Latest from The Spokesman-Review
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The heat is on this indicator species. Who's next?
Study finds 40% decline in polar bear numbers in E. Alaska, W. Canada
A study done by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and Environment Canada, as well as other groups, followed polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea from 2001 to 2010, and found that numbers declined 40 percent during that decade.
—Los Angeles Times
ENVIRONMENT — The new "CO2ld Waters" documentary will debut in the 2015 Fly Fishing Film Tour (January-February) as fly fishers such as Yvon Chouinard call on anglers to pay attention to the signals their sport is sending about climate change.
(Fishing) is not a sport, it's a real passion.
Sportsmen and anglers, that's what we have going for us: we pay attention more than other people do.
Temperatures are rising; droughts are more severe.
If you've got a politician who's running for office who thinks he's smarter than 98 percent of the world's climate scientists they're crooks or they're dumb asses.
This is the defining social and environmental issue of my generation and of generations to come.
Check out the trailer, and you'll get the drift:
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Bald eagles and loons will take a big hit while blue jays are among the species that could prosper as the earth's climate heats up. But overall, the outlook is grim.
Half of all bird species in North America — including the bald eagle — are at risk of severe population decline by 2080 if the swift pace of global warming continues, the National Audubon Society concluded in a study released Monday.
- See the report: 314 Species on the Brink.
“The scale of the disruption we’re projecting is a real punch in the gut,” said Gary Langham, chief Audubon scientist.
Jon Stewart takes on the people who take on global warming because of this weekend's cold snap in the Midwest and East.
Not to say "told ya so," but check out Prediction 1 in Sunday's column…
CLIMATE CHANGE — The National Wildlife Federation continues to point out the potential impacts of climate change on wildlife populations and the sports, hobbies and economies they support.
Rising temperatures, deeper droughts and more extreme weather events fueled by manmade climate change are making survival more challenging for America’s treasured big game wildlife from coast to coast, according to a new NWF report.
Nowhere to Run: Big Game Wildlife in a Warming World suggests how climate change is already putting many species of big game at risk, creating an uncertain future for big game and the outdoor economy that depends on them.
“The recovery of big game species is one of America’s wildlife conservation success stories, made possible in large part by sustained investment by generations of sportsmen,” said Dr. Doug Inkley, senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation “But today, a changing climate threatens to rewrite that success story.”
Nowhere to Run is the latest in the National Wildlife Federation’s 2013 Wildlife in a Warming World series, which also includes:
- Wildlife in a Warming World: Confronting the Climate Crisis
- Shifting Skies: Migratory Birds in a Warming World
- Swimming Upstream: Freshwater Fish in a Warming World
Some of the impacts the NWF reports cite are still being studied, including the impact warming enviroments may be having on moose and their exposure to ticks. But with wildfire, floods and extreme weather events like heat waves, droughts and heavy rainfall becoming more frequent and more severe, the NWF says climate change should be on every sportsman's radar.
Unprecedented changes in habitat are having far-reaching consequences for big game and for sportsmen and women, affecting, for example, the timing of hunting seasons and the distribution and survival of animals, the NWF says.
“We’re already seeing changes where we hunt big game – reduced snowpack, dying forests, shifting migration patterns,” said Todd Tanner, founder and chairman of Conservation Hawks. “We have to let our elected officials know that we need solutions and we need them now. We’re running out of time.”
Read on for more details about Nowhere to Run, and the steps the NWF proposes to tackle the issue:
ENVIRONMENT — A new study looking at the impacts of climate change on the world’s ocean systems concludes that by the year 2100, about 98 percent of the oceans will be affected by acidification, warming temperatures, low oxygen, or lack of biological productivity – and most areas will be stricken by a multitude of these stressors, according to the Columbia Basin Bulletin.
These biogeochemical changes triggered by human-generated greenhouse gas emissions will not only affect marine habitats and organisms, the researchers say, but will often co-occur in areas that are heavily used by humans.
Results of the study are being published this week in the journal PLoS Biology. It was funding by the Norwegian Research Council and Foundation through its support of the International Network for Scientific investigation of deep-sea ecosystems.
“While we estimated that 2 billion people would be impacted by these changes, the most troubling aspect of our results was that we found that many of the environmental stressors will co-occur in areas inhabited by people who can least afford it,” said Andrew Thurber, an Oregon State University oceanographer and co-author on the study.
ENVIRONMENT — Gov. Jay Inslee, and a bipartisan group of Washington legislators will be in in Spokane on Wednesday for a Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup (CLEW) meeting to clear the path for carbon reduction and clean energy investment in the state.
It's the first of three meetings to be held across the state.
I mention this in the Outdoors blog because outdoorsmen need to pay attention. Climate change is in the news for its culpability to affecting many facets of of outdoor recreation and wildlife, including the survival of moose, wolverines and salmonids.
Last spring, Governor Inslee outlined the need for swift action on curbing the state's share of climate pollution, citing the health of residents, the economy, the state's budget, and the environment as areas being seriously damaged by the current levels of carbon emissions.
Among other impacts in the region, climate disruption is being felt in Eastern Washington through the increased frequency, intensity, and life of forest fires. Climate change also has been linked to "ocean acidification," that's impacting including oyster growers and other fishing industries.
The Climate Workgroup is outline several options that can act as economic drivers to curb climate disruption, including a cap and price on carbon pollution, a clean fuels standard, an end to “coal-by-wire” energy from out of state, along with new transportation planning and investments in energy efficiency.
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 16, from 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Spokane Falls Community College campus
Music Building Auditorium, Bldg. #15, Room 110
3410 W. Fort George Wright Drive, Spokane
The effects of more coal trains coming through
In a move hailed by environmentalists and condemned by business and labor organizations, the state Department of Ecology said the environmental impact statement for the proposed Cherry Point coal terminal on the north
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.
ENVIRONMENT – “Chasing Ice,” a fascinating and award-winning National Geographic documentary about adventure-scientist documenting changes in the arctic will be presented by the Idaho Conservation League and other local environmental groups on Monday, 7 p.m., at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint.
Read on for details about the making of this 2012 film, and why local groups are bringing the stunning images to the big screen in North Idaho.
OLYMPIA — A special task force to figure out how well the state is doing at reducing greenhouse gas emissions got strong support from the Senate today after it was changed to get to work faster.
A critic, however, said the Legislature was paying attention to "pseudo science."
Senate Bill 5802 would set up a task force with a representative from each of the Legislature's four caucuses and the governor, hire a consultant and determine the best ways to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions and other gases thought to contribute to global climate change.
The Legislature passed a law in 2008 to reduce such emissions, and this bill would basically answer the question: "How's that working for us?"
The task force would also look at different options for cutting down the emissions, what they would cost and suggest priorities designed to give the state the best bang for the buck.
"I want to take the religion out of carbon," said Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, who added he didn't vote for the original law in 2008, but it's in place now.
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, said the state is particularly vulnerable on climate issues because it can be easily affected by declining snow packs and rising sea levels. The task force won't be answering the question "is it happening?" as "what are we going to do about it?"
But Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, said supporters were producing "a long of pseudo science" on possible problems with global temperatures.
"I have no problem with the earth warming," he said, because carbon dioxide encourages plant growth. "You're making an assumption that it is carbon dioxide that's causing the earth to warm, it could be the other way around."
The increase in temperatures could be part of natural patterns, and causing more of the gas to be released from the oceans, he said.
The task force would be set up in mid May, rather than mid July, making it more likely a report would be available for next year's legislative session. The bill passed on a 37-12 vote.
In our society now, we idolize the sun. Good days for weathercasters are sunny days. Bad days are filled with snow. We escape from Spokane in the winter in search of sun.
With climate change, however, will we someday idolize snow the way we now do the sun? Because it will be so scarce? Will snow destinations become hot? Excuse the pun.
Snow's worth is always underrated. It collects on the mountains in the winter and when it melts, it feeds our streams, rivers and lakes. And in the Inland Northwest, it nourishes our amazing aquifer, source of our drinking water.
So here's a blog post in praise of snow. Bring it on.
(Tony Wadden photo)
- global warming
Quote of the day:
"If trends continue, baseline tree mortality rates in western forests are projected to double every 17 to 29 years."
From the report, "Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecoystems and Ecosystem Services," released Tuesday that said climate change is already affecting the Intermountain West states. - Deseret News
ENVIRONMENT — More sobering news related to climate change:
As the arctic ice melt ended Sunday, scientists calculated the extent of the melt at 293,000 square miles more than in 2007, which broke the previous record. — Washington Post
Related story: Small boat sails through arctic ice issue
CLIMATE CHANGE — The warming globe is giving sailors more room to roam.
Read the disturbing story:
Ship's historic crossing signals extent of Arctic melt, Edmonton Journal.
CLIMATE CHANGE — Out of sight, out of mind. Next thing you know, they're extinct.
And it's happening faster than ever to fish species, according to a recent study detailed in a Columbia Basin Bulletin report.
From 1900-2010, freshwater fish species in North America went extinct at a rate 877 times faster than the rate found in the fossil record, while estimates indicate the rate may double between now and 2050, the Bulletin reports.
This new information comes from a U.S. Geological Survey study to be published in the September issue of the journal BioScience.
In the fossil record, one freshwater fish species goes extinct every 3 million years, but North America lost 39 species and 18 subspecies between 1898 and 2006. Based on current trends in threatened and endangered fish species, researchers estimate that an additional 53-86 species of freshwater fish may be extinct by the year 2050.
Since the first assessment of extinct North American freshwater fishes in 1989, the number of extinct fishes increased by 25 percent.
"This study illustrates the value of placing current events into the context of deep geologic time, as rocks preserve an unbiased record of natural rates of processes before human activities began to alter the landscape, the atmosphere, the rivers, and oceans," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt.
This probably comes as no surprise: Federal scientists say July was the hottest month recorded in the Lower 48 states, breaking a record set during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. And even less a surprise: The U.S. this year keeps setting records for weather extremes, based on precise calculations that include drought, heavy rainfall, unusual temperatures and storms. The average temperature last month was 77.6 degrees. That breaks the old record from July 1936 of 77.4, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Records go back to 1895. “It’s a pretty significant increase over the last record,” said climate scientist Jake Crouch of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. In the past, skeptics of global warming have pointed to the Dust Bowl to argue that recent heat isn’t unprecedented. But Crouch said this shows that the current year “is out and beyond those Dust Bowl years. We’re rivaling and beating them consistently from month to month”/Associated Press. More here. (AP file photo: The exposed bottom of the Mississippi River is baked and cracked by extreme heat and lack of rain, near St. Louis)
Question: Do you attribute the unprecedented heat besetting much of the country, to global warming?
MOUNTAINEERING — Safely below the snowline, I was hiking in the Alps near Chamonix, France, last week when 9 climbers were killed by an avalanche on Mont Blanc, the highest peak in western Europe. It was particularly eery for me and my family, since we had just shared a train ride with a South Africa couple who had just climbed the peak — and we had shared breakfast on a previous day with a man who was headed up to climb.
The tragedy in bringing international attention to what appear to be increasing danger and unpredictibility in snow-country climbing and backcountry skiing.
Following the tragedy in the Alps as well as another on Mount McKinley, the New York Times has published this report citing veteran climbers pointing out that today’s conditions are combining to create a volatile highball of risk.
About 40 people on Monday urged local leaders to find out how vastly increased train traffic could cause health problems in Spokane.
After hearing from them, the Spokane City Council unanimously approved a nonbinding resolution asking state and federal officials to study the environmental effects of significantly increasing the amount of coal traveling by train through Spokane. They also requested that a hearing on the matter be held locally.
“As these trains come through, there’s going to be an impact,” Councilman Mike Allen said. “We just need to know the entire ramification.”
WILDLIFE – An internationally recognized polar bear expert who moved to Stevens County will present a slide program about the threatened status of the arctic bruins at 7 p.m., March 2, at the Colville Community College.
Steven Amstrup, who’s studied polar bears in Alaska for 30 years, will discuss the impacts of global warming on the bears, followed by a question-answer period.
The program is sponsored by the Friends of the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge.
The S-R recently reported that Amstrup, who worked at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center, is one of 29 conservations up for a prestigious $100,000 Indianapolis Prize for 2012, to be awarded Sept. 29.
CLIMATE CHANGE — Driven by an unprecedented meltdown across much of the Canadian North, the planet's Arctic ice cover has retreated this summer to its second-smallest extent in the 30-year satellite era — and may yet shrink beyond the record-setting thaw that alarmed scientists around the world in 2007. The story is being covered by PostMedia.
The opening in August of both the southern and northern routes of the Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic islands, along with the clearing out of ice from much of the Beaufort Sea north of the Yukon-Alaska border, are among the highlights of a new report on the state of Arctic ice issued this week by the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.
BEDFORD, N.H. – GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry told New Hampshire voters Wednesday that he does not believe in manmade global warming, calling it a scientific theory that has not been proven.
“I think we’re seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists that are coming forward and questioning the original idea that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change,” the Texas governor said on the first stop of a two-day trip to the first-in-the-nation primary state.
Do you think Perry's views on global warming reflect the views of many Americans?
FISHING — Native cutthroat trout are likely to feel the heat from climate change.
A new study shows a changing climate could reduce suitable trout habitat in the western U.S. by about 50 percent over the next 70 years, with some trout species experiencing greater declines than others.
The results were reported by a team of 11 scientists from Trout Unlimited, the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, Colorado State University, the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group.
The study, published today in the peer-reviewed science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts native cutthroat throughout the West could decline by as much as 58 percent, while introduced brook trout could decline by as much as 77 percent. Rainbow and brown trout populations, according to the study, would also decline by an estimated 35 percent and 48 percent respectively. (Read the study report.)
The study notes that the decline of cutthroat trout is “of particular significance,” because cutthroats are the only trout native to much of the West and a keystone species in the Rocky Mountain ecosystem.
Read on for reaction from Trout Unlimited, and some reason for hope.
The following was asked on The S-R's candidate questionnaire. Candidate Chris Bowen declined to submit a questionnaire. Here are the answers, which were allowed to be up to 150 words, from the five other people hoping to replace Bob Apple and represent Northeast Spokane on the council.
Do you support the sustainability plan promoted by Mayor Mary Verner, which was adopted by the Spokane City Council in 2010? Do you support the decision of former Mayor Dennis Hession to sign the U.S.Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement?
Continue reading the post to find out their answers.
In his column today in the Coeur d'Alene Press, weatherman Cliff Harris of Hayden writes: "There is no peer-confirmed scientific research that establishes a cause-and-effect relationship between increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and higher (or lower) global temperatures. This is a clever deception put forth by those attempting to impose a centralized, worldwide socialistic form of government headed by an empowered United Nations." More here.
Question: Which do you believe in more/less global warming or a "centralized, worldwide socialistic form of government heading by an empowered United Nations"?
Good evening, Netizens…
Today cartoonist David Horsey takes a shot at global warming and climate change in light of the blizzards, snowfall and bad winter weather on the Eastern Coast that largely shut down several major US cities. There are some who persist in believing that the largely unprecedented snowfall in Atlanta, Georgia is somehow related to climate change. There are perhaps even more who swear vociferously that the freezing spell to hit Florida's citrus-growing areas are likewise caused by climate change rather than weather.
The question remains largely unanswered whether these dramatic weather changes are normal cyclical aberrations of weather or part of an evolution in our climate.
I'll concede pollution of our atmosphere caused by fossil fuels and airborne hydrocarbon byproducts are being largely blamed for changes in our climate, and perhaps that is so. Al Gore would have us believe this is true, as would some of our most-critical thinkers in atmospheric studies.
Still, in our climatological history, we have seen the Deep South and portions of the Eastern United States have severe cold snaps and occasional blizzards in other eras long before we polluted our atmosphere with hydrocarbons.
Perhaps the only viable understanding of climate change requires that we as a learned people, discuss and analyze the long-term weather trends to see what is or is not truthful.
As you head for the air conditioning or reach for the ice tea today, consider this: Today may be hot, but the last decade was the hottest one on record.
Or at least that’s what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says in a report released today.
The federal agency that monitors the weather has a new report that quotes scientists from 48 countries saying that 10 key indicators show that the ‘00s were hotter than the ‘90s, which were hotter than the ‘80s, which were hotter than the ‘70s.
“Based on comprehensive data from multiple sources, the report defines 10 measurable planet-wide features used to gauge global temperature changes. The relative movement of each of these indicators proves consistent with a warming world. Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, air temperature over oceans, sea level, ocean heat, humidity and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the Earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern hemisphere.”
Of course, these are just 300 scientists from 48 countries saying that global warming is real. Who you gonna believe? Them, or some members of the Spokane City Council and a handful of folks who protest things like turning off the lights for “Earth Hour”?
“If my doctor brought me biopsy results showing cancer, I would do something about it. Inhofe would likely call the doctor an idiot, say the biopsy was a hoax and have me skip merrily to an early death.” - New York Times columnist and Spokane native Timothy Egan on Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, a man who continully proves there’s no sewer he won’t crawl through.
Egan recently wrote a very sharp criticism of climate change skeptic numero uno titled Weather Bane. In it Egan reminded us why we’ve spent the better part of three years calling this guy out for his idiotic comments, his seemingly absent grasp of reality, and the bottleneck for which he is.
For instance: the official, taxpayer-funded site devoted to the Republican position on climate change — the minority page of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, where Inhofe is the ranking member — features a five-month-old video of Inhofe bloviating over the leaked emails of leading atmospheric scientists in England. He called it “the most significant scientific scandal of our generation.”
Surely, there would be an update, based on the latest of the independent investigations, the one released earlier this month, which found that “climategate” was much ado about poor e-mail etiquette, and nothing to do about hard science. Surely, he would want to set the record straight. But Inhofe did not post this update. If you relied on him, you would think it’s deep winter.
Read more of Egan’s piece HERE.
The Spokane City Council just after midnight adopted a plan aimed at cutting carbon emissions and reducing the city’s dependence on oil.
The 5-2 decision was the second time the council voted on a report finished last year by Mayor Mary Verner’s 13-member Sustainability Task Force. Council members Nancy McLaughlin and Bob Apple voted against the plan.
When the council took its first action on the plan, in May 2009, there were only enough votes on the council to “accept” the report. Since then, two City Council members have been replaced.
“I’m honored to have another opportunity to adopt” the report,” City Councilman Steve Corker late Monday night.
City officials say that new state rules require that the city have an “adopted” plan to reduce emissions to qualify for some state grants.
The report recommends several steps the city should take to cut its dependence on oil and reduce the city’s negative effect on climate change. Ideas include promoting energy-efficient construction and transportation. It also sets a goal for the city to acquire 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.