Archive for November, 2010

More On Rising Sea Levels And Heat

November 30, 2010

This is from NRDC-Thank you. Sobering information.
Matt
We covered the sea level rise issue, with some new data, in the report we issued at beginning of Sept on National Parks and Climate risk with the Rocky Mtn Climate Org.

http://www.rockymountainclimate.org/programs_10.htm

“But Jamestown Island, the site of the original 1607 settlement, is low enough to be completely inundated by rising seas and tidal waters — even if the waters do not rise as much by the century’s end as now seems most likely to scientists. Jamestown is also likely to become intolerably hot for many visitors for long stretches of the summer. This was a record-setting hot summer in Jamestown — but in the 2080s in a higher-emissions future, the average summer could be twice as much above historic temperature levels as was this last, hottest-ever summer. “

“Last year, 3.3 million people visited Colonial National Historical Park, which includes Jamestown and the Yorktown battlefield. That is more than visited Yellowstone National Park. “For Virginia, climate disruption is a jobs-killer,” said Stephen Saunders, president of RMCO and principal author of the Virginia report. “Later this century, people won’t come to the James River to see where Jamestown used to be.”

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Life and Death in a Dry Land, by George Black

November 30, 2010

This was reprinted from OnEarth magazine of the NRDC. Thankyou. Its what we have to look forward to in the west.
Matt
Peru’s long-term survival depends on water from the glaciers of the high Andes. The problem is that all that ice will soon be gone.
At the cusp of the seasons in late May, as the austral summer gave way to winter, something unusual happened in Lima, the capital of Peru. It rained. Although perhaps even that statement needs to be qualified. There was precipitation, the thinnest of drizzles, just enough to leave a slick of moisture on the pavement.

I was standing on a concrete barrier above the Río Rímac, which supplies the city with four-fifths of its water, in the company of an engineer named Oscar Sánchez, a 30-year veteran of the state water authority, SEDAPAL. Nearby, a group of neatly uniformed schoolchildren were learning how the flow of the Rímac is handled here at the city’s gigantic water treatment plant, La Atarjea — removal of solid waste, filtration, chlorination, and so forth. Sánchez nodded approvingly as the kids asked questions. “People have to start learning where their water comes from and how scarce it is here,” he said. “It’s not just a question of turning on the faucet.”

Lima gets less than half an inch of precipitation a year, he told me. Most of this comes in the form of the garúa, a dense sea mist that for the next six months would envelop this already unprepossessing city in a clammy, gray murk. But this is only the beginning of Peru’s climatic weirdness — and its global significance.

The source of the garúa is the Humboldt Current, a powerful flow of cold water that moves from Antarctica up the western edge of South America. When warm tropical air meets this current, the result is a blanket of water vapor. Every few years, at unpredictable intervals, the Humboldt Current reverses direction — the so-called El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. (El Niño — The Child — was given its name by Peruvian fishermen because it often occurs around Christmastime.) Weather patterns are turned on their head, often with devastating effects: as warm water pools in the ocean, Peru’s coastal desert is swamped by torrential rains, and the normally wet highlands are wracked by drought. To complicate matters further, a related phenomenon called La Niña turns the ocean current abnormally cold; when this happens, the aridity of the coast increases while the sierra gets heavier rain and snow.

The impact of these turbulent events is not just local. The onset of El Niño in Peru affects the intensity of Asian monsoons and Atlantic hurricanes as well as rainfall in places as far apart as Australia, Tibet, and the Nile Valley. Some scientists even believe that El Niño cycles explain the “seven years of plenteousness” and “seven years of famine” in Genesis. Understanding El Niño, in other words — and particularly the millennia of evidence left behind in Peru’s glaciers and interpreted by an American scientist named Lonnie Thompson — gives us unique insights into the past, present, and likely future of our global climate.

City of the Kings
From our vantage point above the river, Sánchez gestured upstream into the garúa. The Rímac rises in the icy peaks of the Cordillera Central, he explained, at about 16,000 feet. On its steep 100-mile rush to Lima, the modest river must serve the needs of countless farms, villages, and small towns and meet the demands of the copper, gold, zinc, and silver mines that are Peru’s principal source of exports — and of water pollution. In addition, a string of hydropower plants on the Rímac supplies Lima with two-thirds of its electricity. These plants have no storage reservoirs, Sánchez explained, and this, coupled with profligate water use and poor management, explains why 40 percent of the meager flow of the Rímac ends up in the ocean without being captured for human needs.

Upstream, a swirl of water from a deep holding pool was being channeled into the treatment area. Downstream, this being the tail end of the dry season, there was nothing but a broken shelf of concrete and a few stagnant puddles in a dry bed of gravel, like a dilapidated version of the Los Angeles River. Beyond the puddles, invisible in the fog, the city stretched away for more than 10 miles to the Pacific.

NRDC: The Drying of the West
Barry Nelson

Q&A with Barry Nelson, leader of NRDC’s work on California water issues and expert on the water management implications of global warming.

How widespread are the impacts of climate change on water resources today, and what are we likely to see in the future?

Disappearing glaciers are the most visible. Other likely impacts include decreased precipitation and desertification in some regions, more severe droughts and greater storm intensity, impacts on fish and wildlife, decreased water supply and hydropower production, diminished groundwater supplies, greater demand for irrigation water, and sea level rise.

Read the rest here.

Francisco Pizarro and his Spanish conquistadores established Lima, or La Ciudad de los Reyes, as it was first known, in 1535, in one of the world’s driest deserts. By the eve of World War II, Lima was a city of 300,000. Since then, successive waves of rural migrants have swelled that number to nine million. Almost a quarter live in vast, sprawling shantytowns, the asentamientos humanos, most of which have no running water. In the next quarter-century, at the current rate of growth, Lima’s population will balloon to 15 million. Demand for water will double.

Two-thirds of Peru’s population of 28 million live on the arid western side of the Andes, but this area has only 2 percent of the country’s water, and that amount is steadily diminishing. Whether this dilemma remains just insanely stressful or threatens the very viability of the country will depend largely on the fate of the glaciers of the high Andes.

The Andes contain 99 percent of the world’s tropical glaciers (which sounds at first like an oxymoron, but altitude is everything). Peru alone accounts for almost three-quarters of them. These glaciers are not only an indispensable water source, storing and releasing the precious liquid on a seasonal cycle, nourishing depleted rivers during the long dry season; they are also an invaluable data bank on climate change.

As early as 1943, the Peruvian glaciologist Jorge Broggi theorized that the first signs of glacial retreat were related to a warming climate. That correlation is now beyond argument. According to the latest government estimates, between 1970 and 2006 fully one-third of the ice cover disappeared, and the rate of loss has increased. Within 10 years, all the ice below 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) — which includes virtually all of the glaciers that feed the Río Rímac and Lima — is likely to be gone. This pattern of accelerating retreat is occurring in every glaciated area in the world, from Antarctica to the Tibetan Plateau, from the European Alps to the North American Rockies.

Rising temperatures will be accompanied by radical changes in annual precipitation. In some parts of the Andes, rain and snowfall will decline by as much as 20 percent, greatly reducing the flow of the rivers that run to the parched Pacific coast. As the glaciers melt away, however, there will be a temporary illusion of bounty that will tempt water users into reckless assumptions about the future — making, for example, extravagant new investments in unsustainable agriculture. By 2050, the government predicts, Peru may have lost 40 percent of its water.

But enough of statistics. Why does any of this matter to the rest of us? Isn’t the future of Peru, as the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain famously said of Hitler’s attack on Czechoslovakia, “a quarrel in a faraway country about a people of whom we know nothing”? The answer is no. The assault of climate change on Peru affects all of us. To see why, however, requires a journey not just to the thirsty slums of Lima and the snow peaks of the Andes but to the unlikeliest of places: a freezing basement in Columbus, Ohio; the ruins of a sixth-century pyramid; and the produce aisle of your local supermarket.

In the Death Zone
If Lonnie Thompson was not recognized as one of the world’s great climate scientists (technically he is a paleoclimatologist), he would surely be considered one of the world’s great explorers. He is said to have logged more hours in the planet’s oxygen-thin “death zone” — elevations above 18,000 feet — than any other human being. At 62, he continues to ascend to these places at least once a year, often for weeks at a stretch and sometimes for months, while supervising the transport by porters and mules of tons of ice-drilling equipment and managing teams of often fractious colleagues, not to mention coping with his crippling asthma.

Stepping up to the podium at a seminar at Ohio State University in Columbus in late March, Lonnie (his modesty of manner seems to encourage everyone to call him that) was introduced by his wife, Ellen Mosley-Thompson, who is the director of the university’s Byrd Polar Research Center. She too is an expert on ice, but while Lonnie’s specialty is tropical glaciers, hers is Antarctica and Greenland. “That combination has worked well for us, especially while we were raising our daughter,” Lonnie told me later. “It meant that one of us was always home.”

Lonnie is a man of medium height, with receding hair and rimless glasses. He speaks softly, with strong remnants of his native West Virginia accent. His manner is somewhat owlish, with flashes of dry humor. Today he was wearing an unremarkable gray suit. A row of pens and a pocket protector would not have seemed out of place. He conforms to no one’s idea of Indiana Jones on ice.

I alluded to this, diplomatically I hoped, when his talk was over. He grinned and suggested that since our schedules in Peru would not coincide, I might look at a couple of documentaries of his work. I did so later. There he was, crouched in an ice cave at 20,000 feet with several colleagues, wearing mountain gear and a watch cap. None of them had shaved in a while. The image brought to mind something that was once said about glacier fanatics by a member of Lonnie’s inner circle of collaborators, the aptly named Australian Keith Mountain: “We’re not pretty. We smell a lot and we have horrible bodily habits.”

Lonnie’s core philosophy is simply expressed. To discover something new, you go to a place where no one has ever been before; once you get there and look around, you are certain to make new discoveries. His goal in choosing these perilous work sites is to gather and analyze as much high-altitude ice as he can while the glaciers are still there and he still has the stamina. His findings will then form a mosaic with parallel discoveries from tree rings, lake and ocean sediments, coral reefs, speleotherms (mineral deposits in caves), and other so-called climate surrogates, which cumulatively will give us the fullest possible picture of the world’s climate and its likely future.

In his presentation at the Byrd Center, Lonnie described the three basic indicators of the health of a glacier. The first and most easily measured is the shrinking of its surface area. The second is something called mass balance, which calculates the relationship between the accumulation of ice and its ablation — that is, the loss of volume through melting and through the transformation of ice into a gaseous state without passing first through a liquid stage. The third indicator is the thinning of the ice from the top down. Unlike the loss of surface area, mass balance and thinning can’t be measured with satellites and aerial photography; you have to delve into the ice itself. “Thinning, in particular, is absolutely critical,” Lonnie told me. “On Kilimanjaro, for example, we found that the glacier is losing as much through thinning as it is through retreat at the margins. So it’s actually even worse than it seems.”

He gave his audience some of the most salient statistics about Peru’s vanishing ice, showing dramatic before-and-after slides that depicted the recession of particular glaciers over time. And he shared a favorite quotation, by the University of Michigan geophysicist Henry Pollack: “Ice asks no questions, presents no arguments, reads no newspapers, listens to no debates. It is not burdened by ideology and carries no political baggage as it changes from solid to liquid. It just melts.”

It does, however, generate all manner of questions, arguments, and political debates. Lonnie is one of a small but growing number of glaciologists who have come to believe that the study of climate change has to move out of the bastion of pure science. All kinds of social forces — agribusiness, industry, subsistence farmers, energy utilities, city residents — lay claim to the water that drips from the glaciers, and their demands will escalate as the supply diminishes. Already, half of all the social conflicts that are serious enough to be recorded by Peru’s ombudsman’s office derive from disputes over scarce water.

——————————————————————————–

..Home News .Climate Task Force presents 30-plus ways to reduce Bozeman’s carbon footprint Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 30, 2010

12:15 am | Updated: 9:40 pm, Mon Nov 29, 2010.

Bozeman, Montana is taking the right step this means Missoula, Montana has taken this step or it will soon. California and its large population have probably already taken this step. This is a good start and these cities seem like they are way ahead of the federal government on this…no surprizes there.
Matt
By AMANDA RICKER, Chronicle Staff Writer

A task force developing a plan to reduce Bozeman’s carbon footprint is proposing everything from building large-scale alternative energy facilities to charging people who use plastic bags.

The 15-member Mayor’s Community Climate Task Force has compiled a list of more than 30 ways the city can encourage or require its citizens to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bozeman City Commission listened to preliminary recommendations from the task force during its regular meeting on Monday night. Commissioners did not take any action and are slated to further tweak the plan at another meeting Jan. 18, before later deciding whether to approve it.

Scott Bischke, a chemical engineer and citizen representative on the task force, told commissioners Monday that to make a sizeable dent in its carbon footprint Bozeman needs to look at where it gets its energy.

He asked commissioners if they’re willing to look at ways to supply the community with its own alternative energy. The task force’s plan suggests building city-operated facilities to generate electricity from the sun, wind or biomass.

“The only way we’re going to make big improvements is to produce our own power,” said Anders Lewendal, task force member and chairman of the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association.

However, task force members admitted the cost of such an endeavor would be daunting.

They also suggested a number of ways to conserve energy, though they admitted that conservation alone likely won’t solve the problem.

Task force members are proposing the city adopt a 5-cent fee for use of plastic bags. People who tote their purchases home with store provided plastic bags could be charged 5 cents for each one they use.

They’re also recommending the city adopt an anti-idling ordinance, similar to those in other states. The Vermont Legislature is considering a statewide ban on vehicle idling in excess of two minutes.

Other recommendations in the plan include:

• Purchasing carbon offsets from alternative energy produced father away.

• Restricting high polluting fuel sources. For example, burning wood in wood stoves could only be allowed on certain days when the weather conditions are at their best for disbursing the exhaust.

• Providing recycling bins in public spaces such as parks and recreational areas.

• Asking the Montana Legislature to approve a policy that allows people to opt-out of having phone books left on their doorstep.

• Hiring a fulltime community coordinator and provide annual emissions progress reports to the community.

• Promoting existing government and NorthWestern Energy conservation rebates.

• Dedicating 1 mill, about $80,000, in property taxes to the Streamline Public Bus system annually to help keep it fare free.

• Improving lighting on sidewalks using solar power wherever possible.

In reviewing the recommendations, commissioners acknowledged that they may be wary of mandatory regulations and that some price tags may be too expensive.

Nevertheless, they asked the task force to continue thinking big.

“This is a very serious situation,” Commissioner Carson Taylor said. “We’re not going to take it lightly.”

Bozeman started down the greener path when Mayor Jeff Krauss signed the nationwide Mayor’s Climate Protection agreement in 2006. The city joined more than 1,000 communities across the nation, including Missoula, Helena and Billings, that have committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Initiated by the mayor of Seattle, the mayors’ agreement was formed in response to the United States’ unwillingness to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which committed nations to reducing emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

After signing onto the mayors’ agreement, Bozeman set a goal of focusing first on municipal emissions, setting an example for the community to follow.

The city commission adopted the Municipal Climate Action Plan in 2008. That plan calls for the city to reduce its municipal greenhouse gases to 15 percent below 2000 levels by 2020.

The city hopes to complete the Community Climate Action Plan in 2011.

Members of the task force drafting the community plan have been meeting for the past year. Members include three citizens-at-large as well as representatives from NorthWestern Energy, the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association, Bozeman Public Schools, Montana State University and Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.

Amanda Ricker can be reached at aricker@dailychronicle.com or 582-2628.

://www.newsweek.com/2010/11/27/can-we-blame-extreme-weather-on-climate-chang, by Sharon Begley, November 27, 201

November 29, 2010

I got this from the NRDC.This author does not mince many words. I wish most authors were like her.
Matt

To those who are convinced that the science of global warming is sound, as well as to those on the fence, the refusal of climate scientists to attribute any single episode of extreme weather to greenhouse-induced climate change has been either exasperating … or suspicious.

You mean you guys can’t definitely say human-caused climate change is why 135 daily rainfall records were broken along the East Coast during September’s deluges (Wilmington, N.C.: 19.7 inches over three days)? You can’t say climate change is why 2010 is eclipsing 1998 as the hottest year on record, or why in August an ice island four times the size of Manhattan broke off from a Greenland glacier? How about why 2000–09 was the warmest decade on record, that 153 of the 1,218 U.S. weather stations recorded their hottest summer since 1895, why Moscow suffered a once-in-centuries heat wave this summer, or why one fifth of Pakistan flooded?

In short, no. No matter how bizarre the weather, the mantra of climatologists has been that one cannot attribute any single event to changing climate. All science can do is conclude that extreme events are getting more likely as humankind pumps more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Finally, climate scientists see a way to stop being so wishy-washy and start assigning blame, through a technique called “fractional risk attribution.” This technique uses mathematical models of how the atmosphere would work if we had not goosed carbon dioxide to 389 ppm (from 278 before the Industrial Revolution), plus data about ancient (“paleo”) climates and historical (more recent) weather. The idea is to calculate how many times an extreme event should have occurred absent human interference, explains climate scientist Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Lab, and the probability of the same extreme event in today’s greenhouse-forced atmosphere. Result: putting numbers on extreme weather.

In their biggest success, climate scientists led by Peter Stott of the British Met Office analyzed the 2003 European heat wave, when the mercury rose higher than at any time since the introduction of weather instruments (1851), and probably since at least 1500. After plugging in historical and paleo data, and working out climate patterns in a hypothetical world without a human-caused greenhouse effect, they conclude that our meddling was 75 percent to blame for the heat wave. Put another way, we more than doubled the chance that it would happen, and it’s twice as likely to be human-caused than natural. That’s one beat shy of “Yes, we did it,” but better than “There’s no way to tell.”

Scientists are now applying the technique to other extreme weather, especially deluges and droughts. They have reason to be optimistic. One of the signal successes of climate science has been identifying the “fingerprints” of the culprits behind rising temperatures, fierce storms, and other signs that a 10,000-year-old climate regime has been knocked for a loop. Fingerprinting has shown that the rise in global temps follows the pattern you’d expect from the greenhouse effect and not an increase in the sun’s output, for instance. A hotter sun would heat the upper atmosphere more than the lower, but in fact the upper layers have cooled while the lower have warmed, Santer explains. Fingerprinting has also nailed the greenhouse effect for warming the oceans. Natural forces such as El Niño warm some seas and cool others, but every major ocean is hotter than in the 1950s. Similar analyses have been done for today’s extreme rainfall patterns (drought followed by deluge, not precipitation spread out evenly) and the retreat of arctic sea ice. “Natural causes alone can’t explain any of these,” Santer says. “You need a large human contribution.”

The word “interesting” covers a lot of sins, which is why it’s the perfect word for the world’s current response to climate change. That response is no response, as shown by the low expectations for the international climate meeting this week in Cancún, by China’s voracious appetite for coal, and by the Senate’s failure to pass a climate bill. It’s interesting that people refuse to make changes today to stave off disasters years hence. It’s interesting that memories—of killer storms and heat waves—are so short, with people apparently viewing them as one-offs rather than harbingers of what we’ll suffer regularly in a greenhouse world. It’s interesting that we saw Muscovites and Pakistanis dying, and blithely thought, too bad, but hey, it isn’t me. All of which means that the climate we are creating will be … interesting.

Sharon Begley is NEWSWEEK’s science editor and author of

This Town Is Loaded With Climate Change Allies

November 27, 2010

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, my paper, had an opinion piece on global climate chhange a very pro opinion piece, yet I could not find the piece to reprint it.What I liked about the piece is that it shows that I am not alone in my awarness about global climate change around here…
The signs of the climate changing are to be seen here all over and that was the point of the opinion. The piece is written by what I call a fun hog and I for one thought this area, loaded with fun hogs, was oblivious to signs of a changing climate it was actually refreshing for the know-it-alls, like (I only hope the know it alls know this) myself to know that we have allies, good ones, in the fun hog sector of Bozeman; a sector that tends to be apathetic about things like the problems caused by a changing climate…
That may effect the fun hog sector as they try to ski on slopes that have a much reduced snowpack: for whatever reason we have more in common on climate change than not so lets put our heads together and see what shakes out.
Matt

Highway Across Tanzania Still Amazes Me

November 26, 2010

I am still amazed that the Tanzania government wants to put a highway across the Serengeti plains it seems there are far better ways to spend their money than fixing up what seemed to work for Tanzania why tinker with it.

2010 so far “tied for hottest year”, In Reuters News by Gerad Gwynn

November 26, 2010

This kind of news really is dramatic to me. An obervation occurs to me…this is not junk science just a reporting of the facts…what do you believe?
Matt
This year is so far tied for the hottest year in a temperature record dating back to 1850 in a new sign of a warming trend, the three major institutes which calculate global warming estimates told Reuters. Skip related content
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U.N. climate talks resume next week in Cancun, Mexico, where expectations are no longer for a comprehensive deal to slow warming, but smaller progress for example to curb deforestation, in a bid to agree a pact next year or later.

The previous conference in Copenhagen last year fell short of hopes, but about 140 countries have agreed a non-binding deal to try and limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Temperatures are now about 0.8 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and 2010 is about 0.5 degrees above the 1961-1990 average, near the record, with two months data still to collect.

Even with a possible cool end to the year, 2010 is expected to be no lower than third in a record where 1998 and 2005 are warmest. The U.N. panel of climate scientists says higher temperatures mean more floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels.

“I think it’s too close to call. Based on these numbers it’ll be second, but it depends on how warm November and December are,” said Phil Jones, director of Britain’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), at the University of East Anglia, which says 1998 was the record year so far.

By contrast, scientists at the U.S. space agency NASA say that surface temperatures through October were above the previous record year, which it says was 2005. Differences between years are only a few hundredths of a degree.

“I would not be surprised if most or all groups found that 2010 was tied for the warmest year,” said NASA’s James Hansen.

And the U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that 2010 was a “dead-heat” for the record.

“Our data show 2010 being virtually tied with 1998, through October,” said Deke Arndt, from NCDC.

The three institutes use similar observations, but in slightly different ways. For example, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) takes greater account of Arctic weather stations, where warming has been fastest.

SKEPTIC

Some skeptics have argued that because the last temperature peak was in 2005 or 1998, that global warming must have stalled.

Most scientists reject that view, saying that whether or not 2010 is the hottest year is less important than the long-term trend, which is up, due to manmade greenhouse gas emissions. The period 2000-2009 was the warmest decade on record.

Scientists also point to natural variation, and in particular the El Nino Pacific weather phenomenon associated with warm weather worldwide. 1998 was a strong El Nino year.

“The trend is overwhelming, particularly over the past 50 years,” said Rajendra Pachauri, head of the U.N. panel of climate scientists.

“I wouldn’t read these numbers for a particular year as very compelling, we have to take a historical view,” he told Reuters.

In one of the biggest bets on climate change, James Annan, a climate scientist at the Frontier Research Center for Global Change in Japan, has a $10,000 wager made in 2005 with two Russian solar physicists who are skeptical about global warming.

He will win if average world temperatures are higher from 2012-17 than they were from 1998-2003. “Things are progressing smoothly,” he said.

The U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization will publish an estimate on December 2 of where 2010 ranks. It compiles data from a wider range of sources, both measured temperatures and climate models. It lists 1998 and 2005 as the warmest years.

“We have indications that it would match one of the three warmest years,” said Omar Baddour, head of climate data management operations at in Geneva.

Montana Species In Need Of Conservation Efforts

November 26, 2010

This article dates a few years back but it is still relavent. Im going to guess that this is true in most states.
Matt
Call them the forgotten species. Milk snakes and spotted bats. Boreal toads and burrowing owls. Western pearlshell mussels and leopard frogs.

They are among the 60 species in Montana most in need of conservation efforts, according to a new report from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Of those 60, only 11 are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act and 22 have state or federal conservation plans.

“Most of them are in the gap between the game species and the threatened and endangered species,” said FWP spokesman Tom Palmer.

The goal of the report – a beefy 600 pages that took two years to compile – is to keep more species from being listed, largely by securing a flow of federal money to help conserve them.

Each state must complete a Comprehensive Fish and Wildlife Conservation Strategy, or CFWCS, to continue receiving those federal funds known as State Wildlife Grants in the future.

In the past few years, about $1 million yearly in federal money has funded Montana projects to restore arctic grayling and westslope cutthroat habitat, research loons and plan for wolf and grizzly bear management, Palmer said.

Benefiting obscure species also helps more common ones popular with hunters and anglers, said Craig Sharpe, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation.

“The positive benefits are looking at the needs of the species, because they’re all interconnected. I think the data collected will be invaluable,” he said Wednesday. “As we’ve said before, you can’t hunt and fish in a parking lot.”

The study looked at 636 species of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, crayfish and mussels.

Of them, 60 species were listed as “tier one,” which means they have the greatest conservation needs.

The tier one list includes one mussel, three amphibians, five reptiles, 19 birds, 15 mammals and 17 fish.

The entire document is available on the Web at http://www.fwp.mt.gov. Click on the “draft CFWCS” link under hot topics.

The document is still in draft form and FWP is looking for public comment through Aug. 14. There will be a series of public meetings to explain the document, including one in Bozeman at the FWP building at 1400 South 19th, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 20.

Hard copies of the document will be available from FWP offices and at state libraries after July 15.

Join Serengeti Watch

November 24, 2010

This blog is about an issue that makes no sense to me. It is about one of the worlds foremost wildlife areas. Join Serengeti watch and help stop the Government of Tanzania from making a costly mistake and putting a highway across the Serengeti plains…I mean this is the hell many went through trying from stopping the feds from flooding Glen Canyon (this is a simular boondoggle)…what makes this worse is that there are viable alternatives to taking a route through Serengeti National Park.
I saw many, many ungulates there and I saw some real unusual birds there.There seemed to be a lot of lions, cheetahs and at least we saw 2 leopards, in the Serengeti. It was a huge, wildlife filled plain with one dirt road with at least one pride of lions and 1000 zebra right in the road…

Lets helpTanzania not make a mistake by putting a highway in the Serengeti. Look at Serengeti Watch now then join.

I did!!!!!!!!
Matt

Louisa Willcox’s of NRDC’s Blog

November 23, 2010

By far some of the best information on a complicated subject. GOOD WORK!!!!
Matt
Recent statements by agency managers and the media regarding this year’s unprecedented number of grizzly bear deaths and conflicts in Yellowstone have been, in a word, disappointing. They have lacked the information we need to learn from to avoid problems in the future – problems that can be expected to mount in the face of massive changes in natural grizzly bear foods. One could even argue that statements by officials, reiterated by the media, have been misleading, contradictory, and ignored issues essential to protecting the public trust.

We are talking here about a threatened population of one of the most iconic and popular animals in and around the nation’s oldest Park, Yellowstone. We are talking here too about whether management and decision-making serves the interests of a broad diverse public—local, regional, national and international—who have been deeply engaged over the last several decades in the fate of the last 1% of grizzly bears we have left in the lower-48 states. (Hundreds of thousands of comments were submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and state agencies from across the nation, expressing overwhelming opposition to the FWS decision to remove endangered species protections for Yellowstone grizzlies in 2007.) And we’re talking about the safety of the public during a year that has witnessed so far 7 maulings, 2 human deaths and 411 human-bear conflicts (my tally from the recent Interagency Yellowstone Grizzly Bear (IGBC) meetings).

First, the misleading parts. Agency press releases claim that there are “at least 603 grizzly bears” in the population—“an all time high”. But given the great deal of acknowledged uncertainty in measuring a wide-ranging species like the grizzly bear, a point estimate is not particularly meaningful. The agencies know this, which is why a range is always reported in the government’s annual reports.

And so what are the actual numbers this year in the Yellowstone region? At the recent IGBC meeting, a range of 549-641 grizzly bears was given — not that different from 2009 (523-641), or 2008 (535-656), or 2007 (513-629) So it is simply untrue that bears reached “an all time high” this year, given the uncertainties inherent in the methods used, and the ranges reported over the past four years. The statement that there were “at least 603 bears” in the population also implies that this is a minimum number rather than a central estimate, which is flat out wrong. Why would the facts be spun this way if not to paint a rosier picture of the health of the grizzly bear population to boost the political argument that it should be delisted?

More misleading stuff. At the IGBC meetings, it was also reported by government scientists that the population is actually leveling off. That is to be expected in light of recent years of record-level mortalities—48 total estimated for 2008, 41 in 2009, and 49 (an all time record) known thus far this year—not counting the “multipliers” used to estimate unreported mortalities.(These multipliers factor in the bears that are thought to have died but have not been reported.) So we could be looking at a year like 2009, when 10-13% of the population was estimated to have died. That’s a lot of mortality for an animal that is the slowest to reproduce of any in North America.

But that story – of a population that is no longer growing, and may even be decreasing – was not told by the press, nor were the implications of a possible decline discussed at the meetings. Instead, the agencies, as well as the media, persist in claiming that the population continues to climb at 4-7% per year. This claim is misleading at best, because it is a retrospective look at historical data going back to 1996, before two key bear foods—cutthroat trout and whitebark pine—tanked . Said another way, incorporating the earlier good years in the estimates has the effect of washing out the impacts that occurred later, especially after cutthroat trout and whitebark pine collapsed.

Recent years of high mortality and human-bear conflicts, and the related leveling of the population, are completely consistent with what we know about the effects of losing whitebark pine on Yellowstone’s grizzly bears. The best available science (mostly done by government scientists) shows unequivocally that whitebark pine drives reproductive success and survival of grizzly bears. When whitebark pine seed crops are low, mortalities and conflict tend to increase. This, in fact, was the message given by various bear managers last summer when they warned people to be especially careful while recreating in grizzly bear habitat because it was a bad whitebark pine cone crop.

Truth be told, they are all bad whitebark pine years now. Last summer’s collaborative research by NRDC and the U.S. Forest Service evaluating the health of whitebark pine found that over 80% of whitebark pine in the Greater Yellowstone was dead, dying, or soon to be dead because of an unprecedented, climate-driven outbreak of mountain pine beetles.

Despite the irrefutable evidence linking whitebark pine to grizzly-human conflicts, the agencies have flip-flopped in their representations of the science, claiming suddenly that whitebark pine now doesn’t matter anymore. No peer-reviewed scientific evidence has been offered that directly supports this claim. Instead, speculative interpretations have been featured. As a matter of fact, whitebark pine does matter because its absence drives rates of human-bear conflicts.

Comments by Chuck Schwartz, the government’s key bear scientist, at the recent IGBC meeting that “it’s about secure habitat, not whitebark pine” were disingenuous. Over 60% of grizzly bear habitat in the ecosystem contains either pure or mixed forests of whitebark pine. Prior to the loss of whitebark, most bears found refuge from humans in these remote forests whenever pine seeds were available for them to eat. The loss of whitebark pine means that bears have wandered increasingly in less secure habitats, where they have more often run into people, experienced conflicts, and ultimately died.

Earlier this summer, agency officials also predicted in the press that if whitebark pine crops were poor, grizzly bears would turn to meat and that, in fact, is what we have seen. At the IGBC meeting, Wyoming Game and Fish reported a record number of cattle depredations; and we’ve seen a large number of hunting-related conflicts as grizzlies turn more eagerly to capitalize on hunter-killed elk.

So the distribution and numbers of human-bear conflicts involving livestock, elk hunters, and other human-related foods, often near human communities, are consistent with a dramatic loss of whitebark pine. Why deny it, when public safety is at stake? Answer: when you have a political agenda, like delisting the grizzly bear.

If we face up to the tragic fact of whitebark pine loss, there are three obvious courses of action: redouble efforts to reduce conflicts with people, prepare people for arrival of bears on the periphery of the ecosystem, and protect more habitat to compensate for the loss of whitebark pine. Even though many agency scientists and managers claim that the ecosystem is “full”, maps using new agency data, shown at the recent IGBC meeting, show that there is still extensive under-occupied habitat in the Wyoming , Wind River and Palisades Ranges. So, bears seeking calories to make it through the winter will be searching for remote areas such as these – areas that they may not have occupied for decades. To a layperson, that may make it look like there are more bears in the ecosystem, when in fact there is the same number (perhaps even fewer) required to roam a bigger area to make ends meet.

But, the key question is: will we let them live in such places? Will we find it in our hearts to share this landscape with a population of bears that has lost two critical foods? Will we let bears live in the wild places they will need to compensate for the loss of former key staples, whitebark pine and cutthroat trout?

Rather than spinning the numbers, flip-flopping on the science and denying the problems, these are the real-world questions we should be addressing—for the safety of the public and the health of the Great Bear. And we should be discussing them in an open, fair, democratic way—one that tragically does not presently exist in the grizzly bear arena. There is much to do over the long winter months ahead to think through and address the very real problems of a significant collapse in key foods for bears, the consequences for bears and people alike, and the lack of a democratic arena within which to work toward lasting solutions.