8 Jun 2008, 7:52pm
Latest Forest News
by admin
leave a comment

Gov suggests State of Montana take over management of some federal forests

AP MISSOULA [here] - Gov. Brian Schweitzer says that creating healthier forests, possibly by having the state take over management of some federal timberland, is the best way to combat the infestation of bark beetles in the West.

In a speech, Schweitzer suggested that instead of spending $50 million to $200 million annually to fight wildfires, the state should budget $75 million each year for treating its forests before they’re burned or killed by beetles. The governor made the comments at the University of Montana during a conference to discuss the beetle infestation.

“We propose the federal government manage like we do after a fire n complete timber sales in six to eight months after a fire,” he said. “When we have dead or dying trees, we harvest them, but our neighbor doesn’t do a dang thing, in their checkerboard fashion.”

Schweitzer said leaders could propose a plan to manage 10 percent of federal timberland.

Montanans have been trying to discourage mountain pine beetles, Douglas fir beetles, and western spruce budworms from overwhelming trees. Across the western United States, mountain pine beetles destroyed more than 2.9 million acres of forest in 2005. In Montana alone, the most recent numbers from 2006 show that 2.4 million trees across 750,000 acres were killed by the beetles.

Ken Gibson, an entomologist with the Forest Service in Missoula, said thinning forests and replacing them with various tree species, sizes and ages can reduce the chance of a beetle attack.

7 Jun 2008, 2:21pm
Latest Climate News
by admin
1 comment

Beach bonfires to be banned in Seattle

They fuel global warming, parks department says

By KERY MURAKAMI, Seattle PI

Even with the skies overcast and threatening rain, Khang Nguyen, 18, and Joel Juan, 19, kicked back after school at Alki Beach.

“It’s just a relaxing way to hang out with friends,” Nguyen said of the bonfire crackling in front of them one evening earlier this week.

But Seattle Parks and Recreation might do what even this week’s chilly weather couldn’t — douse the long tradition of beach bonfires at Alki and at Golden Gardens.

Park department staff is recommending reducing bonfires at the two beaches this summer and possibly banning them altogether next year.

The park board will hear the recommendation Thursday, and the city plans to run public-service announcements and hand out brochures later this month about the effects of bonfires on global warming.

According to a memo to the park board from the staff released Thursday, “The overall policy question for the Board is whether it is good policy for Seattle Parks to continue public beach fires when the carbon … emissions produced by thousands of beach fires per year contributes to global warming.” … [more]

7 Jun 2008, 2:03pm
Latest Climate News
by admin
leave a comment

U.S. Has 36th Coolest Spring on Record

posted by Joseph D’Aleo, CCM, ICECAP [here]

The March-May spring season was the 36th coolest on record for the contiguous United States, according to an analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Separately, last month ended as the 34th coolest May for the contiguous United States, based on records dating back to 1895.

The average spring temperature of 51.4 degrees F was 0.5 degree F below the 20th century average. The average May temperature of 60.3 degrees F was 0.7 degree F below the 20th century mean, based on preliminary data.

For the spring, Missouri had its fourth wettest, Arkansas its sixth wettest, Indiana and Iowa their eighth wettest and Illinois its 10th wettest. For May, Arizona, Maryland, and Nebraska were much wetter than average, with Nebraska ranking fourth wettest and Maryland fifth wettest on record. California had its driest spring on record, while Nevada and Utah had their 10th and 11th driest on record. … [more]

7 Jun 2008, 1:53pm
Latest Climate News
by admin
1 comment

$45 trillion needed to combat warming

TOKYO - The world needs to invest $45 trillion in energy in coming decades, build some 1,400 nuclear power plants and vastly expand wind power in order to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to an energy study released Friday.

The report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency envisions a “energy revolution” that would greatly reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels while maintaining steady economic growth.

“Meeting this target of 50 percent cut in emissions represents a formidable challenge, and we would require immediate policy action and technological transition on an unprecedented scale,” IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said.

A U.N.-network of scientists concluded last year that emissions have to be cut by at least half by 2050 to avoid an increase in world temperatures of between 3.6 and 4.2 degrees above pre-18th century levels. … [more]

6 Jun 2008, 1:12pm
Latest Wildlife News
by admin
leave a comment

Wolves kill 15 sheep near Dillon

By the Billings Gazette News Services [here]

BOZEMAN - State wildlife officials say wolves have killed 15 domestic buck sheep and injured 14 others on private land in the East Fork of the Blacktail, south of Dillon.

Officials say the Freezeout Pack probably killed two ewes as well.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says wolves killed six sheep on the same property in early May. Because of the history of depredations, the agency last week authorized USDA Wildlife Services to kill three of the pack’s five adult wolves.

In an unrelated incident, a pair of wolves has killed a calf on private land in the Greenhorn Mountains, south of Alder.

Officials believe the pair, called the Jack Creek Pack, injured two other calves on the same property in early May.

FWP said it will monitor the pack but take no additional action at this time.

6 Jun 2008, 12:43am
Latest Forest News
by admin
1 comment

Tahoe woman sentenced today for cutting 3 Forest Service trees

By SCOTT SONNER, Nevada Appeal, June 4 2008

RENO — The lawyer for a woman who admits hiring a company to illegally chop down trees on national forest land at Lake Tahoe is urging a judge to spare her prison time partly because she’s been embarrassed and humiliated by the publicity.

Patricia Vincent, 57, Incline Village, was scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Reno Wednesday afternoon under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors that orders her to pay $100,000 restitution and do 80 hours of community service, said Scott Freeman, her Reno lawyer.

Vincent, who has no previous criminal history, had the three trees removed last April to improve her view of the lake. She has “suffered emotionally from the negative publicity and has no further plans to stay in the Lake Tahoe area,” Freeman said in court documents filed on Monday.

Vincent was indicted in January by a federal grand jury in Reno on felony charges of theft of government property and willingly damaging government property. She faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of those original counts if convicted.

But in exchange for her guilty plea last month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Rachow agreed to drop the felony charges and charge her with one misdemeanor count of unlawfully cutting trees on U.S. land.

That crime carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison, a $100,00 fine and possible restitution. But Rachow said under the plea agreement, she would face a year of probation, 80 hours of community service and pay $100,000 in restitution — with $35,000 going to the U.S. Forest Service and $65,000 going to the National Forest Foundation.

Freeman acknowledged in court documents the sentencing was “unusual” because “the defendant is not a typical criminal violator.” He said she already has completed 87.5 hours of community service and already paid the $100,000 restitution. … [more]

4 Jun 2008, 12:38pm
Latest Climate News
by admin
leave a comment

Global Temperature Dives (Again) in May

by Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That?, June 4, 2008 [here]

Confirming what many of us have already noted from the anecdotal evidence coming in of a much cooler than normal May, such as late spring snows as far south as Arizona, extended skiing in Colorado, and delays in snow cover melting in many parts of the northern hemisphere, the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH) published their satellite derived Advanced Microwave Sounder Unit data set of the Lower Troposphere for May 2008.

It is significantly colder globally, colder even than the significant drop to -0.046°C seen in January 2008.

The global temperature change from April to May 2008 was -.195°C

UAH
2008 Jan -0.046
2008 Feb 0.020
2008 Mar 0.094
2008 Apr 0.015
2008 May -0.180

Compared to the May 2007 value of 0.199°C we find a 12 month delta-T (global temperature change) is -.379°C.

But even more impressive is the change since the last big peak in global temperature in January 2007 at 0.594°C, giving a 16 month delta-T of -0.774°C which is equal in magnitude to the generally agreed upon “global warming signal” of the last 100 years. … [more]

1 Jun 2008, 5:19pm
Latest Climate News
by admin
leave a comment

Our spotless sun

By Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post, May 31, 2008

Solar image of June 1, 2008 courtesy Solar and Heliospheric Observatory [here]. Note the continuing absence of sunspots, giving rise to speculation that another Little Ice Age looms.

You probably haven’t heard much of Solar Cycle 24, the current cycle that our sun has [not yet - ed.] entered, and I hope you don’t. If Solar Cycle 24 becomes a household term, your lifestyle could be taking a dramatic turn for the worse. That of your children and their children could fare worse still, say some scientists, because Solar Cycle 24 could mark a time of profound long-term change in the climate. As put by geophysicist Philip Chapman, a former NASA astronaut-scientist and former president of the National Space Society, “It is time to put aside the global warming dogma, at least to begin contingency planning about what to do if we are moving into another little ice age.”

The sun, of late, is remarkably free of eruptions: It has lost its spots. By this point in the solar cycle, sunspots would ordinarily have been present in goodly numbers. Today’s spotlessness — what alarms Dr. Chapman and others — may be an anomaly of some kind, and the sun may soon revert to form. But if it doesn’t – and with each passing day, the speculation in the scientific community grows that it will not – we could be entering a new epoch that few would welcome.

Sunspots have been well documented throughout human history, starting in the fourth century BC, with written descriptions by Gan De, a Chinese astronomer. In 1128, an English monk, John of Worcester, was the first person known to have drawn sunspots, and after the telescope’s arrival in the early 1600s, observations and drawings became commonplace, including by such luminaries as Galileo Galilei. Then, to the astonishment of astronomers, they saw the sunspots diminish and die out altogether.

This was the case during the Little Ice Age, a period starting in the 15th or 16th century and lasting centuries, says NASA’s Goddard Space Centre, which links the absence of sunspots to the cold that then descended on Earth. During the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, a time known as the Maunder Minimum (named after English astronomer Edward Maunder), astronomers saw only about 50 sunspots over a 30-year period, less than one half of 1% of the sunspots that would normally have been expected. Other Minimums — times of low sunspot activity — also corresponded to times of unusual cold. … [more]

Note: Solar Cycle 24 is now one year overdue (based on average solar cycle length of 11 years). See Ultralong Solar Cycle 23 and Possible Consequences by Joe D’Aleo [here]

31 May 2008, 10:48pm
Latest Climate News
by admin
leave a comment

The Carbon Curtain

Investor’s Business Daily editorial, May 29, 2008

Climate Change: Czech President Vaclav Klaus warns that environmentalism is becoming a new totalitarianism. There is still a bear in the woods, but it’s no longer the Russian bear. This time, it’s a polar bear.

Having lived much of his life in a nation once ruled by communists, Klaus recognizes a tyrannical ideology where elites trample on individual freedoms for the greater good when he sees one.

Speaking Tuesday at the National Press Club to introduce the English version of his book, “Blue Planet, Green Shackles,” Klaus said that global warming is being used as a means to erode our freedoms.

Klaus called alarms about man-made climate change a “quasi-noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of something above him” and that it is being exploited by a new elite “certain they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea a reality.”

Like Marxism, it will tell us how we can live, what we can drive, what temperature we can set our thermostats. “In the past it was in the name of the masses (or of the proletariat), this time in the name of the planet,” said Klaus. “Structurally, it was very similar.”

To those who find his fears unfounded, we offer the words of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, who, campaigning in Oregon, said: “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times . . . and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK.”

Obama added: “That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen.”

On June 2, the Senate is going to take up the America’s Climate Security Act, a cleverly titled assault on both our freedoms and our economy offered up by Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Warner.

The bill essentially limits how much gasoline and other fossil fuels Americans can use, as Klaus puts it, “in the name of the planet.” … [more]

31 May 2008, 10:41pm
Latest Climate News
by admin
leave a comment

ABC (Australian) Website Tells Kids When They Should Die

By Karlis Salna, News.com.au

An Australian Broadcasting Corp. website has been accused of portraying farmers and forestry workers as evil and telling kids how much carbon they can produce before they die. The Planet Slayer website, which can be accessed via the science section on the ABC home page, also demonises people who eat meat and those involved in the nuclear industry, a Senate estimates committee heard.

The site has several features including a cartoon series, Adventures of Greena, and a tool called Prof Schpinkee’s Greenhouse Calculator to help kids work out their carbon footprint. The calculator lets users compare their own carbon output to the “average Aussie greenhouse pig” and estimates at what age a person should die so they don’t use more than their fair share of the Earth’s resources. Too much carbon production causes a cartoon pig to explode, leaving behind a pool of blood.

Victorian Liberal senator Mitch Fifield today questioned the accuracy and appropriateness of some of the imagery and content on the website. “Do you think it’s appropriate that the ABC portray the average Australian as a pig and is it appropriate for a website obviously geared towards kids to depict people who are average Australians as massive overweight ugly pigs, oozing slime from their mouths, and then to have these pigs blow up in a mass of blood and guts?”

ABC managing director Mark Scott said the site was not designed to offend certain quarters of the community but to engage children in environmental issues. “The site has been developed to appeal to children and its been done in an irreverent way… to make it engaging,” Mr Scott said. … [more]

30 May 2008, 10:09pm
Latest Climate News
by admin
leave a comment

Cold Irony: Arctic Sea Ice Traps Climate Tour Icebreaker

From Watts Up With That? [here]

Stuck in the arctic ice that doesn’t exist. (file photo: EcoPhotoExplorers)

Last year as arctic sea ice melted to record levels, panic set in for many. But then, as the sea ice rebounded and froze again quickly in the 2007/2008 winter, making up for that record loss and reaching heights not seen for several years, many exclaimed that even though the ice areal extent had recovered, this new ice was “thin” and would likely melt again quickly. There were also many news stories about how the Northwest Passage was ice free for the first time “ever”. For example, Backpacker Magazine ran a story saying “The ice is so low that the photos clearly show a viable northwest passage sea route along the coasts of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska.”

Cashing in on the panic that has set in with the help of some climate alarmists, tour operators like Quark Expeditions of Norwalk Connecticut are offering polar expeditions catering to that “see it before it’s gone” travel worry. One of them is in fact a trip though the Northwest Passage on a former Soviet Icebreaker called the Kapitan Khlebnikov which is a massive 24,000 horsepower Polar Class icebreaker capable of carrying 108 passengers in relative luxury through the arctic wilderness. …

I am on the bridge of the massive Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, and the tension is palpable. We have hit ice - thick ice. …

What irony. I am a passenger on one of the most powerful icebreakers in the world, travelling through the Northwest Passage - which is supposed to become almost ice-free in a time of global warming, the next shipping route across the top of the world - and here we are, stuck in the ice, engines shut down, bridge deserted. Only time and tide can free us.

On the seventh day of being trapped in the ice, winds and tide moved the ice pack enough that they could continue. But, I have to wonder, will the pampered eco-tourists on this trip see the irony that we do? … [more]

30 May 2008, 10:21am
Latest Climate News
by admin
5 comments

Ultralong Solar Cycle 23 and Possible Consequences

By Joe D’Aleo, Monday, May 26, 2008 [here]

In 1610, shortly after viewing the sun with his new telescope, Galileo Galilei made the first European observations of Sunspots. Daily observations were started at the Zurich Observatory in 1749 and with the addition of other observatories continuous observations were obtained starting in 1849. As a climatologist, I always found it amazing that we have had regular sunspot data far longer than we have had reliable coverage of temperature or precipitation.

Sunspots appear as dark spots on the surface of the Sun. Temperatures in the dark centers of sunspots drop to about 3700 K (compared to 5700 K for the surrounding photosphere). They typically last for several days, although very large ones may live for several weeks. Sunspots are magnetic regions on the Sun with magnetic field strengths thousands of times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field. …

While the sunspots tend to make the Sun look darker, the faculae make it look brighter. During a sunspot cycle, the faculae actually win out over the sunspots and make the Sun appear slightly (about 0.1%) brighter at sunspot maximum that at sunspot minimum.

The sunspot number is calculated by first counting the number of sunspot groups and then the number of individual sunspots. The “sunspot number” is then given by the sum of the number of individual sunspots and ten times the number of groups. Monthly averages (updated monthly) of the sunspot numbers show that the number of sunspots visible on the sun waxes and wanes with an approximate 11-year cycle…

It appears from the evidence… that cycle 23 has not yet bottomed out and thus is at least 12 years long. …

Early records of sunspots indicate that the Sun went through a period of inactivity in the late 17th century. Very few sunspots were seen on the Sun from about 1645 to 1715, a period known as the Maunder Minimum. …

Although the observations were not as extensive as in later years, the sun was in fact well observed during this time and this lack of sunspots is well documented. This period of solar inactivity also corresponds to a climatic period called the “Little Ice Age” when rivers that are normally ice-free froze and snow fields remained year-round at lower altitudes.

[S]olar cycle length has been shown to correlate very well with temperatures. In an important paper in 1991, Friis-Christensen et al., compared the average temperature in the northern hemisphere with the average solar activity defined through the interval between successive sunspot maxima. …

Global temperatures appear to have peaked in 1998. The current longer quieter cycle 23 may be behind the cooling in the last 7+ years.

[T]here have been just four spots or pre-spot magnetic activity with characteristics of cycle 24. Meanwhile cycle 23 cycle spots continue. This suggests that cycle 24 may not kick in until later 2008 or even 2009. …

[NASA and others project that] cycle 24 will be quieter than 23 and that 25 and 26 will be very quiet and result in colder decades ahead.

A similar finding was made by Archibald who speculates a major cooling ahead that could rival or be worse than the Dalton Minimum.

Summary:

The sun undergoes cyclical changes on multiple time scales that appear to correlate very well with temperatures. Long and relatively quiet solar cycles historically have been associated with cold global temperatures, short and very active cycles, warm periods. The current cycle 23 appears to be the longest in at least a century and may project to quieter subsequent cycles and cooling temperatures ahead. [more]

30 May 2008, 10:02am
Latest Climate News
by admin
leave a comment

Global warming, an unsettled science

The thesis of man-made global warming has been portrayed as a scientific consensus, but is this more a policymaker and media phenomenon than a settled matter?

By Simon Roughneen for ISN Security Watch (30/05/08) [here]

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group One, a panel of experts established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, issued its Fourth Assessment Report. This included predictions of dramatic increases in average world temperatures over the next 92 years and serious harm resulting from the predicted temperature rise.

Founding director of the UN Environment Programme Maurice Strong once analyzed global environmental challenges as follows:

“We may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse.”

“Industrial civilization” has been pumping additional carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere and adding to the greenhouse effect, whereby carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor combine to trap sunrays bouncing off the earth’s surface, keeping the earth at a temperature conducive to supporting life.

What ultimate benefit the collapse of industrial civilization could bring at a time when - as Oxford University economist Paul Collier put it in his award-winning book The Bottom Billion - around four billion people are being lifted out of poverty, remains unclear.

However, the IPCC outlines that “deep cuts in global emission will be required,” while the European Commission supports emissions cuts of 25-40 percent by 2020. The US, however, considers such cuts beyond reach, at least before 2050, while Japan says it is premature to commit to 2020 limits.

On 26 May, G8 environment ministers endorsed slashing greenhouse gas emissions in half by mid-century, but failed to agree on much more contentious near-term targets.

Environmentalists were disappointed, according to AP reports: They missed the “opportunity to accelerate the slow progress of G8 climate negotiations, but they failed to send a signal of hope for a breakthrough,” said Naoyuki Yamagishi, head of the Climate Change Program at WWF Japan.

Whether or not such emissions cuts, and the industrial and economic turmoil that could ensue, are necessary, depends precisely on whether global warming or climate change is man-made, or whether the anthropogenic aspect outweighs natural factors.

On 10 May 2007, UN special climate envoy Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland declared the climate debate “over,” adding that “it’s completely immoral, even, to question” the UN’s scientific “consensus.”

Questions about the “consensus” are mounting, however, as are apparently growing numbers of scientists who dispute the notion that “the science is settled.”
more »

30 May 2008, 9:57am
Latest Forest News
by admin
leave a comment

Conservation Easements Not What They Used to Be

Under the guise of making more land accessible for the public’s use and providing tax relief for land-rich but cash-poor landowners, the government has found a convenient way to restrict the use of private land - often without the original landowner’s knowledge. Enter The Nature Conservancy and other large land trust conglomerates that approach farmers or large landowners with what seems like a “win-win” for all involved. In return for donating their land for conservation purposes, the landowners are provided with federal and state tax breaks and agree never to convert, develop or use the land for any purpose other than farming or ranching.

A total of 37 million acres of land throughout the United States are currently under the control of land trusts.

However, according to a new report by the National Center for Public Policy Research titled, “Conservation Easements: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” all-too-often that acquired land, placed under “conservation easements,” goes from the land trust right into the governing hands of the largest landowner in the United States, the federal government. Dana Joel Gattuso, author of the report and senior fellow of the National Center, explains these “prearranged flips” provide a back door approach to acquiring land control that is good for the government and the original land trust, but bad for the unsuspecting landowner, who has been kept out of the loop.

How profitable is it for conglomerates like The Nature Conservancy to participate in flips? Gattuso cites their annual report, which states about a fifth of the land trust’s annual support and revenues come from the sales of easements to the government. “In one example, The Nature Conservancy bought an easement for $1.26 million, then directly sold it to the federal Bureau of Land Management for $1.4 million,” she says. The Nature Conservancy certainly isn’t alone, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, one of that state’s largest land trusts, has sold more than 700 of its 850 easements to the state and federal government.

Besides being able to take control over more and more land, “Government agencies like the arrangements because they are able to restrict activity on private property absent public approval, unlike land purchases, zoning laws and other land conservation regulations, which can draw heated opposition - and great angst,” Gattuso says. According to a Department of Agriculture report on easements, “conservation easements provide opportunities for public agencies to influence resource use without incurring the political costs of regulation or the full financial costs of outright land acquisition.” It is troubling that “easements, absent reforms, could evolve into the prevailing method for government to shift lands unobtrusively from private to public control under a pretense of private stewardship,” she states. … [more]

30 May 2008, 9:43am
Latest Wildlife News
by admin
leave a comment

Group announces intent to sue over walrus petition

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A conservation group gave notice Tuesday that it will sue to force federal action on a petition to list the Pacific walrus as a threatened species because of threats from global warming and offshore petroleum development.

The deadline was May 8 for an initial 90-day review of the petition by the U.S. Department of the Interior, according to Center for Biological Diversity attorney Brendan Cummings.

The group filed the petition in February.

Shaye Wolf, a biologist and lead author of the petition, said Arctic sea ice is disappearing faster than the best predictions of climate models.

“As the sea ice recedes, so does the future of the Pacific walrus,” she said.

The conservation group was one of three that successfully petitioned to have polar bears listed as threatened because of sea ice loss caused by global warming, a decision announced May 14 by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. That listing also followed court action to force deadline decisions. …

As many as 6,000 walruses late last summer and fall abandoned the remaining ice, which covered deep water, and congregated on Alaska’s northwest shore.

Herds were larger on the Russian side, where one group included as many as 40,000 animals, according to Russian observers. They estimated 3,000 to 4,000 mostly young walruses died in stampedes when herds rushed into the water at the sight of polar bears, hunters or low-flying aircraft. … [more]

 
  
  • For the benefit of the interested general public, W.I.S.E. herein presents news clippings from other media outlets. Please be advised: a posting here does not necessarily constitute or imply W.I.S.E. agreement with or endorsement of any of the content or sources.
  • Colloquia

  • Commentary and News

  • Contact

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent News Clippings

  • Recent Comments

  • Meta