Thursday, November 29, 2018

Maps Give Detailed Look at Dramatic Land Use Change Over Two Decades - Yale E360

Landscape change between 1992 and 2015. White reflects little change. Darker shades reflect the greatest rate of change in each category. CREDIT: TOMASZ STEPINSKI/UC

A new map that stitches together 24 years of satellite observations provides a detailed look at striking changes in land use and widespread environmental degradation. According to the map, 22 percent of Earth’s habitable surface has been significantly altered since 1992, primarily from agricultural-driven deforestation.

“We already knew about deforestation or wetland loss or increasing urbanization,” said Tomasz Stepinski, a geographer at the University of Cincinnati and a co-author of the new map. “But now we can see exactly where all of that is happening… What makes this so depressing is that it’s examining a timescale that is shorter than our lifetime.”

The map illustrates widespread losses of wetlands in the Southeastern United States; the rapid disappearance of the Aral Sea, which “dried up in the 1990s after farmers in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan diverted its tributaries for cotton fields,” a press release explained; deforestation in the tropics; and the expansion of the Sahara Desert…

more: Maps Give Detailed Look at Dramatic Land Use Change Over Two Decades - Yale E360

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

climate ::: #COP24 articles at EcoWatch

UN: Nations Must Triple Action to Avoid Disastrous Climate Change

The United Nations issued a wake-up call to world leaders on Tuesday for urgent climate action.
Despite national pledges to curb planet-warming emissions, the current pace of government action is "insufficient" to limit global warming to well below 2 C this century, much less the more ambitious 1.5 C target, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) determined in its 2018 Emissions Gap Report.

5 Things to Know Before Next Week's Critical UN Climate Talks

Next week, heads of state and representatives from roughly 200 countries will descend in Katowice, Poland for the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, informally known as COP24.

Trump Team Plans 'Sideshow on Coal' at UN Climate Talks

No one really expects the coal-friendly Trump administration to take significant action on climate change, but this is just trolling.
A new exclusive from Reuters claims that the president's team will "set up a side-event promoting fossil fuels" at the global climate summit this December, aka COP 24, in Katowice, Poland.

MORE: COP 24 tag at EcoWatch

How You Can Help Those Affected by #CaliforniaWildfires – LINKS

How You Can Help Those Affected by #CaliforniaWildfires –

You can donate to these orgs, 
hand-picked by Union of Concerned Scientists

#NorCal #CampFire

North Valley Community Foundation

Wildcats Rise Recovery Fund (at Chico State)

#SoCal #WoolseyFire

Ventura County Community Fund

California Community Foundations Wildfire Relief Fund

- details from their email - -
For the Camp Fire in Butte County
  • The North Valley Community Foundation is a trusted local philanthropy that funds local nonprofit organizations and has expertise in knowing where the greatest need is and who can address it in the community.
  • The Wildcats Rise Recovery Fund was created for the California State University at Chico community, where many students and others in the community are now homeless. We were alerted to the fund by CSU scientists who recommended it as an effective and reputable local organization helping the campus community and beyond.
For the Southern California Fires
  • The Ventura County Community Fund is a well-regarded fund for services in much of the area that was hardest hit by the Woolsey and Hill fires, as well as the Thousand Oaks shooting.
  • The California Community Foundations Wildfire Relief Fund opened in 2003 and has raised more than $5 million for relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the wildfires. The organization helps those who have lost their homes to wildfires to rebuild, while providing financial, medical, and mental health assistance.

How You Can Help Those Affected by #CaliforniaWildfires! LINKS [post on Facebook]

Bruce Springsteen on Donald Trump: He 'Has No Interest in Uniting the Country, Really' | Billboard

Bruce Springsteen has never shied away from expressing his political views onstage and in his music, and the rocker's most recent interview is no exception -- especially when the conversation turned to Donald Trump.

For Esquire's December cover story, Springsteen invited the magazine backstage at the Walter Kerr Theater, where he's in the midst of his Springsteen on Broadway run. The show is a combination of memoir and song, in that the star reads from his own writings about his childhood, his family, his career and his love, and stripped-down musical interludes separate these throws to Springsteen's memories. Several times, he turns to the Vietnam War, 9/11 and other events that have shaped modern American history and identity, and he took the opportunity to explain his perspective on what's currently going on in the United States and what Trump and the "dark angels" who support him represent…

…“[He] has no interest in uniting the country, really, and actually has an interest in doing the opposite and dividing us, which he does on an almost daily basis." he continued. "So that’s simply a crime against humanity, as far as I’m concerned. It’s an awful, awful message to send out into the world if you’re in that job and in that position. It’s just an ugly, awful message. You are intentionally trying to disenfranchise a large portion of Americans... And then there’s just the rise of -- whether it’s the alt-right or the folks who were marching in Charlottesville with their tiki torches and all of that coming to the fore again, you know? Which our president was more than happy to play into and to play to. So these are folks who are invested in denying the idea of a united America and an America for all. It’s a critical moment. This has come so far to the surface, and it’s so toxic... It’s a scary moment for any conscientious American, I think.”

more: Bruce Springsteen on Donald Trump: He 'Has No Interest in Uniting the Country, Really' | Billboard

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Climate: A New Story | Charles Eisenstein

Flipping the script on climate change, Eisenstein makes a case for a wholesale reimagining of the framing, tactics, and goals we employ in our journey to heal from ecological destruction

With research and insight, Charles Eisenstein details how the quantification of the natural world leads to a lack of integration and our “fight” mentality. With an entire chapter unpacking the climate change denier’s point of view, he advocates for expanding our exclusive focus on carbon emissions to see the broader picture beyond our short-sighted and incomplete approach. The rivers, forests, and creatures of the natural and material world are sacred and valuable in their own right, not simply for carbon credits or preventing the extinction of one species versus another. After all, when you ask someone why they first became an environmentalist, they’re likely to point to the river they played in, the ocean they visited, the wild animals they observed, or the trees they climbed when they were a kid. This refocusing away from impending catastrophe and our inevitable doom cultivates meaningful emotional and psychological connections and provides real, actionable steps to caring for the earth. Freeing ourselves from a war mentality and seeing the bigger picture of how everything from prison reform to saving the whales can contribute to our planetary ecological health, we resist reflexive postures of solution and blame and reach toward the deep place where commitment lives.

The print version is available on Amazon or from the publisher directly. Other online booksellers, such as IndieBound carry the book as well. Or better yet, ask for it at your local bookstore.

Climate: A New Story | Charles Eisenstein

Science Says Saving the Planet Could Really Be as Simple as Saving Trees – Mother Jones

The role of forests in combating climate change risks being overlooked by the world’s governments, according to a group of scientists that has warned halting deforestation is “just as urgent” as eliminating the use of fossil fuels.

Science Says Saving the Planet Could Really Be as Simple as Saving Trees – Mother Jones

Monday, November 19, 2018

Here's how to respond to those misleading posts claiming our recent fires are all about tree huggers | President Trump is wrong about wildfire prevention (Opinion) - CNN

just a few items cobbled together...

this first one thanks to California Chaparral Institute on Facebook –

Here's how to respond to those misleading posts claiming our recent fires are all about tree huggers preventing logging and a supposed fuel build up via past fire suppression.
1. Most of California's most devastating fires were far from any forest (see map below).
2. For those few devastating fires that were near forests, all of those forests around the communities destroyed had the kind of suggested thinning and fuel treatments misinformed commentators claim didn't exist.
3. Much of the area around Paradise that burned in the Camp Fire had burned 10 years ago, had been salvage logged, and was composed of habitats other than forest (e.g. post fire shrublands). The wind-driven ember rain that destroyed the town came primarily from open grassland/post fire/mixed woodland environments northeast of the town. A large percentage of the trees within the devastated town did not burn. See the fire progression map here and match it with the current view on Google Earth:
4. Climate change is drying the state. Dryer conditions lead to a more flammable landscape. We may see more of the kind of winds that powered the Camp Fire into Paradise. More fires will dramatically alter the kinds of habitats we are used to seeing. Non-native weed filled landscapes that dominate places like Riverside County will likely become more common. More on this issue here:
It is more than discouraging when someone claims our wildfires are all about forests, dead trees, lack of logging, or unnatural fuel build up via past fire suppression. Such claims are a disservice to the families who have lost so much and hamper our efforts to solve the problem.
What is it about? Flammable homes and communities located on flammable terrain.
Please see our solutions in our letter to Governor Brown below.
Here is a well-researched article on the Woolsey Fire from the LA Times:…/la-me-woolsey-fire-progression/
Here's how to protect your home from wildfire:
Here's our information flyer on external sprinklers:…/INDEPENDENT_EXTERNAL_S…
Here's why Governor Brown and the California State Legislature failed us - they ignored the real problem:…/Gov_Brown_2017_Wildfir…

Here are the most devastating wildfires in California to November 17, 2018 (fire, structures burned, fatalities):
Fires 2017-2018
Camp/12,263/71 (as of 11/17/2018)*
Tubbs/ 5636/ 22
Redwood/ 546 / 9
Carr/ 1599/ 8
Atlas/ 783/ 6
Nuns/ 1355/ 3
Woolsey/500+/3 (as of 11/17/2018)
Thomas/ 1063/ 2
Ferguson/ 131/ 2
Mendocino/ 277/ 1
Previous devastating fires prior to 2017 where losses were also unrelated to forests and dead trees:
Tunnel (1991)/ 2900 /25
Cedar (2003)/ 2820/ 15
Harris (2007)/ 548/ 8
Old (2003)/ 1003/ 6
Witch Creek (2007)/ 1650/ 2
Butte (2015)/ 921/ 2
Jones (1999)/ 954/ 1
Paint (1990)/ 641/ 1
Significant forested area involved, but not seriously impacted by dead trees:
Valley (2015)/ 1955/ 4
*Camp Fire involved forest within the fire perimeter, but most of the area within/near the devastated town of Paradise was a mix of habitats.

President Trump is wrong about wildfire prevention (Opinion) - CNN

(CNN)With the shocking loss of thousands of homes and dozens of lives in the Camp and Woolsey fires in Northern and Southern California, people are looking for answers as they try to understand how a tragedy such as this can be prevented in the future.

As people struggled to evacuate, President Donald Trump in a tweet blamed the fires on poor forest management and repeated the claims before his visit to California. While Trump did not explicitly call for an expansion of logging in his latest response, he has previously touted this strategy as a way to curb fires. Meanwhile, the federal government is moving to allow commercial logging in areas such as the Los Padres National Forest outside Santa Barbara, claiming it will prevent fires. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has also blamed "environmental terrorist groups" for preventing the government from properly managing forests.

It is deeply troubling that Trump and his administration would support logging as a way to curb fires when studies have shown it's ineffective. In the most comprehensive scientific analysis conducted on the issue of forest management and fire intensity -- which looked at more than 1,500 fires on tens of millions of acres across the Western United States over three decades -- we found that forests with the fewest environmental protections and the most logging actually tend to burn much more intensely, not less.

This may seem counterintuitive, but logging leaves behind combustible twigs and branches on the forest floor, which can make fires spread faster. It also reduces the cooling shade of the forest canopy, which creates hotter and drier conditions, and the invasive weeds that take over readily burn. Denser forests buffer and reduce the winds that drive wildland fires, but this effect is largely eliminated by logging.

The fact is that Northern California's Butte County, which has been ravaged by the Camp Fire, had been heavily logged in previous years. In the area immediately to the east of Paradise, dead trees had been extensively logged and removed on both private and public lands, and commercial "thinning" operations had been conducted across large expanses of the nearby Plumas National Forest, supposedly to protect nearby towns from wild land fire…

more: President Trump is wrong about wildfire prevention (Opinion) - CNN

Monday, November 12, 2018

As California Burns, Trump and Zinke Use Catastrophe to Benefit Industry | Earthjustice

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wrote recently that “radical environmentalists would rather see forest and communities burn than see a logger in the woods. ” In Zinke’s zero-sum equation, the devastating wildfires in California would stop if those radical environmentalists would let the timber industry cut down more trees.
The truth is that Zinke and House Republicans are using the destruction across the West as an excuse to chip away at bedrock environmental laws created to ensure that science drives decisions about the future of our nation’s forests.
Everyone agrees that we must protect homes and lives from the catastrophic effects of fires, but Zinke’s argument is dangerously oversimplified, cynically disingenuous and downright false. And that’s not the worst part. He also proclaims that climate change has “nothing to do” with these wildfires, even as scientists and firefighting officials unanimously assert that climate change is creating the conditions that allow destructive wildfires to thrive. These types of fires will only grow in intensity and frequency if we do nothing to address climate change…
more: As California Burns, Trump and Zinke Use Catastrophe to Benefit Industry | Earthjustice

see also: 

Trump, offering no evidence, blames deadly California fires on “gross mismanagement of the forests”

Camp Fire: The Terrifying Science Behind California’s Massive Blaze | WIRED