Last year, as hot, dry conditions fueled blazes across the West, nearly 10 million acres of U.S. land were burned in what ended up being one of the costliest and most destructive wildfire seasons in the nation’s history. In the middle of all that, the U.S. Forest Service, which manages nearly 200 million acres of public land, didn’t do itself any favors when it reversed nearly two decades of national policy and ordered an “aggressive initial attack” on all blazes within the agency’s jurisdiction, no matter how small or remote.
This year, it appears the agency is moving back toward what ecologists and fire scientists have considered the best practices for almost 40 years now: fires that are sparked in remote wilderness, where they aren’t hurting anyone, should be allowed to burn. That’s because fire, as a natural part of the environment, is good for the ecosystem. Some essential animal and plant species actually thrive in fire-ravaged landscapes, and by thinning out excess timber and clearing out dry underbrush, small forest fires can help prevent large and deadlier blazes in the future.
Al Gore Wants You To Drop A Dose Of Climate Change Reality On Internet Commenters: But does mindlessly repeating the same talking points really have any effect?
There will always be people who ignore climate science, no matter how concrete it may be. Nevertheless, Arnold Worldwide and Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project are hoping to give the public tools to fight climate change deniers in the environment where they thrive: the Internet. Reality Drop, a social media tool launched by Al Gore this week at TED, aims to give visitors talking points that they can share in the comments section of popular online climate change stories.
One of the top stories on Reality Drop right now is a piece in BusinessWeek discussing how a tax on carbon emissions in the U.S. would be greater than any resulting revenue gain. Reality Drop visitors are encouraged to “drop reality” by rallying their social networks around the story, deciding whether it’s fact or fiction, and using pre-packaged talking points to win the argument in the comments section.
Years of drought and high temperatures have damaged not only corn and other crops nationwide but also the forests in the eastern United States. Years of drought and high temperatures are thinning forests in the upper Great Lakes and the eastern United States. Nearly 40% of the Mid-Atlantic’s forests lost tree canopy cover, ranging from 10% to 15% between 2000 and 2010, according to a NASA study released this week. Other afflicted areas include southern Appalachia, the southeastern coast and to a lesser extent, the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada.
There are many reasons to oppose exporting U.S. coal to Asia through five planned terminals in the Pacific Northwest, including huge health, safety and environmental risks. But what if the entire underlying economic rationale—China’s supposed insatiable demand for U.S. coal exports—rests on a house of cards? What if that perceived and anticipated market, even if it once existed, now no longer exists?
That’s the theme of a Greenpeace report issued this week, The Myth of China’s Endless Coal Demand: A missing market for U.S. Exports. The 18-page report identifies various factors that cast doubt on the future of Chinese demand for U.S. coal, including new national and local policies in China aimed at reducing air pollution and capping coal use, slowing economic growth, surging renewable energy growth, and increased public concern about air pollution.
Central Valley Business Times
Scientists and policymakers from around the world are scheduled to gather March 20-22 at the University of California, Davis, to grapple with threats of climate change to agriculture and recommend science-based actions to slow its effects while meeting the world’s need for food, livelihood and sustainability.
The Climate-Smart Agriculture Global Science Conference, planned in coordination with the World Bank, builds on a 2011 international meeting on this theme in the Netherlands. Conference topics will focus on the implications of cutting-edge agricultural, ecological and environmental research for improved design of policies and actions affecting agricultural management and development; identifying farm and food-system issues, determining research gaps; highlighting emerging research initiatives; and developing transformative policies and institutions.
“By restoration I simply mean that restoring the functions and the processes that are characteristic of healthy, resistant, resilient, ecosystems even if it’s not exactly the same systems that were there before. I can’t stress this enough what a challenge this is. The things that we all learned when we went to school, the things that we learned during our careers about what is the right prescription for this stand, what’s the right thing to do to stabilize this watershed–we need to recognize that what worked the last 20, 30, 40 years–50, 100 years, may not work in the future.”