ESA Policy News September 2: Obama talks climate in Alaska, Research groups praise Senators for science conference support
Sep02

ESA Policy News September 2: Obama talks climate in Alaska, Research groups praise Senators for science conference support

Here are some highlights from the latest ESA Policy News by Policy Analyst Terence Houston. Read the full Policy News here.  ARCTIC: OBAMA CALLS FOR CLIMATE ACTION AT ALASKA CONFERENCE On August 29, President Obama spoke before the conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER) in Alaska where he discussed how climate change is impacting the Arctic and called on world leaders to join in global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama’s visit makes him the first sitting president to visit the Arctic. “Warmer, more acidic oceans and rivers, and the migration of entire species, threatens the livelihoods of indigenous peoples, and local economies dependent on fishing and tourism,” said the president. “Reduced sea levels leaves villages unprotected from floods and storm surges.  Some are in imminent danger; some will have to relocate entirely.  In fact, Alaska has some of the swiftest shoreline erosion rates in the world.” The president used the forum to call on the world’s nations to agree to a climate treaty when they meet at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris later this fall. The president discussed the efforts the United States and China are implementing to cut carbon emissions while stressing that addressing climate change requires action from multiple nations. Click here to view the president’s full remarks before the GLACIER conference. Click here for additional Obama administration efforts to address climate change in the Arctic. WATER: COURT RULING IMPEDES OBAMA CLEAN WATER RULE US District Court Chief Judge Ralph Erickson in North Dakota has granted a preliminary injunction impacting 13 states against the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States rule, which redefines which streams and wetlands merit federal protection under the Clean Water Act that is administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency contends the injunction will only apply to the 13 states that filed the lawsuit: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, while the new rule will proceed in the 37 other states. Judge Erickson concluded that the regulation likely oversteps the US Supreme Court’s decision in Rapanos vs. the United States. The injunction serves to halt implementation of the rule for as long as litigation persists and can be overturned. The 2008 guidance that has been on the books to govern Clean Water Act decisions will remain in effect for the 13 states. Click here to view the full ruling. Click here for additional information on the EPA clean water rule. ENDANGERED SPECIES: USDA ANNOUNCES SAGE GROUSE CONSERVATION EFFORT On August 27, the US Department of Agriculture announced a...

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The role of ecology in natural resource management decision-making
Oct20

The role of ecology in natural resource management decision-making

Science has an important role to play in helping to inform policy decisions that affect management of ecosystems and natural resources. In the most recent edition of the Ecologist Goes to Washington podcast, Amber Childress (Colorado State University) discusses her experiences informing natural resource management decisions with science. Childress’s ecological research focuses on how water providers have adapted to droughts in the past and how to adjust natural resource management strategies to deal with future challenges brought on by climate change. Her studies specifically focus on water resources along the South Platte River Basin in Colorado. Childress also contributed to a technical report for the third National Climate Assessment (NCA) that gauged climate change impacts in the Great Plains region. The NCA uses the latest scientific evidence to further understanding of how climate change is impacting communities across the United States. “Residents of some coastal cities see their streets flood more regularly during storms and high tides. Inland cities near large rivers also experience more flooding, especially in the Midwest and Northeast,” the NCA report notes. “Insurance rates are rising in some vulnerable locations, and insurance is no longer available in others. Hotter and drier weather and earlier snow melt mean that wildfires in the West start earlier in the spring, last later into the fall, and burn more acreage. In Arctic Alaska, the summer sea ice that once protected the coasts has receded, and autumn storms now cause more erosion, threatening many communities with relocation.” For the Great Plains states, the NCA report found “climate related challenges are expected to involve 1) resolving increasing competition among land, water, and energy resources; 2) developing and maintaining sustainable agricultural systems; 3) conserving vibrant and diverse ecological systems; and 4) enhancing the resilience of the region’s people to the impacts of climate extremes.” Scientific research has also been critical in the promulgation of strategies to monitor and respond to costly natural disaster events, including hurricanes and floods. The need to develop new strategies for various natural resource management activities will only grow as frequencies of drought, torrential storms, flooding, wildfires continue to grow as a consequence of climate change. It is important that scientists continue to engage with policymakers and natural resource managers at all levels of government to help ensure communities can understand and aptly respond to present and future environmental challenges. Photo Credit:...

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Congressional briefing highlights climate adaptation, mitigation efforts in Midwestern United States
Jul22

Congressional briefing highlights climate adaptation, mitigation efforts in Midwestern United States

On July 17th, the Environment and Energy Study Institute held a briefing entitled “Climate Impacts in the Midwest: Becoming More Resilient.” The briefing showcased a variety of climate change effects happening now in the Midwest as well as various local efforts to mitigate and adapt to these environmental changes. Rosina Bierbaum, Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at the University of Michigan, outlined the impacts of climate change occurring now on agriculture, transportation and infrastructure, natural resources, human health, and economic well-being. Bierbaum was also a contributor for the US National Climate Assessment released this spring. Her presentation noted that in the short-term, rising CO2 levels and warmer temperatures will benefit farmers by longer growing seasons and increased crop yields. However, more days of warmer temperatures will also increase the number of weeds, disease-carrying organisms, and insect pests. Over the long-term, the detrimental effects of climate change will ultimately decrease agricultural productivity, Bierbaum noted. For human health, negative impacts outlined in Bierbaum’s presentation included increased heat waves, degraded air quality, longer allergy seasons, increased “pest” insects and reduced water quality.  She also noted that throughout the entire US, “very heavy” precipitation events are expected to increase, although the frequency of such events will be markedly higher in areas that traditionally experience a great amount of precipitation, such as the northeast and Midwest regions of the US. Carmel, IN Mayor James Brainard  highlighted the actions Carmel is taking to reduce its carbon footprint and increase energy effceincy. Brainard is one of four Republicans serving on President Obama’s Climate Change Task Force. In 2008 he received the US Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Award. Mayor Brainard discussed the city of Carmel’s 80 roundabouts, which replace traffic stops at road intersections. National studies state that, in addition to reducing injurious traffic accidents, roundabouts reduce pollution by less idling-time for cars and less gas being burned. Additionally, Mayor Brainard touched on his success in increasing access to public transit in Carmel and designing walkable-bikeable paths in the city community. Larry Falkin, with the City of Cincinnati, Ohio Office of Environment and Sustainability, emphasized the many local effects of global climate disruption. For example, in extreme weather events, such as in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, effects included food shortages, energy shortages and displaced populations. He also mentioned his office’s Green Cincinnati Plan, intended to help the city cope with the effects of climate change. Recommendations in the plan include preparing for prolonged heat, choosing plants for “growing zones,” mitigating the urban heat island effect and installing stronger infrastructure in anticipation of more intense storms. Jeremy Emmi, with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition,...

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ESA Policy News May 16, 2014: national climate assessment, water resources bill agreement, drought initiatives
May16

ESA Policy News May 16, 2014: national climate assessment, water resources bill agreement, drought initiatives

Here are some highlights from the latest ESA Policy News by Policy Analyst Terence Houston. Read the full Policy News here. WHITE HOUSE: ASSESSMENT OUTLINES NATIONWIDE IMPACTS OF HUMAN-INDUCED CLIMATE CHANGE On May 6th, the US Global Change Research Program released the 3rd National Climate Assessment that summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. The NCA report concludes that the effects of human-induced climate change, once thought to be a distant problem, are happening now and causing significant ecosystem changes with numerous consequences for the natural world and human society. Precipitation patterns are changing, sea level is rising, the oceans are becoming more acidic, and the frequency and intensity of some weather events are increasing. “As an ecologist, you can’t escape the effects of climate change on natural resources. We’re observing climate impacts in nearly all natural and managed ecosystems,” said Ecological Society of America President Jill Baron in an ESA press release. “In order to protect biodiversity and the natural resources that we rely on, we need to be developing policy now. The National Climate Assessment provides guidelines for how to respond and adapt.” Baron was also a contributor to the NCA. Reaction on Capitol Hill was typically partisan. An array of press statements from Republicans and Democratic leaders on related committees highlights how far Congress has to go in reaching any consensus on legislation to address climate change. “The new National Climate Assessment report confirms with the greatest level of detail yet that climate change in the United States is all around us and we are already feeling the impacts,” stated Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA). “We must act in a comprehensive way to reduce carbon pollution for the sake of public health, our nation’s economy, and the well-being of future generations.” “This is a political document intended to frighten Americans into believing that any abnormal weather we experience is the direct result of human CO2 emissions,” asserted House Science, Space and Technology (SST) Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). “In reality, there is little science to support any connection between climate change and more frequent or extreme storms.  It’s disappointing that the Obama administration feels compelled to stretch the truth in order to drum up support for more costly and unnecessary regulations and subsidies.” View the National Climate Assessment by clicking this link. A White House Fact sheet on climate change by region is available by clicking this link. View the full ESA press release by clicking this link. WATER: HOUSE, SENATE REACH AGREEMENT ON ARMY CORPS REAUTHORIZATION BILL This week, House and Senate leaders who sit on committees with jurisdiction...

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GLOBAL CHANGE IS NOW. Ecology can help.
May06

GLOBAL CHANGE IS NOW. Ecology can help.

Third US National Climate Assessment released today.

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President issues executive order to prepare for impacts of climate change
Nov04

President issues executive order to prepare for impacts of climate change

Special Issue of ESA Frontiers assesses the impacts of climate change on people and ecosystems, focusing on on biodiversity, ecosystem function, ecosystem services, the combined effects of climate and other pressures, and preparation for change.

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