Seabirds: ‘Climate change is here’

To convince naysayers that climate change is real, maybe all we need to tell them is to look up in the sky – or down into the ocean.  Two recent studies show that seabirds can be important sentinels of a changing climate. Says Dee Boersma, University of Washington ecologist and one of the world’s penguin experts, in a NY Times article today: “The big thing is that penguins are showing us that climate change has...

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Omega-3′s might reduce methane ‘emissions’

This just in: Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy not just for you, but may also be good for the environment. We all read about the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids, found most commonly in fish oils in our diets. They buffer against cancer, reduce the risk of cardiac disease and may also improve brain and immune function.  But in a presentation at the meeting of the Society for General Microbiology in Harrogate, UK today,...

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Environment: Elbowed out by recession

In mid-February, George Will, resident Washington Post conservative and climate-skeptic, wrote an editorial denouncing “Dark Green Doomsayers.” The editorial was filled with anecdotal references of news articles from the 1970′s that declare widespread climate cooling and exclaim that the world will soon find itself in the next ice age. The piece outraged the environmental community and sparked a flurry of internet...

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Projected sea level rise is twice previous estimates

Researchers said yesterday that the potential rise in global sea level by the year 2100 could be almost double the previous estimates. A rise of this magnitude could affect a tenth of the world’s population. At the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark this week, Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado at Boulder chaired a session on sea level rise. He said that the upper range of sea...

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For now, forget biofuels in reserves

Ethanol as the next generation of alternative fuels has stirred significant controversy. While some tout its lower-than-gasoline greenhouse-gas emissions and its usefulness in creating carbon sinks in its agricultural fields, many other ecologists call ethanol production the most inefficient of alternative fuel options. Even the most optimistic scenarios still show that using current technologies, it can take years – in some...

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Policy news update: Budgets, climate, biofuels

With funding from the recent the stimulus bill beginning to trickle down to agencies and budgets for the next two fiscal years on the line, it’s all about the Benjamins these days in Washington. Here are some highlights from today’s issue of the ESA Policy News Update, written by ESA’s Policy Analyst, Piper Corp. 2009 Budget. The fiscal year 2009 omnibus spending bill passed the House in February and the Senate was...

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Climate change may reorganize Western fauna

Bioclimatic models attempt to draw correlations between species distributions and climate patterns.  As ecologists and climatologists hone these models, they become a useful tool for predicting future species distributions based on projected climate patterns. In the March issue of Ecology, Joshua Lawler of the University of Washington and his colleagues undertook a huge task: using a bioclimatic model, they estimated the effects of...

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Climate change doubles tree deaths

Tree deaths have more than doubled in the western U.S. in the past 20-30 years, and the culprit is climate change, according to a paper published Friday in Science. Warming has all kinds of consequences for species ranges.  Changes in temperature can narrow a species’ range or move it latitudinally through changes in average yearly temperatures and alterations of the growing or reproductive seasons. In the case of trees, other factors...

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