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Conservation Science News May 17, 2013

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Highlight of the WeekWarming oceans are reshaping fisheries










Highlight of the Week– Warming oceans are reshaping fisheries



‘Fish thermometer’ reveals long-standing, global impact of climate change
(May 15, 2013) — Climate change has been impacting global fisheries for the past four decades by driving species towards cooler, deeper waters, according to scientists. …

In a Nature study published this week, UBC researchers used temperature preferences of fish and other marine species as a sort of “thermometer” to assess effects of climate change on the world’s oceans between 1970 and 2006.

They found that global fisheries catches were increasingly dominated by warm-water species as a result of fish migrating towards the poles in response to rising ocean temperatures. “One way for marine animals to respond to ocean warming is by moving to cooler regions,” says the study’s lead author William Cheung, an assistant professor at UBC’s Fisheries Centre. “As a result, places like New England on the northeast coast of the U.S. saw new species typically found in warmer waters, closer to the tropics. “Meanwhile in the tropics, climate change meant fewer marine species and reduced catches, with serious implications for food security.

We’ve been talking about climate change as if it’s something that’s going to happen in the distant future — our study shows that it has been affecting our fisheries and oceans for decades,” says Daniel Pauly, principal investigator with UBC’s Sea Around Us Project and the study’s co-author. “These global changes have implications for everyone in every part of the planet.”

A summary of the study is available at


Signature of ocean warming in global fisheries catch

William W. L. Cheung1, RegWatson2 & Daniel Pauly3

1 6 M AY 2 0 1 3 | VO L 4 9 7 | N AT U R E | 3 6 5

Marine fishes and invertebrates respond to ocean warming through distribution shifts, generally to higher latitudes and deeper waters. Consequently, fisheries should be affected by ‘tropicalization’ of catch1–4 (increasing dominance of warm-water species). However, a signature of such climate-change effects on global fisheries catch has so far not been detected. Here we report such an index, the mean temperature of the catch (MTC), that is calculated from the average inferred temperature preference of exploited species weighted by their annual catch. Our results show that, after accounting for the effects of fishing and large-scale oceanographic variability, global MTC increased at a rate of 0.19 degrees Celsius per decade between 1970 and 2006, and non-tropical MTC increased at a rate of 0.23 degrees Celsius per decade. In tropical areas, MTC increased initially because of the reduction in the proportion of subtropical species catches, but subsequently stabilized as scope for further tropicalization of communities became limited. Changes in MTC in 52 large marine ecosystems, covering the majority of the world’s coastal and shelf areas, are significantly and positively related to regional changes in sea surface temperature5. This study shows that ocean warming has already affected global fisheries in the past four decades, highlighting the immediate need to develop adaptation plans to minimize the effect of such warming on the economy and food security of coastal communities, particularly in tropical regions6,7.







Productivity increases with species diversity, just as Darwin predicted
(May 13, 2013) — Environments containing species that are distantly related to one another are more productive than those containing closely related species, according to new research. … > full story


Land management options outlined to address cheatgrass invasion
(May 13, 2013)

A new study suggests that overgrazing and other factors increase the severity of cheatgrass invasion in sagebrush steppe, one of North America’s most endangered ecosystems. Researchers said one of the most effective restoration approaches would be to minimize the cumulative impact of grazing, by better managing the timing, frequency of grazing and number of animals. … > full story

Intensive Grazing Won’t Beat Back an Invasive Plant Blamed for Increasing Wildfire Frequency in the West, According to a New Study

By Phil Taylor, E&E reporter, May 13, 2013

The study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology found cheatgrass, which has affected vast swaths of the West particularly in Nevada’s Great Basin, is resistant to even the most intensive grazing regimes. In addition, overgrazing can reduce the prevalence of native bunchgrasses and trample soils, weakening the land’s ability to resist cheatgrass invasions, the study found. It recommended reducing cumulative grazing impacts by better managing the timing, frequency of grazing and number of animals — proposals that are rarely without political controversy.

From the summary: Grazing exacerbates Bromus tectorum dominance in one of North America’s most endangered ecosystems by adversely impacting key mechanisms mediating resistance to invasion. If the goal is to conserve and restore resistance of these systems, managers should consider maintaining or restoring: (i) high bunchgrass cover and structure characterized by spatially dispersed bunchgrasses and small gaps between them; (ii) a diverse assemblage of bunchgrass species to maximize competitive interactions with B. tectorum in time and space; and (iii) biological soil crusts to limit B. tectorum establishment. Passive restoration by reducing cumulative cattle grazing may be one of the most effective means of achieving these three goals…..



Seabird bones reveal changes in open-ocean food chain
(May 13, 2013) — Remains of endangered Hawaiian petrels — both ancient and modern — show how drastically today’s open seas fish menu has changed. Scientists analyzed the bones of Hawaiian petrels — birds that spend the majority of their lives foraging the open waters of the Pacific. They found that the substantial change in petrels’ eating habits, eating prey that are lower rather than higher in the food chain, coincides with the growth of industrialized fishing. … > full story


World’s Most Extraordinary Species Mapped for the First Time



May 15, 2013 — The black-and-white ruffed lemur, Mexican salamander and Sunda pangolin all feature on the first map of the world’s most unique and threatened mammals and … > full story


H1N1 discovered in marine mammals
(May 15, 2013)Scientists detected the H1N1 (2009) virus in free-ranging northern elephant seals off the central California coast a year after the human pandemic began, according to a study published today, May 15, in the journal PLOS ONE. It is the first report of that flu strain in any marine mammal. … Neither infected seal appeared to be ill, indicating marine mammals may be infected without showing clinical signs of illness. The findings are particularly pertinent to people who handle marine mammals, such as veterinarians and animal rescue and rehabilitation workers, Goldstein said. They are also a reminder of the importance of wearing personal protective gear when working around marine mammals, both to prevent workers’ exposure to diseases, as well as to prevent the transmission of human diseases to animals….. > full story

Tracey Goldstein, Ignacio Mena, Simon J. Anthony, Rafael Medina, Patrick W. Robinson, Denise J. Greig, Daniel P. Costa, W. Ian Lipkin, Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, Walter M. Boyce. Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Isolated from Free-Ranging Northern Elephant Seals in 2010 off the Central California Coast. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (5): e62259 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062259

Insecticides lead to starvation of aquatic organisms

Posted: 15 May 2013 05:30 PM PDT

Neonicotinoid insecticides have adverse effects not only on bees but also on freshwater invertebrates. Exposure to low but constant concentrations of these substances – which are highly soluble in water – has lethal effects on these aquatic organisms.
World’s most extraordinary species mapped for the first time

Posted: 15 May 2013 02:44 PM PDT

The black-and-white ruffed lemur, Mexican salamander and Sunda pangolin all feature on the first map of the world’s most unique and threatened mammals and amphibians.


Coral reef fishes prove invaluable in the study of evolutionary ecology

Posted: 16 May 2013 09:36 AM PDT

Coral reef fish species have proven invaluable for experimental testing of key concepts in social evolution and already have yielded insights about the ultimate reasons for female reproductive suppression, group living, and bidirectional sex change. major focus in evolutionary ecology lies in explaining the evolution and maintenance of social systems. Although most theoretical formulations of social system evolution were initially inspired by studies of birds, mammals, and insects, incorporating a wider taxonomic perspective is important for testing deeply entrenched theory. In their new study, the researchers suggest that habitat-specialist coral reef fishes provide that wider perspective. “While such coral reef fishes are ecologically similar, they display remarkable variation in mating systems, social organization, and sex allocation strategies,” says Wong. “Our review of recent research clearly shows the amenability of these fishes for experimental testing of key concepts in social evolution.”…



Clam fossils divulge secrets of ecologic stability

Posted: 15 May 2013 02:40 PM PDT

Clam fossils from the middle Devonian era now yield a better paleontological picture of the capacity of ecosystems to remain stable in the face of environmental change, according to new research.


No-win situation for agricultural expansion in the Amazon
(May 10, 2013) — The large-scale expansion of agriculture in the Amazon through deforestation will be a no-win scenario, according to a new study. The study shows that deforestation will not only reduce the capacity of the Amazon’s natural carbon sink, but will also inflict climate feedbacks that will decrease the productivity of pasture and soybeans. … > full story


Using earthquake sensors to track endangered whales
(May 13, 2013) — Oceanographers used data from seafloor seismometers to analyze more than 300,000 fin-whale calls. By triangulating the position they created more than 150 tracks off the Pacific Northwest coast. … > full story






Why a Hotter World Will Mean More Extinctions

Time by Bryan Walsh May 13 2013

….But the plants and animals that share this planet with us are a different story. Even before climate change has really kicked in, human expansion had led to the destruction of habitat on land and in the sea, as we crowd out other species. By some estimates we’re already in the midst of the sixth great extinction wave, one that’s largely human caused, with extinction rates that are 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the background rate of species loss.
So what will happen to those plants and animals if and when the climate really starts warming? According to a new study in Nature Climate Change, the answer is pretty simple: they will run out of habitable space, and many of them will die. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that 20% to 30% of species would be at increasingly high risk of extinction if global temperatures rise more than 2˚C to 3˚C above preindustrial levels. Given that temperatures have already gone up by nearly 1˚C, and carbon continues to pile up in the atmosphere, that amount of warming is almost a certainty….But Rachel Warren and her colleagues at the University of East Anglia (UEA), in England, wanted to know more precisely how that extinction risk intensifies with warming — and whether we might be able to save some species by mitigating climate change. In the Nature Climate Change paper, they found that almost two-thirds of common plants and half of animals could lose more than half their climatic range by 2080 if global warming continues unchecked, with temperatures increasing 4˚C above preindustrial levels by the end of the century. Unsurprisingly, the biggest effects will be felt near the equator, in areas like Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Amazon and Australia, but biodiversity will suffer across the board.

In statement, Warren said: Our research predicts that climate change will greatly reduce the diversity of even very common species found in most parts of the world. This loss of global-scale biodiversity would significantly impoverish the biosphere and the ecosystem services it provides. We looked at the effect of rising global temperatures, but other symptoms of climate change such as extreme weather events, pests, and diseases mean that our estimates are probably conservative. Animals in particular may decline more as our predictions will be compounded by a loss of food from plants.


Climate change will cause widespread global-scale loss of common plants and animals, researchers predict
(May 12, 2013) — Climate change will cause widespread global-scale loss of common plants and animals. More than half of common plants and one third of the animals could see a dramatic decline this century due to climate change, according to new research. The study looked at 50,000 globally widespread and common species and found that more than one half of the plants and one third of the animals will lose more than half of their climatic range by 2080 if nothing is done to reduce the amount of global warming and slow it down. … > full story

R. Warren, J. VanDerWal, J. Price, J. A. Welbergen, I. Atkinson, et al. Quantifying the benefit of early climate change mitigation in avoiding biodiversity loss. Nature Climate Change, 2013 DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1887



Scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change

Posted: 15 May 2013 05:30 PM PDT

A comprehensive analysis of peer-reviewed articles on the topic of global warming and climate change has revealed an overwhelming consensus among scientists that recent warming is human-caused.


Arctic expedition to study impact of climate change on plankton

The Guardian  – ‎ May 14 2013‎

The question they will try to answer is how will plankton react to the consequences of climate change. In the summer of 2012, the ice floes had melted to an extent scientists had never seen before.


Global warming trends contribute to spread of West Nile virus to new regions in Europe
(May 13, 2013) — Global warming trends have a significant influence on the spread of West Nile Virus to new regions in Europe and neighboring countries, where the disease wasn’t present before, according to a new study. The study found that rising temperatures have a more considerable contribution than humidity, to the spread of the disease, while the effect of rain was inconclusive. … > full story



U.S. Geological Survey: Warmer Springs Causing Loss Of Snow Cover Throughout The Rocky Mountains

By Joe Romm on May 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm

A new U.S. Geological Survey study finds, “Warmer spring temperatures since 1980 are causing an estimated 20 percent loss of snow cover across the Rocky Mountains of western North America.” The USGS explains, “The new study builds upon a previous USGS snowpack investigation which showed that, until the 1980s, the northern Rocky Mountains experienced large snowpacks when the central and southern Rockies experienced meager ones, and vice versa. Yet, since the 1980s, there have been simultaneous snowpack declines along the entire length of the Rocky Mountains, and unusually severe declines in the north.” We reported on that previous work in 2011 — see “USGS: Global Warming Drives Rockies Snowpack Loss Unrivaled in 800 Years, Threatens Western Water Supply.” The USGS explained back then:

The warming and snowpack decline are projected to worsen through the 21st century, foreshadowing a strain on water supplies. Runoff from winter snowpack – layers of snow that accumulate at high altitude – accounts for 60 to 80 percent of the annual water supply for more than 70 million people living in the western United States.

What’s most worrisome is that we now have three major trends driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases that threaten to significantly worsen drought and water problems in the West and Southwest:

Assuming the anti-science crowd continues to block any serious action, these catastrophic changes will last a long, long time (see NOAA: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe). For the record, it was the possibility of losing the Sierra snowpack in the second half of the century that led then Energy Secretary Chu to warn in 2009, “Wake up,” America, “we’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.” Geophysical Research Letters published the new research, Regional patterns and proximal causes of the recent snowpack decline in the Rocky Mountains” (subs. req’d). Here are the key points from the USGS news release:…



Scientists find extensive glacial retreat in Mount Everest region
(May 13, 2013) — Researchers taking a new look at the snow and ice covering Mount Everest and the national park that surrounds it are finding abundant evidence that the world’s tallest peak is shedding its frozen cloak. The scientists have also been studying temperature and precipitation trends in the area and found that the Everest region has been warming while snowfall has been declining since the early 1990s. … > full story

Satellites see double jeopardy for Southern California fire season
(May 13, 2013) — New insights into two factors that are creating a potentially volatile Southern California wildfire season come from an ongoing project using NASA and Indian satellite data by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; and Chapman University, Orange, Calif. … > full story


Do we need a better yardstick to measure severe droughts?

Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter ClimateWire: Friday, May 10, 2013

After more than a decade, the U.S. Drought Monitor might be due for a tuneup. As Illinois’ State Climatologist Jim Angel puts it, it’s like the scene in the 1984 parody of hard rock documentaries “This Is Spinal Tap” in which heavy metal guitarist Nigel Tufnel shows off his amplifiers with volume knobs that go up to 11. Tufnel’s amplifiers, he brags to the filmmaker in the spoof, give his guitars that ear-splitting “extra push off the cliff” compared with traditional amps that only reach 10. Angel sees this as an analogy for the Drought Monitor, the weekly map of drought-afflicted areas in the country. After a long, widespread U.S. drought that has drawn comparisons to the 1930s Dust Bowl, do the makers of the map need to crank up the magnitude of the worst-hit spots from D4 — the current designation for exceptional drought — and create a D5? “We know that the climate we have now isn’t the climate from 1965,” said Michael Brewer, one of the authors of the Drought Monitor and a scientist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. That was the year the Palmer Drought Severity Index was introduced, and it is used as the primary drought indicator today. It’s very possible that D4 won’t be an accurate measure for the most severe drought in the future, said Angel, who referenced the “Spinal Tap” scene at the U.S. Drought Monitor Forum last month in West Palm Beach, Fla. What was once a D4 event is milder than what exceptional drought looks like today. As climate change makes these things more uncertain, the authors of the Drought Monitor are asking themselves whether, and how, to adapt…..



Carbon dioxide at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory reaches new milestone: Tops 400 parts per million
(May 10, 2013) — On May 9, the daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since measurements began in 1958. Independent measurements made by both NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have been approaching this level during the past week. It marks an important milestone because Mauna Loa, as the oldest continuous carbon dioxide measurement station in the world, is the primary global benchmark site for monitoring the increase of this potent heat-trapping gas. … > full story



Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears –must read

The average carbon dioxide reading surpassed 400 parts per million at the research facility atop the Mauna Loa volcano on the island of Hawaii for the 24 hours that ended at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times Published: May 10, 2013

The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years. Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering. The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea. “It symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,” said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that reported the new reading. Ralph Keeling, who runs another monitoring program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, said a continuing rise could be catastrophic. “It means we are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below what people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds,” he said. Virtually every automobile ride, every plane trip and, in most places, every flip of a light switch adds carbon dioxide to the air, and relatively little money is being spent to find and deploy alternative technologies.

China is now the largest emitter, but Americans have been consuming fossil fuels extensively for far longer, and experts say the United States is more responsible than any other nation for the high level. ….. Carbon dioxide rises and falls on a seasonal cycle, and the level will dip below 400 this summer as leaf growth in the Northern Hemisphere pulls about 10 billion tons of carbon out of the air. But experts say that will be a brief reprieve — the moment is approaching when no measurement of the ambient air anywhere on earth, in any season, will produce a reading below 400.

“It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” said Maureen E. Raymo, a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a unit of Columbia University….

From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists know that going back 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide level oscillated in a tight band, from about 180 parts per million in the depths of ice ages to about 280 during the warm periods between. The evidence shows that global temperatures and CO2 levels are tightly linked.

For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper bound. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future.

Indirect measurements suggest that the last time the carbon dioxide level was this high was at least three million years ago, during an epoch called the Pliocene. Geological research shows that the climate then was far warmer than today, the world’s ice caps were smaller, and the sea level might have been as much as 60 or 80 feet higher.

Experts fear that humanity may be precipitating a return to such conditions — except this time, billions of people are in harm’s way. “It takes a long time to melt ice, but we’re doing it,” Dr. Keeling said. “It’s scary.” …. Research shows that even at such low levels, carbon dioxide is potent at trapping heat near the surface of the earth. “If you’re looking to stave off climate perturbations that I don’t believe our culture is ready to adapt to, then significant reductions in CO2 emissions have to occur right away,” said Mark Pagani, a Yale geochemist who studies climates of the past. “I feel like the time to do something was yesterday.”


Methane emissions higher than thought across much of U.S.
(May 15, 2013) — After taking a rented camper outfitted with special equipment to measure methane on a cross-continent drive, a scientist has found that methane emissions across large parts of the US are higher than currently known, confirming what other more local studies have found. … > full story


Emotional response to climate change influences whether we seek or avoid further information
(May 15, 2013) — Because information about climate change is ubiquitous in the media, researchers looked at why many Americans know so little about its causes and why many are not interested in finding out more. … > full story


World’s Melting Glaciers Making Large Contribution to Sea Rise

May 16, 2013 — While 99 percent of Earth’s land ice is locked up in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the remaining ice in the world’s glaciers contributed just as much to sea rise as the two ice sheets … The new research found that all glacial regions lost mass from 2003 to 2009, with the biggest ice losses occurring in Arctic Canada, Alaska, coastal Greenland, the southern Andes and the Himalayas. The glaciers outside of the Greenland and Antarctic sheets lost an average of roughly 260 billion metric tons of ice annually during the study period, causing the oceans to rise 0.03 inches, or about 0.7 millimeters per year. > full story


Fall warming on Antarctic Peninsula driven by tropically forced circulation
(May 15, 2013) — New research shows that, in recent decades, fall is the only period of extensive warming over the entire Antarctic Peninsula, and it is mostly from atmospheric circulation patterns originating in the tropics. … > full story


Helping forests gain ground on climate change
(May 15, 2013)
Researchers in Canada have developed guidelines being used by foresters and the timber industry to get a jump on climate change when planting trees. …
Maps developed by Laura Gray, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Renewable Resources at the U of A, provide projections of climatically suitable habitat for tree species based on climate predictions for the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s. Currently, Alberta forestry companies and government agencies plant 80 million spruce, fir and pine seedlings to reforest more than 50,000 hectares of harvested land annually. “The information helps forest managers have more confidence in their decisions on what and where to plant. It allows them to more accurately assess the climactic risk,” said Gray, co-author of the study with associate professor Andreas Hamann. The study addresses concerns that many populations of wide-ranging tree species, which are adapted to local growing conditions, may now or in the future actually lag behind their optimal growing environment because of changing temperature and precipitation conditions. The work is the first of its kind to tackle multiple potential climate scenarios for a large number of tree species across western North America…..full story


Mold After the Hurricane

(NYT) May 17, 2013 Compiled: 12:59 AM

A climate economist says the coastal flooding responsible for the mold that occurred after Sandy is only going to get worse with climate change.



30 Million People Displaced By Climate- And Weather-Related Events Last Year

Posted: 13 May 2013 06:16 AM PDT

A new report out today shows that over 30 million people were displaced by climate-related extreme weather events … [Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre Publications] The Global Estimates report reveals that 32.4 million people were forced to flee their homes in 2012 by disasters such as floods, storms and earthquakes. While Asia and west and central Africa bore the brunt, 1.3 million were displaced in rich countries, with the USA particularly affected. 98% of all displacement in 2012 was related to climate- and weather-related events, with flood disasters in India and Nigeria accounting for 41% of global displacement in 2012. In India, monsoon floods displaced 6.9 million, and in Nigeria 6.1 million people were newly displaced. While over the past five years 81% of global displacement has occurred in Asia, in 2012 Africa had a record high for the region of 8.2 million people newly displaced, over four times more than in any of the previous four years.

… Just as climate expert Lord Stern predicts that hundreds of millions will be displaced this century. [Guardian]

It is increasingly likely that hundreds of millions of people will be displaced from their homelands in the near future as a result of global warming. That is the stark warning of economist and climate change expert Lord Stern following the news last week that concentrations of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere had reached a level of 400 parts per million (ppm).

Massive movements of people are likely to occur over the rest of the century because global temperatures are likely to rise to by up to 5C because carbon dioxide levels have risen unabated for 50 years, said Stern, who is head of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change.

“When temperatures rise to that level, we will have disrupted weather patterns and spreading deserts,” he said. “Hundreds of millions of people will be forced to leave their homelands because their crops and animals will have died. The trouble will come when they try to migrate into new lands, however. That will bring them into armed conflict with people already living there. Nor will it be an occasional occurrence. It could become a permanent feature of life on Earth.”



Climate Resilience: Deconstructing The New Buzz Word

Posted: 13 May 2013 12:56 PM PDT

By Cara Pike via Climate Access

“Climate resiliency” is a new buzzword in environmental communications. Buzzwords are exciting because when successful, they convey important concepts in a compact and compelling way. At the same time, it is easy to assume audience understanding and for terms to be co-opted over time.

…..According to the American Heritage Dictionary, resiliency is defined as “the ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy,” This is appealing because “climate resiliency” conveys both an inherent recognition of a threat that needs to be responded to, as well as a sense of efficacy – that it is possible to respond to that threat.

On the other hand, the other meaning of “resiliency” is “the property of a material that enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed; elasticity.” This is problematic because when used in the climate context, it can feed into the desire to return to the status quo as quickly as possible.

Mindy Fullilove, professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences and director of the Cities Research Group at Columbia University provided an example at CCB of how climate resiliency can mean very different things to different audiences. For those who have the resources to protect themselves from extreme weather events and other challenges, resiliency conveys a sense of strength. On the other hand, for communities already struggling due to economic and social injustice, resiliency can imply an expectation that people within those communities continue to withstand challenges, largely without the resources or support to adequately do so.

At the crux of this conflict is the idea that resiliency is about resuming an original form, a bouncing back to what was. This fails to recognize that the status quo wasn’t working in the first place as we were already on an unsustainable and inequitable path. The desire to return to normal in the wake of a disturbance is understandable,; however, what is needed is a “bouncing forward” to new approaches that tackle both the reality of a two-degree Celsius temperature increase as well as the systemic injustices that threaten the well-being of citizens who often also face some of the worst climate impacts.

My sense is just like with sustainability, using resiliency, as the new buzzword will not solve challenges engaging the public in these issues. Perhaps more important is to focus on conveying the characteristics that resilient systems and communities should reflect such as flexibility, diversity, and transparency; and to highlight strategies that enhance resilience in a range of areas, such as disaster risk-reduction and improving the quality of daily life.

A good example of an organization focusing on community-level solutions that illustrate both climate as well as social resiliency is IOBY – or “In Our Backyards.” Founded by Cassie Flynn (see her Garrison presentation), Erin Barnes and Brandon Whitney, IOBY emphasizes  what people want to see in their neighborhoods versus the typical “not in my backyard” environmental approach. By helping citizens organize and fund local projects, IOBY is fostering community buy-in for solutions, a network of long-term stewards, and visible benefits of taking action such as having access to green spaces and organic food.

What is perhaps most interesting about IOBY, however, is how it has become a network for organizing citizens around other local challenges. For example, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, IOBY participants helped organize neighborhood response efforts by using the lists of project volunteers in their area as well the  IOBY neighborhood gardens to gather and coordinate.

Social resiliency and connectivity are among the most important capacities to develop as we learn to prepare for local climate impacts. Amplifying local climate solutions that benefit and bring people together is critically needed so we can begin to close the climate efficacy gap and build hope for the future.

– Cara Pike is the director of Climate Access



What Will a Doubling of Carbon Dioxide Mean for Climate?

By JUSTIN GILLIS (NYT) May 14, 2013 Compiled: 1:00 AM

While some recent studies suggest that the doubling of carbon dioxide levels will not result in as high an increase in temperature as previously thought, they are not the last word.


America’s Climate Refugees

The Guardian- 3 part series An undeniable truth? From Palin to Parnell, Alaska’s politicians have struggled to reconcile policy with actuality

Part One America’s first climate refugees
› One family’s great escape

Part Two An undeniable truth?
› The at risk list

Part Three “It’s happening now… The village is sinking”= › The state we’re in

 Could carbon dioxide be injected in sandstone? Would it stay there?
May 14, 2013) — As carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere top 400 parts per million, options such as storing the greenhouse gas in porous sandstone rock formations found in abundance on the sea floor are of increasing interest. But how do we know if carbon dioxide can be safely injected into spongy sandstone, and that once it is there, that it will stay there? … > full story


Scientists use crowd-sourcing to help map global carbon dioxide emissions
(May 14, 2013) — Climate science researchers from Arizona State University are launching a first-of-its-kind website to better understand and track greenhouse gas emissions from global power plants. … > full story








Fracking in California needs close oversight

Jayni Foley Hein and Michael Kiparsky SF Chronicle May 12, 2013

It’s a watershed moment for the regulation of fracking in California. While oil and gas producers have used hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in California for many years, new fracturing techniques combined with demand for oil have led to alarming projections of dramatically increased fracking activity in California. Such developments may have outstripped the ability of responsible government agencies to effectively oversee fracking activity and its attendant impacts on our land, air and water resources. The Monterey Shale formation in Southern California is estimated to hold 15.4 billion barrels of oil, or 64 percent of the nation’s recoverable shale oil resources. High oil prices, combined with the rapid development of technology to access tight reserves, could lead to a fracking boom in California in the same way that similar circumstances drove natural gas booms in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and other states. While California hasn’t yet experienced a dramatic shift to high-volume, directionally drilled hydraulic wells, other states have, and it could very well happen here. Fracturing technologies are evolving rapidly. Historically, wells in California have used single, vertically drilled shafts with small volumes of fracking fluids. New methods involve multiple lateral bores drilled horizontally from the main vertical well. These larger scale operations can use millions of gallons of fluids per well, with attendant increased impacts. In addition, the constituents of fracking fluids continue to evolve faster than our ability to study their risks, for example in acid matrix fracking. Given these unknowns, state regulators should be proactive in their oversight of the industry. Hydraulic fracturing is the process of injecting fluids under high pressure to crack underground rocks and release tightly held oil or gas. Hydraulic fracturing has been used to produce oil from vertical wells in California for more than 50 years. The majority of fracking in California has been in pursuit of oil rather than natural gas. Arguments that natural gas is a transitional fuel to renewable energy sources do not apply to oil, which is by no means a low-carbon fuel. Further, an average of nine barrels of water must be pumped for every one barrel of oil. Not only is this a lot of water that must be managed at the surface, but it also requires energy to pump, move and treat, exacerbating the carbon intensity of California oil. ….


Analysis: Obama climate agenda faces Supreme Court reckoning– EPA

By Lawrence Hurley and Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON | Thu May 16, 2013 1:25am EDT

(Reuters) – With a barrage of legal briefs, a coalition of business groups and Republican-leaning states are taking their fight against Obama administration climate change regulations to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other industry groups, along with states such as Texas and Virginia, have filed nine petitions in recent weeks asking the justices to review four U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations that are designed to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. If the court were to take up any one of the petitions, it would be the biggest environmental case since Massachusetts v. EPA, the landmark 2007 decision in which the justices ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that could be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The court’s decision on whether to take up any of the petitions, likely to come in October, could help shape or shatter the administration’s efforts to solidify its climate change agenda before President Obama leaves office in 2017. The EPA regulations are among Obama’s most significant tools to address climate change after the U.S. Senate scuttled in 2010 his effort to pass a federal law that would, among other things, have set a cap on greenhouse gas emissions….


Business Leaders To Policymakers: Public Lands Create A Competitive Advantage For Us

By Jessica Goad, Guest Blogger on May 16, 2013 at 11:13 am

A healthy environment is obviously important for outdoor industry companies like Patagonia and L.L. Bean.  But a lesser-known fact is that the outdoors is also a significant resource to companies who choose to locate near great places in order to lure employees to work for them.

That was the message delivered by a group of business leaders who visited Washington, D.C. this week to tell their elected officials that protected public lands like national parks, national monuments, and wildness areas are key to attracting talent and maintaining their bottom line.  As Jeff Welch, the co-founder and president of Bozeman, Montana-based communications and advertising firm MercuryCSC put it: The outdoors for us in our region is a big competitive advantage, it helps us recruit people from all over the country, even other places in the world to come to Montana.  It’s really the only thing we have as a competitive advantage in a place like Bozeman…..



Senate approves Barbara Boxer’s bill for Sacramento levees

May 15, 2013

In a rare display of bipartisanship on major legislation, the U.S. Senate passed Sen. Barbara Boxer’s water resources bill Wednesday.

The $12.5 billion bill, which includes a long-sought authorization for levee improvements in Sacramento, drew overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans. The vote was 83-14.

“This type of a bill is not easy to get through. Every state has its own needs,” Boxer said. “We were able to meet the needs of the entire country.”

After the vote, Boxer praised the work of her staff, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, her Republican partner on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs.

Vitter, who agrees with Boxer on little else, called her a “great partner.”

“We can come together on the infrastructure side of our committee,” he said.

The Water Resources Development Act would authorize a variety of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects across the country, including flood control efforts, port improvements, wetlands restoration and coastal storm protection. It includes language that would expedite the environmental review process that many critics say lead to unnecessary delays and added costs in such projects.

But environmental groups objected to that language, and Wednesday, they voiced their disappointment in the Senate bill.

“Unfortunately, language in this bill undermines the bedrock environmental principle that the federal government should look before it leaps,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, in a statement.

“This bill must be fixed before the President signs it into law,” he added.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives. Rep. Doris Matsui, a Sacramento Democrat and a leading supporter of water resources legislation, said it was time for her colleagues to act.

“The Senate has provided a good starting point as well as a good example of cooperation; working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I know we can do the same in the House,” she said in a statement.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated at 1:12 p.m. May 15, 2013 to correct the vote to 83-14.



Peak oil, climate change and pipeline geopolitics driving Syria conflict

The Guardian  – ‎May 13, 2013‎

Then from 2010 to 2011, the price of wheat doubled – fueled by a combination of extreme weather events linked to climate change, oil price spikes and intensified speculation on food commodities – impacting on Syrian wheat imports. Assad’s inability to …


Insurers Stray From the Conservative Line on Climate Change

By EDUARDO PORTER (NYT) May 15, 2013 Compiled: 12:59 AM

A new institute, financed by the insurance industry, not only believes in global warming but also supports a carbon tax to combat it.


Wind farms get pass on deaths of eagles, other protected birds

The Seattle Times  – ‎ May 16 2013‎

Each killing of a protected bird is a federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines. No wind-energy



Interior Appoints New Climate Change Advisory Committee Members to Provide Guidance on Adaptation Science Initiatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced the members of a newly created federal advisory committee who will provide guidance about the Interior Department’s climate change adaptation science initiatives. The Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science will advise the Secretary of the Interior about the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and the Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers, which are managed by the U.S. Geological Survey. To view the original news release, please click here.


Icy Arctic rising as economic, security hot spot

Published: May 10, 2013 6:30 PM By The Associated Press  LARA JAKES (AP National Security Writer) WASHINGTON – (AP) –

The icy Arctic is emerging as a global economic hot spot — and one that is becoming a security concern for the U.S. as world powers jockey to tap its vast energy resources and stake out unclaimed territories. Diplomats from eight Arctic nations, including Secretary of State John Kerry, will meet next week over how to protect the thawing region as its waterways increasingly open to commercial shipping traffic. U.S. officials estimate the Arctic holds 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves, and 30 percent of undiscovered gas deposits. Until recently, however, the lucrative resources that could reap hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues were frozen over and unreachable. But global warming has melted sea ice to levels that have given rise to what experts describe as a kind of gold rush scramble to the Arctic. On Friday, President Barack Obama announced a new U.S. strategy for the Arctic, calling the region “an amazing place” and maintaining a need among nations to protect its fragile environment and keep it free of conflict…..




CLIMATE CHANGE: Future Federal Adaptation Efforts Could Better Support Local Infrastructure Decision Makers,

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is conducting several climate change and adaptation-related studies at the moment. Yesterday, they released their study: “CLIMATE CHANGE: Future Federal Adaptation Efforts Could Better Support Local Infrastructure Decision Makers,” that examines:

1.     The impacts of climate change on roads and bridges, wastewater systems, and NASA centers;

2.     The extent to which climate change is incorporated into infrastructure planning;

3.     Factors that enabled some decision makers to implement adaptive measures; and

4.     Federal efforts to address local adaptation needs, as well as potential opportunities for improvement.

This study includes high-level recommendations for executive action in this area which you might be interested in. Here is more information on the study:
SF BAY AREA: The Critical Linkages report is now available at or
Critical Linkages: Bay Area & Beyond identifies 14 landscape level connections of crucial biological value. These linkages are essential for natural ecological processes—such as migration and range shifts with climate change–to continue operating as they have for millennia. Critical Linkages was designed to preserve landscape level processes and maintain connected wildlife populations from Mendocino National Forest in the north to the beaches of the Santa Lucia Range on Los Padres National Forest and Hearst Ranch in the south, and eastward to the southern end of the Inner Coast Range. These landscape linkages and the wildlands they connect are meant to serve as the backbone of a regional wildlands network to which smaller wildlands can be connected.





Climate and Food Webinar  May 22, 2013 – 1:00pm EST
Dr. Molly Brown, research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will explore the impact of various factors on food production, and how climate change may impact food production in the future. Using remote sensing satellites, changes in moisture conditions that affect this year’s crop as well as long-term changes in ecosystems that can affect food production were detected.

Please note you must register for this session.


CA LCC: Pacific Coastal Fog Webinar Wednesday, May 29, 2013 – 12:00pm-1:00pm
Alicia Torregrosa, Physical Scientist at USGS, will present how this project created critically needed coastal fog datasets and show potential users an internet platform for sharing the data.
For details on this project click here  To join the online meeting: 1. Go to here 2. Meeting password: calcc 3. Call-in toll-free number: 1-866-737-4154 Attendee access code: 287 267 0#

The Desert LCC announces grants to fund applied science related to critical resource management concerns in the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan desert regions

The Fish and Wildlife Service Request For Proposals related to the Desert LCC is open to Federal and non-Federal entities for work conducted in the U.S. and/or Mexico. Applications are due by 4 PM MDT on June 7, 2013. 
You can find this opportunity at this link


Zoomable climate change time-lapse of entire earth over 30 years

AMERICAblog (blog)  – ‎May 13, 2013‎

Using satellite photos from Landsat, a joint mission between the USGS and NASA, Google has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to put together a very cool series of time-lapse images of the earth, showing changes in the earth, including impacts …





PALOMARIN FIELD STATION BANDING INTERNSHIPS.  Fall Interns needed at PRBO’s Palomarin Field Station on the California coast, north of San Francisco in Point Reyes National Seashore, a fall birding hotspot.  Fieldwork includes mist-netting, area search surveys  and habitat assessment in coastal scrub and riparian habitats.   All interns participate in public outreach during banding operations and daily data entry and verification.  Expect long hours in the field and office.  Interns will become proficient in landbird monitoring techniques and learn about various aspects of avian ecology (e.g., hands-on and via scientific literature).  Interns may participate in the North American Banding Council certification process.  A strong interest in birds, self-motivation, a sense of humor, and the desire to spend long hours in the field and office are required. Participants must be able to work in groups and independently. Exposure to poison oak is unavoidable. A functioning pair of binoculars is required. Some internships require the use of a personal vehicle, current proof of insurance, and a driver’s license. Use of personal vehicles will be reimbursed by the mile. Approximate dates are August 1 to November 15. On-site housing is provided. This is a voluntary training position that includes a stipend to offset living expenses while on the project ($800 per month [gross]).  Email a letter of interest describing previous experience with field research, specific dates of availability and whether or not you have a vehicle, a resume, and contact information for three references (Please note if applying to other positions within PRBO) to RENEE CORMIER, PRBO Conservation Science
(415-868-0655 ext. 316; EM: Please apply by June 1.


USFWS Title: National Landscape Conservation Coordinator
OPM Title: Fish and Wildlife Administrator
Series and Grade: GS-0480, Series 15
Duty Location: Washington, DC (Arlington, VA, is actual office
This is a heads up for those who might be interested in applying for the position of National Coordinator for the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives initiative. Doug Austen has announced his departure, and the FWS will shortly post the position in USA JOBS. We believe the posting will be only open for two weeks. The following infomation should be helpful in locating the position, but regular users of USAJobs will know that the published title might not match exactly what the position title is….







Cotton offers a new ecologically friendly way to clean up oil spills

Posted: 15 May 2013 08:38 AM PDT

With the Deepwater Horizon disaster emphasizing the need for better ways of cleaning up oil spills, scientists are reporting that unprocessed, raw cotton may be an ideal, ecologically friendly answer, with an amazing ability to sop up oil.


Many entrepreneurs claim to care about sustainability, yet make decisions that are harmful to environment
(May 13, 2013) — Many entrepreneurs claim that they care about sustainability, yet they make decisions that are harmful to the environment. Economic researchers have discovered that many bosses do indeed have firm convictions — but that they unconsciously disengage their values from their business actions. The type of entrepreneur most likely to fall into this category are those who perceive themselves as highly influential or who are operating in a challenging industry environment. … > full story


Strategies to achieve net-zero energy homes
(May 15, 2013) — Chances are you know how many miles your car logs for each gallon or tankful of gas, but you probably have only a foggy idea of how much energy your house consumes, even though home energy expenditures often account for a larger share of the household budget. … > full story



Significant improvement in performance of solar-powered hydrogen generation
(May 15, 2013) — Using a powerful combination of microanalytic techniques that simultaneously image photoelectric current and chemical reaction rates across a surface on a micrometer scale, researchers have shed new light on what may become a cost-effective way to generate hydrogen gas directly from water and sunlight. … > full story


With Record Sales, Tesla Turns A Profit As Consumer Reports Says It ‘Comes Close’ To Being ‘The Best Car Ever’!

Posted: 13 May 2013 08:50 AM PDT


Tesla Motors Company is coming off a very good week. On Wednesday, the company reported that it had sold more electric vehicles than any other automaker during the first quarter of the year, and turned a profit for the first time in its 10 year history. On Thursday, Consumer Reports — the famously austere purveyors of customer satisfaction surveys and product testing for all manner of consumer goods — announced that Tesla’s Model S roadster outperformed every other commercially-available vehicle in their annual battery of stress tests, scoring a 99 out of a possible 100: The Tesla Model S outscores every other car in our test Ratings. It does so even though it’s an electric car. In fact, it does so because it is electric. Built from the ground up as an EV, this car’s overall balance benefits from mounting the battery under the floor and in the lowest part of the body. That gives the car a rock-bottom center of gravity that enables excellent handling, a comfortable ride, and lots of room inside…..






‘Space Oddity’ Astronaut Rock Star Has Unique Perspective On Climate Change

Billion-year-old water could hold clues to life on Earth and Mars
(May 15, 2013) — Scientists have discovered ancient pockets of water, which have been isolated deep underground for billions of years and contain abundant chemicals known to support life. This water could be some of the oldest on the planet and may even contain life. Not just that, but the similarity between the rocks that trapped it and those on Mars raises the hope that comparable life-sustaining water could lie buried beneath the Red Planet’s surface. … > full story


Few Breast Cancer Patients Understand Surgery Options

Search, Share, Spare Campaign Addresses Knowledge Gaps

Angelina Jolie Advises Women “…to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.”

Dr. Rache Simmons of New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

SAN FRANCISCO, May 15, 2013 — Studies have shown nearly 70 percent of patients with breast cancer do not discuss all surgical options with their surgeon before their initial surgery and that such a discussion significantly affects a woman’s treatment decision1. To address this knowledge gap, the Search, Share, Spare campaign launched today to raise awareness about surgery options that spare a woman’s breast while effectively removing cancer. The campaign encourages women facing breast cancer surgery to visit to search for information, share what they learn and spare their breast.
“More than 225,000 American women each year are diagnosed with breast cancer that requires surgery. Unfortunately, few women are aware that surgical advances now enable doctors to effectively remove cancer while sparing the skin and often the nipple, resulting in a more natural-looking reconstructed breast,” said Dr. Rache Simmons, chief of breast surgery at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and past president of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. Dr. Simmons is nationally recognized for her innovations and contributions in the field of minimally invasive breast cancer surgery. “The Search, Share, Spare campaign educates women about all their surgical options, including skin-sparing mastectomy and nipple-sparing mastectomy. Armed with this information, a woman can talk with her team of doctors to make an informed decision about what is right for her.”….






Amazing sightings: Hawk gives blackbird free ride (gallery)

(Eric Dugan) Red-winged blackbird takes a free ride on the back of a red-tailed hawk

Spend enough time in the outdoors and you never know what you might see.

Take your camera with a long lens with you and you can bring the memories home to share. This is what photographer Eric Dugan has learned. On a trip last week to the Napa-Sonoma Marsh Wildlife Area, just off Highway 37 along the Petaluma River near Port Sonoma, Eric captured this sequence where a red-winged blackbird chased down and landed on the back of a red-tailed hawk — and then enjoyed a free ride into the wild blue yonder….

Study Finds 97% Consensus on Human-Caused Global Warming in the Peer-Reviewed Literature

By Climate Guest Blogger on May 15, 2013 at 7:05 pm






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