Climate Nexus: Spiking Atmospheric Methane Levels ‘Very Scary Indeed’
“A dramatic and surprising surge in atmospheric methane has emerged over the past several years. If not mitigated, this new trend could off-set the gains anticipated from the Paris Climate Agreement. In response, scientists have begun ringing alarm bells in several high-profile peer-reviewed publications. Several sources have been identified as significant contributors to the surge, including U.S. production of oil and gas. Atmospheric methane levels surged in 2020, a new report from NOAA shows, accelerating an increasing trend, alarming scientists, and possibly auguring a vicious cycle of global heating. NOAA also announced global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are higher than at any point in the last 3.6 million years. “It is very scary indeed,” Euan Nisbet, professor of earth sciences at Royal Holloway University of London, told the Financial Times. About 60% of methane emissions are caused by human activity, and U.S. oil and gas (fracking) operations are a major driver of recent methane pollution increases.” Learn MORE.
Watsonville Earth Day Activities for April 16 – 24
For info go to: www.cityofwatsonville.org/earthday
Guardian, April 9: Loggers say blockades threaten their livelihoods as activists build fortifications and vow to remain
Hundreds of activists are digging in at logging road blockades across a swath of southern Vancouver Island, vowing to stay as long as it takes to pressure the provincial government to immediately halt cutting of what they say is the last 3% of giant old growth trees left in the province. The situation echoes the 1993 “war in the woods” in nearby Clayoquot Sound, which saw nearly 1,000 people arrested at similar logging blockades in the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. The movement started more than eight months ago, when an impromptu blockade of 12 people sprang up to stop road building into the headwaters of the Fairy Creek watershed, one of the last untouched watersheds in the region. But what started as a campaign to stop logging in a single watershed has grown thanks to widespread frustration with the British Columbia government’s broader approach to old-growth logging. Read MORE.
Pew Charitable Trusts, April 5: States Are Growing Fewer Trees. Forest Owners Say That’s a Problem.
“When wildfires ripped through Oregon last Labor Day, they burned huge swaths of forest, including 63,000 acres of smaller, private lands. Oregon state law requires forest owners to replant their land within two years of a wildfire, but many haven’t been able to: They used to rely heavily on state-run tree nurseries, but Oregon closed its nursery more than a decade ago. Seedlings are hard to come by. Large, commercial nurseries typically grow large tree orders on contract, supplying industrial timber companies that plan operations years in advance. State-run nurseries provide a more diverse array of species to landowners, allowing smaller orders on short notice. Many of the family foresters hit by the Oregon fires have struggled to obtain seedlings from the private sector. Eight states have closed their nurseries, most in the past two decades, according to a survey by the National Association of State Foresters. Twenty-nine states still operate nursery programs, though many have closed some of their facilities. The declining state production has hurt small landowners, who own the largest share of the nation’s forests.” Learn MORE.
Citizens Climate Lobby: The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2021
This legislation was just re-introduced and it “will reduce America’s carbon pollution to net zero by 2050. It puts a fee on carbon pollution, creating a level playing field for clean energy. The money collected from fossil fuel companies goes to Americans in the form of a monthly ‘carbon cash back’ payment so that everyone can afford the transition. How it Works. Carbon Fee: This policy puts a fee on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. It starts low, and grows over time. This will drive down carbon pollution because energy companies, leading industries, and American consumers will move toward cleaner, cheaper options. Carbon Dividend: The money collected from the carbon fee is allocated in equal shares every month to the American people to spend as they see fit. Program administrative costs are paid from the fees collected. The government does not keep any of the money from the carbon fee. Border Carbon Adjustment: To protect U.S. manufacturers and jobs, imported goods will pay a border carbon adjustment, and goods exported from the United States will receive a refund under this policy.” Learn MORE.
Oceana: Why ‘blue forests’ are an overlooked ally in the fight against climate change
When human activities like the burning of fossil fuels produce carbon dioxide, where do those emissions go? Some of that CO2 lingers in the atmosphere and drives climate change. Some ends up being absorbed by trees and plants through a process known as carbon sequestration. In our oceans, kelp, seagrass, mangroves, and algae make up “blue forests” that can absorb 20 times more carbon-based emissions than land-based forests per acre. Watch to learn more about blue forests. Watch this 1 1/2 minute VIDEO to learn more.
Optimist Daily, April 2: UCLA Archive of Healing promotes and protects indigenous folk medicine
As western medicine expands, we’ve lost sight of some of the natural healing methods that indigenous communities have used for thousands of years. This ancient medicinal wisdom which humanity relied on for thousands of years before the institutionalization of medicine is often overlooked, meaning some of this knowledge risks being lost forever. This includes medicinal folklore, herbal treatments, and ritual healing from a plentitude of cultures across the globe. To preserve this valuable knowledge, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have created an online platform called the Archive of Healing which features thousands of previously delegitimized traditional therapies spanning seven continents and 200 years. David Shorter, director of the digital archive, states that their priority “is to democratize what we think of as healing and knowledge about healing and take it across cultures in a way that’s respectful and gives attention to intellectual property rights.” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, April 2, Three proposed solutions for California’s purple sea urchin crisis
“If you dive under the waters of the Pacfic Ocean along the California coast, you’ll see the seafloor coated in small, spiny, purple creatures. These sea urchins are eating up local kelp forests at alarming rates, leaving behind a “purple carpet” wasteland in their wake. West coast divers are now looking at three primary strategies to deal with this crisis. Solution #1 Gather the urchins: As commercial divers began to notice decreases in catch volume due to kelp bed habitat loss, they teamed up with Reef Check California to collect these urchins one by one. Volunteer divers headed out to fill nets with as many urchins as possible. The group targeted a particularly devastated area and, in one session, were able to clean an area the size of three football fields, collecting about 20,000 pounds of urchins. The urchins were then brought to a composting facility and another dive is scheduled for the near future to ensure the population doesn’t return. Solution #2, Revitalize predator populations: Part of the reason urchin populations exploded in the first place was the decline of the sunflower sea star, urchins’ primary natural predator. These stars are now endangered, so researchers at the University of Washington have launched a captive breeding program in an attempt to reintroduce the species in the near future. Sea otters are another key urchin eater and, although populations are on the rise, the near decimation of the species for fur in the 1800s took a real toll on California sea otters. Conservationists are exploring the possibility of reintroducing the otters to places like the Bay Area where they were once native species. Solution #3, Harvest them: The collected urchins in our first solution were composted, but urchin meat is also considered a delicacy. Found on many sushi menus, “uni” is the yellow reproductive organ of urchins. Although most restaurants serve uni from red urchins, seafood vendors on the California coast have begun tapping into the uni market as a way to not only find a use for the invasive urchins they clear, but also to make some money off their removal.” Read MORE.
San Lorenzo Valley Museum: “Look. Act. Inspire.” In-person viewing Now Open!
Look. Act. Inspire: Sustaining and Expanding the Community of Naturalists in Santa Cruz County. Look Act Inspire features a diverse array of naturalists in Santa Cruz County. Come visit the in-person exhibit, featuring many interviews, artifacts, and displays about these wonderful naturalists. The exhibit is open for in-person visits by reservation only on Thursday and Saturday from 1-4 PM, and open without reservations on Fridays 4-7 PM and Sundays 1-4PM. Capacity is limited to 6 people, and will increase when the county enters “orange.” Register to visit the in-person Look Act Inspire exhibit at the San Lorenzo Valley Museum in Felton! Register HERE.
Watsonville Wetlands Watch: Pollinators – Is It Love? April 13, 5 – 6:30 pm
While we talk a lot about the “birds and the bees” the story of pollination is not the perfect harmony that we often see it as. From the antagonistic past, chemically induced relationships, and sparing over partners, this relationship between plants and animals can often be a rocky one. Join us for a talk with Dr. Michael Rotter as we explore the intricacies of the fascinating dance between flora and fauna. This talk is free and over Zoom but space is limited, so be sure to sign up HERE!
UCSC Women in Science & Engineering: Picture A Scientist, Premiere April 14
Picture A Scientist documentary film chronicles the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. Biologist Nancy Hopkins, chemist Raychelle Burks, and geologist Jane Willenbring lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, ranging from brutal harassment to years of subtle slights. Along the way, from cramped laboratories to spectacular field stations, we encounter scientific luminaries – including social scientists, neuroscientists, and psychologists – who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all. INFO.
International Ocean Film Festival. April 15 – May 2
“We’re celebrating our 18th year, virtually, with 18 days of ocean-focused, independent films from April 15-May 2. This year, we’re screening a record 73 films from 16 countries, including 10 premieres and 14 award-winners. And yes, we’ll be hosting our lively Q&A panels with film makers, marine scientists, and industry experts, as they discuss the films and share insights into ocean conservation, preservation, and legislation. So join us for the largest ocean film festival on Earth, here to inspire ocean activism through film. So join them for the largest ocean film festival on Earth, here to inspire ocean activism through film. The festival will take place virtually from April 15 – May 2 and tickets go on sale on March 15.” Info and Trailer HERE.
Also, The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is proud that its film Discover Wonder: The Octopus Garden, directed by John Dutton and funded by the Tides Foundation, was selected for the Festival (IOFF).
Watsonville Wetlands Watch: Curbside Spring Native Plant Sale, April 16, 9 am – 4:30 pm
Native plants have been grown by WWW staff, Climate Corps Leadership Institute interns, and volunteers. Our sale includes over 50 native and drought tolerant plant species for your home, garden, and habitat that attract birds, bees, and butterflies!
You can view the current inventory by clicking HERE
Make your orders HERE
And get more information about these and other native species in our native plant guide HERE!
Reserve your plants now for the best selection and come pick them up at the Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center at the top of the Pajaro Valley High School campus, 500 Harkins Slough Road
Coastal Watershed Council: State Of The San Lorenzo River Symposium, April 17, 9 am – Noon
The 7th Annual State of the San Lorenzo Symposium is scheduled for April 17th from 9 am – 12 pm via Zoom. Recovery and Resiliency is the theme this year in light of the recent fires and long-term changes facing the watershed. Details to follow here and on the Event Info tab above. The Symposium is an annual event hosted by the City of Santa Cruz Water Department, the County of Santa Cruz, the Coastal Watershed Council, the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, and the San Lorenzo Valley Water District. Local experts will present on the science, history, and policies related to the San Lorenzo River Watershed. More INFO.
Save Our Shores: Plankton Make The World Go Round, April 21, 6 pm
“Join Save Our Shores and local expert panelists from Cabrillo College, UC Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, One People One Reef, and OceansMicro for this Speaker Series event as we dive into and explore the unseen world of plankton! Together we will learn how plankton help sustain our planet and support the incredible diversity of life we are fortunate enough to witness in our ocean backyard. We’ll zoom in on these tiny organisms LIVE through the eye of a microscope as we peer into a water sample discovering all that our local Monterey Bay holds within. Lastly, we’ll hear how each of us can continue to learn about and be amazed by plankton while contributing to the valuable data collection and community science efforts that help to better understand our oceans. You won’t want to miss this informative, exciting, and even perhaps emotional discussion.” Register HERE!
Santa Cruz Permaculture: The Work That Reconnects – Courage for the Healing of Our World, With Della Duncan, April 24 – 25
“Join us for a transformational group process that builds motivation, connection, solidarity and vision, renewing the courage to act for the healing of our world. In these times of climate chaos, rampant inequality, systemic racism, and other daily catastrophes, there is a tension between our desire to take urgent action and our need to process reality on a deeper level. We often experience despair, anger, fear, and burnout as we navigate this tension, and at times it feels easier to turn away and close ourselves off. Yet it is through reconnection with ourselves and others, and acknowledging the reality of these times, that we can find hope and the courage to continue. The Work that Reconnects (WTR) is both a process for transforming our despair into purposeful action, as well as a deep well of nourishment to continue.” More info and registration HERE.
Celebrating Earth: Discovering Nature with the San Lorenzo Museum in Felton with iNaturalist, April 25
Join us for a socially distanced event on the weekend of Earth Day 2021 at the San Lorenzo Valley Museum in Felton on April 25th to learn about the nature around the SLV museum and how to build your own iNaturalist profiles. We will have a short introduction on nature journaling and using iNaturalist on your mobile device. Then we will set out to make observations to document the natural history at the SLV museum in Felton. Please bring your own mobile device or journal for this event. All attendees 2+ year old are expected to properly wear face masks. Registration information coming soon.
Forum on UCSC’s Long Range Development Plan, April 25, 4 – 5:30 pm
UCSC’s Long Range Development Plan would allow 28,000 students. (Current enrollment is 18,500). It would add 5.6 million square feet of building space (1.5 times the existing buildings on campus). It’s hard to imagine anything that would have more impact on local housing prices and transportation than UCSC’s growth plan.
Two years ago the UCSC chancellor convened a Community Advisory Group to give input into development of the LRDP. The Group called for a binding commitment to housing 100 percent of new student enrollment. The Long Range Development Plan expresses a goal of housing the new students. Without a legally enforceable mechanism to tie enrollment growth to achievement of housing goals, the goal has no more credibility than the goal of the 1988 LRDP to house 70% of undergraduates, 50% of graduate students and 25% of faculty and staff. (Currently UCSC houses 53% of its student enrollment. UCSC employs 4700 faculty and staff. Currently there are 239 units of faculty and staff housing on campus.).
The Sierra Club and a number of co-sponsors are convening a discussion of what the Long Range Development Plan means for our community, and how to have an influence on UCSC’s growth plan. Register HERE.
UCSC Confronting Climate Change: Food Security in a Changing World, April 28 & 29, 5:30 – 7 pm
Confronting Climate Change is an annual public lecture series that brings together luminaries and the community to discuss the latest in climate science and policy, and share solutions to protect our planet’s wellbeing. The series is free and encourages audience participation! This year’s theme is Food Security and how we can adapt to feed a growing population during unprecedented changes in our planet’s climate, culture, and political landscape. Register HERE.
Elkhorn Slough: Watershed Scale Thinking – From the Big Picture to Your Backyard, April 29, 5:30 – 7pm
Join ESF Stewardship Director Dash Dunkell and Digital Mapping expert Kass Green for a discussion of the brand-new vegetation maps of the Elkhorn Slough, watershed restoration, and how to take meaningful action in your own area. This event is part of the Evenings at the Estuary series, which focus this year on exploring conservation through community action. The event is FREE and will be streamed live to Facebook via the Elkhorn Slough Reserve’s page. You can join the discussion via Zoom at this LINK.
Life Lab: Growing Gardens of Hope, May 1, 11 am
Hope you can join us for this beautiful VIRTUAL event highlighting the Life Lab gardens and their healing and inspiring impact on students, individuals and our broader community through garden based education. Life Lab.
Nature Conservancy, March 23: New Platform Charts Ambitious, Bipartisan Course to Revive, Restore America’s National Forests
“America’s national forests need crucial new investments in ecologically appropriate, climate-informed reforestation and management to ensure they can weather the challenges they face and endure for future generations, according to a new policy platform from the National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy and American Forests. The platform urges substantial new investments in the U.S. Forest Service’s budget alongside other solutions, such as creating a carbon storage goal for national forests, improving forest health and addressing climate change and other root causes of the problems forests face. National forests should be part of any early-2021 infrastructure investments that put people back to work restoring our landscapes.” Read MORE.
Sky News, March 24: plastic pollution is shrinking penises and making men infertile
“In a new book called Count Down, Dr Shanna Swan writes that humanity is facing an “existential crisis” due to phthalates, a chemical used in the plastic manufacturing process which disrupts the endocrine system. A growing number of babies are being born with small penises as a result of phthalate syndrome, something that has been observed in rats when they are exposed to the chemical in tests. Human babies are being exposed to the chemical in the womb, causing a shorter anogenital distance which correlates to penis size. “Phathalates mimic the hormone oestrogen and thus disrupt the natural production of hormones in the human body, which researchers have linked to interference in sexual development in infants and behaviors in adults,” reports Sky News. The chemical, which is used to make plastics more flexible, is being transmitted to humans via toys, food and other items. Swan cautions that “our modern world is threatening sperm counts, altering male and female reproductive development, and imperiling the future of the human race.” She warned that by 2045, most men won’t be able to produce sperm.” Learn MORE.
The New Yorker, Bill McKibben, March 17: H.R. 1 Is About Climate, Too
“The most important climate legislation that Congress may consider in the months ahead says nothing at all about carbon emissions or solar panels. Instead, H.R. 1, known as the For the People Act, is all about mail-in ballots and early voting and automatic registration—about making sure that every citizen gets to take part in our democracy. It passed the House on March 3rd. If it passes the Senate, there may be a chance, in the next decade, to build the consistent majorities necessary to tackle the hardest problem we’ve ever faced (as the advocacy group RepresentUs makes clear in a handy little video); if it doesn’t, minority rule will continue and, because the oil industry underwrites that minority, change will be halting at best.” Learn MORE.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Risk of tipping the overturning circulation due to increasing rates of ice melt
Ongoing greenhouse gas emissions put elements of the Earth system at risk for crossing critical thresholds (tipping points), leading to abrupt irreversible climate change. Measures for reducing emissions should keep Earth in the safe operating space away from tipping points. Here we show that increasing rates of change of ice melt can induce a collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation in a global ocean model, while no critical threshold in ice melt is crossed and slower increases to the same level of ice melt do not induce tipping. Moreover, the chaotic dynamics of the climate make such a collapse hard to predict. This shows that the safe operating space of the Earth system might be smaller than previously thought. Vital info HERE.
Smithsonian: Deep-sea, Volcano-dwelling Snail Wears Iron Shoe
At the bottom of the ocean, near the rims of underwater volcanoes, roams a snail with a shell made of iron sulfide. It glides around hydrothermal vents on a foot covered in iron plates. Picture the famous sword-studded Iron Throne — except it can move. And it has a squishy gastropod center. This scaly-footed snail, called the sea pangolin, lives in an extreme environment of crushing pressure and temperatures that reach over 750 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists believe it doesn’t actually eat but relies on energy produced by bacteria in a large gland. Sadly, its iron armor can’t protect this snail from mining companies awaiting the technology that will let them exploit its home. In 2019, due to its niche habitat and fears raised by deep sea mining exploration, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature declared the snail endangered. Read MORE.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: Twenty Million Displaced Each Year By Climate Disasters
Disasters and the adverse impacts of climate change are already leading to the forced
displacement of more than 20 million people each year. The vast majority of this
displacement (more than 80 percent) occurs in the Asia Pacific region. The adverse
impacts of climate change are expected to further increase the numbers of people
forced to flee their homes and lands. People and communities displaced by disasters
and climate change often face a critical humanitarian situation – with needs ranging
from emergency shelter, clean water and sanitation to health care and protection.
Many displaced people also require support to rebuild their lives and livelihoods, and to
achieve safe, voluntary and dignified durable solutions. Learn MORE.
Guardian, March 17: Bottom trawling releases as much carbon as air travel
“Dragging heavy nets across seabed disturbs marine sediments, world’s largest carbon sink, scientists report. Fishing boats that trawl the ocean floor release as much carbon dioxide as the entire aviation industry, according to a groundbreaking study. Bottom trawling, a widespread practice in which heavy nets are dragged along the seabed, pumps out 1 gigaton of carbon every year, says the study written by 26 marine biologists, climate experts and economists and published in Nature (on March 17, 2021). The carbon is released from the seabed sediment into the water, and can increase ocean acidification, as well as adversely affecting productivity and biodiversity, the study said. Marine sediments are the largest pool of carbon storage in the world.” Learn MORE.
Patagonia Short Film: Vjosa Forever
Join the movement calling for permanent protection of Europe’s largest undammed river in Albania. Watch this 6 minute beautiful and compelling video about saving this river system from dams by creating an Albanian National Park. Video HERE.
Audubon California: First Snowy Plover Eggs Spotted
It’s official! The first Western Snowy Plover nests with eggs have been spotted along California’s beaches. Plover nests are like works of beach art. The eggs are camouflaged to look like sand and many nests are right out on the open sand! Plovers also nest near kelp or driftwood and might adorn their nests with shells or pebbles – a beautiful sight to behold. There are typically three eggs in each nest. Each one is critical to the recovery of this Threatened species. Learn MORE about protecting them.
The Hill, March 10: Senate Confirms Michael Regan For EPA Chief
By a vote of 66-34 on March 10, the Senate confirmed Michael Regan to head the Environmental Protection Agency. He will be the first Black man to lead the EPA in the agency’s 50-year history. Regan, known for his bipartisan approach as head of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, won the support of 16 Senate Republicans in addition to every Democrat. He will now face the difficult work of rebuilding a gutted environmental agency, as he did in North Carolina, and enacting ambitious new rules to advance President Biden’s climate goals. He will also play a major role in efforts to get the U.S. on track to achieve a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and overall carbon neutrality by 2050. Learn MORE.
ABC News, March 2: Exxon Mobil ordered to pay $14.25M penalty in pollution case
HOUSTON — A federal judge ordered Exxon Mobil to pay a $14.25 million civil penalty Tuesday in an 11-year-old lawsuit alleging it violated the Clean Air Act for eight years at its flagship Baytown, Texas, refinery. The group Environment Texas sued the Irving, Texas-based company in 2010. “Exxon has been fighting this case for 11 years now, refusing to take any responsibility for spewing millions of pounds of illegal pollution into Texas communities,” Metzger said in a statement. “We call on Exxon to finally stop its scorched-earth litigation tactics, pay its penalty and drop these endless appeals.” In his latest opinion, filed Tuesday, Hittner said Environment Texas, the Sierra Club and the National Environmental Law Center had proved thousands of instances of illegal flaring and unauthorized releases of pollutants causing smoke, chemical odors, ground-level ozone, and respiratory problems. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, March 1: Bitcoin’s ‘Staggering’ Energy Consumption Raises Climate Concerns
“As bitcoin’s fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact. The process of mining the cryptocurrency is enormously energy intensive, so much so that it consumes more electricity in a year than Argentina or the Ukraine, according to the latest data from the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index. Its energy hunger even led to a warning from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week, as CNBC reported. “It’s an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions,” Yellen said, “and the amount of energy that’s consumed in processing those transactions is staggering.” Read MORE.
Biodiversity For a Livable Climate: Which creature looks like a snake, is actually a fish, and has shocking abilities?
The Electric Eel! Electric eels are not actually eels. They are a type of (scaleless) freshwater fish found mostly in the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers of South America. They live along coastal plains and swamps, in very muddy water. Add to this dark environment the fact that they’re nocturnal and have poor eyesight, and you might wonder how they find their way to food. Evolution to the rescue, for they have a stellar sense of smell. These muddy waters are generally low-oxygen, so electric eels surface every 10 minutes or so to breathe. That’s right – a scaleless, air-breathing fish! Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, March 10: Will the Race for Electric Vehicles Endanger the Earth’s Most Sensitive Ecosystem?
“As pressure mounts to claim terrestrial minerals (for EV car batteries), commercial interest is growing to extract resources from the deep seabed, where there’s an abundance of metals like copper, cobalt, nickel, manganese, lead and lithium. But along with that focus comes increased warnings about the damage such extraction could do to ocean health, and whether the sacrifice is even necessary. The high seas are “areas beyond national jurisdiction,” and mining their depths will be managed by an intergovernmental body called the International Seabed Authority. The group has already approved 28 mining contracts covering more than a million square kilometers (360,000 square miles). It’s still drafting the standards and regulations for operations, but when companies get the go-ahead they’ll be after three different mineral-rich targets: potato-sized polymetallic nodules, seafloor massive sulphides and cobalt-rich crusts. But there’s also concern that we still don’t adequately understand the risks of operating giant underwater tractors along the seafloor. There are now more than 90 NGOs that have come out and said that we need a moratorium on ocean mining and we shouldn’t be sprinting to do this until we are able to answer some of the serious questions about the impact of mining on ocean health.” Learn MORE.
The Scientist: Atlantic Circulation Weakest in More Than a Millennium
“An oceanic “conveyer belt” that pulls warm water from tropical regions up into the northern Atlantic and cold water back toward the south is now the weakest it’s been in more than 1,000 years, a new study finds. The work, published (February 25) in Nature Geosciences, aligns with earlier predictions and findings about the effects of climate change on what’s known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), but uses proxy measures to go further back in time and confirm the unprecedented nature of these recent changes. Ice sheet projections that exclude ocean-induced undercutting may underestimate mass loss by at least a factor of 2. Together, these data consistently show that the modern AMOC slowdown is unprecedented in over a thousand years. Improved understanding of this slowdown is urgently needed. The next step is to resolve which components and pathways of the AMOC have altered, how, and why—no small feat, and requiring a community effort that combines observational, modeling and paleoclimatological approaches. Researchers have predicted that this slowdown will affect fisheries, and could lead to sea level rise and more frequent hurricanes on the East Coast of the US, as well as more extreme weather events in Europe.” Learn MORE.
The Revelator: The Staggering Decline of Oceanic Sharks and Rays
New research shows that oceanic shark and ray abundance has declined by nearly three-quarters since 1970, and industrialized fishing is to blame. Oceanic sharks and rays live so far from land that the average person is unlikely to ever see them. But these species, which live in the vast open ocean, are also among the most revered, and include the great white shark and the giant manta ray. For millennia, their remoteness has allowed these species to largely avoid humans. But since the early 1950s, industrial-scale fishing fleets have been able to reach distant waters and gradually spread to exploit the entire global ocean. Rising demand over the same period for shark and ray meat, as well as fins, gill plates and liver oil, has caused catches of the 30 or so oceanic species to soar. Marine biologists have been raising the alarm for several decades now, but their warnings were often limited to what regional trends showed. Now, new research has brought together disparate threads of data into a single, global analysis of shark and ray populations in the open ocean.
Worldwide, oceanic shark and ray abundance has declined by 71% since 1970. More than half of the 31 species examined are now considered to be endangered, or even critically endangered! Read MORE.
Senators introduce bill to ban fracking in California, Feb 22
While California is known for its progressive reputation on environmental issues, oil continues to be produced in the state using destructive methods such as fracking and acid well stimulation. To put an end to these environmentally-damaging practices, California state senators have introduced a new bill that seeks to ban fracking and other controversial oil and gas extraction techniques by 2027. In addition, the bill would outlaw the government from issuing new fracking permits or renewing old ones as of Jan. 1, 2022. “Fracking & other destructive oil extraction methods are deeply harmful to our environment & public health,” Sen. Scott Wiener, who introduced the bill with fellow Democratic Senator Monique Limón. “They contaminate water, increase particulate in the air, & make people sick. And oil is at the heart of climate change. California must lead on climate & public health.” The senators also plan to amend the bill, SB467, to include restrictions on any new oil or gas production near schools, hospitals, and places of long-term accommodation such as prisons. Whether the bill will pass or not will have to be seen. The oil and gas industry has a powerful lobby, even in California, and the industry is already arguing that banning such extraction methods will eliminate thousands of “highly-skilled, union careers that cannot be replaced by low-skilled and temporary jobs in the renewable industry.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Feb 22: Israeli Oil Spill Is a ‘Severe Ecological Disaster’
A mysterious oil spill began to wash up on Israel’s coast last week, closing beaches and harming wildlife. The Israeli government urged people not to visit a wide stretch of beach on Sunday, Haaretz reported. Of Israel’s 119 miles of beach, 105 were impacted by the disaster, according to CNN. That’s 40 percent of Israel’s coastline, Haaretz noted. “The enormous amounts of tar emitted in recent days to the shores of Israel from south to north caused one of the most severe ecological disasters to hit Israel,” the country’s Nature and Parks Authority said Sunday, CNN reported. Read MORE.
Global Change Biology, Feb 25: Combating Ecosystem Collapse from the Tropics to the Antarctic
Globally, collapse of ecosystems — potentially irreversible change to ecosystem structure, composition and function — imperils biodiversity, human health and well‐being. We examine the current state and recent trajectories of 19 ecosystems, spanning 58° of latitude across 7.7 M km2, from Australia’s coral reefs to terrestrial Antarctica. Pressures from global climate change and regional human impacts, occurring as chronic ‘presses’ and/or acute ‘pulses’, drive ecosystem collapse. Ecosystem responses to 5–17 pressures were categorized as four collapse profiles — abrupt, smooth, stepped and fluctuating. The manifestation of widespread ecosystem collapse is a stark warning of the necessity to take action.
Audubon California: How Ranchers Can Help Save Grassland Birds
California is poised to change the fate of grassland birds. Grassland bird species are the most imperiled in the United States, having declined 53 percent over the past 50 years. We are proud to announce that Senator Jon Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and a number of Senate and Assembly coauthors recently introduced Audubon-sponsored Senate Bill 322 which aims to protect and restore California’s grasslands and birds. This bill would offer incentives to ranchers to implement regenerative grazing practices, which restore grassland habitat, improve soil health, sequester carbon, and increase biodiversity. Learn MORE.
That’s Wild: More Skinks = Less Lyme Disease?
“Black-legged ticks, aka deer ticks, are the main vector spreading Lyme disease to humans. Although Lyme disease is found throughout the United States, cases aren’t distributed evenly. Scientists have long observed a sharp north-south divide, with the Northeast reporting many more cases than the Sunbelt. Why? According to new research, the answer (may be) skinks. Deer ticks in the north typically latch onto small mammals like mice, while south of the Mason-Dixon line, they prefer to feed on lizard blood — especially skink blood. While mice are notorious for transmitting Lyme disease to people, skinks are poor transmitters. That means that in the skinky South, Lyme disease is a lot less likely to move from ticks to people. Skinks aren’t just adorable — they’re also heroes.” Read MORE.
EcoWatch, Feb 15: What Exactly Is the Polar Vortex?
“As atmospheric scientists, we cringe when the term polar vortex is used to loosely refer to blasts of cold weather. The actual polar vortex can’t put snow in your backyard, but changes in the polar vortex can load the dice for wintry weather – and this year, the dice rolled Yahtzee. The polar vortex is an enormous, three-dimensional ring of winds that surrounds the North and South poles during each hemisphere’s winter. These winds are located about 10 to 30 miles above Earth’s surface, in the layer of the atmosphere known as the stratosphere. They blow from west to east with sustained speeds easily exceeding 100 mph. In the darkness of the winter polar night, temperatures within the polar vortex can easily get lower than minus 110 F. Fortunately for everyone, the stratospheric polar vortex itself won’t appear outside your front door. The strength of the polar vortex can vary widely during winter, and these variations can lead to shifts in the strength and position of the jet stream, the fast-flowing river of air in the troposphere beneath the polar vortex. When the jet stream changes, it affects the movement of weather systems, causing different parts of the world to see much warmer or colder, or much wetter or drier conditions.” Read MORE.
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate: Featured Creatures
“What invertebrate has blue blood and multiple brains? Octopuses have a distributed nervous system, with nerve bundles in each arm in addition to a central brain in the head, for a total of nine brains. Up to two thirds of all of their nerves are in their tentacles, and the decentralized structure allows each arm to be responsible for its own coordination, potentially allowing for spontaneous reactions in different tentacles. Good for multitasking!
(As for the blue blood) just like humans have hemoglobin in our bloodstream to carry oxygen through our bodies, octopuses have the copper-based protein hemocyanin in their blood. Hemocyanin is well-adapted to circulation in very cold ocean environments, where some species of octopus dwell, and as the “cyan” in the name suggests, it causes the blood to turn blue.”
YES! Magazine: Climate Justice Is Racial Justice Is Gender Justice, Bill McKibben
There’s nothing like the giant oil companies to provide us all with lessons about power and prejudice. The climate crisis offers a lens to understand many of the inherent injustices on this planet: There’s an almost perfect inverse relationship between how much of the problem you caused and how much of the pain you’re feeling. Furthermore, it offers the best chance to actually right some of these wrongs: The economic rearrangement that must accompany any successful effort to fix the planet’s climate system is an opportunity to make sure that the people who’ve always been left out won’t be put at the back of the all-electric bus. Jacqueline Patterson is the director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. She says she recognized environmental injustice decades ago while working in Jamaica, where Shell Oil contaminated community water supplies. Then later, while volunteering in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, she saw another side of the inequity in climate disaster response. Patterson co-founded Women of Color United and has served as a senior women’s rights policy analyst for ActionAid, integrating a women’s rights lens for food rights, macroeconomics, and climate change. Learn MORE.
YES! Magazine, Spring 2021: Toward an Ecological Civilization
“Without human disruption, ecosystems can thrive in rich abundance for millions of years, remaining resilient in the face of adversity. Clearly, there is much to learn from nature’s wisdom about how to organize ourselves. Can we do so before it’s too late? This is the fundamental idea underlying an ecological civilization: using nature’s own design principles to reimagine the basis of our civilization. Changing our civilization’s operating system to one that naturally leads to life-affirming policies and practices rather than rampant extraction and devastation. An ecological civilization is both a new and ancient idea. While the notion of structuring human society on an ecological basis might seem radical, Indigenous peoples around the world have organized themselves from time immemorial on life-affirming principles.” Read MORE.
Nat Geo: The Last Ice – Documentary
A new race is afoot in the waters between Canada and Greenland, where steadily melting sea ice is opening up the potential for faster shipping, increased oil extraction, and other commercial pursuits. As industries vie for space in the newly open waters, indigenous communities are rallying to protect the Arctic as they long have known it. Taking home the Wild and Scenic Film Festival’s ”Best of the Fest” award, The Last Ice follows the personal journeys of several Inuit people whose lives are fundamentally tied to the land and wildlife, including a young man with dreams of being a hunter, who is deeply devoted to his sled dogs, and a woman working to keep her culture’s ancient traditions alive, one text at a time. Mixing in archival footage and current science and political news, the film traces the threads of globalization that led to this moment over the past century, from the first forced resettlements of Inuit communities, to container ships cutting ever-more swiftly through the ice. See TRAILER.
Younger Lagoon Reserve’s Virtual Tour Available Now
This virtual tour takes visitors into Younger Lagoon Reserve adjacent to the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. Part of the University of California Natural Reserve System, Younger Lagoon Reserve contains diverse coastal habitat and is home to birds of prey, migrating sea birds, bobcats, and other wildlife. Come and see what scientists are doing to track local mammals, restore native habitat, and learn about the workings of one of California’s rare coastal lagoons. Here you can learn about the history, diverse habitats and restorative work at this coastal reserve! This tour is composed of 16 unique stops, each with their own video. Watch them HERE.
EcoWatch, Feb 4: Immediate Climate Action Can Save U.S. $3.5 Trillion Over Time
Promptly implementing the aggressive actions necessary to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas pollution to net-zero by 2050 would save the U.S. at least $3.5 trillion compared to the cost of waiting until 2030 to start achieving that goal, a report published Wednesday by Energy Innovation found. The savings, the authors emphasize, only consider the spending required to slash U.S. emissions and thus do not include the savings that would be incurred by the public health benefits of reducing fossil fuel extraction and combustion or the avoided costs associated with extreme weather which delayed climate action could worsen. “To meet climate goals, it is imperative to start climate action today,” Megan Mahajan, one of the co-authors of the report, told Earther. “In particular, it is urgent to quickly transition to electric vehicles and building components, because polluting equipment sold today will last for decades.” Read MORE.
Save The Redwoods League: Buffalo Soldiers made their mark in the giant sequoia groves
More than a century ago, African Americans played a critical, pioneering role managing and stewarding Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park in the Sierra Nevada. It’s a fascinating story that is an important part of the legacy of giant sequoia conservation. The National Park Service wasn’t created until 1916, so before then, management of park facilities largely fell to the military. At the beginning of the 20th century, Yosemite and Sequoia national parks were administered by the U.S. Army, which rotated regiments out of the Presidio in San Francisco. In 1899, 1903, and 1904, soldiers from the 24th Infantry and 9th Cavalry managed these two parks. These groups were among the four African-American regiments created by Congress after the Civil War, which came to be known as the Buffalo Soldiers during their deployment in the American West. Learn MORE.
Harvard, Feb 9: Deaths from fossil fuel emissions higher than previously thought
More than 8 million people died in 2018 from fossil fuel pollution, significantly higher than previous research suggested, according to new research from Harvard University, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester and University College London. Researchers estimated that exposure to particulate matter from fossil fuel emissions accounted for 18 percent of total global deaths in 2018 — a little less than 1 out of 5. Regions with the highest concentrations of fossil fuel-related air pollution — including Eastern North America, Europe, and South-East Asia — have the highest rates of mortality, according to the study published in the journal Environmental Research. The study greatly increases estimates of the numbers killed by air pollution. The most recent Global Burden of Disease Study, the largest and most comprehensive study on the causes of global mortality, put the total number of global deaths from all outdoor airborne particulate matter — including dust and smoke from wildfires and agricultural burns — at 4.2 million. Read MORE.
BBC One: A Perfect Planet, A David Attenborough Series
“Planet Earth is perfect. Everything about our world – its size, its distance from the Sun, its spin and tilt, its moon – is perfectly suited to our existence, and our planet’s natural forces perfectly nurture life. A global weather system circulates and distributes fresh water to all corners of the globe, marine currents deliver nutrients to even the deepest reaches of the ocean, sunlight warms and energizes everything it touches, and powerful volcanoes create and fertilize the land. As a result, there is literally no part of our planet where life can’t be found. A Perfect Planet is a unique fusion of blue chip natural history and earth science that explains how our living planet operates. This five-part series will show how the forces of nature drive, shape and support Earth’s great diversity of wildlife.” View on Discovery Plus. See PREVIEW.
New York Times, Feb 4: Toxic Metals Found In Popular Brands of Baby Food
A U.S. Congressional investigation found that “ingredients in many baby foods, including some organic fare, are contaminated with heavy metals like arsenic, lead and cadmium at levels that are far higher than those allowed in products like bottled water, congressional investigators said on Thursday. Their report underscored the federal government’s persistently lax approach to overseeing the safety of baby food, some experts said, despite clear risks to infants and toddlers. Exposure to heavy metals in particular has been linked to behavioral impairments, brain damage and even death. “This is an endemic problem that’s been swept under the rug and never addressed,” said Tracey Woodruff, director of the program on reproductive health and the environment at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the preparation of the congressional report.” Read MORE.
Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, Camille Dungy
Black Nature is the first anthology to focus on nature writing by African American poets, a genre that until now has not commonly been counted as one in which African American poets have participated. Black poets have a long tradition of incorporating treatments of the natural world into their work, but it is often read as political, historical, or protest poetry―anything but nature poetry. This is particularly true when the definition of what constitutes nature writing is limited to work about the pastoral or the wild. Camille T. Dungy has selected 180 poems from 93 poets that provide unique perspectives on American social and literary history to broaden our concept of nature poetry and African American poetics. Black Nature brings to the fore a neglected and vital means of considering poetry by African Americans and nature-related poetry as a whole. Learn MORE.
Inside Climate News, Jan 25: Global Ice Loss on Pace to Drive Worst-Case Sea Level Rise
From the polar caps to the glaciers of Europe, Asia and South America, global warming is melting the planet’s ice faster than ever and speeding the inundation of the world’s coastlines. New research shows the annual melt rate grew from 0.8 trillion tons in the 1990s to 1.3 trillion tons by 2017, and has accelerated most in the places with the most ice—the Greenland and Antarctic ice shelves and sheets. Those massive systems of land and sea-based ice are melting as fast as the worst-case climate scenarios in major global climate reports, said Thomas Slater, a co-author of the new study in The Cryosphere that measured the meltdown from 1994 to 2017, which covers a timespan when every decade was warmer than the previous one and also includes the 20 warmest years on record. Learn MORE.
Inside Climate News, Jan 11: The Radical Case for Growing Huge Swaths of Bamboo in North America
“The grass has a bad rap in the U.S. as an invasive nuisance, but the plant can quickly sequester at least double—and maybe even six times—the amount of carbon as a similar stand of trees. By late spring, I was obsessively researching carbon sinks and trying to find people across North America who were going all-in on the sink of their choice, like greening abandoned farmland or protecting super-wet landscapes. In a fortunate piece of timing, Paul Hawken’s team released a spring 2020 update to their climate solutions list, The Drawdown Review. A big chunk of it was about sinks, ranked by gigatons (to picture that: one gigaton of carbon dioxide would fill a billion bathtubs). My eyes searched the dozens of top-ranking sinks—the big one is tropical forest protection— and landed curiously on bamboo.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Jan 27: ’Earthrise’ Video by Inauguration Day Poet Amanda Gorman
Poet Amanda Gorman got well-deserved rave reviews for her dramatic reading of her six-minute “The Hill We Climb” poem January 20 before a global TV and online inauguration day audience. But what if Gorman, 22, the nation’s youth poet laureate, could bring her poetic, presentation skills, and grace to the issue of climate change? In fact, she’s done just that. In December 2018, Gorman presented her original “Earthrise” four-minute poem as part of a Climate Reality Project “24 hours of reality” campaign. Experience this HERE.
EcoWatch, Jan 22: Trillions of Brood X Cicadas to Emerge in 15 States This Spring
Fifteen states are in for an unusually noisy spring. Brood X, the largest and most widespread colony of cicadas in the U.S., is due to emerge from their 17-year hibernation, Michigan State University entomologist Gary Parsons explained. The bugs typically emerge as early as mid-May, and the sound of their mating can reach 100 decibels, Newsweek reported. And there will be lots of them. “Densities can be as great as 1.5 million per acre. So, between Georgia and New York there will surely be trillions emerging,” emeritus professor of entomology at the University of Maryland Michael J. Raupp told Newsweek. Learn MORE.
PBS: Power Trip Documentary – The obstacles to and opportunities of Rooftop Solar
“Solar energy evangelist and “Property Brother” Jonathan Scott journeys all across the U.S. to uncover why clean, renewable energy isn’t available to all. While traveling to learn both the obstacles and opportunities for achieving energy freedom, Jonathan talks with conservatives fighting for solar freedom; sits down with farmers struggling to make ends meet; engages coal workers desperate for a new, healthy means of making an income; the Navajo Nation who built a utility-scale solar plant; religious leaders who made a desperate attempt to help meet their community’s energy needs; and politicians at the forefront of the battle for energy freedom.” See TRAILER.
Finding The Mother Tree, Suzanne Simard, Available May 4
From the world’s leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest–a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery. Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron’s Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide. Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths–that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complex, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own. Read MORE.
EcoWatch, Jan 13: Scientists Sound Alarm About Insect Apocalypse
A collection of new scientific papers authored by 56 experts from around the world reiterates rising concerns about bug declines and urges people and governments to take urgent action to address a biodiversity crisis dubbed the “insect apocalypse.” “The Global Decline of Insects in the Anthropocene Special Feature,” which includes an introduction and 11 papers, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences. “Nature is under siege,” the scientists warn. “Insects are suffering from ‘death by a thousand cuts.'” As the new package and below graphic explain, human stressors that experts have tied to bug declines include agricultural practices; chemical, light, and sound pollution; invasive species; land-use changes; nitrification; pesticides; and urbanization. Read MORE.
Frontiers In Conservation Science, Jan 13: Scientists Warn Humanity of Looming ‘Collapse of Civilization as We Know It’
“We report three major and confronting environmental issues that have received little attention and require urgent action. First, we review the evidence that future environmental conditions will be far more dangerous than currently believed. The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms—including humanity—is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts. Second, we ask what political or economic system, or leadership, is prepared to handle the predicted disasters, or even capable of such action. Third, this dire situation places an extraordinary responsibility on scientists to speak out candidly and accurately when engaging with government, business, and the public. We especially draw attention to the lack of appreciation of the enormous challenges to creating a sustainable future.” Learn MORE!
Photo: Nina Koocher
Santa Cruz Museum Of Natural History: 2020 Vision Photography Virtual Exhibit
As a community, Santa Cruz County residents found healing and solace in nature throughout 2020, but always with the stark reminder that natural phenomena can completely alter our ways of life. These images, and their stories, explore how our community has captured and reflected upon this unique year.View exhibit HERE.
Watsonville Wetlands Watch: Great Trails And Hikes
“Watsonville is blessed with some of the largest coastal freshwater wetlands in the State! There are many ways to appreciate this rare habitat. For us, spending time in the wetlands always holds an adventure. Today, we, at Watsonville Wetlands Watch, are sharing a few of our favorite places to enjoy the wetlands this season. Read about trails HERE. Or if you prefer to write your own adventure, check out our trail maps.”
YES! Magazine: Native Family Values – Writing “The Whale Child”
Once upon a time, a child is born into love, beauty, and balance. But an existential threat looms, and the child has to go out into the world to meet it. Along the way, the child is transformed, and in some ways, the world changes, too.
That’s the basic story arc of The Whale Child (North Atlantic Books, 2020), a children’s book by brother-and-sister team Keith and Chenoa Egawa. It’s a universal structure, comforting and familiar in its timelessness. But in other ways, this illustrated book for 7-12 year olds is something new. In drawing from their Lummi and S’Klallam background, the Egawas bring a Native perspective that is relatively new to inclusion in children’s book publishing. And the story they tell, about the threat to Earth from pollution and global warming, is the most urgent issue of our time. More HERE.
The Guardian: Birds ‘falling out of the sky’ in mass die-off in south-western US
The mass die-off of thousands of songbirds in south-western US was caused by long-term starvation, made worse by unseasonably cold weather probably linked to the climate crisis, scientists have said. Flycatchers, swallows and warblers were among the migratory birds “falling out of the sky” in September, with carcasses found in New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and Nebraska. A USGS National Wildlife Health Center necropsy has found 80% of specimens showed typical signs of starvation. Nearly 10,000 dead birds were reported to the wildlife mortality database by citizens, and previous estimates suggest hundreds of thousands may have died. Read MORE.
EcoWatch, Dec 29: 11 Top Books on the Environment and Conservation Published in 2020
Books have provided a welcome refuge in 2020. The global pandemic has, in many cases, turned even routine travel into a risk not worth taking, and it has left many longing for the day when we will once again set off for a new destination. At the same time, this year has also been a time to reflect on the sense of place and what home means to each of us. This year’s conservation book list draws on those two themes. Satisfying the urge to light out into the unknown, several authors share tales and observations from the field. Others delve deeply into a single spot, examining its importance to a people and the way we as a species fit into it, however uncomfortably. In the end, each reinforces a lesson that the pandemic has laid bare: Pull a thread on the web of life and even distant strands will reverberate as a result. Access book list HERE.
Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon Video
“Archaeologists have discovered tens of thousands of prehistoric paintings of animals and humans in a remote area of Colombia. Some now-extinct animals are depicted, meaning the art is likely more than 12,500 years old. These paintings prove that people lived in the area as far back as 19,000 years ago and decorated rock faces with scenes of hunting, dancing and eating. In addition to depictions of humans, there are also images of deer and elk, porcupines, snakes, birds, monkeys and insects. Animals that have long since become extinct, such as giant sloths, Ice Age horses, or the palaeolama, a type of ancient camel, are also depicted. There is even a picture of a mastodon, a prehistoric relative of the elephant that has not inhabited South America for the last 12,000 years.” Watch Trailer HERE.
EcoWatch, Dec 24: Trump Administration Sued Over ‘Outrageous Assault’ on Tongass National Forest Protections
“A coalition of Indigenous groups, businesses, and conservation organizations on Wednesday sued the Trump administration over its “arbitrary and reckless” removal of roadless protections for the nearly 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest in Alaska, warning that the rollback could devastate local communities, wildlife, and the climate. Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Alaska on behalf of regional tribes, businesses, and conservation groups. The complaint notes that the largest national forest, located in Southeast Alaska, “is central to the life ways of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people who have lived in and depended on the forest since time immemorial.” The U.S. Forest Service’s move to exempt the forest from the Roadless Rule, finalized just days before President Donald Trump lost reelection to President-elect Joe Biden, would open up more than nine million acres of the Tongass — with its centuries-old trees that provide crucial carbon sequestration — to logging and roadbuilding.” Learn MORE.
Sea Shepherd: Scientists Spot Beaked Whale Believed to Be New Species
When a trio of beaked whales surfaced off Mexico’s Pacific coast, researchers thought they’d found the elusive Perrin’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon perrini), an endangered species that’s never been officially sighted alive. But upon closer inspection, the researchers realized they may have stumbled upon something even rarer — a new species of beaked whale altogether. On Nov. 17, the research team was sailing aboard the Martin Sheen, a vessel operated by conservation group Sea Shepherd, when they spotted the three beaked whales about 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Mexico’s San Benito Islands. They managed to capture photos and video recordings of the animals, and also dropped a specialized microphone underwater to record the animals’ acoustic signals. Read MORE.
Peninsula Open Space Trust: 2021 Hiking Calendar
The best hikes for each month of the year! All new featured hikes for 2021. Discover beautiful places in the Bay Area. Know when and where to see the wildflowers bloom, wildlife and more! Download your free seasonal guide to Peninsula and South Bay trails HERE.
Patagonia: Big Wave Risk Assessment Group Video
This is about humans who love the sea learning how to save lives in and out of the ocean.
“Sion Milosky’s death at Mavericks in 2011 left the big wave surfing community reeling from the loss of another talented surfer. It was a wake-up call. Big wave surfing was advancing faster than safety protocols, and something had to change. Later that year, a group of surfers led by Kohl Christensen and Danilo Couto gathered in Kohl’s barn on the North Shore of Oʻahu and held a CPR course taught by a veteran emergency room nurse. This was the first unofficial meeting of the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group (BWRAG). The following year, BWRAG held its first public summit at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore, expanding its teachings from CPR to first aid, water rescue skills and more.” Watch video HERE.
NOAA, Dec 8: The Arctic Is Drastically Changing Due to Climate Change.
Global warming is rapidly changing the Arctic into a region that is, “warmer, less frozen, and biologically changed in ways that are scarcely imaginable even a generation ago,” according to NOAA’s annual Arctic report card. While the whole planet is warming because of emissions of heat-trapping gases through burning of fossil fuels and other human activity, the Arctic is heating up more than twice as quickly as other regions. That warming has cascading effects elsewhere, raising sea levels, influencing ocean circulation and, scientists increasingly suggest, playing a role in extreme weather. Watch NOAA’s new (4 minute) video – ANNUAL ARCTIC REPORT CARD
Nat Geo: Lynx Epic Trek
In Alaska, encounters with this striking feline, with tufted ears and mitten-like feet, are usually rare. Until recently. In Anchorage, Alaska’s most populous city, the normally elusive cats are making regular appearances. Lynx run-ins are likely on the rise because populations of their favorite prey, the snowshoe hare, are at their peak. Hares experience a natural boom-and-bust population cycle that can last between eight to 11 years, and when hares are plentiful—as is the case now—so are lynx. One of the project’s star travelers, nicknamed Hobo, was radio-collared in Alaska’s Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge in March 2017, just over the border from the Yukon. Hobo took off from his home range in June 2017, and, by July 2018 had traveled a whopping 2,174 miles, across mountains and often powerful rivers. (Photo: Peter Mather) Learn MORE.
Conservation International: Trove of new species discovered in hidden Bolivian valley
Nestled in the Andes, the forests of Bolivia’s Zongo Valley are shrouded in pillowy clouds more than 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) above sea level. But for a team of researchers who hiked for two weeks through the valley’s rugged terrain, the mist and fog could no longer hide the treasures within. In the heart of the cloud forest, they discovered 20 species new to science, and rediscovered several species that had not been seen for decades. Co-led by biologist Trond Larsen, the expedition was part of Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program, which assembles “ecological SWAT teams” to assess the health of ecosystems around the world in a fraction of the time it can typically take. Learn MORE.
ClearPath: The Many Types Of Carbon Capture
Carbon capture, utilization and storage, aka “CCS” or “CCUS”, refers to the removal of carbon dioxide from the waste streams of industrial processes or from the atmosphere, for storage underground or “recycling” into new products. Much like the term “energy efficiency”, carbon capture is an umbrella term for many technologies. This overview describes the main technology types. As reducing global greenhouse gas emissions has become an international priority, more R&D is being devoted to reduce capture costs from lower concentration sources such as power plants, chemical facilities and even directly from the air. Policies that support carbon capture deployment, including the expanded U.S. carbon capture tax credit and emerging state incentives, have been major commercial drivers. Learn MORE.
City Of Santa Cruz: Climate Action Plan 2030 Survey
The City of Santa Cruz Climate Action Plan (CAP) was adopted in 2012. The CAP outlines the actions the City will take between 2012 and 2020 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from a 1990 baseline. The City is embarking upon an equitable, community-driven Climate Action Plan 2030 process! Please take our first community survey on engagement preferences and if you would like to be added to the mailing list for this project. Be sure to click the “submit” button! Survey open through February 1, 2021. Please take the survey and share widely! SURVEY.
National Park Service: Do You Know This Seal’s Name?
This “sea mammal can be best described with one word, unique. (They) have four rings….. of white to light brown fur on their bodies. An unusual organ, an air sac, is found near their trachea. Its function is unknown, but is thought to help ribbon seals when they dive to depths of 1950 feet (590 m)! Even how this seal moves across ice is unique. They alternate their front flippers to move forward, rather than wiggle their bodies like other seal species.” Find out MORE.
Restore Our Climate: Iron salt aerosols cooled the planet during the ice ages
“Over the past million years, naturally occurring Iron Salt Aerosol (ISA) has significantly depleted atmospheric methane. It exists in airborne dust particles originating largely from deserts and glacial rock erosion. In the presence of sunlight, ISA breaks down methane molecules through a series of chemical reactions. This iron-containing dust quickly washes out with rain, becoming a nutrient for aquatic and plant life. focused on Iron Salt Aerosol (ISA), a technique inspired by the Earth’s natural corrective mechanisms to stabilize its climate. This technology still needs laboratory testing and atmospheric modeling as well as field trials, but many experts believe it to be the most promising method available. This video gives an excellent introduction to our work.” Watch VIDEO.
EcoWatch, Dec 11: Abandoned Oil Wells Leak Untold Methane From Gulf Floor
More than 30,000 abandoned oil and gas wells litter the floor of the Gulf of Mexico in federal waters, the vast majority of those permanently — with many likely leaking methane and other pollutants in perpetuity, the Environmental Health Network reports. The 28,232 permanently abandoned or decommissioned wells on the floor of the Gulf should be permanently plugged and capped when they are decommissioned. Federal oversight is inadequate, however, and the state of wells after they are decommissioned or abandoned is not monitored. In addition to methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period, abandoned oil and gas wells spew benzene, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants. Learn MORE.
YES! Magazine: How Ancient Grains Are Helping to Empower Indian Women
Until 15 years ago, residents of the semi-arid Vizianagaram district in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh did not cultivate any millets. For that matter, they did not cultivate any food crops.
“Many people here were disconnected from their fields. They would work in nearby towns as daily-wage labor and depended on the public distribution system for subsidized but nutrient-sparse white rice,” says K. Saraswathi, executive secretary of SABALA, a nonprofit that aims to strengthen community food security via millet farming, describing the scene she encountered when her organization first began working in the district. “A few farmers who were growing rice had lost their entire crop due to the absence of rain. People sorely felt the lack of food and livelihood security.” Today, SABALA works with nearly 2,000 female farmers in the district who are cultivating millets, mainly for their own consumption. Learn MORE.
New York Times: What’s Killing California’s Sea Otters? House Cats
For a sea otter, a bad infection with the Toxoplasma parasite may feel a bit like drowning. “The brain is no longer able to function and tell the body how to swim,” said Dr. Karen Shapiro, a veterinarian and pathologist at the University of California, Davis. The parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, enters the otter orally and makes its way to the brain, where it can cause swelling, weakness, seizures, disorientation and death. If the parasite doesn’t kill the otter directly, it can render it more likely to be hit by a boat or eaten by a shark. Among California sea otters, a protected species whose numbers are closely monitored, Toxoplasma infections contribute to the deaths of 8 percent of otters that are found dead, and is the primary cause of death in 3 percent. Scientists have been working to determine where the Toxoplasma comes from and how to keep it from striking sea otters. They have long viewed one potential culprit with suspicion, and a study published last week identified the offender definitively: house cats. “This is the ultimate proof that strains that are killing sea otters are coming from domestic cats,” said Dr. Shapiro, a lead author of the study. Read MORE.
EcoWatch: Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
“Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as flavor, texture and color. Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans’ twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use.
Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.” Read MORE.
EcoWatch, Nov 23: Invasive Tegu Lizard Threatens Endangered Species
These black-and-white lizards could be the punchline of a joke, except the situation is no laughing matter. That’s because the Argentine black-and-white tegu is an invasive species of dog-sized lizards that scientists worry could pose a threat to endangered species across the Southeast. The tegus first came to the region as escaped or released pets and began to spread in South Florida more than a decade ago, National Geographic reported. But they are now reaching other states in the region and have been spotted in Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama. “[T]he entire southeast portion of the United States is at risk,” reports USGS biologist Amy Yackel Adams. “Much of this area has a climate that is suitable for tegus.” Learn MORE.
YES! Magazine: Bien Vivir
“Ecuador’s Cotacachi Canton (is) home to two of the world’s 36 internationally recognized biodiversity hotspots. It is also home to a people fiercely committed to their own social and environmental well-being. Cotacacheños are guided by what they call Buen Vivir in Spanish, or sumak kawsay in the Kichwa language, which loosely translates as “the Good Life.” It is for them both a philosophy and a lived practice. A direct and critical response to Western ideas of sustainable development, Buen Vivir is about respecting the rights and responsibilities of communities to protect and promote their own social and environmental well-being by driving grassroots change. Cotacacheños have been engaged in resistance against large-scale mining operations in the region for more than three decades in the name of Buen Vivir, because the destructive nature of mining is in conflict with their vision of environmental reciprocity. Peruvian local Indigenous community leader David Torres explains, “Buen Vivir signifies first and foremost protecting our environment, more than anything.” The lessons from this Andean canton can be applied to help transform communities across the globe, at a time where that’s more necessary than ever. Learn MORE.
Wild Salmon Center: On Northern California’s Klamath River, dams have brought spring Chinook to the brink. To save the species, Indigenous knowledge is key.
The dams’ longevity has muddied the salmon restoration argument for dam removal. Since the 1910s, no ocean-returning fish on the Klamath River could climb higher than Copco 1. Maybe, asked some opponents, salmon never reached Klamath Lake in the first place? Indigenous knowledge was mostly ignored. And old newspapers, settler accounts, ethnographic accounts indicating that salmon migrated above the dams, the skeptics just dismissed. “Dam removal skeptics found it easy to create confusion later, because the dams went in before western scientists had “hard data” on salmon numbers,” says Dr. Sloat. “Indigenous knowledge was mostly ignored. Then archeologists found the middens.” Read MORE.
Medium, Tenderly Mag: 37 Pictures of Majestic Animals Being Incorrigible Goofs
“For the last three years, the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards (CWPA) has been single-mindedly focused on showcasing a profoundly underserved aspect of wildlife photography: Pictures that show the goofy side of our animal friends. It turns out that, contrary to what National Geographic might want you to think not every wild animal wakes up looking like their Instagram photos. In fact, for every picture where these guys are being majestic and proud and flat-out awe-inspiring, there’s one where they’re just as awkward and absurd as we are. And the CWPA is committed to uncovering the very best of those moments while highlighting an important message of wildlife conservation in partnership with The Born Free Foundation. Here are some of the extremely relatable finalists from this year’s awards.” Learn more at Medium.
Optimist Daily: Rare Black Rhino Birth
The population of the critically endangered eastern black rhino has just gotten bigger, thanks to the birth of a healthy calf at Chester Zoo in the UK. Following 15 months of pregnancy, the celebratory event was caught on the zoo’s security camera which shows the young calf suckling from her mother, Ema Elsa, just 10 minutes after she was born. “The birth of a critically endangered eastern black rhino is always very special,” said Andrew McKenzie, team manager of rhinos at the zoo. “And to be able to watch on camera as a calf is born is an incredible privilege – with rhino numbers so, so low it, sadly, isn’t something that’s captured very often. Watch video HERE.
Daily Kos, Nov 17: Why Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante Matter
Among the action items on President-elect Biden’s early agenda is the restoration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The monuments encompass vast swaths of the spectacular red rock terrain that comprises much of south-central and southeastern Utah’s canyon and mesa landscape. These monuments need restoration because in December 2017 the Trump administration, in an historically unprecedented move, drastically slashed their size — Bears Ears by about 85% and Grand Staircase Escalante by nearly half. President Biden can and will quickly reverse those actions. The ambitious Biden-Harris Plan For Tribal Nations emphasizes that “As President, Biden will take immediate steps to reverse the Trump administration’s assault on America’s natural treasures, including by reversing Trump’s attacks on…Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.”
The significance of restoring—and in the case of Bears Ears, one hopes also expanding—these monuments can hardly be understated. Restoring the protected status of these lands is not just about preserving scenic beauty and the economic benefits landscape tourism provides—as important as that is—but is a crucial action for the advancement of social justice. The Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition—a coalition of the Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, Diné and Ute tribes—note that these lands are staggeringly rich in archeological sites—over 100,000—and remain essential for ongoing cultural practices. Bears Ears lands, explain the coalition, are “a unique cultural place where we visit and practice our traditional religions for the purpose of attaining or resuming health for ourselves, our communities and our natural world.” If the lands are protected, they allow for traditional practices like the gathering of plants (such as pinon nuts), medicinal herbs, wood for ceremonial and heating purposes, and hunting. Learn MORE.
Regeneration International: Trails of Regeneration – A Brief History of Agroforestry
“Watch the latest episode in our “Trails of Regeneration” series features agroforestry, with expert Patrick Worms of the World Agroforestry. Here we explore the roots of agroforestry and how industrial agriculture has pushed aside ancient farming practices that produce healthy food while also caring for the environment. The old saying “nature knows best” rings true when it comes to agriculture. Working with nature instead of against it is a mindset that dates back early in human history when farmers relied on ancestral knowledge and traditions to grow food. The introduction of modern agriculture technology — think pesticides, synthetic fertilizers + farming equipment — has in many ways brought thousands of years of agricultural evolution using trees to a standstill.” Watch HERE.
Science Advances, Nov 11: Assembly of the algal CO2-fixing organelle, the pyrenoid, is guided by a Rubisco-binding motif
Brain exercise! First sentence is surprising. “Approximately one-third of the Earth’s photosynthetic CO2 assimilation occurs in (algae’s) pyrenoid, an organelle containing the CO2-fixing enzyme Rubisco. How constituent proteins are recruited to the pyrenoid and how the organelle’s subcompartments — membrane tubules, a surrounding phase-separated Rubisco matrix, and a peripheral starch sheath — are held together is unknown. Using the model alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, we found that pyrenoid proteins share a sequence motif. We show that the motif is necessary and sufficient to target proteins to the pyrenoid and that the motif binds to Rubisco, suggesting a mechanism for targeting. The presence of the Rubisco-binding motif on proteins that localize to the tubules and on proteins that localize to the matrix–starch sheath interface suggests that the motif holds the pyrenoid’s three subcompartments together. Our findings advance our understanding of pyrenoid biogenesis and illustrate how a single protein motif can underlie the architecture of a complex multilayered phase-separated organelle.” LINK
EcoMotion News: Offshore Wind “Floaters” for Deep Water Locations
Walter Musial, a principal engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) expects that offshore wind – using floating wind turbines known as “floaters” – will be cost-competitive with fixed-bottom models by 2024. This is thanks in part to the work being done to reduce the barriers to offshore wind production. One means to reduce costs and streamline development is through the development of a robust port infrastructure where the turbines can be assembled then towed out to sea. Once towed to their locations, the “floaters” are then be held in place by mooring lines attached to anchors in deep waters. Musial notes that 80% of the world’s offshore waters suitable for wind turbines near major population centers are in deep water. Thus floating turbines have huge application. Subscribe to monthly EcoMotion News.
Phys.org: Study of ancient climate suggests future warming could accelerate
The rate at which the planet warms in response to the ongoing buildup of heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas could increase in the future, according to new simulations of a comparable warm period more than 50 million years ago. Researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Arizona used a state-of-the-art climate model to successfully simulate—for the first time—the extreme warming of the Early Eocene Period, which is considered an analog for Earth’s future climate. They found that the rate of warming increased dramatically as carbon dioxide levels rose, a finding with far-reaching implications for Earth’s future climate. Learn MORE.
Museum of Natural History: Nature News – Updates on the Natural World Around You
Some plants depend on fire for their survival. The Santa Cruz cypress (Hesperocyparis abramsiana) is so limited in its range that there are only a few stands left in the Santa Cruz mountains, all of which are located in the fire zone of the CZU lightning complex. Though the trees themselves aren’t resilient to fire like the coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), they do depend on fire to reproduce. Heat causes the cones to open and drop their seeds, which require sunlight and bare mineral soil to germinate. Seed viability reduces as the trees age, meaning that if large disturbances occur too infrequently, the trees won’t reproduce often enough to maintain population size. After the 2008 Martin Fire burned and killed a large portion of the trees in the Bonny Doon population, regeneration was abundant. Time will tell how the Santa Cruz cypress will respond to this more recent fire event.
World Economic Forum, Oct 30: The best way to restore our forests is to let nature take its course
“Planting new forests is recognised as a powerful natural climate solution, but the best way to achieve this is still a matter for debate. New research suggests natural regrowth could be the most effective approach. Letting nature take its course promotes native species and biodiversity at a fraction of the cost of manual tree-planting. Trees are having a moment in the limelight as people increasingly recognize their ability to soak up CO2 from the atmosphere and store it for long periods of time. While new forests represent a powerful natural climate solution, there is a lot of confusion and controversy about how to best establish those new forests.” One of authors is Dr. Karen Holl, UCSC. Read more HERE.
Honor The Earth: LN3 FILM: SEVEN TEACHINGS OF THE ANISHINAABE IN RESISTANCE
A 38-minute frontline documentary on the effort to stop the dirty tar sands oil pipeline (Line 3) through Minnesota and encourage real energy security. Predatory industry hijacked the US regulatory system in 2019, placing ancient food systems and a fifth of the world’s freshwater in imminent danger. LN3 features indigenous firebrands Winona Laduke, Tara Houska, and poet-hip hop artist ThomasX, as they lead an alliance to take on Big Oil and their enablers at the institutional level, and on the frontlines. This is the battle for Earth. Watch for free HERE.
“David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet”
Celebrated British naturalist Sir David Attenborough has a broadcasting career spanning over six decades. He has visited every continent on the globe, exploring the wild places of our planet and bringing the wonders of the living world to audiences worldwide through ground-breaking natural history series. During his lifetime, Sir David Attenborough has seen first-hand the monumental scale of environmental change caused by human actions. Now for the first time, he reflects on the devastating changes he’s witnessed and reveals how together we can address the biggest challenges facing life on our planet. You will want everyone to see this film on Netflix and be inspired to act. See TRAILER.
New York Times: Trump Administration is Reversing 100 Environmental Rules
The Trump Administration in 4 years has completed 68 reversals of environmental rules. They have 32 more in progress. That’s exactly 100 rules stripped away that were made to protect the Earth. 27 of those rules have to do with air pollution and emissions — like weakening fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for cars. 19 of those rules have to do with drilling and oil extraction — like lifting the drilling ban in the Arctic. The other 54 rules range from protections of animal life to water pollution to infrastructure and so much more. Read More.
Audubon: Report details financial resources needed to preserve biodiversity.
There can be little doubt that biodiversity is in free fall. Here in North America there are now almost three billion fewer birds than there were in the 1970s. One million species worldwide are threatened with extinction. A recent World Wildlife Fund report found that there has been a nearly 70 percent average decline in wildlife populations around the globe since 1970. A new report, “Financing Nature: Closing the Global Biodiversity Financing Gap,” by the Paulson Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and Cornell University, now (provides) an authoritative analysis of the financial resources needed to stop and reverse the catastrophic biodiversity declines happening across the globe. This is a crisis the world can afford to address. Learn MORE.
Clean Energy States Alliance: Virtual Power Plants
Utilities across the country are beginning to tap into hundreds, sometimes thousands, of devices in homes and businesses to create virtual power plants (VPP). These VPPs can deliver many of the same services as traditional power plants but they’re powered by distributed resources, including water heaters, smart thermostats, and, increasingly, solar and battery storage (home and EV). This webinar covers the basics of what a virtual power plant is and how it can create value for both utilities and customers, with examples from real-world programs. Presenters include the software company Virtual Peaker and Portland General Electric Company (PGE). PGE recently launched a new VPP pilot program that will incentivize the installation of more than 500 residential battery storage systems, representing up to four megawatts of energy. Watch for free HERE.
Patagonia Film: Run the Red, 9 minutes
A trail running race in southwest Wyoming brings attention to the importance of protecting the largest unfenced area in the contiguous United States. The Red Desert is a place of harsh, wind-scoured beauty, a vast patchwork of public, state and private lands spread across the southwestern belly of Wyoming. The boundaries shift depending on who you’re talking to, but estimates put it around 6 million acres of mostly Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. It’s defined by both pristine wildness and sporadic human development—roughly a dozen federally designated wilderness study areas sit like islands of preservation amid lands leased for energy and scarred by a long history of human use. “Run the Red was really birthed from this idea: how can we build an activity or showcase this place in a way that allows people to experience it the way wilderness should be experienced,” said Shaleas Harrison. Watch film HERE.
Kiss The Ground Documentary
Kiss the Ground is a full-length documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson that sheds light on an alternative approach to farming called “regenerative agriculture” that has the potential to balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world. TRAILER. It is now streaming on Netflix, and the exclusive Live Q&A with Gisele Bündchen, Woody Harrelson and Ian Somerhalder, plus the filmmakers, farmers and activists behind the regenerative movement, is right HERE.
Food Revolution Summit: Free Access To All 25 Programs for 2 Days
In these times it’s more important than ever to get informed, so you can take care of your health and the health of those you love. Now is the time to put the healing power of food to work for you, so you can be truly and deeply nourished, and have the resiliency to meet whatever challenges come your way. John Robbins, one of the food movements most beloved leaders and author of Diet For A New America, interviews 25 amazing food & health experts. Sign up HERE.
Nat Geo: Yellowstone Bacteria Provide Key Ingredient in Coronavirus Test
Microbiologist Thomas Brock was tramping through Yellowstone in the 1960s when he stumbled upon a species of bacteria that would transform medical science. Brock was investigating the tiny life-forms that manage to eke out a living in the superheated waters of the park’s thermal pools. There, he and a student found golden mats of stringy growth in Yellowstone’s Mushroom Spring containing a microbe that produces unusual heat-resistant enzymes.
Today, those enzymes are a key component in polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, a method used widely in labs around the world to study small samples of genetic material by making millions of copies. This technique, which would have been impossible without the discovery of heat-resistant bacteria more than half a century ago, is now being used to boost the signal of viruses in most of the available tests for COVID-19. Learn MORE.
My Octopus Teacher: Documentary Film
A filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest, learning as the animal shares the mysteries of her world. “One day, while exploring a deep blue pool whose waters were calmed by the density of the kelp surrounding it, Craig saw a strange shape on the ocean floor: an octopus balled up and covered with an armor of rocks and shells. In an eyeblink, it abandoned its quasi-shell and rocketed away. “There’s something to learn here,” he remembers thinking. He returned, found the female octopus’ den, and visited it daily as it huddled in its little cave. Eventually, the creature realized Craig wasn’t a threat. It reaches out a curious tentacle and touches his hand, its suckers exploring his skin. He enjoys the moment as long as his lungs will allow, gently detaches and heads up to the surface for air.” (The Decider.com) Watch trailer HERE.
“Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of David Bohm”, Documentary
This powerful and inspiring film is about the man Einstein called his “spiritual son” and the Dalai Lama his “science guru.” Infinite Potential explores the revolutionary theories of David Bohm, the maverick physicist who turned to Eastern wisdom to develop groundbreaking insights into the profound interconnectedness of the Universe and our place within it. This mystical and scientific journey into the nature of life and reality includes the final post-screening event in a series of interactive, virtual discussions inspired by the film and will include a very special group of panelists: Reverend Dr. Michael B. Beckwith, Spiritual Director Agape International Spiritual Center; Audrey Kitagawa, Board Chair Parliament of World Religions; Reverend Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr., Civil Rights Leader; Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation; Marianne Williamson, bestselling author, political activist and spiritual thought leader; and Dr. Dot Maver (moderator), Global Silent Minute. Watch HERE.
Lake Charles, LA. A woman lost consciousness in a parking lot after Hurricane Laura left her without electricity or air-conditioning for several days.
New York Times: HOW CLIMATE MIGRATION WILL RESHAPE AMERICA, Abrahm Lustgarten
“Millions will be displaced. Where will they go? For two years, I have been studying how climate change will influence global migration. My sense was that of all the devastating consequences of a warming planet — changing landscapes, pandemics, mass extinctions — the potential movement of hundreds of millions of climate refugees across the planet stands to be among the most important. I traveled across four countries to witness how rising temperatures were driving climate refugees away from some of the poorest and hottest parts of the world. I had also helped create an enormous computer simulation to analyze how global demographics might shift, and now I was working on a data-mapping project about migration here in the United States.” Learn MORE.
Amah Mutsun Ethnobotany: t’ott’oni
Mutsun Name: t’ott’oni, tyottyoni; English Name: toyon; Botanical Name: Heteromeles arbutifolia. Toyon is an evergreen shrub that grows in the foothills surrounding the Central Valley throughout California. Berries are ripe in the Fall but may be eaten by birds or start to have mold. Toyon responds to fire and resprouts vigorously following fire. It has been observed to sprout 4-5 feet tall 4.5 years after a wildfire. Berries are cooked, dried, or made into flour, eaten fresh, roasted, or boiled. Berries are sometimes baked in an earth oven for two or three days or stored in baskets for two months. Berries can also be used to make cider. Ohlone used a toyon leaf as a blood purifier and to regulate menses. Used by some for arrows, cooking instruments, and hairpins. Berries should be monitored to assess best times to gather before berries succumb to mold, disease, or are eaten by other animals. Learn more HERE.
Space.com, Sept 19: Tropical storms and billowing wildfire smoke rage in the same NASA satellite photo
A satellite spotted several tropical storms and dozens of wildfires ravaging the United States together in one image. NASA’s Aqua satellite captured six tropical storms and more than 100 different U.S. wildfires in a single photo snapped on Sept. 15. The wildfires, which have particularly scoured California, have now burned about 4 million acres (over 16,000 square kilometers) across 10 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. When the photo was taken, there were six named storms total — Sally off the Gulf Coast, Paulette, Rene, Teddy and Vicky in the Atlantic Ocean and Karina in the Pacific. Learn MORE.
Science, Sep. 8: To survive frigid nights, hummingbirds cool themselves to record-low temperatures
High in the Andes, thousands of meters above sea level, speedy hummingbirds defy near-freezing temperatures. These tiny flyers endure the cold with a counterintuitive trick: They lower their body temperature—sometimes as much as 33°C—for hours at a time, new research suggests. Among vertebrates, hummingbirds have the highest metabolism for their size. With a metabolic rate roughly 77 times that of an average human, they need to feed nearly continuously. But when it gets too cold or dark to forage, maintaining a normal body temperature is energetically draining. Instead, the small animals can cool their internal temperature by 10°C to 30°C. This slows their metabolism by as much as 95% and protects them from starvation. In this state, called torpor, a bird is motionless and unresponsive. “You wouldn’t even know it was alive if you picked it up,” Wolf says. But when the morning comes and it’s time to feed, he says, the birds quickly warm themselves back up again. “It’s like hibernation but regulated on an even tighter schedule.” Read MORE.
Politico, Sept 8: Climate Change Major Risk to Financial System
“A massive, first-of-its-kind report, commissioned by Trump appointees and compiled by dozens of analysts from firms across the economy, says “climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system and to its ability to sustain the American economy.” The findings themselves are not entirely new, but the fact that they were published by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the regulatory body charged with overseeing the complex financial instruments that set the prices of commodities like corn, wheat, and oil, carries significant importance. This is the first federal government report of its kind to focus on the effects of climate change on financial markets” Learn MORE.
NPR, Sept 11: How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled
The industry’s awareness that recycling wouldn’t keep plastic out of landfills and the environment dates to the program’s earliest days, we found. “There is serious doubt that [recycling plastic] can ever be made viable on an economic basis,” one industry insider wrote in a 1974 speech. Yet the industry spent millions telling people to recycle, because, as one former top industry insider told NPR, selling recycling sold plastic, even if it wasn’t true. “If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment,” Larry Thomas, former president of the Society of the Plastics Industry, told NPR. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch: Aviation Accounts for 3.5% of Global Warming Caused by Humans
A new international study that used unprecedented calculations to pinpoint how much global air travel contributes to the heating of the atmosphere found that aviation makes up 3.5 percent of all the activities that contribute to the climate crisis, according to the University of Reading in the UK where some of the research was conducted. It turns out that in the last 20 years, air travel has doubled its contribution as a driver of the climate crisis. The study looked at the time frame from 2000 to 2018, so it did not account for the current slowdown in air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. And yet, Lee said that the current slowdown will be just a blip compared to the long-term damage that has already been done by air travel. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch: Meet the ‘Women Warriors’ Protecting the Amazon Forest
On an early December morning last year in the state of Maranhão, Brazil, half a dozen members of the Indigenous Guajajara people packed their bags with food, maps and drone equipment to get ready for a patrol. They said goodbye to their children, uncertain when, or whether, they would see them again. Then, they hoisted their bags over their shoulders and set out to patrol a section of the 173,000 hectares (428,000 acres) of the primary rainforest they call home. This is the Caru Indigenous Territory, near the northeastern coast of Brazil, and it contains some of the last stretches of intact, contiguous forest in Maranhão. It is also under increasing threat: this part of Brazil has been ravaged by some of the country’s highest rates of deforestation and land conflicts over the past decade. Patrols led by Indigenous groups like theirs, known often by the moniker of “Forest Guardians,” have been instrumental in enforcing protections and preventing loggers from entering Indigenous territories. Learn more HERE.
The Guardian: Earth has lost 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994
That is stunning conclusion of UK scientists who have analyzed satellite surveys of the planet’s poles, mountains and glaciers to measure how much ice coverage lost because of global heating triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions. The scientists – based at Leeds and Edinburgh universities and University College London – describe the level of ice loss as “staggering” and warn that their analysis indicates that sea level rises, triggered by melting glaciers and ice sheets, could reach a meter by the end of the century. “To put that in context, every centimeter of sea level rise means about a million people will be displaced from their low-lying homelands,” said Professor Andy Shepherd, director of Leeds University’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modeling. The level of ice loss revealed by the group matches the worst-case-scenario predictions outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he added.
The scientists also warn that the melting of ice in these quantities is now seriously reducing the planet’s ability to reflect solar radiation back into space. White ice is disappearing and the dark sea or soil exposed beneath it is absorbing more and more heat, further increasing the warming of the planet. RESEARCH THIS
Washington Post, July 22: Major new climate study rules out less severe global warming scenarios
An analysis finds the most likely range of warming from doubling (of atmospheric) carbon dioxide to be between 4.1 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The current pace of human-caused carbon emissions is increasingly likely to trigger irreversible damage to the planet, according to a comprehensive international study released Wednesday. Researchers studying one of the most important and vexing topics in climate science — how sensitive the Earth’s climate is to a doubling of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — found that warming is extremely unlikely to be on the low end of estimates.
These scientists now say it is likely that if human activities — such as burning oil, gas and coal along with deforestation — push carbon dioxide to such levels, the Earth’s global average temperature will most likely increase between 4.1 and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit (2.3 and 4.5 degrees Celsius). The previous and long-standing estimated range of climate sensitivity, as first laid out in a 1979 report, was 2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 4.5 Celsius). Keep informed HERE.
Nat Geo: These people of color transformed U.S. national parks
“When I began exploring the outdoors, I had no idea that Black people had played a vital role in the creation of Yosemite, one of my favorite national parks,” reports
James Edward Mills. “I had never heard the story of the park’s connection with Charles Young and the Buffalo Soldiers (pictured above, at Yosemite), and when I finally did, at age 42, it came to me as a complete surprise. In the 10 years since, I’ve learned the stories of Stephen Bishop and Mammoth Caves, Lancelot Jones and Biscayne Bay, and many other people of color who have influenced national parks. Their narratives have long been obscured or ignored by history.” Read MORE.
LifeLab: Pollinator Observations Backyard Activity
Use a tally sheet to observe pollinators visiting a flower. If you want to be a “citizen scientist” upload your data to the Great Sunflower Project. Ages 6+, 15 min+
This activity is perfect for window-watching or outdoor quiet and reflective time. Find a place where pollinators such as bees or hummingbirds frequently visit and get a comfortable spot nearby so you can observe. You can use our pollinator tally sheet or if you don’t have access to a printer, copy down the data in a notebook or piece of paper on a clipboard. Learn more HERE.
Surfrider Releases Foodware Policy Toolkit
The Surfrider Foundation’s Plastic Pollution Initiative is excited to announce our newest policy toolkit, the Comprehensive Foodware Policy Toolkit. After over a decade of successfully advocating for and passing plastic policies such as bag, straw, and styrofoam bans, this toolkit focuses on the next generation of foodware bills that address plastic pollution in a more holistic and innovative manner. Foodware makes up a large proportion of solid waste and litter, and we see comprehensive foodware laws as the next step in making a larger impact. Foodware laws have evolved over the last decade from being simple bans on expanded polystyrene (EPS) foodware to comprehensive legislation. Access the Toolkit!
Optimist Daily: Indigenous People Play Key Role In Preserving Ecosystems
Environmentalists typically turn to rigorous scientific research to preserve ecosystems, but a recent study shows that grassroots knowledge from Indigenous people can play an equally important role in conservation efforts. The new study from Rutgers University collected more than 300 indicators developed by Indigenous people to monitor ecosystem change, and most revealed negative trends, such as the health of wild animals and increasing populations of invasive species that disrupt a healthy balance in the ecosystem. Such local knowledge influences decisions about where and how to hunt benefits ecosystem management and is important for scientific monitoring on a global scale. Learn more HERE.
EcoWatch: 90% Chance of Society Collapsing Within Decades
Deforestation coupled with the rampant destruction of natural resources will soon have devastating effects on the future of society as we know it, according to two theoretical physicists who study complex systems and have concluded that greed has put us on a path to irreversible collapse within the next two to four decades. The research by the two physicists, one from Chile and the other from the UK, was published last week in Nature Scientific Reports. The researchers used advance statistical modeling to look at how a growing human population can cope with the loss of resources, mainly due to deforestation. After crunching the numbers, the scientists came up with a fairly bleak assessment of society’s chance of surviving the climate crisis.
“Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low probability, less than 10 percent in most optimistic estimate, to survive without a catastrophic collapse,” the authors write. Learn more about the forecast for our future HERE.
Nat Geo: Formed by Megafloods, This Place Fooled Scientists for Decades
Defenders Of Wildlife: Doughnut economics: A visual framework for sustainable development
Oxford economist Kate Raworth shows us that it is far more practical though – both our environmental and human concerns create the literal boundaries within which we must proceed. Raworth’s Doughnut shows the upper and lower boundaries of the Safe and Just Space for Humanity. The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries (2017) Raworth’s Doughnut shows the upper and lower boundaries of the Safe and Just Space for Humanity.
After decades of practical work with the United Nations, Oxfam and Oxford, Raworth developed her Doughnut Economics theory. It’s easiest to show it rather than explain it, but there are 17 criteria that need to be met to keep our society functioning at minimum, thriving if possible. Within the upper and lower limits is where she finds us our Safe and Just Space for Humanity. By addressing the 9 environmental concerns and the 17 critical human needs, we have empirical evidence for the limits of the Spaceship we’re all sharing.
The Hill: Latest Climate Study Indicates Worst-Case scenario more Likely
A new four-year study, published July 22 in the journal Review of Geophysics by an international team of 25 top experts, indicates average global temperatures are now very likely to increase 4.1 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s at the high end of the range consistently predicted by major climate studies going back to 1979. The study indicates a 95 percent certainty that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations — which we’re on target to hit in the next 50 years or so — would exceed the 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees celsius) worst-case goal that most nations agreed to in the Paris climate accord. Beyond that threshold, climate scientists predict sea-level rise that will flood many coastal cities, intolerable heat waves and other extreme weather conditions and permanent damage to many ecosystems. Learn more about your future HERE.
Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance: Indigenous Seed Keeper Network
Indigenous Seed Keeper Network (ISKN) is an initiative of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance (NAFSA), a non-profit organization aimed at leveraging resources to support tribal food sovereignty projects. The mission of the Network is to nourish and assist the growing seed sovereignty movement across Turtle Island (North America). ISKN provides educational resources, mentorship training, outreach, and advocacy support on seed policy issues, and organizes convenings to connect communities engaged in this work. Sierra Seeds, a nonprofit sister program to ISKN, also uses mentorship and education to create greater sustainability in food and seed systems by sharing essential practical skills and promoting seed literacy. Learn more HERE.
Seymour Center: Deep-Sea Coral digital mixed media project
This virtual exhibit is artistically designed to merge art and marine science. Locked within the skeleton of deep-sea corals are records of past environmental and climate variability. Because of the longevity of deep-sea coral, their organic skeletons recovered near Hawai’i clearly show climatic changes over the past 1,000 years. The mesopelagic, otherwise known as the ocean’s twilight zone, extends from 200 to 1,000 meters below the surface of the ocean. Linking all of the world’s oceans, it is the largest continuous ecosystem and biome on Earth. The mesopelagic is home to familiar-looking creatures such as seastars and urchins, as well as to unique and alien-looking life such as mid-water gelatinous creatures and deep-sea corals.
Many of the deep-sea corals and related biota have colonial lifespans of one hundred or more years. Colonies of some genera have continuously added growth from new individuals for thousands of years. Although this realm is out of sight of most humans, our actions and choices can have a dramatic impact on these delicate and important ecosystems. View HERE
Audubon: How To be A Bird-friendly Beachgoer
While many of us have strong connections to beaches, coastal areas also play a vital role for many species of birds. On many beaches in North America, it is not uncommon to come across terns, skimmers, oystercatchers, or plovers nesting and trying to raise their chicks. For other birds species, these coastal regions serve as rich sources of food for migratory stopovers. As we head into the summer season, keep in mind that birds need beaches too. Fortunately, there are some easy but key steps we can all take to be good shore stewards, ensuring that both birds and people will enjoy this vital resource for years to come. Learn more HERE.
Patagonia: The Refuge
Documentary film on the fight to save the Arctic Refuge. For hundreds of generations, the Gwich’in people of Alaska and northern Canada have depended on the caribou that migrate through the Arctic Refuge. With their traditional culture now threatened by oil extraction and climate change, two Gwich’in women continue a decades-long fight to protect their land and future. Go here to watch 15 minute FILM.
Arboretum Gardens are open!
The UCSC Arboretum & Botanic Garden is very happy to announce that our gardens have reopened. Our hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., every day. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children, and free to our members and volunteers. Please follow social distancing protocols, wear a mask, and bring your own drinking water.
In addition to donations, the Arboretum relies heavily on memberships, plant sales, and admissions to fund our vital operations, including maintaining our collections, plant propagation, and conservation seed banking. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were unable to hold our Spring Plant Sale and have been closed to the public, resulting in a significant loss of income over the last three months.
We are in desperate need of your support! If you would like to become a member, or renew, you can do so HERE.
Press Banner: Discover A New Park!
If you’re feeling penned in these days, you should check out a new park! Discovery Park, located next to the new Felton Library, is now open! Nancy Gerdt, President of the Felton Library Friends and Friends of Santa Cruz County Parks’ board member, was eager to share more details with me. “When we began our whole library campaign in 2005, it went through many iterations. It wasn’t until 2015, when the county bought land on the other side of Bull Creek that we thought of a new park, which worked so well with our theme of environmental conservation.” Read more HERE.
Save The Redwoods League: Behold the Stag Tree
Take a minute to inhale Alder Creek’s Stagg Tree, the fifth largest known tree in the world. Strength and resilience in the face of many challenges. View 1 minute video HERE.
Coastal Watershed Council: San Lorenzo River Scavenger Hunts
Walking and bicycling along the Santa Cruz Riverwalk is really fun, but wouldn’t it be more fun with a scavenger hunt in hand? Notice things you haven’t seen before, stop and listen in new places, observe wildlife, and more! Each scavenger hunt is a loop about 1.5 miles and takes 30 minutes minimum, perfect for an evening walk or a stop-and-go bike ride. One can complete these two scavenger hunts separately, check a few items off the list whenever you visit the Riverwalk, or even go big and do them both in one long adventure!
Both of these kid friendly, interactive searches along the Santa Cruz Riverwalk can be viewed by clicking HERE.
BioScience: World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency
“Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.
Over 40 years ago, scientists from 50 nations met at the First World Climate Conference (in Geneva 1979) and agreed that alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act. Since then, similar alarms have been made through the 1992 Rio Summit, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and the 2015 Paris Agreement, as well as scores of other global assemblies and scientists’ explicit warnings of insufficient progress (Ripple et al. 2017). Yet greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are still rapidly rising, with increasingly damaging effects on the Earth’s climate. An immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis (IPCC 2018).” Learn more HERE.
Science: Pools in the Mexican desert are a window into Earth’s early life, Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Jun. 30
Valeria Souza Saldívar never planned to devote her life to a remote and ancient oasis more than 1000 kilometers north of her laboratory in Mexico City. But a call in early 1999 changed that. “It’s one of the best cold calls I’ve ever made,” says James Elser, a limnologist at the University of Montana. He had picked up the phone to invite Souza Saldívar to join a NASA-funded astrobiology project in Cuatro Ciénegas—a butterfly-shaped basin with colorful pools, or pozas, in the middle of Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert.The landscape—more than 300 turquoise-blue pozas scattered across 800 square kilometers, among marshes and majestic mountains—wasn’t the only draw. The waters, whose chemistry resembled that of Earth’s ancient seas, teemed with microbes; unusual bacterial mats and formations called stromatolites carpeted the shallows. Read more HERE.
Citizen’s Climate Lobby, Paul Schaafsma, Climate Shock In Africa
To understand what climate change might bring for us, look at what has already happened in Africa. In Southern Africa, 5 years of severe drought have led to water supplies disappearing, massive levels of crop failure and 45 million human beings going hungry. Landslides and floods in East Africa impacted 3 million lives in just the last 3 months of 2019. The floods in turn helped spawn a plague of locusts, that are devouring the crops that survived previous shocks, threatening the food supply of tens of millions. Back to back cyclones ravaged Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi last Spring, leaving 2.5 million in dire need of humanitarian relief in Mozambique alone. Never in recorded history have cyclones struck there twice in one season.
Learn more HERE.
International Dark-Sky Association
The night sky, filled with stars, is celebrated and protected around the world as a shared heritage benefiting all living things. Our purpose is to protect the night from light pollution. We will realize our vision by guiding strategy, monitoring results, and supporting aligned actions among IDA chapters, volunteers, and other stakeholders. By providing leadership, tools and resources for individuals, policymakers, and industry, we will reduce light pollution and promote responsible outdoor lighting that is beautiful, healthy, and functional. Learn more HERE.
Indigenous Environmental Network: A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy
“This … guides us collectively into a sustainable future, wherein Indigenous sovereignty and values are front and center. This is important because in order to visualize a better path forward, we must reconceptualize our framing away from the capitalistic systems that harm our Grandmother Earth, our Father Sky, our communities, our families, and our futures. We must recognize the way governmental infrastructure, jobs, the environment, and our communities are being negatively impacted by not only the climate crisis and demise of capitalism, but also the way these impacts are exacerbated by a global pandemic with Covid-19. It is our stance that the problems created and perpetuated by colonization and capitalism cannot find solutions in those same frames.” More HERE.
New York Times, Cara Giaimo, July 2: White-Throated Sparrow’s Song Changed
Even if you’re not a bird person, you probably know the jaunty song of the white-throated sparrow. It plays on loop in North America’s boreal forests, a classic as familiar as the chickadee’s trill and the mourning dove’s dirge. It even has its own mnemonic, “Old Sam Peabody-Peabody-Peabody.” But over the past half-century, the song’s hook — its triplet ending — has changed, replaced by a new, doublet-ended variant, according to a paper published Thursday in Current Biology. It seems the sparrows want to sing something new. Go HERE to listen.
Life Lab: BackPocket Activities for Home or Garden
“BackPocket” Activities are easy to do, minimal materials needed, no screen, engaging for kids. Activities are not screen-based (with exception of some instructional videos). They encourage outdoor exploration such as on your porch, yard, or garden. Most everything you need to do these activities you already have. Healthy, plant-based recipes with easily accessible ingredients. Plus tried and true recipes.
YES! Magazine: Learn What Kelp Forests Can Do for the Climate
The capacity to draw CO2 from the atmosphere has added “climate mitigation” to kelp’s list of benefits. When we talk about ways oceans can sequester carbon, the conversation typically revolves around mangroves, salt marshes, and seagrass meadows. But “the magnitude of carbon sequestered by algal forests is comparable to that of all those three habitats together,” says Carlos Duarte, a professor of marine science at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. “Algal forests should not be left behind. They have been hidden for much too long.” This story HERE.
MONTEREY BAY ALGAE GUIDE, FREE
Dip your toes into the world of algae with this illustrated guide to local species and foraging ethics. Download HERE.
National Geo: Murmation, Flight of the Starlings
We know a lot of factual information about the starling—its size and voice, where it lives, how it breeds and migrates—but what remains a mystery is how it flies in murmurations, or flocks, without colliding. This short film by Jan van IJken was shot in the Netherlands, and it captures the birds gathering at dusk, just about to start their “performance.” Listen well and you’ll be able to hear how this beautiful phenomenon got its name. On YouTube.
YES! Magazine: Robin Wall Kimmerer, “Nature Needs A New Pronoun” (Excerpts)
“To stop the age of extinction, let’s ditch the “it”.
Let me make here a modest proposal for the transformation of the English language, a kind of reverse linguistic imperialism, a shift in worldview through the humble work of the pronoun. Might the path to sustainability be marked by grammar?
Inspired by the grammar of animacy and with full recognition of its Anishinaabe roots, might we hear the new pronoun at the end of Bemaadiziiaaki, nestled in the part of the word that means land?
“Ki” to signify a being of the living Earth. Not “he” or “she,” but “ki.” So that when we speak of Sugar Maple, we say, ‘Oh that beautiful tree, ki is giving us sap again this spring.” And we’ll need a plural pronoun, too, for those Earth beings. Let’s make that new pronoun “kin.” So we can now refer to birds and trees not as things, but as our earthly relatives. On a crisp October morning we can look up at the geese and say, “Look, kin are flying south for the winter. Come back soon.”
Language can be a tool for cultural transformation. Make no mistake: “Ki” and “kin” are revolutionary pronouns. Words have power to shape our thoughts and our actions. On behalf of the living world, let us learn the grammar of animacy.”
Patagonia: Learn About Regenerative Organic Farming
Regenerative Organic (RO) is the highest organic standard; it goes beyond “doing less harm” to rehabilitate soil, protect animals and improve the lives of workers. Together, these results represent a more natural way of producing food, a way that’s worked for thousands of years in the past, and one that we need for our future. Instead of adding carbon to the atmosphere, as industrial agriculture does, regenerative organic farming draws carbon out of the air and stores it in the ground. Because healthy soil traps significantly more carbon, regenerative organic agriculture could be the key to helping stop climate change. Learn MORE.
Learn About the Environmental Justice Movement
The environmental justice movement emerged in the late 1980s when a blistering report exposed massive disparities in the burden of environmental degradation and pollution facing minority and low-income communities. These issues existed and had been recognized previously, most notably in 1982 in Warren County, North Carolina, where thousands of tons of PCB-ridden soil was intentionally dumped in a facility in an African American community despite the community’s protest (see photo above). This incident and others sparked research into the environmental and health burden born by these communities, culminating with the publishing of the study Toxic Wastes and Race in 1987. Championed primarily by African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans, the environmental justice movement addresses a statistical fact: people who live, work and play in America’s most polluted environments are commonly people of color and the poor. Environmental justice advocates have shown that this is no accident. Communities of color, which are often poor, are routinely targeted to host facilities that have negative environmental impacts — say, a landfill, dirty industrial plant or truck depot. The statistics provide clear evidence of what the movement rightly calls “environmental racism.” Communities of color have been battling this injustice for decades. Learn more HERE.
Image from Grist
Sierra Club: What is A Green New Deal?
“A Green New Deal is a big, bold transformation of the economy to tackle the twin crises of inequality and climate change. It would mobilize vast public resources to help us transition from an economy built on exploitation and fossil fuels to one driven by dignified work and clean energy.
The status quo economy leaves millions behind. While padding the pockets of corporate polluters and billionaires, it exposes working class families, communities of color, and others to stagnant wages, toxic pollution, and dead-end jobs. The climate crisis only magnifies these systemic injustices, as hard-hit communities are hit even harder by storms, droughts, and flooding. Entrenched inequality, meanwhile, exacerbates the climate crisis by depriving frontline communities of the resources needed to adapt and cope. Climate change and inequality are inextricably linked. We cannot tackle one without addressing the other. A Green New Deal would take on both.” More HERE.
Coastal Watershed Council: Action Projects Guide
There are several ways we can all help protect our San Lorenzo River, habitat for hundreds of incredible plant and animal species. This Guide provides opportunities to learn about, explore, and protect the San Lorenzo River from inside your home, around your neighborhood, and along the Santa Cruz Riverwalk! All-ages activities for youth, adults, and families. Some activities require adult supervision.
The guide includes opportunities to: learn about river protection and create a poster to share with your family and neighbors; and to research animals and plants of the San Lorenzo River and create an art project to share information with your community.
A Climate Of Hope, August 5, 3 – 5 pm
Cabrillo College Astro 7: Planetary Climate Science, Dr. Rick Nolthenius. Online beginning Aug 24
Applies scientific principles to explain planetary atmospheres, climate in general and Earth’s climate in particular, including current climate change causes and effects. $230 for 4.5 units of fully transferable college credit. Register.
Advanced Permaculture Design Course, Aug 29 – Sept 5
Do you want to gain more permaculture design experience? This 8-day Advanced Design Course is an excellent follow-up to a Permaculture Design Course. Join Dave Boehnlein of Terra Phoenix Design and the Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead and David Shaw of Santa Cruz Permaculture while we practice together and share what we’ve learned over the years. More INFO
NAACP‘s RESOURCE LIST
1. National Institutes for Environmental Health Sciences—Resources for Educators
2. Classroom Activities—Superfund
3. Taking it to the Class: Green Projects for the Classroom
4. Environmental Justice Teacher Resources
5. Center for Ecogenics and Environmental Health—Resources for Educators
6. And learn more at NAACP Santa Cruz County
The New Yorker: What Will It Take to Cool The Planet? By Bill McKibben
“This week’s newsletter is a little different, in that I mainly want to encourage you to watch a Video and then play with a Website. Both come from the remarkable people at Climate Interactive, a project that grew out of M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management. I’ve admired the group’s co-directors, Elizabeth Sawin and Andrew Jones, for many years, and watched their En-roads simulator grow from fairly crude beginnings into a truly sophisticated and useful model. It allows you to change different variables to see what it would take to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions enough to get us off our current impossible track (screeching toward a world something like four degrees Celsius hotter) and onto the merely miserable heading of 1.5 to two degrees Celsius envisioned in the Paris climate accords.”
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History: “The Museum At Your Side”
A collection of dozens of hands-on activities, informative articles, and engaging videos to connect you with nature and science wherever you are! There are resources in 3 areas. Community Resources: Activities, guides, lectures, workshops, guided nature experiences, and other resources to support your nature explorations from home or while outside. Activities for Kids: Family-friendly and youth-focused activities, videos, articles, and more to aid in your nature exploration! And, Resources for Teachers: Activities, worksheets, videos, and more developed to support standards and formal learning. Check them out HERE!
NOAA’s “Species in the Spotlight Initiative”: Coho Salmon, 5 minute video
NOAA Fisheries launched the Species in the Spotlight Initiative in 2015 for the nine species at the greatest risk of extinction, and Central California Coast coho salmon is one of those species. NOAA Fisheries recently completed a video highlighting the initiative and some of the great work that is being done to recover this species. I hope you enjoy the video and share it widely. See Species in the Spotlight: CCC coho salmon
SC Natural History Museum: Sourgrass Natural Dye Video Tutorial
Sourgrass (Oxalis sp.) is a plant of extremes: children love its strong flavor, pollinators gorge on its abundant nectar, many adore its ability to overwhelm a field when in bloom, and many still detest the invasive qualities of some of its species. Oxalis pes-caprae, native to South Africa, has made itself comfortably at home in California, forming dense mats that outcompete native plant species for light and space.
Whether you love it or can’t stand it, sourgrass has an interesting hidden quality that is both useful and exciting: it dyes fabric a vibrant, neon, highlighter-yellow color.
Coastal Watershed Council: Become a Steelhead Trout Expert
Steelhead trout are one of the native fish species that calls the San Lorenzo River home. They have a very unique life cycle. Steelhead trout are born and grow up in the river. When they become adults, steelhead trout migrate to the ocean, where they spend up to three years feeding on rich ocean food and growing bigger. Steelhead trout eventually return to the San Lorenzo River to spawn (lay eggs), beginning the cycle anew. In this activity, you will: observe the unique life cycle of steelhead trout in YouTube videos; read text to become experts on one life stage; and create a poster sharing what you learned about your life stage with your class, friends or family. LINK
Elkhorn Slough Reserve Presents: Estuary Steward Challenge
Here are actions we can take in our lives to make everyday Earth Day. Each day, challenge yourself to try a different way to protect estuaries, even while sheltering in place. Snap a photo of yourself completing one of those tasks and add to #EstuaryStewards! Post your photos on our Facebook page!
Organic Farming Research Foundation: New Digital Toolkit for Climate Advocacy
At OFRF, we’ve been working on a virtual campaign to inspire, educate, and inform people on how best organic practices help mitigate climate change and build resilience—leading to healthy people, ecosystems, and economies. Our goal is to encourage more consumers to purchase organic food and increase demand so that together we can expand organic acres to: Capture and store more carbon in the soil for longer; Release fewer greenhouse gases; Help farmers and ranchers increase resilience to rising temperatures and intensified droughts and rain events that make it more challenging to grow crops and raise livestock.
The campaign, A Path to Resilience, launched with the hashtag #OrganicforClimate. It features a series of posts across social media presenting farmer stories, educational content, and compelling data points. Check out their new digital toolkit HERE
Bioneers Radio Series: Revolution From The Heart
The Bioneers Revolution from the Heart of Nature is an award-winning annual 13-part radio and audio series featuring breakthrough solutions for people and planet. The greatest social and scientific innovators of our time celebrate the genius of nature and human ingenuity. The kaleidoscopic scope covers biomimicry, ecological design, social and racial justice, women’s leadership, ecological medicine, indigenous knowledge, spirituality and psychology. It’s leading-edge, hopeful, charismatic, provocative, timely and timeless – like nothing you’ve heard before. Here’s one of them – Erosion & Evolution, Our Undoing is Our Becoming, by Terry Tempest Williams
Audubon Society: Take your birding to the next level.
Now that native plants are helping you attract more birds, do you need help identifying them? Audubon’s award-winning Bird Guide App puts more than 3,000 photos, audio clips of songs and calls, and general information about more than 800 bird species at your fingertips—and best of all, it’s free. Our app makes it easier than ever to identify a bird you just saw. Enter your observations—What color was it? How big?—and Bird ID will narrow down a list of possible matches for your location and date in real time. The Bird Guide App will also help you keep track of every bird you see visiting your native plants. It’s the best bird resources all in one app – download HERE and try it today!
Elkhorn Slough Reserve Presents: Estuary Steward Challenge
Here are actions we can take in our lives to make everyday Earth Day. Each day, challenge yourself to try a different way to protect estuaries, even while sheltering in place. Snap a photo of yourself completing one of those tasks and add to #EstuaryStewards! Post your photos on our Facebook page!
Drone Disguised as Hummingbird Captures Closeup of Monarch Butterfly Swarm
It’s not very often that I watch a video online and react by literally gasping and audibly saying “wow.” This video is simply incredible. In this video from Nature on PBS, you’ll be able to get super close to resting Monarch Butterflies. As they wait for the temperature to rise, they huddle together to keep warm. Without disturbing any of the butterflies, they’ve managed to take close-up footage of the butterflies. The way they’ve managed to do this is by disguising a drone to look like a Hummingbird. Hummingbirds are not a threat to the monarch butterflies, and for that reason they don’t react to it at all.
Satellite Reveals Antarctica’s Melting Like Never Before. New York Times, April 30
New data from space is providing the most precise picture yet of Antarctica’s ice, where it is accumulating most quickly and disappearing at the fastest rate, and how the changes could contribute to rising sea levels. See article HERE
Bioneers Presents Newly Released Edition of “Four Changes” by Gary Snyder
In July 2016, Jack Loeffler recorded Gary Snyder reading his updated version of ‘Four Changes’ in his home. This recorded version was prepared for and included in a major exhibition held at the History Museum of New Mexico at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe. The exhibition was entitled ‘Voices of Counterculture in the Southwest’, and Snyder’s rendering of ‘Four Changes’ aptly conveyed how deeply the counterculture movement helped nurture the emerging environmental movement. The impact of this manifesto is as powerful today as it was a half century ago and could not be more timely.
Elkhorn Slough Reserve Presents their Estuary Steward Challenge
Here are actions we can take in our lives to make everyday Earth Day. Each day, challenge yourself to try a different way to protect estuaries, even while sheltering in place. Snap a photo of yourself completing one of those tasks and add to #EstuaryStewards! Post your photos on our Facebook page!
Bioneers Provides Free Downloadable PDF of Their Book: Ecological Medicine
In light of the pandemic, we’re releasing a free downloadable pdf of our 2004 Bioneers book: Ecological Medicine: Healing the Earth, Healing Ourselves, which could hardly be more relevant right now. Ecological medicine is a unifying field that embodies the recognition that human and environmental health are one notion, indivisible. It’s also a metaphor for the healing process intrinsic to life that applies to both ecosystems and our bodies. Modern medicine’s separation from nature is at the root of many tragedies, both human and environmental, and the current pandemic is an object lesson in how disastrous that disconnection is to us as a society and civilization.
Save The Redwoods League: Spring Birds in the Redwood Forests
Spring migration brings many opportunities to spot some of the coolest birds of the coast redwood and giant sequoia forests. Keep an eye out for some of our favorites below—in your backyard, on your neighborhood walks, or in the forests if you’re lucky enough to have access to them. For a more in-depth guide, download our free Birdwatcher’s Guide to Redwood Forests.
View live (during daylight hours) webcams of:
Monterey Bay Aquarium Jellyfish (7 am – 6 pm)
Herping With Dave at Elkhorn Slough Reserve
Watch this cool video of Reserve Manager Dave Feliz finding and teaching us about our local snakes and lizards.
Audubon Society Free Guide to Finding Bird-Friendly Native Plants for Our Area
“Native plants are the foundation of a region’s biodiversity, providing essential food sources and shelter for birds, especially those threatened by the changing climate. In the US, a native plant is defined as one that was naturally found in a particular area before European settlement. Native plants are adapted to local precipitation and soil conditions, they generally require less upkeep, therefore helping the environment and saving you time, water, and money. The key to getting started is picking the right plants for your area.
The Best Results for your area (95060) have been hand-selected by Audubon experts in your region. They are important bird resources that are relatively easy to grow and are available at native plant nurseries.” Resource guide HERE.
Elkhorn Slough Reserve Presents their Estuary Steward Challenge
Subscribe to Carbon180 – Free!
Even if we stop emitting CO2 today it won’t be enough. Keep informed of the latest research in removing carbon from the atmosphere. Subscribe for free HERE.
You can also register for AirMiners Virtual Conference, May 13, 10:30 am – 3 pm, on Zoom. Building a foundation for a carbon negative future. Share recent developments, foster productive networking, provide media exposure, and take the opportunity presented by COVID-19 to bring a tangible, actionable climate narrative forward.
Oceana presents: Mantis Shrimp Mobile Eyes!
Grow your own veggies? Orin Martin offers tips for novice gardeners
Orin Martin is delighted that people are responding to the coronavirus pandemic with a desire to grow their own veggies, and he has lots of knowledge to share—as well as one plea: Be sure to plant some flowers, too. “I always say, vegetables are food for the body, and flowers are food for the spirit and soul,” said Martin, manager of the Alan Chadwick Garden at UCSC. Timing is good, with temperatures warming up, and local nurseries stocked with seeds and seedlings—and many offering curbside pickup, too. Access HERE
Fantastic Fungi, directed by Louie Schwartzberg
A consciousness-shifting 90 minute film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet. Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offers us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges. See TRAILER. View the film for $5 – info HERE
From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology : Feeder Setups For Great Bird Photos, Gerrit Vyn
“One of the best places to work on your photographic skills, capture lots of action, and build a nice portfolio of passerine subjects is right in your own backyard. There are many excellent books and online resources dedicated to bird feeding, so rather than replicate that here, I will focus on things you’ll want to pay attention to for photography.” Access HERE
Coastal Watershed Council: A Clean River Starts On Your Street
Your home is connected to the San Lorenzo River and the ocean. Rain or running water travels from your yard or driveway, down your street to the nearest storm drain. On the way, it picks up anything in its path, including trash and pollution. When it enters the storm drain, the water moves through underground pipes and empties into the river. You can keep your river clean by finding pollution and stopping it before it goes down your storm drain. See all of the Coastal Watershed Council’s activities HERE
UCSC Kraw Lecture Series: Where Did it All Come From, and Where is it All Going?
The physical universe, Anthony Aguirre will argue, is made of matter (or energy) and of order (or information). Aguirre will trace the 13.8 billion year history of this matter/energy told by modern cosmology, as it has developed into ever-more sophisticated order and structure: galaxies and their arrangement, stars, planets, life, and very recently and locally, civilization. The survival of civilization—and life itself—through the coming century is not assured, but if it continues, what could its future look like over thousands or millions of years? No one knows, but touring topics from fundamental physics to the nature of intelligence, Aguirre will lay out some of the possibilities. On YouTube
From Save the Redwoods: “The Redwoods have stood tall through histories of disaster and destruction and are still here to help us breathe. While schools are closed and shelter-in-place is in effect throughout California, the forests can remind us of our opportunity to connect.” From home you can:
Virtually explore the redwood forest through our redwood websearch;
Play a game! (Print out the cards, or get creative by drawing pictures and making your own version.)
Read about the redwoods and complete the activities in our coast redwood and giant sequoia education brochures.
Reserve your spot for free Home Learning Programs that highlight coast redwood, giant sequoia, and other amazing state parks via the PORTS distance-learning program from California State Parks.
How To Teach Nature Journaling, By John Muir Laws & Emilie Lygren
31 hands-on field activities to connect art, science, math, and critical thinking, while encouraging students and mentors alike to recognize and record the wonder and beauty in the natural world. Courtesy of John Muir Laws, “download this book for free! If you like the book, consider also buying the full version and making a donation to directly support Heyday, our amazing non-profit publisher”.
Global Warming I: The Science and Modeling of Climate Change
Brought to you free by Coursera, this class describes the science of global warming and the forecast for humans’ impact on Earth’s climate. Intended for an audience without much scientific background but a healthy sense of curiosity, the class brings together insights and perspectives from physics, chemistry, biology, earth and atmospheric sciences, and even some economics—all based on a foundation of simple mathematics (algebra).
Free Tips And Tricks Of The Photography Trade, Generously Compiled by Bay Photo Lab
So that you can take even better nature photos when the restrictions lift, “Here are 10 of our favorite leading education sources with a wealth of free education:
KelbyOne – Scott Kelby is releasing all KelbyOne Webcasts for free on his Facebook page
SLR Lounge – Weekly photography news and insights
CreativeLive – Select classes are free, including the mental and physical health track
Professional Photographers of America – In It Together – 1,100 classes for free
Fujifilm – 52 weeks of education for free
Nikon School Online – Stream every class for free for the month of April
Canon – Photography Tips & Tutorials
PetaPixel – A leading blog covering the wonderful world of photography
Phlearn – Free Lightroom and Photoshop tutorials
Advancing Your Photography – Over 400 videos exploring photography tips from professionals”
How to Be a Backyard Carbon Farmer, By Acadia Tucker
Planting a garden is a powerful act. It gives each of us with access to a little dirt the power to feed ourselves healthy food, as well as something we can do about the threat of climate change. Plants are the ultimate and cheapest way to suck excess carbon dioxide out of the air. Almost all atmospheric carbon passes through plants during photosynthesis, the process that turns carbon, sunlight, and water into sugars and carbohydrates. Plant roots release carbon-rich sugars that feed organisms in the soil. In exchange, these critters make nutrients in the soil available to the plant. As plants die back each winter, they drop leaves and branches and even the roots die off. Over time this debris decomposes, adding even more nutrients and carbon to the soil. From Sustainable America.
The Museum At Your Side: Activities for Kids
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, brings you home and outdoor family-friendly activities, videos, articles, and more to aid in your nature exploration!
On YouTube: BBC Short Video – Kung Fu Mantis Vs Jumping Spider
This is a great 4 minute drama (could be upsetting for young children)
Protect the Cumberland Plateau
Environment California: “Thousands of acres of wild forests, rolling hills and crashing mountain waterfalls may be under attack. The Trump administration is considering opening 75,000 acres of Tennessee’s protected Cumberland Plateau to strip mining for coal. For me, this issue is deeply personal. The strip mining site would tear apart the mountains mere miles from my hometown in Tennessee, and threaten the wild, beautiful places I explored as a child.” Take Action
Visit National Marine Sanctuaries Through Stunning Images and Videos – FREE
Ready to get excited about marine life? Dive into the abundance of photos in our Flickr account to view and download high resolution, public domain photos. Print out some of your favorite photos to create a collage of your ideal underwater ecosystem. You can even take yourself on a virtual dive tour of national marine sanctuaries through our gallery of 360° photos and our new 360° dive video. Need more general ocean and atmosphere photos? Check out the NOAA Photo Library.
Santa Cruz County Guidelines HERE
This is a long detailed list of what Greenwaste accepts for recycling.
Enlightening and Uplifting Films:
Voices For The Ocean, From Patagonia – How’s this for wholesome? Three women, united by their love of surfing, are inspired to help protect the planet together. The ocean plays a huge role in the lives of many Aussies. It’s a place of fun, freedom, and for Patagonia ambassadors Belinda Baggs, Liz Clarke and Moona Whyte, it’s what led them all to a life of committed environmental activism. This film takes a deep dive into the lives of these three incredible women, to discover how their love of a good wave motivated them to speak up for the sea.
Audubon Society Presents: Baby Waterbirds to Make You Squeal,
While March 22 was World Water Day, we can always celebrate this essential resource. Let’s take a moment to celebrate the birds it sustains. That’s a pleasure—especially when they’re so ridiculously cute. Check out this collection by photographer William Burt, whose images speak of the love he has for wetland birds and their young. 7 Photos. We share that love, so we’re happy to share his extraordinary work. We hope you enjoy it and share it, too, to mark World Water Day.