Archive for February, 2013

Agriculture and climate: Connecting the science: USDA, NCAR team up to identify where nation is vulnerable, how we might adapt

(February 19)

Atmos News

With U.S. agriculture taking a massive hit from the widespread drought of 2012, farmers and other stakeholders are hungry for guidance on how crops may fare as the nation’s climate evolves over the coming decades. This year’s National Climate Assessment (NCA) includes new findings on agriculture and climate change—key science that draws from a longstanding collaboration between NCAR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Pulling together the latest studies, researchers from the USDA, the university community, and nongovernmental organizations produced Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation. This newly released technical document explores the current effects of changing climate as well as projections of change that may occur over the next 100 years. Scientists from the USDA and collaborating organizations used the information from this report to write the NCA chapter on the effects of climate change on U.S. agriculture.

Climate Rally In Washington Brought Out 40,000 People, Organizers Estimate

(February 17)

Huffington Post

Hoisting signs that read “Forward on Climate” and “No on Keystone XL,” a massive group of protesters gathered on the National Mall Sunday to urge President Obama to take action on climate policy. Organizers of the major rally, including the Sierra Club and environmental activist group 350.org, estimated that there were 40,000 protesters from 30 states in what the groups are billing as the largest climate rally in history. Of particular concern to those attending the rally was one of the first climate-related decisions the president will face in his second term — whether to approve the construction of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline. Environmental groups organized two rallies in Washington last year to protest the pipeline, which would carry dense fossil fuel from Alberta, Canada, to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast. Those high-profile actions, where hundreds of activists were arrested, likely factored into the administration’s move to push the controversial Keystone decision back until after the election.

U.S. government risks financial exposure from climate change – GAO

(February 14)


The U.S. government is at high risk of financial exposure from climate change, the Government Accountability Office said on Thursday, two days after President Barack Obama vowed to tackle the issue with or without Congress’ help. For the first time, the non-partisan congressional watchdog added fiscal exposure from climate change to its “High Risk List” of measures the federal government needs to fix. There are now 30 programs and operations the GAO considers at high risk for waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement, or that need broad-based transformation, from the management of federal oil and gas resources to enforcement of tax laws.

5 Myths About Keystone XL, Debunked

(February 14)

Media Matters

As the State Department nears a decision on whether or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the media is exaggerating its economic benefits and downplaying environmental risks to advocate for the project. Media Matters takes on five of the prevailing media myths about Keystone XL.

  1. Would Keystone XL contribute to climate change?
  2. Does the new pipeline route resolve local environmental concerns?
  3. How would the pipeline impact U.S. energy security?
  4. How many jobs would building the pipeline create?
  5. Would Keystone XL affect gasoline prices?

Climate change reports warn of major agriculture, forestry impacts

(February 13)

Delta Farm Press

The USDA has released two comprehensive reports on expected effects of climate change on agriculture and forestry. The reports —Climate Change and Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation and The Effects of Climate Variabilityand Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector — will be part of the upcoming National Climate Assessment.

The reports’ predictions are not comforting with claims that increases in temperatures, atmospheric carbon dioxide, altered precipitation patterns and increasing extreme weather events will definitely influence agriculture. And while some crops may actually benefit and expand into areas once impossible to grow in, the overall picture is not rosy. Management of weeds, insect pests, and diseases will gain even more importance in coming years.

Study: Costly fire season caused by climate change

(February 12)

A study released by the National Wildlife Federation on Jan. 30 blames Idaho’s costly 2012 fire season on climate change and states that things will only get worse as global warming intensifies.

The study, titled “Wildlife in a Warming World,” features sections on all parts of the nation, including the Mississippi River basin, the Southwest and the East Coast. From forests encroaching on the Alaskan tundra to polar bears struggling to adjust to rapidly dwindling sea ice, the study strives to be a comprehensive overview of how climate change has an impact on all North American wildlife.


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USDA Climate Change Adaptation Plan open for public comment

(February 11)

Bladen Journal

USDA is committed to fostering a clean energy economy and to improving the environment by conducting operations in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner, complying with environmental laws and regulations, and leading by example. In order to fulfill its mission of providing leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues, USDA focuses on the future. The Department recognizes the significance of global climate change and how potential impacts such as more frequent or severe weather events can affect our programs and operations.

A Digital Farmer’s Almanac — How Communities Track ‘Microchanges’ in Climate

(February 11)

New America Media

The iSeeChange almanac allows people to make observations about climate change in their own backyards and ask scientists questions directly. NAM’s Ngoc Nguyen spoke with the project’s producer, Julia Kumari Drapkin, about how this experiment in crowd-sourced environmental reporting is spurring conversations about climate change in rural Colorado and elsewhere.

NSF Forum: The Globalization of Long Term Ecological Research

(February 11)

National Science Foundation

Deserts and forests, grasslands, lakes and rivers. Over the past 33 years, long-term ecological research has been conducted at a network of National Science Foundation (NSF) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites in these and other ecosystems. NSF’s LTER network has an international sister effort. The ILTER, or International Long Term Ecological Research network, is a global consortium of long-term research programs. This year, it marks its 20th anniversary. In recognition of that milestone, NSF’s annual LTER mini-symposium, held this year on Feb. 28, 2013, at NSF headquarters, will highlight the global reach of long-term ecological research.

Extreme fire risk & danger for NW forests forecasted

(February 6)

Natural Resource Report

 Kent Connaughton, US Forest Service Regional Forester who manages 16 national forests in OR & WA, in January addressed the both Oregon Board of Forestry and The Oregonian newspaper editorial board. Connaughton said undesirable overcrowding on the region’s federal forestlands is accelerating at about twice the rate that restoration projects are able to address the overcrowding problems. He predicts that future federal forest wildfire risk will be extreme and damaging, and that it is now necessary to treat more forest acreage, more aggressively.

Tackling global warming begins at home

(January 31)

Policy Network

In an age of interdependence, action at the state level is no longer sufficient, on its own. Nevertheless, when it comes to environmental policy, beginning with domestic reforms, rather than focusing on global treaties, may be the best starting point to fight global warming.

On the one hand, a growing number of countries are passing climate change legislation. This was documented in a recent survey of climate legislation by Globe International, a forum of parliamentarians, and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics.

On the other hand, there is the slow pace of the international negotiations towards a new climate treaty, the last round of which took place in Doha in December. Negotiators were at pains to highlight the achievements of the Doha summit. There was indeed progress, perhaps even important progress, but unless you are a climate convention junkie it will not have set your pulse racing. The negotiating tracks were streamlined; the hot air issue was resolved; the Kyoto Protocol was extended, but with fewer participants and targets that barely deviate from business as usual.

John Kerry’s confirmation as secretary of state delights climate campaigners

(January 29)

The Guardian

John Kerry’s confirmation as secretary of state on Tuesday installs a veteran climate champion in a pole position for Barack Obama’s second term. Campaigners hope Kerry will help deliver a win on their signature issue: blocking the Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta tar sands. Kerry, in his confirmation hearings last week, made it clear he would be deeply involved in the final decision about the pipeline’s fate. Obama has the final word on the pipeline. However, the state department must also sign off on the project, because it crosses the US-Canadian border. Kerry told the Senate he would closely monitor the results of an ongoing environmental review.

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