Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium

2015 News

BAECCC Brief: December 22, 2015

Elizabeth Kolbert has a great piece in the New Yorker about sea level rise in Miami, which she visited during the king tides in September.

Andrew Revkin of the New York Times offers his thoughts on the Paris Accord. Naomi Oreskes has an opinion piece in Scientific American about the role of government in market-based solutions for climate change.

The Sacramento Bee has an interesting profile of Governor Brown and his focus on climate action. The San Jose Mercury News has an article on ocean acidification, focusing on the vulnerability of the North American coast and particularly Monterey Bay.

I have always struggled with the idea that the Wall Street Journal editorial page is considered to contain important advice to the business community, given how incorrect many of its opinions are in relation to climate change. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University has penned a blog post that captures this perfectly, documenting the growing problem for business leaders that count on the Journal, and the Business Editor of the Huffington Post has more on the topic here.

The Pacific Standard has an excellent article about El Niño preparations (and past impacts) in Ecuador.  The New York Times has an interesting article about drought in Iran, and how government policies have contributed to exacerbating the problem.

And for some wonderful holiday spirit, enjoy the US Air Force Band performing Joy to the World as a flash mob at the National Air and Space Museum.

Happy New Year to all!

Andy

BAECCC Brief: December 11, 2015

Nature reports that according to Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Commission's Joint Research Center the rate of growth of CO2 emissions slowed dramatically in 2014, showing an annual increase of only 0.5%. This confirms a similar report from the International Energy Agency, and demonstrates an uncoupling of greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth.

Scientific American has an excellent article about the sensitivity of the climate to greenhouse gas concentrations and the uncertainties inherent climate models. Slate reviews the recent extreme flooding Chennai, India.

John Sutter of CNN has written a fascinating article about his visit to the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, where for decades the residents have resisted (at great personal sacrifice) development of the rich coal seams on their land. The Associated Press reports on the economic challenges facing Central Appalachia as the economic activity associated with coal mining dwindles.

Californians can use the size Lyell Peak Glacier in the Yosemite backcountry is a barometer of our changing climate. The Las Vegas Sun reports on the status of the Wheeler Peak Glacier in Great Basin National Park in Nevada, which is a similar icon of climate change for that state. The New York Times has an interesting article about glacial retreat and extreme weather in Western China.

Justin Gillis of the New York Times has prepared an excellent summary of climate science and its implications (Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change). This is a concise and clear summary of the issues, and is very well suited to sharing on the Internet with a wide variety of audiences. Mr. Gillis also has a good summary of the work of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways project, which has explored in detail the technological challenge for meeting the 2°C target.

There is so much news generated by the COP21 meeting Paris that I will highlight just a fews interesting articles I’ve read during this time. One is Jeff Goodell’s interview in Rolling Stone of Secretary of State John Kerry about climate change politics and the impact of climate change on national security. In Paris, President Obama called climate change one of the greatest threats facing the United States and the world (as you might expect, Donald Trump has a different opinion, as does Carly Fiorina). Vogue has a brief profile of 13 women from around the world who are engaged in COP21, and NPR has a nice piece on commitments emerging from the United Nations Lima-Paris Action Agenda regarding carbon farming as an climate change solution.

Finally, one of the most essential arguments for human-induced climate change is that there is no alternative explanation for what we are observing on the planet, nor is there an explanation for why greenhouse gas emissions are not causing what we are observing (this was fundamental for the Supreme Court’s finding that carbon dioxide is a pollutant pursuant to the Clean Air Act). This article from Scientific American describes this argument very effectively.

I hope everybody has a great holiday season.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: November 23, 2015

In response to a recent article denying climate change by David Siegel, a group of authors have produced a superb summary of the causes and impacts of climate change and tactics used to deny climate science. I recommend this article to anyone who wants a good introduction to the problem presented in a non-technical manner.

Dave Roberts writes at Vox about why Senator McConnell’s (R-KY) plan to have states resist the Clean Power Plan by refusing to develop a state-based plan has failed. And if you are interested in the ongoing harassment of NOAA climate scientists by the Lamar Smith, Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, I recommend reading the latest letter in response from the minority leader on the Committee, Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). Representative Johnson describes how Chairman Smith’s “investigation”, which now includes threatening the Secretary of Commerce and the Administrator of NOAA while creating extensive misleading media coverage, has no basis in fact. 

I have always used the history of climate science as a method to engage audiences with how long we’ve understood the problem and thus the urgency of action. Stefan Ramsdorf has an article Fifty Years of Climate Dithering that uses this strategy very well. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that October 2015 was the warmest October ever recorded by a large margin, obliterating the record set in October 2014. September 2015 was also the warmest September ever recorded, assuring that 2015 will the warmest year ever recorded. It is likely that 2015 will be the first year that the earth’s annual average temperature was more than 1°C above the pre-industrial average.

The Los Angeles Times reports on major flooding in Death Valley, and notes that next spring could have a fantastic wildflower display (h/t David Lewis). The Seattle Times reports on a recent University of Washington analysis of mid-Century climate change impacts for the Puget Sound region, and an article in USA Today recounts the highly variable weather this year in Texas (43% of Texas was in drought in March, almost zero in July, almost 45% in October, and back to 0.6% by mid-November).

Marin County has released Draft Vulnerability Assessment for Marin's Ocean Coast. They are accepting comments on the document through December 14, 2015. And the San Jose Mercury reports that the first offshore wind farm for California has been proposed 15 miles offshore from Morro Bay.

This op-ed in the New York Times stresses the important global role of ecologically-based forestry and agricultural techniques for sequestering carbon, using the example of the Versaland farm in Iowa.

Michael Klare (Professor at Hampshire College) proposes in TomDispatch that the upcoming Paris Climate Conference (Conference of the Parties 21) is actually a peace conference. He argues persuasively that an aggressive agreement to limit carbon emissions will help mediate environmental changes that are going to exacerbate conflicts that lead to war.

An op-ed from Charlton County Herald (Folkston, GA) describes the recent extreme storms and high tides in the Southeast, along with some statements from local elected officials that demonstrate how political and value-laden the debate regarding climate change has become. This article provides evidence that the days of climate denial are numbered, but at the same time documents what must be overcome among conservative Republican lawmakers and their constituents.

I hope everybody has a great Thanksgiving.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: November 10, 2015

Al Jazeera has an interesting article about recent flooding in Alexandria, Egypt. Alexandria is one the five cities of the world most vulnerable to sea level rise, according to the World Bank. According to the article, one quarter of a meter of sea level rise in Alexandria will displace over 2 million people. The Washington Post has an interesting post about the current king tides in Miami, and the Miami Herald has an excellent article that goes into some detail regarding salt-water intrusion driven by sea level rise. A variety of physical factors have come together in late October to generate the highest tides ever seen without storm surge in Miami and other Atlantic locations (more discussion here).

Norfolk, VA, one of the country’s cities most vulnerable to sea level rise, has published a resilience strategy as a member of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Initiative (article from The Virginian Pilot). An interesting article in the Atlantic ponders the institutional implications of mounting an effort to address climate change similar to the US mobilization to fight World War II.

NOAA released Guidance for Considering the Use of Living Shorelines, which was developed in an agency wide effort to clarify NOAA’s encouragement for the use of living shorelines as a shoreline stabilization technique along sheltered coasts. Living shorelines are gaining attention around the country as an alternative to traditional shoreline stabilization techniques like seawalls and bulkheads, which create a barrier between land and water (this item was also included in Ellie’s summary).

Marin County has developed the Game of Floods board game to as a public education activity on sea level rise adaptation. The Game of Floods is a small group activity, with 4-6 participants tasked with developing a vision for ‘Marin Island 2050,’ a hypothetical landscape that highlights the conditions that will be experienced in Marin in coming years with sea level rise and increased storm impacts causing the loss or deterioration of homes, community facilities, roads, agricultural land, beaches, wetlands, lagoons, and other resources. The county has used the game at public workshops. (h/t Bruce Riordan)

Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) has published an op-ed in the Miami Herald calling for the Republican Party to take action on climate change. Curbelo is one of 11 Republican members of Congress who co-sponsored a resolution (H. Res 424) introduced by Chris Gibson (R-NY) that calls for action. And an article in The New Republic examines the decision Senator Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) to support the Clean Power Plan as an example of changing attitudes about climate change among some Republican lawmakers.

The Tulsa World invited Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to write an article about climate change in opposition to a piece from Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). Whitehouse’s article uses findings and quotes from scientists at Oklahoma colleges and universities to make the case that climate change is real and must be addressed.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that Florida State Rep. Ben Albritton, a Republican from Wauchula and chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, twice cautioned a state environmental protection official about expressing "speculation" on sea level rise in response to questions from Subcommittee members at a hearing regarding restoration of the Everglades.

BAECCC Brief: October 27, 2015

The 2015 Science Update to the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals (The Baylands and Climate Change: What We Can Do), developed under the auspices of BAECCC and the California State Coastal Conservancy over the last three years, was released on October 19th. The website includes a general summary of the findings, and also a download page where the overview, main report, and science foundation chapters are available (along with copies of the 1999 reports). There has been extensive news coverage of the release, including an exclusive report by Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury News, op-eds in the Mercury and the San Francisco Chronicle, and an editorial in the Mercury that uses the findings of the report to encourage the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority to move forward with a parcel tax measure to support restoration.

Ben Strauss of Climate Central and colleagues have a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that focuses on the threat sea level rise poses to major cities around the world (a news summary is available here). They examine in particular on what previous emissions imply for sea level, and then the difference between a “business as usual” future and a constrained emissions future, with particular focus on the implications of a collapse of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The New York Times reports on how coastal development in China is destroying wetland habitat that is a crucial part of the hemispheric flyway. And Al-Jazeera America published a detailed article about sea level rise impacts in Delaware.

Jessica Hellman and David Ackerly have a great article at The Conversation about migration of plants and animals in response to climate change. The New York Times has an interesting article about lawn conversion programs in California.

Mashable reports on the remarkable tropical storm season that is drawing to a close, with the warm Pacific contributing to a large number of powerful storms (the article has a photo gallery of the storms if you’re interested). And Inside Climate News summarizes a new study that projects a stronger ENSO cycle in the future that will produce more intense droughts and flooding in California.

The New York Times reports on the Billion Oyster Project in New York Harbor, a restoration/education project initiated with funding from the National Science Foundation. And the Portland Press Herald has an excellent article about the ecological changes in the Gulf of Maine, where they are documenting a variety of ecological cascades being driven by warmer water.

And finally, from the “Congressional Support for Science Department”: The Washington Post reports that Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.). chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, issued subpoenas two weeks ago demanding emails and records from NOAA scientists. These scientists published an analysis of recent global atmospheric temperature data in Science that demonstrates there is no “pause” in the trend of increasing global temperatures. Given that all of the data used by the authors is publicly available, the ranking Democrat on the Committee stated that Smith has "not articulated a legitimate need for anything beyond what NOAA has already provided.” Commentary on Smith’s action is available from Phil Plait at Slate and Michael Halpern at the Union of Concerned Scientists (Halpern notes "NOAA scientists devote their lives to learning more about the world around us. Attempts by Congress to intimidate and harass them should be met with fierce resistance.”)

Andy

BAECCC Brief: October 14, 2015

A new video, Water at Bay, is available from ourbayonthebrink.org. The video builds off of the Surviving the Storm report, and does an excellent job describing how wetlands are an important part of preparing our region for the impact of sea level rise and more extreme storm events.

Restore Americas Estuaries has produced an introductory video about Living Shorelines, using examples from Bethany Beach, DE, and Orcas Island, WA. This well-produced video documents how designing appropriate living shorelines requires understanding the local ecological context and the processes active in the landscape. Australian researchers have concluded that combined impacts of acidification and higher temperatures in the upper ocean will impact species at the top of the marine food web, a change with important implications for human communities that utilize these marine resources.

Nature has published an excellent and concise summary of the impacts, prognosis, and potential solutions for California’s drought (a link to this article was also in Ellie’s summary). The New Scientist summarizes preparations being made for the potential impacts of a major El Niño event across the world, and Time Magazine reports on the drought affecting São Paulo, Brazil.

John Sutter at CNN has a new article in his 2°C series entitled Why Beef is the New SUV. As in previous pieces, he is on the ground, this time in Texas examining the carbon footprint of eating beef. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports on the evidence of climate change being gathered from the high altitude lakes in Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

Reuters has an interesting article about how the sustainable palm oil movement, after having much success with large producers, is running into resistance from government agencies in Indonesia.

NASA now has a web-page with quotes from a diverse array of national and international scientific bodies documenting the international consensus that human emissions of greenhouse gases are driving climate change. It does appear, slowly, that more conservative voices are being raised regarding the importance of this overwhelming evidence. Here’s an example from a conservative meteorologist on the blog of WRAL (Raleigh, NC). A recent poll reports over 70% of Americans accept the evidence that humans are causing climate change.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: September 29, 2015

While we await the coming El Niño winter with some hope that above average precipitation will at least slightly ease drought conditions in California, this op-ed in the Guardian reminds us that El Niño has broad implications for nations around the world, including challenging conditions for many countries with limited resources for preparation and response. And, however bizarre, it should be noted that a small but vocal group of American citizens are convinced the drought is being created by the government spraying chemicals into the sky.

The New York Times published a detailed article about fire trends and management in the west, including a lot of discussion about how to be “climate smart” as we face the problem of increased fire intensity and duration. It notes the US Forest Service is now spending 50% of its budget fighting fires, as opposed to 16% just ten years ago, and they project this could rise to 75% of the budget in ten years. And a related statistic courtesy of Adam Markham on UCS blog: from 1950-1989 wildfires burned 27 million acres in Alaska, but in the last 5 years 37 million acres have burned.

Here’a great piece from The Daily Climate (h/t Bruce Riordan) about 2015 being the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s Special Message to the Congress on Conservation and Restoration of Natural Beauty (February 8, 1965) noting that “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through radioactive materials and a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.” The appendix of report of the Environmental Pollution Panel of the President’s Science Advisory Committee on Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide can be found here. And the Rolling Stone published a lengthy interview with the current President about climate change.

In another piece of climate science history, InsideClimate New has published the first in a series of articles that document ExxonMobil’s conclusions from the late 1970s that carbon dioxide emissions will change the climate. The company actually measured carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere by outfitting an oil tanker with detection equipment, but then decided to support a massive misinformation campaign at odds with the conclusions of their own scientists. Bill McKibben has reviewed the issue in the New Yorker, and Michael Mann has a more detailed summary in EcoWatch. Mann is one of several leading climate scientists who have just sent a letter to President Obama supporting Senator Whitehouse’s suggestion that an investigation pursuant to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Oranizations Act (RICO) should be conducted of corporations and other organizations that appear to have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change.

I thought this letter to the editor presents a thoughtful and succinct summary of the expected migratory crisis that will continue to develop due to climate change. Inside Climate News interviews Frank Biermann, a Dutch researcher who has studied climate-driven migration.

And here’s a short and fun video from Girl Pants Productions about how the logic of climate denial would present in a variety of everyday discussions.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: September 13, 2015

USGS has released a study reviewing the threat sea level rise poses to mashes on the West Coast over the next 100 years. It concludes that while vulnerability varies from marsh to marsh, most wetlands would likely be resilient to rising sea levels over the next 50-70 years. Beyond that time, however, most wetlands might convert to intertidal mudflats as sea level rise outpaces the capacity of tidal marshes to adapt. Rate of sea level rise, initial elevation, and inorganic sediment accumulation are all dominant factors which determine tidal marsh sustainability. They note that it may be necessary to take one or more proactive management steps to ensure habitat persistence, such as protecting and restoring habitat adjacent to current tidal marshes so that marshes are able to migrate into upland areas and taking steps to augment sediment supply to marshes (press release, full report).

ThinkProgress has an interesting article on the flooding threat in Sacramento, the steps being taken to address it, and the problem levee systems face nationally. Dave Roberts of VOX presents interesting perspective on Hurricane Katrina, the challenges of adaptation, and the importance of addressing income inequality to build more resilient communities.

A little appreciated projection for a strong El Niño is that it likely will lead to more “nuisance flooding” or “sunny day flooding” on the Atlantic Coast of the US. This AP story summarizes the projections made by NOAA for the coming year. And here’s an excellent article from NASA about the vulnerability of NASA sites (including the important launching pads at Cape Canaveral) to sea level rise. They describe a little known impact of Hurricane Sandy: it’s passing 200 miles offshore Cape Canaveral over four tidal cycles resulted in 20m erosion of the sand dunes in the area of the launch pads. Wallops Island, VA, also suffered major erosion due to Hurricane Sandy, and managed retreat is now part of NASA’s plans for the future.

Once again, President Obama has delivered the most accurate and forceful speech about climate change ever by an American president, this time at the the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER) in Alaska on August 31. In preparation for his trip to Alaska the President devoted his weekly address to climate change. Quite a comparison to Donald Trump’s position from a tweet (11/6/12), "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” (Other Republican presidential candidate’s positions are summarized here.)

The Resilience Officer of New Orleans has published an op-ed in the Guardian describing the new Resilience Strategy for the City. Its three key messages: “adapt to thrive” (we are a city that embraces our changing environment); “connect to opportunity” (we are an equitable city), and “transform city systems” (we are a modern and prepared city).

With all the focus recently on migrants fleeing war-torn middle eastern countries, we should remember that climate change will be driving more and more migration in coming decades (and is already part of the current problem). Here’s a great article about a small example of the problem; people fleeing the drying western part of Zimbabwe for the eastern highlands region that still has water.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: August 27, 2015

The 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina has brought a lot of media focus on Louisiana. The New York Times has an in-depth review of efforts to restore wetlands in Southern Louisiana, including places where the Mississippi River is being reconnected to the wetlands to restore the sedimentation processes that maintain the wetlands against storm damage and subsidence. AP reviews the slow destruction of communities in Southern Louisiana as damages from storm surges become more intense, noting how state officials are encouraging residents to retreat behind the new flood barriers constructed after Hurricane Katrina. In the face of this planning, Governor Jindal has asked that President Obama not talk about climate change when he visits New Orleans on August 27th.

A new study published in Science (summarized in the Guardian here) reviews major deltas of the world and concludes that reconnecting river systems and their silt loads to the floodplain will be essential for a cost-effective response to sea level rise. The removal of two dams on Washington’s Elwha River, a step mainly driven by restoration of salmon runs, has also provided an experiment in sediment transport as reported by the New York Times.

The Associated Press reports on the largest-ever bloom of toxic algae off the coast of North America, which is closing many fisheries. Samples from surveys have detected the highest-ever recorded concentrations of domoic acid in the internal organs of Dungeness crab, among other impacted species. Scientific American reports on a simulation study that concludes carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere will not be able to reverse ocean warming and acidification on decadal timescales because circulation of acidified water to the deep ocean essentially isolates it from the atmosphere. One scientist commenting on the work concludes "It is clear that rather than trying to clean up a mess, it would be wiser to simply not create the mess in the first place.”

CBC news has an interesting review of the impact of the drought on California forest, focused on the Sequoias, and the implications for the boreal forests of Canada. The San Francisco Chronicle has an article that reviews impacts of ocean acidification on mariculture, particularly oysters, with a focus on Hog Island Oyster Company in Tomales Bay.

The State Legislature has approved AB 746 (Ting), which extends the life of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority until 2049 and increases the level of indebtedness the Authority can incur among other changes (bill analysis here).

A recent article in Rolling Stone presents an alarming narrative built around the extreme climatic and related environmental events unfolding in 2015. And this thoughtful piece by William deBuys explores the “new normal” of the greater aridity in North America, and how we are beginning (or not) to engage with it and prepare for it through governance as a society and emotionally as individuals.

And here’s a 3 minute video showing the removal of the Wimer Dam on the Rogue River, which was completed this year.

BAECCC Brief: August 6, 2015

A special report from the San Francisco Public Press says there are $21 billion worth of planned real estate developments along the Bay's waterfront that could be in jeopardy due to sea level rise (article here, KQED Forum coverage here). This is the most in-depth review of the vulnerability of proposed private development in the region that I have read, and I recommend it to those interested in the nexus of sea level rise and real estate development.

An article in Bloomberg News describes preparations for sea level rise being taken at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. This article in the American Prospect shows an example of how information about sea level rise at the District level is being used to pressure members of Congress who are denying that human activity is the major cause of the problem. And President Obama has released a video that is a call to action in support of the clean power plan just released by EPA, a move that the New York Times reports could force climate change to be an important issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Nature summarizes the results of a recent paper that reviews methods used in over 450 studies of ocean acidification. The authors conclude that due to lack of attention to details of experimental design there is more uncertainty than necessary regarding the impacts of ocean acidification. While there is no doubt in general about the phenomenon and threat it poses to marine ecosystems, the authors conclude that it is difficult to combine results from individual experiments to build overall predictions of ecosystem change.

Science Daily provides a summary of recent research on mangroves in New Zealand that concludes these trees could be an important part of shorelines that are more resilient to the impacts of sea level rise. An article in the Guardian reviews the reed farming operations along the Baltic coast of Poland and Germany, and discusses the multi-benefit aspects of wetland farming.

The California Water Blog has a great post that summarizes the several decades of work to enhance the geomorphic functions of the Napa River, controlling erosion and flooding with an innovative combination of approaches that have become quite popular in the Napa region.

James Hansen and colleagues have distributed a discussion paper that is under "interactive public peer review" by the Journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (also highlighted by Ellie in her recent post to BAECCC). The paper presents an argument for the possibility of several meters of SLR by the turn of the Century, a much different future than the more conservative estimates of SLR from the IPCC. Key to the differences is the process of ice sheet destabilization and collapse (particularly the degree of non-linearity in this process), something that his not yet well understood by science. The paper, and initial response from scientists as part of the Journal’s “discussion forum," is reviewed by The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney here and Andrew Revkin at the New York Times blog dotEarth here. Elizabeth Kolbert provides a perspective in The New Yorker.

And finally, a little video fun from the Clinton campaign at the expense of the Republican candidates who use the “I’m not a scientist” dodge when asked about climate change, and some of John Stewart’s greatest hits regarding climate change denial.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: July 23, 2015

Esquire has published a fascinating article by John Richardson that examines our leading climate scientists’ personal response to the implications of their work (When the End of Human Civilization is Your Day Job). All of us who work on these issues regularly must find hope when at times there appears to be nothing but despair, and the interviews with Jason Box, Michael Mann, and Gavin Schmidt are useful in this regard (Slate had follow up conversations on this topic with Mann and Katharine Hayhoe). Aaron Huertas has posted a response that describes the importance of and rationale for maintaining optimism, and Erika Spanger-Siegfried has some advice for taking a renewing vacation when you have an “end of days day job."

Chris Mooney of the Washington Post has produced a summary of the recent article in Science (Dutton et al.) that examines three previous periods in the earth’s history when temperatures were in the range they are today. In these past periods, the researchers estimate that sea levels eventually rose 6 meters. The San Jose Mercury has published an article that describes SAFER Bay (Strategy to Advance Flood protection, Ecosystems and Recreation along the Bay), an important effort to address sea level rise vulnerability in the South Bay.

An article in the New York Times about health provides good perspective on how non-climatic variables are also part of the changing patterns of disease and other factors affecting human health.

This article in the Washington Post reviews aspects of the Paradise Fire in Washington, which is burning in the rain forest of the Olympic Peninsula. This includes the challenges of fighting a fire in a forest so dense that cutting a firebreak is not feasible.

Meanwhile, a mathematical analysis of solar activity (summarized here) has lead to a prediction that in 2030 solar output may fall to its lowest level in centuries, in fact since the “little ice age” of the 17th Century. This lead certain politically conservative newspapers to run headlines claiming the earth is heading for a new ice age, and this story was picked up by CNN. Actually, the drop in solar output will be overwhelmed by the impact of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. Media Matters describes this latest outbreak of misinformation.

Jeff Masters at the Weather Underground has a great post about the recent rainy weather in Southern California created by the remnants of Hurricane Dolores, that includes fascinating historical accounts of the tropical storms of 1939 and 1858. His post links to a short video documentary with newspaper clips and 16-mm film of the 1939 tropical storm and its impact on vessel traffic in Newport Beach, CA.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: July 9, 2015

An interesting article in Scientific American summarizes the interactions of climate change, water policy, and legal precedent that are driving our drought. The author argues that changes in our regulatory and agricultural systems in the west are going to be required. An article in the Guardian reviews a new study that summarizes how climate change is compounding existing threats to Australia’s ecosystems.

Climate scientists from around the world are convening in Paris to highlight the urgency of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions (the meeting is Our Common Future Under Climate Change), and to discuss the future of their field. An article in Nature highlights the four most pressing research issues for climate scientists.

Chris Mooney of the Washington Post has written an article about the scale of the changes in the cryosphere, reviewing various analogies for explaining in other terms what it means that we’re losing gigatons of ice per year (or emitting gigatons of carbon). For example, the 9 gigatons of carbon emitted per year by the burning of fossil fuels is 120 times the weight of the entire human population of the earth.

An article in Palo Alto Online summarizes the findings the findings of a recent report from the Civil Grand Jury in Santa Clara County about the vulnerability of cities in the county to sea level rise. The Grand Jury concluded that the County has a disjointed approach to addressing the ramifications of SLR, and the report provides five specific findings and recommendations. It also highlights the use of ecotone slopes as a multi-benefit flood protection approach.

The California Climate Commons has updated its home page and added some great new content about the impact climate change on natural resources in the region and how to use data on the Commons for your own analysis (Coming soon: “How to Use Climate Science Data”, which will be a multi-part series). You can sign up for the California LCC newsletter here to get the latest information about changes to the Commons.

The Washington Post reports on the wildfire situation in Alaska (as of the end of June there were 300 fires burning in Alaska, which had its hottest May in 91 years). The weather channel interviewed Alyson Kenward of Climate Central about their analysis of changes in fire frequency and the length of fire season in Alaska, and more on their analysis is here.

Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of the Citizens Climate lobby, reports on how Congressional Republicans are becoming more open to climate change solutions, particularly when the solutions can be framed in a way to be consistent with their values. And geophysicist Marcia McNutt, currently editor of Science Magazine and the incoming President of the National Academy of Sciences, has an editorial in Science regarding the need for climate action. Andy Revkin provides some critique and review of the editorial on his New York Times blog here.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: June 25, 2015

The New York Times has published an excellent bio on Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes, the author of The Merchants of Doubt and The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. Dr. Oreskes published the first survey of climate science research that documented the scientific consensus regarding human impact on climate, and has been an important public voice in opposition to the organized denial of climate change. She has just published a great article examining the value of government science, and the rejection of that science by many Republican politicians, who by refusing to act on climate change are increasing the likelihood of the need need for the "big government” responses they disdain.

The 12th Biennial State of the Estuary Conference will be September 17-18, 2015, at the Oakland Marriott. There will be both plenary and concurrent sessions of interest to the BAECCC community. Glen MacDonald, John Muir Memorial Chair of Geography at UCLA and one of the plenary speakers, has just published an excellent perspective on the California drought in Yale’s environment360.

The Weather Channel has developed a remarkable website called The Climate 25 which presents short (2-3 min) videos from a diverse array of well known individuals about climate change, including prominent conservative voices. This is particularly interesting as the founder of the Weather Channel denies that anthropogenic global warming is occurring. Slate has some background about development of the site.

The Economist has an article about how more and more large businesses are making major investments in “green” technologies and operations as they have concluded this is good for their business. And Bloomberg Business has developed a website that visualizes the different factors influencing atmospheric temperature to demonstrate that greenhouse gases are the only plausible explanation for observed trends.

A new report from EPA concludes that international climate policies will result in billions of dollars of domestic benefits for the US. According to the report, if climate action is taken, 57,000 people could be saved from deaths related to poor air quality and 12,000 people in 49 cities could be saved from deaths related to extreme heat each year by 2100. The US could also save billions of dollars in avoided costs. A Washington Post op-ed notes that EPA is likely modeling a rosy scenario by assuming the world achieves the 2°C target.

Finally, the Washington Post fact-checker has an excellent review of the myth that the scientific community was claiming in the late 1970s that “we were all going to freeze,” recently repeated by Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (who earned “4 Pinnochios" from the Post).

Andy

BAECCC Brief: June 10, 2015

The release of a report by the International Monetary Fund that monetizes health impacts from fossil fuels and calls these subsidies has received a lot of attention (here’s an op-ed by Sir Nicholas Stern). Climate Central has an article about the changing range of ticks in the United States, including those that carry pathogens such as the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease, and AP reports on projected increases in ragweed in Europe (ragweed is native to North America and was introduced in Europe).

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reviews the growing water shortage in the Colorado River Basin, as the Bureau of Reclamation has projected that Lake Mead could be below 1,075 feet in January for the first time in 2017, triggering 11.4% reduction Arizona’s diversions and 4.3% reduction in Nevada’s diversions.

Inside Climate News has reviewed the contribution of climate change to extreme events in the light of recent extreme weather around the world. Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon reviews the link between climate change and the recent flooding in Texas.

The Vatican announced it will release its highly anticipated papal encyclical on June 18 that will tackle the issue of climate change from a theological perspective, offering guidance on the moral imperative of climate action to more than a billion Catholics worldwide. This will be the first-ever encyclical to center on ecological issues. GOP presidential hopeful and devout Catholic Rick Santorum has responded by saying "We're probably better off leaving science to the scientists." Many pointed out, however, that Pope Francis is a scientist, with a master's degree in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires.

President Obama gave a really great speech about climate change and national security when he addressed the graduation of the US Coast Guard Academy (May 20). The New York Times summarizes the speech here, a White House report on the topic can be found here, CNN’s National Security Analyst reviews it here, and Philip Bump notes in the Washington Post that Presidents before Obama have made this point. If you have not listened to the President talk about climate change recently, it is worth hearing what has grown into a very compelling narrative about the need to mitigate emissions and prepare for climate impacts. This part of the address begins at about minute 10 (he even integrates the concept of using natural infrastructure to build resilience into the talk at 22:22).

Meanwhile, unannounced Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush says people who think "the science is decided” about climate change are “really arrogant,” and candidate Rick Santorum compared scientists convinced of anthropogenic climate change to those convinced that the world was flat. This is resulting in pushback from the Democratic Party, which again demonstrates that climate change has become an electoral issue for the 2016 Presidential election (this counts as progress in my book). It is worth noting that newly announced candidate Lindsey Graham accepts the scientific consensus as a basis for action.

In an interview in the San Francisco Chronicle, Obama's Science Advisor (and former UC Berkeley Professor) John Holdren does an excellent job of messaging the role of climate change in the drought, and the implications of not mitigating emissions for our ability to adapt in the future (Ellie highlighted this article as well in her recent summary).

Andy

BAECCC Brief: May 15, 2015

A team of BAECCC participants recently conducted a scenario planning exercise about climate change impacts for the East Bay Regional Park District. With financial support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the BAECCC team worked with the District's Fuels Management Team, and Jenn Fox has posted a story about this exercise on the blog of the Bay Area Open Space Council.

A recent NOAA study in Environmental Science and Policy (behind a paywall here) reviews the strengths and weaknesses of the coastal protection benefits provided by built infrastructure (such as sea walls), natural ecosystems, and the innovative opportunities to combine the two into hybrid approaches for coastal protection (Ellie highlighted this paper as well in her recent summary). The authors review a variety of case studies, and a news report about the paper is here. The New York Times has a short article about changes being made at Boston’s Logan Airport to make it more resilient to sea level rise, and it notes many airports are making plans (including Oakland and San Francisco).

CNN columnist John Sutter has a nice summary of the origin and implications of the 2°C target for average global temperature increase (initially proposed in 1977 by economist William Nordhaus). Sutter will be producing a series of articles this year related to the 2°C target.

Lake Mead has dropped to an all time low, with further decline on the horizon. A real time track of Lake Mead water levels is here, New York Times article here, and an Arizona Republic editorial here.

Those interested in a truly conservative voice for climate action should read what former South Carolina Republican Congressman Bob Inglis has to say (a recent op-ed is here). Inglis notes that “In order for America to lead on climate change, the unconvinced need to be persuaded that achievable solutions can be found that fit with their values.” This is a real issue for conservative Americans. And as a reminder of where many conservatives are regarding climate science (and evolution), this article reviews the positions of the Republican candidates for President.

And if you read that dispiriting review, I’d suggest as an antidote Cynthia Tucker’s op-ed regarding climate denial or Elizabeth Kolbert’s piece in the New Yorker about the proposed massive cuts to NASA funding for earth science. Tucker quotes an editorial from the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader: "Mitch McConnell and others who are trying to obstruct climate protections will be regarded one day in the same way we think of 19th-century apologists for human slavery: How could economic interests blind them to the immorality of their position?"

For those who did not see the comedy sketch from the White House Correspondent’s Dinner about President Obama needing an anger translator, Joe Romm has posted it here. The bit ends with the President actually getting mad about climate change. As Ezra Klein notes, because this is a “gag” Obama gets to say what he actually thinks without seeming “un-Presidential." (“I mean, look at what is happening now. Every serious scientist says we need to act. The Pentagon says it’s a national security risk. Miami floods on a sunny day, but instead of doing anything about it we’ve got elected officials throwing snowballs in the Senate. It is crazy! What about our kids? What kind of stupid, short-sighted, irresponsible bull…”). Kind of refreshing to hear!

Nicole Heller and her colleagues with the Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Collaborative have published a great paper Ecosphere (Targeting climate diversity in conservation planning to build resilience to climate change).

For those of you who could not attend the April 30th BAECCC meeting, you missed a really interesting session! Click here for a written summary.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: April 23, 2015

Remember that the next BAECCC meeting will be on April 30th from 10 AM - 2 PM in the 11th floor conference room at the California State Coastal Conservancy, 1330 Broadway, Oakland (at 12th Street BART station). We will be discussing aspects of building tidal surge barriers in San Francisco Bay and receiving updates from two BAECCC partner projects. An agenda will distributed soon, and we hope to see you there!

The restoration of tidal marshes in San Francisco Bay has been highlighted in the US Climate Resilience Toolkit. The article describes the work of the Sonoma Land Trust and Point Blue’s web tool for projecting the future of Bay tidal marshes. This article from Climate Central summarizes an NRDC proposal to use the federal flood insurance program to begin implementation of managed retreat.

Michael Klare reviews how the rapidly changing global trends for renewable power suggest the world is now transitioning away from fossil fuels at a pace unimaginable just five years ago, especially due to the rate of change in China. Key to this is the declining cost of renewable energy ("Cost is no longer a reason not to proceed with renewables, concluded a report released by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi in March.”) I have found Klare to be a thoughtful analyst who has written many compelling articles that describe some pessimistic future outcomes, and so it is great to read a more optimistic analysis from him. And on another optimistic note, the CEOs of 43 major international corporations have signed a letter called for major action in Paris to help transition the world to a low-carbon economy.

The Columbia Journalism Review reports on a new browser plug-in that is being used by a group of climate scientists (associated with the organization Climate Feedback) to provide critique of media stories about climate science. Using the software climate scientists can annotate articles and include links to websites with accurate information.

Chris Mooney has an interesting article in the Washington Post looking at the contention that fracking in CA should be halted to conserve water given the drought. The article notes that due to the geology of CA deposits fracking uses a relatively small amount of water. Mooney has also prepared an excellent article about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), and a follow-up story summarizing recent research that describes the impact of the PDO cycle on global atmospheric temperatures.

Here is an article about the problems sea level rise poses for Miami, a situation made particularly interesting by Governor Scott's lack of attention to outright denial of climate change. This makes Miami an interesting comparison to the Bay Area, where our efforts to plan for sea level rise are supported and encouraged by state policy and Governor Brown. Although the article was published last summer, I was very struck by the strong (and effective) voices from Florida’s scientific community, and the quotes from Phillip Stoddard, the Mayor of South Miami (about Marco Rubio’s position on climate change, Stoddard notes that “Rubio is an idiot”).

Andy

BAECCC Brief: April 10, 2015

The censoring the use of the terms climate change and global warming by the administration of Florida Governor Rick Scott has become a national story (here’s a critical editorial from a local Idaho paper). Here’s an interesting example from the Washington Post of a scientific paper from a public health specialist being censored, and PEER reports on a State of Florida employee who was required to seek medical clearance for returning to duty after participating in a climate change conference. And a humorous take on the “Science that must not be named” in Wired.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post documents how at the local and regional level action to build resilience to climate change is underway in Florida. In California, our Governor is speaking in very strong terms about the importance of taking action on climate change, and the moral bankruptcy of denying the scientific evidence on this topic. The editorial Board of USA Today says recent actions of the US Senate demonstrate a move from “laughable to reckless” with regards to climate change.

Inside Climate News reports on an interesting new video campaign called More Than Scientists is encouraging climate scientists to create short videos that describe why they care about climate change, to speak as humans about their hopes and fears.

Science magazine has published a fascinating account of a climate-change driven trophic cascade; polar bears coming ashore sooner in Norway and Greenland due to loss of ice and consuming the vast numbers of eggs of geese, ducks, and gulls. But, as noted in an article included in Ellie’s weekly summary, some scientists argue that such terrestrial diets are going not going to provide for the bear’s caloric needs. Here’s a great article from Slate describing the changes seen in Alaska in the last few years driven by a warming ocean and the high pressure in the Pacific. The photo of trucking snow into Anchorage for Iditarod festivities says it all.

Here is an op-ed by Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester, that is hard but important to read. Anderson is one of the most eloquent scientific voices regarding the scale of the mitigation challenge we face. He argues that the rate of reduction required for the 2°C target is massive (10% per year after 2020), much larger than any reductions ever documented (the collapse of the Soviet Union produced 5% annual reductions for a decade). Anderson and Bows 2011 scientific paper on this issue from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society is here.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: March 15, 2015

Please mark your calendar for the next BAECCC meeting on April 30th!

The Sacramento Bee reports on how California’s drought is contributing to increasing frequency of infections by West Nile virus. Already in certain places winter mosquito counts are very high, suggesting this summer could be even worse than the last few years.

Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group, and Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, have authored an op-ed for CNN calling for a world net emissions goal for carbon of zero by 2050. They argue this goal is important for businesses to reduce future risk and enhance profitability.

Michael Mann has written a not-too-technical post on RealClimate that discusses his recent paper analyzing the role of internal climate system variability in the "pause in global warming” (or as they term it, the “faux pause”). They note that Pacific Multi-decadal Oscillation (PMO) is a key factor (along with small reduction in solar forcing and some small volcanic eruptions) in causing measured global temperature anomalies to be less than predicted previously by global climate models. This type of variation between projections and measurements is inevitable when we are dealing with factors like these that cannot be accurately predicted (e.g., when a volcano will actually erupt). They conclude that as the PMO moves into a positive phase, it will begin a period where the internal climate system variability will be adding to anthropogenic warming, forcing global temperatures above model predictions. This correlation of the global temperature anomaly and PDO state is described in less technical terms by Robert Scribbler here and Jeff Masters here.

Julie Ekstrom of NRDC and multiple colleagues have just published a paper in Nature Climate Change about the vulnerability of US coastal communities to climate change (news article in Science about the paper, which itself is behind a paywall, is here). While it has been widely noted that the west coast of North America has experienced more acidification due to cold, upwelled water having higher concentration of CO2, Julie and her colleagues are the first to examine multiple factors that lead to vulnerability (such as eutrophication producing CO2, buffering from river inflows, and economic dependence of regions on shellfish harvesting). This leads to Massachusetts, rather than the Pacific Northwest, being the most vulnerable region to ocean acidification in their analysis.

The recent detection of craters in Siberia that appear to be the result of explosive releases of sub-surface methane has renewed speculation about the possibility of methane release from Arctic regions contributing to abrupt climate change. Chris Mooney has reviewed this issue in a recent article for the Washington Post. He reports that while this mechanism for global warming remains clear, most scientists studying the issue conclude that it is a long-term problem that is unlikely to accelerate in a manner that will contribute to abrupt climate change.

Speaking at Benedict College in South Carolina last week, President Obama gave a remarkable 6 minute synopsis of why climate change is a problem in response to a question about the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s worth watching to remind yourself that the President gets it, especially given the revelation that professionals in the Department of the Environment in Florida have been ordered not to use the words “climate change, global warming, or sustainability.” Op-eds on this issue from the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald are worth reading to see the level of ridicule being directed at Governor Scott within his own state.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: February 22, 2015

Jeff Goodell, who I find to be one of the country’s most compelling climate journalists, has a new piece in the Rolling Stone about climate change as a threat to national security. He uses some great recent examples of sea level rise impacts at the Norfolk Naval Base and other military installations. One of my favorite quotes: "It was not a nuisance problem — it was not a minor operational issue," says Bouchard [retired Navy Capt. Joe Bouchard, a former commander of Naval Station Norfolk] "Sea-level rise was interfering with combat readiness for the Atlantic fleet."

There is a battle shaping up in Florida over an amendment to the State Constitution that will overturn the provision that allows only utility companies to sell electricity. The New Yorker reports on a key supporter of this measure; the Green Tea Party, fresh off their victory to support net-metering in Georgia. Here is a Scientific American article about how carbon emissions from farmland are becoming more important now that emissions from deforestation are declining.

Dr. Andrew Rosenberg of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has penned an interesting op-ed in Roll Call that all scientists should read. The article examines new rules of the Science Committee of the House of Representatives that provide the Chairman with greater powers for subpoenas and depositions. Also from UCS: a Blog post by Juliet Christian Smith on the vulnerability of the Bay Bridge approach to sea level rise, based on an MTC report on this topic.

The Marin Independent Journal has an article about efforts in Marin County to plan for sea level rise. And the New England Center for Investigative Reporting has produced a great article about flood-prone homes on the coast of Massachusetts that continue to receive taxpayer-funded insurance payments to be repaired and rebuilt. The State of Massachusetts is considering initiating a bond-funded buy-back program to turn these properties into wildlife refuges. And here's a great first-hand perspective on the heavy precipitation this winter in Boston and its impact on the local economy.

The City and County of San Francisco have produced a guidance document and check list for assessing the vulnerability to climate change of proposed capital projects. This is a great example of integrating “climate smart” thinking into government planning, and is the type of policy change that will make a big difference over the long-term.

For those interested (perhaps morbidly) in the latest denial trope being spouted by Fox News, Salon has a nice article describing the issue (raw temperature data adjustments are actually a secret plot to create a false temperature record rather than a systematic and well-documented effort to remove bias in the data set). The article describes how this issue grew from a blogpost to an op-ed in the conservative Telegraph newspaper to a big item for Fox News. While it can be disheartening to read these stories, it is good to remember what we’re up against (and good to see how desperate and foolish these efforts are becoming).

                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Andy

BAECCC Brief: February 7, 2015

Here's an article from the Kenebec Journal about ocean acidification in Maine, focusing on a particular oyster hatchery and grow-out facility but also discussing the iconic Maine lobster. Bloomberg reports on an analysis of the best ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere: trees and biochar.

Here’s a great article from the Yale University environment360 site about the continuous rebuilding on barrier islands despite the inevitable damage from storms, with an in-depth look at Bolivar Island (Galveston) after Hurricane Ike. (h/t Kif Schuer)

As I’m sure you are all aware, we’ve experienced 13 of the hottest 15 years on record since 2000. The people at Climate Central made an animation in which they examine just how likely it is for us to have experienced so many record-breaking years in such a short period by chance alone. The odds? 1-in-27 million.

The SFBJV has developed a section of their website that summarizes a variety of studies that describe the economic value of wetlands. These include analyses of job creation, flood protection, groundwater recharge, carbon sequestration, and recreational opportunities.

If anybody is working with people who claim that a new paper in the Chinese journal Science Bulletin (by C. Mocnkton and other famous climate science deniers) demonstrates that the threat of climate change is not very serious, Carbon Brief has published a detailed rebuttal. Among other errors, the new paper ignores the impact of water vapor on atmospheric temperature, the heating of the oceans, and other observations that are inconsistent with their results.

President Obama signed an executive order directing federal agencies to adopt new flood elevation standards for the siting, design, and construction of federal projects. The new rules will ensure that flooding from climate change will be taken into account in the development of federal projects.

Finally, there has been a lot of coverage of the votes taken in the US Senate regarding climate change as part of the debate on the Keystone XL pipeline, as five Republican senators voted for an amendment by Senator Schatz (D-Hawaii) that “climate change is real and human activity significantly contributes to climate change.” (A version of this language that left out the word “significantly” received fourteen Republican votes, and the Republican author [Hoeven, R-North Dakota] ended up having to vote no to make sure his amendment was not approved!). There is clearly a growing realization among Republican ranks that just denying climate change is no longer a feasible position, and they are in the process of “evolving” toward a new one (Christian Science Monitor article, Bloomberg View, ), and “I’m not a scientist” did not fair too well as a substitute. Politico examines the politics of the Senate vote here, Washington Post editorial here).

Andy

BAECCC Brief: January 22, 2015

The Center for American progress has published The Economic Case for Restoring Coastal Ecosystems. Highlights of the report include:

  • Job creation: economists with NOAA found that $1 million invested in coastal restoration creates 17.1 jobs on average. This compares to job growth from industrial coastal activities, such as oil and gas development, in which $1 million of investment creates an average of just 8.9 jobs
  • Recreation: 200 million Americans visit the coast each year.
  • Flood Protection: An acre of wetlands can store 1-1.5 million gallons of floodwater.
  • In the SBSP project a cost of $8.2 million yielded a total economic output from spending on the project of $8.07 million with a lifetime value of benefits provided estimated at $68.9-220 million resulting in a benefit-cost ratio of 18.45.
  • Averaging the benefit cost ratios across 3 restoration projects, including SBSP, each dollar invested by taxpayers returned more than $15 in net economic benefits. (h/t SF Bay Joint Venture)

A recent op-ed in the Sacramento Bee describes the importance of terrestrial landscapes as sinks for carbon and as providers of other ecosystem services.

Scientific American has an article about U.S. Cities taking action (or not) with regards to sea level rise. It includes a couple of examples from California, and notes that our state now has a budget item for sea level rise planning. And here’s a great piece from KRON-TV on the King Tides in the Bay Area this month. Marina Psaros and Jack Leibster do a great job of providing concise and compelling remarks that end up in the final edit of the video.

A group of ocean researchers has published a provocative paper in Nature suggesting that many of the ecological threats facing the ocean (including acidification) are serious, but tend to be over-hyped as imminent calamities when they are not.

Stefan Ramsdorf has authored a short summary at RealClimate of recent estimates of total sea level rise and the accelerating rate of rise. While some of the posts at RealClimate can be pretty technical, this excellent short compares the various methods used to estimate sea level rise using very accessible language.

President Obama made a strong statement in the State of the Union Address regarding the need to address climate change. Chris Mooney has published a nice article summarizing the evolution of the White House’s approach to addressing the climate issue.

For those interested in the issue of divestment from fossil fuels, there’s an excellent article in the Rolling Stone on this topic. It reviews what it calls the six myths of divestment:

  1. Divestment costs too much,
  2. Fossil fuels are a safe investment,
  3. Divestment is too political,
  4. Fossil fuel divestment is harder than South Africa divestment,
  5. The alternatives are too risky, and
  6. Divestment doesn’t do anything.

I have asked my Alma Mater to divest its endowment, and I am happy to share my letter with anybody interested.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: January 14, 2015

Naomi Oreskes' recent op-ed in the New York Times (also highlighted by Ellie in her weekly summary) about the inherent conservatism of science, actually a bias toward "playing dumb," suggests an under-appreciated aspect of communicating the risk from climate change. Are scientists, by the nature of their statistical conventions, understating the risk of climate change? This topic is fundamental to the role of science in setting public policy, and this article is well worth reading.

Chris Mooney has an interesting article in the Washington Post on the conflict (or not) between religion and science, amid reports that Pope Francis will issue a "a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology" in March when he visits Tacloban. One of the Pope’s reported goals is to influence the Conference of the Parties in Paris.

Also in the Washington Post is an informative review of the scale of methane leakage from oil and gas operations. Satellite surveillance has detected leaks of methane in the San Juan Basin of northern New Mexico that are large enough (600,000 mT/yr) to provide the residential energy needs for the City of San Francisco.

Michael Mann has published an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists entitled The Serengeti strategy: How special interests try to intimidate scientists, and how best to fight back. This is an interesting perspective on "the climate wars" from the very front lines (Mann is the author of "the hockey stick graph" that has drawn some focus from the denial community). It is great to hear that Mann finds that "the window of public discourse appears to be shifting away from the false debate over whether there is a problem toward the worthy debate about what to do about it."

Based on the work of the Marin Carbon Project, the Red Bluff Daily news reports that California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA) has approved a protocol that ranchers can use to generate carbon credits by at the application of compost to grazed grasslands.

Following the lead of the Green Tea Party in Georgia, the Tampa Bay Times reports that a group of Floridian Tea Party members is circulating a petition to open up the electric market for roof top solar owners. This ballot initiative is expected to have the backing of Florida environmental groups and the State’s tea party.

The Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook serves as a training manual that helps to streamline the management of ecosystem services. The purpose of the guidebook is to allow resource managers to create clear, workable plans that prioritize the work needed to establish and maintain resilient communities throughout the country.                                                                                                                                              

Andy