Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Tag Archive: Policy

  1. 2018 is the year of scientists running for Congress

    Leave a Comment

    March 4 2018 Read full Washington Post article here

    …Part of a nationwide wave of scientifically trained people running for office at every level of government this year, Kopser said he was motivated to run because he sees science being devalued in society — particularly by the Trump administration…

    …The rising activism among scientists is a turnaround for a group that has traditionally seen politics as “grimy and grubby,” said G. Terry Madonna, a professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. Many of these candidates have been recruited by 314 Action, a political action committee founded in 2016 to support policymakers who have scientific or technical backgrounds.

    Named for the first three digits of pi, 314 Action describes itself as the vanguard of “the pro-science resistance.” The group’s founder, Shaughnessy Naughton, said 7,000 people have responded to the group’s call to run for office. The group has also assembled a network of about 400,000 donors eager to support candidates who back science-based policies.

    While a few scientist-candidates are running as independents, most are Democrats making their first foray into party politics. (More than 80 percent of scientists in a 2014 Pew survey identified as Democrats or Democrat-leaning.) 314 Action is working with 30 congressional candidates across the country and expects to formally endorse about half that number…

    …Scientists are scarce in Congress. Only one member has a doctoral degree in a physical science — Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.), a former high-energy physicist at Fermilab. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) worked as an engineer and has a PhD in mathematics. A few others have undergraduate science degrees, including Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who studied microbiology and has a master’s degree in public health. Fourteen members of Congress are physicians, 12 of whom are Republicans. Seven have social science PhDs. An equal number are radio talk-show hosts. There are 200-plus lawyers….

  2. Living in a fire-adapted landscape: Priorities for watershed resiliency in Sonoma County’s natural and working lands

    Leave a Comment

    February 12 2018 Living in a Fire-Adapted Landscape

    In the wake of the North Bay fires, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors directed the Sonoma County Ag + Open Space District to convene a coalition of organizations and agencies to identify short-term actions for watershed recovery and long-term strategies for watershed resiliency. This Watershed Collaborative included the active engagement and participation of nearly 160 individuals representing over 65 local nonprofits [including Point Blue Conservation Science], RCDs and community groups, as well as state and federal agencies. Together, this group developed a set of short-term recovery and long-term strategies for watershed resiliency. The report, Living in a Fire-Adapted Landscape, was delivered to our Board in January, and will be a foundational document for the Natural Resources position in the County’s newly-formed Office of Recovery and Resiliency.

    THE REPORT: Living in a fire-adapted landscape: Priorities for resiliency in Sonoma County’s natural and working lands (pdf) Jan 2018

    Overall Priorities
    1. Support landowners and land managers in assessing and mitigating watershed impacts from the 2017 North Bay fires.
    2. Increase community awareness and preparedness for living in fire-prone landscapes.
    3. Evaluate the response of natural and working lands to the fires to inform recovery, vegetation management, and fire-preparedness efforts.
    4. Identify and implement practices – including land conservation, fuel-load
    management – that maximize the resiliency of natural and working lands to
    climate change and future disasters.
    5. Ensure long-term attention to community and ecosystem resiliency through policy, long-term funding, and established working groups.
    6. Permanently protect a network of lands that support biological diversity through changing climate conditions and prevent development in high risk areas.
  3. California is powering toward its climate goals. But it only gets harder from here.

    Leave a Comment
    • Just 19% of planet-warming emissions tracked by the state came from electricity in 2015; 23% from industrial facilities like oil refineries and cement plants, with smaller contributions from agriculture, gas heating systems at homes and businesses, and chemicals used in refrigeration and air conditioning; the biggest –39% of California’s emissions – the largest — came from cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles in 2015.

    Sammy Roth Dec. 26, 2017  read the full Desert Sun article here

    …The Golden State gets nearly half its electricity from climate-friendly sources, including solar, wind, hydro and nuclear. Carbon emissions keep inching downward, putting the state on track to reduce planet-warming pollution to 1990 levels by 2020, as mandated by state law.

    Some lawmakers think it’s time for more ambitious goals. State Senate leader Kevin de León introduced a bill last year that would have required the state to get 100 percent of is electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2045 — a big jump from current requirements.

    That bill wasn’t passed — at least not yet — but some utilities seem to have gotten the message. Investor-owned Southern California Edison recently released a plan for California to get 80 percent of its electricity from climate-friendly sources by 2030

    …But for all the progress California has made cleaning up its electricity, slashing carbon emissions is only going to get harder from here.

    Just 19 percent of planet-warming emissions tracked by the state came from electricity in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the California Air Resources Board. Twenty-three percent came from industrial facilities like oil refineries and cement plants, with smaller contributions from agriculture, gas heating systems at homes and businesses, and chemicals used in refrigeration and air conditioning.

    The biggest source of climate pollution was transportation. Thirty-nine percent of California’s emissions came from cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles in 2015….

    …a dramatic shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles over the next few decades will be a huge lift for California. One bright spot is that the cost of lithium-ion car batteries continues to drop, and automakers are offering ever-cheaper electric vehicles.

    …Continuing to ramp up clean electricity is also expected to get harder. The rapidly falling costs of solar and wind have led to stunning growth of those technologies, but the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Experts say California will need new strategies to get to 50 percent clean electricity, and ultimately 100 percent….

    …Options for scaling up renewable energy include lithium-ion battery storage, which like solar and wind is getting cheaper, as well as innovative energy management strategies, like encouraging people to use energy at different times of day through restructured electricity rates or incentive payments.

    Good old energy efficiency is probably the cheapest option. California’s per-capita electricity consumption has stayed flat since the mid-1970s, and a 2015 law calls for the state to double its energy-efficiency savings by 2030. That doubling will require more efficient buildings and appliances, as well as savings by industry and agriculture, according to the California Energy Commission.

    ….cities are looking to ditch their electric utilities and form “community choice aggregators,” in which local officials decide where to buy energy. The desire for cleaner energy is often a key motivation. By some estimates, investor-owned utilities like Edison could lose as much as 80 percent of their customer bases to community choice programs over the next decade. That’s worrying for the utility industry, but exciting for many clean energy advocates….

  4. Translational ecology- connecting scientists, policymakers and natural resource managers (special issue of Frontiers in Ecology & the Environment)

    Leave a Comment

    Southwest Climate Science Center research team leads emerging transdisciplinary field

    By: Dominika Heusinkveld December 1, 2017 Southwest Climate Science Cente

    A new issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment published on December 1, 2017 focuses on the emerging field of translational ecology. Modeled after translational medicine, the field aims to connect researchers in ecology with the people who apply that research on a day-to-day basis—policy makers, local governments, and natural resource managers. The goal is to help these groups utilize ecological research for issues such as fire management strategies, forest and land management, and fish and wildlife habitat restoration, among others.

    The Southwest Climate Science Research Center is a collaborative partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and six academic institutions across the Southwest U.S., including the University of Arizona which serves as the host institution.

    One of the core principles of translational ecology is that resource management decisions informed by scientific research will be better decisions, says Gregg Garfin, author of several papers in the new issue. Scientists and natural resource managers have discovered, however, that this is not always easy.

    “It takes around 20 years for scientific findings to make their way to use, when following a traditional pathway,” says Garfin. “It turns out that resource managers don’t have time to follow the scientific literature and that, in order to get management-relevant scientific results on the radars of resource managers, ecologists need to be more proactive—and less insular and academic—by working in partnership with stakeholders.”

    Garfin, of the University of Arizona School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE), and Institute of the Environment, is University Director of the Southwest Climate Science Center. Other authors in the issue include Connie Woodhouse of the School of Geography and Development, Carolyn Enquist (SNRE affiliated faculty and Deputy Director of the SW CSC), and Steve Jackson (Geosciences and SNRE affiliated faculty and Federal Director of the SW CSC).

    Translational ecology was originally proposed in 2010 by William Schlesinger, former president of the Ecological Society of America. He advocated “constant two-way communication between stakeholders and scientists” as part of a continuing process of learning between researchers and end-users of the research.

    “These kinds of collaborations allow decision makers and scientists to better understand each other’s professional cultures, operational languages, and norms,” says Garfin. The end result should be better-informed decisions on issues which affect us all.

    Everyone is a stakeholder when it comes to ecology,” says Garfin.

    He acknowledges that not all science is suited for translation. “Basic, applied, and actionable science all eventually benefit society. Not every ecologist is interested in translational science approaches…Our aim is to create the space for translational ecology to flourish.”

    Work featured in the special issue was funded by the USGS through the Southwest Climate Science Center (www.swcsc.arizona.edu) and National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.

  5. “We are still in” video links: US Climate Action Center side events with Bloomberg and Brown making ‘America’s (non-federal) Pledge,’ Todd Stern on the future of the Paris Accords, and more at COP23 UN climate conference

    Leave a Comment

    November 16, 2017

    See here for videos of all the presentations at the alternative US Climate Action Center with the slogan “we are still in” (to see the full selection, scroll down the page a little and look to the right of “LIVESTREAM” — click on the small video icon at the top right of the gray livestream rectangle and scroll down for the titles below)

    Some highlights worth watching:

    Whither the Paris Agreement? The Future of the Paris Agreement
    Thursday, November 16th | 12:00- 1:00 | Fiji Dome [NOTE: this gives a great clear overview of the Paris Agreement and actions needed between now and 2020]
    Speakers: Todd Stern, former Special Envoy for Climate Change in the Obama Administration and Sue Biniaz, the former principal legal advisor on the climate negotiations for the United States.
    Hosted by: America’s Pledge

    America’s Pledge Launch Event [see a pdf of America’s Pledge here and press release on the GHG reductions commitment from non-federal US entities of over 2500 cities, states and businesses that equals 1/3 of the US economy and the 3rd largest economy in the world]
    Saturday, November 11th | 10:30 – 12:00 | Fiji Dome
    Speakers: Michael R. Bloomberg; Governor Jerry Brown, California; Bill Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, PA; Laura Phillips, Senior VP of Sustainability, Walmart
    Hosted by: America’s Pledge

    Maintaining U.S. Engagement in International Climate Finance
    Saturday, November 11th | 12:00 – 13:30 | Fiji Dome
    Speakers: Vice President Al Gore; Senator Jeff Merkley, Oregon; Governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginia; Frank Klipsch, Mayor of Davenport, Iowa and Co-Chair, MRCTI; Dan Zarrilli, Senior Director, Climate Policy and Programs, City of New York; Valerie Smith, Director and Global Head, Corporate Sustainability, Citi; Kevin Rabinovitch, Global VP of Sustainability and Chief Climate Officer, Mars, Inc.
    Hosted by: Center for American Progress; World Resources Institute; CDP; Mississippi River Cities &Towns Initiative (MRCTI)

    California’s Climate Regulatory Program: Recent Progress Informs Opportunities and Challenges
    Thursday, November 9th | 15:00 – 16:00 | Fiji Dome
    Speakers:
    The Honorable Ricardo Lara, California State Senate; Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director, Climate Resolve; Ellie Cohen, CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science (see my presentation here: COHEN Healthy Lands to Secure our Future– CA & Climate Policy, US Clim Action Center Nov 9 2017); Nicolas Muller, UNFCCC
    Moderator: Louis Blumberg, Director, California Climate Change Program, The Nature Conservancy
    Hosted by: The Nature Conservancy

  6. Bad news: Global emissions rising again

    Leave a Comment
    • In 2017, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to grow by 2% (0.8% to 3%). This follows three years of nearly no growth (2014-2016). (GDP to rise 3.6% according to IMF figures).
    • Global CO2 emissions from all human activities are set to reach 41 billion tonnes (41 Gt CO2) by the end of 2017. Meanwhile emissions from fossil fuels are set to reach 37 Gt CO2 — a record high.
    • Atmospheric CO2 concentration reached 403 parts per million in 2016, and is expected to increase by 2.5 ppm in 2017.
    • [and some good news] CO2 emissions decreased in the presence of growing economic activity in 22 countries representing 20 per cent of global emissions; Renewable energy has increased rapidly at 14% per year over the last five years — albeit from a very low base.

    November 13, 2017 University of East Anglia read full ScienceDaily article here

    Global carbon emissions are on the rise again in 2017 after three years of little to no growth. Global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 billion tons in 2017, following a projected 2 percent rise in burning fossil fuels. It was hoped that emissions might soon reach their peak after three stable years, so this is an unwelcome message for policy makers and delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn this week.

    The research, published today simultaneously in the journals Nature Climate Change, Earth System Science Data Discussions and Environmental Research Letters, reveals that global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 billion tonnes in 2017, following a projected 2% rise in burning fossil fuels.

    The figures point to China as the main cause of the renewed growth in fossil emissions — with a projected growth of 3.5%.

    CO2 emissions are expected to decline by 0.4% in the US and 0.2% in the EU, smaller declines than during the previous decade.

    Increases in coal use in China and the US are expected this year, reversing their decreases since 2013….

    ….[some good news] CO2 emissions decreased in the presence of growing economic activity in 22 countries representing 20 per cent of global emissions….

    Glen P. Peters et al. Towards real-time verification of CO2 emissions. Nature Climate Change, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/s41558-017-0013-9

  7. From Miami to Shanghai: 3C of warming will leave world cities below sea level

    Leave a Comment
    • An elevated level of climate change would lock in irreversible sea-level rises affecting hundreds of millions of people, Guardian data analysis shows
    • local preparations for a 3C world are as patchy as international efforts to prevent it from happening. At six of the coastal regions most likely to be affected, government planners are only slowly coming to grips with the enormity of the task ahead – and in some cases have done nothing.
    • UN Environment Program said that the international body said government commitments were only a third of what was needed.

    Hundreds of millions of urban dwellers around the world face their cities being inundated by rising seawaters if latest UN warnings that the world is on course for 3C of global warming come true, according to a Guardian data analysis.

    Famous beaches, commercial districts and swaths of farmland will be threatened at this elevated level of climate change, which the UN warned this week is a very real prospect unless nations reduce their carbon emissions.

    Data from the Climate Central group of scientists analysed by Guardian journalists shows that 3C of global warming would ultimately lock in irreversible sea-level rises of perhaps two metres. Cities from Shanghai to Alexandria, and Rio to Osaka are among the worst affected. Miami would be inundated – as would the entire bottom third of the US state of Florida.

    The Guardian has found, however, that local preparations for a 3C world are as patchy as international efforts to prevent it from happening. At six of the coastal regions most likely to be affected, government planners are only slowly coming to grips with the enormity of the task ahead – and in some cases have done nothing.

    This comes ahead of the latest round of climate talks in Bonn next week, when negotiators will work on ways to monitor, fund and ratchet up national commitments to cut CO2 so that temperatures can rise on a safer path of between 1.5 and 2C, which is the goal of the Paris agreement reached in 2015.

    The momentum for change is currently too slow, according to the UN Environment Programme. In its annual emissions gap report, released on Tuesday, the international body said government commitments were only a third of what was needed. Non-state actors such as cities, companies and citizens can only partly fill this void, which leaves warming on course to rise to 3C or beyond by the end of this century, the report said….

  8. Finally, a focus on saving the great forests of the Sierra. But is it too late? SacBee Editorial

    Leave a Comment
    • “There is an urgent need to reform policy and management to ensure that Californians continue to benefit from these forests for generations to come,” a new Public Policy Institute of California report says
    • Reducing forest density could have the side benefit of increasing run-off by as much as 9 percent, filling streams and rivers for the good of fisheries and for residential, agriculture and industrial use, the PPIC report says.

    Sacramento Bee Editorial  September 21, 2017 read full SacBee editorial here

    We Californians take for granted the great forests of the Sierra Nevada. It is where we ski and hike, and breathe fresh air, and it’s the primary source of our water.

    It’s all at risk. Drought and bark beetle infestation are the proximate cause of death of more than 100 million trees in California since 2010. But the forests were weakened by climate change, combined with mismanagement that includes well-intentioned wildfire prevention efforts and logging in past decades of old-growth trees, which are most resistant to fire and disease.

    [Governor] Brown and the Legislature approved another $225 million in cap-and-trade revenue, reserved for the fight against climate change, for forests. That underscored one of California’s inconvenient truths. Like refineries, diesel engines and cars powered by internal combustion, burning and decaying forests spew greenhouse gases.

    In April, the Governor’s Tree Mortality Task Force reported that the 2013 Rim Fire at Yosemite emitted 12.06 million tons of carbon dioxide, three times more than all the greenhouse gas reductions achieved that year in all other sectors in California. Worse, the detritus decomposing in the burn area will unleash four times that amount of greenhouse gas in coming decades.

    In much of the 15 million acres of mountains from Kern to Siskiyou counties, forests are choking with 400 sickly trees per acre, four times the number in healthy forests. Tools to heal the forests are at hand, but forest management is fraught.

    …Some environmentalists oppose logging, while some conservative politicians advocate unraveling environmental restrictions to allow for far more logging. Neither extreme is helpful. Flexibility is needed. The Clean Air Act could, for example, allow for the use of prescribed fires.

    …Reducing forest density could have the side benefit of increasing run-off by as much as 9 percent, filling streams and rivers for the good of fisheries and for residential, agriculture and industrial use, the PPIC report says.

    The report says the cost of wise forest management might not be astronomical. In time, it might pay for itself, assuming mills are retooled or built to accommodate smaller and mid-size timber. Such mills could provide jobs in parts of the state where unemployment is chronically high.

    …Our re-engineered state of 40 million people faces many problems. The water delivery system is oversubscribed and antiquated. Billions of dollars should be spent to reinforce California against floods.

    But there is cause for optimism. Laird last month announced the Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative with other top officials, and some significant environmental groups are joining longtime advocates to focus on Sierra restoration. There is some support in Congress for wiser forest management.

    And now comes an infusion of state money, not to be taken for granted, and none too soon.

  9. A better farm future starts with the soil; Opinion on the next Farm Bill

    Leave a Comment
    • With extreme weather events on the rise and farmers and foresters feeling the effects of a changing climate, however, soil health is now at the forefront of our national conversation.
    • Within the next year, the new 5 year Farm Bill will be reauthorized with implications for every aspect of food and agriculture in the US
    • the next farm bill should ensure an ongoing and growing focus on improving soil health and should make sure that USDA has the authority and funding it needs to measure and report on program outcomes…

    Within the next year Congress will reauthorize the massive amalgamation of legislation we commonly refer to as “the farm bill.” The farm bill, which is reauthorized every five years, has major implications for every part of our food and farm system and covers issues including but certainly not limited to: conservation, nutrition, local food, credit and finance, research and commodity subsidies.

    Although healthy soil is one of the essential building blocks of agriculture, historically the issue has not been a major focus of the farm bill – as some farmers would say, soil has been treated like dirt. With extreme weather events on the rise and farmers and foresters feeling the effects of a changing climate, however, soil health is now at the forefront of our national conversation.

    ….As our most significant package of food and farm legislation approaches expiration on September 30, 2018, many are asking: How can the farm bill support resilient farms, address natural resource concerns and increase productivity? A key part of the answer: promote soil health.….The next farm bill should enhance the long-term funding base for both working lands programs and ensure an ongoing and growing focus on improving soil health. In addition, the farm bill should make sure that USDA has the authority and funding it needs to measure and report on program outcomes….

    ….The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is one of the only USDA research programs with a clear and consistent focus on farmer-driven research. SARE is the leader in cutting-edge on-farm research to develop and test soil enhancement methods, such as regionally specific cover cropping or grazing management systems. The next farm bill should reauthorize and secure direct farm bill funding for SARE to ensure the program’s continued success.

    ….The farm bill must also underscore the connection between healthy soils and reduced risks for farmers, and ensure that federal crop insurance programs reward producers for advanced conservation activities and provide the appropriate incentives for those who are not currently engaged.

    Collectively, reforms to conservation, research and the farm safety net present an enormous opportunity to improve the health of our soils. …

    Alyssa Charney is a policy specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and staffs the Coalition’s Conservation, Energy, and Environment Committee.

  10. Cartoons- Sept. 15, 2017

    Leave a Comment

    Note: These cartoons are opinions of the artists and do not necessarily reflect the views of Point Blue Conservation Science or its staff.

    http://www.gocomics.com/mattdavies/2017/09/12

    http://www.gocomics.com/claybennett/2017/09/01

     

    http://www.gocomics.com/mikeluckovich/2017/09/07

     

    Signe Wilkinson 09/13/17

    http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/signe/20170913_Daily_Signe_Cartoon_09_13_17.html

     

     

     : California cartoons : Meyer Cartoons

    http://www.meyertoons.com/gallery.html?gallery=California%20cartoons&folio=Cartoons