Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Archive: Aug 2015

  1. Climate change: Embed the social sciences in climate policy

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    Illustration by David Parkins

    Climate change: Embed the social sciences in climate policy

    David G. Victor calls for the IPCC process to be extended to include insights into controversial social and behavioural issues.

    David Victor 01 April 2015 PDF NATURE

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is becoming irrelevant to climate policy. By seeking consensus and avoiding controversy, the organization is suffering from the streetlight effect — focusing ever more attention on a well-lit pool of the brightest climate science. But the insights that matter are out in the darkness, far from the places that the natural sciences alone can illuminate. With the ink barely dry on the IPCC’s latest reports, scientists and governments are planning reforms for the next big assessment1, 2. Streamlining the review and writing processes could, indeed, make the IPCC more nimble and relevant. But decisions made at February’s IPCC meeting in Nairobi showed that governments have little appetite for change. The basic report-making process and timing will remain intact. Minor adjustments such as greater coverage of cross-cutting topics and more administration may make the IPCC slower. Similar soul searching, disagreement, indecision and trivial procedural tweaks have followed each of the five IPCC assessments over the past 25 years3. This time needs to be different. The IPCC must overhaul how it engages with the social sciences in particular (see go.nature.com/vp7zgm). Fields such as sociology, political science and anthropology are central to understanding how people and societies comprehend and respond to environmental changes, and are pivotal in making effective policies to cut emissions and collaborate across the globe. The IPCC has engaged only a narrow slice of social-sciences disciplines. Just one branch — economics — has had a major voice in the assessment process. In Working Group III, which assesses climate-change mitigation and policy, nearly two-thirds of 35 coordinating lead authors hailed from the field, and from resource economics in particular. The other social sciences were mostly absent. There was one political scientist: me. Among the few bright spots in that report compared with earlier ones is greater coverage of behavioural economics and risk analysis. In Working Group II, which assesses impacts and adaptation, less than one-third of the 64 coordinating lead authors were social scientists, and about half of those were economists. Bringing the broader social sciences into the IPCC will be difficult, but it is achievable with a strategy that reflects how the fields are organized and which policy-relevant questions these disciplines know well. It will require big reforms in the IPCC, and the panel will have to relinquish part of the assessment process to other organizations that are less prone to paralysis in the face of controversy. Tunnel vision The IPCC walks a wavering line between science, which requires independence, and diplomacy, which demands responsiveness to government preference. Although scientists supply and hone the material for reports, governments have a say in all stages of assessment: they adopt the outline for each chapter, review drafts and approve the final reports…..

  2. Drought Makes Being a Shorebird More Difficult

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    The drought could herald more crowded conditions for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway. (Ingrid Taylar/Wikimedia)

    Drought Makes Being a Shorebird More Difficult

    By Sharol Nelson-Embry, East Bay Regional Park District August 18, 2015

    This is one of the riskiest times of life for migratory shorebirds like willets, dunlin, marbled godwits and others. As these birds migrate along the Pacific Flyway, they normally stop to rest and refuel at marshes, lakes and other waterways — after migrating thousands of miles from the north. Some come from as far as the Arctic circle with migration paths established for thousands of years, particular to their species. But this year, birds migrating through northern California’s coast range and the Central Valley are finding dry areas where they expected lush wetlands. “Hopscotching on their migration from wetland to wetland, drought and development have decimated many of their historic refuges,” says Cindy Margulis, Executive Director of Golden Gate Audubon. “It requires birds to seek new resting and refueling areas, forcing them to fly further in search of food and water.” Shorebirds that fly along the coastline seeking refuge have arrived early to East Bay salt marshes; they normally aren’t here in large numbers until the end of August or even early September. There’s no evidence, though, that birds that normally migrate through California’s interior, down the Central Valley, have winged their way over to the Bay, says Melissa Pitkin, Director of Education and Outreach for Point Blue Conservation Science. “Not all birds are able to shift their migration patterns; they don’t have the ‘plasticity’ in their life history strategies to change in that way,” Pitkin says. “Some are very strict interior migrants who, in times of drought, will struggle with less water along the migration route.” One program underway to assist these avian travelers teaches rice farmers how to manage farms in ways that benefit migratory waterbirds. The Natural Resources Conservation Service, working in partnership with Point Blue Conservation Science, Audubon California, The Nature Conservancy and the California Rice Commission, created and field-tested a set of practices, such as installing islands in flooded fields. The Nature Conservancy has also developed BirdReturns, a program that pays rice farmers to flood their fields after the last harvest, creating “pop-up wetlands” for the birds. The organization piloted the program last year. One of its innovations, Pitkin says, is the bidding process where farmers place bids on how much money they would take to flood fields. These unique partnerships rely on data from the Citizen Science eBird program, a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The data from eBird pinpoints the location and timing for the flooded fields and helps the partnership make the best use of their funds for these “popup wetlands.” Right here in the South Bay, the ongoing conversion of salt-production ponds to tidal wetlands provided new habitat last winter when tens-of-thousands of birds flocked to the newly restored area, part of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. If you’d like to get involved in monitoring shorebird populations locally, the Migratory Shorebird Project, coordinated by Point Blue Conservation Science, is recruiting volunteers to help with a 10-year population study, with a special focus on dunlin and sandpipers. You can also help shorebirds and all wildlife by, of course, conserving water.

  3. California Drought Is Made Worse by Global Warming, Scientists Say

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    California Drought Is Made Worse by Global Warming, Scientists Say

    NY Times August 21, 2015

    Global warming caused by human emissions has most likely intensified the drought in California by 15 to 20 percent, scientists said on Thursday, warning that future dry spells in the state are almost certain to be worse than this one as the world warms…Even though the findings suggest that the drought is primarily a consequence of natural climate variability, the scientists added that the likelihood of any drought becoming acute is rising because of climate change. The odds of California suffering droughts at the far end of the scale, like the current one that began in 2012, have roughly doubled over the past century, they said. “This would be a drought no matter what,” said A. Park Williams, a climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and the lead author of a paper published by the journal Geophysical Research Letters. “It would be a fairly bad drought no matter what. But it’s definitely made worse by global warming.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] also reported Thursday that global temperatures in July had been the hottest for any month since record-keeping began in 1880, and that the first seven months of 2015 had also been the hottest such period ever. Heat waves on several continents this summer have killed thousands of people…..

  4. Climate Capital: Assessing the hidden value of coastal [and ocean] ecosystems

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    Climate Capital: Assessing the hidden value of coastal [and ocean] ecosystems


    By gordonober Posted: August 21, 2015 PLOS blog

    Measuring the fiscal value of ecosystems

    Ecosystems provide both direct and indirect services to the environment. Direct services are the ones we can essentially see, and are often given financial value. Many conservationists cite the direct and tangible economic value of the environment in their fight, but this is just one valuation of ecology. Oftentimes, the indirect services, or “hidden” values of the environment are the most significant and compelling reasons for prioritizing conservation. While economic arguments for conservation certainly have merit, the intrinsic functions of an ecosystem are often the most valued. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has called upon the global community to quantify the total value of an ecosystem by combining the values of both the direct and indirect services an ecosystem offers to highlight the importance of protected ecosystems. Arguably, the most critical service an ecosystem provides is its inherent ability to capture and store carbon. As the world faces pressure to reduce CO2 and mitigate climate change, ascribing economic value to the critical indirect services of the ecosystem is important. Particularly as research has shown that the amount of carbon preserved ecosystems capture pays off in economic gains.
    The Kyoto Protocol, a binding agreement set by the United Nations Framework Convention, put the Global Carbon Market into motion, which has lead to evaluations of hidden and indirect ecosystems services. This has created financial incentive for the conservation of valuable ecosystems by putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions and biologically storing units of carbon. However, at the moment it only applies to terrestrial areas. In the past, the science and modeling for marine systems has lagged behind its terrestrial counterpart, but new efforts by scientists to quantify the indirect values of marine ecosystem function have helped the issue gain momentum.

    The High Economic Value of Coastal Ecosystems

    Coastal ecosystems have proven to be some of the most productive and valuable ecological repositories on the planet. ….

    The increasing value of blue carbon

    Indirect services may be hard to quantify, but their importance is starting to attract attention, specifically when it comes to blue carbon. Blue carbon, or the carbon capture by marine ecosystems, differs from the carbon captured by its terrestrial counterpart. In recent years, researchers like Murray and colleagues have started to study the role of blue carbon in combating climate change. Marine systems have high rates of capturing and storing CO2, making them the largest carbon sinks in the world. Coastal marine systems, such as salt marshes, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, and mangroves are active carbon sinks due to their high productivity. In these zones, there are high densities of both microscopic and macroscopic photosynthetic organisms that actively consume CO2 and can effectively store it. In another study, Nellemann and colleagues found that marine ecosystems could capture 55% of all atmospheric CO2. The ability to absorb and store CO2 is a hidden but incredibly valuable aspect of these ecosystems, especially in the face of exponential increases in anthropogenic CO2 as a human-induced factor climate change.

    A model for costing marine ecosystems

    In a May 2015 PLOS ONE paper, authors Tatiana Zarate-Barrera and Jorge Maldonado were able to adapt and reconfigure a model to help put a fiscal value on indirect value of coastal marine ecosystems specific to their local ecosystems. Globally, many countries have made efforts to protect their marine ecosystems and resources, often by establishing marine protected areas (MPAs), areas in which biodiversity is protected from further human influence. However, it is often hard to get the funding and support to create more MPAs, and maintain MPAs that are already established. The researchers began to investigate both the carbon-storage ability and potential economic value of that storage within MPAs along the coast of Colombia, with the ultimate goal of providing solid economic evidence for conserving and expanding MPAs. The authors adapted a model proposed in a 2012 PLOS ONE paper to fit their local system. Part of the model takes into account the rate of carbon capture by an ecosystem and the dominant biota, the size of the ecosystem, how carbon storage can be divided by sediments and living material, and the depth of the seabed. This part of the model generates an annual amount of carbon uptake by a specific ecosystem based on the size and the biota present. The model then incorporates the price of carbon per unit on the Global Carbon Market to generate a monetary value for the carbon storage for a known amount of coast. Using this model, the researchers were able to estimate that increasing the size and range of MPAs would have a significant and positive economic impact. This new model indicates that the value of these ecosystems is about 16 to 33 million EUR per year, and for the first time puts a concrete monetary value on an indirect service.

    Conclusion

    Models such as the TEV model pioneered by Pendelton and colleagues are pivotal in global conservation efforts and necessary to help bridge the gap between science and economics. These models can also be adapted to show how much money a country could lose by destroying an ecosystem, conveying a powerful message to policymakers who may otherwise neglect coastal ecosystems. As climate change tightens its grip, dealing with excess carbon and quelling the global effects are increasingly important. Developing a way to give economic incentive for preserving coastal ecosystems will not only help conservation, but will also help the scientific community address climate change.

  5. Climate profound impact on marine biodiversity

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    Climate profound impact on marine biodiversity

    Posted: 24 Aug 2015 08:42 AM PDT

    New research into the impact of climate change has found that warming oceans will cause profound changes in the global distribution of marine biodiversity. In a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change an international research team modelled the impacts of a changing climate on the distribution of almost 13 thousand marine species, more than twelve times as many species as previously studied. The study found that a rapidly warming climate would cause many species to expand into new regions, which would impact on native species, while others with restricted ranges, particularly those around the tropics, are more likely to face extinction….Professor Pandolfi warns the resultant novel combinations of resident and migrant species will present unprecedented challenges for conservation planning. “Above all, this study shows the broad geographic connections of the effects of climate change — conservation efforts need to be facilitated by cooperation among countries to have any real chance of combating the potentially severe biodiversity losses that a changing climate might impose.”

     

    Jorge García Molinos, Benjamin S. Halpern, David S. Schoeman, Christopher J. Brown, Wolfgang Kiessling, Pippa J. Moore, John M. Pandolfi, Elvira S. Poloczanska, Anthony J. Richardson, Michael T. Burrows. Climate velocity and the future global redistribution of marine biodiversity. Nature Climate Change, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2769

  6. California climate researchers sound the alarm at [state’s climate change symposium… ‘We have to break old habits’] – Moser

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    SAN PEDRO – 08/10/11 – (Scott Varley, Staff Photographer) Bluff at Pt. Fermin Park, San Pedro. Climate Change


    California climate researchers sound the alarm at [state’s climate change symposium…


    ‘We have to break old habits’]

    By Sandy Mazza, Daily Breeze Posted: 08/25/15

    A warming atmosphere has already worsened California’s drought and harmed coastal ecosystems, but the worst is yet to come, according to the latest scientific research presented this week on the interactions of air pollution, water reserves and weather patterns. State environmental and natural resources regulators joined with Gov. Jerry Brown’s Office of Planning and Research to present the latest statewide academic findings at the California Climate Change Symposium in Sacramento on Monday and Tuesday. [Presentations may be available on line in the future]

    But researchers were less interested in sharing their data than in provoking political action — something they said they have failed to do because of poor communication with the general public. “What we’re beginning to understand is that there’s no way out,” said Susanne Moser, a leading Santa Cruz-based climate change researcher. “We need transformational change. We don’t need more studies as much as we need to communicate the urgency and make solid changes. We need to not debate forever.

    “It’s hot and it’s getting hotter. It’s not looking good. It’s not going to get a lot easier. We’re just beginning to understand the most catastrophic situations, and we’re starting to sound like TV evangelists in what we’re trying to say.” Coastal areas and forests are of particular concern now because both face grave threats to their ecosystems, as dense forests and warmer temperatures collude to create bigger fires — which are large contributors to carbon emissions, and scientists warn of coastal flooding and mass fish and water-bird extinctions. Without action, researchers said, Californians will see greater droughts, floods, more intense storms, increasingly severe wildfires and permanent forest loss, and continually depleted groundwater reserves necessary for future drinking water supplies, among other major environmental shifts. This dire future picture comes at a time when the state is poised to accept another 11.5 million residents in the next 30 years, bringing the population to 50 million and taxing public services.

    Local funding for environmental initiatives is slim and competition for the dollars fierce. Low-income communities receive disproportionately less money and are therefore less prepared than their more affluent counterparts, scientists say. What’s more, management of water reserves across Los Angeles County is complicated, convoluted and beset by private interests — a challenging landscape for working regionally to pool resources. “We’re getting over the illusion that we can (fix) this with just a few little changes,” Moser said during Tuesday’s keynote presentation. “We have to break old habits.”

     

    From Dr. Susanne Moser’s excellent keynote:

    “Valerie brown- has worked on wicked problems for 30 years—biggest problem—we have knowledge in each different sector— dismiss holistic knowledge as impractical at this conference; Brown suggests that if we want to solve any wicked problems—have to have forums across which knowledge is shared; Proposal for next cc symposium—let’s report on doing that; collective problem definition, reporting and learning from collective—not just scientists or social scientists—

     

    “transformational change means stopping, breaking down old, not knowing, emerging and living into new”

     

    [Note: some of the concepts she presented are also reflected in these climate-smart conservation principles– see Point Blue and National Wildlife Federation]

  7. Conservation Science News August 28, 2015

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    Focus of the Week




    California climate researchers sound the alarm at symposium…
    [‘We have to break old habits’]

     

    1ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

    2CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS with special DROUGHT section

    3ADAPTATION and HOPE

    4- POLICY

    5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

    6-
    RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    7OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST 

    8IMAGES OF THE WEEK

    ——————————–

    NOTE: Please share this news update that has been prepared for
    Point Blue Conservation Science
    staff.  You can find these news compilations posted on line by clicking here.  For more information please see www.pointblue.org. The items contained in this update were drawn from www.dailyclimate.org, www.sciencedaily.com, http://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.sfgate.com, and many other online sources. This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  You can receive this news compilation by signing up for the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative  Newsletter or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium listserve.  You can also email me directly at ecohen at pointblue.org with questions or suggestions. 

     

    Founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Point Blue’s 140 scientists advance nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to benefit wildlife and people, through science, partnerships and outreach.  We work collaboratively to guide and inspire positive conservation outcomes today for a healthy, blue planet teeming with life in the future.  Read more about our 5-year strategic approach here.

     

     

    Focus of the WeekCalifornia climate researchers sound the alarm at symposium…
    [‘We have to break old habits’]

     

    SAN PEDRO – 08/10/11 – (Scott Varley, Staff Photographer) Bluff at Pt. Fermin Park, San Pedro. Climate Change


    California climate researchers sound the alarm at [state’s climate change symposium…


    ‘We have to break old habits’]

    By Sandy Mazza, Daily Breeze Posted: 08/25/15

    A warming atmosphere has already worsened California’s drought and harmed coastal ecosystems, but the worst is yet to come, according to the latest scientific research presented this week on the interactions of air pollution, water reserves and weather patterns. State environmental and natural resources regulators joined with Gov. Jerry Brown’s Office of Planning and Research to present the latest statewide academic findings at the California Climate Change Symposium in Sacramento on Monday and Tuesday. [Presentations may be available on line in the future]

    But researchers were less interested in sharing their data than in provoking political action — something they said they have failed to do because of poor communication with the general public. “What we’re beginning to understand is that there’s no way out,” said Susanne Moser, a leading Santa Cruz-based climate change researcher. “We need transformational change. We don’t need more studies as much as we need to communicate the urgency and make solid changes. We need to not debate forever.

    “It’s hot and it’s getting hotter. It’s not looking good. It’s not going to get a lot easier. We’re just beginning to understand the most catastrophic situations, and we’re starting to sound like TV evangelists in what we’re trying to say.” Coastal areas and forests are of particular concern now because both face grave threats to their ecosystems, as dense forests and warmer temperatures collude to create bigger fires — which are large contributors to carbon emissions, and scientists warn of coastal flooding and mass fish and water-bird extinctions. Without action, researchers said, Californians will see greater droughts, floods, more intense storms, increasingly severe wildfires and permanent forest loss, and continually depleted groundwater reserves necessary for future drinking water supplies, among other major environmental shifts. This dire future picture comes at a time when the state is poised to accept another 11.5 million residents in the next 30 years, bringing the population to 50 million and taxing public services.

    Local funding for environmental initiatives is slim and competition for the dollars fierce. Low-income communities receive disproportionately less money and are therefore less prepared than their more affluent counterparts, scientists say. What’s more, management of water reserves across Los Angeles County is complicated, convoluted and beset by private interests — a challenging landscape for working regionally to pool resources. “We’re getting over the illusion that we can (fix) this with just a few little changes,” Moser said during Tuesday’s keynote presentation. “We have to break old habits.”

     

    From Dr. Susanne Moser’s excellent keynote:

    “Valerie brown- has worked on wicked problems for 30 years—biggest problem—we have knowledge in each different sector— dismiss holistic knowledge as impractical at this conference; Brown suggests that if we want to solve any wicked problems—have to have forums across which knowledge is shared; Proposal for next cc symposium—let’s report on doing that; collective problem definition, reporting and learning from collective—not just scientists or social scientists—

     

    “transformational change means stopping, breaking down old, not knowing, emerging and living into new”

     

    [Note: some of the concepts she presented are also reflected in these climate-smart conservation principles– see Point Blue and National Wildlife Federation]

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Humans Are Set To Wipe An India-Sized Chunk Of Forest Off The Earth By 2050

    by Katie Valentine Aug 24, 2015

    By 2050, an area of forests the size of India is set to be wiped off the planet if humans continue on their current path of deforestation, according to a new report. That’s bad news for the creatures that depend on these forest ecosystems for survival, but it’s also bad news for the climate, as the loss of these forests will release more than 100 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The report, published Monday by the Center for Global Development (CGD), found that, without new policies aimed at cutting back on deforestation, 289 million hectares (about 1,115,840 square miles) of tropical forests will be cleared away. That’s a chunk, the report states, that’s equal to one-seventh of what the Earth’s total tropical forest area was in 2000. And, according to the report, the 169 gigatons of carbon dioxide that this deforestation will unleash is equal to one-sixth of the carbon budget that humans can emit if they want to keep warming below 2°C
    — the level that’s generally viewed as the maximum warming Earth can endure while still avoiding the most dangerous climate impacts (and even 2°C is seen by many experts as too high). The study, unlike other recent studies on deforestation, projects that in a business-as-usual scenario, in which the world doesn’t make any effort to reduce deforestation, tropical deforestation will increase, rather than decrease. According to the study, tropical deforestation rates in such a scenario will likely climb steadily in the 2020s and 2030s and then speed up around 2040, “as areas of high forest cover in Latin America that are currently experiencing little deforestation come under greater threat.” ….

     

    Tropical species like this Whitehead’s Broadbill, endemic to Borneo, commonly only raise two young, whereas temperate species generally raise more. Credit: Photo by Thomas E. Martin

    Songbird habitat affects reproduction, survival

    August 28, 2015 University of Montana

    A University of Montana professor who studies birds around the world has discovered trends in how the offspring grow, how parents care for the young and how well the young survive based on where they live. Now, his songbird research is hitting the right notes with the journal Science. Thomas Martin, assistant leader of the U.S. Geological Survey Montana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at UM, set out to explain why tropical birds tend to have fewer offspring that seem to grow slower and live longer, slower lives than their northern counterparts. He found tropical songbirds grow their wings faster, aided by higher parental feeding rates for fewer offspring than temperate species. Those differences, Martin said, ultimately translate to how well the offspring escape predators both in the nest and after they leave it. Martin’s article, “Age-Related Mortality Explains Life History Strategies of Tropical and Temperate Songbirds,” will be published Aug. 28 in the journal Science. “A bird species’ risk of death among life stages, together with growth strategies of young, is a pivotal basis for a major leap forward in understanding latitudinal variation in life history strategies of songbirds,” Martin said. Martin, together with students and assistants, studied growth and nest predation of 20 to 30 co-existing songbird species in Venezuela from 2002 to 2008 and Malaysia from 2009 to 2014. They also studied songbird nests in Arizona the past 28 years. The tropical songbirds typically only raise two young while temperate species commonly raise four or more. But tropical offspring may be more likely to survive….

     

    T. E. Martin. Age-related mortality explains life history strategies of tropical and temperate songbirds. Science, 2015; 349 (6251): 966 DOI: 10.1126/science.aad1173

    Drones used to track wildlife

    Posted: 25 Aug 2015 07:31 AM PDT

    Researchers have developed a world-first radio-tracking drone to locate radio-tagged wildlife. …Lead researcher Dr Debbie Saunders from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society said the drones have successfully detected tiny radio transmitters weighing as little as one gram. The system has been tested by tracking bettongs at the Mulligan’s Flat woodland sanctuary in Canberra. “The small aerial robot will allow researchers to more rapidly and accurately find tagged wildlife, gain insights into movements of some of the world’s smallest and least known species, and access areas that are otherwise inaccessible,” Dr Saunders said. “We have done more than 150 test flights and have demonstrated how the drones can find and map the locations of animals with radio tags.”….

     

    Searching big data faster

    Posted: 26 Aug 2015 10:20 AM PDT

    For more than a decade, gene sequencers have been improving more rapidly than the computers required to make sense of their outputs. Searching for DNA sequences in existing genomic databases can already take hours, and the problem is likely to get worse. Recently, scientists have been investigating techniques to make biological and chemical data easier to analyze by, in some sense, compressing it….

     

    Persist and shout: Male bluebirds alter songs to be heard over increased acoustic noise

    Posted: 21 Aug 2015 05:27 AM PDT

    Birds ‘shout’ to be heard over the noise produced by human-made activity, new research has shown. Researchers recorded songs produced by 32 male bluebirds, and analysed two from each male — those produced during the quietest and loudest period of ambient noise — to investigate whether males changes their songs between these two conditions…

     

     

    Millions of plastic particles exist in cosmetic products

    Posted: 26 Aug 2015 07:20 AM PDT

    Everyday cosmetic and cleaning products contain huge quantities of plastic particles, which are released to the environment and could be harmful to marine life, according to a new study.

     

    Chimpanzees found to survive in degraded and human-dominated habitats

    Posted: 24 Aug 2015 06:19 PM PDT

    A chimpanzee population in Uganda has been found to be three times larger than previously estimated, according to new research. The study suggests that chimpanzees may adapt to degraded habitats better than expected, but also highlights the importance of new and more focused conservation strategies.

     


    Massive ‘Mortality Event’ Kills 30 Whales in Alaska

    30 whales have died along the western Gulf of Alaska since May—a historic high

    August 23, 2015 Time

    Scientists are deeply troubled and puzzled by the sudden deaths of 30 large whales that washed up on the coast of Alaska, calling the incident an “unusual mortality event.”
    “While we do not yet know the cause of these strandings, our investigations will give us important information on the health of whales and the ecosystems where they live,” Dr. Teri Rowles, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ marine mammal health and stranding response coordinator, said in a statement. “Members of the public can greatly assist the investigation by immediately reporting any sightings of dead whales or distressed live animals they discover.”
    The deaths of the whales—which include 11 fin whales, 14 humpback whales, one gray whale, and four unidentified others—are strange: the rate is nearly three times the historical average.
    NOAA’s declaration of the situation as an “unusual mortality event” will allow the agency to partner with federal, state, and tribal agencies to coordinate a response plan.
    Residents are urged to report stranded whales using a special site established by NOAA Fisheries.

     

    First Live-Streaming Views of Wild Condor Nests Connect People to Rare Species

    Conservation partners launch cams at two nests in California
    August 26, 2015, 1:00 p.m. ET Ventura, CA & Ithaca, NY–Today, people around the world have the unprecedented opportunity to observe nesting California Condors and their young chicks in real time via live-streaming webcams near the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in southern California and at the Ventana Wildlife Society’s Condor Sanctuary in Big Sur along the central California coast. Biologists installed webcams in two California Condor nests located in the rugged terrain of Ventura and Monterey counties to enable the public to watch California Condor chicks and their parents. The idea for live-streaming webcams was conceived in 2010 by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) employees after a remote California Condor nest failed due to an injured chick….

     

    Cockatoos draw conclusions

    Posted: 26 Aug 2015 07:20 AM PDT

    If there is a certain pool of choices and we can exclude A and B, we can easily deduce that C must be the appropriate choice. The ability of animals to be able to solve this has been the focus of many studies in recent comparative cognitive research. A team of researchers have now found a method to test if Goffin cockatoos have the ability to infer by exclusion.

     

    Something to crow about: New Caledonian crows show strong evidence of social learning

    Posted: 26 Aug 2015 08:38 AM PDT

    Among our greatest achievements as humans, some might say, is our cumulative technological culture — the tool-using acumen that is passed from one generation to the next. As the implements we use on a daily basis are modified and refined over time, they seem to evolve right along with us.

     

    State issues grant to purchase Petaluma ranch

    BY GUY KOVNER THE PRESS DEMOCRAT August 20, 2015, 5:05PM

    Sonoma County’s open space district has secured a $300,000 state grant for prospective acquisition of development rights to a 230-acre cattle ranch in the rolling hills on the southwest flank of Petaluma, officials said Thursday. The grant — from a new state fund aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions — is intended to help finance the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District’s purchase of a conservation easement over the ranch owned by Mark and Lori Glenn, located on the D Street Extension near the city’s southern boundary. Statewide, a total of $4.6 million in grants awarded by the California Strategic Growth Council will protect more than 14,000 acres of farmland, preventing urban sprawl and avoiding increased greenhouse gas emissions associated with development of rural land, officials said. Misti Arias, acquisition program manager for the open space district, said there’s a twofold gain for clean air in preserving agriculture: maintaining grasslands and soil that sequester carbon and avoiding vehicle traffic by the occupants of new homes built outside cities. The Glenn Ranch could potentially be subdivided into three parcels, which would be too small for grazing cattle, Arias said. Another reason for avoiding future development of their land is to preserve open space on a scenic gateway to Petaluma, she said.The Glenns and the district must still negotiate the terms for acquiring the conservation easement, Arias said. The deal will require the district to put up at least a matching $300,000, if not more, she said. The Glenns could not be reached for comment Thursday. Gov. Jerry Brown ramped up the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goal last month, calling for emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030. Transportation accounts for 37 percent of the state’s emissions, which total nearly 460 million metric tons a year. Agriculture contributes 8 percent of emissions, including methane from cattle…..

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Climate profound impact on marine biodiversity

    Posted: 24 Aug 2015 08:42 AM PDT

    New research into the impact of climate change has found that warming oceans will cause profound changes in the global distribution of marine biodiversity. In a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change an international research team modelled the impacts of a changing climate on the distribution of almost 13 thousand marine species, more than twelve times as many species as previously studied. The study found that a rapidly warming climate would cause many species to expand into new regions, which would impact on native species, while others with restricted ranges, particularly those around the tropics, are more likely to face extinction….Professor Pandolfi warns the resultant novel combinations of resident and migrant species will present unprecedented challenges for conservation planning. “Above all, this study shows the broad geographic connections of the effects of climate change — conservation efforts need to be facilitated by cooperation among countries to have any real chance of combating the potentially severe biodiversity losses that a changing climate might impose.”

     

    Jorge García Molinos, Benjamin S. Halpern, David S. Schoeman, Christopher J. Brown, Wolfgang Kiessling, Pippa J. Moore, John M. Pandolfi, Elvira S. Poloczanska, Anthony J. Richardson, Michael T. Burrows. Climate velocity and the future global redistribution of marine biodiversity. Nature Climate Change, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2769

     


    Climate Capital: Assessing the hidden value of coastal [and ocean] ecosystems


    By gordonober Posted: August 21, 2015 PLOS blog

    Measuring the fiscal value of ecosystems

    Ecosystems provide both direct and indirect services to the environment. Direct services are the ones we can essentially see, and are often given financial value. Many conservationists cite the direct and tangible economic value of the environment in their fight, but this is just one valuation of ecology. Oftentimes, the indirect services, or “hidden” values of the environment are the most significant and compelling reasons for prioritizing conservation. While economic arguments for conservation certainly have merit, the intrinsic functions of an ecosystem are often the most valued. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has called upon the global community to quantify the total value of an ecosystem by combining the values of both the direct and indirect services an ecosystem offers to highlight the importance of protected ecosystems. Arguably, the most critical service an ecosystem provides is its inherent ability to capture and store carbon. As the world faces pressure to reduce CO2 and mitigate climate change, ascribing economic value to the critical indirect services of the ecosystem is important. Particularly as research has shown that the amount of carbon preserved ecosystems capture pays off in economic gains.
    The Kyoto Protocol, a binding agreement set by the United Nations Framework Convention, put the Global Carbon Market into motion, which has lead to evaluations of hidden and indirect ecosystems services. This has created financial incentive for the conservation of valuable ecosystems by putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions and biologically storing units of carbon. However, at the moment it only applies to terrestrial areas. In the past, the science and modeling for marine systems has lagged behind its terrestrial counterpart, but new efforts by scientists to quantify the indirect values of marine ecosystem function have helped the issue gain momentum.

    The High Economic Value of Coastal Ecosystems

    Coastal ecosystems have proven to be some of the most productive and valuable ecological repositories on the planet. ….

    The increasing value of blue carbon

    Indirect services may be hard to quantify, but their importance is starting to attract attention, specifically when it comes to blue carbon. Blue carbon, or the carbon capture by marine ecosystems, differs from the carbon captured by its terrestrial counterpart. In recent years, researchers like Murray and colleagues have started to study the role of blue carbon in combating climate change. Marine systems have high rates of capturing and storing CO2, making them the largest carbon sinks in the world. Coastal marine systems, such as salt marshes, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, and mangroves are active carbon sinks due to their high productivity. In these zones, there are high densities of both microscopic and macroscopic photosynthetic organisms that actively consume CO2 and can effectively store it. In another study, Nellemann and colleagues found that marine ecosystems could capture 55% of all atmospheric CO2. The ability to absorb and store CO2 is a hidden but incredibly valuable aspect of these ecosystems, especially in the face of exponential increases in anthropogenic CO2 as a human-induced factor climate change.

    A model for costing marine ecosystems

    In a May 2015 PLOS ONE paper, authors Tatiana Zarate-Barrera and Jorge Maldonado were able to adapt and reconfigure a model to help put a fiscal value on indirect value of coastal marine ecosystems specific to their local ecosystems. Globally, many countries have made efforts to protect their marine ecosystems and resources, often by establishing marine protected areas (MPAs), areas in which biodiversity is protected from further human influence. However, it is often hard to get the funding and support to create more MPAs, and maintain MPAs that are already established. The researchers began to investigate both the carbon-storage ability and potential economic value of that storage within MPAs along the coast of Colombia, with the ultimate goal of providing solid economic evidence for conserving and expanding MPAs. The authors adapted a model proposed in a 2012 PLOS ONE paper to fit their local system. Part of the model takes into account the rate of carbon capture by an ecosystem and the dominant biota, the size of the ecosystem, how carbon storage can be divided by sediments and living material, and the depth of the seabed. This part of the model generates an annual amount of carbon uptake by a specific ecosystem based on the size and the biota present. The model then incorporates the price of carbon per unit on the Global Carbon Market to generate a monetary value for the carbon storage for a known amount of coast. Using this model, the researchers were able to estimate that increasing the size and range of MPAs would have a significant and positive economic impact. This new model indicates that the value of these ecosystems is about 16 to 33 million EUR per year, and for the first time puts a concrete monetary value on an indirect service.

    Conclusion

    Models such as the TEV model pioneered by Pendelton and colleagues are pivotal in global conservation efforts and necessary to help bridge the gap between science and economics. These models can also be adapted to show how much money a country could lose by destroying an ecosystem, conveying a powerful message to policymakers who may otherwise neglect coastal ecosystems. As climate change tightens its grip, dealing with excess carbon and quelling the global effects are increasingly important. Developing a way to give economic incentive for preserving coastal ecosystems will not only help conservation, but will also help the scientific community address climate change.

     

    Pete Spotts/The Christian Science Monitor

    How climate change is spawning a new view of conservation

    Conservation has long been about protecting communities of plants and animals where they are. But climate change is leading to a nascent form of conservation that embraces change and seeks to provide a thriving stage on which it can happen.

    By Pete Spotts, Staff writer August 20, 2015

    Chester, Mass. — It’s a late-July morning, and Andy Finton works his way up a trail in western Massachusetts’ Berkshire Hills, walking beneath a canopy of sugar maple, ash, beech, and basswood.

    At one point, Mr. Finton pauses and announces with a chuckle: “Congratulations! You’re on a steep slope.” Finton, who works for the Nature Conservancy, was pointing out something more profound than his announcement might suggest. A steep slope is a crucial element of an emerging vision to help plants and animals survive and adapt to a warming world while maintaining high levels of biological diversity. Yet a growing body of research shows that when you scratch the surface of a biodiverse region, you’ll generally find diverse soil types, elevation ranges, bedrock types, and features such as canyons, cliffs, ravines, and Finton’s steep slopes. The new approach focuses on conserving landforms in a region that incorporate these diverse geophysical traits – which act as stages on which biological diversity thrives. And it focuses on setting up corridors between the “stages” to allow for species migration…. [see webcast about this below]

     

    New affordable tool to test Tropical Forest carbon stocks

    Posted: 26 Aug 2015 12:14 PM PDT

    Environmental scientists have developed an affordable technique to help provide evidence of the carbon-saving benefits of tropical forest conservation. Publishing in the journal Plos One this week (August 26) , an international team of researchers described how rapid assessments of carbon stocks in human-modified tropical forests can be made much cheaper and incur little error by focusing only on measuring trees, but not identifying them to species level — saving up to 74 percent on the financial costs of existing carbon stock measuring techniques. Dr Berenguer said: “Forest conservation continues to provide a huge opportunity for climate mitigation and the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

    By providing clear guidance on how to reduce the monetary and time costs of field assessments of forest carbon, we can help tropical countries increase the appeal of carbon-conservation programs to new investors, who are much needed.“…

     

    Erika Berenguer, Toby A. Gardner, Joice Ferreira, Luiz E. O. C. Aragão, Plínio B. Camargo, Carlos E. Cerri, Mariana Durigan, Raimundo C. Oliveira Junior, Ima C. G. Vieira, Jos Barlow. Developing Cost-Effective Field Assessments of Carbon Stocks in Human-Modified Tropical Forests. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (8): e0133139 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133139

     


    [as of July, exceeding 1 degree C globally]

    Tracking the 2C Limit – July 2015

    Posted on 26 August 2015 by Rob Honeycutt

    Following my last post on The 1C Milestone I’ve decided to build my own chart to track our progress relative to the 2C Limit. This will be a monthly post that I make here on Skeptical Science once the GISS monthly data come out. In conjunction with these updates I’ll try to throw in additional information that might relate to the 2C limit as it becomes available (or as I happen upon it). With this first post there are a few things that I’d like to point out….

     

    Melting snow and groundwater levels in Sierra Nevadas

    Posted: 20 Aug 2015 04:03 PM PDT

    Changing climate conditions have caused dramatic changes in groundwater levels. A new study aimed at understanding the changes in soil wetting and drying that occur as snow melts in mountainous, snow-packed regions. The study examined subsurface water content levels in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. In these regions, soils do not freeze during the winter and remain wet beneath the snowpack…It’s not easy to measure groundwater levels, due to variability in soil composition and bedrock. In addition, a melting snowpack introduces its own variables. “Because the variability in groundwater recharge is occurring beneath the ground surface, it can be costly to observe,” says Webb. For example, drilling multiple wells at different locations to measure groundwater would be cost-prohibitive — and disruptive. Instead, the study used a computerized network of moisture sensors — 97 in all, buried at various depths. The sensors were located at varying elevations (1,750-2,000 meters) and types of slopes (north, south, or flat). In addition, the study considered the type of tree cover: open, drip edge, or canopy. The researchers took soil moisture measurements directly beneath snow depth measurements, so they could relate these two measures. Curiously, Webb and coworkers found melting snow could produce highly variable results within the top meter of soil. “One set of sensors could experience quite different wetting and drying dynamics, relative to a sensor only a couple of meters away,” says Webb. This variability persisted at different measurement sites and under different tree cover conditions. Many soil moisture studies use uniform, one-dimensional models. Webb’s results suggest such models will either over- or under-estimate the amount of groundwater recharge, depending on the location and depth of the sensors used.

     

    Ryan W. Webb, Steven R. Fassnacht, Michael N. Gooseff. Wetting and Drying Variability of the Shallow Subsurface Beneath a Snowpack in California’s Southern Sierra Nevada. Vadose Zone Journal, 2015; 14 (8): 0 DOI: 10.2136/vzj2014.12.0182

     

     

    Estimating the cost of flooding for communities around estuaries

    Posted: 25 Aug 2015 08:12 AM PDT

    Scientists have developed a new visualization tool to predict the maximum cost of coastal flooding to communities around estuaries.

     

    Sea defences not enough to protect delta cities from rising flood risk – study

    Tim Radford Guardian UK Thursday 6 August 2015 14.00 EDT Last modified on Thursday 13 August 2015 07.00 EDT

    Rich nations spend huge sums to keep the seas at bay but wealth may not save them indefinitely. New research suggests that the probability of flooding in cities and megacities built on river deltas is on the increase and over time, the Mississippi and the Rhine may become up to eight times more at hazard from rising tides, storm surges or catastrophic downstream floods. The study, published in the journal Science, calculates the challenges ahead for 48 major coastal deltas in the Americas, Europe and Asia, right now home to populations of more than 340 million people. Deltas are natural sites for cities: they offer direct access to the sea and upriver to the hinterland; their wetlands provided good hunting and, when drained, became fertile farmland, ever renewed by fresh deposits of silt from frequent flooding. So civilisation got a head start in the Nile delta, the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, the Yangtze, and elsewhere. But dams upriver to conserve water or generate electricity stopped the downstream flow of silt. The draining of the wetlands allowed the soils to compact. The abstraction of water for industry and for huge numbers of new citizens meant that soils compacted even more. The reclamation of wetlands meant that the highest tides had nowhere to go but on to the streets and into city basements. And the sea began to encroach, which meant more investment in sea defences. In the Mississippi delta, according to another study in the same journal, the citizens of Louisiana and New Orleans have bade goodbye to up to 100 sq km of land washed away every year since 1900, and in the Netherlands, after centuries of soil drainage and subsidence, 9 million people live below sea level, behind costly sea dikes. By 2100, according to recent research, as sea levels rise in line with global warming, coastal flooding could be costing nations $100,000bn a year. Zachary Tessler of City University in New York – a city taken calamitously by surprise by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 – and colleagues report in Science that they looked at relative risks and how these might be altered over time, not just by sea level rise and climate change and a greater frequency of extreme events, but by the things humans continue to do to lower the level of the land at the same time as sea levels continue to rise….they found that although the poorer nations were inevitably more vulnerable, relative risk continued to grow – from four to eightfold in some cases – for the wealthiest delta regions as well. These included not just the Mississippi, the Rhine, the Han, Chao Praya and Yangtze, but also the Parana, Rhône and Pearl deltas. Not surprisingly, they conclude that deltas are “highly sensitive” to the balance between sediment supply and wave energy…..So Stijn Temmerman of the University of Antwerp and Matthew Kirwan of the College of William and Mary at Gloucester Point in Virginia, in the US, spell it out: the answer may lie in “eco-based” engineering systems to put sediment-laden water back on to the delta plains.
    In the Mississippi, that would prevent the loss of 500,000 hectares of wetlands and reduce annual flood damage to New Orleans and the Louisiana coast by between $5.3bn (£3.4bn) and $18bn in 50 years. And by judiciously letting the river do the job, instead of transporting settlement by barge, or by pipeline, the costs could be reduced.

     

    Related from the National Wildlife Federation:


    Natural Defenses from Hurricanes and Floods: Protecting America’s Communities and Ecosystems in an Era of Extreme Weather (2014)

    This report addresses the mounting risks of flooding and hurricanes to U.S. communities and how natural systems can help reduce risks from these natural hazards. A collaboration of National Wildlife Federation, Allied World Assurance Company, and Earth Economics, this publication considers whether federal, state, and local officials are using the policy tools at their disposal to protect people and property endangered from these growing threats. The report profiles how natural and nature-based approaches, such as restoration of wetlands, dunes, riparian areas and living shorelines, can be cost-effective and wildlife-friendly means of making coastal and riverine communities safer and more resilient to floods and hurricanes.

     

    Humus depletion induced by climate change?

    Posted: 27 Aug 2015 07:09 AM PDT

    The yields of many important crops in Europe have been stagnating since the 1990s. As a result, the input of organic matter into the soil — the crucial source for humus formation — is decreasing. Scientists suspect that the humus stocks of arable soils are declining due to the influence of climate change. Humus, however, is a key factor for soil functionality, which is why this development poses a threat to agricultural production — and, moreover, in a worldwide context

     

     

    Climate Change and Agriculture

    August 24, 2015 KWMR 2-Hour Special – West Marin County

    We take a deeper look at how Agriculture impacts climate change?  How can Agriculture diminish or mitigate, or adapt to climate change, and be part of the solution? The first hour will be more on busting myths, grazing animals, compost, and soil carbon sequestration.  The second hour will be oriented towards practical aspects of creating change and implementing better Agriculture in the face of the Industrial Agriculture/Factory Farms paradigm.

     

    Plant species’ genetic responses to climate change

    Posted: 27 Aug 2015 05:34 AM PDT

    A new study has found that the genetic diversity of wild plant species could be altered rapidly by anthropogenic climate change. Scientists studied the genetic responses of different wild plant species, located in a natural grassland ecosystem near Buxton, to a variety of simulated climate change treatments–including drought, watering, and warming–over a 15-year period. Analysis of DNA markers in the plants revealed that the climate change treatments had altered the genetic composition of the plant populations. The results also indicated a process of evolutionary change in one of the study species, suggesting that genetic diversity may be able to buffer plants against the harmful effects of climate change, allowing an “evolutionary rescue” Dr Raj Whitlock, from the University’s Institute of Integrative Biology, said: “Climate change is expected to present a significant challenge to the persistence of many populations of wild plant species.

    “Our understanding of the potential for such responses to climate change is still limited, and there have been very few experimental tests carried out within intact ecosystems. We found that experimental climate change treatments can modify the genetic structure of plant populations within 15 years, which is very fast, in evolutionary terms.”….

     

    Catherine H. Ravenscroft, Raj Whitlock, Jason D. Fridley. Rapid genetic divergence in response to 15 years of simulated climate change. Global Change Biology, 2015; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12966

     

    The temperature difference between urban areas and surrounding vegetated land due to the presence of impervious surfaces across the continental United States.
    Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory

    Vegetation essential for limiting city warming effects

    Posted: 25 Aug 2015 05:59 PM PDT

    According to a new study that makes the first assessment of urbanization impacts for the entire continental United States, the presence of vegetation is an essential factor in limiting urban heating….Bounoua and his colleagues used the model environment to simulate what the temperature would be for a city if all the impervious surfaces were replaced with vegetation. Then slowly they began reintroducing the urban impervious surfaces one percentage point at a time, to see how the temperature rose as vegetation decreased and impervious surfaces expanded. What they found was unexpected. When the impervious surfaces were at one percent the corresponding rise in temperature was about 1.3°C. That temperature difference then held steady at about 1.3°C as impervious surfaces increased to 35 percent. As soon as the urban impervious surfaces surpassed 35 percent of the city’s land area, then temperature began increasing as the area of urban surfaces increased, reaching 1.6°C warmer by 65 percent urbanization. At the human level, a rise of 1°C can raise energy demands for air conditioning in the summer from 5 to 20 percent in the United States, according the Environmental Protection Agency. So even though 0.3°C may seem like a small difference, it still may have impact on energy use, said Bounoua, especially when urban heat island effects are exacerbated by global temperature rises due to climate change. Understanding the tradeoffs between urban surfaces and vegetation may help city planners in the future mitigate some of the heating effects, said Thome. “Urbanization is a good thing,” said Bounoua. “It brings a lot of people together in a small area. Share the road, share the work, share the building. But we could probably do it a little bit better.”

     

     

     

    Here’s what happens when you try to replicate climate contrarian papers

    A new paper finds common errors among the 3% of climate papers that reject the global warming consensus

    Dana Nuccitelli Tuesday 25 August 2015 06.00 EDT Last modified on Tuesday 25 August 2015 10.45 EDT

    Those who reject the 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming often invoke Galileo as an example of when the scientific minority overturned the majority view. In reality, climate contrarians have almost nothing in common with Galileo, whose conclusions were based on empirical scientific evidence, supported by many scientific contemporaries, and persecuted by the religious-political establishment. Nevertheless, there’s a slim chance that the 2–3% minority is correct and the 97% climate consensus is wrong. To evaluate that possibility, a new paper published in the journal of Theoretical and Applied Climatology examines a selection of contrarian climate science research and attempts to replicate their results. The idea is that accurate scientific research should be replicable, and through replication we can also identify any methodological flaws in that research. The study also seeks to answer the question, why do these contrarian papers come to a different conclusion than 97% of the climate science literature?

     

    This new study was authored by Rasmus Benestad, myself (Dana Nuccitelli), Stephan Lewandowsky, Katharine Hayhoe, Hans Olav Hygen, Rob van Dorland, and John Cook. Benestad (who did the lion’s share of the work for this paper) created a tool using the R programming language to replicate the results and methods used in a number of frequently-referenced research papers that reject the expert consensus on human-caused global warming. In using this tool, we discovered some common themes among the contrarian research papers. Cherry picking was the most common characteristic they shared. We found that many contrarian research papers omitted important contextual information or ignored key data that did not fit the research conclusions. For example, in the discussion of a 2011 paper by Humlum et al. in our supplementary material, we note, “The core of the analysis carried out by [Humlum et al.] involved wavelet-based curve-fitting, with a vague idea that the moon and solar cycles somehow can affect the Earth’s climate. The most severe problem with the paper, however, was that it had discarded a large fraction of data for the Holocene which did not fit their claims.”…

    You may have noticed another characteristic of contrarian climate research – there is no cohesive, consistent alternative theory to human-caused global warming. Some blame global warming on the sun, others on orbital cycles of other planets, others on ocean cycles, and so on. There is a 97% expert consensus on a cohesive theory that’s overwhelmingly supported by the scientific evidence, but the 2–3% of papers that reject that consensus are all over the map, even contradicting each other. The one thing they seem to have in common is methodological flaws like cherry picking, curve fitting, ignoring inconvenient data, and disregarding known physics. If any of the contrarians were a modern-day Galileo, he would present a theory that’s supported by the scientific evidence and that’s not based on methodological errors. Such a sound theory would convince scientific experts, and a consensus would begin to form. Instead, as our paper shows, the contrarians have presented a variety of contradictory alternatives based on methodological flaws, which therefore have failed to convince scientific experts. Human-caused global warming is the only exception. It’s based on overwhelming, consistent scientific evidence and has therefore convinced over 97% of scientific experts that it’s correct.

    Lab experiments question popular measure of ancient ocean temperatures

    Posted: 26 Aug 2015 09:54 AM PDT

    The membranes of sediment-entombed archaea are an increasingly popular way to determine ocean surface temperatures back to the age of the dinosaurs. But new results show that changing oxygen can affect the reading by as much as 21 degrees C.

     

     

    Noctilucent clouds. Photo: SpaceWeather.com

    Mystery lights in space increasing, moving south, potential sign of global warming

    Brandon M. Mercer Updated 4:00 am, Saturday, August 22, 2015 SF Chron

    Strange blue lights glowing on the edge of space first appeared over polar regions in 1885 and today, sightings are becoming increasingly common, and now the phenomenon is moving into lower latitudes including Northern California.
    Like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, these glowing space clouds may be a celestial siren, warning of Earth’s global warming, according to some scientists. They’re called “noctilucent clouds”  or NLCs, basically, clouds that glow at night. They appear mainly in northern latitudes, about 50 miles above earth as miniscule droplets of water reflect the sun on the other side of the globe.  Now, they’re moving farther south. “Public interest in noctilucent clouds is definitely growing as they spread to mid-latitudes,” said SpaceWeather.com’s Tony Phillips, who tracks the appearances and reports from astronomers. Never before in human history had they been reported until two years after the eruption of the Krakatoa super volcano, throwing plumes of ash dozens of miles high and affecting the global atmosphere. Since then, spacecraft exhaust has created tiny ephemeral clouds, and there is even research that meteorite particles may increase them.  The sights were noticed increasingly again after the Tunguska meteor event over Siberia in 1908….Phillips said the ties to global warming are still being explored. “I think the jury is still out. But it is undeniable that increasing levels of methane favor the formation of NLCs at very high altitudes. Methane drifting to the top of the atmosphere produces water, which is available for the formation of NLCs.” Summer winds carry water vapor up into the highest reaches of the atmosphere, but it needs “condensation nuclei” — basically some dust to condense around — in order to form clouds. University of Colorado professor Gary Thomas told NASA, “Extreme cold is required to form ice in a dry environment like the mesosphere,” and global warming actually increases temperatures close to the surface but lowers the temperatures up higher.
    Thomas added that noctilucent clouds were first spotted during the Industrial Revolution–a time of rising greenhouse gas production. Still, he told NASA “So much about these clouds is speculative.” Noctilucent clouds are visible as far south as Colorado and Oregon, even Northern California as seen in some of the images taken in 2009….

     

     

    New survey on Americans’ views on papal encyclical on climate change

    Posted: 26 Aug 2015 01:15 PM PDT

    A new national survey found that fewer than one in three Americans, and 40 percent of Catholics, are aware of Pope Francis’s efforts to publicize global warming as a priority issue for the Catholic Church.

     

    CREDIT: U.S. Navy

    New Orleans’ Greatest Threat Is Climate Change Plus The ‘Loop Current’ Plus A Future Katrina

    by Joe Romm Aug 27, 2015 10:08am

    Future Katrinas will become more and more devastating to New Orleans and the entire Gulf of Mexico. If we don’t tackle climate change ASAP, it is hard to see how New Orleans could survive the century.

    While most stories making this point tend to focus on sea level rise, I’m going to look at the role of the “Loop Current” — and why Hurricane Katrina (and Gustav) weren’t as strong and hence as devastating at landfall as they could have been. The key point: All things being equal, if a storm taking the same track of Katrina (or Gustav) occurred in 2050, then, rather than weakening before making landfall, it will probably strengthen considerably, creating far more havoc. To understand why, let’s first answer the question — How did Katrina turn into a powerful Category Five hurricane so rapidly?…. What we don’t know for certain is if, in fact, all things will be equal. Perhaps global warming will create other conditions that might serve to change their storm path or weaken hurricanes (by, say, increasing wind shear). The recent literature, however, suggests that Category Four and Five hurricanes have become more common — and will keep doing so as long as we keep warming the Earth and its oceans. A 2013 study found: “The response to a 1°C warming is consistently an increase [in Katrina-level storm surges] by a factor of 2–7…. This increase does not include the additional increasing surge threat from sea level rise.”…. And that future of supercharged hurricanes will be doubly untenable in the business as usual case, as experts now say we may be looking at seas 4 to 6 feet (or more) higher by 2100, with sea level rise as much as one foot per decade after that. Preserving the habitability of the Gulf and South Atlantic Coasts this century can only plausibly be achieved if we reverse U.S. and global emissions trends sharply and quickly.

     

     


    European ‘extreme weather belt’ linked to worst drought since 2003

    Severe droughts that stretched across a central European band this summer are consistent with climate models for a warming continent, experts say

    Arthur Neslen in Brussels Thursday 27 August 2015 11.34 EDT Last modified on Thursday 27 August 2015 11.36 EDT

    A swathe of central Europe has suffered the most severe drought since 2003 in what EU climate experts see as a harbinger of climate changes to come. Rainless weeks and relentless heat desiccated a vast tract of central European land separating the continent’s drier south from its wetter north between 1 April and 31 July, according to a report by the European drought observatory (EDO). “This is where we expect to see more extreme weather such as floods and droughts in the future, and what we are gradually starting to see in the present,” said Frank Raes, the head of the climate change unit at the EU’s Joint Research Centre which commissioned the report. The drought was consistent with climate models that predicted “an extreme weather battleground” between continental weather systems in central Europe, Raes said. “The big floods and droughts of the last 20 years have been in that area,” he added. Agricultural production has now slumped in large parts of a zone stretching eastwards from central France through south-central Germany into Poland, Hungary and Ukraine, and southwards into northern Italy and Spain. Grain harvests in Germany have fallen 11% and apple harvests 21% on last year’s figures, while a 28% drop in corn output is expected by government officials in France. In Poland, record lows in river water levels have revealed Jewish tombstones and Soviet fighter planes, as well as human remains, buried for decades or more. At one point, the drought reached what the German environment agency called “catastrophic proportions”, with water levels on the river Elbe falling 9cm below the previous record low. At the same time, freak floods occurred in Demker, north of Magdeburg. “Similarly to the summer of 2003, a large part of the continental EU was affected by a severe drought in June and July 2015, as a consequence of the combination of rain shortages and very high temperatures which resulted in high plant water requirement levels,” the EDO report said….

     

     

    U.S. Forest Service emergency workers in Washington state cut brush as wildfires rage near residential areas. (Photo: AP)

    State of Emergency Declared as Wildfires Create ‘Unprecedented Cataclysm’ in Washington

    Four other states also fighting massive blazes, including drought-stricken California

    By Nadia Prupis, staff writer

    Three firefighters were killed this week and President Barack Obama on Friday issued an emergency order over wildfires raging through central Washington State. Emergency workers from Australia and New Zealand have been flown in to help the crews currently fighting blazes in five states, including Washington, California, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. The damage has hit hundreds of thousands of acres of land, including Indigenous territory. In Washington alone, 11 counties have been affected, as well as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation.According to a White House news release, the state of emergency authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts….

     

     

     

     

    DROUGHT:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    California Drought Is Made Worse by Global Warming, Scientists Say

    NY Times August 21, 2015

    Global warming caused by human emissions has most likely intensified the drought in California by 15 to 20 percent, scientists said on Thursday, warning that future dry spells in the state are almost certain to be worse than this one as the world warms…Even though the findings suggest that the drought is primarily a consequence of natural climate variability, the scientists added that the likelihood of any drought becoming acute is rising because of climate change. The odds of California suffering droughts at the far end of the scale, like the current one that began in 2012, have roughly doubled over the past century, they said. “This would be a drought no matter what,” said A. Park Williams, a climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and the lead author of a paper published by the journal Geophysical Research Letters. “It would be a fairly bad drought no matter what. But it’s definitely made worse by global warming.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] also reported Thursday that global temperatures in July had been the hottest for any month since record-keeping began in 1880, and that the first seven months of 2015 had also been the hottest such period ever. Heat waves on several continents this summer have killed thousands of people…..

     

     

     

    POINT BLUE IN THE NEWS:

     

    The drought could herald more crowded conditions for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway. (Ingrid Taylar/Wikimedia)

    Drought Makes Being a Shorebird More Difficult

    By Sharol Nelson-Embry, East Bay Regional Park District August 18, 2015

    This is one of the riskiest times of life for migratory shorebirds like willets, dunlin, marbled godwits and others. As these birds migrate along the Pacific Flyway, they normally stop to rest and refuel at marshes, lakes and other waterways — after migrating thousands of miles from the north. Some come from as far as the Arctic circle with migration paths established for thousands of years, particular to their species. But this year, birds migrating through northern California’s coast range and the Central Valley are finding dry areas where they expected lush wetlands. “Hopscotching on their migration from wetland to wetland, drought and development have decimated many of their historic refuges,” says Cindy Margulis, Executive Director of Golden Gate Audubon. “It requires birds to seek new resting and refueling areas, forcing them to fly further in search of food and water.” Shorebirds that fly along the coastline seeking refuge have arrived early to East Bay salt marshes; they normally aren’t here in large numbers until the end of August or even early September. There’s no evidence, though, that birds that normally migrate through California’s interior, down the Central Valley, have winged their way over to the Bay, says Melissa Pitkin, Director of Education and Outreach for Point Blue Conservation Science. “Not all birds are able to shift their migration patterns; they don’t have the ‘plasticity’ in their life history strategies to change in that way,” Pitkin says. “Some are very strict interior migrants who, in times of drought, will struggle with less water along the migration route.” One program underway to assist these avian travelers teaches rice farmers how to manage farms in ways that benefit migratory waterbirds. The Natural Resources Conservation Service, working in partnership with Point Blue Conservation Science, Audubon California, The Nature Conservancy and the California Rice Commission, created and field-tested a set of practices, such as installing islands in flooded fields. The Nature Conservancy has also developed BirdReturns, a program that pays rice farmers to flood their fields after the last harvest, creating “pop-up wetlands” for the birds. The organization piloted the program last year. One of its innovations, Pitkin says, is the bidding process where farmers place bids on how much money they would take to flood fields. These unique partnerships rely on data from the Citizen Science eBird program, a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The data from eBird pinpoints the location and timing for the flooded fields and helps the partnership make the best use of their funds for these “popup wetlands.” Right here in the South Bay, the ongoing conversion of salt-production ponds to tidal wetlands provided new habitat last winter when tens-of-thousands of birds flocked to the newly restored area, part of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. If you’d like to get involved in monitoring shorebird populations locally, the Migratory Shorebird Project, coordinated by Point Blue Conservation Science, is recruiting volunteers to help with a 10-year population study, with a special focus on dunlin and sandpipers. You can also help shorebirds and all wildlife by, of course, conserving water.

     

    California levees’ vulnerability

    Posted: 25 Aug 2015 05:39 AM PDT

    With the ongoing extreme drought in California posing a threat to the state’s levee systems, there is an urgent need to invest in research regarding the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure under extreme climatic events. Experts warn that current drought conditions pose “a great risk to an already endangered levee system.”

     

    UC Berkeley biologist Wendy Baxter prepares to climb a sequoia; a team of researchers is studying the effects of drought on the huge trees. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

    Is the drought killing California’s giant sequoias?

    By Thomas Curwen
    contact the reporter LA Times August 28, 2015

    Sixty feet from the top of a giant sequoia named Kong, biologist Anthony Ambrose studied the foliage around him. Dense clusters of green leaves grew like shaving brushes from the branches, cones clustered like Indian clubs. Topping out 25 stories above the ground, Kong was spectacular, an ancient beastly creature well-suited for its name. Its trunk at the base measured 17 feet across. This broccoli top, Ambrose thought, was doing well, much like the other sequoias he had climbed. Ambrose is one of four biologists whose work in the trees this summer has led various media to report that the state’s drought could be killing one of California’s most famous treasures. But researchers say those conclusions are wrong, or at least premature. Despite signs of stress — leaves turning brown after four hot and dry years — most of the sequoias seem to be holding up. The browning foliage, first noticed last summer, brought Ambrose and fellow UC Berkeley biologist Wendy Baxter to the Giant Forest last month to try to find out what’s going on with the sequoias and, in the process, unravel the mystery of their internal plumbing: how these enormous trees use the water that’s available to them. For 15 days, Ambrose, Baxter and another pair of climbers measured 50 trees and installed humidity and temperature sensors in the upper limbs. On Saturday, they returned for more studies. Their research is one of three projects designed to help the National Park Service manage what is perhaps the best known forest in the world. Yet scientists know less about sequoias than more common species such as pines and firs, Ambrose said…..

     


    In this photo taken Tuesday, July 28, 2015, volunteer Ivette Portela bottle feeds a young fawn at the Kindred Spirits Fawn Rescue in Loomis, Calif. California’s historic drought has caused a scarcity of food in the wild that has been blamed for unusual animal activity. Rich Pedroncelli AP Photo

    California drought may exacerbate wildlife-human encounters

    BY FENIT NIRAPPIL Associated Press  August 22 2015

    LOOMIS, CALIF.  The scarcity of food in the wild has been blamed for unusual animal activity during California’s drought including a recent bear attack, mountain lion sightings and an uptick in orphaned animals. But the devastating four-year drought that’s dried up streams and vegetation isn’t the sole cause, state officials and experts say. Instead, they say the drought is exacerbating long-term trends and natural animal behaviors in a state that is becoming increasingly developed….

     

     

    The city of Arcadia stopped watering the grass in the median of Santa Anita Avenue to comply with state drought regulations.

    (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

    Big month for conservation: Californians cut water use by 31% in July

    By Bettina Boxall and Rosanna Xia
    contact the reporters August 28, 2015 LATimes

    After Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a 25% reduction in urban water use statewide, regulators spent much of the spring chastising water districts for not conserving enough during California’s stubborn drought. Data released Thursday suggest the message is getting through. Californians cut back their urban water use last month by nearly a third compared with July 2013, aided by rare summer storms and stepped-up local enforcement. And the number of water districts deemed to be severely out of step with the state’s demands — those falling 15 percentage points or more short of their conservation goal — dropped sharply.
    The 31% statewide reduction is even better than the 27% recorded in June, the first month the targets were in effect.
    And so far state officials have not needed to carry out their threat of stiff fines to get the attention of local agencies. “The news is quite good,” said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “We’re very happy to see that Californians are showing they have what it takes to meet our water-savings goals.” But even with a drumbeat of El Niño forecasts suggesting a wet winter is ahead, the state board is not about to let up. “Although an El Niño is forming, there is no guarantee that we’ll receive the amount of precipitation that we’ll need to beat the drought in the right places and of the right form,” Marcus said. “We need rain and snow in the Sierra, especially the Northern Sierra to make a dent in this drought.”… Look up drought report cards for every water district

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    100 days to save the world

     John D. Sutter, CNN Updated 11:11 AM ET, Sat August 22, 2015 

    We’ve learned to be pessimists about climate change. Every so often, we hear news about world leaders meeting in some exotic-sounding location — Copenhagen, Lima, Durban, Kyoto — to try to hammer out an agreement to curb heat-trapping gases. We know the stakes are huge — nothing short of the fate of this planet — but it’s become difficult to expect much out of diplomacy. The meetings have been organized around a wonkish treaty called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or, you know, U.N.F.C.C.C. for short. They’re attended by pretty much every country in the world. Yet all, so far, largely have failed to really put the brakes on climate change — to stop us from careening toward 2 degrees Celsius of warming, which is regarded as the benchmark for dangerous, unmanageable climate change. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, for instance, was signed but never ratified by the United States, and even global sweetheart Canada pulled out and failed to meet its pollution targets. More recently, in 2009, talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, amounted to “a sort of climate wish list,” Elizabeth Kolbert wrote in The New Yorker. We can’t throw out that frustrating history, of course. But we can and should do our best to shake it off, Taylor Swift-style. World leaders are set to meet again 100 days from Saturday. This time in Paris. And, this time, against all odds, there’s ample evidence things finally will be different. The Paris talks are called COP21 in U.N.-speak, for the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties. That means this is the 21st time we’ve done this — gathered the entire world and tried to address the global climate crisis on something resembling the scale science says is required. I’m hopeful that the 21st time’s the charm. It’s true that a Paris agreement probably will fall short, on its own, of the international community’s stated goal of halting warming at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). People following the talks closely tell me that meeting the 2 degrees goal in Paris would be unrealistic. (“That’s not going to happen,” said Nathaniel Keohane, vice president for international climate at the Environmental Defense Fund, for example). But these talks, which aptly, if ominously, have been called “our last hope” for climate action, must be met with bold optimism. “The window for significant progress on climate is only open every once in a while,” said Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute. “And it’s open — it’s opening — right now.”

    Here are five reasons for optimism ahead of the talks….

    1. Countries already are pledging major pollution cuts…

    2. China and the United States are playing ball….

    3. The 2 degrees goal is still in reach (barely)….

    4. Hundreds of thousands are demanding action….

    5. The stakes are too high to give up…..

    ….Global warming matters too much to give up hope. It’s possible to reach this target, but Paris must send the world clear signals. “The next step needs to be bigger and the subsequent step bigger, and then we can get into the 2 degree pathway, or below that pathway,” said Hare, of Climate Analytics. “It’s disappointing we’re going to be below the 2 degree pathway at Paris, but I don’t think that’s reason to give up on that target. I’m concerned,” he said, “but not pessimistic.” Neither am I. We owe it to the planet to remain optimistic.

     

     

    CREDIT: David J. Phillip, AP

    9 Years Of Climate Progress And 3 Big Reasons To Celebrate

    by Joe Romm Aug 24, 2015 8:40am

    Climate Progress owes its existence to Hurricane Katrina. But it is only a decade after Katrina that we have actually seen anything resembling genuine “progress on climate” in the world. After my brother lost his Mississippi home in the Hurricane Katrina storm surge, he asked me for advice on whether or not he should rebuild there. I started interviewing climate experts, going to seminars, and reading the scientific literature for what ultimately turned into a book, “Hell and High Water” — and this blog. Our top climate scientists impressed upon me the fact that the climate situation was far more dire than I had realized, far more dire than 98 percent of opinion makers and politicians understood — a situation that, sadly, remains true today. I also realized that climate scientists and the major media were not doing a good job of communicating the danger. One piece of the climate progress of recent years is that climate scientists are doing a much better job of both speaking out and communicating effectively. The media, however, has until very recently gotten worse — with far less coverage and far fewer dedicated climate reporters than we had a decade ago. Prior to Katrina, I had been focused on working with companies to develop and deploy low-carbon technologies, including three years in the mid-1990s helping to oversee the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the largest cleantech RDD&D (Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment) program in the world at the time. But after Katrina I wanted to focus on communications so I joined the Center for American Progress in the summer of 2006 because it had become the cutting-edge think tank for both policy and communications on progressive issues. I began part time on the one-year anniversary of Katrina, posting on this blog once a day. As readership grew and ClimateProgress.org became a leading voice on energy and climate issues, I began posting more. I became a full-time blogger, writing several times a day. A few years ago, we added a deputy editor and formally merged with CAP’s flagship website, ThinkProgress. Now CP has several staff, and our articles are routinely featured on the front page of ThinkProgress. Climate Progress’s readership has steadily risen — and our social media interactions have skyrocketed.

    ClimateProgress is easily the most influential dedicated climate website on social media today. Not only do we have more than 400,000 Facebook followers and another 120,000 Twitter followers — but ThinkProgress also shares our articles to its 1.5 million FB followers and almost 400,000 Twitter followers. The most popular ClimateProgress articles get many tens of thousands of FB likes — and their headlines and key points are seen by millions.

    One measure of climate progress, at least online, is that the websites that push climate-science denial have totally fizzled out on social media, despite considerable effort. Why? Science is inherently a social enterprise — an intrinsically interesting voyage of discovery in which scientists build on each others’ work toward a better and better understanding of the world around us. Denial, being anti-science, is in some sense an anti-social activity whose goal is to stop society from listening to the scientific community about the ever-growing risks to society posed by unrestricted emissions of carbon pollution. The deniers operate an inherently monotonous treadmill of anti-truth, misunderstanding, and disinformation that builds only toward nihilism. No wonder it bombs on social media. Of course there are far more important measures of climate progress — from China to cleantech to the Pope.

    China and Paris

    The game-changing November 2014 U.S.-China climate deal — where the U.S. pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 25-28 percent in 2020 versus 1990 levels in return for China for the first time committing to peak in CO2 emissions by 2030 if not sooner — helped break the longstanding logjam in international climate negotiations between developed and developing nations. It resulted in a flood of commitments from other countries, which has created the genuine possibility of a breakthrough climate deal in Paris this December. My June 2015 trip to China to meet with top governmental and non-governmental experts on clean energy and climate made clear to me the country’s leaders are serious about cleaning up their polluted air and beating their climate targets. It is widely believed in Beijing that China will peak in CO2 by 2025. It may be peaking in coal now. It will still take considerably more effort by China, the United States, and the world to keep total warming below the 2°C defense line that top scientists increasingly tell us we must not cross. But we have collectively started to take actions needed to keep that possibility alive, albeit barely.

    Cleantech Comes of Age
    At the Department of Energy, I had a chance to work with leading scientists and engineers at our national laboratories. I came to understand that the technology for reducing our emissions was already at hand and at a far lower cost than was widely understood — if we had smart government policies to drive those technologies into the marketplace and continue their march down the cost curve. Then I worked with some of the nation’s leading corporations, helping them to adopt CO2-reducing technologies and strategies that boosted both profits and productivity. Now, finally, it is clear to everyone that the DOE projections from two decades ago were accurate. The price of solar by itself has dropped more than 99 percent since 1977 and 95 percent since the late 1990s. Many other key technologies needed to avert catastrophic warming — wind, energy-efficient lighting, advanced batteries—have also seen a steady and in some cases remarkable drop in prices. This price drop has been matched by a steady improvement in performance. For instance, the best manufacturers have already reached the battery price needed for electric vehicles to have cost parity with conventional cars. Maybe at some point in the past you could believe that climate action was too expensive, but not anymore. The world’s top scientists, energy experts, economists, and governments have all spelled out in great detail that even the strongest climate action is super cheap. That is climate progress!

    The Pope

    Finally, we have seen more and more opinion makers speak out on climate change. Maybe the most significant among them is Pope Francis, whose recent 195-page encyclical has spurred a global debate about the moral urgency for climate action. I would urge anyone needing motivation to accept and tackle the challenges we face in the years head to read it. The Pope’s message is at its core a simple one: “We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.” We have a long way to go to preserve a livable climate, a long way to go to make sure all of our great coastal cities — including New Orleans itself — don’t suffer the same devastation Katrina brought. But we have finally seen some genuine climate progress — especially compared to our previous “no strategy” strategy of keeping our foot on the accelerator as we headed toward the cliff of catastrophic warming while wishing for some miraculous technological deus ex machina to save us.

     

    Read Pope Francis’s full document on Climate Change

    By Washington Post June 18 2015

    In the 192-page paper released Thursday, the pope lays out the argument for a new partnership between science and religion to combat human-driven climate change — a position bringing him immediately into conflict with skeptics, whom he chides for their “denial.” And you can also read 10 key excerpts from Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment.

     

    Hawaii Governor David Ige signs a bill on June 8, 2015 calling for the state’s electricity sector to transition entirely to renewable energy in 30 years. (Governor of the State of Hawaii)

    Hawaii’s Governor Dumps Oil and Gas in Favor of 100 Percent Renewables

    An unlikely partnership between Hawaii’s local government and the US military makes the island a leader in energy policy.

    By Juan ColeTwitter August 26, 2015

    At the Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summit held in Honolulu, Hawaii, this week, Governor David Ige dropped a bombshell. His administration will not use natural gas to replace the state’s petroleum-fueled electricity plants, but will make a full-court press toward 100 percent renewables by 2045. Ige’s decisive and ambitious energy vision is making Hawaii into the world’s most important laboratory for humankind’s fight against climate change. He has, in addition, attracted an unlikely and enthusiastic partner in his embrace of green energy—the US military. Ige said Monday that LNG (liquefied natural gas) will not save the state money over time, given the plummeting prices of renewables. Moreover, “it is a fossil fuel,” i.e., it emits dangerous greenhouse gases. He explained that local jurisdictions in Hawaii are putting up a fight against natural gas, making permitting difficult. Finally, any money put into retooling electric plants so as to run on gas, he said, is money that would better be invested in the transition to green energy. Ige, trained as an electrical engineer, is leading his state in the most ambitious clean-energy program in the United States. On June 8, he signed into law a bill calling for Hawaii’s electricity to be entirely generated from renewables in only 30 years. He also directed that the University of Hawaii be net carbon zero in just 20 years. As a set of islands, Hawaii faces special energy difficulties. Residents pay the highest rates for electricity of any state in the union….

     The state’s major utility, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), is on board with the rapid turn to renewables and is partnering with the state and US military bases to meet the 2045 goal. Alan Oshima, the utility’s CEO, pointed out that 15 percent of homes in Hawaii already have rooftop photovoltaic panels, and he expected that number to triple. The rapid drive to renewables faces significant challenges. Environmentalists insist that flora and fauna be protected, and permitting is often a challenge. Some engineers are suggesting offshore floating wind turbines as an alternative to onshore wind, because they would be less intrusive. The Big Island of Hawaii has substantial geothermal potential, with an active volcano, but some native Hawaiians object to pursuing it lest the goddess of the volcano, Pele, be desecrated. On the other hand, other Hawaiians have been impressed by the positive experience of fellow Polynesians, the Maori of New Zealand, in profiting from geothermal energy on their land. Geothermal has the advantage for the Hawaiian grid of being steady and so able to provide baseload support offsetting the variability (called “intermittency”) of wind and solar, which can be generated only at some times of the day….

     ….Some 50 percent of the electricity generated in Hawaii is bought by the US military. The Department of Energy has a mandate from the Obama administration to use more green energy, and Governor Ige and HECO are finding the admirals and generals enthusiastic partners in their plans for 100 percent renewables. In fact, the Navy, the Army, and the Marines all hope to generate up to a gigawatt of electricity themselves on bases throughout the United States. The Navy’s self-imposed deadline for doing so is only 18 months away. The state’s military bases want green energy in part to ensure base security. … Unlike in most of the Lower 48, where legislatures are often putting obstacles in the way of residential solar or luxuriating in a blithe state of denial about the challenges of global warming, Hawaii is getting it done. The steely vision of Governor Ige, the vigorous commitment of Hawaiian Electric Company, the inventiveness of the engineers and businessmen, and the can-do attitude of the generals and admirals on the state’s bases are creating an extraordinary public-private set of synergies that hold out hope that the worst climate-change scenarios can yet be avoided.

     

     

     

    (Photo: Google)

    Now You Can Google Your House to See If You Should Go Solar

    The search giant releases an online tool that lets homeowners instantly determine how much money they can save by installing solar panels

    Aug 19, 2015 Kristine Wong Take Part

    Google has put itself on the map by funding more than $2 billion in renewable energy projects. Now the search giant wants to map the amount of sunlight your rooftop receives—and help you decide if it makes financial sense to go solar. Dubbed Project Sunroof, the recently released online tool lets you type in your address and find out how much space you have for solar panels on your roof, how many hours of rooftop sunlight you’ll get a year, and how much money you’d save…..

     

     

    How small farmers are adapting to climate change

    Everyone must play a role in helping small farmers adapt to climate change, and chefs are uniquely positioned to do so. Recipes for change, a campaign of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), features ingredients that are under threat from climatic changes.

    By Emily NinkFood Tank AUGUST 21, 2015  

     

     

     

     

     

    These two first year Alaskan Bear Cubs frollick in the sand and share a tender moment while mom naps peacefully nearby at McNeil River, Alaska, on August 25, 2015. Image: Rex Features via AP Images/Associated Press

    High hopes for Obama’s historic visit to the ‘unraveling’ Arctic

    Andrew Freeman August 24, 2015 Mashable

    In an effort to call attention to the present-day consequences of global warming, President Obama is soon to embark on a journey that no president has taken before. Not only will he set foot in the Alaskan Arctic, at the very edge of the state, but he will spend more time on the ground in Alaska than any president has ever done.
    Typically, Alaska is a refueling stop for Air Force One when traveling to and from Asia. Obama’s three-day trip to Anchorage, Seward, Dillingham and Kotzebue, Alaska, which begins August 31, will allow the President to raise the profile of Arctic policy and global warming. It may also provide iconic images of the President in front of rapidly receding glaciers and eroding coastal villages, bolstering his case for climate action. The Arctic is warming more rapidly than any other region on Earth, with receding summer sea ice leading to a positive feedback loop that warms the air and ocean and melts still more ice. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Arctic has been warming at twice the rate of anywhere else on Earth….

     

     

    Governor Matt Mead as Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) announced his Chairman’s Initiative: Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

    Wyoming Gov. Mead launches Western Governors’ Endangered Species Act Initiative

    Published on August 26, 2015.

    “The Endangered Species Act touches the people and economies of western states in a significant way,” Gov. Mead said at a special event at the Gray Reef Access Area outside of Casper, Wyo.

    This initiative is intended to take a hard look at the ESA – where has it been successful and where are changes needed. This effort will invite participation from a broad spectrum to come up with good information and useful recommendations.” There are currently 1,568 species listed as threatened or endangered in the U.S. and another 653 around the world, for a total of 2,221. Since it was enacted in 1973, 2,280 species have been put under the protection of the ESA. Of those 2,280, 30 species were recovered and 19 were later delisted due to an error in the original data showing those species did not warrant protection. The Chairman’s Initiative will include five forums hosted by governors in WGA member states. At these meetings experts will share best practices and case studies on species management. The information collected at the forums will be compiled into a report that will guide legislative, regulatory or legal actions to improve the ESA. Wyoming will host the first forum in early November…

     

     

     

    Illustration by David Parkins

    Climate change: Embed the social sciences in climate policy

    David G. Victor calls for the IPCC process to be extended to include insights into controversial social and behavioural issues.

    David Victor 01 April 2015 PDF NATURE

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is becoming irrelevant to climate policy. By seeking consensus and avoiding controversy, the organization is suffering from the streetlight effect — focusing ever more attention on a well-lit pool of the brightest climate science. But the insights that matter are out in the darkness, far from the places that the natural sciences alone can illuminate. With the ink barely dry on the IPCC’s latest reports, scientists and governments are planning reforms for the next big assessment1, 2. Streamlining the review and writing processes could, indeed, make the IPCC more nimble and relevant. But decisions made at February’s IPCC meeting in Nairobi showed that governments have little appetite for change. The basic report-making process and timing will remain intact. Minor adjustments such as greater coverage of cross-cutting topics and more administration may make the IPCC slower. Similar soul searching, disagreement, indecision and trivial procedural tweaks have followed each of the five IPCC assessments over the past 25 years3. This time needs to be different. The IPCC must overhaul how it engages with the social sciences in particular (see go.nature.com/vp7zgm). Fields such as sociology, political science and anthropology are central to understanding how people and societies comprehend and respond to environmental changes, and are pivotal in making effective policies to cut emissions and collaborate across the globe. The IPCC has engaged only a narrow slice of social-sciences disciplines. Just one branch — economics — has had a major voice in the assessment process. In Working Group III, which assesses climate-change mitigation and policy, nearly two-thirds of 35 coordinating lead authors hailed from the field, and from resource economics in particular. The other social sciences were mostly absent. There was one political scientist: me. Among the few bright spots in that report compared with earlier ones is greater coverage of behavioural economics and risk analysis. In Working Group II, which assesses impacts and adaptation, less than one-third of the 64 coordinating lead authors were social scientists, and about half of those were economists. Bringing the broader social sciences into the IPCC will be difficult, but it is achievable with a strategy that reflects how the fields are organized and which policy-relevant questions these disciplines know well. It will require big reforms in the IPCC, and the panel will have to relinquish part of the assessment process to other organizations that are less prone to paralysis in the face of controversy. Tunnel vision The IPCC walks a wavering line between science, which requires independence, and diplomacy, which demands responsiveness to government preference. Although scientists supply and hone the material for reports, governments have a say in all stages of assessment: they adopt the outline for each chapter, review drafts and approve the final reports…..

     

    ‘Targeted punishments’ against countries could tackle climate change

    Posted: 25 Aug 2015 05:59 PM PDT

    Targeted punishments could provide a path to international climate change cooperation, new research in game theory has found.

     

    Obama Administration Proposes First-Ever Protections For Recreation Lands Near Moab, Utah

    by Nidhi Thakar – Guest Contributor Aug 21, 2015

    The so-called “master leasing plan” is a new tool that aims to reduce the environmental impacts and conflicts associated with resource extraction on public lands, such as drilling and mining….

     

    Sierra Club Dragging State Farm into Climate Change Battle

    August 27, 2015

    A State Farm executive is coming under fire from activists for his position on the board of what some consider to be a “climate denier” group. Sierra Club, a progressive investor group and other activist organizations have been waging an aggressive years-long attrition campaign to force corporate participants to leave the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit comprised of conservative state lawmakers and members of the private sector that drafts model legislation and focuses its lobbying on a state-by-state basis. Groups opposed to ALEC say its philosophies and actions have consistently opposed efforts to combat climate change. The brunt of Sierra Club’s efforts to pressure ALEC corporate members to disassociate themselves with the group are being carried out on social media and in the form of letter-writing campaigns.

    “Tell State Farm: Drop ALEC,” reads one online campaign.

    State Farm is among the latest companies that Sierra Club and other activists are pressuring to leave the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit comprised of conservative state lawmakers and members of the private sector. A webpage tells visitors that efforts by activists have ALEC’s corporate partners “fleeing” the group, and it calls for people to sign a petition to tell Start Farm that it’s in its best interest to leave as well:

     

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    Electric charging lanes could be a reality on English roads within years. Image: Highways England

    The UK is testing out roads that charge electric cars as they go

    By Tim Chester UK Aug 17, 2015 LONDON — A trial in England is hoping to significantly boost the range of electric cars by introducing roads that can charge the vehicles as they drive along them.

    Unless you happen to own a Tesla and live near a supercharging station, the current battery life of electric cars doesn’t go incredibly far. While electric cars may get 260 miles to a full charge, gas-guzzling cars can get 300 miles or more.

    Highways England announced last week that it is embarking on an 18-month scheme to trial charging lanes after completing an early feasibility study. (The testing won’t be on public roads just yet, though.) During the trials, vehicles will be fitted with wireless technology and special equipment will be installed beneath roads to replicate motorway conditions. Electric cables buried under the surface will generate electromagnetic fields, which will be picked up by a coil inside the device and converted into electricity. The trial will last 18 months and could be followed by more tests on real roads. Image: Highways England The trial is set to take place later this year; full details will be revealed once a contractor has been appointed. There will be a potential followup on real roads….

     

     

    There’s a big change coming to how we power our homes – and it isn’t solar or batteries

    By Chris Mooney August 26 at 6:25 AM Washington Post

    Earlier this year, home energy received its biggest jolt since rooftop solar when Tesla Motors announced a home battery dubbed the Powerwall. Immediately useful for backup during power outages, the Powerwall also open a broader doorway into a world of home energy storage. When paired with rooftop panels, the availability of storage brings us closer to a future in which homes could be generating much of the energy they need during the day, and then storing some of the remainder for use overnight. But on Wednesday the Rocky Mountain Institute, a noted energy think tank, released a new report suggesting that there’s a less noticed change under way in how we use energy at home — and pay for it — that could have similarly dramatic potential. The institute calls it “demand flexibility” or the potentially catchier “flexiwatts.” Both terms refer to the growing ability, through the use of a variety of timers and controls, for homeowners to determine precisely when during the day (or night) their home’s energy hogs – like, say, the hot water heater or the electric car charger – draw their power.
    Why does the timing matter? Because it allows you to take advantage of increasingly prevalent time-based electricity pricing schemes, in which your power company charges you more for using electricity at peak hours and less at times when there’s less demand, like the middle of the night. The Chicago-based utility ComEd, for instance, offers a program in which prices change hourly, based on demand, and customers receive alerts about what they’ll be…..

     


    In Hawaii, rooftop solar panels threaten ‘utility death spiral

    August 27, 2015 AlJazeera

    Energy experts worry that the rise of solar power will raise prices for utility customers left to subsidize the grid

     

     

     
     


    Climate Change Research Plan for CA, CAL EPA Feb 2015

    The Research Plan presents research gaps that should be tackled over the next three to five years to help identify, evaluate, refine, and implement successful mitigation and preparedness measures in California. The will be complemented by more detailed research plans developed by different state agencies. Major research areas include:

    • Monitoring: Improve methods and indicators for monitoring to better inform policy makers and stakeholders about how California’s climate is changing and the associated impacts.
    • Climate projections: Continue improving methods to “downscale” global climate projections to a scale appropriate for assessments and policies. Convert the large number of projections into probabilities that support risk assessments and into a set of representative projections to support vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning at state, regional, and local scales.
    • GHG accounting: Refine emissions accounting methods, especially for short-lived climate pollutants with high potential for warming the atmosphere and for difficult-to-quantify sectors such as agriculture, waste management, and forestry.
    • Reducing GHG emissions: Investigate the multiple pathways that could achieve climate goals related to emissions reductions from the energy, transportation, agriculture, water, waste management, and industrial sectors. Special attention should be paid to the option of electrification of energy services and provision of a low- or no-carbon electricity grid as a cornerstone. This research will advance both innovative technologies and understanding of consumer behavior. Prudent management of natural and working lands to sink carbon and preserve their health, without which their ability to sequester carbon will be compromised, is also a priority.
    • Preparing for a changing climate: Incorporate new climate science into a risk assessment framework using probabilistic climate and sea-level projections. Identify robust adaptation strategies that would fare well under multiple potential climate scenarios. Vulnerability to extreme events is a particularly critical research gap and it should be explored from local to statewide levels.
    • Socio-economic effects of climate impacts and policy responses: Analyze the effects of climate change and potential responses in important crosscutting areas, such as economics and jobs, consumer choice, and environmental justice. The State must continue to assess the impacts of climate change and related policies on all of California’s diverse communities, including those most impacted by climate change.
    • Synergies of reducing emissions and climate risk: Give priority to research that would concurrently reduce emissions and make California more resilient to climate change, while \providing other co-benefits. Identify situations where these two climate strategies might work at cross-purposes.

     

     

     

    California Climate Change Symposium 2015—CHECK WEBSITE FOR VIDEOS OF CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

    Using Climate Science to Plan for a Resilient Future  August 24-25, 2015   Sacramento Convention Center 

     

     

    WEBINAR:

     

    Upcoming Joint-LCC Science-Management Webinar:

    Identifying Resilient Terrestrial Landscapes in the Pacific Northwest
    Wednesday, September 9th at 1pm (Pacific)

    Please join the North Pacific, Great Northern and Great Basin LCCs on Wednesday, September 9th at 1pm (Pacific), for this science-management webinar with The Nature Conservancy. As the climate changes, species are moving and shifting ranges to stay within their preferred temperature and moisture conditions. How can land managers plan for the conservation of biodiversity at a site when those species might not be there in 50-100 years? Current conservation approaches often focus on predicting where species will move to in the future. This is a reasonable approach but fraught with uncertainty and dependent on a variety of future-climate models. The Nature Conservancy has developed a different, but complementary approach that aims to identify key areas for conservation based on stable land characteristics that increase diversity and resilience, and will not change in a changing climate. The purpose of this project, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, is to identify the most resilient sites in the Northwest that will collectively and individually best sustain native biodiversity even as the changing climate alters current distribution patterns. The central idea is that by mapping key geophysical features and evaluating them for landscape characteristics that buffer against climate change, we can identify the most resilient places in the landscape in order to guide future conservation investments.

    Space is limited, please register here. If you are unable to attend the webinar, a recording will be available on YouTube shortly after the webinar.

     

     

    National Adaptation Forum Webinar

    EVALUATING AND MONITORING ADAPTATION Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 10AM PST/ 1PM EST (confirm time)

    To learn about climate adaptation evaluation and monitoring examples in the field, click HERE to register.
    This webinar will feature: 

    • Rachel M. Gregg, M.M.A., Lead Scientist, EcoAdapt. Is it Doing Any Good?: Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Adaptation Activities
    • Anne Carlson, Ph.D., Climate Associate, The Wilderness Society. Carnivores, water and weeds: Improving the success of climate change response strategies through effective monitoring programs
    • Mallory Morgan, Climate Fellow, San Diego Foundation,  A Qualitative Analysis of the Climate Change Action Plan for the Florida Reef System 2010-2015

    For more information on the webinar and other National Adaptation Forum webinars visit the webinar support page. If you are not able to make the webinar we will also be providing a recording at http://cakex.org/NAF/webinars.

     

     

    UPCOMING CONFERENCES: 

     

    Economics of Soil Health Sept. 21-22, Washington DC

    Join us Sept. 21-22, 2015 for a workshop exploring the economics of soil health. Farm Foundation, NFP and USDA’s Economic Research Service are collaborating on this workshop, which will be in the First Floor Auditorium of the ERS Building, Patriot’s Plaza 3, 355 E Street SW, Washington, D.C.  The workshop will be a policy-oriented discussion of existing research on the economics of soil health, and will identify and prioritize evolving areas of research. What are the private benefits of soil health, and are incentives aligned for farmers to make rational decisions about their soil in the short and long run? What are the public benefits of soil health? What environmental benefits are likely to result from the adoption of soil health practices, and how can we model or quantify them?  This workshop will be a valuable opportunity to network with other economists and researchers working on the economics of soil health. Program details and registration information are available on the Farm Foundation website:
    http://www.farmfoundation.org/webcontent/Economics-of-Soil-Health-1904.aspx

     
     

    State of the San Francisco Estuary Conference – September 17-18, 2015 Oakland, California

    The deadline for the early-bird registration rate is August 20thEvery two years, the Partnership brings a focus on the management and ecological health of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary.  The State of the Estuary Conference showcases the latest information about the Estuary’s changing watersheds, impacts from major stressors, recovery programs for species and habitats, and emerging challenges.  The early-bird registration deadline in August 20th

     

    Climate-Smart Conservation – Southern California September 23, 2015

    Are you interested in how climate change might impact your work? Interested in integrating climate change into your planning and management activities? Curious to know how others are integrating climate change science into planning and projects? On September 23rd The San Diego Management & Monitoring Program and the San Diego Climate Science Alliance are hosting a symposium of Climate-Smart Conservation case studies from the coast of Southern California. Speakers from across the region will present cutting edge efforts to collaboratively support integration of climate change effects into natural resource management. Presentations will be followed by a roundtable discussion highlighting additional local efforts to integrate climate considerations into management actions. Learn more http://californialcc.org/events/climate-smart-conservation-case-studies-southern-california-coast

     
     

    The Wildlife Society 22nd Annual Conference
    October 17-21, 2015 Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

    The Wildlife Society’s Annual Conference is one of the largest gatherings of wildlife professionals, students and supporters in North America.  More than 1,500 attendees gathered to learn, network and engage at our 2014 Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, PA…

     

    Drought Symposium 15- tentatively scheduled for Oct 20-21, So CA

    This October, CalCoast™ and its allies in government, academia, and the private sector (including Strategic Advocacy Partners) will hold “Drought Symposium 15,” tentatively scheduled for Oct 20-21. We have been scouting sites in Ontario, CA; San Diego, CA; and Orange County.  A call for presentations will be circulated soon, but if you have an idea for a presentation or (better yet) a whole panel (90 mins), please send a message to Steve Aceti at steveaceti@calcoast.org and John Helmer at jwhelmer4@gmail.com. If your organization is interested in becoming a sponsor or exhibitor for Drought Symposium 15, please send a message to Gracie Parisi, CalCoast’s COO, at  gracieparisi@calcoast.org. If you know of any conflicts with other events this October 20-21, please let us know. And stay tuned!

     

     

    2015 Southwest Climate Summit  November 2-3, 2015 Holiday Inn Capital Plaza Sacramento, CA
    Join us for the 2015 Southwest Climate Summit when we’ll promote Climate-Smart Conservation by bringing together managers and scientists from across the Southwest to:

    • Discover emerging climate science
    • Explore adaptive management application
    • Share Climate-Smart Conservation results 
    • Discuss management and policy responses

    The California LCC, Southwest Climate Science Center, USDA Southwest Climate Hub, Great Basin LCC, and Desert LCC are hosting the Summit to foster sharing of lessons learned and collaboration across the Southwestern landscape. Click here for more information.

     

    Grand Challenges in Coastal & Estuarine Science: Securing Our Future 8 – 12 November, 2015 Oregon Convention Center | Portland, Oregon
    Registration for the CERF 23rd Biennial Conference is now open! The CERF 2015 scientific program offers four days of timely, exciting and diverse information on a vast array of estuarine and coastal subjects. Presentations will examine new findings within CERF’s traditional scientific, education and management disciplines and encourage interaction among coastal and estuarine scientists and managers. Plus, there are plenty of workshops, field trips, and special events to get involved with that will make this conference one you won’t want to miss.

     

    December 13-18, 2015 San Francisco

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

     

     

     

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

     

    Point Blue Conservation Science: Institutional Philanthropy Director  — for other jobs at Point Blue, see here.

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

     

    Sonoran Joint Venture Coordinator

    The Sonoran Joint Venture (SJV) Coordinator (vice Robert Mesta, who retired recently) is now out on USA Jobs!  It is currently out under Merit Promotion, open only to current, career or career-conditional Department of Interior employees.  Please share this widely and with those you may know would be a great fit to help support and lead the joint venture, its award winning team, great Board, and outstanding bi-national partnership for migratory bird conservation. This is one great opportunity for the right individual.  Send us your best.

    Chief Executive Officer search for the Catalina Island Conservancy

    Santa Catalina Island is one of eight islands off the coast of southern California. Located 19 miles off the coast and a highly visible part of ocean views between Los Angeles and Orange county, Catalina Island has long been an enticing destination to both mainland visitors and residents—especially boaters, since line-of-sight navigation is possible and the relative proximity makes for a pleasant excursion by sail or power. As the third largest landmass in the Channel Islands group, Catalina supports a complex Mediterranean ecosystem… The Catalina Island Conservancy (Conservancy), an independent, California 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was formed in 1972 to protect and restore the natural and cultural resources of Santa Catalina Island and to make them available for public recreation, education, and enjoyment. …

     

    TreePeople CEO  Los Angeles, CA

    TreePeople is seeking a collaborative and results-oriented leader to join its passionate, dedicated and capable staff to empower Angelenos to take action toward a sustainable future.  Working in partnership with Founder and President, Andy Lipkis, the CEO will report to the Board of Directors and is responsible for the overall successful operation and performance of TreePeople.  As forecasts show a changing future coming for Los Angeles complete with more severe storms and extended periods of drought, this is an opportunity to lead TreePeople during this critical time to help strengthen and position the organization for greater impact. Please find the position description attached for your reference.  You can also access it on our website at www.morrisberger.com/currentsearches/treepeople.  I encourage you to share this information with anyone you feel might be a match for this exciting opportunity.  I would welcome having a conversation with you if that might be helpful in your thinking of potential candidates.

     

    Wildlife Officers

    California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is recruiting those interested in a career as a wildlife officer. CDFW will accept applications for wildlife officer cadet through the final filing deadline of Oct. 16, 2015. CDFW is particularly interested in recruiting applicants with a passion for conservation of California’s fish and wildlife resources. For information on minimum qualifications and other requirements for wildlife officer cadets, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/career/.

     

     

    FUNDING

     

    CDFW Now Accepting Proposals for Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs

    The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for restoration projects that further the objectives of the California Water Action Plan (CWAP). For Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-2016, a total of $31.4 million in Proposition 1 funds will be made available through CDFW’s two Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs. The Watershed Restoration Grant Program will fund up to $24 million in projects of statewide importance outside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, while the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program will fund up to $7 million in projects that specifically benefit the Delta….Approved by California voters in November 2014, Proposition 1 provides funds to implement the three broad objectives of the CWAP: establishing more reliable water supplies, restoring important species and habitat, and creating a more resilient, sustainably managed water resources system (water supply, water quality, flood protection and environment) that can better withstand inevitable and unforeseen pressures in the coming decades. The FY 2015-2016 Proposal Solicitation Notice, application instructions and other information about the Restoration Grant Programs are available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Watersheds/Restoration-Grants. Proposals must be submitted online at https://faast.waterboards.ca.gov/. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 4 p.m.

     

    2016 California Sea Grant’s State Fellows Program: Now accepting applications

    The State Fellows Program provides a unique educational opportunity for graduate students at California higher education institutions who are interested both in marine resources and in the policy decisions affecting those resources in California. Modeled after the highly successful national Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program, the State Fellows Program provides an opportunity to acquire “on the job” experience in the planning and implementation of marine and/or coastal resource policies and programs in the state of California. The program matches highly motivated and qualified graduate students and recent graduates with “hosts” in State or Federal agencies in California for a 12-month paid fellowship. This year, 23 fellowships are available, including new opportunities with the Office of Lt. Governor Newsom, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service – Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP). The full request for applications with guidelines and host position descriptions are available here.

     

    The [CA State] Coastal Conservancy
    is pleased to announce a new round of competitive grants to fund multi-benefit watershed restoration and ecosystem protection projects. These grants will be funded by the Proposition 1 Water Bond approved by California voters last fall. The proposal solicitation is on our website and applications are due September 30, 2015.

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    CreditRoger Phillips/Idaho Statesman, via Associated Press 

    Ospreys: The Birds of Summer

    AUG. 22, 2015 Richard Conniff NY Times

    THE other morning, as I sat on the porch having my coffee, an osprey came plummeting down toward me out of a smoky, overcast sky, with a fish caught in his talons. He was screeching, “See, see, seeeee!” over and over. I suppose there must have been another osprey in the neighborhood. The males can be shameless at showing off their catch, but it’s mainly for other birds, not me.

    “Stick around and eat,” I cried up at him. “Plenty of room, water views. Excellent neighbors.” He went winging away instead to some other, more osprey-perfect place, leaving me muttering, “Fussy bastards,” into my coffee cup.

    I am a frustrated landlord. A few years ago, local volunteers put up an osprey nesting platform — basically half a sheet of plywood atop a 10-foot-high post — in the small salt marsh behind my house. In the three breeding seasons since then, young ospreys have flirted with the platform, and even piled up sticks there, the tentative beginnings of long-term residence. One time, a male and female perched together there, sizing each other up and apparently arguing about whether this might be their dream house. But they did not spend the night. Hence I suffer from empty nest syndrome of a very literal sort.

    Not all that long ago, the ambition of having ospreys nesting in the backyard would have been ridiculous. There simply weren’t any. Around the mouth of the Connecticut River, where I live, only a single nest survived in the early 1970s, producing a total of just two chicks — down from a previously stable population of 200 active osprey nests. From New York to Boston, a population of more than 800 nests tumbled down to double digits, with devastating declines also taking place elsewhere on both coasts, and on other continents.

     

     

    FULLER CHALLENGE SEMI-FINALISTS ANNOUNCED!

    August 26, 2015, New York City – The Buckminster Fuller Institute is pleased to announce the Semi-Finalists for the 2015 Fuller Challenge. Now in its 8th annual cycle, The Fuller Challenge invites scientists, designers, architects, activists, entrepreneurs, artists and planners from all over the world to submit their innovative solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing problems. A $100,000 prize is awarded to support the development and implementation of one outstanding strategy. With the strongest applicant pool yet, including the most diverse pool of program entrants to date, from 136 countries, The Fuller Challenge remains the only award specifically working to identify and catalyze individuals and teams employing a whole systems approach to problem solving. ….One of the earliest contributors to the field, The Buckminster Fuller Institute celebrates the now unmistakable uptake of whole systems design approaches across all sectors of society. The proposals submitted from these outstanding teams have undergone rigorous evaluation for adherence to the Challenge entry criteria by the members of the Challenge Review Committee, ensuring that their work is visionary, comprehensive, anticipatory, ecologically responsible, feasible, and verifiable.

    THE 2015 FULLER CHALLENGE SEMI-FINALISTS ARE:

    • 596 Acres: Living Lots is an adaptable, open source land-access platform and dynamic community empowerment initiative that works to identify and transform unused urban spaces.
    • Agrarian Trust is nurturing the birth of a paradigm shifting, cooperatively owned agricultural commons system, using various mechanisms to ensure intergenerational stewardship of America’s farmland.
    • Algae Systems: The Water/Energy Nexus has developed an innovative “industrial ecology” process using algae to provide cost-effective wastewater treatment, remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and yield clean water, bio-fuels, and fertilizers.
    • bioMason “grows” durable, environmentally sustainable bricks from globally abundant, renewable nutrients and minerals in a process that mimics the formation of coral reefs through bio-mineralization.
    • Casa Pueblo de Adjuntas: Forest School combines grassroots conservation, ecological education, and community development in an inspiring model for ecological stewardship built upon a 35-year track record in Puerto Rico.
    • Community Architects Network has grown a facilitation network across 19 countries in Asia, using the participatory design process as a vehicle for transformational community change and upholding their motto to “let the people be the solution”.
    • Drylands Resilience Initiative and HAZEL aims to fuse design, science, and policy and to support coordinated, whole-systems decision-making at multiple scales by providing both granular and holistic data analyses of water flows in the built environment.
    • GreenWave presents a radical new form of aquaculture: multi-species 3D ocean farming, which entails a low-cost, high-yield, zero-input system that filters water, sequesters carbon, restores habitats, and creates economic opportunity.
    • Mahila Housing SEWA Trust: Climate Resiliency Initiative will build upon an impressive history of community development work, engaging diverse stakeholders in order to identify appropriate technologies for climate resilience in poor urban communities in South Asia.
    • The Nubian Vault Programme: A Roof, A Skill, A Market has systematized, adapted, and replicated an ancient Nubian vault structure into a low-cost, sustainable, economically empowering housing solution for both rural and urban areas in the Sahel region of Africa.
    • Omega Global Initiative has evolved a broad-reaching vision involving algal biofuel production, water recycling, solar energy production, aquaculture, and more, seeking to adapt a highly integrative system for diverse locations worldwide.
    • One People One Reef combines traditional knowledge and conservation practices with modern science in order to find comprehensive solutions to declining fisheries and degraded reefs in Pacific-island communities.
    • Project Drawdown unites over 200 individuals and institutions in a coalition to research, analyze, and catalyze climate solutions, quantifying their impacts and using an open-source database to work towards drawdown of excessive CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
    • Sandele Eco-Retreat and Learning Centre takes a comprehensive approach to eco-tourism, working closely with the local population toward community development, ecological conservation, and education in an inspiring model for the future of community-owned tourism.
    • Warka Water 3.2, inspired by Ethiopian vernacular architecture and basket weaving as well as Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome, is a lightweight, modular tower made from locally available bamboo and natural fiber ropes, which harvests water from ambient air to provide clean water to rural communities.

    For more information, visit www.bfi.org To receive updates on the Fuller Challenge, email contact@bfi.org

     

    Discovery of new code makes reprogramming of cancer cells possible

    Posted: 24 Aug 2015 03:49 AM PDT

    Cancer researchers dream of the day they can force tumor cells to morph back to the normal cells they once were. Now, researchers have discovered a way to potentially reprogram cancer cells back to normalcy.

     

    Waste paper could make summer grilling more environmentally friendly

    Posted: 26 Aug 2015 08:38 AM PDT

    Summertime is waning, and that means the end of backyard barbecues is almost upon us. That also means an end to dousing charcoal briquettes with lighter fluid. Reducing the use of lighter fluid might not be a bad thing, as many of those products are made from crude oil and emit potentially harmful compounds when lit. Now, researchers have developed a waste-paper-based, environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative.

     

    High protein foods boost cardiovascular health, as much as quitting smoking or getting exercise

    Posted: 27 Aug 2015 05:36 AM PDT

    Eating foods rich in amino acids could be as good for your heart as stopping smoking or getting more exercise — according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA). A new study published today reveals that people who eat high levels of certain amino acids found in meat and plant-based protein have lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness. And the magnitude of the association is similar to those previously reported for lifestyle risk factors including salt intake, physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking….But they found that the food source was important — with a higher intake of amino acids from plant-based sources associated with lower blood pressure, and a higher intake from animal sources associated with lower levels of arterial stiffness. Lead researcher Dr Amy Jennings, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “This research shows a protective effect of several amino acids on cardiovascular health.

    Increasing intake from protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, dairy produce, beans, lentils, broccoli and spinach could be an important and readily achievable way to reduce people’s risk of cardiovascular disease….

     

    Men, people over 65 sleep better when they have access to nature
    [do ‘people’ over 65 include women?!]

    Posted: 24 Aug 2015 10:08 AM PDT

    Men and persons age 65 and older who have access to natural surroundings, whether it’s the green space of a nearby park or a sandy beach and an ocean view, report sleeping better.

     

    Keep your dogs out of warm lakes: Pythiosis risk

    Posted: 25 Aug 2015 06:50 AM PDT

    Animals, including dogs and horses, can contract pythiosis from swimming spores. About 10 cases of humans getting sick from this disease have also been reported in the U.S.

     

    A student at Bayside MLK Jr. Academy with a plate of fresh, local, non-GMO food. (Photo: YouTube)

    You Can Probably Guess Where the First All-Organic Public School Cafeteria Is

    Marin County’s school district is the first to make the shift—and it is largely low-income kids who will benefit.’

    AUG 20, 2015

     

     

     

     

     

     


     


     

     


     


     

     


     


     

     



     


     

     


     


     

    ————

    Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

    Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)

    3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954

    707-781-2555 x318

     

    www.pointblue.org  | Follow Point Blue on Facebook!

     

    Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.

     

  8. What will happen when the floods hit drought-parched California?

    Leave a Comment

    Gerard

    There Will be Floods

    What will happen when the floods hit drought-parched California?

    By Heather Mack on 17 Aug 2015 1 comment grist.org

    After four years of a near-biblical dry spell, it’s hard to think of California ever getting wet again. The entire state is scorching — literally, in the 118,000 acres engulfed in flames. But just last week climatologists announced that the “Godzilla El Niño” could drench California this winter. Droughts often end in floods. That may sound like a welcome respite, but it will almost certainly hurt: Going from drought to flood is one of the toughest switches to make. Californians shouldn’t count on El Niño to cure the drought: It doesn’t reliably deliver rain to the state. But sooner or later the water will come. Then the only thing we’ll need to worry about more than figuring how to drive in anything resembling an actual “winter” is whether our state will sink and wash away. For starters, it’s clear that cities … overflowing storm drains, submerged freeways, and a collapsed bridge after a few days of rain last month. And anyone living in an urban area during those few seconds it rained last winter can recall many a road either underwater or covered in slippery mud. But California’s farmland is just as vulnerable to destruction. “Dealing with droughts and floods are issues within each other,” says Wendell Gilgert, a soil ecologist at Petaluma-based nonprofit Point Blue Conservation [Science]. “They are one and of the same.” What does he mean by that? Well, think of that scene in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly when superhot (and I mean almost dying of heatstroke) Clint Eastwood tries to gulp down a canteen full of water before Tuco warns him that “too much isn’t good for him.” California is about like Eastwood’s body right now — drought has degraded soils, killed crops, and turned public opinion against farmers just when they most need help to shift production practices. The first issue may be the most serious. The dry weather has desiccated topsoil, turning spongy organic material into dust in some places, and baking dirt into impermeable bricks in others. Poor soil means poor root systems, which equals loose, almost sand-like dirt that can’t absorb water in a useful way. Moreover, degraded soils can’t absorb water well, meaning the water will simply rush through a field, rather than steadily seep through healthy soil and recharge the groundwater supply. But while some have suggested farmers and ranchers switch over to drip irrigation or even abandon agriculture altogether, that could actually make things worse. Drought-shaming the people who grow our food isn’t the solution, Gilgert says. Instead, he sees the drought as an opportunity to help farmers and ranchers shift their production systems.

     

    Managing soil for water extremes

    Across California, farmers, ranchers, and scientists are coming together to develop solutions to climate-based issues on farmland. While the very idea of climate change initially raised the hackles of some conservative ranchers, the drought has helped align the interests of policymakers looking for climate fixes and farmers dealing with the dirt on the ground.
    In fact, some of the most innovative, sustainable and downright optimistic solutions to drought and floods are happening not in complex conversations about geoengineering or rethinking food, but in rethinking the ranches and farms themselves.
    “Whether or not you believe in climate change, you definitely believe in the drought,” said Craig McNamara, a central valley rancher and president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.
    McNamara and Gilgert both say that planning for a future of weather more volatile has brought about a paradigm shift in the way farmers, ranchers and scientists manage soil and water. Gilgert and his team work with ranchers and the Natural Resources Conservation Districts to “re-water” California through rangeland restoration efforts like soil-building (in the form of compost amendments) and sustainable ground cover.
    “We work with ranchers who are either reactive or proactive,” says Gilgert.
    Reactive would be waiting until disasters like droughts or floods strike to take any action. It would mean digging deeper into the ever-dwindling groundwater table rather than trying to restore it. It would mean kowtowing to the pressure from drought shaming, or selling livestock rather than figuring out how to keep grass-fed cattle a reality. Proactive would be learning how to work with the land’s natural carbon cycles and factoring in the reality of extreme weather. For some, this translates to leaving more residual dry matter on pasture and grazing cattle in smaller groups to allow soil carbon to build up before the plants are all eaten.
    Gilgert says farmers shouldn’t be ripping out the crops that are being called out as water hogs. He was astonished to read a recent op-ed in his county newspaper that suggested the state’s rice fields be removed because they require flooding to grow properly.
    “We do something like that, do you know what happens?” Gilgert says. “We lose all of the birds and insects that use that as a flyway. We lose the biodiversity of the area. That only makes the soil weaker and less resistant to droughts and flooding.”
    Diversity, not absence, of plants is key, Gilgert says. And it’s not just crops.

    “If you can build a plant community and shift to perennials, legumes and a lot of other things, then you have a lot more buffering to extremes in weather and climate.”

    More types of vegetation mean more types of root systems that can hold nutrient-dense soil. That soil, in turn, can retain water in times of scarcity and soak it up like a sponge (instead of a kleenex) in times of excess.

     

    Capturing floods underground

    Properly controlled flooding in farmland can relieve the pressure from a swollen river and restore the groundwater.

    Don Cameron runs Terranova Ranch near Fresno, in the epicenter of Droughtville: the San Joaquin Valley. Cameron doesn’t see floods as something to fear. Rather, he wholeheartedly embraces it. His ranch and neighboring ranches are part of a water-capturing experiment. “Our goal is to take floodwater out of Kings River and recharge farmlands,” says Cameron, who grows about 25 different crops with a mix of organic and conventional methods. The project, about 20 years in the making, aims to transform floodwater into groundwater. Farmers will build berms and hedgerows around fields and between crops: When the floods come, water should rush into fields and then seep down into the aquifer. Cameron and his neighbors are experimenting with flooding all sorts of crops: vineyards, nut trees, cotton, and even a few dairy farms. “We feel, with climate change, that we are going to see more periods of extreme weather,” says Cameron. “All storage types are really important, including above-ground storage like dams. But those are difficult and time consuming and expensive, and we figure we can get more benefits with a recharge project.” Not everyone has embraced the idea. There was even some movement toward legislation to prevent farmers and ranchers from flooding, Cameron says. Some people think Californian agriculture should rely only on drip irrigation instead, but that doesn’t recharge groundwater.

     

    Farmers are important water managers

    Flooded rice field in California Robert Couse-Baker

    Gilgert says it’s shortsighted to brush off agriculture as the culprit in drought and flood instability. As he pointed out, there is lower density of human beings on the average ranch than in our wilderness areas. We need those people there to manage that land in the most climate-friendly way possible. “Ranching is a near-indigenous culture and lifestyle at this point in California,” he says. “If you take ranchers off the land, what do you think is going to happen to our rangelands?” If you think that removing a farm means an automatic return to self-sustaining wilderness, think again. Life cycles of land are evolutionary, and after a hundred years of agriculture, ranching and farming is the default of large swaths of California. The land depends on a form of stewardship. So, think of ranchers and farmers as our caretakers, but ones who must adhere to the adage of learning their history. “If you don’t recognize that California in the summertime is a desert, those kinds of short-sighted, reactive ideas like we talked about are not going to support you,” says Gilgert. “And it won’t support the 38 million who live here.”

  9. Another 2 or 3 years of drought? Report looks at what it might mean

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    The dried-up Guadalupe River in San Jose in July. (Jim Gensheimer / Associated Press)

    Another 2 or 3 years of drought? Report looks at what it might mean

    By Peter H. King
    contact the reporter

    Should the current drought extend for another two or three years, most California cities and much of the state’s agriculture would be able to manage, but the toll on small rural communities dependent on well-water and on wetlands and wildlife could be extensive. That was the assessment of a new study from the Public Policy Institute of California, released late Tuesday. Bearing the ominous title “What If California Drought Continues,[Point Blue’s Dr. Nat Seavy is a co-author]
    the report cautions that “it would not be prudent to count on El Nino to end the drought.”
    Ellen Hanak, director of the PPIC Water Policy Center and a co-author of the study, said: “This drought is serving as a stress test for California’s water management systems. Californians have worked hard to limit its impacts, but the experience has also revealed major gaps in our readiness to cope with the droughts we expect in the future.”

    While the drought’s impacts have been felt across California, the study finds that, in general, urban regions — benefiting from improvements in efficiencies, conservation, water management practices and other by-products of previous droughts — stand out as a “bright spot.” “California’s cities and suburbs — home to 95 percent of California’s population and an even higher share of economic activity — have become,” the study observes, “considerably more resilient since the 1987-92 drought, despite the addition of more than eight million residents since that time.” Compared to urban California, it says, “farmers are more vulnerable, but they are also adapting.” With the fallowing of extensive acreage — land mainly used for field crops such as rice — and increased pumping of groundwater, the farm sector in general has managed to maintain productivity in the more lucrative tree and vine crops. “The greatest vulnerabilities,” the PPIC forecast suggests, “are in some low-income rural communities where wells are running dry and in California’s wetlands, rivers, and forests, where the state’s iconic biodiversity is under extreme threat.” An extended drought, according to the study, would threaten extinction in the wild for 18 native species of fish and higher rates of mortality among migratory waterfowl. “California was unprepared for this environmental emergency,” the report asserts, “and is now struggling to implement stopgap measures.” The study was funded by the California Water Foundation. In addition to Hanak, the report lists several California scientists and analysts as co-authors. Their collective analysis, they write, “is informed by wide-ranging data sources and by conversations with officials, business, and stakeholders on the frontlines of drought management.”

  10. Worsening wind forecasts signal stormy times ahead for seabirds

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    Cormorant-like seabirds, known as shags are pictured. Credit: Richard Bardgett

    Worsening wind forecasts signal stormy times ahead for seabirds

    August 18, 2015 University of Edinburg

    Stronger winds forecast as a result of climate change could impact on populations of wild animals, by affecting how well they can feed, a study of seabirds suggests. Research into a common UK coastal seabird showed that when winds are strong, females take much longer to find food compared with their male counterparts. Researchers expect that if wind conditions worsen — as they are forecast to do — this could impact on the wellbeing of female birds, and ultimately affect population sizes. In many seabird species, females are smaller and lighter than males, and so must work harder to dive through turbulent water. They may not hold their breath for as long, fly so efficiently nor dive as deeply as males. The latest results suggest that in poor weather conditions, this sex difference is exaggerated. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and British Antarctic Survey carried out their two-year study into cormorant-like birds, known as shags, on the Isle of May National Nature Reserve in south-east Scotland. Small tracking devices were attached to the legs of birds and measured how long they foraged for fish in the sea. Scientists found that when coastal winds were strong or blowing towards the shore, females took much longer to find food compared with males. The difference in time spent foraging became more marked between the sexes when conditions worsened, suggesting that female birds are more likely to continue foraging even in the poorest conditions…..

     

    Sue Lewis, Richard A. Phillips, Sarah J. Burthe, Sarah Wanless, Francis Daunt. Contrasting responses of male and female foraging effort to year-round wind conditions. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2015; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12419