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You can find more posts on climate change science, policy, and news on Climate 411.
 
Want a respite from the noise and drama of the election season?  A good way to find some peace and quiet is to step into an old-growth forest, where all stray noise seems to disappear.  It turns out, though, that the sense of stasis in these old forests is an illusion - and their dynamics are critically important in our fight against global warming.
 
Old-growth forests hold vast amounts of carbon from centuries of growth, and this carbon would be released into the atmosphere if the trees were cut down. That much has been known for a long time.
 
But new research shows that old-growth forests are even more important than previously thought. According to a new study in Nature, old-growth forests aren’t just standing there maintaining the status quo. They are still actively taking up CO2 from the atmosphere.

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You can find more posts on climate change science, policy, and news on Climate 411.
 

Have you ever spent time scrolling through NASA's image gallery? Some of the pictures are absolutely mesmerizing. I particularly like "Blue Marble" (below the fold), which was stitched together using satellite data.
 
Satellites provide more than pretty pictures, though. Our ability to understand and predict climate change depends on continuous high-quality satellite data.
 
Unfortunately, this critical data stream is threatened by budget cuts and lack of political support. In 2005, the National Academies assessed the situation and deemed it "alarming". Three years later, the outlook has not improved.
 
Follow me over the fold to learn more about why this is important, how this critical resource is threatened, and what the next administration needs to do about it.

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You can find more posts on climate change science, policy, and news on Climate 411.
 

What does "wildlife conservation" mean to you? Setting aside land? Restoring habitat? Reducing local stresses to species or ecosystems? These are the conventional methods. But because of rapid climate change, scientists in a recent paper say this may not be enough:
 

[T]he future for many species and ecosystems is so bleak that assisted colonization might be their best chance.

 
Assisted colonization - moving species to sites where they aren't native - is a high-risk suggestion. There are many cases where introduced species have become invasive and wreaked havoc on economies, human health, and native ecosystems.
 
So why would some of the world's leading biologists make such a suggestion?
 

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You can find more posts on climate change science, policy, and news on Climate 411.
 

Transitioning to a clean, low-carbon economy brings a lot of benefits: new jobs, cleaner air and improved public health are just a few examples.  Here's another reason why we need to act now to cut emissions and stop global warming:
 
Even with immediate, aggressive, and sustained cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, damage to fragile ecosystems is virtually certain, and the Greenland ice sheet is still at risk.
 
Follow me over the fold for a graph that says it better than I can:

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You can find more posts on climate change science, policy, and news on Climate 411.
 
 
In 1992, the world's nations gathered to negotiate the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The 192 nations that ratified this treaty - including the U.S. - agreed to the following objective:
 

[To] prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system... within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

 
The definition of "dangerous" is a social and political judgment that is informed by science. But even if we all agreed on which outcomes we wanted to avoid, scientists couldn't say precisely how much we have to cut emissions to achieve these outcomes. We have good best estimates, but there's always a degree of scientific uncertainty.
 
Here's why.

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Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 10:00 AM PDT

Netroots Nation: Free Booze at 7

by ClimateLurker

Environmental Defense Fund is sponsoring a reception before Donna Edwards' talk tonight, in Exhibit Hall 4.  

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You can find more posts on climate change science, policy, and news at Environmental Defense Fund's Climate 411 blog.
 
 

I noticed that the Netroots Nation website links to the Burnt Orange Report’s Guide to Visiting Austin. Number one on the list of things to do is swimming at Barton Springs Pool.  
 

Barton Springs is indeed a very special place. It’s also a very visible reminder of one of the most unique and fragile geological features in Central Texas – the Edwards Aquifer.
 

Follow me over the fold to learn more about this special resource, and how you can help protect it during and after your visit to my hometown.

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Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 02:57 PM PDT

Global Warming: 2 New Warnings

by ClimateLurker

You can find more posts on climate change science, policy, and news at Climate 411.
 

It’s Friday afternoon, and time for a look back over the week.  There were two studies that jumped out at me.  The first study says it all in its title.
 

  1. "One-third of reef-building corals face elevated extinction risk from climate change and local impacts."
  1. The effects of climate change could hit U.S. water supplies harder than scientists previously thought.
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Congress and producer groups are pressuring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to release millions of acres from Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts and open them up to crop production.  Supporters say this move would increase production and bring down food prices.
 

On the contrary, ripping up conservation lands would not make a big dent in commodity supplies or prices, but it would waste billions of taxpayer dollars of that have been invested in conservation on these lands. It also would be a tragedy for wildlife, water quality, and climate.  

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Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 11:57 AM PDT

Coral Reefs in Decline

by ClimateLurker

You can find more posts on climate change science, policy, and news at Climate 411.

 
Coral reefs aren’t just pretty places for scuba divers (although they do bring in billions of tourist dollars). These rich ecosystems also provide habitat for about a million species, including many important commercial fish. Since a billion or more people depend on fish as their main source of protein, human wellbeing is closely tied to coral health.
 

That’s why 2008 has been designated the International Year of the Reef (IYOR 2008), and why marine biologists, reef managers, fishermen and divers are gathering in Fort Lauderdale this week for the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium.

 
On the symposium’s opening day, NOAA scientists released a report on the state of coral reef ecosystems in the U.S.  The entire document is a dense 569 pages, but the summary is straightforward: Coral reefs are in trouble, and climate change is an increasing threat.

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Wed May 14, 2008 at 03:22 PM PDT

CO2 over the past 800,000 years

by ClimateLurker

You can find more posts on climate change science, policy, and news on Climate 411.
 

Just out in Nature today, scientists have assembled an 800,000 year record of CO2, methane and temperature. It looks like we need to revise our talking points a bit about greenhouse gases...

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You can find more posts on climate change science, policy, and news on Climate 411.

 
OK, so I’m one day late for Earth Day because I was swamped at work yesterday ... on the plus side, after PA, people might have more time to check out a non-primary diary!
 

In honor of Earth Week, this is a bigger-picture diary than my usual offering.   Instead of covering a single topic as I normally do, I thought I’d give an overview of some of this week’s developments in climate change research.
 

Follow me over the fold for the latest on ocean acidification, Greenland’s glaciers, and the costs and opportunities from fighting global warming.

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