. When a storm surge arrives, the plants have little choice but to re-route sewage — untreated or only partially treated — directly into the water to avoid flooding. Otherwise the facilities are at risk of flooding from the inside, too, if water builds up in the discharge pipes. That’s on top of the general problems of power outages, not to mention damage that could occur to pumps and holding tanks….Charts






General Motors signs call for climate change action

General Motors is the first automaker to sign onto the Climate Declaration, a statement drafted by Ceres and its Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy project. General Motors has dramatically cut energy usage at its facilities and owns two of the world’s five largest rooftop solar arrays.

By Richard Read, Guest blogger / May 2, 2013

When we think of the companies and organizations concerned with climate change, we don’t often think of major automakers. But maybe we should think again. Yesterday, General Motors became the first automaker to sign onto the Climate Declaration, a statement drafted by Ceres and its Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy project. Ceres is a nonprofit launched in the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, and it boasts a fairly unique vision. Ceres believes that green, sustainable practices are consistent with good business practices — in fact, the two are inseparable. Ceres builds coalitions among corporations, investors, and individuals to share that vision with the world. One of Ceres’ biggest projects to date is its Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy group, or BICEP, “an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation enabling a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy – an economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate.”  Together, Ceres and BICEP have drafted the Climate Declaration, a document that urges the U.S. government to take action on climate issues. The reasoning isn’t so much that action is needed to avoid looming environmental crises, but that the U.S. can remain an economic and cultural superpower by setting the standards for policies and technologies that address climate change. From the paragraph-long Declaration:….


China becoming global climate change leader, study says

April 29, 2013 by Martin Parry

Solar panels in the Sino-Singapore Eco-city near Tianjin last June. China is rapidly assuming a global leadership role on climate change alongside the United States, a new study said Monday, but it warned greenhouse gas emissions worldwide continue to rise strongly.

China is rapidly assuming a global leadership role on climate change alongside the United States, a new study said Monday, but it warned greenhouse gas emissions worldwide continue to rise strongly. The report by the independent Australian-based Climate Commission, “The Critical Decade: International Action on Climate Change” presents an overview of action in the last nine months.

It was released on the same day as a fresh round of UN talks were to start in Bonn on boosting action on climate change—a two-decade-long process that has been dogged by procedural bickering and defence of national interests. The study found that every major economy had policies in place to tackle the issue, but China was at the forefront in strengthening its response, “taking ambitious strides to add renewable energy to its mix”. “China is accelerating action,” said Tim Flannery, the co-author and a key figure at the Climate Commission, which brings together internationally-renowned scientists, as well as policy and business leaders. “China has halved its growth in electricity demand, dramatically increased its renewable energy capacity, and decelerated its emissions growth more quickly than expected.
“After years of strong growth in coal use, this has begun to level off. They are beginning to put in place seven emissions trading schemes that will cover quarter of a billion people,” he said.



EPA Revises Fracking Impact Results, Evoking Mixed Responses From Environmentalists

By By KEVIN BEGOS Posted: 04/28/2013 12:12 pm EDT  |  Updated: 04/29/2013 10:17 am EDT PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency has dramatically lowered its estimate of how much of a potent heat-trapping gas leaks during natural gas production, in a shift with major implications for a debate that has divided environmentalists: Does the recent boom in fracking help or hurt the fight against climate change? Oil and gas drilling companies had pushed for the change, but there have been differing scientific estimates of the amount of methane that leaks from wells, pipelines and other facilities during production and delivery. Methane is the main component of natural gas. The new EPA data is “kind of an earthquake” in the debate over drilling, said Michael Shellenberger, the president of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental group based in Oakland, Calif. “This is great news for anybody concerned about the climate and strong proof that existing technologies can be deployed to reduce methane leaks.” The scope of the EPA’s revision was vast. In a mid-April report on greenhouse emissions, the agency now says that tighter pollution controls instituted by the industry resulted in an average annual decrease of 41.6 million metric tons of methane emissions from 1990 through 2010, or more than 850 million metric tons overall. That’s about a 20 percent reduction from previous estimates. The agency converts the methane emissions into their equivalent in carbon dioxide, following standard scientific practice.


Environment Groups Sue to Stop New Calif. Oil Leases The Sacramento Bee, 4/18/13
Two environmental groups are suing the federal government over the December auction of nearly 18,000 acres of oil leases on prime public lands in Central California. The Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit on Thursday alleging that the Bureau of Land Management auctioned off the rights to drill for oil and gas without adequately considering the potential risks to the region’s water supply, wildlife and air posed by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.


Adapt faster to changing climate, Europe warned

Cities around Europe may have to erect flood defences similar to the Thames Barrier as tidal surges become more likely

Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent, Monday 29 April 2013 12.52 EDT

The Thames Barrier was planned from the 1960s and finished in the 1980s, after the disastrous sea surge and floods of 1953 that claimed hundreds of lives in the UK. Photograph: Rex Features

Cities around Europe may have to erect flood barriers similar to the Thames Barrier that protects London from sea surges, as climate change takes hold and leads to the danger of much more destructive storms, floods, heavy rainfall and higher sea levels, Europe’s environmental watchdog has warned. The effects of climate change will be so far-reaching across the continent that vineyards may have to plant new grape varieties, farmers may have to cultivate new crops and water suppliers look to technology such as desalination in order to cope with the probable effects of more extreme weather. Buildings and infrastructure such as transport, energy and communication networks will also have to be changed. The warnings come in a report from the European Environment Agency, called Adaptation in Europe. The research found that half of the 32 member countries of the EEA still lack plans to adapt to the effects of global warming, although others have begun to take action….


The politics of climate change

April 29, 2013

U.S. residents who believe in the scientific consensus on global warming are more likely to support government action to curb emissions, regardless of whether they are Republican or Democrat, according to a study led by a Michigan State University sociologist. However, a political divide remains on the existence of climate change despite the fact that the vast majority of scientists believe it is real, said Aaron M. McCright, associate professor in Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Sociology. The study, in the journal Climatic Change, is one of the first to examine the influence of political orientation on perceived scientific agreement and support for government action to reduce emissions. “The more people believe scientists agree about climate change, the more willing they are to support government action, even when their party affiliation is taken into account,” McCright said. “But there is still a political split on levels of perceived scientific agreement, in that fewer Republicans and conservatives than Democrats and liberals believe there is a scientific consensus.”….



Alaska ferries lose nature experts to budget cuts

Posted:  04/28/2013 11:35 AM

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — As the sun creeps into the sleeping quarters of the Tustumena, passengers who take a second to look out the window wake up to volcanic topography, sky blue lakes and wildlife that looks extraterrestrial even to most Alaskans. That ethereal experience only lasts a few seconds; the berth’s stripped-down bunk beds and dreary wallpaper quickly remind passengers they are sailing on a ferry that is almost 50 years old. Having a ship that’s a  vestige of another era, however, does offer one small perk: During the summer, a handful of vessels have a nature expert on board who teaches passengers about the stunning local scenery and animals. Alaska’s state-owned ferries — which shuttle residents and tourists between remote towns on the coasts of Washington state, Canada and Alaska — are scaling back costs by getting rid of the naturalist program on all but one of the 11-ship fleet this year.

State officials say the program may eventually be brought back, but for now, the plan is to replace them with computerized equipment and brochures on the so-called Alaska Marine Highway System, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

In light of Alaska’s declining revenues and an unclear financial future, the state’s various departments were asked to bring expenses down by eliminating items that do not affect core functions.

Naturalists, who are hired and paid by the U.S. Forest Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, make about $22,000 a season. The state provides them free room and board on the ferry, which costs about $5,000 per year, per ship, according to Jeremy Woodrow, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Transportation, the department responsible for the ferry system…..


Climate Change Is An Existential Threat To Humanity, Just Don’t Mention Protecting ‘The Environment’

By Ryan Koronowski on Apr 30, 2013 at 11:45 am

A recent study found that some conservatives would not choose an efficient lightbulb with an environmental message, even when they would choose the same bulb without the message. The Atlantic Cities
details this cognitive dissonance: The study then presented participants with a real-world choice: With a fixed amount of money in their wallet, respondents had to “buy” either an old-school light bulb or an efficient compact florescent bulb…. Both bulbs were labeled with basic hard data on their energy use…. When the bulbs cost the same, and even when the CFL cost more, conservatives and liberals were equally likely to buy the efficient bulb. But slap a message on the CFL’s packaging that says “Protect the Environment,” and “we saw a significant drop-off in more politically moderates and conservatives choosing that option,” said study author Dena Gromet, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. They chose the less-efficient option because the option they would ordinarily choose mentions the environmental benefit. Though some have found more success in making the argument for climate action and energy efficiency to conservatives in talking about preserving the “purity” of the natural world, focusing more on direct human impacts of air pollution and carbon pollution may be a better strategy. Washington Monthly‘s Ryan Louis Cooper, who remixed Dave Roberts’ TEDx Talk “Climate Change Is Simple,” is at it again with a video making the case of why climate change is not an environmental issue








Central Valley Flood Mgmt Planning

The Central Valley Flood Planning Office has posted the State-Led Basin-Wide Feasibility Studies (BWFS) Brochure to the Central Valley Flood Management Planning (CVFMP) Program webpage.  The brochure describes the scope, purpose, and approach to developing the BWFS as well as highlighting other efforts stemming from the Central Valley Flood Management.





11th Annual H2O Conference

May 28-30, 2013

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa on
Mission Bay

San Diego, California
The 2013 Headwaters to Ocean (H2O) Conference registration is now open. The conference consists of roughly 100 presentations with the latest information relating to coasts, oceans, beaches, wetlands, rivers and watersheds.

Register early to receive the discounted rated of $295. Early registration ends May 8th.
Click here
to register for the conference.  




Shared Solutions to Protect Shared Values: The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

May 22, 2013 2:00-4:00 pm Eastern 11-1 Pacific YOU MUST REGISTER TO JOIN THIS WEBINAR

A public webinar with speakers:


The recently National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is the first nationwide strategy to help public and private decision makers address the impacts that climate change is having on our natural resources and the people and economies that depend on them.

This collaborative effort led by the Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and the state agencies is the product of an extensive national dialogue that spanned nearly two years and was shaped by comments from more than 55,000 Americans.

Join us to hear from the partners who developed this effort about how this Strategy provides a unified approach for reducing the negative impacts of climate change on natural systems, and discuss key recommendations for safeguarding the nation’s fish, wildlife and plants in a changing climate.

For more information on the Strategy, visit:



NPS Webinar on U.S. Public Opinion on Climate Change: Key Beliefs, Issue Involvement, and Teachable Moments

May 9, 11a.m-12:30p.m. (Pacific Time) among Global Warming’s Six Americas, Teresa Myers, Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University Registration Link

***EPA Webcasts

May 8, 1:00-2:00 PM (EDT) – Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness 101: Risk Assessment Process

Sponsored by EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities Initiative, this webcast provides an introduction to CRWU’s risk assessment tool, the Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT). This webinar outlines CREAT’s risk assessment process, how it can help utilities build more resilient systems, and examples of threats and adaptation options.

Webcast Registration


May 22, 1:00-2:00 PM (EDT) – Preparing for Extreme Weather Events Workshop Planner for the Water Sector / Adaptation Strategies Guide

Sponsored by EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities Initiative, this joint webcast will highlight the Preparing for Extreme Weather Events Workshop Planner for the Water Sector and the Adaptation Strategies Guide, and how a utility can use them both when developing adaptation plans. It will also highlight utility experiences with the tools. 

Webcast Registration


May 29, 1:00-2:00 PM (EDT) – On-site Renewables: Lessons Learned from Idea to Implementation

Organizations across the country continue to make direct investments in on-site renewable energy generation, indicating a long-term commitment to using renewable energy and securing the benefits of reduced electricity price volatility. This webcast, sponsored by EPA’s Green Power Partnership, will feature two EPA Green Power Partners, SC Johnson and Coca-Cola Refreshments, that have invested in on-site projects powered by landfill gas and wind, respectively, and highlight the companies’ experiences from initial investigation of on-site systems to the results obtained once the projects were brought online.

Webcast Registration



Department of Interior’s NCTC Training–(register at DOILearn

July 15-19, 2013 – “Scenario Planning toward Climate Change Adaptation” ALC3194 – development led by the Wildlife Conservation Society
August 27-29, 2013 – “Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment” ALC3184
October 28-November 1, 2013 – “Climate Smart Conservation” ALC3195 – development led by the National Wildlife Federation. This pilot course is based on a forthcoming guide to the principles and practice of Climate-Smart Conservation.




SF Bay Area Priority Conservation Areas Grants

The State Coastal Conservancy (SCC), in cooperation with Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), will soon be issuing a call for proposals focused on the Priority Conservation Areas (PCAs) in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco Counties.  The call for proposals will be released in early May via email, and will also be available at  Letters of Interest will be due from eligible applicants July 19, 2013.  MTC has made $5 million of federal funds available which will be combined with additional funding provided by SCC. The goal of the PCA Program is to support Plan Bay Area by preserving and enhancing the natural, economic and social value of rural lands amidst growing population across the Bay Area, for residents and businesses.  These values include globally unique ecosystems, productive agricultural lands, recreational opportunities, healthy fisheries, and climate protection (mitigation and adaptation), among others.  Proposed projects should: protect or enhance resource areas or habitats, provide or enhance bicycle and pedestrian access to open space/parkland resources, or support the agricultural economy of the region. Two public workshops will be held to provide prospective applicants with an overview of the Plan Bay Area PCA Grant Program and answer questions.

May 20, 2013, 1pm to 3 pm

Mountain View Community Center

201 South Rengstorff Avenue

Mountain View, CA 94040


May 23, 2013, 1 pm to 3 pm

Oakland State Building, Room 11

1515 Clay Street

Oakland, CA 94612



Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, and EKO Asset Management Partners release Creating Clean Water Cash Flows report

This report provides guidance on key strategies that cities can deploy to attract private capital to fund green infrastructure development. Municipalities and state governments can potentially direct billions of dollars of private investment to modernize broken, aging stormwater systems and keep stormwater pollution out of waterways. Natural infrastructure, such as porous pavement, green roofs, parks, roadside plantings and rain barrels, addresses stormwater pollution by capturing rain on or near where it falls. The report, developed in collaboration with the Philadelphia Water Department and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, focuses on Philadelphia’s innovative Green City, Clean Waters program as a model for stimulating investment in natural infrastructure. The report was produced by the NatLab Consortium, a partnership consisting of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Nature Conservancy, and sustainable asset management firm EKO Asset Management Partners. View the report.



EcoWest‘s mission is to creatively communicate what the latest research is revealing about how the region is changing. In essence, the website tells the story of the Western environment through the medium of PowerPoint, graphics, charts, maps, dashboards, and other data visualizations. More info below. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Western Conservation program funded the development of the site. The Foundation wanted to create an enduring outlet for independent analysis of environmental trends for other funders, NGOs, journalists, researchers, agency staff, and policymakers.   Ecowest’s research and conclusions are organized in a half-dozen narrated PowerPoint presentations that cover biodiversity, climate change, land use, politics, water, and wildfires. We’ve also created an executive summary deck that synthesizes the findings and developed interactive dashboards, such as this one on wildfires.



Tidal Marsh Restoration Field Trip Featuring:
Hamilton and Sonoma Baylands, June 4, 2013 9:00am — 3:00pm  Lunch provided 

Join us for this unique opportunity sponsored by the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Coastal Training Program, in partnership with the California Coastal Conservancy and the US Army Corps of Engineers! The Hamilton and Sonoma Baylands Restoration projects provide two examples of ongoing efforts to protect sensitive species, restore critical habitats and establish healthy tidal marsh ecosystems in the San Francisco Bay Area.  This field trip will provide an opportunity to learn about ongoing tidal restoration techniques in an interactive setting. The primary goal for this field trip is to inform site managers about tidal wetland restoration policies and practices. Featured speakers include: Tom Gandesbery, California Coastal Conservancy, Eric Jolliffe, US Army Corps of Engineers.
Discussion topics will include
·      How tidal wetland restoration projects could be affected by sea-level rise
·      Regulatory processes for permitting wetland restoration projects
·      Best practices for tidal marsh restoration
·      Managing sediment through local beneficial reuse at restoration sites



A Fierce Green Fire: Movie On History Of Environmental Activism Has Theatrical Premiere In DC Friday

By Joe Romm on May 2, 2013 at 10:58 am

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949

The movie A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet ….is “the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement – grassroots and global activism spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change.” The movie is narrated by Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabel Allende and Meryl Streep……







Spread of Hydrofracking Could Strain Water Resources in West, Study Finds

Brennan Linsley/Associated Press In March, workers at a hydraulic fracturing site in western Colorado monitored water pumping pressure and temperature. The technique of oil and gas extraction, which is commonly called “fracking,” uses injected water to fracture the rock near the deposits.

By FELICITY BARRINGER Published: May 2, 2013

The rapid expansion of hydraulic fracturing to retrieve once-inaccessible reservoirs of oil and gas could put pressure on already-stressed water resources from the suburbs of Fort Worth to western Colorado, according to a new report from a nonprofit group that advises investors about companies’ environmental risks. “Given projected sharp increases” in the production of oil and gas by the technique commonly known as fracking, the report from the group Ceres said, “and the intense nature of local water demands, competition and conflicts over water should be a growing concern for companies, policy makers and investors.” The overall amount of water used for fracking, even in states like Colorado and Texas that have been through severe droughts in recent years, is still small: in many cases 1 percent or even as little as a tenth of 1 percent of overall consumption, far less than agricultural or municipal uses. But those figures mask more significant local effects, the report’s author, Monika Freyman, said in an interview. “You have to look at a county-by-county scale to capture the intense and short-term impact on water supplies,” she said. “The whole drilling and fracking process is a well-orchestrated, moment-by-moment process” requiring that one million to five million gallons of water are available for a brief period, she added. “They need an intense amount of water for a few days, and that’s it.” One of the options that oil and gas drillers have is recycling the water that comes back out of wells, which is called “produced water.” But the water injected into wells is laced with a proprietary mixture of chemicals and sand, and the water returning from thousands of feet below the surface can also contain natural pollutants or even radioactivity. Recycled water must therefore be treated, which can be expensive. …



World’s Biggest Solar PV Projects Under Way In SoCal

by Pete Danko

What will become the world’s largest solar photovoltaic development is now in “major construction” mode in California’s Antelope Valley, about 60 miles north of Los Angeles.

The solar manufacturer and developer SunPower and the utility company MidAmerican announced this new status late last week, coinciding with a big community event at the 3,230-acre site, where preliminary work began in January. The development consists of Antelope Valley Solar Project 1, a 309-MW plant that will straddle the Kern-Los Angeles county line; and AVSP 2, a 270-MW plant that will be entirely in Kern County. When completed by the end of 2015, if all goes according to plan, the Antelope Valley Solar Projects will add up to 579 MW, dwarfing any other PV outpost in the world. Right now, the Agua Caliente project in Arizona – a First Solar development owned by NRG and MidAmerican – is at the top of the heap, at 250 megawatts. Other U.S. projects under way are aiming to match or beat Agua Caliente, but even the biggest, the 550-MW Topaz project in San Luis Obispo County, won’t best the Antelope Valley Solar Projects.


Health Defects Found in Fish Exposed to Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Three Years Later



May 1, 2013 — Three years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, crude oil toxicity continues to sicken a sentinel Gulf Coast fish species, according to new … > full story


Environmental labels may discourage conservatives from buying energy-efficient products
(April 30, 2013) — When it comes to deciding which light bulb to buy, a label touting the product’s environmental benefit may actually discourage politically conservative shoppers. … > 


Shifting the burden of recycling
(April 30, 2013) — Over the past two decades governments around the world have been experimenting with a new strategy for managing waste. By making producers responsible for their products when they become wastes, policy makers seek to significantly increase the recycling — and recyclability — of computers, packaging, automobiles, and household hazardous wastes such as batteries, used oil motor, and leftover paint — and save money in the process. … > full story

Charging electric vehicles cheaper and faster
(April 30, 2013) — Researchers have developed a unique integrated motor drive and battery charger for electric vehicles. Compared to today’s electric vehicle chargers, they have managed to shorten the charging time from eight to two hours, and to reduce the cost by… > full story





Theodore Roosevelt’s White House Bird List

Slate Magazine (blog)  – ‎May 1, 2013‎

In 1877, at age 19, he co-authored an article titled “Summer Birds of the Adirondacks,” which was his first publication.


How to Put America Back Together Again

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN NY TIMES Published: April 20, 2013


Climate Change or Global Warming? Both.

By Phil Plait Posted Sunday, April 28, 2013, at 8:00 AM


British winemakers credit climate change for boom in bubbly sales

By Anthony Faiola, Published: April 28

CUCKMERE VALLEY, England — Blessed with soil similar to France’s Champagne region, vineyards in England nevertheless produced decades of low-grade goop that caused nary a Frenchman to tremble. But a Great British fizz boom is underway, with winemakers crediting climate change for the warmer weather that has seemed to improve their bubbly.

Increasingly hospitable temperatures have helped transplanted champagne grapes such as chardonnay and pinot noir thrive in the microclimates of southern England, touching off a wine rush by investors banking on climate change. Once considered an oxymoron, fine English sparkling wine is now retailing for champagne prices of $45 to $70 a pop. In recent years, dozens of vineyards have sprouted in Britain’s burgeoning wine country, with at least one traditional French champagne maker doing the once-unthinkable — scooping up land to make sparkling wine in England…..


Poison Lips? Troubling Levels of Toxic Metals Found in Cosmetics



May 2, 2013 — Researchers found lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum and five other metals in a sample of 32 different lipsticks and lip glosses commonly found in drugstores and department stores. Some of the metals … > full story


No benefit of evening primrose oil for treating eczema, review suggests
(April 29, 2013) — Research into the complementary therapies evening primrose oil and borage oil shows little, if any, benefit for people with eczema compared with placebo, according to a new systematic review. The authors conclude that further studies on the therapies would be difficult to justify. … > full story

Mediterranean diet linked to preserving memory
(April 29, 2013) — A new study suggests that the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes consuming foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, chicken and salad dressing, and avoiding saturated fats, meat and dairy foods, may be linked to preserving memory and thinking abilities. … > full story


Will green tea help you lose weight?
(April 29, 2013) — Green tea extract in tandem with an additional compound could be effective for body weight control and type 2 diabetes, a new study in mice indicates. Evidence has shown that green tea extract may be an effective herbal remedy useful for weight control and helping to regulate glucose in type 2 diabetes. … > full story


Vitamin D: More May Not Be Better; Benefits in Healthy Adults Wear Off at Higher Doses, Research Suggests



May 1, 2013 — In recent years, healthy people have been bombarded by stories in the media and on health websites warning about the dangers of too-low vitamin D levels, and urging high doses of supplements to … > full story


New Scientist | Russell Foster
The Science of Sleepy Teenagers
Saturday, April 27, 2013, at 5:30 AM EDT
School schedules make them grouchy, impulsive, and humorless.


After a particularly large meal, California condors:

(a.) usually behave as if they are about to migrate south for the winter
(b.) may have to spend hours on the ground or a low branch before they can fly again
(c.) tend to focus their next hunt for a meal on slower-moving animals that are easy to catch
(d.) try to cover any remains with leaves and branches, to save it for their next meal
(e.) bury any remains, so as not to attract scavenger animals to their hunting territory
(f.) Burp hugely, a cultural affectation that shows they appreciate the quality of the meal, as well as the quantity offered them

See answer at the end.






Image by John Garrett (from



2013 National Geographic Photo Contest Entries.



CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(b.) may have to spend hours on the ground or a low branch before they can fly again

SOURCE: “California Condor” (BLM California wildlife database)



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