Friday, October 23, 2009

Salt Marsh Birds Threatened by Sea-Level Rise

From: Surfbirds News

Species of marsh birds such as the Clapper Rail, Virginia Rail, Willet, Seaside Sparrow and Marsh Wren could experience 80% population declines in the Chesapeake Bay region if sea-levels rise by three to six feet by the year 2100. The analysis by the Center for Conservation Biology of the College of William and Mary found that sea-level rise will be particularly harmful to Black Rail and Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow that rely solely on irregularly flooded high marsh. The scientists’ simulation found that many of the known breeding sites of these species would be completely inundated by rising waters.

Sea-level rise is a particularly acute problem for the Chesapeake Bay, which is already losing marshland twice as fast as the global average due to natural subsidence caused by movement in the North American plate. The region supports about 30% of the salt marsh along the Atlantic Coast, and 60% of the salt marsh north of the Carolinas.

Clapper Rail
Clapper Rail © Roger Ahlman, from the surfbirds galleries.

The researchers simulated the loss of marshes from rising ocean waters, which are currently predicted to globally rise between a two and six feet by the end of this century. One question that remains is whether any sort of effective mitigation can be achieved that allows the salt marshes to move further inland. Many of these same areas are now developed and may demand hard barriers to keep the ocean at bay. This could squeeze salt marsh habitat out of existence, and with it, the many bird species that have evolved there. For more information see www.ccb-wm.org.

Another study has found that as much as half of California could be occupied by new bird communities by 2070, according to PRBO Conservation Science and other researchers. While the movement of individual species as result of climate change is already being documented, this study broke new ground by determining that entire new assemblages of birds are likely to result, with uncertain consequences. The study found that: “Predator-prey or competitive interactions may become affected as species assemblages are reshuffled in new ways…this may result in the decline or extirpation of species as they adjust or adapt to changing climates.” For more information see www.prbo.org.

350 Say We!

By:Veronique Carola
23rd October, 2009.

Tomorrow, Saturday 24th October 2009 is the International Day on Climate Action.

350.org is calling on communities around the planet to organize an action depicting the number 350 to ‘show the world and its decision makers just how beautiful and unified the climate movement really is’ says the website.

The main focus is on emission reduction- hence the number 350 which represents 350 parts per million-the amount of carbon emissions said to be the safest upmost limit in our atmosphere that will assure the continuous survival of the planet.

In Seychelles, a climate change workshop with students from the Bel Ombre Primary and Anse Etoile Primary Schools was the perfect opportunity to participate in this activity. Organised by local NGO Sustainability for Seychelles and with the participation of the Ministry of Education, Sea Level Rise Foundation, Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles and the African Friendship Association, students between the ages of 9 to 12 participated actively. By the end of the day, they were well versed on the causes of climate change and all the likely impacts.

See them at http://www.350.org/about/blogs/seychelles-come-board. The number display are small drawings done by the students on the causes and impacts of climate change.

The reality is that we have already surpassed 350 parts per million (or 350 ppm). But there are many actions we can take to reduce the level of carbon in our atmosphere and reduce it back down to 350ppm or less.

This campaign unites many world countries into one planetary day of action (The International Climate Action Day) to ‘show the world and its decision makers just how beautiful and unified the climate movement really is’.

The 350.org mission statement is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis- to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility of our planet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Edition Special: Les petits territoires insulaires face aux changements climatiques : vulnérabilité, adaptation et développement

Call for authors/submission of papers

VertigO - la revue électronique en sciences de l'environnement

Université du Québec à Montréal, Institut des sciences de l’environnement has the pleasure to invite author to contribute to this special edition.

Signaler ce document

Coordination du numéro : Christian Bouchard (Université Laurentienne, Canada), Rolph Payet (University of Seychelles), Steve Plante (Université du Québec à Rimouski, Canada), Louis Marrou (Université de La Rochelle, France) et Éric Duchemin (Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada).

  • i  “Small islands, whether located in the tropics or higher latitudes, have characteristics which (...)

Dans la communauté scientifique internationale, il est généralement admis que les petites îles, qu’elles soient localisées sous les tropiques ou sous de plus hautes latitudes, possèdent des caractéristiques qui les rendent particulièrement vulnérables aux effets des changements climatiques, à l’élévation du niveau de la mer et aux événements météorologiques extrêmes (degré de confiance très élevé, IPCC, 2007)i. Entre autres, on s’attend à ce que les différentes manifestations des changements climatiques aient des impacts sur les infrastructures, les établissements humains et les ressources des zones côtières, sur la biodiversité tant marine que terrestre ainsi que sur les ressources en eau dans de nombreuses îles. On s’attend également à ce que les changements climatiques aient des effets significatifs sur l’agriculture et sur le tourisme, deux piliers des économies insulaires, alors que les préoccupations sont de plus en plus grandes en ce qui concerne la possibilité d’un impact sur la santé humaine.

  • ii  Par petits territoires insulaires nous entendons toutes les îles dont la superficie n’excède (...)

Ce discours général étant d’abord lié à la situation qui prévaut dans les petits États insulaires en développement (PÉID), force est de constater que les effets des changements climatiques se feront ressentir dans tous les petits territoires insulairesii, PÉID ou non. Ces petits territoires insulaires peuvent se trouver sous toutes les latitudes (tropicales et subtropicales, tempérées, arctiques et subarctiques), être maritimes, fluviales ou lacustres, et être plus ou moins éloignés des rives continentales, fluviales ou lacustres. Cela ouvre la voie à considérer des îles et des archipels fort différents afin de documenter et confronter leurs situations et expériences respectives, ce qui représente l’objectif général de ce numéro thématique sur « les petits territoires insulaires face aux changements climatiques ». Cela permet également de se questionner sur la spécificité ou non des petits espaces insulaires face aux changements climatiques, ainsi que, dans ce contexte particulier, sur l’importance des littoraux et, dans le cas des îles en position maritime, sur les relations entre île et mer.

Plus spécifiquement, notre but est de publier un dossier multidisciplinaire abordant les différentes dimensions de la thématique des changements climatiques dans le contexte particulier des petits territoires insulaires et dans une perspective de développement durable. Ainsi, les textes soumis pour publication dans le dossier doivent traiter de problèmes/sujets relevant d’une des dimensions suivantes :

  1. les données, signes et perceptions des changements climatiques, notamment à l’échelle locale,

  2. les risques, vulnérabilités et impacts envisagés (sociaux, économiques ou environnementaux),

  3. les questions de gouvernance et de gestion, la contribution des ONG et l’action citoyenne,

  4. les mesures/actions de prévention, les stratégies d’adaptation et la résilience des sociétés et des territoires insulaires,

  5. les réflexions et prospections quant aux changements climatiques et à leurs implications en termes de développement, et

  6. les enjeux géopolitiques aux échelles régionale et internationale, incluant les revendications des insulaires et la défense de leurs intérêts ainsi que les problèmes de réfugiés climatiques insulaires.

Les textes soumis doivent être innovateurs et apporter une contribution au corpus scientifique existant. Puisque les changements climatiques et le développement durable représentent des objets d’étude ayant une forte interdisciplinarité, les textes peuvent autant provenir des sciences naturelles, des sciences sociales et humaines, des sciences de la santé, des sciences de l’environnement, etc.

Pour soumettre un texte, prière de consulter les politiques de publication de la revue disponibles à l’adresse suivante : http://vertigo.revues.org

Lors de la soumission, les auteurs doivent fournir leur nom et les coordonnées de trois réviseurs potentiels pour leur article. La revue se réserve le droit de choisir ou non les réviseurs proposés.

Échéancier

  1. 15 décembre 2009 : date limite pour l’envoi d’une proposition contenant un titre et un résumé d’un maximum de 500 mots ;

  2. 1er avril 2010 : date limite pour l’envoi d’un texte complet respectant les conditions éditoriales précisées sur le site de la revue à l’adresse suivante : http://vertigo.revues.org ;

  3. Évaluation du texte par un comité de lecture - réponse définitive de la revue en juin 2010 avec grille d'évaluation des évaluateurs ;

  4. Août 2010 : réception des textes révisés ;

  5. Septembre 2010 : mise en ligne du numéro.

Sauf pour les dates du 1er décembre et du 1er avril, l’échéancier est fourni à titre indicatif.

Les propositions (résumés et textes complets) sont soumises par courrier électronique à l’adresse suivante : vertigoweb@sympatico.ca

Vous pouvez aussi nous faire parvenir en tout temps des propositions de textes pour les différentes sections de la revue. La revue accepte la soumission de textes scientifiques en tout temps.

Rédaction de la revue

Eric Duchemin, Co-directeur et rédacteur en chef

VertigO - la revue électronique en sciences de l'environnement

Université du Québec à Montréal, Institut des sciences de l’environnement

C.P. 8888, Succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec

Canada, H3K 1R3

Courriel : vertigoweb@sympatico.ca /eric.duchemin@editionsvertigo.org

Tél: (514) 987-3000 poste 3945

Notre blogue : http://vertigo.hypotheses.org

Notre site : http://vertigo.revues.org

Beach repair funding chopped

From Delaware Online

October 20, 2009

No sand-pumping work on Del. shores next year
By JEFF MONTGOMERY
The News Journal

Delaware came up short this year in the annual grapple for federal beach replenishment funds, a victim of a sharpening debate over taxpayer spending to repair the ocean's ceaseless attacks on shorelines.

A compromise energy and water bill awaiting President Barack Obama's signature makes $2.3 million available to the state for all projects -- about $2 million more than the White House originally requested, but far short of the amount needed to start any high-priority sand-pumping jobs.

"It's not a number we can go to construction with," said Anthony Pratt, administrator of shoreline and waterway management for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. "It's a number that allows us to do some monitoring and planning, and then in 2011 we'll have another request and a year's worth of revisions."

Nationwide, Congress approved $103.7 million for rebuilding beaches, with $20.7 million going to New Jersey and $14.3 million to Florida.

In recent weeks, Delaware's congressional delegation has won spending-bill terms that earmark $969,000 for beach protection work in the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach area and a matching amount for Bethany Beach-South Bethany. Another $331,000 was approved for the Delaware Bay shoreline between Roosevelt Inlet and Lewes Beach.

But needs in Delaware alone could total as much as $43.8 million, according to Marlowe & Co., a Washington lobbying firm that closely follows beach nourishment issues.

Spending was blocked partly by the Obama administration, which has nevertheless been more open to considering subsidies to rebuild beaches than President George W. Bush.

Many in Congress, however, are completely hostile to the idea.

In April, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn released a report attacking beach renourishment projects, terming the spending wasteful and accusing Congress of putting "beach pork over national needs."

Coburn adorned the cover of his report with a picture of a brown pig on a white sand beach. He described beach projects as "a special interest boondoggle," and said the money was simply washed out to sea while other national needs go unmet.

Bethany Beach Mayor Anthony B. McClenny disagrees.

"There's no way in the world we could pay for it ourselves. They spent $17 million to do the last project, but what would it cost if they didn't and we lost 60 homes or 100 homes or businesses?" McClenny said.

Others, even in Delaware, have doubts.

"In my opinion, beach replenishment is a tragic waste of tax money," said Lewes resident Rich Anthony. "You're trying to overcome God. You can't do it. And you have taxpayers in Utah who will never see the ocean in their lives paying for some ... businessman who wants to risk his fortune or business and home to have an ocean view."

DNREC's Pratt said the recent four-day storm that socked much of the mid-Atlantic proved the value of beach replenishment and construction of protective barrier dunes."

"The story to me is: There's no story," Pratt said. "It's a pretty significant storm. We've had a couple this year. But Bethany Beach is dry. Fenwick Island is dry. You have to ask, with a storm like this prior to renourishment, would they have had water across the beach and down the streets?"

Coburn's report cited a federal report that found shoreline risks could increase after renourishment projects, as businesses and home builders take confidence from deeper shorelines.

"Politics, not science, tends to govern decisions about beach nourishment," Coburn's report said.

He said shorelines are inevitably reclaimed after artificial buildups, and argued that the work disrupts natural ecosystems. One Cape May, N.J., beach was renourished 10 times at a cost of $24.7 million.

DNREC has acknowledged the threat of coastal erosion, launching a series of studies and meetings with communities to help residents prepare for sea-level rise as a result of rising global temperatures.

But Rehoboth Beach Mayor Sam Cooper said current projects are based on the practical need to protect lives and property along a heavily populated coastline.

"My understanding of the Army Corps of Engineers' mandate is they do a cost-benefit analysis based solely on storm protection," Cooper said. "They can't factor in economic advantages. If you do that, it would open things up to all kinds of projects, for recreation, basically."

Additional Facts

BY THE NUMBERS

Total U.S. expenditure for beach replenishment: $103.7 million

For New Jersey: $20.7 million

For Florida: $14.3 million

For Delaware: $2.3 million


Monday, October 19, 2009

Major polluting companies face new lawsuit

Saturday, October 17, 2009
By Mark Schleifstein
The Times-Picayune

A group of Mississippi landowners can pursue their lawsuit against more than 30 major oil, electric and coal companies they say have created global-warming pollutants that contributed to rising sea levels and increased Hurricane Katrina's destruction.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned a U.S. District Court ruling that said the defendants could not sue the companies for claims that their emissions caused damage under Mississippi public and private nuisance, trespass and negligence statutes. Gerald Maples, lead attorney for the landowners in the class-action lawsuit, said he filed the suit 22 days after Katrina to get the attention of energy officials about greenhouse gas emissions.

"My primary goal was to say you are at risk within the legal system and you should be cooperating with Congress, the White House and the Kyoto Protocol," an international treaty designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The ruling is the second time in recent weeks an appeals court has allowed a similar lawsuit to move forward. In September, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Connecticut and other states to proceed with a suit aimed at forcing American Electric Power and other utilities to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Maples said he expects both decisions to be combined in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2007 ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency violated the law in not regulating greenhouse gas emissions. That came in a case filed by Massachusetts and other states. The defendants also could ask the 5th Circuit to rehear the case "en banc," with all 17 active judges participating.

The opinion was written by Judge James Dennis of New Orleans, a President Bill Clinton appointee, and was joined by Carl Stewart of Shreveport, also a Clinton appointee, and Eugene Davis of Lafayette, a Ronald Reagan appointee. The panel found that both Mississippi and federal law would allow the landowners to at least attempt to prove in court that there is a relationship between the companies' emissions and their damage, citing the Supreme Court's Massachusetts ruling.

In that ruling, the Supreme Court said the harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized, rising ocean temperatures may contribute to the ferocity of hurricanes, and global sea levels rose between 10 and 20 centimeters during the 20th century as a result of global warming. The court turned to the same Supreme Court ruling to dismiss the oil companies' contention that the effects they caused were too minimal for a lawsuit.

"Thus the court recognized . . . that injuries may be fairly traceable to actions that contribute to, rather than solely or materially cause, greenhouse gas emissions and global warming," Dennis wrote.

But the panel also ruled that the landowners could not move forward with damage claims based on allegations that the companies unjustly enriched themselves by hiding evidence of climate change, conspired together to hide that evidence and misrepresented the effects of climate change to the public.

Tulane environmental law Professor Oliver Houck said Louisiana's civil code may have resulted in an even stronger ruling, if the case had been tried here, because Louisiana requires landowners to use their property in ways that do not damage a neighbor's property.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

President Mohamed Nasheed and his cabinet met underwater to highlight the threat of global warming

From : BBC News

The government of the Maldives has held a cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the threat of global warming to the low-lying Indian Ocean nation.

Video: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8311955.stm

President Mohamed Nasheed and his cabinet signed a document calling for global cuts in carbon emissions.

Ministers spent half an hour on the sea bed, communicating with white boards and hand signals.

The president said the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen this December cannot be allowed to fail.

At a later press conference while still in the water, President Nasheed was asked what would happen if the summit fails. "We are going to die," he replied.

If the Maldives cannot be saved today we do not feel that there is much of a chance for the rest of the world

President Mohamed Nasheed

The Maldives stand an average of 2.1 metres (7ft) above sea level, and the government says they face being wiped out if oceans rise.

"We're now actually trying to send our message, let the world know what is happening, and what will happen to the Maldives if climate change is not checked," President Nasheed said.

"If the Maldives cannot be saved today we do not feel that there is much of a chance for the rest of the world," he added.

Military minders

Three of the 14 cabinet ministers missed the underwater meeting, about 20 minutes by boat from the capital, Male, because two were not given medical permission and another was abroad, officials said.

President Nasheed and other cabinet members taking part had been practising their slow breathing to get into the right mental frame for the meeting, a government source said.

Maldives cabinet in scuba gear near Male

The cabinet were joined by instructors and military escorts

About 5m underwater, in a blue-green lagoon on a small island used for military training, they were observed by a clutch of snorkelling journalists.

Each minister was accompanied by a diving instructor and a military minder.

While underwater, they signed a document ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, calling on all nations to cut their carbon emissions.

World leaders at the summit aim to create a new agreement to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.