4 Jun 2010, 7:59pm
Latest Climate News
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Shape-shifting islands defy sea-level rise

by Wendy Zukerman< New Scientist, 02 June 2010 [here]

AGAINST all the odds, a number of shape-shifting islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are standing up to the effects of climate change.

For years, people have warned that the smallest nations on the planet - island states that barely rise out of the ocean - face being wiped off the map by rising sea levels. Now the first analysis of the data broadly suggests the opposite: most have remained stable over the last 60 years, while some have even grown.

Paul Kench at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and Arthur Webb at the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission in Fiji used historical aerial photos and high-resolution satellite images to study changes in the land surface of 27 Pacific islands over the last 60 years. During that time, local sea levels have risen by 120 millimetres, or 2 millimetres per year on average.

Despite this, Kench and Webb found that just four islands have diminished in size since the 1950s. The area of the remaining 23 has either stayed the same or grown (Global and Planetary Change, DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2010.05.003).

Webb says the trend is explained by the islands’ composition. Unlike the sandbars of the eastern US coast, low-lying Pacific islands are made of coral debris. This is eroded from the reefs that typically circle the islands and pushed up onto the islands by winds, waves and currents. Because the corals are alive, they provide a continuous supply of material. “Atolls are composed of once-living material,” says Webb, “so you have a continual growth.” Causeways and other structures linking islands can boost growth by trapping sediment that would otherwise get lost to the ocean.

All this means the islands respond to changing weather and climate. For instance, when hurricane Bebe hit Tuvalu in 1972 it deposited 140 hectares of sedimentary debris onto the eastern reef, increasing the area of the main island by 10 per cent.

Kench says that while the 27 islands in his study are just a small portion of the thousands of low-lying Pacific islands, it shows that they are naturally resilient to rising sea levels. “It has been thought that as the sea level goes up, islands will sit there and drown,” he says. “But they won’t. The sea level will go up and the island will start responding.” … [more]

3 Jun 2010, 12:33pm
Tramps and Thieves
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Oh, The Humanity

By Jennifer Harper, Washington Times, June 2, 2010 [here]

Let the hand-wringing begin. Though Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, have announced a separation rather than a divorce after four decades of marriage, much of the press already has ramped up the tragedy. Hey, maybe they’ll get back together. Or, maybe not. Still, many journalists already are in mourning over the loss of the “storybook couple,” with a few daring ancillary stories drawing attention to Mr. Gore’s impending single status and the couple’s division of property.

Which brings us to business writer and Anxiety Institute founder Alan Caruba, who believes the “separation” is a ruse to protect those assets should there be a federal investigation of certain environmentally minded activities. Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, already has called for the Justice Department to have a look-see.

“Al Gores big, big problem these days is something dubbed ‘Climategate,’ the revelation that the science of global warming is entirely fabricated and utterly false,” Mr. Caruba says, noting that Mr. Gore established the $1 billion Generation Investment Management LLP to invest in assorted green technologies, assisted by Goldman Sachs veteran David Blood.

“There was, Mr. Gore told everyone, a climate crisis, and in the process, he grew rich, hailed [as] the first ‘carbon billionaire’ for his various investments,” Mr. Caruba continues. “As bad as the bursting of the housing bubble has been, the next bubble will be a very green one. And, at the heart of it will be the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore, and his partner in crime, the U.N. climate change program.

“If Al Gore and Tipper are legally separated, it will likely provide a measure of protection for the millions he has. This, I suggest, is probably the real reason for the separation. It is as coldly calculated as his global-warming lies. Even their forty-year marriage must be sacrificed,” Mr. Caruba says.

2 Jun 2010, 8:17pm
Latest Forest News
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Forestry Department buys 43,000 acres for State Forest

BY RACHEL CHEESEMAN, Oregon Politico, June 2, 2010 [here]

GILCHRIST- The Oregon Department of Forestry dedicated a 43,000-acre tract of land in Klamath County as the Gilchrist State Forest on Tuesday.

This forest, the first state forest purchase in 70 years, will be the sister forest to the Sun Pass State Forest, also located in Klamath County.

According to Doug Decker, the project leader of the state forest division, the purchase will preserve the land as a working forest rather than have it subdivided, sold and potentially developed into small, low-density housing.

Rod Nichols, an information officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the subdivision and sale of lands often limit public access to forests for recreational purposes and fragment the habitats of native species. In addition, the introduction of housing into these areas increases the risk of human-caused wildfires and makes the prevention of such fires more complex and costly.

The land acquired in the new acquisition was appraised at $23.5 million. The Oregon legislature appropriated $15 million towards the purchase, allowing Oregon to purchase the western two-thirds of the land. The land was purchased with a loan from an unidentified third party, which will be paid back with revenue from the Oregon lottery over time. The remaining cost was covered by The Conservation Fund, which will hold the title for the eastern third of the land until Oregon can pay the final $8.5 million.

This acquisition is intended to generate revenue by creating sustainable jobs in the timber industry for Klamath County.

“Communities that have traditionally depended on forest products as a major part of their income are in a depressed condition because of the way that markets have gone,” Nichols said. “We’re very concerned about maintaining forests and preventing them from being converted to other uses.” … [more]

1 Jun 2010, 11:31pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Alaska sues feds over predator control

By MARK THIESSEN, Associated Press, May 28, 2010 [here]

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The state of Alaska sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Friday, seeking a court order allowing it to go ahead with a controversial predator control program.

At issue is the state’s plan to kill wolves to preserve a caribou herd inside the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge on Unimak Island, beginning as early as Tuesday.

Last week, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced it would begin shooting some wolves on Unimak, the eastern-most island in the Aleutian chain, to protect caribou calving grounds as part of its aerial predator control program.

While the program is in place in at least six locations around Alaska, it would be the first time in recent history that aerial predator control would be used inside a national refuge in Alaska.

The department planned on using two biologists and four pilots to kill wolves.

The feds responded Monday, cautioning the state that killing the wolves without a special use permit would be considered “a trespass on the refuge” and immediately referred to the U.S. attorney.

The state has interpreted that as federal officials blocking the program. The lawsuit, which names U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Rowan Gould, his agency and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, seeks a court order allowing the state to kill seven wolves while the litigation continues.

The state announced the lawsuit after federal business hours. Bruce Woods, a spokesman for the federal agency in Alaska, was reached at his home Friday, but said he could not comment because he had not seen the lawsuit.

Caribou are an important subsistence food for approximately 62 people living on the island, but the animal numbers have been declining. In 2002, there were more than 1,200 caribou. Last year, fewer than 300 were counted. The state has an unofficial estimate of up to 30 wolves.

The state says the killing of wolves is imperative to protect this year’s caribou calves. … [more]

1 Jun 2010, 12:33am
Latest Wildlife News
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Endangered Species: Federal water curbs ’scientifically unreasonable’ in delta smelt case, judge rules

By Colin Sullivan, Water World, May 28, 2010 [here]

U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger late yesterday delivered another win for farmers and water districts looking to export more water from the San Joaquin-Sacramento Bay Delta, ruling that federal agencies “completely abdicated” their responsibility to protect economic interests in California alongside endangered delta smelt.

Wanger, ruling from the U.S. Eastern District of California in Fresno, signaled his intention to provide San Joaquin Valley farmers and water districts relief from water pumping restrictions ordered under the Endangered Species Act for the smelt. The decision mirrors a similar ruling on salmon issued earlier this month that led to the lifting of pumping limits this week (Greenwire, May 26).

Like the salmon ruling [here], Wanger’s smelt directive came across as a scolding of officials at the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation. Wanger said the agencies had failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act when they wrote a recovery plan for the smelt.

“Judicial deference is not owed to arbitrary, capricious and scientifically unreasonable agency action,” Wanger wrote. “FWS and Reclamation … must take the hard look under NEPA at the severe consequences visited upon [California's agricultural industry] and the residents and communities impacted by the water supply limitations.”

Wanger held a hearing with attorneys this morning to hear arguments on what relief is justified following his ruling. A final decision is expected anytime.

The pumping limits for smelt remain in place, for now, but that appears likely to change shortly if Wanger repeats the stance outlined in his salmon ruling. … [more]

Note: Thanks for the tip to Julie Kay Smithson, Property Rights Research [here, here]

1 Jun 2010, 12:31am
Latest Wildlife News
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Border security to include livestock inspectors

By Kevin Buey, The Las Cruces Sun-News, May 27, 2010 [here]

Deming, New Mexico - Livestock scale inspection begins July 26, in New Mexico, by New Mexico Department of Agriculture inspectors certifying scales.

Given concern about border safety, inspectors in the Luna, Hidalgo and Grant County areas will be escorted by sheriff’s deputies.

Area members of the New Mexico Cattlegrowers Association met Wednesday night at La Fonda Restaurant to discuss concerns.

“They are no less safe this year than last year, but the murder of Robert Krentz has brought it more into focus,” said Caren Cowan, association executive director, said of the inspectors.

Krentz was shot to death on his Arizona ranch, near the New Mexico border, in March. Footprints from the scene led to the Mexican border.

There are 30 or more scales in the corridor — south of Interstate 10 from Las Cruces to the Arizona border.

“There have been no instances (of problems),” said Joe Gomez, division director of NMDA Standards and Consumer Services. “We’re just taking a proactive attack.”

The NMDA wanted to do this last year, he said, but the U.S. Border Patrol was unable to accommodate inspectors due to its workload.

This year, law enforcement will be there. … [more]

Note: Thanks for the tip to Julie Kay Smithson, Property Rights Research [here, here]

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