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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Conservation Science News July 26, 2013

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We have changed our name to Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) reflecting the expanded depth and reach of our work, building on our long-term bird ecology expertise.  Our 140 Point Blue
scientists and educators work with hundreds of partners, pointing the way forward to secure a healthy, blue planet well into the future.  We have changed our name to Point Blue
to more directly address climate change, together with other environmental threats, through nature-based solutions that benefit wildlife and people.  For more information please see From Point Reyes to Point Blue as well as our first Point Blue Quarterly.  You might also enjoy viewing our inspiring ~6 minute video introducing Point Blue that includes partner and staff highlights as well as a brief congratulatory video from Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-2).  Our new website,, is under construction through the summer. Until then, our existing website,, will remain active.


**Please note that our staff email addresses have changed to first initial last name– Please change your spam detector to allow for this.



Highlight of the Week

Two studies use phrase “10 times faster” to describe climate change

EarthSky (blog)  – ‎ August 2, 2013‎

Two recent studies suggest that the climate warming occurring on Earth today is happening at a dramatically fast rate. It’s this rate of change, scientists say – the speed with which average global temperatures are expected to climb over the coming One study, from Stanford University, suggests that climate change is happening 10 times faster than it has at any time in the past 65 million years. The other study, from the University of Texas, suggests that Antarctic permafrost is now melting 10 times faster than in 11,000 years, adding further evidence that Earth’s Antarctic is, in fact, warming just as Earth’s Arctic is. Click the links below to learn more about these studies.

The top map shows global temperatures in the late 21st century, based on current warming trends. The bottom map illustrates the velocity of climate change, or how far species in any given area will need to migrate by the end of the 21st century to experience climate similar to present. Images via Stanford University.

Climate warming 10 times faster than in 65 million years.
In a study announced August 1, 2013, Stanford University climate scientists say that Earth is undergoing one of the largest climate changes in the past 65 million years. They say, moreover, that the change is currently on pace to occur at a rate 10 times faster than any change in 65 million years. Without intervention, these scientists say that this extreme pace could lead to a 5-6 degree Celsius spike in annual temperatures by the end of this century. Noah Diffenbaugh and Chris Field, both senior fellows at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, published these results as part of a special report on climate change in the August 2013 issue of Science. They conducted a “targeted but broad” review of scientific literature on aspects of climate change that can affect ecosystems, and they investigated how recent observations and projections for climate change in the coming century compare to past events in Earth’s history.

Climate change on pace to occur 10 times faster than any change recorded in past 65 million years, Stanford scientists say


Stanford Report, August 1, 2013 Not only is the planet undergoing one of the largest climate changes in the past 65 million years, Stanford climate scientists Noah Diffenbaugh and Chris Field report that it’s on pace to occur at a rate 10 times faster than any change in that period. Without intervention, this extreme pace could lead to a 5-6 degree Celsius spike in annual temperatures by the end of the century…..

The planet is undergoing one of the largest changes in climate since the dinosaurs went extinct. But what might be even more troubling for humans, plants and animals is the speed of the change. Stanford climate scientists warn that the likely rate of change over the next century will be at least 10 times quicker than any climate shift in the past 65 million years.

If the trend continues at its current rapid pace, it will place significant stress on terrestrial ecosystems around the world, and many species will need to make behavioral, evolutionary or geographic adaptations to survive. Although some of the changes the planet will experience in the next few decades are already “baked into the system,” how different the climate looks at the end of the 21st century will depend largely on how humans respond….

Diffenbaugh and Field, both senior fellows at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, conducted the targeted but broad review of scientific literature on aspects of climate change that can affect ecosystems, and investigated how recent observations and projections for the next century compare to past events in Earth’s history. For instance, the planet experienced a 5 degree Celsius hike in temperature 20,000 years ago, as Earth emerged from the last ice age. This is a change comparable to the high-end of the projections for warming over the 20th and 21st centuries. The geologic record shows that, 20,000 years ago, as the ice sheet that covered much of North America receded northward, plants and animals recolonized areas that had been under ice. As the climate continued to warm, those plants and animals moved northward, to cooler climes. “We know from past changes that ecosystems have responded to a few degrees of global temperature change over thousands of years,” said Diffenbaugh. “But the unprecedented trajectory that we’re on now is forcing that change to occur over decades. That’s orders of magnitude faster, and we’re already seeing that some species are challenged by that rate of change.” Some of the strongest evidence for how the global climate system responds to high levels of carbon dioxide comes from paleoclimate studies. Fifty-five million years ago, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was elevated to a level comparable to today. The Arctic Ocean did not have ice in the summer, and nearby land was warm enough to support alligators and palm trees. “There are two key differences for ecosystems in the coming decades compared with the geologic past,” Diffenbaugh said. “One is the rapid pace of modern climate change. The other is that today there are multiple human stressors that were not present 55 million years ago, such as urbanization and air and water pollution.”….

….The human element

Some climate changes will be unavoidable, because humans have already emitted greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and the atmosphere and oceans have already been heated.

“There is already some inertia in place,” Diffenbaugh said. “If every new power plant or factory in the world produced zero emissions, we’d still see impact from the existing infrastructure, and from gases already released.” The more dramatic changes that could occur by the end of the century, however, are not written in stone. There are many human variables at play that could slow the pace and magnitude of change – or accelerate it. Consider the 2.5 billion people who lack access to modern energy resources. This energy poverty means they lack fundamental benefits for illumination, cooking and transportation, and they’re more susceptible to extreme weather disasters. Increased energy access will improve their quality of life – and in some cases their chances of survival – but will increase global energy consumption and possibly hasten warming. Diffenbaugh said that the range of climate projections offered in the report can inform decision-makers about the risks that different levels of climate change pose for ecosystems. “There’s no question that a climate in which every summer is hotter than the hottest of the last 20 years poses real risks for ecosystems across the globe,” Diffenbaugh said. “However, there are opportunities to decrease those risks, while also ensuring access to the benefits of energy consumption.”



Landsat satellite mosaic of Antarctica, showing the location of the Dry Valleys, via University of Texas.

Antarctic permafrost melting 10 times faster than in 11 thousand years.
Publishing in the journal Nature on July 24, 2013, scientists at the University of Texas report on their study of one of Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys, showing that the rate of permafrost melting there is now 10 times the historic rate documented for the entire present geological epoch. Prior to this finding, the permafrost in this region of Antarctica was assumed to be stable. These researchers say this permafrost melting in this part of Antarctica has accelerated so that it’s now “comparable to the Arctic.” UT’s Joseph Levy and his team documented the change through LIDAR – a detection system that works on the principle of radar, but uses light from a laser – and time-lapse photography. They found a rapid retreat of ground ice in Garwood Valley, one of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, similar to the lower rates of permafrost melt observed in the coastal Arctic and Tibet. Levy said: The big tell here is that the ice is vanishing — it’s melting faster each time we measure. This is a dramatic shift from recent history.



Citizen scientists rival experts in analyzing land-cover data
(July 31, 2013) — Data gathered and analyzed by non-experts can rival the quality of data from experts, shows a new study of crowdsourced data from the Geo-Wiki project. … > full story


Feds advance plan to kill 3,603 barred owls in Pacific Northwest

A barred owl is seen near Index, Wash. The federal government is considering killing some of the owls in the Pacific Northwest to aid the smaller northern spotted owl in the area. (Barton Glasser / Associated Press)

By John M. Glionna AP July 23, 2013, 4:55 p.m. SAN FRANCISCO — Federal wildlife officials have moved one step closer to their plan to play referee in a habitat supremacy contest that has pitted two species of owl against one another in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. On Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a final environmental review of an experiment planned in three states to see if killing barred owls will assist the northern spotted owls, which are threatened with extinction after a major loss of territory since the 1970s. The agency’s preferred course of action calls for killing 3,603 barred owls in four study areas in Oregon, Washington and Northern California over the next four years. At a cost of $3 million, the plan requires a special permit under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits killing non-game birds. “It’s a fair assessment to say that going after the barred owls is the plan we’d prefer to pursue,” Robin Bown, a federal wildlife biologist, told the Los Angeles Times.

The agency began evaluating alternatives in 2009, gathering public comment and consulting ethicists, focus groups and conduction scientific studies.

It will issue a final decision on the plan in 30 days. Animal activists have blasted the federal plan, saying the government should stay out of the fray and let the more dominant bird prevail, as nature intended. The northern spotted owl is at the center of an ongoing battle between woodcutters and environmentalists across the Pacific Northwest. Because of its dwindling numbers, the little bird is listed as a threatened species by the federal government and in Washington, Oregon and California, Bown said…..


Large Gulf dead zone, but smaller than predicted
(July 29, 2013) — Scientists have found a large Gulf of Mexico oxygen-free or hypoxic ‘dead’ zone, but not as large as had been predicted. Measuring 5,840 square miles, an area the size of Connecticut, the 2013 Gulf dead zone indicates nutrients from the Mississippi River watershed, which drains 40 percent of the lower 48 states, are continuing to affect the nation’s commercial and recreational marine resources in the Gulf. … > full story


Frogs ingest pesticides from agriculture fields 100 miles away in Sierra Nevada

Pacific chorus frogs like this one were found to contain traces of 10 agricultural chemicals that were used in farming fields up to 100 miles away, according to a new study. (Devin Edmonds/USGS / July 26, 2013)

By Brad Balukjian LA Times July 26, 2013, 3:56 p.m.

Frogs living in remote mountain ponds in the Sierra Nevada are ingesting pesticides used to grow crops 50 to 100 miles away in California’s Central Valley, according to a study by government scientists. Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey identified 10 distinct chemicals in the frogs’ tissues, including residues of DDT, an insecticide that’s been banned for more than 40 years. No Kermit, it’s not easy being green. While the new study, published Thursday in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, found only trace amounts of the agricultural chemicals, researchers say that’s almost beside the point: The mere fact that the pesticides had made their way to distant sites in national parks and other public lands was their primary concern. Amphibians are considered excellent indicators of ecosystem health due to their sensitivity to environmental change. And while they’re not as charismatic as polar bears,”they are a part of the food web,” said study leader Kelly Smalling, a research hydrologist who monitors pesticides in amphibians for the U.S. Geological Survey. “If frog populations decline, you’re going to have an increase in insect populations,” Smalling said. By by protecting them, “you’re keeping the food web balanced.” And their populations are declining. Badly. A recent study of frogs in the U.S. showed that even populations of species thought to be doing well are disappearing at a rate of almost 3% per year. They’re so fragile that Congress created the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative in 2000 to keep track of the vulnerable animals……


Pesticides Contaminate Frogs in Californian National Parks


July 26, 2013 — Pesticides commonly used in California’s Central Valley, one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, have been found in remote frog species miles from farmland. Researchers … > full story

Kelly L. Smalling, Gary M. Fellers, Patrick M. Kleeman, Kathryn M. Kuivila. Accumulation of pesticides in pacific chorus frogs (Pseudacris regilla) from California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, USA. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 2013; 32 (9): 2026 DOI: 10.1002/etc.2308



Conservationists Call For Quiet: The Ocean Is Too Loud!

by NPR Staff July 28, 2013 4:29 PM

The beaked whale is one of the most vulnerable of all whale species to underwater noise pollution. Robin Baird/Cascadia Research

Just about everything that we do in the water makes noise. When we ship goods from country to country, when we explore for oil and gas and minerals, when the military trains with explosives or intense sonar systems — the noise travels.

But these man-made noises are making it impossible for sea creatures to communicate with themselves, something that is integral to their survival. Michael Jasny, the director of the Marine Mammal Protection Project for the Natural Resources Defense Council , says we have to quiet down.

The Defense Council and other conservation groups reached an agreement with a number of oil and gas companies in June to tackle one aspect of this potentially dangerous cacophony.

‘Blinding’ Marine Life

Jasny is reminded of an old English science-fiction in which the people of the world wake up one morning to find that they’re all blind. “That’s what we’re doing to whales and other animals in the sea,” Jasny tells NPR’s Jacki Lyden. “We haven’t blinded them completely, but we’ve diminished their sight, we’ve made it much harder for them to live in their world…



Study dials up western pond turtles

Carolyn Jones Updated 9:54 am, Wednesday, July 31, 2013 SF Chronicle

 Turtle No. 13 is pretty much like western pond turtles everywhere. The greenish, speckled reptile likes to wallow in the mud, bask on old logs and munch on dragonfly larvae.

But then there’s the 8-inch antenna on her back. She and each of her 23 cohorts in a secluded Mount Diablo pond are affixed with radio transmitters on their shells so scientists can track their every poky, mud-filled move. The turtles are oblivious to their high-tech accessory, but the information they provide has given biologists a glimpse into one of the most rare, and mysterious, reptiles.

“This is the holy grail for turtles,” said David “Doc Quack” Riensche, an East Bay Regional Park District biologist who’s been conducting the study for three years….



Google-funded sea research vessel sets sail

The Associated Press Posted:   08/01/2013 10:00:28 AM PDT

SAN FRANCISCO—A $60 million research ship funded by a Google executive is setting sail from San Francisco to study a so-called “dead zone” in the Pacific Ocean and other mysteries of the sea.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports ( that the 272-foot vessel called Falcor was scheduled to leave port Thursday. The ship carries an unmanned submarine that will travel deep into the ocean off Vancouver Island to study an area where all sea life dies each year from a periodic lack of oxygen. …


Bird brains came before birds

Fox News  – ‎Aug 1, 2013‎

Some nonavian dinosaurs, including carnivorous tyrannosaurs, may have had brains that were hardwired for flight long before even the earliest known birds started flapping their wings, a new study finds. Scientists used high-resolution CT scanners to


A Brick That Lets Threatened Birds Build Nests Directly Into Walls

Wired  – July 26 2013‎

The Bird Brick is a fire-clamped cavity brick that can be built into walls and buildings to provide a sustainable nesting site for sparrows. Image: Aaron Dunkerton

Birds build nests in the oddest of places. “You often find them nesting under loose tiles or in old broken vents in the side of buildings,” says Aaron Dunkerton, an England-based designer. But as buildings are patched up to improve insulation and green space disappears due to urbanization, sparrows are losing a sizable chunk of their nesting options. Over the last three decades, the U.K. house sparrow population has decreased around 70 percent, and the bird has found itself on the growing list of endangered species. Dunkerton, a student at Kingston University in England, aimed to solve the problem with the Bird Brick, a fire-clamped cavity brick that could be built into walls and buildings to provide a sustainable nesting site for the birds…..



Motion-powered bird backpacks take flight

Scientists develop lightweight, sensor-filled bird backpacks to track changes in migratory patterns.

by Amanda Kooser July 29, 2013 8:17 AM PDT

A bird sports a fashionable backpack. (Credit: Michael Shafer)

Back-to-school shopping isn’t just for people. Some birds are getting backpacks, too. Researchers at the Laboratory for Intelligent Machine Systems at Cornell University are developing tiny high-tech backpacks to collect information on bird flight patterns. Birds aren’t beasts of burden, so one of the biggest challenges around gathering flight data is finding ways to monitor the birds that don’t interrupt their flying mechanisms. That’s where motion-powered devices come in. “You can’t put a 9-volt battery on a bird, so you need a lightweight energy source,” says Cornell doctoral candidate Michael Shafer. Shafer’s backpacks have been tested on homing pigeons, which can only carry about 12 grams of weight. The teensy-weensy backpacks contain vibrational energy harvesters that gather the energy from the birds’ movements. A piezoelectric device translates that energy into power for the built-in sensors. The removable packs might be small, but each one is also stuffed with an accelerometer, microcontroller, wireless receiver, and memory module. This all comes together to make in-flight tracking of birds possible….

The backpack is extremely light. (Credit: Michael Shafer)



POINT BLUE in the news:


Seagull expert Russ Bradley discusses AT&T Park’s bird issue July 31 2013
Russ Bradley joined The Rise Guys to discuss seagull problems in San Francisco.Sports radio (97.5 FM) talking about the issue of all the gulls at AT & T park. This is no NPR,  but I was able to get in some choice Western Gull facts (including my favorite quote from Dawson about WEGUs and food) to an audience I’m sure we would never reach.






Extreme wildfires in Western U.S. likely fueled by climate change
(August 1, 2013) — Climate change is likely fueling the larger and more destructive wildfires that are scorching vast areas of the American West, according to new research. … > full story


What Can Plants Reveal About Global Climate Change?

July 26, 2013 — Recently, climate change, including global warming, has been a “hot” news item as many regions of the world have experienced increasingly intense weather patterns, such as powerful hurricanes and extended floods or droughts. Often the emphasis is on how such extreme weather impacts humans, from daily heat index warnings to regulating CO2 emissions. While the media continues to present climate change as a controversial issue, many scientists are working hard to gather data, collaborate across disciplines, and use experimental and modeling techniques to track how organisms and ecosystems are responding to the current changes in our Earth’s global environment.

A group of organisms that play a wide variety of crucial roles in our global ecosystems is plants. What role do plants play in helping to regulate climate change and how will they fare in future times? A new series of articles in a Special Issue on Global Biological Change in the American Journal of Botany expands our view on how global changes affect and are affected by plants and offers new ideas to stimulate and advance new collaborative research. Global change includes topics such as increasing carbon dioxide and its effect on climate, habitat fragmentation and changes in how protected and agricultural lands are used or managed, increases in alien species invasions, and increased use of resources by humans. There is increasing concern that these changes will have rapid and irreversible impacts on our climate, our resources, our ecosystems, and ultimately on life, as we know it. These concerns stimulated Stephen Weller (University of California, Irvine), Katharine Suding (University of California, Berkeley), and Ann Sakai (University of California, Irvine) to gather together a diverse series of work from botanists spanning disciplines from taxonomy and morphology to ecology and evolution, from traditional to multidisciplinary approaches, and from observations and experiments to modeling and reviews, to help synthesize our knowledge and stimulate new approaches to tackling these global biological change issues…


S. G. Weller, K. Suding, A. K. Sakai. Botany and a changing world: Introduction to the Special Issue on Global Biological Change. American Journal of Botany, 2013; 100 (7): 1229 DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1300198


More accurate model of climate change’s effect on soil
(August 1, 2013) — Scientists have developed a new computer model to measure global warming’s effect on soil worldwide that accounts for how bacteria and fungi in soil control carbon. … > full story

Temperature alters population dynamics of common plant pests
(August 1, 2013) — Temperature-driven changes alter outbreak patterns of tea tortrix — an insect pest — and may shed light on how temperature influences whether insects emerge as cohesive cohorts or continuously, according to an international team of researchers. These findings have implications for both pest control and how climate change may alter infestations. … > full story


New knowledge about permafrost improving climate models
(July 28, 2013) — New research findings document that permafrost during thawing may result in a substantial release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and that the future water content in the soil is crucial to predict the effect of permafrost thawing. The findings may lead to more accurate climate models in the future. … > full story


Arctic sea-ice loss has widespread effects on wildlife
(August 1, 2013) — How the Arctic wildlife and humans will be affected by the continued melting of Arctic sea ice is explored in a review article in the journal Science, by an international team of scientists. The article examines relationships among algae, plankton, whales, and terrestrial animals such as caribou, arctic foxes, and walrus; as well as the effects of human exploration of previously inaccessible parts of the region. … > full story

Many Species Will Have To Evolve 10,000 Times Faster To Adapt To Climate Change, Study Finds

By Katie Valentine on Jul 26, 2013 at 11:50 am

A Rock Frog, a species in decline due to a combination of climate change, a fungus that has been killing amphibians around the world, and habitat loss. (Credit: AP/Ricardo Arduengo)

Climate change is moving too quickly for many vertebrate species to adapt, a new study has found. The study, published in the journal Ecology Letters, found species would have to evolve 10,000 times faster than they have in the past in order to keep up with the earth’s rapidly changing climate, a rate of evolution that the study’s authors say is “largely unprecedented based on observed rates.”

Researchers examined the evolutionary trees of 17 families of the major groups of terrestrial vertebrates, including frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, crocodilians, birds and mammals. They looked at when species split off into new species in the past, and what was happening climatically in their niche environment when they did so. They compared that, in turn, to the rates of climate change scientists predict through 2100.

“We found that on average, species usually adapt to different climatic conditions at a rate of only by about 1 degree Celsius per million years,” researcher John J. Wiens, an ecology and evolutionary biology professor at the University of Arizona, told the UA News Service. “But if global temperatures are going to rise by about 4 degrees over the next hundred years as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, that is where you get a huge difference in rates. What that suggests overall is that simply evolving to match these conditions may not be an option for many species.”

Though some of the 540 species studied may be able to change their habitat ranges — moving north as climate warms, for example — or persist as a whole even if several populations die out, extinction is a real threat for many of them. These extinctions could in turn affect other species that may not be directly impacted by changing temperatures themselves. In a previous study, Wiens and co-authors found that declines and extinctions of species are often due to changes in their interactions with other species. Even a certain species moving north could have big consequences for existing native species — the displaced organism could out-compete the native wildlife for food and habitat, leading, ultimately, to population extinction.

It’s a long and widely-held position in science that evolution moves slowly, taking hundreds, thousands or even millions of years, but other previous studies have challenged that belief — a 2008 study found lizards introduced to a remote island in the 1970s underwent dramatic physical changes in just a few decades, and a 2006 study found a species of Galapagos finch species developed a smaller beak in just 20 years.

It’s been unclear so far, however, how exactly the Earth’s wildlife will react to climate change, but the initial findings haven’t been promising. A recent study found that small birds, like the great tit, might have the most chance of adapting to a changing climate, but another report found that migratory birds, which are often dependent on phenology changes — set times for spring bud burst and insect hatchings, for example — are highly threatened by climate change. The IPCC predicts that between 40 and 70 percent of species could go extinct if temperatures rise by more than 3.5 degrees Celsius, and a recent study found that, when CO2 levels doubled towards the end of the Triassic Period, three-quarters of all Earth’s species died off.


Does more mean less? The value of information for conservation planning under sea level rise

Rebecca K. Runting1,2,3,*, Kerrie A. Wilson1,3, Jonathan R. Rhodes1,2 Global Change Biology Article first published online: 30 NOV 2012 DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12064


Many studies have explored the benefits of adopting more sophisticated modelling techniques or spatial data in terms of our ability to accurately predict ecosystem responses to global change. However, we currently know little about whether the improved predictions will actually lead to better conservation outcomes once the costs of gaining improved models or data are accounted for. This severely limits our ability to make strategic decisions for adaptation to global pressures, particularly in landscapes subject to dynamic change such as the coastal zone. In such landscapes, the global phenomenon of sea level rise is a critical consideration for preserving biodiversity.

Here, we address this issue in the context of making decisions about where to locate a reserve system to preserve coastal biodiversity with a limited budget. Specifically, we determined the cost-effectiveness of investing in high-resolution elevation data and process-based models for predicting wetland shifts in a coastal region of South East Queensland, Australia. We evaluated the resulting priority areas for reserve selection to quantify the cost-effectiveness of investment in better quantifying biological and physical processes.

We show that, in this case, it is considerably more cost effective to use a process-based model and high-resolution elevation data, even if this requires a substantial proportion of the project budget to be expended (up to 99% in one instance). The less accurate model and data set failed to identify areas of high conservation value, reducing the cost-effectiveness of the resultant conservation plan. This suggests that when developing conservation plans in areas where sea level rise threatens biodiversity, investing in high-resolution elevation data and process-based models to predict shifts in coastal ecosystems may be highly cost effective. A future research priority is to determine how this cost-effectiveness varies among different regions across the globe.



Global warming endangers South American water supply
(July 29, 2013) — Chile and Argentina may face critical water storage issues due to rain-bearing westerly winds over South America’s Patagonian Ice-Field to moving south as a result of global warming. … > full story






Our Once And Future Oceans: Taking Lessons From Earth’s Past

NPR  – ‎Aug 2 2013‎

One of the most powerful ways to figure out how the Earth will respond to all the carbon dioxide we’re putting into the atmosphere is to look back into the planet’s history.

Sediment trapped behind dams makes them ‘hot spots’ for greenhouse gas emissions
(July 31, 2013) — With the “green” reputation of large hydroelectric dams already in question, scientists are reporting that millions of smaller dams on rivers around the world make an important contribution to the greenhouse gases linked to global climate change. Their study shows that more methane than previously believed bubbles out of the water behind small dams. … > full story


Rocks Can Restore Our Climate … After 300,000 Years



July 26, 2013 — A study of a global warming event that happened 93 million years ago suggests that Earth can recover from high carbon dioxide emissions faster than thought, but that this process takes around 300,000 … > full story

Global warming to cut snow water storage 56 percent in Oregon watershed
(July 26, 2013)

A new report projects that by the middle of this century there will be an average 56 percent drop in the amount of water stored in peak snowpack in the McKenzie River watershed of the Oregon Cascade Range — and that similar impacts may be found on low-elevation maritime snow packs around the world. … Annual precipitation in the future may be either higher or lower, the OSU researchers said. They did calculations for precipitation changes that could range 10 percent in either direction, although change of that magnitude is not anticipated by most climate models. The study made clear, so far as snowpack goes, that temperature is the driving force, far more than precipitation. Even the highest levels of anticipated precipitation had almost no impact on snow-water storage, they said…..full story

E. Sproles, A. Nolin, K. Rittger, T. Painter. Climate change impacts on maritime mountain snowpack in the Oregon Cascades. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, 2012; 9 (11): 13037 DOI: 10.5194/hessd-9-13037-2012


New Mexico’s Elephant Butte Reservoir Dries Up

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 08:30 AM PDT

Severe drought has driven New Mexico’s Elephant Butte Reservoir to its lowest water level in four decades, a problem that’s the latest in a series of drought-related challenges facing the state.

The reservoir, which is New Mexico’s largest, currently holds just 3 percent of the water it held in the 1980s and 1990s, when the region received a streak of plentiful rainfall. The lack of water is due to the extreme drought that has gripped New Mexico for the past three years. Right now, 100 percent of the state ranks on some level of drought, according to the U.S. drought monitor, and 80 percent ranks in the monitor’s most severe categories of drought. Rising temperatures coupled with low snowpack on the mountains that feed the state’s rivers and abnormally low rainfall — the past two years have been the driest in New Mexico’s history — have fueled the drought.

The reservoir is located along the Rio Grande River, which is so exceptionally dry that one local paper dubbed it the “Rio Sand.” This year, the river experienced its shortest irrigation season in recorded history, ending just a month and a half after it started. Alberquerque has imposed water use limits on its residents, and El Paso, which gets half its water from Elephant Butte, has been urging its residents since May to use less water. In the meantime, the city is relying on a desalinization plant to get water to its residents. Desalination plants are primarily used for seawater in coastal areas.

The effects of the drought go past residential water needs, however. The low water levels in the Rio Grande have strained the river’s fish and mollusks, with scientists scrambling to save as many endangered Rio Grande silvery minnows as possible from the drying river. The species is doing worse now than it did when conservation efforts began ten years ago, in part due to the drought. Grass has dried up and hay prices have skyrocketed, forcing ranchers to sell their cattle, which in turn has helped shrink the U.S. cattle herd to the smallest it’s been in at least four decades. Pecan and chile growers, too, are having trouble irrigating their crops, with some pecan growers trimming their trees to the trunks and drilling new wells in an attempt to draw more water






Sweden Focuses on Cutting Food Emissions

July 29, 2013 NY Times PHOTO SLIDE SHOW

Sweden is drawing attention to emissions from food production by requiring new labels and encouraging farmers to adhere to greener standards in order to combat climate change. In order to be considered “climate-friendly” by KRAV, Scandinavia’s leading organic certification program, dairy farms in Sweden will have to increase the amount of locally produced protein feed, rather than importing soy from the Amazon. Some farmers have risen to the challenge of reducing their carbon footprint; however, in the north of Sweden, it is hard to grow feed locally and some farmers may have to drop out of the KRAV system. Some packages of oatmeal already have labels that read “Climate declared: .87 kg CO2 per kg of product,” so shoppers can consider the environmental impact of their diets. An estimated 25 percent of the emissions produced by people in industrialized countries can be traced to the food they eat, according to recent research in Sweden. Frozen chicken was one of the first products to be carbon-labeled by Lantmannen, a farmers’ group. The Swedish Food Administration encourages its citizens to substitute beans or chicken for red meat, in view of the heavy greenhouse gas emissions associated with raising cattle. The environmental cost of raising cattle depends on many factors, including whether the farmer uses local or imported feed. Max, a Swedish burger chain, puts emissions data on its menu, uses low-energy LED lights and pays for wind-generated electricity. Some diners at Max say they think twice before ordering a burger, when faced with the emissions information posted on every menu board. Sales of more climate-friendly products, like chicken fingers and veggie chili, have risen 20 percent since Max started putting climate information on the menu last year.



A Republican Case for Climate Action


Published: August 1, 2013 261 Comments NYTimes OpEd

EACH of us took turns over the past 43 years running the Environmental Protection Agency. We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally. There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.

The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes “locked in.” A market-based approach, like a carbon tax, would be the best path to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but that is unachievable in the current political gridlock in Washington.…



After Delayed Vote, EPA Gains a Tough Leader to Tackle Climate Change

New York Times July 29 2013

Mr. Obama’s decision to nominate Ms. McCarthy, 59, was an act of defiance to Congressional and industry opponents of meaningful action on climate change. It was also a sign of his determination to at least begin to put in place rules to reduce carbon ..



EPA and the Cost of Climate Change

Revesz and Livermore Posted: 07/29/2013 11:00 am

To tackle climate change without the help of Congress, the Obama Administration will have to estimate how much it costs society — in damaged crops, wildfires, floods, and a cascading list of other harms — when a ton of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Obama’s administrators estimate the cost to be $38 per ton. In a recent post on Slate, Professor Eric Posner argues that this number is based on a “dubious set of calculations.” He worries $38 is so far-fetched that any rule that relies on it would be struck down in court. Recently, Republican members of Congress have joined in the criticism of what is known as the “social cost of carbon.” These attacks are off base. While the current estimate might not be perfect, it is rigorously researched and based on conservative assumptions. We need something like the social cost of carbon because it will always be possible to nix an additional ton of pollution, but at increasing cost. Without a sense of how much damage is caused by carbon pollution, we won’t know what kinds of costs are justified.

EPA arrived at its $38 estimate through an interagency taskforce that included scientific and economic experts from a wide range of agencies as well as White House officials including, at the time, Cass Sunstein and Michael Greenstone (both noted academics known for restraint and intellectual rigor). The economic models used by EPA to calculate the estimates are not infallible, but they have been vetted through substantial peer review and represent the state of the art. Posner accurately points to massive uncertainties that make predicting far-in-the-future economic conditions difficult. But he doesn’t offer any alternative to the administration’s approach. Should the EPA regulate without attempting to estimate the benefits? Should it arbitrarily select an emissions goal irrespective of costs? Is there any specific methodology that Posner proposes that would improve on the agency’s estimates? If the answer to these questions is “no,” it isn’t clear where Posner’s critique leaves us, other than faced with the recognition that climate change is a hard regulatory question. That is certainly true, but cannot be allowed to paralyze the EPA. …


Gov. O’Malley Announces [Maryland] Plan To Deal With Climate Change

July 28, 2013 6:41 PM BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An ambitious plan to deal with climate change. This week, Governor Martin O’Malley made major strides with the scientific community, which says our state is in the target zone for the effects of extreme weather. Extreme weather in Maryland. Experts say climate change is to blame for the increase in severe storms, flooding and extreme temperatures. Data shows Maryland is vulnerable to the rise in sea level, possibly losing precious land to climate change long term. “Last year, we experienced the hottest year on record,” O’Malley said. This week, Governor O’Malley hosted hundreds of scientists, business leaders and environmental advocates for a climate change summit. He released what he calls the country’s most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction plan. “This is not only about polar bears drowning, it’s also more locally about the 168 Marylanders we’ve lost in severe weather events over the past decade and a half,” O’Malley said. The plan, as he calls it for short, includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020, cutting emissions from power plants by 40%, doubling Maryland’s transit ridership by 2020 and eliminating 85% of Maryland’s waste by 2030. Achieving that last goal means a huge increase in commercial and residential composting and recycling. “Becoming a zero waste state,” O’Malley said. “The good news is we actually have one of the higher recycling rates already compared to the other 50 states, so we start from a very good base.” The plan also calls for stricter vehicle emission standards and establishing more sources for renewable energy. The governor says these changes could create thousands of jobs and pump more than a billion dollars into the state’s economy.


Google Scientists Want Google to Stop Funding Climate Change Denial

Mashable August 1 2013

In 2011, Google launched the Google Science Communication Fellows program, hiring 21 “early to mid-career Ph.D. scientists nominated by leaders in climate change research and science-based institutions across the U.S.” On July 11, they threw a 


MARYLAND: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act Plan
The 2012 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act (GGRA) Plan fulfills the mandate to, by the end of 2012, propose a plan that achieves a 25 percent statewide reduction in GHG emissions by 2020, while also spurring job creation and helping improve the economy. The GGRA also requires a report in 2015 that, amongst other things, requires MDE to provide a recommendation on what the State’s longer term reduction target should be. In 2008, the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, appointed by Governor O’Malley, recommended that Maryland consider a 2050 goal as high as a 90 percent reduction from 2006 levels. This plan spurs reductions in GHGs through incentives that increase energy efficiency using existing technologies, and identifies ways to transition to new energy sources and stimulate further technology development.

Published: July 25, 2013
265 pages
PDF (1.6 MB)

Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Maryland’s Vulnerability to Climate Change, Phase II: building societal, economic, and ecological resilience
A report to the Maryland Commission on Climate Change from the Adaptation and Response Working GroupAuthor(s): Boicourt KE and Johnson ZP (eds)Publisher: University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Cambridge, Maryland and Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MarylandThis report details the findings of the Scientific and Technical Working Group, comprised of experts representing six sectors—human health, agriculture, forests and terrestrial ecosystems, bay and aquatic ecosystems, water resources, and population growth and infrastructure. Each sector assessed climate change vulnerabilities, and recommended adaptation strategies for the State of Maryland.

Published: January 24, 2011
80 pages
PDF (27.1 MB)



The Extraordinary Steps Health Care Providers Are Taking To Prepare For Climate Change

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 04:31 AM PDT

…It’s these emergency evacuations that Hubert Murray, Sustainable Initiatives Manager for Partners Healthcare in Boston, wants to avoid at all costs. Murray was instrumental in “future-proofing” Boston’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, a 132-bed teaching hospital that opened in April. Spaulding was built near the bay — a location that may seem counter-intuitive to climate preparedness, but that Murray said made the most sense in terms of cost and ease of access for city patients — so its ground floor is raised 30 inches above the current 500-year flood level and 42 inches above the 100-year flood level. It has operable windows that, in the case of an air conditioning failure, can be opened so that patients don’t overheat — a feature Cohen said is an essential part of climate change preparation. The landscaping acts as a sort of reef, created to provide a certain level of protection from storm surge. And, perhaps most importantly, its electrical equipment is on the roof, instead of the basement, so it’s not susceptible to flooding.

Murray said these climate-proofing measures weren’t costly: they added about half a percent to the total cost of the building. Preparing new buildings for climate change, he said, isn’t a necessarily expensive or difficult venture, and its cost-effectiveness is something the city of Boston has noticed. Murray said the city asked Spaulding to share the criteria it used to climate-proof its building, and now, developers in Boston are required to develop a set of protocols similar to Spaulding’s when making plans for a new building…..

The health care industry accounts for 8 percent of U.S. emissions, according to one report, making it as big a contributor to climate change in the U.S. as agriculture. Some health care companies have taken note: Spaulding’s windows are triple-glazed, a feature Murray said eliminates the need for perimeter heating in hospital rooms, dramatically cutting the hospital’s energy use. The Gundersen Health System, a health care network in Wisconsin, is on track to be energy independent by 2014 and has saved $1.3 million annually through energy conservation. Maine’s York Hospital gets 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources, a switch that has saved the hospital more than $100,000 each year for the past decade.

In 2012, Kaiser Permanente, the third-largest health insurance company in the U.S., publicly acknowledged climate change’s role in human health and announced a plan of 30 percent reductions from its 2008 emissions by 2020. Kaiser’s recognition of the link between climate and health was noteworthy: when a Ceres report published in May ranked insurance companies in order of their climate risk disclosure and management, Kaiser was the only health insurance company to make it into the list’s top 10.

Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser’s environmental stewardship officer, said so far Kaiser has made a 5 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2008 levels. It’s installed solar panels at 11 of its 648 hospitals and medical centers and has purchased about 43,000 megawatts of wind energy to power its Mid-Atlantic facilities. The company is also doing an inventory of all its health care facilities to see how it can better prepare them for the effects of climate change.

“We think that as health care providers it’s extremely important for us to acknowledge that climate change is already having health effects on populations, and that it will continue to do so,” Gerwig said. “We need to be in a position to both react in a way that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to stop the problem, and also be responsive as a health care organization to the effects that are already taking place.”…..

…..If the health care industry has the potential to be a leader in climate change adaptation and mitigation, health care practitioners can be just as key in educating patients on how climate change can affect their health, Cohen said. Health Care Without Harm has worked to educate nurses in about 700 hospitals in the hopes that they’ll in turn educate their patients and other nursing organizations on the climate-health link. “Nurses and doctors are some of the most trusted messengers in our society,” Cohen said. “Having nurses, doctors, other health professionals be the spokespeople for climate change policy, to re-frame climate change not as an environmental issue but as a health issue that affects everyone — red state, blue state, poor, rich — it’s an incredible opportunity to mobilize an army of health professionals to win changes in energy and climate policy that can trump the arguments that the coal and fossil fuel industry make.”

The American Medical Association, which publicly acknowledged the link between climate change and patient health in 2011, encourages physicians to educate patients about their roles in environmental health, and to work with their local health departments to strengthen their hospitals’ climate change preparedness.

“Doctors may find themselves on the front lines in dealing with its serious and immediate problems,” the AMA said in a 2011 editorial. “Patients are sicker or developing new conditions as a result of changes in the weather. Greater awareness and understanding of the situation, from a medical perspective, is a proper priority.” The government, too, can play a role in making the link between climate and health. The Obama administration has slowly begun to acknowledge the association — this month, the White House gave the Champions of Change award to 11 people — including Cohen — who are “working on the front lines to protect public health in a changing climate.” But it’s the Affordable Care Act that has one of the best opportunities for educating health care practitioners on the link between climate and health, Cohen said, which is why he’s working with the Healthier Hospitals Initiative to link the implementation of the Affordable Care Act with hospital sustainability. Obamacare, for the first time, addresses population health instead of just focusing on the health of individuals, making it an ideal vessel to carry the message of climate change’s effect on health.

“We’re spending 96 cents on the dollar to address people when they’re sick. We spend four cents on the dollar for prevention. So there’s something fundamentally wrong there — we’re not addressing the social and environmental factors that are making people sick in the first place and landing them in the emergency room,” Cohen said. “Under the new Affordable Care Act, for the first time, hospitals are mandated to do community health needs assessments, and start to align their care to those community needs.”

Cohen said he thinks climate and health have historically been seen as separate issues in America, but the more they’re linked — in the eyes of government officials, hospital planners, health insurance companies, doctors, nurses and patients — the more opportunity the country has to effectively prepare for and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change.

“The more that we link health care and climate change, I think the more powerful the argument becomes,” he said.

Existing cropland could feed four billion more by dropping biofuels and animal feed
(August 1, 2013) — The world’s croplands could feed 4 billion more people than they do now just by shifting from producing animal feed and biofuels to producing exclusively food for human consumption, according to new research. … > full story





NASA climate change video: This is the US in 2100

Mother Nature Network  – ‎Jul 25, 2013‎

The video illustrates a small component of the upcoming National Climate Assessment, set to come out in 2014, which provides Congress with the most up-to-date information on the state of climate change in the country from more than 240 contributing 


Scientists have been warning about the global impacts that climate change will bring over the coming decades — but what do those impacts mean for Los Angeles? Do they spell doom for life as we know it in our California paradise? To answer these questions, Professor Alex Hall presented an Oppenheim Lecture on the results of his ground-breaking research on the local impacts of global climate change in the Los Angeles region on May 15, 2013.    By downscaling global climate models to very high resolutions, Professor Hall’s work makes climate change relevant to everyone by predicting what the climate will be at the neighborhood level, where people live, work, and play. He predicts the changes that will take place across the Los Angeles landscape by 2050 and 2100, from warmer temperatures and more frequent extreme heat events, to reduced snowfall in the region’s mountain ranges and more frequent, larger fires. This work is of critical interest to anyone who needs to prepare this region for the inevitable changes in climate: fire departments, public health officials, electric and gas utilities, businesses, and water and flood control agencies. Dr. Hall also makes it clear that while some climate changes are inevitable, what we do as a society can avoid some of the most extreme climate changes that “business as usual” will bring.

To watch the full lecture
click here
or visit this link:

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Watershed Monitoring and Adaptive Management. 

The Sacramento River Watershed Program presents the 3rd series of Watershed Management Technical Assistance Workshops on Watershed Monitoring and Adaptive Management.  Workshops will be held in 7 regions across California.  The first workshop of the series is scheduled for August 7th and 8th in Redding.  There is still room but space is limited so Register Now!
Click HERE for more information or contact Dennis Bowker or Holly Jorgensen.  



Project Design and Evaluation
September 23-24, 2013 9:00am – 5:00pm both days

“How can I be sure that my projects will reach the right audience and have the right impact? What can I do to make sure that my efforts go beyond ‘preaching to the choir’?”
If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions,
this is the course for you!

The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve  is excited to announce this upcoming workshop!The Project Design and Evaluation course provides coastal resource management extension and education professionals with the knowledge, skills, and tools to design and implement projects that have measurable impacts on the audience they want to reach. This interactive curriculum can help you increase the effectiveness of your projects by applying valid instructional design theory to their design. For more information or to register, click here.  Course Instructed by NOAA Coastal Services Center 



August 29, 11:30a.m.-12:30p.m. (Pacific Time)
Pikas in the Columbia River Gorge FWS/C3 Webinar
WebEx link 
Call in: 877 952-8012  Access code: 274207

August 15-17
ScienceOnline Climate Conference  Explores the intersection of climate science, communication and the web.

Best Practices for Systematic Conservation Planning: A Non-Technical Course

Sam Veloz, Point Blue Conservation Science

Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 9:00 AM – Friday, September 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM (PDT)

Davis, CA

This workshop looks at currently available resources and link science, statistics, species distributions, applications, and models together to improve landscape level conservation.
The first workshop, September 12-13, 2013, is non-technical and aimed at managers, planners, and biologists. Click here for more information or to register.
There is a second workshop, September 16-19, 2013, that is more technical and aimed at analysts and modelers with a more advanced GIS background.   Click here for more information or to register. 



Call for Abstracts

September 5-6, Fourth Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference: Reminder– All abstracts must be submitted by July 12.  Registration and lodging information will be available soon. For more details or to submit an abstract, please go to:

SER2013 Early Registration Closes July 15th!




Early registration for the 5th SER World Conference on Ecological Restoration
closes on July 15, 2013. Registration rates increase on July 16! (Sorry, but we can’t make exceptions to this deadline. We’re managing more than a thousand registrations).

Register now and save up to $125 on the cost of registration.  July 15 is also the deadline for presenter registration. If you have submitted an abstract or will speak in a symposium, you MUST register by July 15. If you do not register by this deadline your presentation will not be included in the scientific program. No Exceptions! More Information


Working for Conservation Conference: Active Engagement in Forestland Woodland Sustainability
October 10, 2013  Sacramento CA
This conference will focus on what we can learn from innovative and novel strategies that seek to achieve desired outcome in natural systems that have been historically altered and will continue to be altered. Participants will discuss new policies and management strategies that recognize the realities of these impacts, and encourage active approaches to ensure that these values continue into the future. This one-day conference is intended to engage resource managers, governmental, industry and NGO leaders, the interested general public. Early registration is due October 1, 2013.





Sierra Nevada Conservancy Prop 84 FUNDS – The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) Proposition 84 Grant Program for the Fiscal Year 2013-14 has been launched.  The funding available for this round of grants is approximately $2.5 million. Eligible projects for this grant round include projects that meet Proposition 84 eligibility criteria and SNC mission and program goals.  Projects must align with one of the two focus areas of this round, Healthy Forests and Abandoned Mine Lands).  Projects that build upon past SNC investment, financial or otherwise, will be given preference.  For more information click here.





Restoration and Education Internship, 2013-14

Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) is dedicated to conserving birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems through innovative scientific research, restoration, outreach and extensive partnerships.  Our highest priority is to reduce the impacts of habitat alteration, climate change and other threats to wildlife and people, while promoting adaptation to the changes ahead. Our 130+ staff and seasonal biologists and educators work with a wide range of public and private partners to advance effective conservation throughout the west. We are based in Petaluma, CA; visit us online at  Point Blue’s watershed restoration and education program called STRAW (Students & Teachers Restoring A Watershed), facilitates K-12 students in implementation of professionally designed habitat restoration projects on streams and wetlands in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties October – May. Restoration work typically includes native plant installation, biotechnical erosion control practices and/or invasive plant removal. Restoration sites are maintained for three summers after planting.  Restoration site maintenance work occurs April-August and includes watering, weeding and other plant establishment activities. Maintenance of STRAW restoration sites is an integral part of the project and overall program success. Point Blue is seeking four reliable, respectful, and enthusiastic interns to help with student-implemented restoration workdays and accompanying maintenance and monitoring of sites.

Position duration:  October 1, 2013 – September 1, 2014 (internship end dates may change depending on project needs)

Stipend: Voluntary position with monthly stipend of $850/month to offset living expenses, plus shared housing in an apartment in Petaluma, CA

To apply, please submit your resume, 3 references and a cover letter describing why you would like the internship by August 1, 2013 to Emily Allen (








Comparing bird and bat fatality-rate estimates among North American wind-energy projects

K. Shawn Smallwood* Article first published online: 26 MAR 2013 DOI: 10.1002/wsb.260 Copyright © 2013 The Wildlife Society


Estimates of bird and bat fatalities are often made at wind-energy projects to assess impacts by comparing them with other fatality estimates. Many fatality estimates have been made across North America, but they have varied greatly in field and analytical methods, monitoring duration, and in the size and height of the wind turbines monitored for fatalities, and few benefited from scientific peer review. To improve comparability among estimates, I reviewed available reports of fatality monitoring at wind-energy projects throughout North America, and I applied a common estimator and 3 adjustment factors to data collected from these reports. To adjust fatality estimates for proportions of carcasses not found during routine monitoring, I used national averages from hundreds of carcass placement trials intended to characterize scavenger removal and searcher detection rates, and I relied on patterns of carcass distance from wind turbines to develop an adjustment for variation in maximum search radius around wind turbines mounted on various tower heights. Adjusted fatality rates correlated inversely with wind-turbine size for all raptors as a group across the United States, and for all birds as a group within the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, California. I estimated 888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities/year (including 83,000 raptor fatalities) at 51,630 megawatt (MW) of installed wind-energy capacity in the United States in 2012. As wind energy continues to expand, there is urgent need to improve fatality monitoring methods, especially in the implementation of detection trials, which should be more realistically incorporated into routine monitoring. © 2013 The Wildlife Society



Potential well water contaminants highest near natural gas drilling
(July 26, 2013) — Researchers tested 100 samples from water wells in and near the Barnett Shale natural gas drilling area and found elevated levels of potential contaminants such as arsenic closest to active gas extraction sites. Increased presence of these metals could be due to a variety of factors, including industrial accidents such as faulty gas well casings or mechanical vibrations from natural gas drilling activity disturbing particles in neglected water well equipment. … > full story


Scientists Envision Fracking in Arctic and on Ocean Floor

Wall Street Journal  – ‎ July 29, 2013‎

The biggest concern is that the sediment that contains methane hydrate is inherently unstable, meaning a drilling accident could set off a landslide that sends massive amounts of methane—a potent greenhouse gas—bubbling up through the ocean and into 


How San Onofre’s new steam generators sealed nuclear plant’s fate



By Abby Sewell and Ken Bensinger

LA Times | Jul 13, 2013 | 5:50 PM


In March 2004, an attorney for Southern California Edison sat before state utility regulators to propose what seemed like a great deal.



BMW Launches Its First Mass-Production Electric Car

Auto Maker Needs to Boost Sales of Electric Cars to Meet Regulatory Requirements

WSJ July 29, 2013….BMW’s immediate rival in the plug-in luxury segment, particularly in the U.S. market, is Tesla Motors Inc. The Tesla Model S luxury sedan has up to 265 miles of driving range. The Model S starts at $69,900 before tax breaks. …BMW says the i3 will deliver 80 to 100 miles of driving between charges. The Fiat SpA’s Fiat 500e, which starts at $32,600 before tax breaks, has a range of 87 miles. Nissan Motor Co.’s Leaf, which starts at just under $30,000, can go 75 miles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s measures. General Motors’s Chevrolet Volt can travel 38 miles on electricity, and 380 total once the gasoline engine kicks in.





Climate Change And Violence Linked, Breakthrough Study Finds

Huffington Post  – ‎ August 2, 2013‎

Shifts in climate change are strongly linked to human violence around the world, according to a comprehensive new study released Thursday by the University of California, Berkeley and Princeton University.


In midst of climate change crisis, art helps us cope


Aug 1 2013

Written by

Chris Tackett

The idea that art has the power to move, persuade and even inspire change is an old one. “Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it,” declared Bertolt Brecht.


Birds — Israel’s New Spies

Huffington Post  – ‎ Aug 1 2013‎

The bird that was just arrested in Turkey had a metal ring tag on its leg which read 24311 Tel Avivunia Israel. Of course, that would frighten any reasonable person who would then, frantically, call the police and the secret security service.









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