Day: October 1, 2014

Stanford scientists say greenhouse gases worsen California drought

Read the full story at Planet Ark.

California’s catastrophic drought has most likely been made worse by man-made climate change, according to a report released Monday by Stanford University, but scientists are still hesitant to fully blame the lack of rain on climate change.

The research, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society as part of a collection of reports on extreme weather events in 2013, is one of the most comprehensive studies linking climate change and California’s ongoing drought, which has caused billions of dollars in economic damage.

Daniel Swain, lead author of the study, published a blog post summarizing the context and findings of the research. The study was published in Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 from a Climate Perspective, special issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan II

Download the document.

During the next five years, federal agencies plan to continue to use Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and to accelerate progress toward long term goals — by combining Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources with agency base budgets and by using these resources to work with nonfederal partners to implement protection and restoration projects. To guide this work, federal agencies have drafted GLRI Action Plan II, which summarizes the actions that federal agencies plan to implement during FY15-19 using Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding. GLRI Action Plan II outlines the next phase of work on Great Lakes environmental problems and associated human health issues –many of which will take decades to resolve. GLRI Action Plan II lays out the necessary next steps to get us closer to the day when we will be able to achieve our long-term goals for the Great Lakes and our commitments under the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

#ClimateWeek at the EPA

Read the full story on Storify for a roundup of EPA’s Climate Week activities.


Genetic bacterial engineering could herald new era of biofuels [video]

Watch the video at Planet Ark.

Research by scientists at Imperial College London suggests that genetic engineering of bacteria could facilitate the production of propane on a commercial scale, potentially opening up new ways of creating biofuels outside of agriculture, giving hope to those seeking alternatives to fossil fuels. Joel Flynn went to the laboratory to meet them.

Global wildlife populations down by half since 1970: WWF

Read the full story from Planet Ark.

The world populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles fell overall by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010, far faster than previously thought, the World Wildlife Fund said on Tuesday.

The conservation group’s Living Planet Report, published every two years, said humankind’s demands were now 50 percent more than nature can bear, with trees being felled, groundwater pumped and carbon dioxide emitted faster than Earth can recover.

Here’s hope for the bees: A manifesto

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

We need bees. As a beekeeper, an entomologist, a conservationist, an agribusiness scientist and a consultant, we humbly acknowledge that our jobs depend on them. As do much of your diet and our economy.

Bees are big business. The real economic value of bees comes from more than honey: it comes from pollination.

By some estimates, one-third of global food production relies on pollinators. Honey bees and other insects pollinate 80 percent of flowering plants — including almonds, apples, broccoli, strawberries and alfalfa for beef and dairy cattle.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, honey bees support $18 billion of America’s annual agriculture production. In economic terms, bees provide more value than chicken and come in below only cattle and pigs. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack got it right: “The future of America’s food supply depends on healthy honey bees.”

The news is filled with stories about declining bee health — even the potential collapse of bee populations altogether. The impact goes way beyond the beehive. Whole supply chains are at risk: big sections of the grocery store, entire menu categories at restaurants and significant numbers of consumer goods either go away or become a lot harder to produce.

For that reason, many of my peers and I have come together to form a new Honey Bee Health Coalition. Comprehensive solutions are out there, and we are dedicated to accelerating them. But we need your help.

Why is the U.N.’s Declaration on Forests about agriculture?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

The U.N. Climate Summit in New York this week, where I participated representing the Rainforest Alliance, wasn’t formally part of the climate negotiations. It was preparatory for the higher-stakes Conference of Parties meeting in Paris in December 2015, where players will negotiate a new climate agreement. However, it produced some remarkably hopeful and ambitious action statements and commitments, including the New York Declaration on Forests (PDF).

A new era of innovation for a resource-depleted world

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

It is green, dense and surprisingly light. Fitting perfectly in the palm of my hand, it leaves a light, oily residue on my skin. It is fragrant (just a touch of soft, alluring smell) and textured (it looks like thousands of little worms squished together). It goes against everything we are taught by conventional strategy theory. And it is an amazingly powerful symbol of the new era dawning.

Take a close look. A soap bar? A spinach hamburger? A sponge? Some sort of energy tablet? An eco-macaroon? A new-age vitamin pill? A breakthrough detergent? Before you is the equivalent of not one, not two, but three bottles of shampoo — all squished into one solid bar. Well, this is one heck of a value-driven innovation.

A glimpse into our 2030 waste-free world

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Earth’s resources are unsustainable at current rates of consumption. By 2030, humans will require the equivalent resources of two Earths in order to maintain current lifestyles. Between now and then, society progressively will feel the pain of not having necessary resources and paying more for those that are still available. It’s clear that the world won’t be the same.

Part of the problem with addressing climate change is that the topic is so complex. For many of us today, it is difficult to understand that we all have a role in addressing the issue. But I believe that over the next 10 to 15 years, cutting carbon emissions will become “the norm” — a widespread activity among individuals, organizations and nations.

How do we change cultural norms? Let’s turn to a familiar example: smoking. Here’s a snapshot of what things looked like just 50 years ago:

Scientists Trace Extreme Heat in Australia to Climate Change

Read the full story in the New York Times.

The savage heat waves that struck Australia last year were almost certainly a direct consequence of greenhouse gases released by human activity, researchers said Monday. It is perhaps the most definitive statement climate scientists have made tying a specific weather event to global warming.

Five groups of researchers, using distinct methods, analyzed the heat that baked Australia for much of 2013 and continued into 2014, briefly shutting down the Australian Open tennis tournament in January when the temperature climbed to 111 degrees Fahrenheit.

All five research groups came to the conclusion that last year’s heat waves could not have been as severe without the long-term climatic warming caused by human emissions.

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